1. I am not sure if that special formula had any bacteria in it, but from my understanding, unless it is scientifically proven that the
<beneficial bacteria live in the container, the LFS
duped you. Mostly about 95% of the time, it either contains the wrong bacteria to help with your nitrification or the bacteria were long dead.
2. You should test for nitrites and nitrates. You'll know you've cycled after you've seen your nitrites and nitrates spike and then gradually decrease to a lower level.
3. Did you add any source of ammonia? The
<beneficial bacteria will not make ammonia on their own. If you didn't add any source of it, ex. fish food, raw shrimp, pure ammonia, then you got a good ammonia reading because there was none.
4. Are you testing with test strips or a liquid test kit? Test strips are horribly inaccurate. I once tested my water with 0 ammonia and nitrates and 20 nitrates and a pH of 7.6, and the LFS
with a liquid test kit test strips got 0.5 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 0, nitrates, and 6.4 pH if memory serves correct.