Seeding sponge filter for new quarantine tank

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Zonotrichia

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Hello! We've been gathering supplies for our first quarantine tank (10g). Our plan is to use a seeded sponge filter and water from our existing 29g tank, which is planted (see below picture—not sure what qualifies a tank as being lightly vs moderately planted etc) and very lightly stocked at the moment with 4 guppies. Quarantine tank will eventually be used for 3-4 more guppies, then a small school of corydoras, then honey gourami.

The 29g has a Aqueon QuietFlow 20 filter (with coarse sponges, filter floss, crushed coral for our very soft water, Purigen) and has been running since March. Parameters are consistently ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 5, 7.4 pH, ~78˚F. We do weekly 20% water changes, but even when we've waited a little longer, the nitrates rarely inch toward 10, I assume because it's so lightly stocked and the plants are consuming the nitrates.

My question is, how long should we wait before we can safely add the sponge filter to the quarantine tank? I'm reading conflicting messages about the length of time it takes for filters to be seeded with beneficial bacteria, and it sounds like it depends on the bioload of your existing tank. (The sponge filter was only added on 8/2, so I imagine we have a ways to go before getting our new fish.)

Thank you in advance!

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faydout

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I'd give it a minimum of 6 weeks, but 8 would be better if you can swing it.
 
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Zonotrichia

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It took us roughly 4 weeks to get the nitrogen cycle going when we did a fishless cycle in our main tank. Is there a reason that it would take longer for the sponge filter to be properly seeded in the established tank?

And if that's the case, what are the benefits (in terms of time, water quality, fish health) of seeding the sponge filter vs starting another fishless cycle in the quarantine tank? (In an ideal world, the sponge filter would already be established in our main tank and we'd be able to pop it into the QT without having to wait too long...but alas.)
 
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