Hi there. I have a fairly new tank and I am pretty new to the hobby also. I have a few questions and I was hoping that I could get some help here. I'm going to detail the whole ordeal, so please don't judge me!
I've learned much more since we first started, so I won't make some of the same mistakes.
It all started with a group of feeder fish that my daughter's 1st grade teacher bought to teach a science unit. At the end of the unit, she divided up the fish to the families that wanted to take them. My daughter had been begging for fish, so we caved. I went to the big box pet store to pick up a small tank and settled on a 2Gal hex tank w/power filter and no heater and water conditioner as our tap water is highly chlorinated. I bought the tank on 2/16, and my daughter came home with 2 little goldfish that day.
We did the "plastic bag in the top of the aquarium" acclimation technique, and the 2 fish didn't make it through the night. Her teacher felt bad for her, so she sent one more home with her on 2/17. We killed it overnight. On 2/18, I took a water sample to the LFS to have the water tested. They said that everything looked "fine" and that we should try something a bit hardier than feeder fish.
We left the tank empty from 2/18-2/27 due to us being out of town. During that time, the water got cloudy and then cleared back up.
On 2/27, we got 1 male and 2 female platies from our LFS. I did the acclimation technique they recommended (adding 1/2 cup of water to a bucket with the fish in it until it's mostly tank water). Two of them died overnight. The other one died during the next day. We replaced them with three more livebearers, two of which are still alive! That makes a total of 7 dead fish, and 1 very sad six year-old.
On 2/29, we upgraded our 2Gallon death trap to a 10Gallon tank with QuietFlow Power Filter, Florescent hood, 50W heater, gravel substrate, and a few plastic plants (grass). It is currently stocked with 1 male black molly, 1 male red wagtail platy, 1 male guppy, and 2 female guppies.
The tank has been set up and occupied for two weeks today. The water is pretty cloudy at this point, though I think it might be a bit better than it was yesterday. I finally decided to get the API test kits so I tested the water tonight.
Here are the parameters:
Ph: 7.6 (though it looks a tinge darker than the darkest measurement on the card)
Ammonia: Looks to be between 1 & 2 in color
NitrAte: Looks to be between 0 and 5
I have not been doing water changes (I had been told to "leave it be"). I have been topping off the tank with conditioned water when needed, and feeding very lightly. Should I still be leaving the tank alone? Or should I start doing water changes/cleaning the gravel at this point?
Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. If you made it through all of that, you deserve a cookie!