Closer...Did you change water to get the nitrate to drop? That's the only way I know except for plants (do you have any live plants now?)...& maybe the beneficial bacteria is working?!? But it can be hard to tell the test colors...Is there someone else in you household to offer an opinion on color? My husband sees color diffently than I do. It's not necessarily gender based but it can be. A second set of eyes may help.
It looks like you're getting there. I haven't used "bacteria in a bottle" products, 2tank has...
Ffishorama I didn't do a water change.. nitrite went 0 by itself. BUT just watched a video online where the guy said you might not see a nitrite level at all. but I'd hope my nitrate level would be climbing not falling. oh well, other get fish and throw them in a tank.
The nitrate test is the least accurate. If you are using the API test kit it is important to beat the heck out of bottle #2. It settles out the solid which tend to sink to the bottom of the bottle where they will sit out of solution. So do the following. Bang the bottle on a table top a couple of times and then shake it hard for a bit. Then bang and shake it again. Then you can add its drops.
The bacteria we need in our tanks are the ones that can thrive on lower ammonia levels. if there is to much ammonia in a tank those bacteria have problems but the ones which can handle higher ammonia levels will colonize but do not last. There is a reason why Dr. Tim and other [H.D. microbiologists say not to exceed 5 ppm of ammonia or nitrite using the nitrogen scale.
The only thing that seems off to me in your process is you started with to much ammonia and that was the problem. Not seeing nitrite in a cycle where one seeds bacteria is not uncommon.
I also thing the flakes you think you totally removed manage to create some ammonia. So the total ammonia in the tank was almost certainly too high and is the source of why things are off kilter.