I just got a breeding colony of C. Afra "Jalo Reef" today, my first experience with them. Over half of the colony has collapsed tails, and quite a few have fin damage. Could this be some sort of sickness, or just stress from transport?
Your tank is going through the cycle. Any ammonia reading besides zero isn't "okay".
You need to do frequent water changes, perhaps more than one a day. Keep feeding to a minimum. And, you need to pick up a good dechlorinator like Prime - don't go without a dechlorinator for any water change...Prime will help detoxify the ammonia, and remove both chlorine and chloramines from the water.
This is a hazardous situation for your fish that may cause long term damage to them.
I purchased the following: more Stress Coat (dechlorinator), Cycle (Bio cycle supplement), and MelaFix (For torn fins/ragged tails). I've been doing one water change per day, but I have noticed that the fish are flashing and seem like they are itching. I've already lost one of the females.
I'm not sure if StressCoat works for both chlorine and chloramines, and I don't believe it will detoxify the ammonia.
Prime would be your best bet.
Cycle isn't going to help as much as water changes will as far as the ammonia and nitrites go. As for "bacteria in a bottle" Biospira is the best I've heard of. I've not heard alot of good stuff about Cycle.
Are you monitoring your water parameters? It may be necessary to do more than one water change daily.
By the way Prime can be found at all Petsmarts. Ultimate is another good dechlorinator but isn't as cost efficient.
If you have any other established tanks with gravel or know anybody, even your LFS you could borrow some gravel, put it in a filter bag into your filter to help speed up the cycle.
Prime is also a good choice because if you overdose it a bit, it binds ammonia and nitrites making it non-toxic. I do that when I medicate my quarentine tank since the dead bacteria constantly give me slight ammonia rises inbetween water changes.
As Kim said don't use Cycle...it's just water in a bottle in my opinion. Marineland's BioSpira helps speed up cycles but won't do a "instant cycle".
I am using the API freshwater master test set. I have owned and used the test set since September of 2007, but I can find anywhere on the set that would indicate any sort of expiration. The tests always seem to coincide with LFS test results. Do you think my kit might be inaccurate?
I can't tell if it is the same fish flashing over and over due to the fact that they are mainly the females flashing, and they all look the same to me right now. I haven't had them long enough to know them yet. And they are flashing pretty irregularly. It isn't consistent.