Hello all! I just signed up today, so I apologize if you have any rules I inadvertently break. Whenever I'm trying to find information, hits from planted tank always give intelligent and helpful answers, so thanks for all the help you don't know you've given me!
So I just got a new tank, 180 gallons. I thought I started it correctly, but maybe I was impatient. I bought four 75 gallon sponge filters and hooked them up in my existing tanks for a little over a week. During that time I filled the tank and cycled it with API Quick start and two 75 gallon hob filters with used padding. I also added about 20 gallons of water from already cycled tanks. When my nitrate, nitrite and ammonia hit zero, I added the sponge filters, then fish over about 3 days. I have about 50 small tropical fish: bettas, tetras, mollys, guppies, barbs, corys, the basics. The only 'large' fish are my adult crayfish Bloo and two juvenile rope fish.
The tank is nowhere near as planted as I'd like, I have the plants I want picked out but it will take a couple paychecks to get them all. Right now it has some assorted swords around 12" each, a few large water sprites, copious guppy grass and duckweed, a few other random small plants, and a glosso carpet that sprouted a couple days ago. There is a lot of driftwood, and even without it I have trouble keeping my pH up so I included a lot of shells. The substrate is a mix of organic soil and gravel with crushed seashells
Yesterday I noticed that my sensitive little ropes looked upset, so I tested and found 0.5ppm ammonia. I immediately put in ammo lock to keep the fish safe. Then I went through all my other tanks (I have five, 16 to 30 gallons each) and washed their (very dirty) filter sponges in the new tank. I also grabbed some used substrate and rinsed it in there as well.
I pruned any damaged plants and looked around for dead fish and can't find any, there are a lot but I either know them individually or know how many of each there should be and I don't notice anyone missing
Today I checked again and the ammonia read slightly higher, not quite 1ppm. My nitrite, nitrates, and chlorine are 0, GH is 150 (South Florida), pH is about 6.8, KH is 80. I did a 30% water change just now. The fish don't seem stressed except maybe the ropefish, but they are my first so I'm not positive what their 'normal' is.
I don't know what else to do at this point. I have zero dollars until Friday, the ammo lock will wear off soon, and I'm very worried. I would really really appreciate any advice. Thanks so much!