Hello Everyone! This is my first post and hope to join the community here! I've been going solo it seems for awhile now without getting advice from other freshwater enthusiasts. I do have multiple questions, and hopefully my noobishness won't be an issue! I'd appreciate any criticisms positive or negative.
I am new to my latest addiction of owning a fish tank. I purchased a 55 gallon tank starter kit @ petsmart back in November. The filter is a TopFin 60. I put in gravel, many fake plants and decorations along with a 12" airstone and a 4" round airstone. After a couple months of research, some dough, and experiencing the stress of toxic water levels along with multiple water changes, I believe I'm starting to pull myself out of the novice hole and new tank syndrome! I put the starting bacteria and tap conditioner a week before I started to put fish. The first 4 fish I put in in the first week of December are still alive (including the blood parrot cichlid). The only deaths I've had was the second batch of 4 (2 mollies, a green spotted puffer, and a gourami) except for the puffer luckily! Since the first week of December I've been slowly (or at least I think) adding fish. I now have 29 happy/healthy fish in my 55gal! Here's what I got:
1 Albino Cory, 1 Pleco, 4 Guppies, 3 Platies, 1 Molly, 1 Blue & 1 Gold Gourami, 1 Powder BLue Dwarf Gourami, 1 Kissing Gourami, 5 Black Skirt Tetras, 1 Congo Tetra, 1 Glowlight, 2 Neon and 2 Black Neon Tetras, 1 Bleeding Heart Tetra, & 1 Turquoise Rainbowfish, 1 Green Spotted Puffer & 1 Blood Parrot Cichilid.
After doing some math, the sum length of my fish is about 48 inches rounding up. I know eventually this will be considered an overstocked tank if not already. The Blood Parrot is obviously the most aggressive fish in the tank, with the rainbowfish being mildly aggressive in 2nd place. The worst the rainbowfish will do is chase around a black skirt tetra or the bleeding heart around for a few seconds and then stops. At almost all fish stores I've purchased fish at, they tell me the cichlid is going to kill all the other fish! He is territorial every so often and especially during feeding. Ironically, he is the most scared fish when someone walks up to the tank. Dang Hybrids! All the other fish are very friendly towards each other including the puffer. Funny enough, the only fin nipping occurred early on to to blood parrot, who has fully healed. I am working on saving money for a 30g for the puffer. I know it needs to be transitioned from FW to BW and eventually to SW if I'm not mistaken? As for the Cichlid, he is only 3 inches long. What length would I need to move him? Or should I move him asap because he is kind of a bastard to all the other fish?
A month and a half ago was when my levels started to go off. My NitrItes were pretty bad, which is why I think the 3 fish that died did. The ammonia has almost always been a little higher than I'd like it to be, and every once in awhile it will spike. Although, I've used ammonia neutralizer a handful of times, I have the API master test kit, so even the converted non-toxic ammonia is picked up by the test (so it says). I just don't know how quick the non-toxic ammonia is filtered out. My tank right now:
Ammonia: ~.25 ppm
The pH has pretty much been at 7.4 since I started the tank. I've tried to bring it down to 7.2 with pH down, but it barely brought it down. The more and more I research, the more I read about using the least amount of chemicals as possible. I've been doing 10%-25% water changes daily for the past week in order to control the ammonia levels, also added a little bit of beneficial bacteria every now and then. For almost a week now I've had 0 nitrates and nitrites but plenty of ammonia! When I do my water changes, I tend to gravel vacuum 1/2 the tank. Did I eliminate too much beneficial bacteria by gravel vacuuming and/or changing the filter at the wrong time (after a heavy gravel vacuuming)? Or maybe there are too many beneficial bacteria competing against each other?
I'm doing the best I can, but still learning more everyday.
Any input to help me understand my tank better is welcome! My fish and I thank you for your time!