I'm a complete newbie to the wonderful world of aquariums and realized last week that I had made a complete mistake in not researching before jumping in. ("fish" person said guppies are easy, bought guppies, realized I know nothing. Regret the impulse buy but am happy I seem to be learning without killing the fish. They're characters! I'm totally in love with them and with the little ghost shrimp. One of them comes to the front of the tank in the morning and wiggles at me and then hitches a ride on the airstone bubbles to the top.)
I'm doing a TON of reading but with all the advice out there I'd rather talk to people so that I don't risk missing something and doing the WRONG thing.
My aquarium is now a week old and the numbers are starting to shift into cycling numbers.
Ammonia was zero ppm
until yesterday when it spiked up to 1ppm. I did a 25% water change and today it is now .25ppm I'll be doing another water change in an hour. (I'm testing with a kit, not strips. The "little test tube with the 8 drops from bottle one, 8 drops from bottle two, compare it to the colors and pick a shade of yellow to green" test. And I'm rounding up to the closest shade of green so my numbers are actually lower than the 1ppm and .25ppm mentioned above.)
Nitrates: 20 (up from 0)
Nitrites: .5 (up from 0)
Hardness 50 (consistent)
Alkalinity: 80 (test says I should add "buffer up"?
pH between 6.8 and 7.2: (test Says I should add pH-Plus for the 6.8 range but that the 7.2 range is ideal..?)
My questions are this:
1- I am reading that ammonia is less toxic at a lower pH, does this mean that I should possibly (at least temporarily) ignore the recommendation of my testing kit to "add pH-Plus" and bring the pH up?
2- I'm reading that I should add aquarium salt to the tank to help the fish deal better with the nitrites that are starting to appear. I have live plants, three guppies and 5 ghost shrimp in a freshwater setup at the moment. Should I consider adding aquarium salt as I have seen it recommended? Or bad idea?
3- The way I'm currently doing water changes is I'm letting a bucket of water sit overnight to come to room temperature and then I'm floating bags of water in the aquarium for an hour before adding the water. Is there an easier way to do this? A 25% water change takes about 5 hours but I don't want to shock the fish by pouring in a bag of colder water.
4- I'm reading that the filter I have is not good for establishing a biological filter but that it can be done with the addition of a pre-filter sponge. For a guppy tank should I possibly consider upgrading to a new filter now before I establish a biological filter? Or should I just ride it out with what I have since the cycle has already started? (Wish I had researched before buying. Grargh.)
3 fancy male guppies
5 ghost shrimp
Live plants (java fern, water lily and some grasslike plant)
Aqueon Quietflow 10 (100GPH)