Are you going to do live rock cycle, which is basicallyfishless cycling or or you going to fish cycle which isn't recommended but you can do. I would say you can start it when the tank is set up it really cant do any harm.
I say start it when you set up the tank. Bacteria is going to quickly spread through the tank skimmer or no skimmer. You should check out the article in this onths Tropical Fish Hobbyist for more info about the cycle process and how hardy the bacteria really are.
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