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FAQs about Skimmers for Marine Systems 1

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Related Articles: Skimmers by Steven Pro, Protein Skimmer Impressions By Steven Pro, Marine Filtration, Mechanical, Physical & Chemical, and FAQs, Nutrient Control and Export

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Protein Skimmer I was told recently that I could install a Euro Reef Skimmer in my sump in lieu of the bio-balls in the wet dry bio filter and that the skimmer in conjunction with the substrate would handle the load in a 100 gallon fish-only marine aquarium. I don't understand how the Nitrogen cycle could possibly work fully in such an arrangement. What has been your experience in substituting a skimmer for the bio filter? <You have two different issues confused slightly. You can remove your bioballs, but their function is not replaced by the skimmer. It can be replaced by liverock and livesand. Both of these perform the same biological filtration as Wet/Dry media. The skimmer is working in conjunction with the liverock and livesand.> Thank You, Stephen Pace <I hope this clarifies things for you. -Steven Pro>

Retrofit of a DSB and Protein Skimming Hello there... it's been a while since my last question, and once again, I would like to thank you in advance for taking the time. <You are welcome.> My nitrates are at around 100, which isn't too bad because it's a FOWLR, but nonetheless, I want them controlled for the happiness of my fish. <Good, it would be better for their overall health to have the nitrates lower.> My 100G tank has a 40G Rubbermaid sump that holds a TF1000 protein skimmer. The main tank has about 90lbs of LR and only a 1" layer of fine LS. My family of fish include: Naso lituratus - Naso Tang - 5.5" Rhinecanthus aculeatus - Picasso Trigger - 3.5" Balistoides conspicillum - Clown Trigger - 3.5" Premnas biaculeatus - Maroon Clown - 1.5" Diodon holocanthus Linnaeus - Porcupine Puffer - 3.5" Here are my questions: 1) Can I simply add in more LS to turn my floor into a DSB? I was thinking about 3". I'm thinking of moving all the LR to one side of the tank, and adding the 3" of sand to one side of the tank, then moving the LR over on top of the new 3" DSB and repeating the process on the other side of the tank. Then I'd also eventually like to add in another 50lbs. of LR. <I would add the additional LR but not sand. I do not like DSB with FO tanks. The sand bed can too easily become overwhelmed by the influx of nutrients from such greedy eaters as your fish.> 2) Do you recommend (I forget the brand name) that sand that comes in the sealed packaging "wet" and "live" or should I just get some fine aragonite and wait for it to become live? <I always use dry sand and seed it with live sand from another tank I trust or with good quality live rock.> 3) I've never quite understood this... does a protein skimmer actually lower nitrates or does it just remove the dissolved organic compounds that eventually become nitrate (basically slowing the production of new nitrate)? <The second answer, removes dissolved organics.> Thanks again!!! - Eugene <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Caulerpa, Cloudy Bloom Anthony, The rock was cured. Bought it from a very reputable dealer in CT right out of one of their MANY display tanks. (Reef & Fin Stamford, CT)  <very good> My water tests perfect. Bacterial bloom???  <possible, but uncommon. Do you have, or can you borrow (/buy) a UV sterilizer... it would clear up the tank perfectly within 24-72 hours if what you suspect is true> This is very frustrating. How big a water change should I do? Or should I wait? It seems like there would be a fine line between doing maintenance for the good of your tank vs. over doing it so as to stress your environment and your animals. Also, don't get mad, but I don't have a protein skimmer yet. AAAAHHHHHHH! -Pat <double "AAAAHHHHHHH!"...hehe. Actually, just the addition of a skimmer alone could help you without the UV sterilizer. Truly a wiser investment than excessive water changes (and less expensive even in the short run for what you'll save on sea salt! Anthony>

Lighting/skimming/anemones Hello Bob, Jen here from Logan Utah. First of all, here is my set up: I have a 75 gallon tank (fish only for now), a wet/dry filter, a protein skimmer (the Berlin triple pass brand), about 20 pounds of live rock, crushed coral as the substrate (about 1/2 inch thick), 1 actinic, and 2 full spectrum lights (48"), and a "penguin"(350 mag) canister filter. I'm sort of a beginner at saltwater and I've had my tank set up as a marine tank for a year now. I am thinking about introducing an anemone. Is my lighting sufficient? <Mmm, for some species, yes... but for the larger, naturally symbiotic (with Clownfishes) ones no> If not, what do you recommend? <About three times the amount of light intensity that you now have... for this size, shape, type system either cramming in more normal output to boosted types of fluorescents, T-12's (compact fluorescents), or at least some metal halide (over the anemones area) illumination> I've had my eye on a Epicystis crucifer (pet store calls it a flower anemone). So far, I haven't found any info. on this species. Is it a hard one to keep? what does it require? What do you recommend? <Oh... this is an "easier" type of anemone for captive use... needs some lighting, feeding (twice a week or so, meaty, chunky foods)... S.O.P. in water quality, upkeep. My image, input on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/twaanemones.htm> Also, as for the protein skimmer, I keep reading everywhere that most people don't use a protein skimmer properly, yet the articles I read don't bother to explain the right way to use one, or to explain what most people are apparently doing wrong! <Mmm... some skimming is better than none... there is such a thing as "over-skimming"... Please see the marine index on WetWebMedia.com or the search feature/tool there re skimming...> I was told to run it for a few days every month. Could you please help me to clarify this? Thank you for all your time and commitment to this wonderful hobby! Jen M. <Run it continuously my friend. Bob Fenner>

Tide-all Pool Hi Bob, <Steven Pro answering for Bob.> Oh, I screwed up big this time, and need some quick advice..... I cleaned the airstone on my skimmer (Amiracle cc) and didn't think to re-adjust airflow. I woke early this morning to the sound of a dry sump pump sucking air. There was water all over the floor near the aquarium, so I took the skimmer catch bottle, and thought that since it saltwater in there anyway, I'd just dump it back into the sump (my reasoning ability in the early am has some left to be desired), as I start pouring, I realize that it's an old TIDE bottle that I'm using! <Oh no!> I poured about a cup of this water back into the sump of my 72 gallon aquarium. within a couple of minutes, the skimmer appeared to be making big soap bubbles, and I left it cranked to get as much out as I can. I put about 5 gallons of water in the sump, and replaced the overflow with a 5 gallon bucket for right now. Here's the question: Is the damage done, will skimming it out be enough, or should I take the rest of the day off work and perform a 100% water change? I feel like I should, but if the skimmer is effective in getting the Tide out over the next few hours, wouldn't that shock the livestock more than if I just leave it alone? Will I have a problem with my tank's bacteria dying off? I just took 1/2 of the bioballs out last week, moving toward a mud sump. In the aquarium, I have: 3 hermit crabs, 1 clownfish, 1 lionfish, 1 blue tang, 8 snails, 1 very small and sickly anemone, and 30lb live rock.  Thanks for any insight you are able to give me.  -Daron <I am slightly confused. You said you poured about a cup of this Tide/skimmate mixture into your sump. Did you pour in enough to get your return pump running again? Has this mixture been pumped throughout your system? Let us hope not and that all you will have to do is thoroughly clean out and drain the sump, rinsing many times. If not and the soap is in the entire water column, several massive water changes are in order immediately. -Steven Pro>

Tide-all Pool Follow-up Hi Steve, Unfortunately, it was enough to get the sump pump flowing again. I just ran home on my lunch our, and everyone is still alive, colors are good, etc. I will perform a 100% change as soon as I can get out of work, and a few more large changes over the next 2 days. I do have a 30 gallon (hex) quarantine - not set up - should I move everyone over so that I can completely empty my system, or would draining 75%, and refilling a couple of times be less stressful? <I would prefer you do several 50-75% water changes. Please be sure to have the water well aerated and matched for temperature and salinity.> Thanks again for spending your time answering questions from idiots like me! -Daron <Do not worry about it. I have done some foolish things in the morning before I am all the way awake. -Steven Pro>

More Tide-all Pool Hi Bob, I did forget to mention that I'm also currently running a DIY carbon filter, with a Rio180 pushing through a box containing about 8 oz of charcoal/activated carbon. <A good idea.> I don't know if this will help with the TIDE debacle, or not. Thanks again for any insight, Daron "Next time I'll have my morning coffee before I respond to any 'emergencies'!" Shade <Another good idea. -Steven Pro>

Cycling tank with live rock or live sand Dear Sir: I have just purchased a 75 gallon tank at the LFS. It is a Dutch Aquarium System with a built in overflow, protein skimmer, biological filter etc.. <Am very familiar with these products, made in Texas> This is my first try at a saltwater aquarium. I was thinking of ordering 45 lbs of premium Fiji live rock and 20 lbs of Fiji live sand. Will this be too much life to start.  <No, should be fine> How much more substrate will I need. Should I use cured or uncured rock since this will be the first additions to my tank. <I might opt for the better uncured product... as it all will have to be recurred to some degree. Please see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm and the links beyond> I am planning on letting this tank cycle with the rock and sand, and then adding a "clean up crew" of invertebrates. When this has all settled down I will add a few fish and then maybe doubling the live rock and trying some corals or anemones. I have had fresh and brackish tanks but this is my first go with salt, any help is greatly appreciated. PS Great Website. <Thank you my friend. Do consider adding a skimmer/foam fractionator to your DAS system. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Joe Hall
Re: cycling tank with live rock or live sand
You wrote: "Thank you my friend. Do consider adding a skimmer/foam fractionator to your DAS system. Bob Fenner"  What is a skimmer/foam fractionator, is it different from a protein skimmer? <Ahh, it/this is the same thing. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphysf.htm Bob Fenner> Thanks again, Joe Hall

Surface skimming Bob, Once again, I am seeking your help. I have had a 40g tank running for about three months. I have about 40 lbs of live rock along with 2 fish and a handful of inverts. My problem is that I noticed a need to skim the water's surface. I have a Bak-Pak II skimmer currently running and it does a fine job except it is not designed to skim the surface. Is there any product that I can add to the Bak-Pak system that will solve my problem, or am I going to have to add another hang on? <Hmm, you might be able to rig up a "surface skimmer" that would work in conjunction with your Bak Pak pump... a floating ring, with tubing down to it sort of arrangement... Maybe adding some aeration (a stone, venturi intake on a powerhead?)... Do you know the source of the material at the surface? Perhaps the periodic (weekly?) drawing of a clean paper towel, wicking across the surface, a dipped-pitcher are the simplest approaches here...> If so, what? IYO, how would you solve this problem? I am thinking about the powerhead to the Bak Pac in a removable box of some sort which would allow surface water in instead of tank water.  <Hey, me too> IMO it would need to be removable (every other week, month?) so the tank water could be skimmed as well. Or, is this not a problem I should be worrying about?  <Worth investigating. You don't want material coating the top of the water... gas diffusion problems> Thanks for your guidance in trying to keep me (the neophyte) on the wide path of saltwater. God Bless America.  Thom Walters <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Protein Skimmer Bob- I recently had to transfer out of sunny California and move east to the D.C. area.  <Land of altered states.> I have been extensively reading through your site and anything else that I can get my hands on for a while now. I had a reef tank setup while I was in California, and because of the loads of information that you provide it was in wonderful working order, so thank-you for all of your hard work. <Very happy to find it's of use> Well, during my move several pieces of equipment were broken (sigh), and I am now in the process of replacing them. My question is this, I have the opportunity to get an Amiracle Quad II Venturi protein skimmer for a VERY good price, but I have been unable to find any information on this product. Do you have any knowledge of this product?  <Only indirect. Have you checked with them, their site: http://www.amiracle.com/. Seems well-regarded... if the price is right...> My tank is 40 gallons with a 20 gallon refugium. Or at least that is how it is going to be re-setup, LR (approx 60lbs.), LS, mixed reef w/ inverts and fish, 210w PC lighting. Thanks in advance for helping make my re-setup better than the first.  Mike in D.C. <You will do so my friend. I will gladly offer my opinions, experiences to help. Bob Fenner>

Protein skimmer Bob, Hope you are having a great Labor Day weekend. Got a question for you regarding my AQUA C Remora Pro skimmer. I just installed a sump on my 80 gal. reef on Saturday and ever since then my skimmer has quit skimming. <Yes, this happens> I know that changes to the tank will affect how the skimmer works, but there has been nothing in the collection cup for the last 2 days. Is it possible that I should relocate the skimmer to the sump where all that good water is? <No my friend> Does the fact that the overflow box is taking all the water from the top of the tank have that effect on the skimmer? <Not much> I redid all the connections on the skimmer this A.M. thinking that I might have been losing water somewhere. Give me your thoughts! Thanx again for your help, ce. P.S. this is the hang-on skimmer from Aqua-C. <Your sump is modifying your water chemistry such that the skimmer will likely remove very little henceforth. Your system has achieved a sort of "good balance". I would leave the skimmer on lest their be a "skimmable event" (e.g. a dead fish, overfeeding...), and for added aeration, water movement. Bob Fenner>

Protein Skimmer Hi, Bob. Checking out your web has become one of the things that I need to do everyday. Keep learning something new and keep having new questions everyday. I think that's why we get addicted to this hobby. We would never get bored! <Agree with you all the way around> Anyway, thanks again wholeheartedly for your contribution to this hobby. Now my questions are: Before I connected the protein skimmer with an ozonizer, the protein skimmer had collected brown colour waste. Now after I added the ozonizer, the protein skimmer could only extract clear water. The tank water is actually a lot more clear than before. Should I be worried about that? <No, this is to be expected> I told you last time that I have been having difficulty in keeping tomato clown. You suggested me that I can try some tank-breed small ones. Unfortunately, the LFS here only offer the wild ones. I am thinking to add some bubble tip anemones in the hope that it will help the tomato acclimatize. Do you think it helps? please note that I have no experience at all in keeping anemones. <Skip the anemone... hard to keep for now. And order the Clown/s from an etailer. A few are listed on the WWM links page. Amazing that a LFS would not offer tank bred species here> Thank you very much in advance, Eric <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Protein skimmer Hello, A few days ago I wrote you concerning a protein skimmer. I went to my fish supply guy and he got all excited. He sold me a Berlin Red Sea protein skimmer. It ran for a few hours and removed very clear looking water, about half a gallon.  <Hmm, this is too much volume, too clear, wet...> I finally adjusted it and it removed about 1/2 cup of darker water.  <Ah, that's better> Then it stopped making bubbles in the cup portion. I thought I was broken, only to find out my tank is to new and I don't have enough protein. He told me to run it for 2 months with it being in the non working position. <Perhaps a bit longer... if your system strikes this sort of "balance" in just two months, that would be unusual> Could this be correct? Now he wants me to buy a mechanical filter (Eheim). Do I need? <Hmm, well, you do need some sort of mechanical filtration... don't know what you have besides the skimmer, your size/type of tank...> My tank consists of the following fish, 1 yellow tang, 2 fire gobies, 1 blenny, 1 lawnmower blenny, 2 damsels, 1 cleaner wrasse, 2 horseshoe crabs, 4 hermit crabs and a couple of small snails and about 20lbs of live rock. I am planning on getting a juvenile emperor, but need to know if I need the Eheim first. <Please post such questions on our chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/, and read over the site: www.WetWebMedia.com... on set-up, filtration of marine systems, Pomacanthus imperator...> My tank is a 75 gallon. Seems like I get a variety of suggestions in this field. <Umm, yes. Bob Fenner> Your reply would be greatly appreciated, Sandra Levy

Skimmer good enough Hi there, and thank you again for helping me with my tank. <Lorenzo Gonzalez, still here for Bob-in-Asia> I have a 125g fish only, 2Porcupine Puffers, 1 dogface puffer, 1 snowflake eel, 1 Humu trigger and 1 Niger trigger. Everybody is doing great, they all have fun personalities. So here is my question.  Generally my ammonia levels are always 0, every once in a while I get a little too much nitrite about0.3but not higher ever , nitrates are around 10-25ppm. I don't have live rock, since I am very new to this hobby and I didn't want to get overwhelmed, especially if the fish would get sick and I would have to medicate a little. I do have a quarantine tank (20g) just in case, but live rock seemed like a challenge. <Live rock is the least challenging thing you can add to your aquarium.> I have a Marineland tidepool2, an additional sump Rubbermaid) with about 10g water. The overflow box is in the tank and stacked up with about 21/2 gallons of Bioballs. On top of the balls I have filter sponges. My question is, how can I make sure that my water is always stable, especially the NO2. I just got a UV-sterilizer and the aquarium looks amazingly clear now, I have it running for about 12 hours a day. Should I get a better skimmer? I have a CPR SR4 for aquariums to 120 gallons. I was thinking to get either the ETSS 800 or the AQUAC EV 200 to get better skimming power, because I can't promise not to overfeed a little every once in a while. I'm trying hard but they are just begging too hard for food. <A better skimmer might help a bit, to remove the organics before they ever really start to decompose/enter the nitrogen cycle. I'd choose the AquaC of those you listed...> Should I take the Bioballs out of the overflow box again?  <NO. Leave those in there, with this tank/inhabitants. Take them out now, and you'll see a nasty spike in Ammonia and Nitrites.> I do all the water changes, clean the filter pads and so forth, but maybe it's because my system is only about 8-9weeks old. All I want is stable nitrites, so if a better skimmer is the way to go I will spend the money. <Like I said, a better skimmer will probably help. But I'd go for some better balance/diversity. Add some live rock. If you're worried the fish may need a treatment at some point, you can temporarily move the rock to your sick tank, and treat your main, if you need to treat more than one fish. Or move a single fish to the sick tank for treatment.> Thank you so much for your help. Your new friend in this amazing hobby, SASCHA <You're Welcome. For the help, and to the hobby! -Lorenzo>
Re: Skimmer good enough
Thank you for answering so fast and in Bob's name.  <You're welcome. It's fun. I'm no Bob Fenner, but I try my best.> So I will get a better skimmer, but just explain to me what you mean by better balance/diversity and how much live rock could do the trick. I have about 130 pounds of dead rock, but lots of big caves for the fishes to hide and I don't want to mess up their hiding places too much, but what would be the least amount of liverock you would put. <Oh, there's no hard fast rule, and any is better than none. (More on the rock below.) But biodiversity is everything. A nicely balanced reef system is actually less work than a fish-only, FOWLR, or even freshwater system.> Actually I just got about 25 pounds for my 20gallon quarantine, which now will probably a little beginner reef, so I need another quarantine anyway at some point, but I really do like the live rock. The rock pieces just seem very small compared to the ones in my main tank, which could make it harder to build a few nice caves. Will Live rock turn dead rock eventually live as well??  <Yes! And there's the nicest thing about it! You can eventually culture all that 'dead rock' into very beautiful, very VALUABLE live rock. Buy the nicest, most colorful/variegated pieces you can, and place the new live rock scattered throughout the tank - at the base of your 'mountains', in the upper crags between the larger rocks... eventually it will 'infect' all your boring Tufa or paradise rock, and your sand/coral bed too! I have one 30 gallon system that started with 50/50 live/dead about 18 months ago - and you could never tell which rock was originally $2.50/lb and which was $7.00! Very, very large pieces of live rock are prohibitively expensive, since they are usually lovingly cultured by a conscientious aquarist such as yourself.> Again thank you very much and I'll be chatting. SASCHA <Again, you're welcome very much, and we're happy to hear from you! -Lorenzo>

Seaclone skimmer I have read you opinion of the Seaclone skimmer and have found that my research into the Seaclone is conflicting.  <The research or the results?> At the store that I shop at they have a 45 gallon reef tank and it is overstocked but the Seaclone is powerful enough though get all the protein in the tank. My question is have you ever used the Seaclone or are you going by other people's opinion. <Both... am very good friends with the folks who used to own, still run Aquarium Systems, the manufacturer... have a few of these units on some of our tanks here... they do work... and are very versatile for other applications (we use the basic unit variously as carbon dioxide infusion devices on planted tanks, have rigged them up to deliver the end products of melted down aragonite materials...), and are fine on smaller and/or well-established, otherwise well set-up and maintained systems... but they (the hang on and in-tank models of SeaClone) are still more gimmick than go in my opinion... from first hand and other experience. Bob Fenner>

Design Issues Bob--A couple of questions on the new system that is starting to take shape. On the refugium/sump design--would it be better to feed the refugium with overflow water or with water diverted from the return line?  <The overflow> I've seen both designs created by do-it-yourselfers. It seems that everyone has their own opinion, but I wanted to get your thoughts on this. My thought is that the macroalgae would probably flourish more if some (but not all) of the more nutrient-rich overflow water was diverted into the refugium as opposed to feeding it with return water. On the other hand, feeding it with "cleaner" return water will keep the refugium from getting trashed out by particulates from the overflow.  <Not much problem with this either way> (In either case, I avoid the need for a powerhead in the sump for this purpose--but could still isolate the refugium if necessary via valves.) The second question concerns setup. Should I set up the new system with the new LS and LR only, or should I also add some (but not all) of the LS and LR from my existing system along with the new LS and LR when the system is initially set up, to assist in the cycling process? Or would it be better to wait to add the LS/LR from the old system until the toxic phase of the cycle is completed? <Wait> Hope you're doing well. I'm leaving for La Quinta this afternoon for a few days. Hope the weather is nice out there! And many thanks for your support. <Yes... nice down south... am up in Monterey and SF right now though. Bob Fenner> James A. Deets

Protein Skimmer Bob, I have a new 80 Gal saltwater, fish only tank. I may have made a mistake and bought the Eheim 2026 canister filter. I now want to include a Protein Skimmer, but do not want to hang it on the tank, since it will be sitting in the living room fully exposed. Am I out of luck on getting a skimmer to work with my Eheim?  <This is a fine product, and of all things I half thought of writing to the editor of AFM (a pet fish magazine) regarding another writer's suggestion that a pumping mechanism might serve double-duty for just this sort of application. No, unfortunately the pump that drives about the right pressure and volume cannot be used by another device... as it will have a variable performance depending on how clean/dirty, otherwise blocked the flow is...> If so, what should I do to compensate? <Hmm, considerations include an in-tank skimmer model (many are inefficient and not attractive... or move the tank from the wall and look into a hang-on make... or go the whole nine yards so to speak and retrofit the tank entirely to get water from and back to it and a sump (likely underneath...) and place an in-sump skimmer there... There are "overflow boxes" made for this sort of thing... but do take some room behind as well... You can look at them through the companies linked on www.WetWebMedia.com... and if you're truly in the mood to delve into these DIY projects, check out the link to Oz's Reef... amazing> Should I worry about not getting enough oxygen into the tank with this setup? <A little yes... I would at least add a couple or more powerheads... perhaps the "skimmer" attachment that Eheim makes to the intake (this thing really works) to remove surface films (very important for gaseous exchange> I want to introduce a blenny, trigger, wrasse, & surgeon into the tank, among others totaling 9 small fish over time... <Hmm, maybe not the Trigger...> Sarka <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Protein Skimmers Hi Robert, I've started a new 72 gal fish only saltwater aquarium and it's still going through its cycle. I'm 17 days into the cycle and things are going well. I have a question on when is the right time to introduce a protein skimmer  <After the system has cycled> and which in your opinion is the best skimmer to buy?  <See the "Skimmer Selection FAQs" section on the Marine Index of the site: www.WetWebMedia.com re this> Also, would a UV sterilizer cause a problem while the tank is cycling?  <A problem? No.> Livestock is 1 - Panther Grouper, 1 - Snowflake Moray and a few damsels. <In there already? I would have waited...> Thanks in advance for your help. Ed <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>
Re: Protein Skimmers
Hi Robert, Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. Just to clarify the livestock issue that you questioned. It was suggested by my LFS that cycling a tank with larger hardy livestock such as eels & groupers was better an more efficient than with damsels. That is why the eel and grouper are in there - they are doing well. The theory made sense to me, but maybe this was not the right thing to do. What would you have suggested other than the use of live rock? Ed <Old filter media, mucky/gunky stuff from siphoned out of someone's "clean" tank (bereft of disease, pest problems)... Not bacterial cultures... the LFS made a sale, and you've been lucky... Bob Fenner>

Protein skimmer Hi Bob! I have turned to WWM quite frequently lately needing information. You do a great job helping people with fish. <Thank you for your kind words> My wife and I are new to the salt water aquarium set up we have. We have a 46ga. bow front with a Magnum 350 (I think) water pump. It is a canister filter that sits in the base under the aquarium. We don't have a sump.  <I understand> We have a blue damsel, a clown, a yellow tang, and a Kole tang, with about 10 lbs of live rock (soon to be more). <Ahh, good. The tangs will certainly appreciate it> I was wondering if there is any type of protein skimmer made that would sit under the tank (not in a sump) like the filter does?. When we bought the tank, being new to a salt water set up, the couple of people we talked to said that for a fish only tank, we wouldn't need a protein skimmer.  <Hmmm> So to make a long story short, the tank is only about 1" to 1 1/2" off the wall, hence, no room for a hang on skimmer. We've decided it could only benefit the fish to have one, and are really interested in 'cleaning up' our tank. <Yes, you'll be amazed, even grossed out to see what this valuable tool removes... > If you know of any under tank skimmers, or have any ideas, please let me know. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.  Jason <If it were me, my system, I would make the time, go through the trouble to move the tank out from the wall to accommodate a hang on skimmer... the few pressurized units I've seen aren't worth considering... Please do read through the "Moving Aquariums" area on the Marine Index of the site: www.WetWebMedia.com about this move... even though this is a glass tank, and not "going far"... do follow the suggestions there about safely storing the water and rock/decor... and lifting with your legs... (not hard to do a corner at a time...) Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: Marine tank set-up (skimmer, lighting) Dear Mr. Fenner... I have sent a couple emails to you in the past about a new marine set up and have received some great advice. I now have my tank (60 gal flat-back hex) and have just ordered my stand and canopy. I've decided to go with the sump as you suggested (probably a 29 gal one from the looks of it) with a Eheim 1250 pump for the return (is 320 GPH enough?). <Good choices... sump of large volume, pump flow, pressure adequate, great product> I will use a emperor outside power filter for supplemental mechanical filtration and carbon placement.  <Good> I'm still planning on doing a FOWLR to start but I now have some new questions. (imagine that...) <You and I do have large and vivid imaginations> 1. Protein skimmer....I was going to use a CPR back Pak 2R but have now found out it won't fit on my tank with my canopy in place so I'm going to need to put my skimmer in my sump. I could really use a good suggestion here...I've looked at the CPR's, Berlins, Turboflotor and many others but I'm not sure what would be the best for my system. any suggestions? <Yes... look to the in-sump Aqua-C products... www.proteinskimmer.com> 2. Regarding lighting...I'm going to go with power compact lighting, probably a Custom Sealife retrofit...what should I use for my tank...they offer a 36" 2x 96watt kit or a 48" 4x 65watt kit. Is the prior going to be adequate should I want to keep soft corals and an anemone or two down the road, or will I need the latter in order to provide these organisms with appropriate energy? How about for SPS corals? <The latter is what I would go with... you can "leave off" part of it for now if you deem it too bright... We will discuss SPS corals when you "get there".> Thanks for your thoughts and your book is great. Sincerely, John <Thank you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Mardel and Custom Sea Life Products Use  I have finished treating a 55 f/o tank with Mardel CopperSafe for Ich with success. After a duration of 2 1/2 weeks...the fish have been  ich-free, however displaying what appears to be a newly developed "fungus" (large white tufts on Angel and Butterfly/not Tang and Trigger). <Likely a secondary effect of the former treatment...> I would like to, rather I feel I should, add Mardel MarOxy and replenish my filters of carbon in conjunction with a 30% water change (water quality is diminishing/algae blooms/cloudiness etc.)...Extended exposure to 2.0 copper is not something I wanted to continue (Angel appears to be thinning/feed twice a day/Ang.Formula/Squid).  <Agreed on all counts... don't extend the copper treatment> Most importantly, I recently purchased a U/V sterilizer and would like to activate it for a 3 week period to allow aforementioned water/filter upgrades in conjunction with some form of "mechanical-disease-control". I heard rumor that the U/V would "un-chelate" the copper in CopperSafe and yield massive amounts of free-ion copper, thereby detrimental to the fishes' well being!  1) Is this true?  <Not necessarily unchelate, but cause precipitation... on the lamp/sleeve of the UV... better not to use while administering sequestered copper compounds> 2) If so, at what level of saturation ppm (via water change/carbon)  is it safe to proceed with U/V?  <Near zero, which happens almost instantaneously with activated carbon or Polyfilter use for cupric ion removal> 3) and will the U/V affect the MarOxy?  <No, should be okay> 4) Lastly, I can't figure out CustomSeaLife U2 sterilizer's flow  rate...it did not come with powerhead or recommendation (other  than your 150-250 g.p.h.). I have a Rio 600 and a 10-12" water-input factory-tube on the unit. Is this the correct operating procedure? The powerhead does have a "flow-regulator", but it is merely mechanical with no real way of establishing water flow rate (I am aware of water-flow-rate pros/cons)...  <Well-thought out here... in practical terms, in closed systems, there is no real downside to the "trade off" of kill rate versus flow through a UV contact chamber... I would just attach the Rio 600 and let it push whatever gph it will through the unit. I do encourage you to contact Dennis at CSL (their URL is on the www.wetwebmedia.com Links pages) and let him know for you and I that they need to attend to better instructions here... You can/could rig up a "pickle bucket" and with a watch with a good second hand, roughly gauge actual flow rate... Not necessary, or suggested.> I realize you are neither a Mardel or CustomSeaLife Rep., but I consider  your opinion of higher esteem than theirs.  <Both good companies... Did answer 800 calls for Mardel BTW a few years back...(!), and know CSL indirectly (they're here in the same town (San Diego)... Both have good people owning, running them> Your response/advice to the 4 questions offered above would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for your continued support of the "novice" aquarist! John  <And thanks to you for your participation, helping others (will be posting this interchange on the WWM site... others, livestock will be saved through our consideration!> P.S. Just scuba-dived the U.S.V. Islands to finish my PADI Open Water  Certification...AWE-INSPIRING EXPERIENCE = New Found Guilt Over Tank Size Constraints :)  <Ah yes. Nothing like getting down "where they live" to bring full realization to the beauty, grandeur of what the aquatic world is> P.P.S. Remind me that the fish found in my local pet store are never making it back to the ocean and it is in their best interest that I provide them with good husbandry, albeit...in a small aquascape :) <Indeed my friend, this is perhaps within our grasp! Bob Fenner>

Protein skimmers After reading through all your previous Q&As on protein skimmers, I noticed that you really don't ever suggest the use of the big downdraft units such as the ETS 750. What seems to come up the most is the use of the Turboflotor 1000 and the Aqua C models which you suggest for tanks ranging from 55 gal to 125 gal. I personally have a 180 gal FOWLR with a Turboflotor 1000 and 20 gal sump with Caulerpa algae and 24 hr lighting.  1. Now do you not mention these downdraft units because of there price or because they are not as efficient as the others? Basically are they worth the money along with the big pumps that have to power them?  2. Would a heavily loaded 180 gal FOWLR tank benefit more from having a larger protein skimmer hooked up because the amount of water that would pass through it an hour? A lot of people are telling me that I need to add another Turboflotor 1000 to my system or upgrade to a bigger P.S such as the ETS 750. My water quality is good right now, but phosphates stay around 3.0 ppm and nitrates at 20ppm. Would my fish and I gain anything by adding a ETS 750 or just a bigger electric bill.  <Ah, thank you for writing. Don't generally plug downdraft skimmers like the ETS because IMO they're neither good value or best available technology for hobbyist's set-ups... This technology does have its place in large (hundreds of gallons) and "dirty" applications (aquaculture, very high stocking densities like in transient holding facilities...), but by and large requires too much pumping, too much adjustment in comparison with needle-wheel or well-designed/engineered/constructed venturi types... My opinions. You can try one and compare for yourself, but I'd buy a Euro Reef or similar (G2) needle wheel type with Eheim motoring if it were my decision.... And look to bio-augmentation like with a sump, lighting and macro-algae to reduce those phosphates, nitrates best...Bob Fenner>

Skimmer Question/RO-DI Question Hello Bob, I have a two part question and if you could add your thoughts I'd be appreciative. 1) I have two different brand skimmers Berlin Classic & Euro Reef G2). Both seem to do a pretty good job, but I'm kind of partial to the Berlin. Whenever I feed in my FOWLR 75g tank, I notice the "dry foam head" will collapse and skimming will not resume for several hours. Is this normal?  <Yes, predictable> I use Formula2 and Formula Variety to feed. I had heard it might be oils within the food cubes. I thought one of the reasons to skim was to remove some of the excess food the fish didn't eat. <Bingo> 2) RO-DI systems. I'm in the market for a new RO-DI water system, and am trying to decide between Spectra Pure who claims 18 meg Ohm resistively and the cheaper Kent Maxima which is only 4 meg Ohms or so. Is this resistivity difference enough to warrant the extra dollars for the Spectra Pure? <Actually... wouldn't the lower number indicate greater removal of ions? That is, the Kent product IS rated higher... But, neither really makes their units (as you might be aware), and I/we use the real inexpensive ones from Home Depot (really) and don't even measure ohmage... > Any help would be appreciated. Regards, Jack Wikoff <Anytime my friend, Bob Fenner>

Re: New at Hobby, Skimmer Question Well, I guess this is where I show my ignorance... I am not sure how the pump hooks up to the skimmer and how the water flows through the system. When the water returns from the aquarium to the wet/dry, is it pumped into the skimmer via the RIO 2100 and from the skimmer put back into the aquarium? <In this case, the Rio pumps into the skimmer only... and the water overflows the skimmer, back into the sump... a separate pump is used for (re)circulating water between the sump and main tank.> Also, a local fish store was recommending a Precision Marine skimmer... any thoughts?  <A nicely designed, engineered and built product as well.> I looked up the Turboflotor on the web and it looks like it should fit nicely in the cabinet I have. Thanks for responding. It is difficult to find anyone eager to do that. Thanks, Terry <Glad to be here, of help. Bob Fenner>

Sanders?  Dear Bob, Sorry for being such a pain. I recently bought a Sanders ah400 skimmer from a local pet shop they told me it came from quality marine in L.A. who they do business with I couldn't get it to work to my liking. if you have any knowledge about this product please inform me I'm using a Rio 2100 pump for power I was told about a year ago that these skimmers were very good from the people at aquatic specialist. thanks again Ronnie from R.I..  <<The Sanders company and family (Germany) are very well regarded... You may well need a greater pressure than the Rio/Taam product can provide... Are you running this skimmer in a sump? Bob Fenner>>
Re: Sanders
Dear Bob, I am Running the sanders ah400 in a sump. Also this skimmer was made to be used with a ehiem1360 which is rated at about 350gal per hour, so the rio2100 is a stronger pump. Also aquatic specialists uses a rio2100 with this skimmer. I am starting to think that right know that it does not matter what skimmer I put on it will not work, I put a CPR in sump on the tank and it has not skimmed either ,I have been in this hobby for 10 years and this is the first time that a skimmer did not work for me this long. I am a firm believer in protein skimming and always used one even when they were not popular. By the way what part of Providence are your parents from I'm originally from federal hill .I did hear or read somewhere that you lived in R.I..  <<Will have to check with Mom and Dad re what part of Providence... recall somewhere near a dye works... And maybe you have not much to skim... it happens when systems are in balance. Bob Fenner>>

Skimmers Dear Bob: I have a 90 gal tank with fish and inverts. There is only a scant 3 1/2 inches between the back of the tank and the wall. Do you of any hang on skimmers that would fit and do the job?  <<Hmm, the only ones that are worth a hoot that I know of are Aqua-C's Remoras... you can take a look see at them on Jason Kim's site: proteinskimmer.com Otherwise... there's always searching about for space lower for a sump... Bob Fenner>>

Setup I am planning a reef that will be housed in a 20 gallon tank. The set up consists of a sea clone skimmer 20 lbs of live rock and 2 ,55 watt power compact lamps. There will be no substrate. for water I plan on using a RO filter by Kent Marine that has the Thin Film Composite. Will my light produce to much algae that that the skimmer can't handle with the RO water I'm putting in?  <<Only time will tell... the SeaClone is puny, but should work out in time. Bob Fenner>>

Protein Skimmer Hi Bob, I love your book and the Daily Q&A. I have two questions, 1. How big of a sump should I get/make for a 80-100 gallons tank? 2. What "GOOD" protein skimmer can I put into that sump? Are the new Aqua C skimmer any good? Thanks for your input. <IMO a twenty gallon (or more) sump is better... actually, the larger one you can practically fit is best... Depending on your desires (to maximize skimming or not) a needle-wheel type skimmer (like an in-sump Turboflotor) or a modified down-draft type like an Aqua-C will/would be fine. The Aqua-C's are very nice products (have been over to the owner/builder's facility only a couple of miles from us here in San Diego)... and chatted with Jason Kim a few times about his products. Bob Fenner>

Protein skimmer I have a Tenecor 120 gal. corner tank. The sump and filtration is in the tank, on the back wall. There is no protein skimmer , the retailers I asked do not  know what kind or if I can put a skimmer in my tank. Can you help? <You can retrofit this tank/system by drilling/cutting an overflow to a sump elsewhere (usually below... which is what I would do), or seek out a hang on model (I'd suggest the Turboflotor), and modify the top (jigsaw) to fit it on the back/side.  I really don't like any of the manufacturer's "built in" all in one filter/tanks systems... never seen one that works, is easy to work on... that filters, moves water around adequately... Bob Fenner>

Upgrade Sea Clone Hi Bob, William from Puerto Rico again. My question is that I have a protein skimmer Sea Clone in my 55 gallon tank, with wet dry, U.V, chiller and RO. Sometimes it brings a lot of junk, but a lot more it does not. I have seen that when I put additives in the tank it does not bring nothing for almost a week. Is this okay? I am supposed to be checking and changing all the time the pressure of the maxi jet 1000? Should I buy a better one? Which one?  Thanks. <<Hey William, regarding that skimmer, no, it's not really okay. Though Aquarium Systems makes many fine products, and several of their people are good friends, this skimmer is not sufficient for any but the smallest of marine systems. I would replace or augment it with a better model. There are many makes and models to choose from, and if it were me, I'd check out the bigger companies websites... and find them through the Internet, and the hobby magazine, Freshwater and Marine Aquarium (who many of us buy, read carefully for the ads!), and then check out sources for the best buy... including e-tailers to the trade. Bob Fenner>>

Skimmers? Hello Bob, Can you explain how exactly a skimmer works and can you run them without using a sump? I have seen in tank, hang-on, under-stand, and in sump skimmers, which setup works the best and why? How about overflow or power outages? Can you just run lines from the skimmer into the tank and back? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks, Ben <<I'll try... skimmers, aka foam fractionators capitalize on properties of polar molecules attraction to air/bubble interfaces in water... by swirling small air bubbles in a "contactor column" the molecules attached to them rise and with the bubbles bursting this largely undesirable material is "collected" in a cup at the column's top... Actually, am apologetic for this tired, sloppy description, and beg your indulgence. Please do take a look at the references offered after the "Skimmer" articles archived at www.wetwebmedia.com and let me know if I can offer further/better descriptions/explanations. And no, you don't need a sump. There are hang-on, in-tank models. The in-sump models are superior in function and appearance... they don't add near as much fine bubbles back into the main tank... and are more flexible in their application. You can run lines... the in-sump models are better though... with the lines coming in from an overflow box to the sump... and some pumping mechanism to return it... independent of the skimmer. Bob Fenner>>

Turboflotor Hi Bob, I setup my tank over the weekend. I filled it with freshwater in my garage to test it out for any problems. I have a 15 gal sump with a Turboflotor in it. I have 2 questions..... 1- The bubbles produced are quite large, ranging from an eighth of an inch to about a quarter of an inch. Is this because it's freshwater? I installed the needle wheel, so it's not that. I am also on well water, if that help you. <Much of the bubbling is due to the tank being new... and definitely the size  of the bubbles resides in it being just freshwater thus far.> 2- Is there anyway to quiet down the splashing from the effluent of the skimmer?  <Yes, either a "box" to spill over into (sort of like the ones used for  emptying water out of systems to sumps... filled with "bio-balls" or such) or  a pad of filter material affixed to the discharge... should accomplish the  twin tasks of coalescing bubbles and quieting the outflow. Bob Fenner>

Protein skimmer Hi Bob, First, I really enjoy your question and answer forum and have learned  a lot. I have a 110 gal tank and a Berlin protein skimmer (the classic  model). Currently I am using a weird pump to run it. I'm interested in  purchasing a pump to run it with and was wondering if you could recommend  what pump would be most effective and most efficient?  Thanks Dave <<Hmm, well most folks use and tout the Rio2500 for this unit... but the most efficient and best buy (quiet, dependable, lower energy consumption, long lasting) is the Eheim 1060 IMO...Bob Fenner>>

Protein Skimmer Bob- I am going to install a 20 gallon sump beneath my 58 gallon reef tank. For aesthetic purposes, I would like to install my protein skimmer in my sump. Will it be as effective in the sump as it is in the main tank or not? Thank you, Rob <<Absolutely as effective... in fact, more so, as it won't disturb the inhabitants of your main tank as much... or spew as many fine bubbles into the tank. Bob Fenner>>

Protein skimmer I have a 55 gal. tank with 5 damsels and an emperor filter and some live rock plus a power head for some circulation and 1 four foot 50/50 for lighting. my tank has just recently finished cycling. I was thinking about adding a protein skimmer but there are so many and the price varies. can you suggest a few that work well for around a $100 or less. And also do I need one right away or can my tank do fine the way it is for awhile. Thanks for your time <<Hmm, not really any in the stated price range... but there are some dandies at $200 that come complete... with pumps, that I would put on my fifty five... Save up and get one of these... The Hang on Turboflotor, or CPR... there are others... Bob Fenner>>

Eclipse System Skimmer I have an eclipse hood... can you recommend a protein skimmer that actually  fits with the hood. Due to the design of the hood I can't put a protein  skimmer in the tank.....how can I attach one through the back? Thank you, Eugene. <<As far as I'm aware, you will have to cut (it's not that difficult) the Eclipse product to fit either a hang on or under tank/sump model skimmer...Bob Fenner>>

Skimmer or rock, which 1st???? How was your trip? Hope you enjoyed it. Could you please advise, because all the advice I am getting is conflicting, and I have grown trust yours as sound advice. You may remember I mailed you a few days back about filtration for my 120 set up, FO tank, fairly heavy load, although not over stocked. It is well under your recommendation of 1 cubic inch per 5 gals ..... it is about 1 cubic inch per 10 at the moment I'd say. Once fully grown though they will reach the 1 per 5 easily. You may recall I was saying how I am constantly battling with nitrates, and I asked you how would you filter such a tank, and you responded : "I would definitely be adding the live rock... and allowing it to make your sand live.... ... and get a nice needle wheel type skimmer like a Turboflotor, and place it in one of your sumps.... The other, I would stock with some more live rock, a continuously on light (small fluorescent will do) with some Caulerpa Algae..."  This you said would result in me becoming: ".....more of the "sailboat" mentality of aquarium keeping (as opposed to fighting the declining water quality "motor boat" ways...) " I have chosen to follow this advice, it appears to be sound. However, I am on a very tight budget, and this transition will have be taken in steps. What would you do first ? The skimmer or the LR. How much LR, and which skimmer ? I was thinking of the Turboflotor 5000 baby ........ rated for 500 gals (it is 48" tall, with a 36" reaction tube), I think there would be little point in upgrading from a Berlin to a TF 1000. If I got the skimmer first, I could get a very small amount of LR to seed the system ... say 10 lbs or so. The skimmer basically costs about the same as 2 boxes of LR. So basically I have 2 options: 1) I could get 1 box now, 1 box in 6 weeks time, and then the skimmer in about September.  OR 2) I could get the skimmer in about 6 weeks, then get 1 box LR about June, and 1 box about September. Which plan would you opt for, 1 or 2, and which will have the most immediate impact on nitrate? My tank is currently running at between 50 and 70 ppm, despite 25% weekly changes. I have a Berlin skimmer, and a fluidized bed filter. I could also ditch the fluidized bed, and get my canister filter and a small DIY wet/dry going instead ..... I have all the medium for those in storage in the shed. Thanks. Regards. Matt  <<Well written, thought out... I would go with plan 1) myself... at this point, considering that you have a good/decent skimmer already... and the amount of time/trouble that curing the live rock will probably take... and that it (the live rock) will have the greatest, fastest, and most stable effect on those nitrates (plus much more)... And, if the gear will fit, do place the wet dry, etc. on the tank... and leave the fluidized bed running till the live rock is fully cured... about two months (though in all honesty... this sort of process is akin to concrete "curing" and goes on indefinitely...) Your friend in fish, back in sunny Southern California, Bob Fenner>>

Sea Clone I gathered that SeaClone skimmers are not one of your favorites by reading one of the archived articles. Why not? Also, I always hear from local fish stores that Condylactis anemones are fairly easy to keep under low light. Is this true? I have 4 NO 40 watt bulbs (2 actinic, 2 full spectrum) and I was wondering if it would be possible to keep these. I have a Clarkii clown, a tomato clown, and a Percula clown (all getting along well) and I know that they will not likely utilize a Condylactis, but I would still like to try one. Thanks for any response!  <<Well, I do like the SeaClones for their looks and they are fine on small systems (20-30 gallons), but the product is more show than go.... My acid test for skimmers is rigging them up side by side on the same system... or dumping the water skimmed from one into the next... and seeing which "takes out" the most "gunk"... try this and you'll understand. The genus Condylactis anemones sold in the trade should do okay with your lighting rig... As you state, the Clowns do not associate with these (tropical west Atlantic) species... and sometimes do eat them!  Bob Fenner>>

Protein skimmers I have a 26 gallon hexagon tank that I made. It is an overflow type design . The water falls over a wall of 3/4 inch +/- lava rock. The rock wall is about 2 inches thick, 10 inches wide, and 22 inches tall. It then runs into a 5 gallon bucket that is divided in half . The first compartment is filled with marine substrate ( crushed coral , seashells , etc.) My thinking is the rock wall provides for aerobic bacteria and the submerged compartment provides for the anaerobic bacteria and water buffering . The water then runs into the other side of the bucket where there is a heater and then to a large powerhead to be pumped back into the tank thru a spray bar. The tank has about 15 pounds of live rock and a 2-3 inch base of live sand .When completely stocked it will house a royal Gramma , maroon clown and a yellow tang (or something similar) 3-4 crabs , 2-3 shrimp , a small star and possibly a few small ,hearty corals . A protein skimmer would not hurt this set up , I am sure , but my question is does it really need one ? Thanks for your time. <Good design, and interesting... you ought to write up your ideas and execution and send it in to one of the hobbyist magazines. And no, you don't really need a skimmer for an established (repeat, established) system like this one... with aerobic, anaerobic filtration of size, live rock... and not much livestock or feeding... but if it were mine, I'd have one running at the beginning and periodically (every few days at least for a day)... And if you don't collect anything you wouldn't pour back into your tank or put to your lips (!), you can blame me! But I'll bet you dollars to donuts that there will be gunk you'd rather remove... and not ingest. Bob Fenner>

Skimmer for 12g I am setting up an 12 gallon minaret fish only aquarium. I plan on only using live rock, how many pounds should I use? I plan on using 30 watts of light, half actinic 10k and the other 10k light. Do I have to use a protein skimmer?  <<Probably fifteen to twenty... depending on shape, density, your looks preferences... And I would put a weak skimmer on the system. Maybe a modified Skilter (with an airstone down the contactor column) or a SeaClone. Bob Fenner>>

Your book-The Conscientious Marine Aquarist First, I would like state that I have been keeping Tropical Fish (Fresh and Marine) since I was a kid. I recently, (July, 99) got back into keeping Marine Fish, and I must say that your book has been a great help. You cover every detail, and I have a protein skimmer in each of my four tanks. What a job they do. When I kept Marine fish in the past I did not use a protein skimmer, in fact, I was never encouraged to buy one from dealers. A day does pass without me learning something new. Another item from your book is the use of live rock and live sand. When I set up my initial two tanks, I went out and bought 4 Blue Damselfishes, what a mistake. Had I gone to our Marine Systems Lab., Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, I would have left the Damsels at the dealer and would have bought live rock, live sand, hermits and snails. Two of the four Damsels succumbed to the cycling of one of the tanks. What a waste of fish. I recently set-up a 55 gallon tank and used the above and it cycled in 10 days and now I am ready add specimens. Again, I refer to your book constantly and I am taking slow and easy as you suggest. The species I put in my tanks, I would like to keep them for years. Thank you for your time and I would hope that I might be able to E-mail you from time to time. Sincerely, Mike, A Conscientious Marine Aquarist <<Good gosh, Mike... people are going to think I paid you to write the above! Do agree (hard not to!) with your findings re the use of skimmers, live rock and sand, cycling tanks... Be chatting! Bob Fenner>>

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