Well I guess I'll start on how about I started cycling it. After getting it set up (the heater and bubblers and filter, decorations placed) and the water dechlorinated, I placed the carbon of the goldfish tank in and let it drop to the bottom. I've been using a mix of fish flakes and my turtle's sticks to bring up the ammonia level since I do not have any pure ammonia, nor can I find any nearby to purchase.
After the first week the levels of ammonia started going up, and by the second week they were at 4ppm or around there. My nitrites and nitrates also started to show up by the beginning of the third week. The nitrites got high, and like expected the ammonia level got low. I added more fish food to bring it up a little. Well around the fourth week the ammonia and nitrites were both really low. My nitrates on the other hand haven't moved up much. It's been sitting at around 40ppm for a while (and still is there).
I wasn't sure if it was stalled or done, so I did a 50% water change (and the water added also had the conditioner put it), and added a little more fish food in. The nitrites have been climbing up again. So now I'm waiting to see if they and the ammonia go back down to where they were. From what the guide said, it said the nitrates were supposed to get really high, but they just hit a certain point (around 40ppm) and haven't got any higher, which is why I'm kind of unsure if its ready or not yet. I also added another one of the decorations from the ten gallon today just in case it needs more seeding material.
I should probably mention that my (city) water is also very hard and alkaline. I'm also wondering if this would be bad for my fish as well, or if its interfering with the cycling at all and if there's anything that could help with that. I'm also using the jungle test strips for both my ammonia and other stuff. I heard strips might not be as accurate, but its all I have.
I tested it earlier today and this is what I got for my readings:
Nitrate: 40 ppm
): 300pm (or higher)
): 300ppm (or higher)
pH: 8.4 (or higher)
Ammonia: Since the strips kind of jump from 0.5 to 3.0ppm and due to the color, its somewhere in between there.