The cloudy water is a bacterial bloom, not harmful but unsightly. Change water 50%. It has nothing to do with flakes. It's not the nitrifying bacteria you want to grow for your nitrogen cycle.
Cycling with a fish in the tank takes care and attention towater conditions. The best way to do this is to use this: [ame="http://www.amazon.com/API-Freshwater-Master-Test-Kit/dp/B000255NCI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379756505&sr=8-1&keywords=API+freshwater"]Amazon.com: API Freshwater Master Test Kit: Pet Supplies[/ame]
This will last for years..... And the price just went down.
Cycling is just the process of growing bacteria. It requires a few easy-to-follow steps, mostly water changes. Read the cycling stickies at the top of this menu and anything else you can. http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/b...ecific-107771/
Bottom line: if you change half your water whenever the ammonia reaches 0.25ppm and add Prime (2-drops/gal tank size), eventually your tank will cycle without you dong anything else. If you change half your water twice a week with Prime, your tank will also cycle automatically. It's better to use a test kit for security and for your own peace-of-mind.
You can cycle without it, but you're just guessing. In any case 2x50% water changes/week using Prime (2-drops/gal of tank size) will offer added security and protection from ammonia. Prime is available at Petsmart. Get the small bottle for now. Later I'll tell you what to do with the empty bottle.
Live plants are a wonderful way to ensure safety while cycling. If you have a lot of plants, Galtgirl, they may eat all the ammonia before they even get to the bacteria. Thius is a good thing. Plants respond faster to upsets and ammonia spikes than bacteria do.
Is this the filter you're using, Ashton? If not give me a link or more accurate name.