Wow, thats a lot of info.
One question (for now)
My tank was established for about 4 years and held 2 big cats. We donated the cats to a local shop that they housed in a pond. (the cats were purchased by someone who didn't know the rules of checking the size of fish before buying)
It has been a few days since the tank has been without the fish. We kept the water and filters but replaced the substrate and added plants.
My ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, PH were all perfect.
Without the addition of ammonia into the tank from the food, fish waste etc will I lose my bacteria?
I wasn't going to add fish until I finalized the plant-scaping etc.