6 weeks ago I started my 55g tank over because I painted, I also replaced the hang-on filter with a canister filter. I've never done a cycle, first time around I was never told about it and ended up doing a fish cycle. Anyways I'm trying to do things right but having trouble, maybe its because of my actions.
When I setup I purchased new plastic plants as that's all I've ever done, and add pure ammonia at 4ppm to start the cycle. After a week the nitrites were off the chart and ammonia was disappearing, I added more ammonia and the same happened. After 2 weeks I was sick of the plastic plants and decided to go with live plants.
So I shut the filter off for about 12 hours and took out the sand and added Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil topped with small gravel and added a decent amount of plants. Then I started up the filter again and was hoping to continue with the cycle.
Since the soil has gone in I haven't added any ammonia as it seems to be leaking a bit from the soil. However its been 4 weeks now with this soil and I always have .25ppm of ammonia, shouldn't the bacteria have built up enough to handle that small amount? I also added more plants a week ago hoping they would eat that ammonia, but didn't help any. Yesterday for the first time I actually saw some green .5ppm but 12 hours later another test it was gone.
I thought there should be enough bacteria after 4-6 weeks to eat any ammonia being produced? As time goes less should be coming out of the soil as well.
My nitrites have been off the chart for the last 4 weeks as well. I can do 150% water changes to bring nitrites to 0 and 6-12 hours it off the chart again so bacteria must be present.
My nitrates are always at 10-20ppm they have never jumped into the red.
2 weeks ago my filter was blowing small bubbles, I discovered it was overfilled with media so I did open the filter but only for about 5 minutes to take some pads out.
My testing always comes out the same for the last 3 weeks for sure, I'm starting to think my test kit is defective, lol. The first tube in the picture is an ammonia test after sitting 12 hours, they seem to show clean after sitting but I guess that's normal.
So now I'm wondering should I add ammonia to see if it gets converted? Any tips on what I might try, I've been using patience but after 6 weeks how much more can a guy have.