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Ahh newbie here! (shocking) I haven't done this much research online since I was pregnant...

Okay. Tank started Christmas Day... 55gl 48"lx12"w cycled for one week+ w plants before fish, thought it was finished (got go ahead from LFS) but still cycling when we started introducing fish, we struggled w high nitrites for a while. It's leveled out but is still a delicate new system. Current levels are good (I think);

no2 zero --- no3 >5.0 --- ph 8.2 --- Ammonia is high, .25 .5 our tap ammonia is at .5 and I only started testing ammonia once we started having sickness, so it could be a weird reading bc of adding meds and prime and water changes daily (??)
I added API ammo lock but it doesn't seem to have done anything. before sickness We were doing 1 weekly 25%/50% water change, now that we are medicating we are doing 20% water changes daily so the ammonia is... hard to grasp.

Our stock:
2 juli
2 star sapphire
4 red zebra
4 acei (yellow tail)
1 otto
3 bn plecos
6 boesemani rainbows
9+ snails
I realize this is a very full tank. Fish are all juvenile ranging from 1 inch to 3 inches (we're fantasizing about upgrading to a 120gl 48"Lx 24"w tank within the year.

Forza 40-80 filter, two aerators and a TON of plants.

Problem: everything was going great and then I realized the fuzz on our rainbows mouths (which they arrived with) was not just a little beat up mouth from fighting but rot and while looking closely saw that they also were sporting a few small ich spots. JOY! :( I blame us for ich, we weren't great about keeping water temp level during water changes at first plus yah, new tank, shipped fish, it just isn't surprising. (rookie mistakes! :oops: )

We decided to treat w Tetra Lifeguard All-In-One to attack ich and bacterial infection. Took all the snails, plants and plecos/otto out and put them in a quarantine tank we should have had before. We are on day 4 of treatment and it seems to be working*. We are using 7 pills (under dosing bc our tank holds lots of rock and ground coral) daily 20% water changes (vacuuming gravel) We have also turned the heat up to 86 degrees and added aquarium salt. The mouth rot is almost gone, the ich is lighter, but making the rounds on the underlings of the tank, *there is some cloudiness/tattered tailfins that are being more stubborn.

all fish are active and eating.

Here are my questions;

1. Can I put our bn plecos back into the tank? I've read mixed opinions on their reaction to no-scale/invertebrate adverse medication.

2. If we finish medication but continue to fight ich with the 86 degree water and salt technique can I put the plecos/otto back into that heat/brine? We added about 4 tb salt to the tank -I think-, my husband did it and we've done two water changes since...so I need to work out how much to add/replace :-?

3. The Lifeguard box said not to use on "New Aquariums" but I felt ours had set-up/cycled and wasn't "new"... turns out after reading deep into Tetras website q&a that new means three months or younger. booo. So, what can I do to reestablish our good bacteria that the meds may have vexed?

4. We have one more day of treatment, but fins are still cloudy and ich is still visible... Should we do a second round of Lifeguard or switch to something else? - just salt and heat (heard heat could actually make bacteria worse) or use something more robust? I went nuts at the store, my alternate treatment options are, API Super Ick Cure, Fin & Body Cure (bacterial, not for ich), Melafix, Imagitarium Bacterial Infection Remedy, and Parasite Remedy... I'd like to put my plants and algae eaters back in, but I want to wipe all this gunk out for good too... and I'm not confident the Plecos/otto haven't been infected. (we have not been treating them)

5. How often should I clean/replace our filter pads? I have been rinsing them w tap water about once a week during water changes and they are out of the tank while treating w meds. could putting an old filter in the tank help w returning good bacteria?
sorry that was long, thank you so much for any insight!
 
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