I have a 10 gallon community tank that's been set up easily for a month and a half now, and I had reached the end of the nitrogen cycle once already but I'm pretty sure I messed it up over-cleaning everything.
Instead of partially cleaning the gravel, I did a full gravel vac, fake plants and fish removed for good measure, and gave almost all the plants a good rinse as they were covered in a bit of algae. I also managed to make the huge mistake of rinsing my filter sponge media without thinking about it --- all in the same cleaning. All together it ended up about a 75% water change, fresh media, and basically fresh gravel.
It's been about 2 weeks since then (give or take), and now I have the following when I test the water:
Ammonia > 0 ppm
Nitrites ~ 5ppm
Nitrates ~ 40ppm
Ph ~ 7.5/8.0
When I previously tested about 5 days ago I was at:
Ammonia > .5 ppm
Nitrites > 1.0 ppm
Nitrates > 10 ppm
-- almost 0
Ph ~ 7.0/7.5
So I added a few handfuls of sand from my shrimp tank to maybe help the bacteria along but I'm unsure if I'm going in the right direction with these readings? Will they drop to safe levels with 20%-30% water changes, or do I need to buy something to get the nitrites down? Help!! (And yes, the fish are in the tank!!)