I think it'd be a good idea to get everything laid out as it is, in order to see where I should go from here:
Tank: 15 gallon, glass
Light: 1 x 15watt (was on 12+ hours/day until this weekend, now down to 8-10 max)
Substrate: 30lbs of "medium"-sized natural rock (from fish store)
Pumps: Marineland Emperor 280 & Hagen Elite Mini Underwater Filter (for aeration)
Date started: 4/4/09 (~5 weeks)
Fish: 1 x Black Moor Goldfish (approx 1.5-2")
Plants: Hygrophila difformis
Current tank pH: 6.4
Current tank Ammonia: ~.5ppm or less
Current tank Nitrite: 3-5ppm or more
Current tank Nitrate: not tested
Tap water pH: 7.2
Current feeding cycle: 5 days a week, once a day (fish pellets, fish flakes, and peas rotated)
Current chemical treatment:
- 1 x double dose of Amquel+ per day to try to keep the nitrite down
- 1 treatment of "pH stable" about 4-5 days ago
- 1 x dosage of "pH UP" to try to up the pH a bit
- about 1 x tablespoon of aquarium salt (to try to help with the Nitrite levels)
Up until this week, I was changing 30% of the water daily in order to combat the Ammonia and then Nitrite in the system. I was told by two people at the local fish store (not Petco) that I was likely stalling the cycle by doing so many changes, and thus I've ceased changing the water, with the exception of 2 10% changes in the last 3 days in order to get rid of the brown algae and small white worms that had developed, and to clean out poop/obvious debris.
That said, how should I proceed hence-forth? I'm starting to get the sense that I should likely just let things work themselves out and stop trying to adjust things with chemicals. I will say that I have yet to change either of the filters: should I replace them or clean them out? Or should I wait until the tank is stable to do so?
Thanks everyone for your advice thus-far! Whether or not things are proceeding as we all would have liked them to, I have learned a lot about taking care of fish, and currently have what seems like a relatively happy Black Moor that swims around happily, eats whatever I give her, and plays around in her tank whenever we come into the room!