Problems with fishless cycle
It's been a while since I've tried getting my twenty gallon fish tank through the "cycle." I originally tried cycling with fish (this was when I was particularly new to the hobby and did not know my options). I failed at that and felt horrible having fish die during the process, so I looked into the fishless cycle and a few months later decided to start again. I have been going at it for about four weeks with very little success.
I decided to start from scratch once the fish cycle failed so miserably. Set up my aquarium, made sure the tap water was treated properly, added live bacteria and started adding ammonia. I used pure ammonia, got to a level of 5ppm and waited for it to drop so that I could work on it again and then get a nitrite spike. It's been about 3 weeks since that first ammonia spike. Needless to say, I'm just stuck there.
Here is the confusing part: the ammonia has not dropped one bit, my nitrites are at 0 ppm and the nitrates read 20 ppm. I'm using an API test kit (the one with the tubes, not the paper test). I had the idea of testing my tap water for ammonia and got a reading of 2 ppm. My guess is that something somewhere is contaminated and my ammonia tests are no good.
Where do I go from here? What steps can I take so that I can ensure a more successful cycling process? Any help would be appreciated.
What are the printed dates on your testing bottles? Should be at the very top near the cap. Also whats the pH of your water? And have you tried the ammonia test on some distilled water? Just to make sure you don't have really crummy tap water.
The date on the ammonia test bottle is 12/10. This is the lot number, so it is the date of production. I can't find an expiration date, but I bought these a few months ago around mid June. My pH is 7.2. I have also tested my tap water before and have gotten an ammonia reading of 0ppm. Checked some water from an aquafina bottle and also got 1.0+ Hope this helps.
Yup sadly it looks like you need to go buy a new ammonia test looks like its contaminated or some other issue, I believe the API tests are good for 2+ years so that wont be the issue, until you get correct readings on your testing its going to be even harder to figure out whats going on, keep adding your ammonia though so you don't lose the bacteria you have already grown.
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