Originally Posted by nice pirhana
the previous water change i used the new tetra aqua safe plus to treat the water. on the 50% change i went back to seachem prime. i used this when setting up the tank & when adding water that evaporated.
btw-i did test my tap water, both hot & cold side & it was 0 ppm.
this brings me to another question...could my orig prob being with the plants dying/decaying be the cause of the nitrate levels being so high? dont understand why its so high & my nitrite & ammonia are both 0 ppm.
There is 'beneficial' bacteria that grows in fish tanks. One kind breaks down Ammonia into Nitrite (with an i) and another breaks down Nitrite into Nitrate (with an a). There is nothing that breaks the Nitrate down into something safe for the fish, so the only way to remove it is with partial water changes.
In addition, the plants use Ammonia as a nutrient to grow, in a fully cycled tank it is normal to see both Ammonia and Nitrite be 0 ppm, so that's a good thing and shows your tank is cycled.
These water changes should be done once a week, do at least 25% but going up to 50% is fine. The chemical you use to declorinate the water isn't of vast importance as long as it is removing the chlorine (I believe both of what you have do that). While your nitrates are so high, you should do daily water changes until they get under control. It's impossible to get them to 0 ppm, try for around 20 ppm.
Vacuuming the gravel is a good idea, just avoid the areas around the plants. In a fully planted aquarium, this does not need to be done, the waste and excess food the breaks down provides nutrients to the plants. But if you only have a few plants, best to clean out the areas where there are no plants.
For lighting, you want to get those on a timer (they are cheap, less than $10) and set them to be on no more than 12 hours (start with say 10 hours).
You'll want to also get a fertilizer for the plants, you add it once a week, it will provide whatever is missing unless you have very soft water (they assume you'll have some nutrients like calcium in your tap water).