The NO2 is probably fine, as long as the tests all seem to indicate ANYWHERE under 5 ppm. The tests are not that accurate anyway.
However, here is how to use them to try to get an 'in between' reading:
API tests say to start with 5 ml tank water.
Do this instead: 2.5 ml tank water + 2.5 ml distilled or RO water. Tap water is OK if there is no NO2 or NO3 in it. Do not use tap water with chloramine if you are doing the ammonia test.
Then double the test result. If the test seems to show it closest to 2 ppm, then call it 4 ppm. You could probably cut that again, perhaps 1 ml tank water + 4 ml of tap, then multiply the result by 5, but somewhere in here you are trying to get an accuracy beyond what the test kit is good for. Interesting to play around with it, and see if the 2 test kits (strip and test tube style) agree.
Excel is probably OK during cycling, but I would not use the loading dose that Seachem specifies, just the regular dosing.
Thanks for your reply! Well I tried this and it still is unreadable which means its probably more like what the Tetra test strip is stating which is 10ppm or above right now.
I don't get it. I have done 4 massive water changes in the past 48 hours and it is still this high. I When I put the water back into the system I make sure I pour it into the back chamber (sump) so it does not disturb the gravel. I did have to disturb the gravel yesterday in order to plant 30 pygmy chain swords though so maybe thats why it rose so high. Still seems like I am doing awfully big water changes and I should be diluting it.
I got nothing but time and while it would be nice to look at some fish I am not in a huge hurry I just want to make sure the cycle is not hindered by me.