I could really use some help. I'm going to try to keep the story short so it isn't such a long read. I got my son a dwarf puffer fish in a 5 gallon tank for his birthday knowing nothing about aquariums (pet store said it would be fine!). Naturally, it died from ammonia poisoning about a month ago since the tank wasn't cycled. In the meantime, someone gave us a betta. It is in a vase right now, but I would like to put it in the 5 gallon. I haven't changed the water in the 5 gallon since the puffer died because I was hoping to cycle the tank. I have been monitoring the conditions and the ammonia is slowly increasing (it's at 1.5 ppm today). Nitrate and Nitrite are at zero. PH is 6.0 or lower. It has a heater and stays at 77 degrees. A fliter has been running on it (the carbon insert hasn't been changed in 5 weeks). When I initially set the tank up, I added Stability for 7 days to help kick start the cycle, aquarium salt, and Prime water conditioner. A few weeks into it, I added PH up. After talking with 3 different pet stores now, they all tell me to do a complete water change and throw the betta in. They seem to know nothing about cycling a tank, though. They all look at me like they have never heard of such a thing; hence the reason my puffer died! I realize that there is a huge difference in caring for a betta and caring for a puffer, but I was also hoping to put some other compatible fish in with the betta, which is why I want to cycle the tank. I noticed today that there is some fuzzy growth on the ornaments in the tank, which makes me think that is a good thing. I would like to know from some experienced aquarist if I should do a complete water change and just put the betta in or if I should wait out the cycle. How much longer would it take? It's already been about 5 weeks since the last water change and I feel like I'm getting no where.
Thank you so much for taking the time to help me with this!