I've been using the post made by librarygirl referenced below to cycle my new tank:
-20 gallons (probably about 17 gallons after displacement of substrate and driftwood/plants)
-2.5 inches of flourite
-Heavily planted from the start
-Aquaclear 50 HOB filtration
-I purchased some driftwood that was already in an established tank for quite some time from the LFS. Also convinced them to give me some gravel from one of their "bio-tanks". Added both to the tank about 5 days after starting the tank.
-Added DIY co2 a couple of days after the driftwood and have been experimenting with various methods of diffusion. This has brought my pH down from about 7.8 to 6.4
I've been dosing with Janitorial strength ammonia to 4.0ppm, just like recommended in the guide. The process has been going exactly as described in the guide, and the seeding material I added kick-started the process even more. In the last week since I've added the seeding material I quickly saw an increase in the amount of nitrite. Frankly, it rose well above 5.0ppm within a few days and has stayed there. Regardless, I waited until the nitrates became off the charts high (like explained in the guide) before I did a 50% pwc. This brought down the nitrates, but the nitrites remained above 5.0ppm. I've since done another 70% pwc a couple of days later, but this still did not bring down my nitrites below 5.0ppm. This tells me my nitrite levels are crazy high.
Is this ok that they are so high throughout this process? Is it because I am maintaining a 4.0ppm level of ammonia in a smaller tank and should lower my dosing? Is my introduction of co2 to the tank inhibiting growth of the nitrite-eating bacteria? Should I be doing multiple water changes in a row with tests in between to bring them down? Most importantly, is this expected in the process, or is something not right?