Fishless Cycle - Need Advice or Reassurance
I have a 55g tank that i've been cycling w/o fish. I started on July 20th, adding ammonia (from Ace) to 4ppm. Took a few weeks but I finally started to get a drop, got nitrites, and then finally got nitrates. pH was good throughout this period as well.
About 5 days ago, pH took a dive to 6 from about 7.8. I did a 60% water change to bring it back up. 2 days later is was done again. Another 60% change and things are good for now. Test results have been pretty stable throughout. I am able to dose ammonia to 4ppm and it is gone the next day. However, nitrites are still around 5ppm and nitrates remain around 10-20ppm. I have added a bit of fish flakes to help out but seem to be stuck at these numbers.
i've been following that awesome guide you guys have stickied here and almost became impatient once but then things finally started changing. It has been almost 2 weeks at these same numbers above with the exception of pH usually at 7.8. Temp is 82 ish. Been cycling 4ppm of ammonia daily but nitrites and nitrates not really moving.
other notes, i have black sand bottom, driftwood, and rocks. currently running two large air stones as well. tank is crystal clear but does seem to darken a bit ( i assume that is due to the driftwood). was going to put some live java fern in but wanted to wait for the cycle to finish.
any help would be appreciated. or just reassurance that i'm still on the right track. thank you.