(I also posted this to the getting started thread)
I am new to this forum and would greatly appreciate any help or advice you could provide!
In a nutshell, I am wondering how important it is to pay attention to the total ammonia versus the free/toxic ammonia when you are cycling a freshwater tank.
I have five tanks that I feel like I have been cycling since the Spring 2020 (if that is even possible). They are:
20 gallon- 2 mollies (raised fry)
30 gallon - 4 black skirt tetras
20 gallon - 11 platy fry they were giving away at Petco
5 gallon - 2 mollies (raised fry)
65 gallon - 1 Albino cichlid (I think Peacock)
I think I have used every chemical on the market to jumpstart cycling (always Fish-In)— beneficial bacteria, Prime, Ammolock, Matrix Nite Out II, Eco Complete, etc.
For months I have been changing the water on these tanks 1-2 times daily to keep these fish alive.
I recently received advice through a reputable online source to stop all the water changes (even though my ammonia is always very high and we have very soft water) and “let the tanks ride” for two weeks. She recommended getting Ammonia Alert, and add beneficial bacteria + ammo lock daily for two weeks and only pay attention to the toxic ammonia. So, gritting my teeth with angst and fear that all my fish will be gone each new day, I have been doing this for about 8 days. (I did give two tanks 50-75 percent water changes after 4 days bc they had a TOXIC Ammonia Alert reading)
but overall, I have noticed that each tank has very high total ammonia and a small amount of nitrites and nitrates. What does this mean? They are cycled but completely out of whack because of the high total ammonia? And im assuming more water changes are necessary to reduce the nitrites and nitrates?
Thank you so much for any help- I am somewhat lost but really want to keep these fish alive!