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I’ve been cycling a 5.5g with a 3L of new ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia using an Aquaclear 20 and a sponge filter. It’s been over a month and I’m still getting 2-4ppm ammonia reading with the API test kit! Is the soil leaching a ton of ammonia still (read it’s supposed to be for only a few weeks) or is my test kit bad?

Getting frustrated, I tested some other sources, and I’m getting funky results.

Tap water: around 2ppm ammonia and 20-40 nitrate (kinda difficult to tell).

Established shrimp and beta tanks: 0 ammonia and 20-40 nitrate.

I got this test kit Jan 2018, and it has an expiration date of aug/sept 2022. The other weird thing is, this nitrate test doesn’t seem to register nitrate over maybe 40-80ppm, even with water in weeks of cycling. I did a 90% water changes and tested for ammonia and nitrate right away: 1-2ppm ammonia and 20-40ppm nitrate, which is similar to the tap water results.

It seems to me, at least, the ammonia test is accurate, but the nitrate testing is funky (I’ve read reports that it can be inconsistent). That tells me the soil is leaching a ton of ammonia.. but it seems super excessive (used too much?) The tank has floaters and substrate surface is 75% planted. Plans are doing well.

Really puzzled and getting impatient! Should I get a new test kit? Any idea what’s going on?

(And yes, I am familiar with the nitrate testing procedures. Been using it for several years.)
 

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Have patience. Follow the instructions that came with your substrate. You'll likely need to do frequent water changes for more than a month - sometimes longer - when using ADA substrate products.

What you're experiencing is totally normal. I've had it take more than 2 months on occasion.

(Moved your post to the Substrate section)
 
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