This particular tank has been up and running for a little over two months. I started it out with 3 Goldfish
for a week, just to get things started, removed them and then it had 3 angels and 3 gouramis for a few weeks, but the angels quickly outgrew it and the gouramis fought nonstop so I bought my 29 gallon and put them in there. The rest of the time it has been populated by 2 balloon mollies, 2 guppies at any given time and there were 3 cardinal tetras, but two have died. In its current state and population I would say it has been at or around a month. I'm just getting back into fish so I didn't have any testing supplies but I bought an all in one test strip kit and an ammonia test kit and the corresponding chemicals from Jungle Labs about a week or so ago.
Initial tests for this tank resulted in slightly high nitrates (but still in the safe zone according to tests), negligible on nitrites, but the ammonia was at very high levels about a week ago, I have since reduced it to the point where it doesn't even really register on the test strips, and have significantly reduced the nitrates as well, with them falling well into the safe zone according to the tests (the lowest reading on the chart for the tests). pH levels seem to be at a constant somewhere between 6.8 and 7.2. Temperature in the tank reads on a stick on thermometer as 78 degrees F. Another thing that may be a problem, here in northwest IA we have very hard water, but I talked to the lfs where I bought the fish and had them test my water before I had purchased testing supplies and she showed me the results and compared between my water and hers and mine actually tested a little better than hers, but both had very hard water. Is this an area of concern that can be remedied? If so, how? I would like to have the most ideal water conditions possible but have been out of the hobby for over 10 years so its like relearning everything. Also, water changes have been done every week, doing nearly exactly a 1/3 water change on all my tanks, and refilled with conditioned water (using tetra aquasafe). I have also used tetra easy balance for nitrate reduction at one point and time, along with jungle labs correct pH and jungle labs ammonia clear. I'm still in the dark about nitrite control..but so far I haven't had to worry about it in this particular tank or my other 29 gallon. We also have a 29 gallon with Goldfish
in it for my gf's daughter but I really haven't spent any time testing it, just doing water changes with it. According to my tests, my water appears to be well within safe ranges for my fish, except for hardness (listed as total alkalinity on the test charts). Would it be better for me to get something like the "master" test kits I see that are available online from a few different companies? Thanks for any advice or insight you can offer ahead of time.