Please tell me what i did wrong. *long read* but advice much appreciated
Hi everybody, I'm new here and my name is Ryan, this is my first post but I look forward to sticking around and learning from this site. But introductions can wait i'm in dire need of advice and help. I'm going to go into fine detail so I apologize for the length of this post, but i think it's best to go into detail now rather than answer questions about my setup as forum replys. So if you don't mind doing a bit of reading help is very very appreciated, thank you for your time and knowledge.
I bought a ten gallon starter kit from petsmart on december 26th 2012. Prior to my purchase I educated myself on the nitrogen cycle and general information on keeping a aquarium. Before getting into detail with problems i'll explain the system I have.
Tank: Ten Gallon Long
Filter 1: Topfin 10 HOB filter w/ carbon cartridge. This filter came with my tank and has been operating since december 26th 2012
Filter 2: Tetra Whisper 10i w/Bio scrubber and carbon cartridge. I bought this filter on January 2nd 2013
Filter 3: Aqua Clear 20 HOB w/ sponge filter, carbon bag, and filter media. I bought this filter recently, January 8th 2012. My plan is to get rid of the topfin and just keep this filter and the tetra, since the topfin filter is kind of crappy and loud. But right now i do have the 3 filters totalling 280GPH / 28x turnover which to me sounds crazy lol. I soon plan on getting rid of the Topfin filter once the Aqua clear has had time to establish bacteria
Air Pump: tetra 10i air pump w/ air stone
Substrate: Polished white gravel and Polished River rock mixed.
Heater: No, as i plan on having White Cloud Minnows.
Decorations: No live plants, just 6 fake plants, some large some small. I have not put anything into the tank for decor other than the fake plants.
Water care: Seachem Prime water conditioner, API freshwaters master kit for water testing.
There is no fish in the tank, it has been in a fish-less cycle since December 28th 2012. The ammonia product i use is Goldex Household ammonia. The bottle says it contains no phosphates or fragrances. I put it into a clear bottle and gave it a shake (the bottle it came in is not clear) and it didn't bubble up anymore than water does. So i figured it was safe to use, please correct me if i'm wrong, but as far as i know that confirms it's a pure ammonia product. I kept my Ammonia at 2 PPM to begin the cycle, as of right now i add a drop or two whenever I see ammonia get below .50ppm and that tends to bring it to 2ppm again. My nitrite reading is at about 4 or 5 PPM right now, and my nitrate reading is at about 20PPM. My pH has remained stable at 7.4 since i first established the tank. I've done about 3 gallons of water changes weekly since i first set the tank up. I have not experienced any problems with readings and all seems to be well in that regard.
So here's the problem, I have had a bacterial cloud in the tank pretty much since the start, and I feel like it's getting worse day by day. At this point i cannot see one side of the tank if i look through it on the long side. The water is white, but if I position my lights against the wall I can see a cloudy substance constantly moving. It almost looks like a oily substance but it's only visible like that if i position the lights a specific way, I hope that makes sense, as its very difficult to describe. If it would help I'll gladly post a video and I have a great camera so it will pick it up no problem. If I don't position the light in that way, you cannot see the "oily" substance. The oily stuff also is in all depths of the water it's not just on the top. It kind of reminds me of when you use a touchscreen phone and the oil collects on the screen. Though it does not look exactly like that, it's much different, it's about the best comparison I can make. I did a 50% water change once, and the water was crystal clear, but after a few hours the water literally was back to it's swampish state. If I look straight down on the tank it's also white but i cannot see the "oily" stuff. I did a test and de chlorinated some of my tap water and let it sit in a bucket for a week, the water remained clear and did not become clouded.
I added fish flakes into the tank in the beginning, and i've been siphoning the gravel once a week or so just incase that was the root cause. It seems that when I siphon the water it gets even more murky and disgusting, so i kind of think that the gravel is the source. I washed the gravel before putting it in and everything so i fail to come to a conclusion of why that's happening. I use a one gallon bucket to change water, and i always double dose my prime because my water source has .25PPM of ammonia(city water). There doesn't really seem to be large particles floating in the water, but when i siphon the water there definitely is fine particles of stuff. I washed my carbon filters / bags in de chlorinated water before i put them into the tank so it's not carbon. I'm very frustrated with dealing with this whole cycling thing and i'm beginning to question if fish-keeping is for me…. I really love the hobby and i love fish and the calming effect they seem to have on us humans, but this cycle has really stressed me out :(
So to generalize my questions
Is a bacterial cloud the way I explained it normal to stay in a tank for this long during a fishless cycle?
Whats up with this oily stuff i see in the water when i position the light against the wall of the tank and view it from a bit of a angle?
Is there anything I did wrong?
Is my ammonia product safe for aquatic use?
Any other input/opinions/comments is so appreciated. Again sorry for the length of the post and please let me know if a video would be helpful. Also if i missed out on any information i will gladly provide it. Thank you so much in advance for any help and have a good day everybody
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