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FAQs about Skimmer Operation/Maintenance 12

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

Protein Skimmer driving me INSANE Hi guys...need some help in regards to my protein skimmer. Have a 65 gal marine tank, Emperor 400 and Fluval 404 canister pump, and a Prism Deluxe skimmer. This skimmer is driving me insane. It either removes a teeny bit in one week, or overflows within minutes.  Also, I recently started to have tiny bubbles in the tank, at least I hope that is what they are. It's annoying, water clarity is terrible.  Ok, to my questions - been reading your site A LOT in regards to skimmers. Should I replace the Prizm? I only have 5" space behind the tank, and no sump. I see you like AquaC and BakPak skimmers. I have read that BakPak have the same bubble issues, so should I upgrade to a Remora C or other type? Is it the skimmer creating these bubbles? I turned it off for a day, but guess what, still bubbles. Is it the Fluval or Emperor? I am confused, this bubble thing is new. I tried added a sponge to the out flow of the water from the skimmer to break up bubbles - uh that just causes immediate overflow! Help! What should I do?  <Dan, first thing to ask is are you using any additives that may cause the skimmer to overflow? I am using the same skimmer on my 29 mini reef. One thing I have to do, usually weekly, is take the motor off and clean the impellers with a toothbrush. I also run a piece of nylon string through the air line. It does get clogged up occasionally. Weed whacker string seems to work good. Mine does a decent job and I don't have to fool with it, and I rarely have to bleed air bubbles from the intake tube. James (Salty Dog)> 

Protein Skimmer driving me INSANE: avec Clowns James, Thanks for the quick response! Yes, I am using additives. I just added 2 clowns from my QT to the main tank and used Stress Coat day of transfer (that was the day I turned skimmer off because it went crazy as soon as I added it). I also use Cora-vital daily to help my live rock since the tank is only a few months old, I was hoping to help boost the re-generation of the rock. Should I worry if the bubbles don't go away?  <I'm sure the bubbles are being caused by the residual of the stress coat. If you filter with carbon this should go away.> Also, I have true percula tank raised clowns. They haven't even gone near the bulb anemone - will they move in?  <Don't know. Most will go in the BTA but it is not their favorite. Carpets and the Ritteri are their top dogs. James (Salty Dog)>

ASM skimmer (All Seas Marine knock-off of the EuroReef) Hi gang! I have an ASM G-1X protein skimmer on order and am trying to finish and set up my new refugium.  The skimmer section will contain water at a constant depth of 8.5 inches. Is this too deep for this skimmer? <... I have a concern here... see the unit, pix of same... the intake is the device with the foam screening on it... it needs to be pretty much covered to supply adequate depth of water...> I have tried unsuccessfully to locate the ASM website but based on the information on the EuroReef site, the water level should be 6 to 8 inches for their skimmers of which ASM is a clone. <Nice way to put this> My question, do you have any information on a website for ASM, and if not, based on your experience with EuroReef, will the 8.5 inch depth be too deep. I could wait until I get my new skimmer or until Monday when the store I ordered it from opens, but I am very anxious to replace my sump with this refugium.  Besides, you guys see all and know all. Thanks for the help once again. Mike Henry <Mmm, I encourage you to put the term: all seas marine skimmers in your search engines, contact the folks who sell these units re your concerns... the folks at Salty Critter will likely be able to help you. Bob Fenner> Multiple Skimmer Setup and Pump Selection Hi guys, <Hi there! Scott F. your guy tonight!> Love your site. I'll be quick and to the point. I am setting up a new system, either 135 gallon or 180 gallon reef, depending on what I can arrange. They will have dual overflows of 1 inch holes. I looked at all types of skimmers and cannot see how making the body of a skimmer an inch wider and two or three inches taller makes it double the performance capability. I decided to purchase two Precision Marine Bullet 1 skimmers to work together on this tank. <Fine skimmers with a nice reputation...Two skimmers on one tank! You're MY kind of fish nut!> Now I have to decide how to power these skimmers. At first I thought I would use a Iwaki WMD-4ORLT for each skimmer and a pump for the return to the main tank. Noise is a consideration for me since it is in my family room and I read that these pumps (the 40's) are fairly loud? <As someone who used an MD40 for a few years, I can tell you that they were too loud for my taste. Amazing quality; built like an M1 tank, reliable as anything- but too darned noisy for me!> In the past I have used little giant 4's and felt they were loud. So my question is should I use one bigger pump for everything, or one for the skimmers and one for return to the tank or one for each skimmer and one for the return? <Well, you could conceivably use one powerful pump for everything, and create a manifold with ball valves to power everything, or you can work out a gravity feed as well. However, I'd recommend two pumps: One pump for the system, and another for both of the skimmers, teed off for maximum control. This way, you minimize disruption to the system if you have to do maintenance to one of the components, etc.> Basically, which is better, three small ones like t4's or something like an Ampmaster or Iwaki 100? <As stated above, Id feel better going with two pumps, myself.> Will it be difficult to plumb these Beckett skimmers to work properly with one pump? <It may require a lot of tinkering with the ball valves to get the right flow in there. Experimentation is just par for the course!> Best Regards, Justin Kyllo <Hope I was of assistance to you, Justin! Good luck! Regards, Scott F

Cleaning the Skimmer Collection Cup I notice that the interior side of the collection cup of my AquaMedic skimmer is getting "cloudy" although the weekly cleaning with a soft brush.  Do you know some product to use in order to remove this plastic cloudiness ? I have tried: bleach.. <This is the worst thing you can use on acrylic. It will discolor it.>  ... and vinegar without success. With "Benzine" I notice that the plastic became transparent / clean but only after a lot of applications in the same small portion of the cup.  Thanks in advance.  Best regards, Fl?io Ribeiro  <You could try an acrylic cleaner/scratch remover available from Drs. Foster & Smith and other mail order aquarium places. Good luck. James (Salty Dog)> - Nitrates and Skimmer Inefficiency - Hi Bob and Crew! Hope this email finds you all well.  <So far, yes.> I have a question about nitrates in my tank and potential skimmer issue. Research has not given me to much to go on, so thanks in advance for your input.  My tank setup is a 55 gallon FOWLR tank (no sump), including about 60 lbs. rock and 5-6 inches of live sand. The tank is minimally stocked with a clown, damsel, goby, Gramma, fox face, small puffer, and green anemone.  <That doesn't sound minimally stocked to me - between the puffer and the anemone, you've got two excellent sources for nitrogenous wastes.>  I have a AquaC Remora Pro hang-on skimmer, Filstar canister filter, and chiller keeping the tank at a constant 78. Nitrites are at 0, nitrates are at about 40, ammonia is at 0, pH is at 8.2. I use Catalina Water (ocean water sold by aquarium stores) for my water changes. I tested it last night and found it to be at about 20 on the nitrate level. Additionally, the Catalina water is a bit salty due to evaporation so I dilute it with filtered drinking water (not RO). Again, this water tested last night at about 20 for nitrates. So, I see that this is where some of my nitrates are coming from. I perform water changes of 10% every 1.5 weeks. Should I switch to RO and make my own water?  <I would because I do.>  I have gotten lazy just buying bottles of "pre-made" water - is making my own difficult?  <Not at all.> The tank have some algae, but not much. I clean the glass during each water change and use a tooth brush in the rocks to remove the whitish sort of film from the hard purple coating. The fish seem healthy and the anemone has been great for years. The nitrate issue has been ongoing for years as well. It will climb until I bring it down. What I have been doing is using the AZ-NO3 product from MMM for a long time and it actually does a pretty good job. However, the tank is almost acting like it is addicted to the stuff. Recently, I have gradually decreased the dosage to wean the tank from it. Unfortunately, the less I put in, the less the skimmer works. Now, I am down to 1mL per night and the skimmer is not working at all. If I increase the AZ-NO3 dosage, the skimmer starts up again. It has not been skimming for over a week and nitrates are increasing. Do you have any ideas on what can cause a skimmer to not work in this way?  <Well... it is very typical for mature tanks to stop skimming. Could be this is where you are at this point - skimmers don't remove nitrates directly, only the products that may one day become nitrates.>  Some type of chemical imbalance maybe?  <Don't think so.>  Oh yes, I also use one of the large blocks of Sea Lab #28 every time I do a water change.  <I'd stop adding this stuff... not necessary if you start making your own water. I'll recommend that you do two things - start making your own water, and stop adding stuff - the AZ-NO3, SeaLab slab - leave these out of your regimen, wait a couple of weeks and see if things don't change for you; both the skimmer and the presence of nitrates.> Thanks for the advice! John <Cheers, J -- >

When is a skimmer too big? I'm relatively new to the hobby, but have enjoyed it tremendously for close to 3 years now. I have three nanos setup up of 29 gals., each with a 20 gal. sump on each as well. On two of the sumps, I have Excalibur model skimmers and so far have been happy with the operation of both, though somewhat maintenance intensive. When I set up the 3rd tank, which was not as heavily stocked (lots of live rock with two bubble tip anemones and a maroon clown, a couple of damsels, 5 peppermint shrimp, a sand sifting star, couple emerald crabs, and literally hundreds of hermits and snails my troubles started. Simply put, I avoided listening to my better judgment and called a fish store for advice. Man do I wish I had seen this site previously. I told them I planned on upgrading when I move in a couple years to 250+ gals. and wanted a skimmer to match that I could use in my new reef tank in the mean time. They hastily recommended Kent Marines TE skimmer and so far, it is terrible (sort of what you guys already said about it). I use the recommended Mag pump and it just skims very poorly. Lots of bubble that never get to the collector cup. I have to change 25% of the water 3x/wk just to keep the tenants happy. Questions are these: does the skimmer just plain stink? <IMO yes> Can a skimmer be too large? <Yes...> And if so, how large can I go without being too efficient or should I stick with smaller skimmers and just lay out the cash again when I upgrade? <I would do the latter... the span of 29 to 250+ gallons is too big a jump for this piece of gear> I'm looking at Euro-Reef skimmers right now. Any suggestions? <These are very fine products... well-engineered, constructed. Made by some "real aquarists" (who are friends as well). Bob Fenner>

Lights and protein skimmer Thu, 03 Feb 2005 Hey WWM crew-A few quick ones. First, I just purchased a double 175 MH hood setup for my 65. I hung it above the tank because I have no hood. (tank is built into the wall with a dedicated room for equipment behind it). There is a Plexiglas strip protecting the bulbs. Should I still keep it 8" above the tank, and should I remove the Plexiglas strip for more light intensity.<Keep the acrylic strip, it serves as a UV filter, and you could lower the lights some as long as the tank is still lit completely.> Second, I plan on adding a 38 gallon refugium. Can I put my protein skimmer (Remora Hang-on) in the refugium, and if so, should it go before or after the deep sandbed section.<I would put it before the sandbed.  James (Salty Dog)> Thank You Brian Cooper

Small white sponges (?) in skimmer - Tube worms, Maybe Dear All,  Hope you are well.<We are and hope you are well to.> I know you hate trying to ID stuff without a picture... <It is not the easiest in the world to do.>  ... and I do have a new digital camera as a Xmas gift, but these little fellows are tucked well away so here goes.  Inside my skimmer are a collection of small shapes, white, conical around 5 mm in size, with possibly a tiny filament/pair of filaments on the top end (as always, hard to see). <From the description it sounds like you have something called tube worms.> Should I leave them, or will they impair, (could they even improve?) the skimmer's functioning. <Well that is not an easy question to answer. Your skimmer won't run more efficiently but you water quality will improve. The tube worms feed off of tiny particulate mater such as zooplankton and phytoplankton. So you water will be cleaner. Your protein skimmer pulls out dissolved organic matter which prevents the "Yellowing" of your fish tank.>  I like all these weird things inside the system, so I will keep them, unless you say otherwise.  Many thanks. Peter <I would keep them. They are a benefit to the tank. Good Luck. MikeB> 

New Skimmer with tiny bubbles in tank Hey guys, <Matt> Your site has been by far the most helpful when it comes to my saltwater tank. Quick background -I recently went from a 20 gallon to 30 gallon saltwater set-up. I had fairly good results with the 20 gallon, but I was lacking the right equipment. So when I moved, I bought a 30 gallon tank and brought my old Penguin Bio-Wheel and Skilter filters with me. I brought about 20 lbs of live rock and a clownfish over to the new tank. I also took the next step and bought an AquaC Remora with Maxi Jet 1200 skimmer to replace the Skilter. <Much better> But, I set it up and let it run and I'm getting a ton of bubbles in the tank. My question, is this safe for my clownfish? <Mmm, could be trouble if the bubbles are very fine...> He's the only one I brought from my old tank and I don't want to lose him. I realize it might take some breaking in time to get rid of the bubbles.  Should I set it up on a different tank until it stops throwing bubbles in the tank, or should I keep on the 30 gallon tank and move the clownfish to another. <I'd move the clown... the new skimmer, system ought to become "less bubbly" with it all getting "broken in"... but you may want to devise a "discharge area" where you can insert a bit of foam, filter "wool" to dissipate/coalesce the bubbles> Thanks for your help! ~Matt <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Klaes skimmers 1/22/05 I was looking to find out where I can get supplies for the 5 ft Klaes skimmer... My aspirator motor went and I can't seem to find any where to get supplies... Please send me any info would be great..........thank you. Leo <beyond doing some Google searches... the only one I see carrying these skimmers near my region (NE USA) is MOPS in Canada:  http://www.mops.ca/pdf/page46.pdf  -  http://www.mops.ca > PS.. Your books are great Bob... <best regards, Anthony Calfo> 

Proper Skimmer installation - sump 1/19/04 Recently, I had asked your recommendation on a hang on protein skimmer for a 55 gallon system, because I have an AMiracle hang on wet/dry trickle filter with a built in protein skimmer that I can't get working properly. <Aqua C Remora skimmers are the best by far in this category!> Before going out and spending the money for another skimmer, I started reading some more of your articles, and found one where you indicate that the AMiracle skimmer is a good one that just needs adjustment. <not bad... but really too tedious for me, and not as reliable in the long run. If you have more time and patience, it can be made to work well>> I've tried everything to adjust airflow, but no luck at all. It collects about a quarter inch of "dirty" water every month or so, but never foams. <wow! any decent skimmer should be able to yield at least several full cups of dark skimmate weekly> Bubbles just swirl, without ever rising into the cone. Any suggestions? <installation flaw perhaps... like a skimmer sitting in an open sump (as opposed to a first stage vessel or partition which catches all raw water first in a standing/static level.... unlike the turbid and daily fluctuating sump)> The filter came without instructions, and the LFS where I bought it has nobody there who knows anything about it. Any idea how I can find out if It's set up properly at this point? <do see the diagram posted under marine plumbing in our archives> I've had no luck searching the web. The tank has been operating for about a year, with a clown, two other damsels, a Pseudochromis, some hermits and a feather duster, with about 15 lbs of live rock, and I'm wondering if the whole AMiracle set up was a mistake. Can you give me your thoughts on it? Is it adequate, or just a poor filter/skimmer in general. Thanks! <do consider its installation and insure a raw water feed first. Anthony> 

Improving skimmer performance 1/22/05 Same problem as first faq message on skimmers. less foam, less water flow coming out of skimmer, was happy with it till this started two weeks ago. Had my skimmer for a year and a month went thru the trouble shooting like cleaning and nothing change. what should I do. Thanks bob <I'm wondering if your water pump isn't aging prematurely or tired (reduced flow). If you can try a new or larger pump, that should help or correct the matter. Else you can try injecting more air into the unit via a strong air pump like the Luft pump through a brass air needle valve. Best of luck, Anthony> 

Re: Algae advice Hi again. <Hello!> I was wondering, how exactly do you tweak a protein skimmer to get more output? <Does it have adjustable air\venturi intakes?  If not, it can be cleaned by running fresh water+vinegar through it, and the collection cup raised\lowered> I have adjusted the air valve to make it more "bubbly" but perhaps you guys with your vast knowledge can tell me a good rule of thumb, it seems all the same to me, not the two cups output no matter what... thanks. <Not a whole lot to it other than regular cleanings, and air\collection cup adjustments> Kenn <M. Maddox> Novice marine aquarist    I love your site. Reading the articles and advice has helped a great deal, but I'm still confused about a couple of things. I have a 55 gallon with an Amiracle wet/dry, built in protein skimmer (that rarely works). <It's not you, these are feeble> The tank has about 3 inches of sand/crushed coral, and I've started to add live rock slowly (about 15 lbs right now). The tank has been up and running about a year, with a featherduster, bi-color Pseudochromis, a clown and 2 other small damsels, and 2 hermit crabs. They're all healthy, but every time I try to add a fish or two, something happens to the new ones. Always the same pattern. I take a long time to acclimate them, and they start feeding within 2 hours after introducing them. They seem fine for the first 2 - 3 weeks, co-existing peacefully and accepting food without difficulty, but then die suddenly, often with no signs of parasites or fungus. The older tank members stay fine. Any ideas? <Mmm, something is awry with your water quality that your current livestock have "gotten used to"... It may well be that this will all change with your addition of more live rock. Do you measure for nitrates? I am given to suggest that you look into a better protein skimmer... am sure you will be shocked at the gunk it removes> I have read several times that eventually the bio balls should be removed, but hesitate to do so when my protein skimmer is less than effective, and with only 15 lbs of live rock. Am I wrong to leave the bio balls? <No, can do real good... and should not make much functional difference when you have more live rock. However, the skimmer will make a HUGE difference> Should I increase/decrease the sand/crushed coral mix? <Until there is some reason to do otherwise, I'd leave as is> I do about a 30% water change every month. Temp is a constant 79 - 80 degrees, pH is fine, no ammonia problems, and no problems with nitrites. Occasionally the nitrates begin to rise, but I'm thinking that the inverts would be bothered first by that if the levels were too high. <Not necessarily... especially if this occurs slowly, many invertebrates can tolerate huge amounts of nitrates. I've seen culture and holding systems with thousands of ppm...> Finally, It's clear I'll need a new protein skimmer, as the Amiracle doesn't work. What would be your preference?  Thanks so much for any help you can give me. <Likely an Aqua-C unit... unless you have plans to up-size your system... than a Euro-Reef product would be my choice. Bob Fenner>

Desperately Seeking Foam Hi Crew,      First off, many thanks to your group for answering these questions.      I am a recent marine convert from freshwater fish, and the FAQs      have helped me many times. I hope this is not a repeat question -      I've scoured the skimmer FAQs and message boards, but I haven't      seen this answered exactly. Apologies if it's a repeat.      I have a 65 gallon FO tank that was set up in the beginning of last      December. Installed in the tank are a Penguin 330 BioWheel filter,      2 MaxiJet 1200 powerheads for circulation and an AquaC Remora Pro      skimmer with the Mag 3 pump. I cycled the tank with a single blue      damsel (I would have preferred fishless cycling but had very bad      luck with it in freshwater). Cycling was finished by the third week      of December. After that I added a clownfish and the LFS's "cleanup      crew" pack of 6 scarlet hermit crabs, 5 Astrea snails and one black      brittle star, to which I added a chocolate chip starfish. These      were added over a two week period at the end of December. I didn't      plan very well so I'm actually going to be adding live rock now      instead of at the beginning when I should have. I have 65 lbs. of      live rock on order and it should be here next week. Due to curing      it will still be a few weeks before it lands in the tank.<Brian, do cure it more than three weeks> During the time I was setting up I was preoccupied with keeping the      ammonia levels down, making sure everyone settled into the tank      etc., so I wasn't too worried that I really wasn't getting much      action from my skimmer. In the cup I am getting maybe 1/2 inch of      weak tea colored skimmate which didn't worry me because I've read      about the varying consistency that can be expected. However, I      can't seem to get any foam! No matter what I do, raise or lower the      cup, clean or don't clean the neck of the tube, etc... I either get      an overflow of clear water, or what looks like a bubble popping at      the top of the tube every now and then. When it pops it splatters      some skimmate into the cup. I sent a note to AquaC who had me clean      the injector, the cup, and retry putting the cup at the bottom and      slowly move it upwards, but I got more or less the same results as      before. So the question is: 1) Am I just too early in the process of the tank settling in?<Brian, your tank and the fish load isn't going to draw that much skimmate right now.  Because of the oils used in the manufacturing of acrylic skimmers, two weeks is sometimes needed before it "breaks in"> From what I've read here I should be able to get a foam head on the top of the tube by now, even if it's mostly clear foam and I don't get huge amounts of skimmate.<The AquaC's use a spray injection system for the foam fractionation unlike the venturi action.  All you should see is the bubble at the top breaking and releasing skimmate.  You certainly don't want to overskim where all you get is a tea like skimmate.> 2) Where in the tube should the "active bubbling" be? Midpoint? I'm assuming that the dirt/foam will form at this point and slowly climb until it overflows the cup. This seems to be what I 've seen from the few pictures I've found on the web. <All you should see in the tube is a slow rise of bubbles.> 3) I've read here that Specific Gravity can influence skimmer production, so I slowly increased from 1.022 to 1.025 after I read some FAQ's arguing that this is NSW's SG anyway and better for those who hope to eventually start a reef. No change.<Raising the SG .002 will have very little effect.> 3) Am I just missing something here? :) <Your first hurdle is to learn to be patient.  It certainly sounds like your skimmer is working to me, especially since I've used this model skimmer before.  James (Salty Dog)> Sorry to be so long, but I've become a convert to your site's philosophy that any skimming is better than no skimming,<exactly> and I desperately want to oblige! Thanks for your efforts,<you're welcome> Brian

Nitrate Levels Hi, <Brian> I have a 55g reef tank that is about 2.5 years old... 80lbs LR, AquaC Remora, 260w PC.  All is going pretty well but over time some corals really have never fully opened or even 50% for that matter.  From reading I figured it was the Anemone and I got rid of him about a month ago.  Although I have not seen much change, things are a little better. <Things... take time>   Anyway, after reading again :)  I decided to test my Nitrates (haven't done that since the first year)... Ouch!!! off the charts >100ppm.  Now I am on a mission to lower that bugger.  I have increased the DSB from 1"-2" (I know, I know) to 3"-4" and have cut way back on feeding.  I feel I am starving the poor dudes. :)  I am doing large water changes and all is helping but I feel this is for the short term.  You guys always speak of fine tuning the skimmer to get a cup a day of dark skimmate. <I wish such blanket statements weren't made... some folks are NEVER going to get this much... or even any!>   There is no way my Remora is giving that and I don't see anyway to 'tweak' it.  I have cleaned it and the pump many many times. Any ideas there?   <There very likely isn't much to remove in your mature, otherwise well-maintained system> One last question, I also had trickle filter early on but removed it since it could be a nitrate trap.  Was this a good idea? <Yep> Now I have no way to run any Polyfilters or carbon to help out. <Mmm, you could place this material in a Dacron filter bag, just situate in an area in your system that gets good water flow, but what you've stated doing will solve your nitrate issue over the next few to several weeks>   I also have a lot of detritus accumulation and the skimmer alone doesn't really take it out.  thanks for any help! -Brian <Oh! Then I would likely add some circulation. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm and the Related Articles and FAQs (linked, in blue, above)... Bob Fenner>

Micro bubble problem Hi- <Hello> I wonder if anyone can help. I am setting up my new 90g RR tank (moving up from a 55). As part of the setup. I have a 30g sump and have purchased and installed a new ASM G2 skimmer. <For readers, this is an All Seas knock-off of the Euro-Reef> The sump is designed as a large wet/dry, but I'm just using it as a sump (no bio-balls). The inlet compartment is about 6 inches wide. the middle compartment about 16 inches wide and the outlet compartment is about 4 inches wide (my pump just barely fits in there). The inlet compartment has a slot about 2 inches above the floor of the sump, the middle compartment has a weir about 9 inches high followed by a baffle that is open on the bottom only (water has to flow over the weir and then under the baffle). <Good description> I filled the tank with RO/DI water and ran with clean water for a couple of days (check for leaks). <Good> This weekend, I added salt to the tank and added about 50 lbs of live rock with a few small pieces of coral. I then put the skimmer in the middle sump compartment and started it up. My problem is that the tank is filling with millions of microscopic bubbles. They are throughout the water. The skimmer has now been running about 60 hours and still no change. I am using the outlet sponge by the way. <Yikes... you may need to add yet more sponge material or other substrate to coalesce, dissipate the bubbles on the discharge side of the skimmer> Also, I do have a Durso standpipe in the in tank overflow. The standpipe does bubble some air through the water in the inlet compartment, but it is pretty large bubbles. The only thing that is producing small bubbles is the skimmer. Is it the skimmer? <Yes> Is there an adjustment I can make? <Not on the skimmer itself, no> Any other thoughts or ideas? Perhaps the salt? Maybe just break in? Thanks- Larry <Time going by may indeed help, but I would rig some material on the discharge side of your skimmer, perhaps in the baffle area... open-cell polyurethane, large grade Dacron/batting material from a yardage store or the pet-fish biz... even Siporax or ceramic biological filter media rings will help. Bob Fenner> Central pump feeding skimmer 1/5/05 Hi. I purchased an AquaC EV 120 with your recommendation and it has been working great with the mag 5. I recently set up a 125 gallon reef and am still using the same skimmer but with a central pump for three sea swirls and the skimmer. Is it going to be possible to properly adjust the skimmer? The pump is overkill and is throttled back on all Seaswirls and skimmer. It is an Ampmaster 4600 .I was told this would decrease heat (one pump no powerheads} thanks. Manny  <Using on large external pump certainly will decrease heat.  As long as you have a separate valve to control the skimmer, you should not have any problems.  You may consider placing two valves in line to the skimmer.  The first one could be adjusted for proper flow and then never touched again (you could even remove the handle). The second would be used to turn the skimmer on and off for maintenance.  This way you would never "mess up" your adjustment.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>   Protein skimmer, used Berlin hi I recently purchased a used Berlin classic protein skimmer and I can see that it is slightly different from the newer one that red sea sells, which includes it's own pump.  I don't quite understand the drawings posted on the red sea website and I have never set up a protein skimmer before.  how do I tune it so that it works properly.  please help! <Mmm, a bit tricky to describe over the Net... You will likely be best served by either having a fellow hobbyist in the know visit and show you in person... or haul the rig to a LFS and have someone describe how to do this in person, but likely you need to adjust two valves, the feeder one from the pump to adjust input and the outgoing one to keep the water level in the contact chamber (the large cylinder) with air and water mixed in just an inch or so below the collector cup... You want to maximize the amount of air/water mix, w/o overflowing into the cup... Bob Fenner>

New marine system water quality testing, LR I have a 120g tank with only the live sand and salt level correct.  I just bought some live rock that is cured.  I have not yet purchased a water test kit yet, will my rock be ok till I can test my water.        I have a Berlin classic skimmer, will a mag drive of 1200gph be too much for this  skimmer, right now I have the pump hooked up to a spray bar.  if I can use this pump with my skimmer can I hook the spray bar up to the return from the skimmer. <Hello Btroy  You don't want to hook anything up on the return line from the skimmer.  There will too much back pressure on the line causing all kinds of problems.  Your rock will be fine.  Biggest test to do now is for ammonia.  Wait till it zeroes out before adding any livestock James>

Aquac ev-180 skimmer HI, I have been searching for answers for days now...I have purchased the AquaC EV 180 skimmer and the mag 700 pump, I guess I didn't do a very good job of doing my home work  because I don't have a sump is there any other way of hooking this skimmer up I have heard of people rigging them up as HOT got any advise??? has anybody else had this problem...lol... hope not...thanks <Am referring you to the owner/manager of AquaC, Jason Kim for his valuable input here... and to archive for others use in future. Bob Fenner>

Re: AquaC ev-180 skimmer Thanks Bob, I'll take care of this one... <Thank you Jason. Please send along a copy of your response for our posting/sharing> No diving in the Maldives for a while I guess..? <No my friend. BobF> ------------------------- Jason Kim President AquaC, Inc. 9825 Carroll Center Rd., Ste. 400 San Diego, CA 92126 858-689-1121 phone 858-564-3419 fax visit us online at... www.proteinskimmer.com

Interested in Protein  Skimmer 12/29/04 Seems as though the ASM skimmer is awesome based  on what I have been reading here. I have a 210 gallon tank using the large Eco  System Miracle Mud Sump. I want to add a protein skimmer. <ASM skimmers are excellent values and performers - a good choice> Where would I  put the ASM unit. My Sump is full of Caulerpa. The return compartment has a few  Max Jets in it . One for PhosBan reactor. One for calcium reactor. Also have  water top off in this compartment. Any ideas where to put skimmer. Could I add  an additional Lucite box to hold skimmer. (Drill a tube from sump to new box and connect?.) <yes... sort of. DO make or buy a plastic box just large enough to hold the skimmer and feed it gravity overflow water from the display and let the skimmer box then overflow into the sump. This is the very best way> What size skimmer would you us? <trust the manufacturers recommendations> Noise is an issue. Tank sits  next to TV in family room. How does this skimmer compare to external MR-2. <it does not require a large pump and is quiet IMO all things considered> I  feel I want an in sump system for leak protection. <understood... have the skimmer box next to the sump and safely gravity overflow right into it> Any Thoughts? Is a hang  on Turbo floater or Urchin easier and better. <the AquaC Remora HOB or the sump Urchin are both excellent too> I am looking for efficiency and  ease. Where would I put skimmer. First compartment in Eco is full of bioballs.  2nd large is Caulerpa. <I frankly feel the bio-balls are a slight handicap and that Caulerpa is a potential long term danger and would instead use no bio-balls and grow safer and less noxious Chaetomorpha instead (browse the archives with keyword searches of these words/phrases for more information... or the chapter in our "Reef Invertebrates" book by Calfo and Fenner> Third is open small sump. I am so confused? <it is my daily state of mind at times... welcome to the club. Anthony:)> Interested in Protein Skimmer   Seems as though the ASM skimmer is awesome based on what I have been reading here. I have a 210 gallon tank using the large Eco System Miracle Mud Sump. I want to add a protein skimmer. Where would I put the ASM unit. My Sump is full of Caulerpa. The return compartment has a few Max Jets in it. One for PhosBan reactor. One for calcium reactor. Also have water top off in this compartment. Any ideas where to put skimmer. Could I add an additional Lucite box to hold skimmer. (Drill a tube from sump to new box and connect?.)<The Lucite box would be ok but I would drill in the first compartment and drain to the first compartment.  That is where you want the skimming and the mechanical filtration to be taking place.> What size skimmer would you us? Noise is an issue. Tank sits  next to TV in family room. How does this skimmer compare to external MR-2. I feel I want an in sump system for leak protection.<All skimmers can be noisy and I have found that it is comparable to the MR-2.> Any Thoughts? Is a hang  on Turbo floater or Urchin easier and better. I am looking for efficiency and  ease. Where would I put skimmer. First compartment in Eco is full of bioballs.  2nd large is Caulerpa. Third is open small sump. I am so confused?<Even though the first compartment is full of bioballs that is where you want to plum the protein skimmer to or from.  You do not want to skim the water after it has moved through the miracle mud compartment.  You would be removing the plankton that way and that would be a bad idea.  Good Luck. MikeB.>

Setting up a Berlin Red Sea skimmer I have an AMiracle wet/dry filter for my 100 gallon saltwater tank.  I recently bought the Berlin red sea protein skimmer and the Rio 3100 pump.  I tried to put the skimmer in the sump, but it doesn't fit with the pump.  I have some type of opening on the AMiracle wet/dry filter on the side., but I am too scared to open it cause I'm scared that all the water will come out.  Is it possible  to keep the pump inside the sump and the with tube, attach it to the protein skimmer.  << I think you are okay to pump the pump in the sump, and have the skimmer outside the sump, and a little bit elevated to make sure water from the skimmer flows into the sump. >> I am very new into the fish world and would appreciate your help.  The reason why I bought the protein skimmer was because my water was always milky.  I have about 10 fish in there and all are doing fine for the last 6 months.  I have a few tangs, 2 clowns, starfish, damsels, blenny, and some other ones.  No live reef or corals.  Please help me.  I feed them only once a day and enough that it is gone in 3 minutes. << Give it a try.  Also, maybe look at some tanks near you and see what other's are doing.  I think you will be fine. >> Regards, Neil <<  Blundell  >> Problem with a skimmer on a synthetic coral tank Hey folks. Love the site. Read it daily and find it very helpful. On to my question. When setting up my fourth aquarium, a 75 gallon marine fish-only, I wanted to try something different, so I used all synthetic corals and rock. << Do you mean man made, or simply terrestrial rocks?  Also, you will need some live rock to provide the biological filtration. >> I don't remember all the brands, but they are the ones commonly available in pet stores and the popular internet retailers. It actually turned out to be a nice looking tank (my wife liked it so much we moved it from a guest room to our master bedroom so we could enjoy it more!) << Hold on to that wife. >> The problem is, I can not get a protein skimmer to work on this tank. I have a AquaC Remora on my 46, and was very impressed with its performance, size, and how quiet it was. So I ordered another for this new tank. After 30 days, the unit has yet to pull out any "scum". So I decided to swap skimmers, and sure enough, the one that was working on the 46 is NOT working on the 75, while the one not working on the 75 IS working on the 46. Strange. << Indeed.  Is it possible there is nothing to skim? >> FYI - the 75 has the same wet/dry as my 46, with an added Magnum 350 for mechanical filtration and additional water movement. Water chemistry is identical in both tanks. Both tanks use the same salt. The 75 has been set up for 6 months. The 75 housed way too many fish from my 125 for a few weeks while I updated my 125's filtration, so it's not an issue of not having any dissolved organics to pull out. << Hmmm, interesting. >> All the synthetic coral was rinsed under hot tap water prior to going in the tank. And finally, this is not an issue with the Remora, for I had the same experience with a pair of SeaClone skimmers (Ughhh!) a few months back. I did email Jason Kim (AquaC president) and he quickly replied. After several emails, he believes the fault may lie with the synthetic corals and rocks. I have not read or heard anything about this problem, and it concerns me that these products could be adversely effecting my water quality. Have you or any of your readers experienced this problem? << I'm unaware of any problems.  In this case you may not have any problems.  If your nitrite and more importantly nitrate levels test low, then I wouldn't worry about it.  Maybe the artificial rock is much better at filtration??? >> Thank you in advance. <<  Blundell  >>

Re: Problem with a skimmer on a synthetic coral tank I was reading through today's questions and came across one that is almost a direct problem Jason (AquaC) and I were working on with my tank!  I also bought some 'fake' coral from PetCo thinking that I could have an instant good looking tank.  Well, long story short, after close to 2 months of nothing being skimmed with my Remora, having Jason send a replacement and trying everything else we could think of nothing helped.  Finally we decided to pull all un-necessary things out of the tank (the fake coral being the first) and doing a 25% water change. W00T!  Within 3 days of pulling the corals, the Remora was skimming! Mileage may vary with others having this issue. <Thank you for this input. Will share. Bob Fenner>

How long to use protein skimmer Hello Crew <Hi Jorgen, MacL here with you today.> After all the research on protein skimmers, whew? There was a lot!!! <Sooo true.> I decided on one which will work for my tank. I just have one question left about protein skimmers which I did not see any articles on it. . How long do I use the protein skimmer in my tank? Is this something that is going to run everyday or just for a couple of days? <Most people run them all the time, 24/7 non stop.  However it really depends on how "CLEAN" you want your tank to be. I do know of some people who only run them at night.> Thanks Jorgen Quiban

Micro bubbles after filtration upgrade Hi, I have a 90 gallon reef tank.  I just installed a G-2 skimmer  yesterday.  I also removed my pre-skimmer filter floss.  My tank is  filled with micro-bubbles now.  The skimmers out put has a sponge sleeve,  and there is minimal bubbles from it.  My overflow takes in air, so the  outlet is a bubbly mix.  My sump is not sectioned off, so these bubbles are  making it to my return pump.  I only had this problem after I added the  skimmer (not the cause) and removed the filter floss. Is there any way to remove the air coming from the overflow without using  floss?  Is using floss detrimental to a reef tank, assuming it is replaced  a few times a week?  My sump(20-gallon tank) was installed when I set the  tank up, so it is hard to alter it in any major way.  Your advice would be  appreciated. Thank you. Ryan, <Ryan, Yes tiny air bubbles can be detrimental to the corals.  They can get under them and eventually dry them out.  If you don't want to use filter floss try using some bioballs or some other kind of biological material in the sump.  I like to use a baffle system.  Try sectioning off your sump.  That would definitely help.  Good luck. MikeB.> Micro bubbles after filtration upgrade Hi, <Hello there> I have a 90 gallon reef tank.  I just installed a G-2 skimmer  yesterday. <For others this is a knock-off of the Euro-Reef line by the folks at All-Seas Marine> I also removed my pre-skimmer filter floss.  My tank is  filled with micro-bubbles now.  The skimmers output has a sponge sleeve,  and there is minimal bubbles from it.  My overflow takes in air, so the  outlet is a bubbly mix.  My sump is not sectioned off, so these bubbles are  making it to my return pump. <Can be trouble here> I only had this problem after I added the  skimmer (not the cause) and removed the filter floss. <I'd try putting the floss back> Is there any way to remove the air coming from the overflow without using   floss? <Maybe by making the sump much larger, baffling the output from the skimmer....> Is using floss detrimental to a reef tank, assuming it is replaced  a few times a week? <Not likely, at least not as much as the fine bubbles being mixed in the return pump> My sump(20-gallon tank) was installed when I set the  tank up, so it is hard to alter it in any major way.  Your advice would be   appreciated. Thank you. Ryan, <Choices as presented. Bob Fenner> Skimmer question Dear WWM Crew, <Narayan>    Quick question... I hear it repeatedly stated on WWM that in-sump skimmers are better than HOB skimmers. <Need to define "better"... in-sump skimmers are no better functionally/potentially than non-in-sumps, but can be easier to manipulate, operate...> Here's my question -if two skimmers are processing the same amount of water per hour and their heights are about the same and they work on the same principle, shouldn't their performance be about the same? <Yes> For example I'd expect a Remora Pro and an Urchin Pro to have identical performances. Skimmers like the EV120 are only an inch or two taller than a Remora Pro. Will its performance be that much better? Forgive me for my ignorance... <Not ignorance, but its opposite... you are correct re performance. Bob Fenner> Thank You, Narayan P.S. My aqua-cultured Xenia from LiveAquaria.com is now in the display after a 3week QT. This one pumps at pH values down to 8.0! And seems very happy so far... (3 days worth of data)

Skimmer set-up, operation Mike, Thanks for your prompt and informative reply.<Sure, not a problem.>  With regards to the skimmer, I cant make it any higher given the way it attaches itself to the sump.  Is it possible that the water level is too high in the sump?<No, the standard sump set up will have the protein skimmer in the first compartment so it will be not possible to lower the water.  I would then recommend cutting the amount of air that is being injected into the skimmer or the rate at witch the water is being pumped into the skimmer.  Usually, those are the other 2 components when you are adjusting the skimmer.> How high should the water level be? Is it determined based on the powerhead? <It  is determined based on the type of skimmer.  The foam should be a couple of inches from the top of the outlet of the collection cup.> Regards Simon <Good Luck. MikeB>

Protein Skimmer Hello Bob & Staff, I have a wet/dry filter. Why is it when I change the filter pad on the tray the skimmer goes nuts? <Mostly changes in the systems capacity to remove "organics"> I usually change the pad at least once a week and have to readjust my protein skimmer. And it usually takes about a week to find the sweet spot on the skimmer and than have to start from scratch after changing the pad. I guess my question is do you think I should just do away with the pad and let the raw water go into the protein skimmer? <I would do this... but you might try adding another layer to the pad... removing the top one, adding another new one under it...> I was worried about this because the pad does seem to get pretty dirty and wasn't sure if it be worse letting that debris go without any form of filtration besides the protein skimmer. I have taken all the bio balls out of the sump and have added live rock (after reading articles from your site on wet/dry) Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thank You!! <Try both of these approaches with testing of your water... likely for nitrate... and see which is better for you. Bob Fenner>

Skimmer in the overflow box Hi, I have a 90 gal. FOWLR that has a built in wet/dry. I have taken out the bio balls and am letting the trickle area stay empty for now. (May add live rock there later) I have 120lbs LR, 50lbs LS and a custom made skimmer. The skimmer works fairly well, but I am wondering about the placement. It is now placed in the overflow chamber of the wet dry, but I was wondering if it would work better if the pump stayed in the overflow and the outfall were in the chamber next to the overflow. That would keep from re-skimming the same water over and over again. Would you recommend this? << Yes definitely.  If you wanted to, you could make the outflow run down right into the sump.  Just be careful that this doesn't make a siphon path for when the power goes out. >> Thanks for your suggestions, Todd <<  Blundell  >>

Protein skimmer question This one I guess should be directed to Steven <Steven is out so you are stuck with me on this one. MacL here at your service.> I'm looking at spending a LARGE chunk of change on a skimmer for my new 157 gal. reef tank. In trying to figure out which one I want to purchase, I have been doing a lot of reading. I came to the conclusion that I wanted a ETSS 600 Pro series powered by a Iwaki MD40XRT. <Nice Choice.> But I'm a little confused after reading your article on skimmers. Do I understand that one should NOT use your skimmer in the sump or stand beside, fed through your sump? <I can't speak for Steven but it reads more to me like you need to make sure that you get the top level of water in order to get the most protein which natural goes to the top. It also needs to be in a place in the sump where the level stays stable and not moves up or down because often that messes with the protein skimmers and cause them to not work well.> Should it have it's own lines to and from the aquarium? The confusion comes because most skimmers out there are advertised as a in sump or stand beside units. Please clear this up for me before I lay out my cash. <No he's saying that you need to create a place in the sump that stays level so you get optimum performance from your skimmer.> Thanks Robert Re: Berlin skimmer adjustments I think the Red Sea Berlin turbo classic can be very efficient (for its size) if it is adjusted properly. It simply requires the correct balance between water flow and air mixture. <As is the case with most skimmers...> Please give us your input on this. <Ok.> There are 3 columns 1. The inner tube is where water and air enter the bottom of the reactor under pressure from the pump. The air/water mixture then travels up. The pressure here should be a constant flow of water and air. A divider at the bottom of this tube mixes the air water into a vortex. 2. The middle tube is where water and air get forced downward, by the water pressure, until it reaches the bottom of the middle tube. The bottom of this tube is wider, like a bell. This bell shape decreases water pressure at the bottom, which, in turn, decreases the flow rate of the water at the bottom. This allows the bubbles to escape the water pressure in the middle tube and rise back up the column toward the collection cup. This increases contact time between bubbles and water. The larger the bubbles the faster they raise. The smaller the bubbles the more they say trapped in the column. This column is what I will refer to as the ambient air column and the top of the bell what I will refer to as the bubble boundary. 3. The outer tube is for clean filtered water return only. An efficient setting will not allow any air bubbles to pass under the bell and the dirty air bubbles are not allowed to return to the tank. There are 2 principals 1. Increasing the air rate decreases the water rate into the system. And inversely, decreasing the air rate increases the water rate. 2. The higher the water rate the further it pushes the air column down the middle tube toward the bell. Setup 1. The reactor must be in a sump. 2. The sump must have a constant steady flow of tank water. 3. The reactor and the pump must be in the dirty side of the sump. 4. The reactor side of the sump must remain at a constant level between 4 and 6 inches deep. The pump feeding the reactor must have a constant head pressure. This requires a constant water level above the intake pump of the reactor. If the main tank water level drops then the sump level should remain the same. The overflow to the clean side of the sump should take care of this little problem. 5. The outlet tubes leading to the clean side of the sump may not go above the outlets of the skimmer. They may be submerged but a "T" must be installed to alleviate any backpressure. Adjusting 6. Start with the air valve wide open letting the maximum amount of air into the system. We will adjust this later. To do this, open the air valve all the way turning it counter clockwise. 7. Now open the dial on the pump all the way allowing the maximum amount of water into the system. The dial pointer on the adjustment knob should be in line with the hose. 8. At this time the air bubbles should be spilling under the skirt at the bottom of the reactor. This is the starting point. We must now adjust the air/water mixture in the middle tube to the boundary layer at the top of the bell. 9. To do this first adjust the dial on the pump (clockwise) until the outer air column recedes under the bell and partially up the middle tube. Make sure it is no more than a ? in above the top of the bell of the middle tube but don't let it go too far up the middle tube or you will have to overcompensate later. 10. Now tighten the air valve (clockwise) until the air column comes back down to the top of the bell. The air bubbles should be dancing just under the top of the bell but no air bubble should be allowed to leave the middle tube and enter the outer tube. This adjustment will always give you the maximum amount of air that can be contained in the ambient air column 11. You are done. Your tank water has protein molecules in it that attach themselves to the bubbles in the reactor.  Protein molecules decrease the surface tension on the bubbles. The low surface tension on the bubbles allows the bubbles to combine when they crash into each other in the middle tube. The impeller of the pump creates lots of tinny bubbles but they get larger as they collide into each other in the ambient air/water mixture. The larger bubbles will travel up the middle tube, against the water flow to the top of the middle tube and up to the collection cup. When the tank is dirty you will need lots of air and less water flow. The bubbles will be bigger and rise to the top faster. If you followed the steps above, and your tank is dirty then foam will bubble up into the spill cup with wet skimmate for a day or two. This is when you will need an overflow container to catch the wet skimmate from the cup. Don't worry about wasting water at this point. Just let it run and get the dirt out. When your tank is dirty you have low surface tension and high viscosity this means bigger bubbles in the ambient air column. This requires a lower water rate or the bubbles will be pushed past the bubble boundary. To lower the water rate you will have to increase the airflow into the pump. You might think that you can install a valve between the pump and the reactor but this will decrease the entire air/water mixture and is not capitalizing on the maximum flow (rate) of the ambient air/water column. When the tank is cleaner it will require finer bubbles and greater water flow. This results in increased contact time and more efficient skimming. When your tank is cleaner you may eventually see the foam recede from the top of the cup. You will also notice that the air column has receded above the top of the bell. When this happens you will have to adjust the skimmer to decrease airflow and increase water flow rate. You might think that less air means less protein removal but this is not true. If you have the entire middle tube continuously filled with tinny air bubbles and the bubbles go all the way down to the top of the boundary layer then your ambient air/water mixture is always maximized. Increasing the water flow means that the more gallons per hour are being processed. To do this you may now tightening the air valve (clockwise) until the air column comes back down to the top of the bell. You should now see dry foam rise to the top of the cup again When you first turn the reactor on or if you have just cleaned it then there are less protein molecules on each bubble. The surface tension is higher and you will have smaller bubbles in the ambient air column of the middle tube. This requires a higher water rate to get the smaller bubble down to the boundary layer at the top of the bell. To increase the water rate you will have to decrease the airflow to the pump. The tricky part is that you will have to increase the airflow when the reactor starts collecting protein. This may take a couple of hours. Then, as the tank gets cleaner, you will have to decrease the airflow again to maximize the ambient air water mixture. This may take a few days. You start this process over and over again every time you clean. This is why most people do not like this reactor. However, if you follow these simple steps, I believe this is the most efficient protein skimmer of it size. <Well... I think what you have here is a good first draft. Rather than mark it all up, I challenge you to keep working on it. You've got some spelling and word use changes to make, and I would encourage you to avoid making 'absolute' statements about a piece of equipment which performs very differently in similar systems... but you've made a good start. Many manuals included by the manufacturer just aren't adequate and you're obviously experienced with this one... and it's good to have folks share their experiences. I would be happy to proofread a second draft for you. Cheers, J -- >

- Skimmer and Top Off - Greetings Crew, I am running a Remora with maxi 1200 on my 34x18x25 zoanthid and shroom tank, and took home a Tunze Osmolator Universal today to deal with top off duties. I use the skimmer box with the Remora, and its quite picky about water level if you want to keep the surface film going into the skimmer. About 1" below the level in the tank or it doesn't do a good job with the film. I setup the Tunze optical sensor in the skimmer box a little bit above the maxi. This works out great except that with the Tunze pump feeding into the tank, by the time the skimmer box fills up enough that the sensor shuts off the pump there is about a cup too much water and the skimmer box stops getting the surface film for a few hours. This led me to the idea of having the Tunze pump feed directly into the skimmer box. It has worked like a charm, but I'm not sure of the effect on skimmate production. Do you see this being a problem in the long run? <No, I don't think so.> It seems to pump about 1/4 cup of RO in every couple of hours which I'm pretty sure gets pumped out in a minute or less. The tank is currently fishless so I don't see hardly any skimmate now anyways. <Then no worries.> Thanks for your help, y'all are always there with sage advice. EB <Cheers, J -- >

- Giving Don Ho the Boot - I'm new to the hobby, and I have been running a hang on Excalibur skimmer for about a month now, which came with a Rio 800. Ever since the beginning, there are way too many bubbles being thrown back into the tank. The skimmer came with a pre-fab bubble trap, which is huge, and made from black acrylic (which causes a huge shadow in my 37 g reef, so it's not in use). I can see from the side that the bubble production is being brought down into the output return tube. The instructions that came with the skimmer don't mention anything about adjusting the Rio flow, and (of course) I can't find any information about adjusting the Rio anywhere else. I've contacted the LFS where I got it, and they said to just wait and let it break in, but after a month, the bubbles are causing my mushrooms to stay shriveled up. All water parameters are in line - they were all checked last night. If anyone can help, I would appreciate it. <It seems to me that you'll have to suck it up and use the bubble trap. Any skimmer that comes with one out of the box makes me think they know they have a bubble problem. The bubble trap will likely address this issue. I don't think I'd try to adjust the Rio pump as this will affect your skimming.> Thanks, Todd <Cheers, J -- > - Skimmer Venturi Problems - If you can help me, I will be VERY happy! <I'll do my best.> I have this problem with my protein skimmer that has baffled me for months. Well, it's not so much the protein skimmer as the powerhead. I can't get water to stop squirting out of the venturi valve. As soon as I turn on the powerhead, the water creeps up the tube and leaks out the valve. I have tried various ways of sealing the air tube to the powerhead, but it doesn't work. I have tried orienting the whole configuration in different directions, but nothing. Only when I physically blow into the venturi valve does the powerhead produce the desired bubbles. I took my powerhead to a marine fish store and they looked at it and told me to try new tubing...so I did...then, I finally went out and bought a brand-new Penguin venturi powerhead. I set  it  up, and water still crept up the venturi tube. I am obviously doing something very wrong. <Hmm... perhaps not. My first suggestion would be to try and move the pump closer to the surface of the water. Often times venturis on small powerheads fail to work if they are too far removed from the surface. Another option you have would be to add a small air pump with a check valve in the air line to make sure the powerhead doesn't back-feed into your air pump if it fails. The air pump would provide much more robust bubble production than the venturi alone and would solve the problem without moving the pump.> Emily <Cheers, J -- >

Supersizing skimmers Hey Crew! What bad thing could really happen if I were to use an euro-reef skimmer rated up to 3 to 4  times larger then what my system is?  LFS says it will pull too many  trace elements. Is that really true? >>I would have no problem running such an oversized skimmer on my system, and would worry at all about it removing trace elements>> I plan 3.5 % daily water changes. do you think this would do the trick in renewing the trace elements? >>There are a couple of schools of thought about this. Some say that the nearly continuous water changes always keep new water coming in while some say that small waterchanges aren't big enough to actually have any impact. How big is your system?>> >>Rich>>

Bioballs and Protein Skimmer, nitrates Hello Bob, <Hi there Neil> I just recently got into saltwater fish about a year ago.  I've had a lot of success with Freshwater for about 11 years and now wanted to move on to more exotic fish.  I've been a big fan of your website since I've gone to saltwater.  Now here is my specs on my FOWLR tank: -90 gallons 60x18x20 acrylic -Over 90lbs of Live rock, mostly Fiji some Marshall -3-4 inch of crush coral on the bottom of tank -15 gallon sump with bio balls -Prizm Protein skimmer hanging from sump <You may want to upgrade/size this device... particularly with your stocking below> -Livestock: -3" Porcupine puffer -1.5" Niger trigger -2.5" yellow tang -3.5" blue tang, king of the tank -1.5" Kole tang -1" clown fish, Nemo -.5" damsel, can't catch him -.5" Vlamingi tang, will give him up once he gets too big for tank <Likely so> I feed them flakes twice a day (Formula 2 and Nutri Max), feed them frozen shrimp, Nori,  and assorted Formula cubes (3) once every week.  So far they look healthy and get along.  The tank has been up for almost 11 months now and all the fish hiding places due to the live rock set-up.  I routinely change 15 gallons of water every two weeks from LFS. Now here are my Questions: 1. Is it a good idea to remove bio balls since nitrates are slowly creeping up or is it more beneficial to keep them. <Very likely better to remove them> 3.  Will pulling out the Bio-balls make the protein skimmer work more efficiently, if so 2.  Will getting a better Skimmer make a big difference, like aqua c remora pro, because right now my skimmer does pull out gunk.  But not a 1/2 cup everyday. <Will not make "more efficient", a good idea to replace... and I wish folks wouldn't emphasize "so much volume" as a measure of skimmer function/utility, but quality, possibilities of other events... In any case, I definitely WOULD replace this skimmer... you will likely find a much darker skimmate, much more apparent better water quality, diminished maintenance consequently> Currently nitrates are ranging between 20-40 ppm.   Last test getting closer to 40. <As you seem to indicate, this is too much> Any help with these questions would be appreciated. Neil <Maybe use the Prizm on your quarantine/treatment/hospital tank. Bob Fenner>

Skim Grandma, Skim like the Wind!! Hello, How soon after cycling my tank, should I start my protein skimmer up and use it?  I will be using 32 pounds live rock and Carib-Sea Aragalive sand.  With a hang on back Penguin 170gph filter with Bio-Wheel.  This is for a 29 gallon tank, For tank raised seahorses only (besides clean up crew).  Thank you very much for your help.   Jerry Cranford. >>>Greetings Jerry, You can hook your skimmer up immediately. No reason to wait. That will be $75.00. Jim<<<

- Tuning an AquaC EV-180 - Hello, Thank you guys in advance for the response.  I've have an AquaC EV-180 that I can't seem to find the right water level for.  I've read the instruction manual which is kinda confusing.  If you could perhaps tell me EXACTLY where the water level should be inside the skimmer via a diagram or picture or something I'd be very happy. <Huh... well, there is a picture in the EV-180 manual that at least to my eye says it all. There is a horizontal divider just below the top of the body of the skimmer. The water level inside the skimmer should "ideally" be just an 1/8 to 1/4 inch below this.> I love this skimmer and know it will work well with your help.  Also I'm looking to upgrade the pump for this skimmer...I've been looking into the Iwakis which are awesome pumps, although my main concern is the noise level and I'm not sure where these fall on the noise scale. <Not outrageous, but also not quiet.> If you have any suggestions or references to other pumps I'd appreciate it. <Would stick with Jason Kim's recommendations.> Another thing I've been toying with is to instead of control the water level with the 1" gate valve I could oversize my pump and throttle back the water before it comes in the skimmer (much like how it works with the dolphin 800 pump). <Not as wise - valving back the pump will at the least up your electric bill... much better to let the pump run at full bore and use the gate valve on the skimmer body to control the water level.> If I this is true I could take off the gate valve at the exit.  I would think this would create a higher flow through rate if the exiting water is less restricted from the 1" gate valve. <It probably would, and would result in a less efficient skimmer.> My goal is to get as much water processed as possible.  In the near future I'll be upgrading to a 180g tank and want to know if the skimmer can handle that much load. <Yes.> It'll be a heavily stocked reef tank with fish and corals.  Maybe with the higher flow modifications to the skimmer it'll be much better suited for this larger tank.  Once again thanks for the advice and info I'll be awaiting a reply. Sincerely, Chris AKA - fishtank <Cheers, J -- > Skimming a Miracle Mud system Hey guys, <Hey Chris, MacL here to also answer this question>      I have a 6 month old 150 gallon tank.  It is stocked with 5 small fish and 25 different frags.  I have a ecosystem refugium with their "miracle" mud (I had to at least try it). <I have to tell you everyone I know loves their miracle mud system. I personally have a refugium based similarly although I don't have the "mud".>  Everything is going great with the tank.  <Great to hear> All the water parameters are excellent.  I have been pretty proud that I added a bleached white Sebae anemone a few weeks ago and its brownish green color is already coming back. <Definitely a great sign.> Which I have read that they lose all their color when they are stressed and they are very sensitive to water quality and lighting.  I'm hoping this is a good sign that my tank is on the right track.  Anyway I know the guys at Ecosystem say they don't run a skimmer on their systems but I have always run a skimmer and when building the sumps for this tank I made a compartment for my skimmer just in case. <I have gone skimmerless for a very long time myself Chris but I have to tell you, I plan to increase the amount of SPS that I am planning to have in my tank and therefore I am going to start skimming. I think its really about the requirements of what you plan to keep. By its nature the mud system is going to be cleaning the water with the Caulerpa it uses BUT it also puts things back into the water and that makes it perhaps not the absolute most pristine water.> Last night I decided to run the skimmer just to see what was there and by morning it was full of black skimmate.  Which got me to thinking, If there are 0  nitrates, 0 nitrite, and 0 ammonia is this skimmate bad for the tank? <I don't know as its bad for the tank, its probably feeding a lot of the corals and the anemone but it definitely is IN the tank. You have to decide whether you want a totally pristine tank or whether you can live with that.> Should I continue not skimming as long as the parameters stay at 0? <I do know people that split the difference with a mud system and skim part of the time and they seem to be quite happy with the way this works.> I hadn't thought about it really until I saw how much crud the skimmer pulled out.  I didn't think there would be much there honestly.  And either way all the corals seem happy before and after skimming.  Thanks for any answers. <Really it depends on your coral requirements Chris. As I said I personally am going with a new skimmer simply because I want to have pristine water for my SPS'. Let me know what you decide to do, good luck, MacL> Chris Dial - Too Much Foam? - Hello WWM crew.  As usual thank you for all of your wonderful advice.  I have read through the skimmer FAQs and have not found an answer to my current setup issue.  I have had a 135 gallon tank running for a few days with saltwater and yesterday I added 150lbs of Fiji uncured rock and 200lbs of CaribSea aragonite select sand.  Last night and today the water is really cloudy obviously from the sand even though mixed.  This I was expecting and I know that will clear up however I plugged in my Turboflotor 1000 skimmer and it produces so much foam that it fills the collection cup up in 4-5 minutes with cloudy water.  I'm not sure if it is just pulling all the excess water from the sand and it will stop once the cloudiness goes away or if this is something that needs fine tuning.  I was expecting quite a bit of stuff to come out of it since it is uncured rock but not this quickly.  I figured I might have to clean the cup a few times a day.  Is this normal or a skimmer fine tuning issue. <It's normal for a large quantity of uncured live rock... things will settle down.> It is in about 10 inches of water and I'm not sure if I should raise it. <You might want to just until you've cured the live rock.> Also, even before I turned on the skimmer or added the live rock and sand I have a huge microbubble problem that is only evident when the lights are on. <Will likely also go away once things have settled in... is pretty typical for a skimmer on a system with nothing in it to return a lot of air to the tank.> This is the rest of my setup.  135 gallon AGA with 2 dual 1" hang on overflow boxes.  So, I have 4 1 inch lines plumbed down to a 50 gallon sump in the stand.  The sump has a foam block under the first of 5 baffles.  I am planning on adding some more live rock to the middle portion of the sump before it goes over the final 3 baffles to the submerged mag 36 return pump that is plumbed to a manifold with 8 outlets.  I am planning on changing the standpipes in the overflow boxes to the stockman standpipe a variation of the Durso standpipe to reduce the noise.  I don't know if it is sucking so much air down and that is what is causing the bubbles to form so maybe the new standpipe might cure this or if I needed to order some micron bags to put over then end of the flex-tube leading into the sump.  The baffles break up the large bubbles but the microbubbles are allowed through.  Any suggestions would  be greatly appreciated.  Thank you in advance for your invaluable advice. <Would just suggest you give it some time.> Shawna <Cheers, J -- >

Berlin Skimmer Tip Hey, this isn't a question but thought it'd be useful to have as reference on your site, apologies if you only take questions. <No worries> If you have a Berlin skimmer it should be completely opaque with air bubbles. If it is then don't bother reading on! Many are not like this and only have air bubbles through the central column which do not flow down around the outside of this column and consequently the skimmer performs really badly (very low bubble - water contact time I presume). To get it full of bubbles, detach from pump and unscrew the conical water inlet at the bottom adjacent to the venturi (unscrewed with the provided key, or a 10p piece). Then cut / saw off 1 mm or less from its end thus enlarging the smallest dimension that the water must pass through. Put back together and test, there should be more bubbles, cut off a bit more if there aren't enough, but don't cut off too much. <Good points> Now instead of performing really badly, you have a skimmer that performs just badly. Sweet. Oh yeah, clean the venturi lots too. (Have done this to my own Berlin and one at work, both full of bubbles and much better than before) Pete <Thank you for this. Bob Fenner> Vinegar to clean a skimmer? Hi!  I read your sight's Q&A daily, seems like it should be my home page. << What a great idea, everyone should make this their home page. >> Thanks for all the wonderful insights and their postings.  I was reading about cleaning your skimmer with vinegar.  Could you elaborate? << I didn't see that topic, but I can give my input.  I would take out the skimmer (when the wife isn't home) and wash it in the kitchen sink with vinegar.  It is slightly acidic which helps to clean, and isn't toxic.  However, I don't really see a reason to clean your skimmer.  They run wonderfully well for years. >> Does the vinegar get rinsed out intensely or should a little linger in the plastic? << I would rinse it out with regular water, but not be too concerned about it. >> Should I soak the skimmer with a vinegar solution overnight for better benefits? << I don't think so, because I don't see what the benefits of that would be. >>  Thanks, it seems as though this person also has the problem I seem to have once in a while. << Good luck. >> <<  Blundell  >>

Up-stream refugium? Hello Bob or fellow crew person!  I'm looking to get a clear definition of what an up-stream refugium is, so my corals get what they need BEFORE I bring them home. I have put together a 29gal sump, which sits on a separate table behind and above my 80gal tank. Water dumps from the skimmer into it and flows to the end of the fuge, which is glassed off and fed into the tank by a ZooMed PS40 powerhead dialed halfway down to stabilize the flow rate.  Is the idea to eliminate a pump return entirely and just let gravity alone move water out so the critters don't get blended into soup, or is there a gentler, kinder powerhead I might use? <You have the gist of it... gentle, slow water flow... not many turn-overs per hour (3-5)... pumped "up" and returned via gravity> I have some Xenia, a chili, gr. star polyps, a duster, a BTA and a flowerpot coral my reef guru Ron at Octopus's Garden (forgive the name dropping) gave me to enjoy while it lasts. <A fine young man and a character>   All seem to be doing well so far, especially since the fish aren't out of QT yet...(yep, rushed the tang through too early). If there is a good resource site on the subject, I'd much appreciate it! <Please see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the many FAQs files associated/linked (in blue, at top) and Anthony (Calfo) and I's Reef Invertebrates (Natural Marine Aquarium) book has exhaustive coverage on refugiums> Many thanks, Allegra Garrett PS. I'm here is Carlsbad and can get natural ocean water easily. Is there enough benefit to bother doing so? <Not really, and a few definite downsides. Investigate this possibility thoroughly before trying. Perhaps stop in at the San Diego Marine Club and ask some folks who tried it... RonE. will give you contact information. Bob Fenner, in Hawaii>

Skimmer not producing skimmate 16 Aug 2004 Crew <Hi Jim, Please accept my apologies first that you never received a reply the first time and second on the delay in this one.  You have MacL here with me and I was at a frag swap in Michigan and am sorry you had to wait!.>(Posted  this message on 8/7 but never received a reply. ...Trying again.) Thank you for the wonderful site. No question in my mind that this is the best aquaria site on the internet. <Thank you for your kind words.> First a little (???)  about my aquarium. Sorry to boar you with details but it seems to me more info is better than less. <Details are good so don't worry about that> 120 Gallon Glass Custom Oceanic w/ Starphire glass on 3 sides and center overflow 30 Gallon Sump 10 Gallon sand less "Refugium" packed with 3 kinds of Caulerpa, rocks & copepods 1200 GPH Iwaki MD 30RLXT Main Pump 4 to 7 inch Sand Bed. ? crushed coral and ? Aragonite 150 lbs Live Rock "Pipe Organ" return. This is a 3/8" acrylic plate with 200 3/8" ID, 4" to 8" tall, vertical tubes glued into it. The plate sits ?" above the bottom of tank and the sand is on top of the plate. The tubes extend 1/2 " to 1 ? inches above the sand. All return water is fed under the plate via 4, ?" ID down tubes and returned to tank via the 200 vertical tubes. 2 620 GPH RIO SEIO Power heads + 4 AquaGlode 300 GPH Power heads Euroreef CS8-2 Skimmer 2 175 Watt 20K Metal Halides 3 55W Compact Fluorescent 50/50  Blue Actinic / 10K Skimmers and algae problems hello I have been reading on your site I have a 110 reef tank with 2 250 metal halite 10.000 bulbs with 2 VHO actinic. << sounds fine. >> My main question is about protein skimmers.  I  use aqua c150 it seam to work pretty well until you are smoking or cooking in the house. I read on your site a skimmer should  produce about a cup of waste a week the problem I have is an algae problem my phosphates are 0 nitrates are 5ppm so I thought my skimmer was not big enough.  I then talked to local fish store he recommends a 250 skimmer and how great it was. Well it doesn't seam to be all that. Do know any thing about these skimmers? << Not much. I simply recommend people look at skimmers in friends tanks or in local aquarium clubs.  They can show you what they have and what they like/dislike about them. >> I have about 6 pieces coral about  8 fish. I use ro water. I am getting some dark green algae looks like hair algae and have outbreak  of turtle grass. << That isn't bad, Algae is WONDERFUL >> this stuff is short and tuff as hell you need pliers to get of the rocks. << Let it grow, or get algae eating inverts like hermit crabs. >> I feed once a day   can you give me any help> << Well I would do a water change, and only feed the tank about once every four days. Hope that helps. >> thanks Paul <<  Blundell  >>

Lighting and protein skimming questions Hi, my name is Frank. <Hi Frank, MacL here with you on this outstanding night.> Your website is awesome and as we speak I am using your info on fighting the war on algae. <Thank you for your kind words.>  My question is about my lighting (intensity and depth) for the greater goal of growing more coralline algae. Specs are: 25gal (20 gal actual water) tank.  specs are within range, I just have to test for phosphates. <Might I suggest you take a look at your alkalinity as well?> Calcium is 430-450. got one of each cleaner peppermint, and fire shrimp.  4 red hermits, 2 tiny blue hermits, clownfish, bicolor blenny, and 6-line wrasse.  tank is 8 months old and everyone is fine. <Wonderful!>  Now my lighting.  I have a 55 watt 50/50 (10000k?) power compact fluorescent and my tank dimensions are 30inch across, 12 inches deep, and 14 inches high.  But I do have a reef sand substrate about 3 inches thick.  My question is are my lights good enough considering that the tank substrate floor is only 12-13 inches away from my lights because the do sit right on top of my glass cover; <Good enough for what is the question. You need to gear your lighting to what you wish to do with the tank. For instance, if you wish corals then you are going to need to add some lights more than likely, especially if you want to have hard corals. However if you wanted to keep mushrooms it might be okay.>  this also make the peaks of my rock structures within 8-9 inches from the lights.  is this ok and does half the depth mean double the intensity because there must be a relationship between distance and wattage and intensity and stuff like that? <Think of it this way, at the top the intensity is exactly what the light is billed to be as it goes deeper it looses intensity unless you add additional lights.>  Oh ya, one more thing.  I have been reading about SeaClone protein skimmers and all the reviews.  Do you feel that my SeaClone 100 rated for 280-290 gph is sufficient for my 20g actual volume tank? <Once again depends on what you are trying to do, if you want an absolutely clean tank maybe not.>  I read protein skimmer turnover rate should be 4-7x and is a balance of bubble chamber reaction and water flow.  I believe that mine falls within an excellent performance range for the size of my tank, do you agree or do you find it sufficient at the least? <Honestly I believe for that size of tank its fine.>  With my lights and protein skimming capacity what corals do you recommend, I think those hard stony ones are out of the question. <Mushrooms is about it honestly. Maybe a soft coral such as a colt if you place it at the top of the tank.>  Could you tell me which ones I could get and which ones I could put higher up closer to the lights if it requires more.  Thanks for putting up with my questions and your help is cherished greatly. <hope this helps you, MacL> - Aqua C Modifications - I just purchased a mag drive 3 and an overflow box for my remora pro. The water intake tube on the pump fits very snug in the overflow box. There is about 1/8th inch clearance between the intake and the wall of the box. Is this okay or should I trim about 1/8 to 1/4 inch off of the intake to provide more water flow. <I'd probably trim down the intake on the pump.> It is functioning now but I am not getting the same amount of foam I was before adding the mag drive and overflow box. I also have what I would call a mild outbreak of red slime algae. My protein skimmer is about a month old and mag drive and overflow have just been installed [one day]. Do I have to wait and give it time to break in? <Only a couple of days.> By the way my amm. is 0, ni.=0, na=10, and ph is 8.2. My setup is a 80 gal. tank with about 40lbs of LR so far. Four blue-yellow tail damsels, one green Chromis [plan on adding a few more 3 or 4], a royal Gramma and one yellow watchman goby. For the most part everyone gets along fine. Any advice you could give me on my skimmer and red slime problem would certainly be appreciated. <The slime algae will have to be addressed directly - please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm > Thank You, R. Morton P.S. My  lighting is 4x65 watt power compacts [2 10,000k and 2 03 actinics] <Cheers, J -- > - Problems Clamping with Plastic Clamps - I was hoping you might help spread the word about a problem I had with the AquaC Remora Pro HOB skimmer I installed on my 90gal tank. The small black clips that secure the tubing between the pump and the skimmer are ridiculously under-engineered. I have a Magdrive 3 on mine and I was worried about these flimsy black clips when I installed it. I know now I should have used stainless hose clamps! <I don't really agree with this assessment - stainless steel is stain-less, not stain-proof and would still rust in your saltwater environment and cause no end of trouble. Those black plastic clips are in fact your best option, but are best used in pairs.> I arrived home from work today and was very tired, sat down on the couch and dozed off for about 10 minutes when I heard a noise (more specifically a lack of noise) in the tank. I looked over to see that the pump had come loose from the skimmer and was blowing my sand substrate all over the tank. I could barely see through the water!! my lil' buddies in the tank (baby Volitans, Russell's and Porc. Puffer) were seriously unimpressed. I took the pump out and found that the little black clip simply popped apart!! I was very careful to check, and double check the clamps when I installed the unit, the were on as good as they could be. I am changing over to stainless hose clamps immediately. <Please reconsider... use pliers to set those plastic clamps in place and you should be free of trouble.> I have since learned that a sump is the ONLY way to go for FOWLR and am setting up a 180 with a 55 gal sump now. I was having a hard time deciding between a AquaC EV unit or a Euro Reef, this incident made it VERY easy for me to choose. If I would have been at work (24 hour shifts) when this happened, my fish would have died from the sandstorm for sure, it looks like a tsunami ripped through the tank. <Mmmm... don't really agree with this assessment either, typhoons and lesser storms stir up sand constantly on the reef making it impossible to see, and it doesn't generally kill fish unless it buries them. They would have survived this no problem.> It's scary how a .03 cent piece of plastic can take out a tank in 30 seconds!! <More so when it's not deployed properly or in pairs. Have used these clamps for years without event... will agree that they are not as aggressive as a stainless-steel clamp, but the SS clamps really should not be used in a submerged capacity. Unless you have pried the plastic clamps apart too many times, they should hold strongly enough to keep the hose in place. I do understand your frustration, but would be better to examine your own methods rather than the manufacturer who supplied the proper parts. Cheers, J -- >

Filter and Skimmer Questions Greetings! <Hi there, MikeD here> I have read and read and read.  Now I need to ask questions based on my specific situation. I purchased a 90g FO stocked predator tank<As in up and running from someone?>.  I have had it for 2 weeks<You ran into no cycling problems with the move? Unusual>.  The fish fared well<That's fantastic!>.  In the short time I've cared for this tank, I have quickly realized that the SeaClone 100 skimmer must be replaced immediately because it is insufficient (understatement)<Pretty much to be expected>.   Also, the skimmer is in the "clean side" of the Sealife wet/dry model 100 sump... this is VERY BAD, right<Nope....that's where I'd put it>?  The skimmer needs to be on the dirty end<Why? Let the filter do it's thing, THEN the skimmer finishes the job>?  If so, how can I get there?  The wet/dry has a drip plate, blue plastic media, foam sponge and then the sump area crowded with a 500gpd submersible main pump (getting unreliable...needs replacing)<OK, if you think so>, the SeaClone, and bags of carbon.  The tank is doing a mini cycle from the move (most of the water came with it)<Ah, that explains some things. Just use care that it's truly as mini as you think it is>.   For the skimmer, I was seriously considering the "Super Reef Devil" (rated for 180 gal) and maybe with a new sump (optional as a set from same company). Example: http://www.aquadirect.com/store/customer/product.php?productid=449&cat=18  Or should I attempt to reconfigure the Sealife Wet/Dry?  My biggest concern is that drastic changes will quickly adversely affect the tank and kill the fish.  Should I consider a different skimmer?  This seems like a very good product for the price.<Euro reefs are getting the best skimmer makers all over, as far as I know. I'd leave the sump until the tank is well established, and add LR to the main tank itself to assist WHEN and IF you decide to change it> SO, now what?  How can I convert what's there, or introduce a new setup without doing harm to the fish?<I'd slow way down. An up and running system can be moved, but the cycling, depending on the fish load, can still be a killer. In marine tanks, haste doesn't make waste, it kills!> And as if this weren't enough... I need a TWP system.  I have been buying water to top off and do mini water changes (slowly bring down salinity and get rid of some nitrates).  I have city water and am very interested in the Kold Ster-il unit, but there is a lot of negative buzz out there (mostly older posts).  I think you are fairly high on this?  Like many, I don't want the waste of RO and RO/DI appears to be such a hassle from a maintenance perspective, compared to the Kold Ster-il.  It understand that Kold Ster-il is more $ and prob. lower water quality, but there is something to be said for convenience if it is acceptable water for the fish.  Thoughts?<I'd suggest slowing down. Spending money is NOT always the answer, and often becomes THE problem. For a FOWL tank, I've been running tap water for 30 years and having pretty fair luck. Your test results are meaningless until your tank stabilizes, and you're looking in the wrong places way too fast. Time is time, and you can't buy that at any cost> Tank Details: Corner Dam, bottom drilled.  No dead or live rock.  Minimal sand bed (about 1"-2").  Lots of coral skeletons that are removed and sun bleached (not all at the same time), due to brown algae growth.  In addition to the Sealife wet/dry, there is a 9 watt UV filter (is this beneficial to this tank and its inhabitants?) It may or may not be...by destroying the "brown algae, you've also destroyed any value to the LR. It sounds like your fish are lucky to be surviving your method and haste>. Water quality: Visually clear, but bad.  Ammonia is finally under .25 and near 0.<Needs to be 0 at ALL times!>  Nitrite is under .25.<also 0 at ALL times>  Nitrate is off the charts (as in >160)<Not surprising as you killed all the LR>. pH hovers around 8.  Temp is 80 (steady). SG = 1.024. Fish Friends (all are excellent eaters, but I'm careful not to overfeed): Snowflake Eel - Echidna nebulosa 18" Dogface Puffer - Arothron nigropunctatus 6" Powder Blue Tang - Acanthurus leucosternon 4" Blue (Hippo) Tang, Indo-Pacific - Paracanthurus hepatus 4" (BAD HLLE, but improving on his new balanced diet)<I'm shocked he survived the move. Count your blessings> Cinnamon Clown - Amphiprion melanopus 3" Tomato Clown - Amphiprion frenatus 2 1/2" Volitans Lion - Pterois volitans 5" Sorry for the long email.  I'm sleepless worrying over the creatures now in my care.<More sleep would be an EXCELLENT idea. Slow down and give everything time. The P. volitans lionfish WILL eat the clowns, you know, and will soon be too big for the 90 with all the other fish as well. A 90 would be fine for the puffer, the eel and the lion, and that's about the limit as these are large fish that tax filtration to the max> Best regards,<Good luck and please, slow down and quit looking for instant answers. I'd suggest 5 gal/per day water change to get them through the adjustment. The biological filtration is perhaps the single most important factor in a successful predator tank, and that "brown algae" was worth its weight in gold!> Greg Smith Making lemonade from a lemon: Skimmer brand 7/31/04 Thanks for all your valuable advice, I do appreciate you taking the time to reply. But...now since I already have the PrizmPro, what would you suggest my next course of action be to export those nutrients? Stacy <do try to get the most you can out of any skimmer by keeping it very clean for optimal production of skimmate. This means cleaning out the cup and neck every other day and cleaning venturis with distilled water 2-3 times yearly. Support the system too with careful control of nutrients... regular (weekly) water changes and careful feeding (decant thawed pack juice from frozen fare, etc). Anthony> - Plumbing the Skimmer - How do I get the "dirty" water from the 2 drilled tank overflows to hit the skimmer before the two pre-filter inlets in a wet/dry? <Hmm... may not be so easy and for the most part, the water will still be "dirty" [at least the type of dirt a skimmer will remove] by the time it gets to the skimmer.> I want to run a Turboflotor 1000 with either an Amiracle or CPR dual chamber wet/dry (bio ball filled for 180g messy, fish only set-up) I have looked over the instructions on the net, but I am still confused on how to plumb the system. <Wouldn't be overly concerned - if the tank is truly full of mess-making fish, the skimmer will still have plenty of work to do and the gross particulate filtration of the wet/dry will mean you don't have to clean the skimmer pump as often.> Thanks!! <Cheers, J -- >

Protein Skimmer Success <Hi, MikeD again> Thank you so much.<You're so very welcome!> I hope my luck is changing. We went to the store and purchased a larger air pump which worked great. I now have foam brimming from the skimmer and the water is crystal clear.<Just the way it's supposed to work!> I also purchased a Blue Mandarin and a Copperbanded Butterfly to control the worms and what I call "sand fleas". Every one is happy and the butterfly is getting more social by the day.<Excellent> If all goes well I may convert the 75g tank so I can get a sea horse for the 36g.<You might want to check out a site called syngnathid.org  as well as the sea horse forum here as sea horses have come a long way. A Young lady named LeslIe has been teaching this old dog some very worthwhile new tricks.>

- Skimmer Questions - G'day Boy's, <How do?> I have a skimmer attached to my sump, it is a cheap one but it does a good job, it can collect a cup a day pending on how I have the out flow set. I was wondering how often I should be using my skimmer. I would keep it going 24/7 if I could, but I have been told that they strips the nutrients from the water that I add. <If the skimmer is truly a "cheap one" by your own description, then it is probably not a highly efficient model. I don't see any problem with running it 24/7.> I love the skimmer because it is a good way to oxygenate the water, out of site. 1- how often <All the time.> 2- is this true about stripping the water <Probably not.> Ta Boys CHRIS (OZ) <Cheers, J -- >

- Remora Pro Pumps - I have recently purchased an aqua c remora pro protein skimmer with a stock Rio 1400 powerhead. I have seen my fair share of Rio putdowns. <No worries, just take it apart and clean it frequently - every other month would be fine - and it will last you many years.> My question is what type of pump should i use on this skimmer. Would a maxi-jet 1200 be enough on a remora pro? <No, this pump would be undersized for that skimmer - the largest pump you can put on it is a Supreme Mag 3. Cheers, J -- >

Skimmer Break-In Thanks again, Crew for the detailed information. <We're glad to be of service> Things "seem to be" going well, except for the power head getting knocked off the wall and blowing sand all over my rocks and coral!! <A fun experience that we've all had the pleasure of enduring at one time or another!> One final question. The skimmer came in this past weekend, and I've got her set up and sort-of foaming. The manual said it would be a week or so until the real foam comes around.  So during this break-in period, should I continue with the water changes, or should I skip a few to let the impurities build up, providing the skimmer plenty of proteins to remove?? <I would not skip the water changes. Believe me, even in a tank where regular water changes are conducted, there will be plenty of organics for the skimmer to remove. Better is to not clean the skimmer during this break-in period> Maybe I'm just a little unclear on this break-in process, since my CPR was a hand-me-down and was left dirty and placed right into my old 30G.. Brad <No problem, Brad. Just continue sound husbandry practices in this tank, and don't clean the skimmer aggressively during the first few weeks. If you give the skimmer time and little interference, it'll be cranking out that dark, yucky skimmate before you know it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Sucked Into The Skimmer (Fish Death) Hello <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> Wish I was writing on better circumstances but this morning I awoke to find my favorite Percula Clown missing. <Sorry to hear that>   I looked all over for Krusty II (The first died on the floor after jumping). I noticed that my skimmer was not making any noise.  I looked into the prefilter of my Aqua C Remora and down inside I saw Krusty's tail sticking out of the pump intake!!! Needless to say it was too late. <Yuck.> Have you ever heard of a fish getting sucked into the surface skimmer of a Aqua C prefilter box?   <I have not heard of this happening with this skimmer, but I have heard of fishes being sucked in to various prefilter devices. Often, the fish might have been weakened or ill prior to being sucked in, as it would be relatively easy for most healthy fishes to escape such a predicament. On the other hand, if the fish was small, sleeping, or otherwise caught off guard, anything is possible, I guess> Is there any  modification that I can make to it to prevent any other accidental deaths? <Well, this is a question I'd pass by Jason Kim at Aqua C. He would know the best way to make such a modification in a way that will not interfere with the skimmers function> This was a 2" Percula Clown BTW so not a very small fish.  I do have smaller, thinner fish in the tank so now I am worried that they may meet the same fate. <A possibility> This was supposed to be a happy day too as my Coral Beauty has completed 6 weeks of quarantine and is heading to his new home. <Sigh...Well- I'm proud of you for following a quarantine procedure!> Any input you have would be appreciated.  Thanks Ray <I'd contact Jason, and see what he can offer. Sorry to hear about the loss. Best of luck to you in the future! Regards, Scott F>

Skimmer problems re. MelaFix Hi there again, <Hi Darren, MacL here.> I recently mailed you about the problems that I was having with my skimmer after using the MelaFix treatment, a copy of this is below. <Just read it.> I have followed all of your advice. After a small initial improvement the problem still persists unfortunately. <I would have suggested the PolyFilter myself. Its always made a huge difference when I have used it. Did you put it where all the flow went through it?  Did it turn any colors?> I was wandering if you think that there is anything else that I can do to rid my aquarium of this MelaFix treatment. <The only other option might be to run a diatom (which I really don't like to do in a reef situation) or carbon somewhere? Do you have a canister or something you could temporarily run with carbon?> I just don't know what else to try. I am sure that I will not be using this treatment in my main tank again. Thanks again, Darren. <Good luck Darren.> Medications Devastating Skimmer Performance Hi there <Hello! Ryan Bowen with you today> I have recently used the MelaFix treatment in my marine tank along with the stress coat. I only dosed as stated on the bottle. I switched the skimmer off for a week while using the treatment. Since then I have added the carbon back into my filter and I have done a 25 percent and two 12 percent water changes. However I still cannot get the skimmer to work properly. It still foams like crazy and it fills the cup very quickly. I thought that the water changes would have solved this. I have not added any more treatment for the last five days. Is there anything else that I can do to get my skimmer back to normal operation, or am I missing something ? <Not to make you feel bad in hindsight, but this is a perfect example of why you should only treat marine life in a quarantine tank- These are the types of problems you'll never foresee when dumping medication into a display tank.  Here's what I would do in the current set of circumstances: Keep running the skimmer, but without the collection cup.  This way, the oxygen levels in your tank won't drop, leading to further headaches.  Next, get yourself some Polyfilter (I believe it's available in the UK).  Run it directly in your area for using media, so that water bypass is minimal.  After the PolyFilter has run for a few days, take your skimmer out and give it a thorough cleaning-Agents like Melafix can cause havoc on pump performance if left uncleaned.  Use vinegar if it's really sticky and nasty.  Then, execute another water change, remove the PolyFilter.  Then, fire the skimmer back up.  Good luck, Ryan> Thanks for your time Darren.

- Protein Skimmer and pH stability - Hello, I've read your website so much that I thought I'd provide some of the insights that I've gathered from my reef back to you.  I recently purchased a pH controller and a calcium reactor.  Well, when I hooked up the controller I noticed that between the end of the day and the next morning the pH would go from 8.24 to 7.98.  Also, the skimmer was not producing dark liquid color skim and when the riser was lowered on the Euroreef, protein skimmer, it would produce hardly any skim at all.  After much reading on your website I decided that the best course of action was to bring the skimmer closer to the surface of the sump.  The protein skimmer was sitting in about 8 inches of water so I bought some mouse pads at office max to place under the skimmer.  I raised the skimmer up about an inch, which placed the intake of the pump within an inch of the water surface.  I then reduced the length of the riser until the skim was a dark green color.  To my amazement once the skimmer was more properly tuned the pH fluctuations disappeared. <Interesting.> This morning the pH was 8.15.  Maybe this condensed information will prove helpful for another enthusiast. <Let us hope so.> -Brent <Cheers, J -- >

- Protein Skimmer and pH Stability, Follow-up - Hello, I mentioned that mouse pads were used underneath the protein skimmer. <I recall...> These mouse pads appear to have caused sooty water.  Some of the black rubber appears to have dissolved into the water with ill consequences. <Bummer.> Can these things be toxic? <Potentially - would swap out for something non-reactive with saltwater.> Thanks, -Brent <Cheers, J -- >

Smelly Plants, skimmate use Quick question here- Do you think that my skimmate is good for my garden? It sure smells like it would be.  Thanks Nate D. <Actually no. Too much salt content for most terrestrial plants. Bob Fenner>

Top Fathom Skimmers - adjusting 5/31/04 Dear Mr. Fenner; Here I go again. Inspected both skimmers -the new Azoo and second hand Top Fathom- I decided the latter is better (taller, more technology and.. cheaper!). So I have it for a test last week end (9 hours installing it in the sump!!) I attached it to a an under water 1800 liters/hrs pump, plus an air mini pump My question for a better tune up is: Which is a good water level to get a really thick and foamy stuff in the cup?  In this two days I have just gotten a yellowish water. <I have worked with Top Fathom skimmers for years on custom installations/aquarium serviced tanks and have had more than a few colleagues agree - this is a difficult skimmer to get to perform consistently. Some skimmers are very "tolerant" of placement inline/installation and variable (to some degree) and as such are considered better designs because they produce skimmate more reliably. This is not one of those skimmers. I honestly have no advice to share on tweaking this skimmer as lost hours on the design have long since spurred me to abandon use of the design/brand. Sorry for the bleak prog., my friend... but I it is my (frustrating) experience with it.> For my easy  understanding, I include a photo depicting the bubble level I now have (red arrow) I would appreciate you positioning the arrow to a desirable level (I know I have to test various levels) Thank you very much. Richard <having said the above, if you want to experiment with the unit and try your hand at it, I'd suggest getting a quality gate valve to put onto the outflow (this will likely be $20 or more) and use it to fine tune (daily) the running active water/foam level. Keep airflow maximum at the same time. Daily turns as needed of the gate valve will definitely improve the quantity of skimmate. If you have the same experience I do/did with this unit and cannot get a couple or few dark cups of skimmate weekly out of it... please do consider upgrading to a friendlier design. With kind regards, Anthony>

Medications Devastating Skimmer Performance Hi there <Hello! Ryan Bowen with you today> I have recently used the MelaFix treatment in my marine tank along with the stress coat. I only dosed as stated on the bottle. I switched the skimmer off for a week while using the treatment. Since then I have added the carbon back into my filter and I have done a 25 percent and two 12 percent water changes. However I still cannot get the skimmer to work properly. It still foams like crazy and it fills the cup very quickly. I thought that the water changes would have solved this. I have not added any more treatment for the last five days. Is there anything else that I can do to get my skimmer back to normal operation, or am I missing something ? <Not to make you feel bad in hindsight, but this is a perfect example of why you should only treat marine life in a quarantine tank- These are the types of problems you'll never foresee when dumping medication into a display tank.  Here's what I would do in the current set of circumstances: Keep running the skimmer, but without the collection cup.  This way, the oxygen levels in your tank won't drop, leading to further headaches.  Next, get yourself some Polyfilter (I believe it's available in the UK).  Run it directly in your area for using media, so that water bypass is minimal.  After the PolyFilter has run for a few days, take your skimmer out and give it a thorough cleaning-Agents like Melafix can cause havoc on pump performance if left uncleaned.  Use vinegar if it's really sticky and nasty.  Then, execute another water change, remove the PolyFilter.  Then, fire the skimmer back up.  Good luck, Ryan> Thanks for your time Darren.

- Skimmer and Other Questions - Hi, I am trying to find anyone that can tell me what size of Reef aquarium this US Aquarium Hang On Tank venturi model 20 skimmer is rated for? <I looked around the net for a while using Google, and couldn't find this model skimmer. If it came with any instructions, I'd use those to try and locate the company and ask them.> It has bio balls in the chamber and I am wondering if removing the bio balls completely would be ideal? <Something tells me these are part of the design and should be left in.> Another question: When I add Instant Ocean salt to my tap water so that the salinity is about 32-33 ppm, the ph of the tap water rises to 8.6 or even 8.7. <I'd let the water mix for a couple of days and then try the tests again.> This is the PH of my reef aquarium and I have two fish that barely survived acclimating to this high PH.  I don't want to add more fish until I bring the PH down to at least 8.4. Is this something that RO water would resolve in and of itself? <RO alone... probably not.> Would water conditioners like "Prime" also do the trick? <As far as I know, Prime does nothing to pH.> Does Seachem Buffer work to bring down the PH to normal 8.0 - 8.4 levels? <No.> What do you recommend? <Let the new saltwater mix for a day or two - add an air stone and power head and let it go for a while and test again.> Thank you, I realize you are a skeleton crew so I appreciate any answers you can give. Aaron Richmond, Utah <Cheers, J -- >

-Strange things a skimming'- Dear on-staff debris-expert : <That's actually my nickname ;) > I've noticed that if I use a powerhead and thoroughly blow off all of the debris that's settled on my live rock (100 gal. reef), after about 12 hours (the next day), the tank ends up exceptionally clear, even more so that before the sand-blasting. It's as if blowing all of this dust and debris somehow traps floating white cloudy things (?), or adheres to them, with the resulting mess being taken out in the mechanical filter or skimmer. Am I seeing things? <Maybe, maybe not. It's possible that all that gunk that's been displaced into the water column makes the skimmer act up more than usual, removing more particulate matter than you've displaced. It's also very probable that it just appears to be clearer. Either way, what you're doing is an excellent idea!> Also, I've tried a new salt for my weekly 15% changes ... the new instant dissolving stuff from Oceanic. <Keeping in mind that we don't really care if it dissolves 'instantly' since you really should circulate and aerate the new saltwater for at least 24 hours regardless of the salt brand.> Immediately after the water change, the skimmer (an AquaC Remora) goes nuts and over activates, filling the foam chamber in about 10 minutes with pure but obviously polluted water. I have to dump out about 2 or three chambers full before the thing settles down and starts skimming normally. Is there something in this salt mix, or in salt mixes in general, that would do this? <After circulating the seawater for 24+ hours, you won't get such an overfoaming event (usually). It has something to do with not all of the chemicals being completely dissolved, although I'm not exactly sure which ones.> The only thing I can think of is that the "organic-pollution-attraction to salt-water-bubbles" force is greater in this salt mix...or is this completely nuts? <I think the moral of the story is that the word 'instantly' should not appear in the same sentence with the word 'dissolve' unless it's preceded with 'not'. :) Enjoy! -Kevin>  Thanks, SLC

- Skimmer Set-up - Hello, I have a Euro Reef ES5-2 running in a sump. I have it situated such that the water level is a constant height by placing the skimmer in it's own dedicated area. The inlet for the pump sits a couple of inches below the surface. Based on research the inlet should be within the top 1 inch. I contacted euro reef and they said this wasn't a huge concern. Anyway, I wanted to ensure that the raw overflow was getting into the skimmer so I placed the hoses from the overflow box directly over the pump inlet. Is this going to cause any problems with operating efficiency since the water is flowing directly over the pump inlet? <Think this will work fine - might catch some air from time to time, but that shouldn't cause any trouble. Might make it a little more noisy than is typical, but not really a big deal.> Secondly, should I raise the protein skimmer such that the pump is sitting in the top 1 inch of water or alternatively devise some sort of box which allows for the top 1 inch to flow into it from which the pump will draw the water from? <The box for the pump is the better plan.> Thanks, -Brent <Cheers, J -- >

Does Ozone Affect Skimmate? Hi crew, <Scott F. here today!> I did as suggested in your web to inject ozone into my skimmer to enhance skimming performance. The observation, however, was that the skimmate is not as dark and copious. Your advice please. Regards, TFChow  <Interesting observation, one which I've seen before myself. My theory is that the ozone is very efficient at neutralizing organics that the skimmate produced may not be as concentrated, or may be some way compositionally different. Just my wacky theory on this. Regards, Scott F.> 

Skimmer Antics! Hello <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I have a 6x2x2 reef tank filtered by live rock, 3 venturi skimmers and UV light. I have recently bought an ozonizer which I connected to one of the skimmers. The problem is that, although this skimmer still produces bubbles, it never has anything in the collection cup, the other two skimmers are working as normal. regards Ian Marvell {UK} <Well, Ian- hard to be 100% certain without seeing the unit in person, but I'll venture to guess...I have noticed that even the best protein skimmers can stop yielding product if the skimmer neck gets an accumulation of organics building up. A simple, seemingly obvious solution would be to clean the neck of the skimmer a bit. Also, do check the venturi to make sure that it's not clogged or damaged. Otherwise, the process may be a bit more tedious, involving numerous adjustments for the correct air/water mixture. Hope that this at least leads you down the right path. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> 

-New skimmer acting up- I just bought a skimmer from my LFS and I got it home only to find out it was an in tank model.... <Ah I see you did lots of research on this one aye? ;) > well ok. After about 3 hours i got it goin it started making bubbles in the collection but they were clear bubbles very white. So I waited about 2 hours then came back well still clear bubbles but i dumped out the liquid inside and it was yellow. Is this good or should I be having a more thicker foam. <Welcome to the world of the new skimmer. Regardless of your brand, new protein skimmers go through a break in period that can last up to 2 weeks. During this period the skimmer will either over or under foam. In your case it's going nuts so that leaves you with two choices: 1) Keep dumping out the collection cup to remove whatever it's skimming out (keep a bucket of saltwater around to top off since it will likely remove a significant amount of water) or 2) Remove the collection cup and allow it to bubble back into the system (I'd go with number 1 for now).> Another question is my LFS has there corals in fluorescent fixtures only and they thrive! <I'm not sure what you mean here> what's the dealeeo do they feed them? <You'd have to ask your LFS what the dealeeo is.> Well thanks for your time. <Enjoy, -Kevin> Aaron 

Skimmer: tea or coffee? Hello, just enquiring as what color the waste product from your protein skimmer should be as mine is a green color. Is this normal. Thanks Lee <Hi! Ananda here today. Conventional wisdom is that skimmer gunk should be quite dark in color -- sort of like your worst nightmare of what Turkish coffee might be like. If your skimmate is green, your skimmer might not be skimming as efficiently as it might be. Either the skimmer could use some tuning to produce darker skimmate, or the skimmer design isn't optimal, or perhaps it could just use a good cleaning. --Ananda> 

Skimmer Question (I think) Hi, <Hello, Ryan with you> I am new to the S/W scene but have been a F/W for about 3-4 years. I have a 55 G setup with a wet/dry filter and 2 power heads. Some live rock and about 3-4 inches of live sand. I was attempting to install a hob skimmer but noticed that the water being pumped back into the tank was foamy, bubbly (kinda like when you pour soda and see all the carbonated liquid?) Anyways, when I removed the skimmer and returned everything back originally the bubbles, foaming stopped...what gives??? <Hmmm....I have read your question about five times, and I'm totally sure there is a question there! With any new skimmer, there is a break in period. Sponges can be placed appropriately in the output from the skimmer to reduce bubbles. If you need more advise, I would either specify a type (There are many types of skimmers) or contact the manufacturer directly. Thanks! Ryan> thanks, -Mark 

Skimmer Question Hi Ryan, <Hi! Back with you> Sorry for the confusion I should have been more specific. Okay, here goes...I am using a wet/dry system with the protein skimmer and it keeps producing the foamy microbubbles? coming from the output hose of the wet/dry pump. So I remove the skimmer it stays clear, I start up the skimmer it comes back, I remove the wet/dry the skimmer works fine. still confusing??? <If your skimmer is inline, you want it running before your filter. Skimmers should pump pre-filtered water through them, to remove particles that would otherwise rot away in your filter. If this is the type of skimmer that sit directly in your sump, I would think about adding a baffle to catch the bubbles before they can ride back up to your tank.> Also, what's your opinion on using a wet/dry system . Since I already have LS and LV can I just use a canister filter with the skimmer or not? <I would just remove the bio-filtration from the wet dry system, and use it without. Extra space can be used for more live rock.>  Or do I really need both or get away with just one. <Read up! Good luck:

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