Man, there is a lot of terrible advice and misinformation about aquarium cycling out there.
You know what makes cycling like a total non-issue in tanks? Plants. Live plants.
I’ve been going through this with Red Betta’s tank, because it’s so small and because I’m essentially doing a fish-in cycle. I got a little terracotta pot thing I tied some Java fern to, made a few Java moss balls out of filter sponge and those ceramic noodle things, and grabbed a few pieces of frogbit. All of that went into the tank. It’s not particularly aesthetic, but it works.