So I've been trying to cycle my 77g tank with ammonia for the last 17 days with not a lot of luck. I've been keeping the amm to ~4.9. I've only seen one day with barely registrable nitrites in all that time, although the amm does slowly drift down to ~2.4 overnight, which I then top back up to 4.9. I have gravel substrate and air stones. Today's parameters are: pH 8 - 8.5, amm 2.4, trItes 0, trAtes 0, using Nutrafin's mini master kit.

During that time, the only things I have done to the tanks are:

On day 7, I added another heater and another canister filter. Original filter is Fluval 405 and we added a Fluval G6. Increased temp from 27 to 30C.

On day 14, I did a partial (~40%) water change because I added a large piece of driftwood. Decreased temp slightly to 28C.

I have not: added anything else (including Prime) to the tank because we have well water, rinsed or cleaned anything, added fish/live plants, added carbon.

I finally broke down and had my hubby ask a friend if we could have some of his filter media, which he generously agreed to. I don't want to screw this up and kill the BB, so I was wondering if someone could check my plan.

When we get the media, I was going to do a large water change prior to putting the media in the filters. Wait an hour after adding the media, and test amm, bumping to 4.9ish. Tomorrow, I will test the amm, trites and trates, and not add more ammonia unless amm=0 (right?) to around 2. When amm and trites = 0, and trates are large, tank is cycled, correct? At that point, add ammonia to keep amm at about 1ish until able to get fish in the tank, doing a large water change to get trAtes < 20 prior to introducing the fish. I am estimating approx 1 week for this to occur.

I know patience is a virtue, but my patience is wearing thin. I am curious though, and wonder if anyone could point out what I was doing wrong with my original cycling with just straight ammonia, as I want to learn from my mistakes. Thanks for any replies.