Question about my cycle
How long does it take for ammonia to show up in water tests? I have a 29 gallon tank sparsely planted (some HC, frogbit, ludwiga suffruticosa) 1 silver tipped tetra, 3 glowlight tetras, and 5 ghost shrimp. The tank started as a DSM and was growing nicely but then I neglected it for a good half year and recently decided that I was tired of having a neglected tank and decided to clean up the algae that had been growing. I then flooded the tank and added some fresh HC. I am using a new filter so I needed to cycle the tank. I bought a bottle of tetra safe start plus and figured it might just speed up my cycle, dumped in 3/4's of the bottle and then two days later poured in the rest after a small water change. I also had api ammo chips (zeolite) and purigen in the filter initially before I realized that they'd probably stall the cycle so i took them out a few days ago. The weird part is that I've been testing ammonia and nitrites regularly and I've been getting consistent 0-0.25 ppm ammonia readings, 0 nitrite, and around 10 ppm of nitrates. The ammonia readings are a bit iffy because I couldn't get that perfect yellow for 0 ppm on the card but it wasn't the yellow green for 0.25 ppm either. I tested some distilled water and it was the same color so I'm assuming the kit just can't display the 0 ppm reading. I have two api test kits and thus two ammonia test kits with different lot numbers, they keep showing that yellow-slightly green reading when I test my water before when I had the zeolite and purigen and 3 days after i removed it. I tested my tap water water with both ammonia kits to make sure that their results match and they both show my tap has 0.5 ppm of ammonia.
Anyhow, I am confused.
I can only conclude two things.
1. the tetra safestart worked and my tank is cycled already. (tank has been set up for ~2 weeks) the water changes should be adding ammonia because my tap has ammonia but the test kit reading isn't picking anything up when I test a day after a wc.
2. 29 gallons is a big enough volume to dilute any ammonia introduced from water changes and my light bio load right now. Thus I need to keep waiting for the ammonia to build up and for the cycle to start.
Any thoughts? at this point it feels like I WANT ammonia LOL
How could I test if I'm cycled already if that's the case?