Thanks for the input OVT, it is much appreciated. I've read the article you posted a link to a few times previously and again now, but it is based on research that is over 20 years old and I wasn't sure if more has been found in the relationship between PH and Ammonia in more recent studie. I have read some more comments based on studies that seemed more clear on the ammonia/ammonium differences and effects on fauna.
I know my filter hasn't built up the BB required to clear the toxins yet as I haven't hit zero on either ammonia or nitrite so I know im not completely out of the woods yet. Therefore, I'll continue to keep the tank empty of inhabitants as I planned. Its obvious either my tank is not done with the build up of BB in my filter and/or there aren't enough plants in the tank to handle the load currently. My only real concern right now would be the high nitrate stalling the buildup of BB in the filter. It seems that other than the nitrate issue, having the ammonia around 4 and nitrites at 1 are actually beneficial to silent or fishless cycling as essentially i can just leave the water in there to provide food for the BB I'm trying to build up. This kind of negates the need for PWCs other than to bring down the nitrates, am I wrong?
Like I said it will be nearly two weeks before I add fish so I plan to monitor the numbers and hopefully theyll be down to zeros in amonnia and nitrite in time to plant the remaining plants and do a 90% PWC before adding my friends. Tonight Ammonia is down at 2.5 and Nitrite is up a little to 1.5 so hopefully that trend continues and it's the nitrite up-swing and ammonia breakdown I'm waiting for to show the filter BB buildup is progressing to stage two. I'll see what results I get tomorrow night!