I have a 5 gallon that has been home to a single betta and just 2 Anubias Nana for the past 5 months. I have decided to dive in after browsing this site for awhile and just started my 1st true planted tank. A 6 gallon glass bowfront. I used Safe T Sorb for substrate, rinsed and screened through a fine mesh sieve. The tank has a large piece of Mopani driftwood I boiled for 3 hours and covered with Java moss harvested from my betta tank. I purchased my plants that were all submerged in a "plant only" tank from Petco. I have some Rotala Rotundifolia, Red Ludwigia, Alternanthera Reineckii Telantera, Anacharis, Java Fern, a baby Anubias Nana (from betta tank), Cryptocoryne Undulata, Dwarf Hairgrass and some Monte Carlo. I stuffed the filter box with pillow stuffing for 1st 24 hours. Also seeded with bag of Seachem Matrix that had been in my betta tank for 3 weeks, along with old carbon pad I had in his tank for 5 months (carbon dumped out). I used RO water charged with Seachem Equilibrium and dosed with Stability along with some of the water the plants came in. (I tested it first Am 0, No2 0, No3
I set up my betta tank last year as a total newbie and knew very little about the nitrogen cycle. I used Prime and Stability along with my well water that had gone through a water softener and whole house filter. I tested Ammonia, N02 & No3 regulary and somehow I never had a problem with ammonia or nitrite spikes. The betta did well but I couldn't figure out why my snails kept dying and plants kept melting. I have since learned the importance of GH & KH and now use the Equilibrium product with RO.
So with my new tank, obviously I want to do everything right. Researching all over the web I see varying advice, and even some saying not to bother with cycling a planted tank. I don't feel comfortable with that though. So I planted and flooded the tank on Jan 25. I put 3 root tabs in and some API Leaf Zone.
Today I removed the pillow stuffing, replaced with coarse sponge, blue bonded floss, a piece of 100 micron Filter Maxx, and added a bag of Purigen on top of my Matrix. I tested with API and found Ammonia .50, Nitrites hard to read, I think around 20... Nitrates 10. PH 7.6, GH 5, KH 16
Here is where I have a couple questions. Idk why the ammonia is so high. I didn't add any household ammonia. Does the fact that I already have Nitrates mean I just need to get ammonia and Nitrites to 0 with PWC? Or do I have to keep a small amt of ammonia to "feed" the bacteria until I stock the tank? TIA for any advice