Hi all, I've been having several problems with my new aquarium and the cycling process and just wanted to ask a couple of questions to see what to do
My aquarium is a 30 gallon Juwel Primo 110, with Seachem Flourite gravel, some rocks/driftwood, and several plants (anubias nana, hygrophila polysperma, marimo/java moss, a couple java ferns, and some other beginner red plants/carpet plants. I modified the filter so, instead of only using foams, I'm using a bag of Seachem Matrix biomedia as well as Juwel's fine sponge, a couple fine filter pads, and some medium/coarse sponges as well as a small bag of Seachem Matrix Carbon - I recently replaced the Carbon sponge for a normal piece of coarse sponge instead
Dosing the aquarium with Flourish, Flourish Excel, Flourish Potassium/Iron/Phosphorus, Seachem Stability, and Seachem Prime for water changes. Adding ammonium chloride as my ammonia source and testing daily
So I've been cycling the tank for a few weeks now, and my filter can consistently turn 3-4ppm ammonia into 0ppm ammonia in around 24 hours, but my nitrite levels/nitrate levels are increidbly high. I did a large water change yesterday (70%~) and dosed with Prime + Stability, and topped ammonia up to 3ppm. After testing today, my ammonia is back to 0 and my nitrites are off the chart and my nitrates are 80ppm+.
My issue is that cycling guides say to maintain ammonia at 3-4ppm throughout the cycle so bacteria have food to eat, but my nitrites aren't decreasing anywhere near as fast, so I have a massive nitrite/nitrate spike only a couple days after changing my tank water. I also had problems with my pH/KH
a couple of weeks ago where my pH dropped from 7.8 normally to almost 6.5 as my tank had ran out of KH
I keep reading that my bacteria need food/ammonia to survive during this process, but even adding a small amount of ammonia per day (1ppm) resulted in very high nitrites/nitrates with little change despite daily testing, small water changes to lower nitrites/nitrates, adding more plants, etc.
Should I do another large water change and add 1ppm ammonia to let the nitrite bacteria catch up, or should I just continue to add 3-4ppm ammonia daily until my nitrites finally start dropping? I read that if nitrites/nitrates get too high during the cyclnig process, then my cycle will stall or stop completely, but if I don't add ammonia then my bacteria will die? Please could someone recommend a good way of progressing here as I want to add fish soon!