I been cycling my new 20g tank for over a week now, I been testing my water daily but still dont see much changes so want to make sure I am doing everything right.
I have the eco-complete substrate along with some cholla woods in the tank, and slowly adding plants (1 anubias, some java and xmas moss matt sitting at the bottom of the tank. My tap water have around 0.5PPM of ammonia in it and also rather high ph (upper 8 to lower 9) but it did drop to the mid to upper 7 after I added the woods and plants. I been testing the water daily, the ammonia level is slightly lower than tap at between 0.25 to 0.5 PPM, with no nitrate or nitrate detected. I also add the Fluval Biological Enhancer daily to help kick start on the BB. I also add a small pinch of fish flakes to the tank daily to add ammonia. However, I am kinda stuck between 0.25 to 0.5 PPM of ammonia no matter how much fish food i added, I think there are some BB in my tank breaking down the ammonia since they remain the same level even though I can clearly see fish food floating around my tank and all over my filter intake sponge but no increase in ammonia level as they break down, but at the same time I am not seeing any nitrite or nitrate in my water testing, I am not sure they are being convert to nitrate that quickly and being absorbed by the plants (i do keep the lights on for more than 10 hrs a day to try to help the plants grow). I have not done any water so far since I never see a spike in ammonia getting above 0.5PPM in my tank but at the same time it never drop below 0.25 PPM either.
My question is, how I know when the cycle process is working and how do I know when it's complete and ready for fish? Does plants in the aquariums absorb ammonia and nitrite directly, or they only take nitrate?
Also on a separate question, we have a huge pond full of aquatic lives in a park nearby, are there any BB in the gravel in the pond that I can take and put in my filter to help the process?