Hello everyone! I'm new and an animal lover who decided to get my 5 year old son a fish tank for Christmas. He LOVES sea creatures so I was really excited about this present! I had a 10 G tank when I was in high school and at the time didn't have the internet so I was very uninformed. All I knew was that fish tend to die shortly after you get them so I wanted to get my son's tank set up a tad earlier in case any died before Christmas (didn't want him opening up a tank of dead fish! ). So I truck off to Walmart to get my supplies and fish and was told I could have 2 black-finned sharks, 3 tiger barbs, a male betta and 2 ghost shrimp together. I happily go home, set up the tank (with dechlorinater), a heater, hang on back filter and plop the fish in. THEN I decided to research the fish I had selected for me, and there-in starts my slow realization that I did this ALL WRONG! I found out the sharks get too big and take them back for 3 more barbs since they like to be in groups of 6 or more, and a bronze cory for the bottom. I had found out about cycling and knew there would be some victims in the next week (also what my problem was in high school). So now a week and a half later I still have the cory, 1 barb, betta and 2 shrimp and am not getting anything else till we're cycled. I got water testing kits and started that 4 days ago. The ammonia was at .25 but today is 1.5-2. The general hardness was 0, carb. hardness was 190, ph 7.5-8.5, nitrites 0, and nitrates 20-30. Those have stayed the same. I have changed 10% of water twice now. My questions are this: Will this tank even out since I started it totally wrong? Are the levels going along how they should? Will the exisiting fish make it? If so, what other fish should I add once cycled? Should I change more water and how often? Anything else I should be doing? Thanks everyone for your input. I feel bad for these fish that I'm putting through my ignorant 'science experiment.' I wish I had researched BEFORE buying, but hindsight is 20/20 so now I just need guidence with where we are. Thanks so much!