First Timer Mistakes and Help Needed
ok so a little background. i bought a 29 gallon tank about a month ago as a graduation present to myself. the goal was to make a freshwater community tank. desired fish were ropefish, among others but ive always wanted to have ropes. the wonderfully unhelpful people at the store gave me a few beginner tips like letting the tank set up for a few days before adding fish. (as ive learned now a few days is not nearly enough time to set up a tank) i thought it would be nice to have some live plants in the tank so i put ribbons in, white and gold i believe. i tried to put in some ropes a few days later as you can all guess they didnt stand a chance. they wouldnt eat when i feed them which left me constantly cleaning up the uneaten food. the only helpful fish person ive met recommended a few small rosies as the rope fish might eat them. i tested the water and ammonia levels were really really high. *here is where i think i made my biggest mistake* in a desperate attempt to save my ropes i used a chemical to help bring the ammonia levels down. the ropes however still did not make it. through researching cycling im attempting to cycle my tank using the rosies which are still alive and well. its been a few weeks and the nitrate nitrite levels still arent coming down. ive recently read that some of these chemicals though making the ammonia safe to the fish still can register on the tests as nitrate/nitrite and that these chemicals in the end slow down the cycling process :(.
for any of you who actually read this im sorry it was so long but i wanted to give the background of my tank.
so to my question.
is there anything i can do to figure out if the ammonia tests are being skewed by my idiotic mistake.
Many of those chemicals are designed to bind up the ammonia to make it harmless to your fish. The ammonia will still be processed by your biological filter, but you will get an ammonia reading on your tests even if you are using the product. A number of aquarists believe that using chemicals like these can extend your cycling time.
I would recommend not to use any chemicals in your tank other than a good water conditioner to remove chlorine, chloramine and heavy metals from the water.
What sort of testing equipment are you using to get those water parameters? Liquid test kits always work better than test strips and in the end are much less expensive.
Cycling can take as long as two months, although I have read in places that using chemicals or bottled bacteria and things of that nature can extend the cycling process to up to six months.
If you're doing a cycle with the rosy reds, I would just continue to monitor your water levels until you have zero ammonia, zero nitrite, and nitrates that steadily climb. Weekly water changes will keep these nitrate levels in check. Once the ammonia and nitrite are gone and you have nitrate readings for a week, then it's safe to (slowly!) start stocking your aquarium.
i use a liquid test kit and i dont plan on using the ammonia remover anymore after reading about them. also another question, items like cycle, are they any good or not recommended. the ones that have nitrifying bacteria in them to help speed up the process. any and all feedback is helpful.
The best method of speeding up the cycling process is if you can get hold of some gravel/ornaments and filter media from an established tank. Items like Cycle won't be of any help, and I'd avoid adding any chemicals to the tank apart from water conditioner :)
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