Thanks for the reply!
If you read carefully, you'll notice that I was nearly cycled and just stalling on the nitrite->nitrate half of cycle. After some careful research, I learned how to get a ammonia->nitrite bb colonies quickly and that were efficient. The question was to the relatively common problem of the second half of the cycle taking a long time during fish less cycling (and sometimes stalling at like 1ppm until fish are added).
Some proponents of cycling with fish have pointed this out as a flaw and problem with fish less cycling. When I realized that the levels of ammonia were so high so quickly in fishless, I realized the problem was that by the time the nitrite->nitrate process began...the bacteria feeding primarily ammonia had already colonized very surface and could easily outcompete the newbies I needed.
Some people don't have this problem because a) they cycle with less ammonia b) they are lucky c) they use lots of chemicals to alter the process d) their seeded material has enough of both species to almost instantly create a cycle or the big one E) the particular species they colonized first is the one (not going to use names here) is the one that can use both ammonia and nitrite.
-These factors are possibly the cause for why one person can cycle a new tank in a week and another, using what they thought was the same process, takes six weeks. I wanted to find a consistent cycle that would be fast and effective.
Unfortunately, trial and error means that my process wasn't fully tweaked until the second half of my cycle...but the knowledge that I HAD the nitrite eating Bacteria and they just weren't taking off, led
me to my conclusions.
1) Provide new real estate
2) Allow ammonia to fall for 24-48 hours or until nitrite drops
3) Use a combo of Stability throughout and then small bottle of safe start
The last point goes to the heart of the issue. You want the super efficient ammonia eating bacteria and the same of the nitrite eating, but a healthy colony of those who can do both will provide greater stability (keeping the system level). Also, some are more sensitive to ph changes, temps, etc than others. A diverse colony provides ultimate Stability. Cycling with fish may actually do a better job of that when done properly over time...but the time and time and the stress on the fish every time you add more load, aye! Using the principals Ive mentioned, I think you could do this easily and quickly with the right scientific procedure.
As to your point on the three hours: My cycle was at the top of the nitrite half but had the bacteria and spores there. I killed the ammonia supply and gave them a place to land, replicating geometrically in 8 hrs with live Bacteria as found in safestart instead of stability spores, I had a bloom and the nitrite was gone completely in about ten hours. I was impressed and wanted to share.
The ideas mean, however, that one 'should' be able to follow directions carefully and ""Consistently"" produce a fully cycled tank from scratch with a bottle of stability and small of safe start within two weeks, but that is conservative and I think it probably would only take one week. This would be for full stock. Others have done this many times, but we haven't seen others replicate this success and chalk it up to 'every tank is different' or blah blah. Maybe this is would work to fix that.
To update you (I have been up testing all night like a mad scientist):
Beautiful bloom after the water change and in 2 hours now... I have cycled a little less than half the ammonia->nitrite. I expect the Bacteria to settle and establish more diverse colonies and then replicate. In 6-7 more hours, they should be able to knock this out (if my calculations are correct). If I pulled early on the nitrite->nitrate bacteria, then it should be 12-16 hours. Just my hypothesis as will post results. Perhaps tomorrow my tank will be cichlid ready?