I really enjoy cycling a tank from zero. Find fascínating the invisible process seemingly Out of the blue , where ammonia rises, leaching from the substrate ( always use Ada amazonia or help shrimp substratos) then ammonia turns into nitrite and those two dissapear and you are left with nitrate, al i had to do was wait, i also use seachem matrix or pondguru,s ultimate and that ends Taking Care of nitrate too.
I think it might help to understand what water parameters you already have and what substrate.
As far as the bird mineral blocks go? They should, in theory, be okay, however I'd be concerned about the metal that's in many of them. The metal that's meant to be tied to the bird cages. Wouldn't personally use it, because if extra calcium was required, I'd just add it from a remineralizer or get some form of calcium in another form to add to the tank.