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Welcome to TFK!

You only need to do water changes during an initial cycle if/when either the ammonia or nitrites spike too high. Ammonia and nitrites are toxic even to the beneficial biology that oxidize them.

I'm assuming you have a cartridge type HOB (hang on back). Yes you can rinse and reuse the cartridge until it nearly falls apart. You rinse in tank or conditioned water rather than tap water so as not to kill the beneficial bacteria living there.
Most cartridges have a small amount of activated carbon inside. Carbon is a great purifier of water as is adsorbs all sorts of impurities. But it use life is pretty short, in most cases after a couple of weeks so they recommend replacing the cartridge.
But if other things are being managed well and especially if you have plants, you can not use carbon at all.

If you have gravel you want to drive the gravel siphon into the substrate to remove as much crud as you reasonably can. This material will just decompose and produce excess nitrates. Just like crud in your filter, best to get rid of it ASAP. Now if you have sand, you would just hover the gravel siphon over the surface to collect any mulm and disturb the sand as little as possible.

Ammonia oxidation into nitrites is the first stage of the N2 process. You maintain a level of ammonia until and after nitrites are created. As you continue to 'feed' nitrites may spike, in which case you would do a water change, but you must continue to feed the beneficial biology that required the ammonia. Once nitrites are processed, nitrates will begin to appear. Once ammonia and nitrites are zero, you can do a partial water change and add a couple of fish.

Note: You may not wish to jump into a planted tank, but if you invest in a few bunches of floating plants, the whole cycling process is much easier. I like Anacharis, but Water Sprite and Wisteria are favorites of others.

I also recommend jump starting cycling the process with one of the many good bacteria supplement products (API Quickstart, Seachem Stability, Tetra SafeStart to name a few). The continues to be a lot of debate over the effectiveness of these products because they had a much poorer performance years ago. However, these products have come of age. (You could also 'seed' the biology if you know someone with a healthy aquarium that could give you some filter media or substrate.)

Hope this helps some.
 
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Disturbing the sand is not an issue, you just don't need to do it is all. I've tried it both ways and ended up just siphoning now, the odd time I vacuum is if I see something I want to remove hanging around. I don't have enough visible detritus or mulm to get anything when I vacuum.
Disturbing the sand actually is, or can be, an issue... Assuming the sand is 2-3" or more (most often the case in planted tanks), within the sand there is the aerobic, anaerobic and anoxic regions. There are different beneficial bacteria colonies that inhabit these areas. Even in shallower sand (or in bio-media in filters), the beneficial bacteria colonies perform best when not disturbed.
Disturbing and disrupting these colonies does damage that may take weeks or months to restore. We 'get away' with this in the aquarium because typically there are other areas that can make up for our actions. For example, when we clean a filter, the substrate handles more bio-load. When we disrupt the substrate, we interrupt some of the advanced bio-filtration function, but inasmuch as it affects elements we don't even measure, we don't see the downside - but it's there just the same and the water purity is reduced.
With gravel, unfortunately we have no choice and typically must gravel siphon unplanted areas to reduce the likelihood of creating a nitrate factory. This action is not counter productive only because the alternative to the action is worse than inaction. However, with sand, detritus does not sift below the surface so we only need to hover the siphon to remove it, leaving the sand and the substrate bio-integrity intact.

Note: This is very much the same with the land. Conventional farming/gardening that tills the soil seriously disrupts the soil food web. (This has been proven in many studies - In fact, crop yields were proven to be much higher in un-tilled soil...believe it or not.)
 
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With the exception of man made pollution, nitrates are nearly unmeasurable in FW in nature. We should keep nitrates in our tanks as low as possible, lower the better, definitely <=20ppm.
 
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