First things first, I am still pretty new to the fish game. Please try not to judge too harshly - I'm really trying my best to treat my fish right and am having some major trial and error issues.
Okay, so I have a 30 gallon aquarium. Everything was fine (or so I thought) - We started with a few guppies and platys (5 fish total.) Water levels were fine, (ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrates < 20ppm.) Tank had been running for a couple months and cycled.
Then I added a few more and some started to get (what I thought was) nipped fins. Over several days, a few were lost. I assumed the Platys were the problem so I decided to quarantine the two of them in a much smaller tank for a little bit to see how things went (5 gallon - I know it's too small, but it's all the room I had left after the 30. and was definitely not meant to be permanent, just ruling out trouble makers.)
After moving them fins continued to look worse and more shredded, a couple more died. That's when I realized it wasn't nipping at all; it was fin rot. I can only assume one of the last ones I brought in had it when it came, because my levels had been pretty stable even though it isn't a super established tank. Got medicine to fix that but still lost one more.
So I came home from work, checked my water levels and everything was off the charts terrible. My amonia was like 5 ppm
. Either a guppy had passed the night before and I didn't see it or it must have died right after I left for work that morning.
Either way I straight panicked. I dumped a ton of ammo lock in there along with conditioner (probably enough for 75+ gallons), stress zymes and the cloudy water fix from API. Also did a 50% water change and replaced the filter. The next morning things weren't much better, so I made the decision to move them all the the 5 gallon while I figured out the big tank. (Assumed being in a too small tank was better than sitting in ammonia)
I did another 50% water change and made sure the rocks were vacuumed out well. I added some of the quick start to hopefully replace the bacteria I know I inadvertently got rid of or killed off.
Now I have 7 fish (butterfly loach, 2 cory cats, 2 platys, and 4 guppies) in a 5 gallon tank. What I thought would be a couple day thing has turned into a week and I have no idea what to do. I've done several water changes and still the big tank is reading high amonia. I'm so worried that in my panic I have 100% killed every bit of the progress I had made with cycling. I know my fish cant stay in the tiny tank, but I also cant put them back in the big tank.
WHAT DO I DO? I am absolutely stressed over this. Do I just scrap everything and add completely new water to the big tank? Do I just empty most of the big tank and start funneling my water changes from the small tank into the big one (so that it's not just fresh tank water and has a little bit of bio in it)? HAve I already completely started a whole new cycle inadvertently by doing so many water changes and adding too many chemicals because of the ammonia?
Any advice is so, so, appreciated. Ive replaced the back carbon filter with with ammonia reducing "cut to size) filters and replaced the carbon media in the front filter with the marineland diamond ammonia killing media.
Also, the small tank is stable since I started it with water from the big tank before the fiasco. So far it's staying stable even with the large amounts of fish in a small area, but I doubt it'll stay that way for much longer.
My pH stays about an 8 (down from 8.2, our water is just higher pH, but they seem to have acclimated well and it's not much higher than the pet store who is at 7.8 consistently.)
Filter: MarineLand Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter, Multi-Stage Aquarium Filter https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
(Decided to upgrade to the 200 for up to 50 gallons version and will soon be replaced with that one)
Substrate - The black and neon rock substrate you get for glowfish (leftover from my daughter's tank) Looking to replace.
Bubbler: Imagitarium Air Pump, 3.5W https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcos...arium-air-pump
Heater: Aqueon Preset Aquarium Heater, 150W - https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcos...et-heater-150w
I also have the Imagitarium Undergravel Filter, 29 Gallon (https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcos...lter-29-gallon
Two plants - a water sprite in a small pot and some other small foreground plant.)
Any and all advice is appreciated.