12-25-2011, 12:59 AM
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Welcome and seasons greetings to you,
First I'm going to assuming you read the thread on the top of this forum about cycling, seeing as you are starting to get into live plants, if you haven't head over to the planted part of the forum and read byrons 4 posts about live plant care, its a good primmer.
First lets find out why you are using distilled water, only reason to use distilled water is if you are trying to avoid something in your tap water, dechlorination can be handled much cheaper and easier by just adding a simple dechlorinator.
Next the filters, the only reason you would need to run multiple filters is if you plan on over stocking your tank, adding another filter in would not help the cycle as its the bacteria that must multiply to meet the ammonia being produced by the fish, and their are very few ways to speed up this process, one is by using seed material from an already established tank, the other is a bacteria in a bottle solution but results vary on this based on brand and shelf life.
You are correct in assuming the plant can help in reducing the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels, but I'm afraid one plant probably will not drop the levels to what you are seeing. Most cycles last 4-8 weeks so plenty of patience is still needed, and leave the ammonia stuff out, as you mentioned this will only hinder the cycling process, with out the ammonia around for the beneficial bacteria to feed on they will not multiply as fast and once the material can no longer absorb anymore ammonia, you will see a dramatic spike and will have started a mini cycle.
Hopefully you will start seeing some nitrates pretty soon and the others dropping down to 0, good luck and let us know if you have any more questions.