I setup a freshwater (cold) aquarium recently (12 gallon Eclipse System 12). We started with two fish (two gold fish about 1-1.5" long). It is now the end of week 6 and the aquarium appears to be stuck in the cycle as starting about 2.5-3 weeks ago and up until now, the Nitrite level has been in averaging around 3.5 PPM (3 - 5 PPM) It has been about 3 PPM the last 2 weeks. The nitrate level did go from about 0 to 15 PPM starting about 3 weeks ago but the last week to 10 days the nitrate level and nitrite level are both essentially unchanged at about 3.0 PPM nitrite / 15 PPM nitrate. I have not changed the filter. I've vacumned part of the gravel starting on week 2, 3 or 4 times so the gravel has been completed vacumned probably about 1.5-2 times since the tank was started 6 weeks ago.
On week 3, we had the water tested and the aquarium store and the Ammonia was low, no problem, and nitrite was about 2.0 PPM so we went ahead and added a very small (about 1.5") Gold Dojo Leach and just started feeding the fish once a day instead of twice to keep the waste in check.
I was worried the weekly vacumn was eliminating the bacteria needed to complete the cycle to I stopped vacumning all together about 10 days ago.
I've been doing 20% water changes every other day the past 10 days to keep the Nitrite from going any higher than 4 or 5 PPM. (typically it is in the 2.5 - 4.5 range)
I was treating the replace water with AmQuel which eliminated Ammonia in addition to Chlorine. I switched back to the treatment that came with the tank which I don't think eliminated Ammonia for a feared I didn't have enough of the bacteria that feeds on ammonia built up and that is why I was stuck in the cycle. The guy at the fish store said it was very odd to be stuck in the middle of the cycle. This fish seem to be healthy this whole time.
My Ph is about 6.8-6.9. Alkalinity 120. Hardness 100. PH 6.8. So no problems there, although Ph could be a bit higher I guess?? My water temp is about 74 and my LiveNH3 indicator in the tank has slowly gotten bluer over the past couple weeks to the point now where it is a little bluer than the highest color indicate (0.4PPM), so it is 0.5-1 PPM Ammonia but I look at this chart and didn't realize before buying that stupid LiveNH3 thing that acceptable ammonia levels varies wildly depending on PH and temperature. According to the chart the max levels for my temp and PH would be about 4 PPM which has to be far higher than it is.
I did a 20% water change yesterday and this afternoon the Nitrite actually looks like it has finally gone below 3 PPM 24 hrs after the water change which it never did before and the nitrate looks like it may be just starting to go up but still not quite 20 PPM.
This is obviously my first tank (I'm probably being too anal writing a novel here.)
Any advice on what to do from here on out would be greatly appreciated.