As I've posted before, I'm trying to cycle a 10g. I have had one betta in it since 1-20. Seems from day one, looking back at my journal, I've always had around .25 Ammonia. On day 10, I saw a rise in Nitrites, to about .25ppm. The next four days, same readings. On 2-8, I saw my Ammonia rise to about 1.0ppm and Nitrite to .50ppm. I immediately performed a PWC of 50% with a siphon. The very next day, Ammonia was 0ppm, Nitrite .50ppm. I had to leave town so I was unable to perform a PWC until the next morning but I decided to test my water before doing so. To my amazement the very next morning(2-10), I had 0ppm Ammonia and 0ppm Nitrite. My Nitrates were around 5.0ppm...nitrates have always tested at 5.0ppm which led me to test my tap water and I found out my clean tap water tests 5.0ppm for nitrates. On 2-10, 2-11, 2-12, 2-13 I had 0ppm for both Ammonia and Nitrite. On 2-13 I peformed a 45%ish PWC with a siphon. I didn't test on 2-14. I decided to test my water before work on 2-15. Ammonia was 0ppm, Nitrite at .25ppm. Confused the heck out of me since they both read 0 for the past five days. On the night of 2-15 I tested again before doing a PWC of 50%; Ammonia 0ppm, Nitrites just a little darker than 0ppm but not .25ppm either. 2-16 tested the very same. Now, on 2-17 my Ammonia is at 0ppm and my Nitrites are back up, this time at 1.0ppm, Nitrates are closer to 7-8.0(ish)ppm. I immediately performed a PWC of 50% with a siphon.
Is this normal cycling? Am I siphoning out too much good bacteria (I use it all over the tank)? I know it takes awhile, but are these ups and downs with nitrites to be expected? My Ammonia has tested a consistent 0ppm for a good while now but my nitrites keep fluctuating. Just today I've seen a slight rise in nitrates, like I said...from the day I started my tank, my water tested positive for 5.0 nitrates which led me to test my tap water. I should also note that I use a thermometer to temp match my water before adding it to my tank every time; I use Prime to treat my water; feed Omega One Betta Buffet Pellets 1-2 times daily, only feeding about 3-4 pellets per day; my tank is set up with a heater that sometimes fluctuates between 76-80 degrees (it's an older one), filter and lots of silk plants.
I guess I'm just worried that I'm doing something wrong. Anyone have any advice?