I am a newbie starting my first saltwater tank and am wondering if my cycling is on the right track. I have a 55g tank with external wet/dry, bioballs, an in sump protein skimmer (not running yet), return mag drive 9.5, and two maxi jet 1200's for flow. I ordered 40 lbs. of uncured liverock and stuck it in the tank as soon as it arrived last Friday. I am using the rock to cycle. It has been about four days and the water smells pretty bad as a lot of the life on the rock died. Besides the rock, nothing in the tank is living. Also the water has been pretty murky. The lights have been shut off since I put the live rock in. My current parameters are temp 84, SG
1.018, pH 8.0, ammonia 3.0, and no nitrites or nitrate. I have been reading quite a bit on this site and have questions regarding this cycle. The bad smell is normal with uncured live rock cycle correct? It is just the ammonia spike from the die off? Can I just leave the rock be or do I need to brush off the dead material with a brush? I have my protein skimmer currently off, will turning it on combat the smell and get rid of some of the soup? Would this then prolong the cycle? Are water changes necessary during a cycle or would that just help combat the smell as well? Preferably, I would just like to keep my hands off the tank for a little while and let the cycle take care of itself. The smell is not too bothersome yet, I can put up with it for about another week. If it persists longer my girlfriend may take a temporary leave of absence from the apartment. Thanks.