Hi, we are 4 weeks into a fishless cycle and we need some help. (We have no fish yet, this is all part of our work to prepare the best home possible for my daughter's future fish. She is finding it very hard to wait but understands that this work makes a better home for her fish and less work for her caring for her fish...) We have a 5 gal Marineland Hex tank with a filter and a heater. We've been keeping the temp around 78-80. We don't know anyone else with fish so we didn't have any seeding material so we went with a bottled product recommended at our LFS (MicroBacter7). I am using pure ammonia as my ammonia source. API Master Test Kit for our testing (drops and tubes).
So, at right around 3 weeks my nitrites skyrocketed, off-the-charts. All the reading and instructions I'd seen indicated the next step was to wait a few days for nitrites to come down and start testing for nitrAtes.
Then I saw somewhere (probably on here somewhere) something that made me think I should test those nitrAtes anyway. So I did, and they were high - around 80ppm. So I concluded a PWC was needed so we did a 50%. NitrAtes came down, nitrItes still off the charts. Meanwhile my ammonia, NEVER comes all the way down to zero. My tap water tests at .50, and the lowest I've ever tested the tank was .25...
So I redose the ammonia back to 2ppm, and wait 24hrs. Nothing has really changed with the nitrItes. So we do another 50% WC. After that change nitrItes were STILL off the charts.
Redosed with ammonia and now we are 24hrs later and my tank data looks like:
NitrAte: 20ppm (I'm really guessing on this as I can't tell the diff between 10 and 20 on my chart)
My question is, what do we do now? Do we need to do a 100% change to reboot the nitrites?
I've read just about every thread on here on this topic, but still feel clueless, and am I the only one who has a hard time reading these tests? I feel like maybe I'm color-blind and I never knew it before!
Thank you in advance to any who can help!!!