You can, you don't need the light or the skimmer, just rocks, saltwater, heat, flow and some bacteria and some amount of food for it.
I use the dr. Tim's ammonia and bottle bac to cycle things, works well, just go slow (dose half the ammo is from what the bottle says and test, most people report going way over in initial dose it seems).
Im not sure anyone's bothered to clearly test that, which would be the easiest thing on the planet...same with bagged live sand.
but these are strong factors too: this is 2020 we're pretty advanced in the ability to do neat things with biology. bottle bac makers arent having trouble. fish in cycling has exploded, to the enjoyment of cryptocarion but they aren't having a bit of trouble with free ammonia.
if we can do all that, and some company who's been in the business 30 yrs says they've invented a purple bioshellac paint with bacteria, then Im not surprised.
No light, just flow and heat, bacteria starter, Food to feed, I don’t think you need to use the skimmer (Dr. Tims is good) I did something similar and added rock as well. It gets all that good bacteria nice and built up ready for that install. Just let everything sit in the dark and cycle.
I will admit I’m still in the old school train of thought where patience in this hobby is gold, so even with all the boosters (I also used Caribsea) I waited a few weeks before putting anything in the tank. I’ve read too many horror stories in the Tank Emergency forum where people rushed and things started dying or bad things started growing. I’m not saying thats what you are doing hopefully we’re all giving you good advice that’s why you’re on R2R.
I’m looking forward to that new tank build thread! Congrats!
Yes you can. contrary to popular belief room temperature is fine no heater needed. Keep the water circulating and oxygenated . Avoid excess light no sense inviting algae. pick your poison to start bacteria cultures and feeding the bacteria
" i prefer skimate from a healthy system " as it will have a diversity of hedrotrophic , aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. Along with a disolved food source. one needs to be aware of what is in the skimmate. As small pests and micro algae can ride along. PS you will not find that quality skimmate at you lfs regardless of what thay tell you