You don't need filtration per sey, you need surface area for the bacteria to colonize. In a FOWLR
or Reef setup, the live rock will be your surface area and your primary means of biological filtration.
So basically, the cycling stage is when the bacteria are reproducing and colonizing every bit of available surface area. If you are not planning on using LR
, you will need some other high surface area medium such as filter floss, bioballs, etc.
As an aside, even in a bare tank, there will be some cycling occurring while awaiting the sump, as the glass itself will provide a small amount of surface area. Basically, you can't stop it from cycling unless you add a antibiotic agent such as chlorine (and why would anyone want to?).