Byron, My tank does not have access to natural light at all. We have a condo with no windows near the tank. In hood lighting is all they would have. Is that sufficient for plant growth? When I bought the starter equipment I was told plants were like running a marathon while I should be learning to jog. So many differing opinions makes learning and adapting a challenge.
Live plants are not difficult unless people make them difficult. Adequate light is the important factor. Do you have a fluorescent (tube) fixture or incandescant (screw-in bulb sockets) on the tank? I will assume over a 29g it will likely be fluorescent like mine, so all you need is a good tube. You can use one from a fish store, the Life-Glo at 6700K (K is the Kelvin which is the colour) or ZooMed's UltraSun also 6700K are both good. The Coralife 50/50 should be too. Or for something just as good but much less expensive, from a hardware-type store, a "daylight" tube by GE, Sylvania or Phillips with 6500K. Look for the 6500K. And in the length identical to the tube you now have.
Some good easy plants are Java Fern
, Java Moss
. [You will see the names shaded, so they are in the profiles, click the names.] Pygmy chain sword
is ideal. And floating plants also benefit, Water Sprite
is my favourite, but there is also dwarf watter lettuce, Salvinia
, or the stem lant Brazilian Pennywort
which grows nicely floating.
I would get the light in order and buy a few plants before adding more fish. Plants remove ammonia from the water and keep the biology in check. As for fertilizer, this may help, and the best are Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement
or Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti
. Whichever, make sure you get the specified product, as both manufacturers make several products in these named lines.
Lastly, should I be concerned about water changes while my tank is reading 0 for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates? One thing I did learn early is that the liquid test kids are the best. I'm using an API freshwater master test kit.
If I follow this correctly...water changes should always be regular, no less than once a week, and change 1/3 to 1/2 the tank volume. If ammonia or nitrite is above zero, do an immediate 1/2 tank water change. Nitrates are fine as long as they are below 20ppm. Weekly water changes and live plants will keep nitrates very low. API liquid kit is good.
And in order for my tetra to normalize doesn't he need to come out to eat? How do I coax him out of hiding.
Leave him alone, any attempt to coax him will only mean more stress. This is a situation where a food like frozen bloodworms can help, as few fish can resist these when dropped in front of them. But aside from this, leave it alone and see what happens.
I see AbbeysDad picked up something I missed earlier, the distilled water. Is there a reason for this? And on the salt, which I also missed, no; freshwater fish do not need salt, and it will affect them negatively in varying degrees. Characins (tetra) are especially sensitive to salt. You can read more here: Salt in the Freshwater Aquarium
Adding any medications to a fish tank is often hit and miss, and usually the latter. Diagnosing accurately a fish ailment is not easy, and my first "treatment" is usually a major water change, then observation.