First off, so happy to have found this forum. I had a tank during middle school while I had chronic migraines and it was a huge part of my life then. Being in middle school, I started up the tank pretty haphazardly, basically only researching the species I put in it and not anything relating to the ecosystem I was creating. I recently started working at a fish market and decided to get back into it! I can truly say fish are my life! haha!
So I have a 40 gal tank with a fairly large canister filter. Its been running for about two weeks, with 3 'Fruit Tetras' and 2 Serpae Tetras as my cycle fish. I have two live plants of different species. I'm very pleased with my LFS and only one Sarpae tetra has died so far, I noticed his top fin was picked at and then the next day the entire fish disappeared... assuming the other sarpae's ganged up on it... since I don't really want a school of sarpae's I probably wont go with them in the future.
As far as my cycle goes, I've been taking careful daily tests with my liquid API test kit. I saw the ammonia spike, did a decent 30% water change and haven't seen ammonia test since then. I skipped one test day this past weekend and last night saw a huge nitrite spike easily around 1ppm if not slightly higher and a decent presence of nitrate, ~10ppm. I did another 30% water change last night and after testing it this morning again the nitrite is still around about 1ppm and nitrate is somewhere between 5ppm and 10ppm.
I'm wondering if I should do a DRASTIC water change, like 75% or something like that. Being that I have a large canister filter (penn-plax 1000) I can't forget that there is a decent amount of the tanks water sitting in the filter as I do water changes, in a way diluting my water changes, correct?
I'm also seeing what you guys think of my progress so far.