Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Most ADA products do indeed add a lot of ammonia to the water.
Even a heavily planted tank cannot keep up with the ADA soils.
That the ammonia is only showing .5 ppm suggests that perhaps the test kit is not accurate.
However, even .5 ppm ammonia is enough to be feeding the bacteria, and I would expect to see some nitrite in just a few days to a week. Nitrate in about 2 weeks.
If neither nitrite nor nitrate are showing up, then there is something wrong.
These bacteria thrive under these conditions:
High oxygen (that is what kills them in a shut-off canister- no oxygen)
Some carbonate. KH at least 3 German degrees of hardness. (ADA substrates are known to remove the KH from the water)
No toxins like fish meds, H2O2, chlorine, chloramine...
Ammonia and nitrite not higher than 5 ppm.