Hope this helps and have a happy new year.
1. due to the temperature a heater isn't required to keep the temperature between 24 and 26 degrees Celsius. should i be getting a heater anyway or will i be fine without one until the temperature starts to dropYes, get a heater if you are keeping tropical fish. It only goes on when needed.
2. should i be doing water changes throughout the cycling process or will that disrupt the cycleWater changes slow a cycle. They should only be done when conditions require them. What such conditions are will be completely different for fish in and fishless cycling.
3. we have Prime water conditioner (one of many) will it disrupt the cycle in anyway due to it removing ammonia from the waterDespite their claims to the contrary, it can slow a cycle. The worse problem is it can cause one to get strange readings for ammonia. The need to dechlorinate is one thing, the need to neutralize ammonia is a separate issue. In an ideal world, one should use a plain dechlor which has no ammonia neutralizer when doing a fisless cycle.
4. should i be changing my filter media every month or so as required or do i wait until after the cycleNo, do not change media unless it no longer functions properly. Otherwise all it should need is to be rinsed out in a bucket of tank water (or dechlorinated tap water.)
5 are Nitrates bad for the fish and how do i lessen them if they are?Yes, they can be once they exceed the range of 20 -40 ppm. Water changes reduce nitrate levels. However, some places may have nitrate in their tap water. This can make the job of nitrate control more difficult. Another great way to control nitrate is the use of live plants in an aquarium.
6. and (sorry) how often should I be testing the ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and PH levels of the waterDuring cycling testing can be from daily to every other day or even longer depending on why you need to test. For cycling with fish lots of testing is needed. For fishless cycling it can be daily or every few days depending where you are in the process. A cycled tank should alway show 0 for ammonia and nitrite. Once a tank is established testing occasionally is all one may need. However, you need to know your tank is fairly stable overall. In additiontion to the cycling issues, you also need to know a bit about GH (general hardness and KH (carbonate hardness).
I would suggest you have a read here: http://fins.actwin.com/aquariafaq.html
Once there click on Your First Aquarium then read the Beginner FAQ: Practical Water Chemistry
Also, fish food is a poor way to make ammonia. You can actually use ammonia or ammonium chloride for fishless cycling. Fish food fouls the water and makes a mess and there is no way to control ammonia levels.
Using shrimp or fish food: One of the more popular fishless cycling methods is to buy a few dead shrimp at the grocery store, cut them up into chunks and add them to the aquarium. The shrimp decay, which produces ammonia to feed the nitrifying bacteria. There are a few drawbacks with this method, one being that the hobbyist really has no way to know how much ammonia is being produced by the decaying shrimp, and the aquarium does not look very good with dead shrimp laying on the bottom. Also, the organic material of the shrimp can cause bacteria blooms which turn the aquarium water cloudy. This method works but it takes time and patience and you will probably see a spike in ammonia and nitrite if you add a medium to heavy load of fish after the initial cycling. Note that some people use flake fish food instead of shrimp but this is not recommended because flake food does not have much organic material compared to shrimp and so does not add a lot of ammonia to the water, but you can use cut fish instead of shrimp.
If you need help with cycling, let me know.