Here's my fishy background
I had a few small goldfish tanks growing up. Always thought the object was to keep a fresh filter with adequate carbon to keep ammonia levels down.
Several years ago I attempted my first aquarium as an adult. A friend was downsizing his cichlid tank, and I got his overstock. In the same tank I'm currently setting up, I housed 4 full grown cichlids and a 12 inch gar. I never cycled the tank, but had no problems for almost two years. The same friend downsized again, this time giving me two additional cichlids. Within 6 weeks, all but the gar were gone. Devastated, I moved the gar to a different tank, and put the corner tank in storage.
Fast forward a few years...I miss having my own little world in my living room. Not wanting a repeat of my heartbreak, I've researched more and attempting to go about this the right way...let's stress the word ATTEMPTING.
so here I am, ten weeks into cycling and as always I think I'm making it harder on myself than it should be.
AquaTech power filter 30-60
Lots of fake plants/rocks
Tried fish-in cycle; 5 juvenile giant danios
25% water changes every two days; no test kit
Lost all 5 fish and felt awful!!!!
WEEKS 3-7: bought test kit and Ace ammonia; dosed to 4ppm and began testing like a lunatic! Tested water at least once a day...no changes!
WEEK 8: I was becoming impatient so researched ways to "speed up" cycling. Stole some ornaments, rocks, and even filter "mud" from my daughter's goldfish tank. (Which was never cycled, and has barely been touched for over two years, and is going strong)
Ammonia remained the same; no nitrites showed; nitrates showed around 10ppm
WEEK 9: still desperate...how about adding some cheap plants?
WEEK 10: UGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I'm beyond frustrated...only testing every other day, but still no changes. Decided to attempt a water change of about 30%, also Removing some of the floating plant debris
So...I dosed back up to 2ppm ammonia, pH is about 6.8, ZERO nitrites, and 10 nitrates.
Anybody have any suggestions for me? I feel like I'll never be able to introduce fish! Thanks for reading my babble and thanks in advance for any help you might offer.