Your nitrate reading might be due to the plant ferts themselves-since plant ferts are a nitrogen base to start with. As well as the soil itself that can be the nitrate source.
Its not uncommon for a heavy planted tank in active growth to take a long time if ever to see a nitrate reading-But some can and will have a nitrate reading, however, often it will be low. Depending of species of plants, if they are thriving, plant ferts, other additives, source water, fish/invert foods and livestock-you may or may not see nitrate or the actual nitrate reading could be a false reading due to other things (as listed) that cause either a interaction or skewed results.
Since your wisteria is not doing well-this could be a cause of nitrate too-as they decomp they make ferts in the sense.
Fish/invert food are one of the best plant fert for your natural soil based tanks and these can cause nitrate results.
Since you have shrimp-you will need to watch the nitrate reading and not let it get too high-some shrimp are more sensitive than others to nitrate. Usually, this is more in the 60+ppm and higher range of true nitrate.
Test results in general can vary due to the time of day of the test, if done before or after a water change or death, disturbance of the soil, feeding timeline....etc.....If you start a test log you can compare all this info and see what cause what and when...etc.....It can be interesting....lol...
What kind of floating plants do you keep-these types of plants usually will work better for nitrate issues-Water lettuce, frogbit, duckweed and hornwort
Your tank looks great by the way....
Thanks, floaters are anacharis, couple of not so great lookig wisteria, and uprooted hygrophilia.
I think I did not disconnect the runners for my pygymy chain sword and so parent and runner plants are disintegrating and the shrimps and snails are feasting on them. I will see if I can salvage that....
Will be planting some italian visalia and hair grass after the QT (they came with pond snails, treating with alum and cucumber)
Tap water: 0 ammonia, nitrite, nitrate
Added Prime & liquid fert : 0 ammonia, nitrite, nitrate
test time: around 10pm at night
M/W/F, alternate with T/R/Sat 5cc Aqueon Plant Food
Once a week on Sat. : 1 pump of Potassium, and 1 pump of Micro by Pfertz.
My test log trend (since 2/15/15), usually goes like this for my currently 5g (1 Golden Mystery Snail, 4 Amano, 9 RCS):
40-80 nitrate triggers a 40% (2g) WC
drops back to 10-20 nitrate immediately
test color 10-20 nitrate, closer to 20 in color
Day 3 :
test color between 20-40 nitrate
Closer to 40 nitrate, optional WC 20% or 1g
40-80 nitrate, probably triggers my WC again.
GMS, 5 baby RCS, and 4 Amano are free to roam in the tank, the 5 parent RCS are in breeder box.
I have kept light on every other day to control my hair algae, maybe adding a fish in it later will help with that so I can keep the lights on regularly?? Only light is the sun but I draw the blinds in the room, so it is relatively darker than the outside.
I think this is consistent with the WC/vacuum schedule that you recommend for a cycled planted 5g.
It's just that I am concerned and not sure if I need to achieve 0-10 nitrate. But if I do not need to worry, I will just be content with my current setup.