As Im sure youve all seen this question asked time and time again, heres my situation.
Ive been running a 20 gal tank for 1.5 years. The first year I had 2 really large goldfish and a large plocostumus. (sp?). The tank became too small for them and I was moving so I donated them to a aquarium store. All 3 fish thrived in that tank, I just felt bad for them and they ate my newly planted live plants.
I tested regularly with all levels wonderful except Nitrates and ammonia always creepin up.(of course large goldfish)
I moved, resetup the tank. Planted. Let it cycle a little on its own. Then added some tetra's. Let that cycle. Then some otocynclus. Let that cycle. Then one Gourami, and then another. Total count now is 6 Tetra, 2 Oto, 2 gourami. All of them still young and not very large yet. Im now 2 months into the cycle and levels are nice except the nitrAtes.
Ammonia (almost 0)
NitrItes (almost 0)
NitrAtes (near 40+ppm) My biggest problem and always has been
PH is on the low side (6.4)
So heres the answers I know and follow so repeating will be useless (Thanks anyway)
First, Water changes! Done! lots and lots. 25-50% depending on severity of NitrAtes. Tried daily and every other day but none the less, very frequent changes. No difference! Always high.
If live plants are supposed to help with NitrAtes, Im not seeing any change. Infact its been worse since ive had them.
Second, Too many fish!, NOPE. All fish are in juvenile stages. Therefore are still small. (general rule of thumb, 1":1Gal. I know.... currently at 15 inches in a 20 gal take taking into account the loss of approx 4 galons on gravel and sorts. About spot on plus they are all very low polluters. The Nitrates were still high before adding the Gourami's with all other levels settled safely. The inch to gallon was approx 12 inches at the time. And yes I do know this is a general rule, not fact.
I am running Co2, I have a eclipse II filtration system with bio wheel (filter changed every 2-3 weeks and rinsed in the dirty water in a bucket (not clean tap water))
Their fed 2x daily. Morning and night. A very small pinch of flake. About one small flake per fish in the tank. I use tetramin crisps.
Im sure theres more ive forgotten but, as you can see this isn't my first tank. Ive researched and researched and researched and found nothing to help that I havnt already tried. My NitrAtes are always wacked out. Im definatly no pro but im no novice and really need some real help.
Also want to know a reasonable NitrAte level for a tank this size. Many sites say "0" but Im not buying the BS. Ive never seen anyone ever get them that low that isnt running a 55+gal tank. They must be confusing NitrAtes and NitrItes. So long as you have poo, you have nitrAtes. So, thats not an answer im looking for. Realistic help please!
PS, Im not really a dick, just tired of the same runaround without any real answers. I cant be the only person out there with a 1.5 year nitrate problem.