01-26-2008, 03:45 PM
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Ok first off, test strips stink! They might seem cheaper, but the water test kits last so much longer that they're worth it. Plus, they're actually accurate!
How long have you been cycling your tank for? How is your fish behaving?
I honestly see no reason to use deionized water. While it is pure of chlorine and heavy metals, it also lacks the minerals and nutrients in normal water which are good for your fish. Unless your tap water is particularly toxic, you can just use that, although make sure to condition it first!
Cycle is pretty useless, I've never heard of a case of it working, and wouldn't believe a "cycle starter" that isn't refrigerated. If you want to jump start your tank's cycle, ask a friend with an established tank, or your LFS, to squeeze their sponge filter into a bag and give you that gunky, murky water to add to your tank. You could also use decorations, etc from an established tank, but I've had a lot of success with the sponge filter gunk.
If your nitrites really are that high, I would do a 30% water change every day, and check the water parameters every day until they balance out.
Best of luck!