04-24-2013, 11:54 AM
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First off, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.
Cycling a new tank can take anywhere up to 8 weeks normally. It varies from tank to tank due to a number of biological factors.
With live fish in the tank, ammonia and nitrite must not be allowed to rise above zero or the fish will be affected. The ammo-lock should deal with ammonia; it does this by changing it from ammonia to ammonium which is not toxic to fish. Ammonium will read as "ammonia" with our test kits. Obviously this is what is occurring, otherwise with a reading of 5 or 6 ppm, or even 2 ppm, the fish would be dead.
At this stage, since the nitrite spike will be next, I would add some floating plants. These work by taking up a lot of ammonia, faster than bacteria can, and the tank will therefore "cycle" silently, which means in such low amounts that you will not detect them. But more importantly, the fish will be protected. Water Sprite is ideal for this, but many of the stem plants also work well left floating.
Another method is to do daily 50% water changes, and use a conditioner like Prime or Ultimate that detoxify ammonia and nitrite.