Hi all-I'm new to keeping fish and the forum. I'm blown away by all the great knowledge here--I only wish I had found it a bit sooner!
Some background: about 8 weeks weeks ago, we got our male betta and housed him in a 5 gallon, heated filtered tank. He was eating well and swimming around quite a bit, and after waiting 6 weeks, we (apparently wrongly) assumed the tank was cycled and went out to get a few new creatures to fill out our tank.
One visit to the pet store later, we came home with 3 glowlight tetras and an African dwarf frog. We realize now that this majorly overstocked our tank and probably caused an ammonia spike, but the employee we talked to at the pet store assured us that the tank was likely cycled and that everybody would have enough room. Well, two weeks later, two of the tetras and the frog have died. I was finally able to get an API drops water testing kit a few days ago, and I'm getting ammonia readings of approximately 2.0 PPM, a PH of 7.8, and no trace of nitrites whatsoever (I haven't even tested for nitrates yet since it's clear that the tank isn't even close to finished cycling). So much for that advice!!!
We want to raise healthy fish in healthy water, but clearly blew it in stocking the tank and are a bit stumped as to how to go forward. Specifically, we have two questions:
(1) Is there anything we can do to help the tank cycle? I don't want our two remaining fish to suffer from ammonia poisoning, and I'm concerned that we've had the tank running for 8 weeks now and aren't even getting a trace nitrite reading. I've been doing about 20% water changes every other day for a week now and will keep this up, but I've heard 5 gallon tanks can be hard to cycle.
(2) What do we do with our one remaining glowlight tetra? He's now along and in a 5 gallon tank, and I realize he needs more space and more tetras to be with. But I don't want to add more tetras to the 5 gallon (especially while the tank is still cycling) and we won't be able to upgrade to a bigger tank until we move in September. I'm actually kind of proud of him for surviving so far, and I'd hate to see him go now.
Apologies for the lengthy post, and thanks in advance for any advice!