My 35 Gallon Bowfront, Issues Cycling


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HI all! I decided to join a forum because I've been reading a lot of articles and forums out there but can't seem to find the answers to the issues I've been having cycling my 35 gallon bow front tank.

I bought the tank about 3.5 months ago, and didn't realize at the time that I knew relatively nothing about keeping fish despite having a large fish tank when I was growing up (somehow we didn't kill our fish despite not knowing about the nitrogen cycle). SO unfortunately I way overstocked the tank and found out afterwards about the nitrogen cycle. I didn't want to take the fish back to the store so I committed to doing daily water changes as needed to keep the ammonia and nitrites/ates down. I started off with most of these fish, but then at one point I think the tank was completely cycled or about to be so I bought the gouramI and the 2nd pleco. But then I made the mistake of rinsing the filter (in siphoned tank water) and cleaning all of the gravel in the bottom in one day. It sent me back to having 1.0 ppm Ammonia and around .50 ppm Nitrites for a couple weeks. Now I've been at .25 ppm ammonia and .5ppm nitrites (keeping the nitrates below 40ppm), for a couple weeks and it doesn't seem to want to finish cycling. My pH is always high at 8, I think because my water is hard and won't buffer (Indiana water) but I haven't tested that to check. I've tried adding driftwood and spagnum moss to help but no luck. I have a filter that's supposed to support a 50 gallon tank, and I have a sponge inside with 3 little bags of bioballs and the square filter cartridges that came with the filter containing the activated charcoal. I also have a large cylindrical sponge that covers the intake of the filter to try to keep debris from entering the filter and to get some more surface area for bacteria to grow. I have lots of freshwater plants and a few decorations, as well as fine gravel that is nearly sand.

Can you think of why my fish tank might not be cycling properly? Is it overstocked?
I have been doing 30%-50% water changes a few times a week to keep the waste down and help the water quality. I use Prime for a conditioner. If I double dose, I get readings of 0 ammonia and nitrites but then it goes back to .25 and .5 again after a couple days.

My tank is currently stocked with:

2 silver mollies
1 guppy
1 platy
1 small angelfish
1 dwarf gourami
2 bristlenose plecos (around 2 inches)
2 panda corys
1 banjo catfish (body is 2 inches long)
1 male betta (dont worry, hes friendly!)
2 small african dwarf frogs
1 racer snail


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