Newer Tank Setup with Elevated Nitrite Levels
I set up my 55G tank about 6 weeks ago and made the mistake of adding 8 African Cichlids about a week after setting up the tank. I did test the water before adding the fish and everything was balanced prior to adding them; however, about 4 days after adding the fish, my ammonia levels and nitrite levels became elevated due to the feeding and fish waste in the new tank.
I've added Aquarium Salt, Fritz Zyme 7, and Prime to help bring down the levels. I tested the water three days later and the Ammonia levels decreased but the nitrite levels remained pretty high. I added another bottle of Fritz Zyme 7 and continued to add Prime each day.
I did my first 25% water change on May 22nd, which was 22 days after setting up the tank. I had the water tested three days after the water change and my nitrite levels were still very elevated. I did a second 25% water change on June 1st, which was 10 days after the first water change, had my water tested the following day and it still showed elevated levels of nitrite but ammonia and nitrate levels were normal. I added a little more Aquarium Salt and Prime. I've tested the water every other day since then with some strips and my nitrite levels have not really changed and still appear to be between 5.0-10.0 on the color chart. I was planning to do my next water change this weekend, which would be about 10 days after my last water change.
I have held off on adding any additional fish until I can get the levels under control, but now my tank is being overrun with brownish algae so I was hoping to get an algae eater added sooner rather than later. The Cichlids have been eating the algae off of the rocks and fake plants, but not at the rate of algae growth so it's getting everywhere.
I cut down on feedings after the first week and have only been feeding them once per day. I don't feed a lot, they usually finish eating everything within a minute. I'm sure the elevated nitrite levels are not good for them; however, they appear to be holding up well and don't show any signs of being stressed.
I've been told that a tank can take 4-6 weeks to cycle, I'm just trying to figure out if there is anything else I can/should be doing to bring the levels down quicker and help balance out the algae growth. I now know that I should have held off on adding the fish, but now that they are in there I am trying to figure out the best way to quickly balance their environment.
For reference, it's a 55G tank with a Cascade 700 Canister Filter, a Dual Valve Air Pump, some fake plants and aquarium decorations mixed with Texas Holey Rock and Slate, and a gravel/rock substrate. I am using the longer spray bar with the filter as opposed to the directional spout.
Any guidance or advice would be greatly appreciated.