I just wanted to share how much easier it was to cycle my second tank with seeded items from the first, and lots of good advice from these forums.
I set up a 14-gal tank about a month ago and I let the new filter media sit in the old filter for a bit, and I added a handful of old gravel in a nylon stocking and a piece of decor from the main tank. The new tank had one fish - he needed to be isolated from the others because of aggression issues. I tested the water every day, and I was amazed at how much better this cycle was.
pH was stable at 7.8. Ammonia levels never rose higher than 0.25 ppm, and were back down to zero by day 7. Nitrite rose to somewhere between 0.25 and 0.5 (I use liquid test kits and the color was in between...) but never officially reached 0.5 ppm. Nitrates were detectable by a slight color change by day 13, and gradually rose to 5 ppm. By day 20, both ammonia and nitrite were at zero again, and nitrate is steady at 5. I let the cycle progress for the first two weeks because the parameters weren't dangerous, and then started 10% weekly PWC on day 14.
My fish was healthy and happy the whole time. I think he has gorged himself on all the brown algae though...