We're heading into our 4th week since setting up a 75g tank, we started with damsels, who've been relocated to a small tank that I can easily maintain.
I've still got ammonia off the charts. I've been mixing 4 parts tap water (tested to have 0.5 parts ammonia per 5 ml), with 1 part tank water, which gives me a 4.0 reading (calculates out to about 20.0 for the tank).
Nitrites are going up though, and just yesterday hit the 5.0 limit on my test kit.
Nitrites are still low - around 10 mg
So, it looks like some ammonia is getting converted to nitrites, but nitrite to nitrate process is still behind.
Last night i noticed the 2 charcoal baskets in my emperor 400 power filter were empty - I'm heading out now to get a refill. I had to scrape off the two sponge-based "cartridges", they were completely covered with "gunk" and were barely passing any water through them
Also, there are bubbles in the top of the tank - lots - covering about 50% of the surface.
During the first week and a half, I did use ammo-loc, and bio-zyme, in an effort to make the damsels comfortable and speed things along, but honestly neither of those products seemed to have done anything.
After 3 full weeks, should I hang in there and keep waiting? Do nitrites appear if the cycle isn't working at some level?