I am cycling my first 10 gallon tank. I am doing a fish-in cycle because neither I, nor apparently the pet store employee, knew what we were doing at first. My betta is not in the tank, just a single small feeder goldfish.
I am about 16 days into the cycle. I have been doing 20-30% water changes every other day. Around day 7 my ammonia dropped down to near 0 and my nitrites really started taking off. Then nitrites stayed high for a while and nitrates started showing up. The nitrates got quite high while the nitrites were still spiking, around 80 ppm according to my API liquid tests.
A few days ago the nitrites finally started to come down a bit, but the nitrates have not seemed to go up much. This morning, nitrates and nitrites are reading 0, and ammonia is about .25 ppm, which really confuses me because I have not done a water change since my last reading, where the nitrates were at about 5-10 ppm, nitrites between .25 and .5 ppm, and ammonia was 0.
Could something be eating my nitrates and converting them back into ammonia? I have a driftwood with some java moss and an old conch shell in the tank. Besides that it's still empty.
Is it possible I neutralized my API tests somehow?
Any ideas would be appreciated, thanks!