Newbie struggling to keep ammonia up during cycling
First time poster here! Firstly I wanted to say thanks for the excellent information on this site which has been extremely helpful to me in setting up my first tropical aquarium (although I did start with a little knowledge as we always had a fish tank in the house when I was growing up!)
My plan is to start small with just a couple of guppies or tetras and get a feel for maintaing the tank before maybe looking at a couple more tankmates.
I've been following the Fishless Cycling guide on this site and I'm now about 14 days in to "Ammonia-only" method using Dr. Tim's ammonium chloride (the post-2016 version so 4 drops/gallon).
The tank is a ~14 gallon tank with a few young plants (Java fern, Anubias) which appear to be doing well. The heater is on and the tank is sitting at ~82F
For the first 8 days or so ammonia was holding steady at 3ppm before I started to see a drop. Sure enough after that, the ammonia started dropping rapidly (down to 0.25ppm overnight) while nitrites rose, so I dutifily dosed ammonia each day back to around 2-3ppm and waited...
Today: Ammonia: 0.25ppm Nitrites: Off the scale (API kit) Nitrate: 20ppm (tap water starting value 10ppm)
Whilst it seems a good sign to me that ammonia is being dealt with so quickly, I'm concerned about the amount I'm needing to add during cycling.
For example, yesterday I added 50 drops of ammonia. I tested ammonia again just one hour later and it's back to 0.25ppm! Where is it all going? At this rate, to achieve 2-3ppm each day during cycling, I'm going to be tipping the bottle in :)
Should I ease off on the ammonia / dose more in / switch to food method?