I've been trying to do a fishless cycle in my 5 gallon tank, and it's not going too well. I've been keeping the ammonia around 4-5ppm, just using pure ammonia, temp. Is 80°F, filter is cranked to max for optimal oxygenation... I've been at this for around a month now, with no signs of nitrites yet. What am I doing wrong!? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, as I'm fairly new to this.
Yes, I add a few drops almost every day. I guess I haven't been testing everyday though, only once or twice a week. Every time I check the ammonia, it's about the same, so I've just assumed I was adding the proper amount. Also I haven't been testing nitrates yet, because I thought there wouldn't be any until after the nitrite cycle started.
OK - Don't add any more ammonia until the level has dropped back to 0-1ppm. Check nitrate in the tank and in your tap water and see if there's a difference and post back. Also, test tank pH and let me know what it is, and whether your water is hard or soft. Your supplier's web site will tell you this. Look for a page about water quality and you should find you can enter your postcode and get a quality report which will tell you the hardness.
Alright, so: Nitrates are sitting just above 0, with the tank water being slightly darker than the tap water. I use the API test kit, so the colour is somewhere between 0-5ppm, tough to say exactly. The ph level is 8, and the water is considered fairly hard. Also, I just started using a bacteria supplement, (Nutrafin Cycle) to see if it helps, thoughts?
The product may help. Wait a week or so and see if you get a drop in ammonia. You won't see nitrite until there's a substantial reduction. If you haven't already done so, turn the temperature up to 28C (assuming a heated tank) as warmer water is more friendly to the beneficial bacteria you're trying to grow.
So, I haven't added any more ammonia, and I feel like there may now be the FAINTEST reading of nitrites, but the ammonia doesn't seem to be dropping really at all... Should I do a small wayer change, or just leave it a bit longer?
As this is a small tank and will have very little stock in it, 5ppm is perhaps too high. I would do a water change and get the ammonia down to 2ppm and then cycle at that level (i.e. wait for it to drop to 0 and then top back up to 2ppm). To get from 5ppm to 2ppm in a 5 gallon you'll need to change about 3 gallons.