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FAQs about Skimmer Operation/Maintenance 4

Related FAQs: Best Skimmer Op./Maint. FAQs, Skimmer Op/Maint. 2, Skimmer Op/Maint. 3, Skimmer Op/Maint. 4, Skimmer Op/Maint. 5, Skimmer Op/Maint. 6Skimmer Op/Maint 7, Skimmer Op/Maint. 8, Skimmer Op/Maint 9Skimmer Op/Maint 10, Skimmer Op/Maint 11, Skimmer Op/Maint 12, Skimmer Op/Maint 13, Skimmer Op/Maint 14, Skimmer Op/Maint 15, Skimmer Op/Maint 16, Skimmer Op/Maint 17, Skimmer Op/Maint 18, Skimmer Op/Maint 19, & Best Skimmer FAQs, Skimmers in General, Best Skimmer Selection FAQs, Skimmer Selection, DIY Skimmers, CPR Skimmers, Deltec Skimmers, ETSS Skimmers, Euro-Reef Skimmers, Prizm Skimmers, SeaClone Skimmers Skimmers for Eclipse Systems, Skimmers for Small SystemsSkilter Skimmers, Tunze Skimmers, Algae Control

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

Amiracle SL-15 Skimmer 1/26/08 First off, you guys have an awesome site. <Happy you have found it useful.> Next, here's the problem, I have a 60 gallon FOWLR with a emperor 400 and an Amiracle sl-15 Slimline hang on trickle filter. The tank has been up for about 4 months now and it only has 25 lbs of live rock, two cleaner shrimp and a chocolate chip starfish. <Careful with the chocolate chip.> The skimmer that came with the filter has yet to produce any kind of foam, I have adjusted the air flow to the pump ( rio 800) and when that didn't work I adjusted the water flow as well. <After four months, no skimmate?> Doesn't matter what I do I still get no foam. People have told me that I just have too little bio load, or that the skimmer just needs to go through some sort of break in cycle. <You have enough bioload to produce something. Skimmers do require a break in…usually measured in days or a week.> Is either of these true, or is this skimmer just junk? Just to clarify, I have no idea what kind of skimmer this is, no paperwork from store. I would appreciate any help you guys can give me. Thanks Brandon <I am familiar with these units, they are not too great, although I am surprised you have gotten nothing after so long. Adding a limewood air diffuser will probably produce some skimmate for you, but it will require maintenance. Ultimately I would look into a new skimmer if I were you. The AquaC Remora is a very nice hang on unit. Best of luck, Scott V.>

Upgrading a Skimmer Hi, first of all thanks for the valuable information one can gain from your site. I had my Aquaclear Aquatics Pro 150 W/D running for about 7 months. It runs a 125 FOWLR tank with five medium sized fish. This certain W/D came with an attached skimmer. The problem is that in the last 7 months the skimmer probably produced a quart of scum which isn't that dark at all. I've tried adjusting the air valve, adjusting the pump (CAP) still no scum. I know that the skimmer isn't top quality, but shouldn't it produce something? <Not necessarily.> Is there something you can suggest before I start researching the Turboflotor 1000. <It sounds like you have tried most things to improve performance; adjusting air and adjusting water flow. Have you tried cleaning the pump in hot water and vinegar to remove deposits? This is something I do every six months and highly recommend it.> Will this T/B 1000 fit in the skimmer section of my W/D (9"x5")? Jim <Do check the Aqua-Medic web page for dimensions on the footprint. Also research the Euro-Reef and Aqua-C models. -Steven Pro>

Turboflotor1000 For a T1000 should I use the needle wheel that came with it or keep the impeller from the rio2100 on? My T1000 came with 2 needle wheels, one with spikes on it. Which one should I use? I am looking for the best skimmer production from it. Thanks <definitely inclined to use the aspirating needle impeller, but you simply have to experiment to see what your system responds to best. So many aspects of hardware and husbandry can affect skimmate production, you will simply have to experiment and make an intelligent decision based on the performance of each over time. For the record... I like the spiky one.>

Successful Skimming Thanks, Anthony. I hadn't thought of skimmate removal as a nutrient issue, so have been removing it only once or twice a week (maybe 4 ounces at a time.) I will jump to a daily clean-out. Thanks for the tip. <Ev... quite welcome. It is an easily overlooked dimension of the nutrient dynamic in aquaria. But given thought, when you look at how foul the skimmate is on weekly collections and then succeed in collected similar product daily... you realize that to not remove it daily means that it accumulates and concentrates. Although a bit slow to effect a cure, well run skimmers are perhaps the best and easiest way to correct nuisance algae growths in marine aquaria. Best regards, Anthony> Ev Newton

Pump it up Hi Bob, I have a question regarding my sump/refugium. I would like to buy a Turboflotor T1000 which requires a pump and also I would need a second pump for the return to the main tank from the sump. Is this a correct assumption or can these be combined. <Better by far to have two separate pumps here... hard to adjust the flow, pressure for the skimmer...> Ideally, I would like the skimmer in the sump/refugium. I don't know of anyone with such equipment to view, and I would need to mail order the skimmer, so I'm not sure how the setup would be configured. Your input would be appreciated. <Configured? Mmm, maybe take a look through Oz' Reef, champion DIY site re our field: http://www.ozreef.org/ and elsewhere on manufacturers sites (Our links page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/links.htm) for ideas on layout. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Roland

Protein Skimmer Hi Bob, Your website has been wonder and really helps. I purchased a Turboflotor 1000 protein skimmer about 2 months ago for my 180 gallon reef tank. Recently, I noticed some problem with the come along needle-wheel pump. I read that you have been recommending Eheim 1060 as a replacement. <Yes, or at least pull off the needle wheel impeller and put a "regular" paddle type on its place> My question: Does the Eheim pump require a needle wheel and if so can I change it?  <No and yes if you wanted, but I wouldn't> Second, the Eheim pump does not seem to have an air inlet to allow mixing of air with water. How do I resolve this? Would appreciate your advise. <I rig a "tee" and a valve on the submersed part of the intake line beyond it, and adjust the plastic valve to mix the amount of air/water being pulled into the pump. Bob Fenner> Regards, David Chow

Zero nitrates w/ refugium vs. giant clam Hello Mr. Fenner- I have read all the refugium notes/Faq's and I'm sold on one. For my future 92 corner tank I will use a 20 gal hex for the sump and one for the refugium (have an odd-shaped stand). From my limited (but growing---thanks!) knowledge, I understand that giant clams actually like some nitrates.  <This is so... to a degree.> I plan to start as basically a FO system, but I want to set it up as properly as possible w/ long term reef results in mind. So, what is your "official" opinion on clam + skimmer + Miracle Mud refugium? Thank You! Erik Nelson <Of all timely notes... picked up Leng Sy yesterday on the way to going to Hollywood, giving a pitch to the combined L.A. and Orange County marine clubs... and Leng and I went over and over re skimmers, his mud product... We kind of agree that "skimming has its place" and in general, after some time, balancing (a few months typically), a not-too efficient skimmer can/should be cycled on/off (day intervals) to allow production of planktonic organisms, in the face of a dearth of removable materials... in most systems. Bob Fenner>

RE: Turboflotor Needle Wheel Impellers Thanks Bob, I am grateful for your advice - and so is my Tang, he seems to be recovering. I need to get a good "Picture Book" of Marine aquarium fish so I don't misdiagnose. Any suggestions or is that your next book? <A good suggestion for someone (I'd like to help)> Still struggling to get my Turboflotor to work correctly. I went out and bought a Rio 2500 pump and still seemed to be underpowered until I simply used the paddle wheel that came with the 2500 in the 2100 (2500 was too much with the paddle wheel) instead of the Turboflotor's needle wheel device.  <Thanks for this input> I screwed this up though when I put conditioner in the water for the remaining livestock after I took the Tang out. More frustrating than Golf! I pulled the damn thing out and put my CPR in the sump. I'm going to do a fairly sizable water change and give it another try this weekend. <Ah, good> Any chance your going to be diving in Maui over Christmas. Kara and I are taking Kayleigh for her first ever visit to Hawaii from the 18th-1st. <No... elsewhere, putting in flooring with Uncle Frank in NJ. Bob Fenner> -Dave

Re: Protein Skimmer I have recently moved my Prizm protein skimmer from inside the tank to the sump. I have noticed that the water in the protein skimmer is clearer then when it was in the tank do you think that it is not skimming properly or is it just that the water is going through the filter then to the skimmer. <Mmm, water is the same... likely some physical characteristic of the move (probably the varying height, difference in level of the sump, skimmer) at play here. Bob Fenner>

Turboflotor Multi Hi Bob, You've probably noticed this skimmer cropping up with my same query. I have had this skimmer working on my tank (connected) for the past 3 weeks. Initially, it skimmed small amounts of concentrated waste (never a full cup) then stopped. I had an outbreak of fish disease and stupidly left the skimmer running during treatment. During this time it skimmed most of the medication out. Once the medication was gone it stopped. <Yes... this happens often> The skimmer has now been switched off for 8 days. Now that treatment of the fish is completed, I switched it on today and no foam is being produced even though after 8 days with 15 fish + two hermits in a 86 Gallon tank there must be dissolved waste as well as residue medications. Even more puzzling is the fact that I have no active carbon so the medication must still be in the water !!! <There's more to the polarized organic accumulation of skimming than "meets the eye"> Can you please advise on what I should do. <Mmm, nothing... other than leave the skimmer on at this point. You'll see some skimmate soon> The skimmer comes with a venturi pump that must be immersed in the show tank the skimmer hangs onto. All this is set-up as stated in the manual. I have the output flow valves adjusted to maximum output. So, there is a good water flow out of the skimmer, and a dry foam it could produce it. Lastly, the reaction tube is a nice milky colour of many bubbles. This has been checked on my stores tank and it does not produce foam where as the Berlin Classic on there tank did. <Hmm, this part is unusual> Can you suggest whether its work adding an air pump to the venturi air intake air line ? Is enough air getting to the pump ? <Likely there is enough air... I would not add an air pump myself> I can safely say that these skimmers are far from exact science they are so dependant on so many environmental conditions. Your help please. <I agree re the inexactness> Should you be unaware of the answer (doubtful I know) can you point me to the right place. Thanks, Kevin <Please read over the "skimmer" section on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

RE: Turboflotor Multi Thanks for your prompt answer Bob. I was very tempted to just leave it alone, but after losing 3 fish during the time it was off (Flame Angel, Powder Blue and Red Hawk), I almost convinced myself that the pollutants in the tank killed them. Especially as whilst the water was "reef clear" all tank mates were visually happy and eating. With the skimmer not working, I was sure this was the problem, poor water quality = Stress and all that !!! How long shall I leave it running before considering further action. Note: it is only three weeks old !! <At least another two weeks... four would be better. Wait till you see some real (macro) algal growth.> Regards, Kevin <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Turboflotor 1000 Multi Bob, You have been very helpful in the past so perhaps you can help here. I was reading on Reefs.org that a lot of folks that have the Turboflotor 1000 were adding an air pump to increase the efficiency of the skimmer. In fact most people stated that they were not happy with the product until they added the pump. So, I went out and purchased an Tetratec 96 pump and hooked it into the input of the muffler for the Turboflotor. Needless to say that just stopped the pump cold. I tried to decrease the volume of air, and anything more than just a trickle stops the pump. Any ideas on increasing the amount of injected air without stopping the pump on the multi. Thanks <Mmm, I would check with the people who chatted this modification up on Reefs.org. The times, places I've used Aqua-Medic's skimmers I have not injected more air... Bob Fenner>

Skimmer Operation Hi! I have a 55gal salt water tank with four small fish and about 50 lbs. of live rock. My tank has been set up for about three years, but I moved recently about six months ago) and had to take the tank down and set it back up. I have noticed recently that my protein skimmer isn't skimming anything. I fiddled with it, but have had no luck creating any bubbles. enough to deposit anything in the top portion of the skimmer) The water is still flowing through, but it seems too fast. When the water is being returned to the tank it is overflowing out of that little black collection box with sponge in it; not filtering out the bottom of the box. Basically it just seems that the water is flowing through the skimmer and right back out again with no effect what so ever. My question is does your tank ever get to a point where you really don't need the skimmer and can turn it off for awhile, or do I have something all wrong. I don't really feel like I know a lot about how that skimmer is suppose to work! Any help you could give would be appreciated! Thank you so much! Destiny <There is probably nothing wrong with your skimmer or system... as you suggest, your system has achieved a sort of balance. I would keep it going, but not worry about the lack of skimmate. If you'd like, you can read about other peoples' similar experiences, on our site here: http://wetwebmedia.com/skimmaintfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Turboflotor setup Hi Bob, It's me again. I was reading through the skimmer FAQs again and noticed a lot of people were still having trouble with the Turboflotor setup. I just wanted to throw in my 2 centavos worth and show how I setup the skimmer running only one pump. Most people either run 2 pumps OR one pump and water getting fed to the skimmer through an overflow. I thought both of these methods were inconvenient so I ran only one pump, but could never get the water to rise more than 1/2 way up the skimmer column, no matter how much I adjusted the two valves. The solution was simple, just remove the pipe used to connect to the overflow hose and plug up the hole at the bottom of the skimmer column that goes from inside the skimmer to the pipe you just removed. I did that and my skimmer has been working great using only one Rio 2100. Hope this helps. We can hop on the forum if I wasn't clear enough. Hope you have a good day. <Ah, another lesson (for me) in personal "arrogance"... I would have sworn most everyone would have known of this modification... Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Protein skimmer I just put a Bak-Pak 2R skimmer on my 37 gal. tank... I am getting a lot of tiny bubbles in my tank ( I know that is good oxygen, but it has gotten worse during the day) I think that my skimmer and powerhead (230gph) are too much for the size of tank. The tank water isn't clear because of all the tiny air bubbles. I can't turn the skimmer down, except almost close the air tube. I just turned the skimmer off now and the shrimp are coming out again. I don't want to run it overnight, because I don't know if it is set right. I was getting clear water in the cup, so I raised the cup. Should I stop using the powerhead? Cheryl <Keep the powerhead going, but turn off/submerse the venturi intake feature which determines air entraining. For the skimmer outflow consider attaching either a bit of coarse foam over the in-tank portion, or having the water dump into a submersed cup with same (like the refugium/isolation tanks CPR makes. Bob Fenner>

Re: protein skimmer operation/maintenance, powerhead confusion In reference to the last email... the bak-pacR2 , came with a block sponge that fits on the base of the outlet tube, inside the filter. It said to use that when medicating, major water change, etc. Should I just use that all the time?  <Yes, I would> Does it take a couple days for a skimmer to start working good...  <Ofttimes yes, to start working well> and how do I know if I have enough protein in my tank. <Hmm... no worries here... less is better, best in most captive cases> all my nitrate readings have always been 0. I'm not sure about my powerhead...you said turn off/submerse venturi intake feature.. I'm not following that...you know too much and I'm too new at this.. Cheryl <Is there a line/tubing of about airline diameter (1/4" or so) attached to the powerhead that breaks the water surface? Pull it off, and leave it off. Sorry for the confusion. Bob Fenner>

TF1000 in Rubbermaid sump Hello yet again! I get a semi noisy vibration sound from my TF1000. It's somewhat related to vibrating against the Rubbermaid, but even if I suspend it in the sump, there is considerable vibration noise. Regarding the vibrating between the sump and TF1000, do you have any suggestions? A sponge would work, but I don't want anything that would start working as a bio-filter. <Yes... to replace the supplied TAAM/RIO pump with an Eheim...> Also, do you suggest getting as much water in the TF1000 from the overflow as possible and adjusting the exhaust outputs to optimize "bubble" concentration, or leaving the exhaust outputs fully open and regulating the amount of water into the main chamber? <A mix of the two is actually best... Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance.- Eugene

Turboflotor T100 Dear Mr. Fenner: After reading the archives here about protein skimmers, I decided to buy the T1000 for my 75 gallon FOWLR tank. I have been fiddling with this thing for two hours. The problem is I can't get it to product any bubbles. It came with the RIO2100 pump. Instead of plumbing it directly to the overflow, I have it hooked up to a RIO600 pump. Can this be the problem?  <Yes, not enough flow or pressure... some folks even encourage the use of a Rio2500.> Am I getting to much pressure or too little pressure?  <Too little> I'm sorry to bother you with yet another skimmer problem. I can't seem to find any place on the web that explains the operation of this skimmer.  <No worries... there are some obscure listserv archives, the manufacturer (in Germany), a scant discussion by the US distributor... if you'll seek their URL's.> And the directions it comes with are, to say the least, practically useless. <Agreed> Thank you for any help you can provide. Susan Krueger <Put the 2100 back on and be patient... Bob Fenner>

Skimmer I just added a Ozonizer that runs through my Protein Skimmer. After 24 hours of running them together, I noticed only a little white foam in my skimmer cup. Usually in this time period I would have an 1 inch of dark brown gunk in the skimmer collection cup. Is this normal for an Ozonizer to cut down the dark waste that is usually produced without ozone? I thought ozonizers increased the efficiency of a Skimmer?  <<Yes, all very typical... think about this... the ozone itself (triatomic oxygen, O3) is oxidizing the dissolved organic compounds way ahead of the skimmer's removal... In a way, I guess this does "increase the skimmer's efficiency"... by making it less necessary. What a tool, eh? Bob Fenner>>

Skimmer Hi. Love your column. I had a small problem with red slime recently, so I  added some of Ultralife's red slime remover. I have had good results in the  past with this product, but that was before I had a protein skimmer. Now,  about an hour after I added it, my protein skimmer went nuts! It pulled  five gallons of water out of my tank as a very thin, watery foam in less  than twelve hours! Is there any way to solve this problem? I am using a  Skilter 250 with a supplementary airstone. Thanks, Brian Baker  <Hmm, well yes... give up on the Red Slime/Blue Green algae remover and investigate and solve the root causes of this problem... Poor circulation, poor aeration, too much nutrient due to? Overfeeding, poor filtration, poor maintenance, lack of competing organisms for light, nutrients... Bob Fenner>

Tunze Skimmer, Cyanobacteria Bloom, need help. Hi, <<Good day'>> I have been fighting a Cyanobacteria bloom for the better part of two months now. My water parameters look reasonable Salinity = 1.023, Nitrates/Nitrites near 0, PH = 8.2, dKH = 10. The fish and the few corals I have in this tank look good and are growing. My problem is that the substrate is nearly completely covered with Cyano (brown, slimy, forms strands). I suspect that the nutrient levels in my tank are extremely high.  <<This tank is two months old? Ammonia/nitrites/nitrates should be zero, not low. My money is not on Cyano but diatom algae. Silicates + nitrates = diatoms, a brown algae that covers your substrate, sometimes floats, etc. No matter, high nutrients/overfeeding/low current/poor skimming will invite either.>> The reason I suspect this is because my skimmer (Tunze 240) does not seem to able to pull anything out of the tank. I've tried adjusting it till the cows come home with no luck. From all accounts, the Tunze skimmers are among the best but I can't get this one to work. My $65.00 Prism skimmer running on a 29 Gal tank is doing a much better job. I do get a lot of scum sticking to the walls of the column but I can't get foam to overflow into the collection cup. I've tried adjusting it from one extreme to the other (venturi fully closed to fully open) and everything in between. The tank is about 6mo old and I had hoped to move the inhabitants from my 29 gal. tank to this new setup someday. But until I can resolve this current issue these no way I'm gonna risk some corals that I've had for going on three years now.  <<Do contact the manufacturer or dealer on how to adjust your skimmer or replace it with something easier for you to use. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimmerfaqs.htm>>  My setup is as follows: 75 Gal Reef tank. 20 Gal Sump 50lbs of live rock no deep sand bed or plenum 3 Maxi Jet 1200 powerheads <<Would ideally like to see 1.5 lbs rock per Gal. the more the better, DSB in tank and or sump, and ten times volume circulation per hour>> Eheim return pump Bioload: 6 Juvenal fish (largest being a Yellow Tang at about 3"), crabs, snails, 2 brittle stars. Since the outbreak I have been running carbon 24/7 (Probably stripping out the essential elements instead of helping) <<Doubtful at this point, change it out often enough though.>> It's my understanding that low dissolved nutrients and low levels of Nitrogen based molecules (NO3, NH4+, etc) are required for Cyano control. Since my tests indicate low levels of Nitrites and Ammonia, it must be the nutrients right? Any ideas would be helpful. <<for diatoms or Cyano my friend. Advise using RO/DI for top off, repair or replace skimmer, increase circulation, keep up carbon and perhaps Polyfilter, and increase incapacity with additional live rock and sand.>>  Thanks, John L. Allen <<Good luck! Craig>>

Skimmer question part 2 (operation) Hello, in response to your response (thank you), if I purchase an Aqua C Remora protein skimmer and position it so the pump portion sits in the first chamber, and the water return portion into the second chamber (they are separated all the way down to the bottom of the tank), would this work well <hmmm.... I think it would work fine>> and not risk the stratification of proteins? (I do not know what that means but it sounds bad).  <ahhh, yes... very simple my friend. Proteins accumulate in the very top most layer of water (like sea foam on the sea). Our goal is to skim (via overflow) and concentrate them for handling by a skimmer. Ideally this means that they should overflow or be carried raw into the skimmer feed/pump. If instead we allow them to crash into a primary vessel (chamber one) before overflowing to a secondary chamber with the skimmer (number two) then the proteinaceous matter can migrate to the surface of chamber one and get partly bypassed. Essentially... we are looking for a direct path of raw overflowing water to the skimmer> I prefer not to have to drill a hole into my tank. In your opinion, does the Remora (pro or regular) work as well or better than the CPR Bak-Pak's?  <yes. as well or better for the Aqua C IMO> Thank you again for your help. Steve. <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Skimmer Arrangement (operation) Thanks for such a quick response. I usually don't change/clean the micron bag until it is clogged and overflowing. Not good huh? <Not the best use of this piece of filtration.> I meant to ask another question. The skimmate I do collect isn't tea colored. It is medium to light green, kind of lumpy and slimy. Is this just probably algae? <Possible> Got any thoughts? <Start cleaning the micron bag or forget about it and see if that affects your skimmer's performance.> Thanks again and a nice weekend to you also. <Thank you! -Steven Pro>

Re: Juvenile Queen Angel is sick, but from what? Hey Bob, Bad news: the Queen was dead this morning when I awoke. She was floating on the surface, near the overflow box. :( I'm not really sure what happened to her. Her gills were RED and swollen. <Rats! Sorry to read of the loss.> To add insult to injury I can't get the pump on my skimmer to work properly. I took it apart and there appeared to be no gunk/ restrictions inside. I ran warm water through the pump for a few minutes and cleaned of anything that was there (not much). Its also not sucking air through the intake, and there isn't anything blocking airflow in the tube or on the inlet on the pump, so I don't know what to do.... Any input is greatly appreciated. <Try hooking it up with a "direct" connection to your tank water (to discount the possibility of intake restriction)... it may be the pump is bunk (this happens)... next, a trip to your LFS, or visit from a sympathetic fellow reefer. Re the Lion eye opacity and Angel loss, I am still of the strong opinion that these troubles are/were directly related to diminished environmental quality... and advise you to get your skimmer re-going, and develop and adhere religiously to a plan of storage (in the dark) of new seawater (for at least a week... for me, two)... or switching to synthetic. Bob Fenner> Frustrated Ray

Re: Juvenile Queen Angel is sick, but from what? Hello Bob, I went to the LFS and had them inspect the pump and it turns out that the shaft somehow got bent. <Ah ha!> So that explains that issue! Tomorrow I'm going to the store that I prefer and see if he can get me a new shaft or a new pump. Thanks for all the help Bob!!! Ray <You can call me Sherlock, well at least "Not Late For Dinner". Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Protein skimmer question Hello, I have read numerous posts about converting from a wet/dry system to a live rock and live sand system, and I am convinced that is the way to go.  <yes... many merits to it> However, I have a question that I am looking for an answer. I have a 10 yr old wet/dry TruVu Aquasystem tank. It has three chambers in the back starting from left to right. The first chamber (4" wide) is where the water comes in, the second chamber (10" wide) has the trickle filter and the bioballs underneath the tray, and the third chamber (8" wide) that houses my RIO 1700 pump. I have never had live rock or live sand, and it has always been a fish only tank. I want to convert it to a reef tank (with a few fish, etc.) with the live rock/sand and add a CPR BakPak2r protein skimmer. Here is my problem. The only place I can put the hang on skimmer is in the middle chamber due to the width of the skimmer. If I understand the skimmer's operation, it sucks in water from the small pump on the right, skims off the excess matter into a collection cup, and returns the skimmed water back into the tank through the left plastic pipe. If the pump and the return pipe are in the same (middle) chamber, won't the water that has just been skimmed and returned be sucked back into the pump, thereby skimming the same water over and over again and not thoroughly skimming the entire 55 gallons?  <not exactly... while some water will be recycled this way... so much more water is run through this chamber many times over per hour. Still... with that said... it is best to draw raw surface water first. Placement in the second chamber risks the stratification of proteins that were formerly concentrated by the overflow. For a reef tank skimmer performance can be critical and you may find that even a good skimmer might have trouble in the second chamber here. Let me suggest that you consider putting this or another skimmer on the back of the tank separate from the wet/dry. Perhaps an Aqua C Remora which has the slimmest profile in the industry> I am hopeful this is not the case, or there is a solution I am not aware of. I have a lot of money invested in the tank, stand, canopy, etc. and hope there is something I can do short of buying a new tank which is not an option. Thanks for any assistance you can provide. Steve. <no worries here... and you may want to consider by passing the integrated W/D altogether. Seal off overflow and have tank drilled and drained to a simply 20 gallon sump underneath with plenty of room/options. Many possibilities. Best regards, Anthony>

ETSS Skimmer Set-up, Operation Just purchased an ETSS Evolution 500 for my 75 gallon fish-only tank, big upgrade from my Seaclone 100. <I agree wholeheartedly.> It had been sitting on the shelf at the store for a few years, store decided to dump it for $100 bucks, how could I say no? <A good deal!> Unfortunately, no box or instructions and the sales person wasn't much help either, basically told me how it should be set up in my system. Having problems setting it up though I think? I have a SeaLife systems wet dry underneath in stand, with a lifeguard quite-one 700 plumbed as the main pump. I drilled a hole in my wet dry and plumbed the Skimmer next to the main pump bulkhead, using another 1 inch bulkhead. No runs, no drips, no errors (I think). I ordered a Mag-Drive 9.5 to power the skimmer, should be here next week. However, I do have a Mag-Drive 5, and decided to try it out, knowing it is not nearly strong enough to run the skimmer properly. What I'm finding is that the skimmer is returning massive amounts of bubbles back into the sump, then the lifeguard is pushing these bubbles back into the tank. Is this the result of the undersized pump? <I am not sure. Could be from improper operation or installation.> Seems even if I had the bigger pump, I would have the same problem but probably worse!?!?! I have toyed around with the exit valve and notice the water level raising or lowering depending on how closed it is. Doesn't seem to make a difference with the amount of bubbles though!?!?! How should the valve be set, and should the bubble problem just go away or will the larger pump remove the problem? <Take a look at A.E. Tech's (manufacturer of the ETS line) website here http://www.superskimmer.com/ for instructions and perhaps technical support.> Thanks a lot for your help, John <Good luck to you! -Steven Pro>

Skimmer Arrangement Hello WWM crew, I have a question regarding my sump and skimmer setup. Where the water enters my sump from the overflow, there is a bracket designed to hold a micron filter bag, which I have been using. After reading on your website, it sounds to me that I may be better off not using the bag before the skimmer, so the skimmer can get the raw water. So would I be better off not using it? <That depends. The bag will interfere with your skimmer's performance, but if you are willing and able to rinse the bag daily, I would keep it. The amount of exportation rinsing the bag of detritus, uneaten food, etc. would be worth the loss in skimmate to me.> Should I expect a little better performance from my skimmer (Turboflotor) this way? One more question, please? I have to clean the nozzle on my skimmer's pump (AquaBee) where the air enters the needle wheel every two to three weeks or my bubble production drops off. Looks like calcium, sometimes hard to clean out. Is this normal? <It does not sound normal to me. I have to clean my skimmer air intake every couple of months.> Do the EuroReef's or Aqua-C's have the same problem? <Not that I have heard of.> Thinking about purchasing one of those. Your opinions would be greatly appreciated. <Perhaps you are not getting the airline clean enough and the buildup is reappearing because it has a head start. Try soaking the line in vinegar to remove any calcium deposits. You might as well do the pump at the same time. If this does not work, I would change the airline next.> Thanks in advance, Steve <Have a nice weekend! -Steven Pro>

Re: Juvenile Queen Angel is sick, but from what? Hey Bob, Just did a 25% water change with NSW from my local inlet, on incoming tide. <Sorry for the interjection/ruption, but do you do much to the new real seawater before placing it in your systems? We've had some real trouble over many years time (periodically) with just using the raw product on the west coast (U.S.)... most folks now store the new water in the dark for a week or two, others bleach and dechlorinate it... still others use U.V., other novel ways to "kill" what is live in it before applying> So we'll see what happens in the next couple days with the Queen, Thanks for the input!! Now I have a question about my protein skimmer. I unplugged it earlier, before I emailed you, because I was going to add green ex. After I did the water change, I plugged it back in but its not skimming.  I can hear the pump working but no skim action. I'm going to browse the faq's on the site and see if that has been covered there. I'm sure it has, as everything is!! Thanks for all your help!! Ray <Is this a Venturi type? You might want to check the intake (blow through it)... or take the whole thing to the sink, take the pump apart (to check for foreign matter on the impeller, spindle...) and clean it thoroughly... Also, do check the intake line to the unit... any obstruction, restriction there will produce this non-result. Bob Fenner>

Re: Juvenile Queen Angel is sick, but from what? Uh oh. No I just used fresh sea water, but have heard of letting it sit. In this case I just didn't have time/ or any NSW around, but will in the future. I wonder if water purchased from the local fish store has been treated etc. <The big brand here on the other coast is not... though some folks claim otherwise. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm and the associated FAQs files.> and is ready for immediate use because Id like to do another water change of that size in a couple days. Its a much faster method of raising salinity as opposed to replacing the evaporated water with NSW. My skimmer is made by SeaLife Systems and has worked great up until this point :). It seems the most logical thing is some sort of restriction inside the pump (Rio 800 I believe), because it makes a lot of noise now not running smoothly as it did before.  <Turn it off... take it to the sink (along with the skimmer if need be) take it apart and check... easy to do> The Queens demeanor hasn't really changed, she's still being awkward; sort of staying in the corner upside down. :shrug: <Might just be low dissolved oxygen... the skimmer running will remedy this> I think only time will tell with her, she's been normal up until this point though, nipping at all the rocks and what not. In the morning I will take apart the pump on the skimmer and clean out any mess inside, hopefully erasing that problem. Thanks again for your help my friend!! Ray <A pleasure. Bob Fenner>

CPR Bak-Pak 2R Hi Bob and friends, <Hello> It's Connie again with a different problem. When I moved my clowns into a 27 gallon tank last week I moved the above skimmer with them and bought an identical skimmer for my 60 gallon reef tank. The old skimmer (6 mo.s) is not putting anything into the cup at all. There is no live rock in the tank, only 2 fish and a few crabs. We called the manufacturer today and they said that was normal - the tank is too small and it doesn't have enough fish in there to produce. I think we need a new skimmer powerhead. What do you think? Nitrates are zero. <Am more in agreement with the folks at CPR... likely no need to change the pump.> We also have a Fluval 400 canister pump servicing this tank. Maybe the skimmer is superfluous? <Not superfluous... does many other things in addition to removal of polar molecules... I would leave it on. Bob Fenner> Signed, Confused Connie <Not confused... perhaps searching>

DIY skimmer This is for Steven Pro, who I sent e-mail to earlier about my DIY skimmer. Just wanted to elaborate more on my situation and give more details of my setup. You said that the height of my skimmer depends on my tank size, my tank is 55 gallon. <Ok> Here is the link for the skimmer that I made the columnar skimmer on bottom) http://www.eparc.com/DIY/skimmers/mercado/skimmer.shtml. <Wow! I am kind of surprised anyone could build anything from those direction. Unless I missed something there was no parts list, dimensions, or anything other than a stick drawing.> You said a slow rate is better and that the flow rate and water level depend on design of skimmer. Looking at the design from the page I sent you, could you give me your opinion on flow rate and water level? <Within an inch or two from the top.> You said that 200-225 was too fast, what would be a good range? <I would probably leave this alone for now and get a larger air pump. It will be easier to adjust one variable at a time and I believe your major problem to be not enough air.> I would like to know why you prefer wood stones over ceramic, <They generally make finer bubbles, which is what you need.> and if ceramic will work or should I toss them and just buy some wooden ones? Also if you have any input (good or bad), on the skimmer that I built. Judging from the page I sent, would you add or change anything to design, and will this design work good enough for my 55 gallon (have few fish, but would like to have many nice soft corals)? Thanks again for your help. <There is not too much I can deduce from this drawing. The design looks workable depending on how you interpret the drawing. DIY air-driven counter-current skimmer can work very well. They just need to be played with to maximize production. -Steven Pro>

Re: Mexican Turbo Snails, Skimmer Production No way my skimmer will produce a cup a day.  <an all too common reality, my friend... as common as nuisance algae problems> Either I don't have enough in my tank to skim or my skimmer is inadequate.  <it is not even remotely possible that you (I or most any other aquarist) don't have enough to skim. There are systems with precision skimmers that are well made and/or well adjusted that have few if any fish and no supplemental feedings that still skim daily (products of respiration, fecal pellets from gastropods on diatoms, etc). And so... if you have coral or fish that get fed even just a few times weekly you can easily get daily skimmate. The lack of doing so in just a few short weeks builds DOC levels high enough to feed nuisance algae blooms. Your challenge is to adjust the skimmer optimally if you have a good skimmer design. Even the best skimmer needs to get water from a very stable pool: for hang on skimmers the tank water level must be kept extremely stable with daily evap top off and the pump that feeds the skimmer should draw from an internal skimmer box or as close to the surface as possible. Skimmers fed by pumps sitting several inches below the surface of water (sump or display) are really under performing. Proteins are concentrated in the very fraction of an inch of the water surface. For sump model skimmers, they should always draw from a skimmer box (vessel or sealed dam in sump) and never from the open sump with a fluctuating water level. Once this has been established, the neck needs to be cleaned several times weekly when the cup is emptied. When all is said and done though... if you have a Prizm/Red Sea or Seaclone... don't bother. NASA engineers can't get them to work and they are wiser than I am. Invest in another skimmer if necessary. A good skimmer is one of the most important investments in a marine aquarium... and the lack of a good one has frustrated many aquarists terribly... driving some out of the hobby for water quality problems> Since I have the algae problem, it is probably the latter. My skimmer is a Red Sea Berlin with a Mag7 pump. I know these are not considered very good by lots of people. <yes, my friend... public opinion is overwhelmingly unfavorable on this unit. Skimmers should be low maintenance and such skimmers as the above listed models work marginally at best with daily attention> Sounds like I need to look for another skimmer. <you will enjoy the hobby on a whole new level once you employ a good unit. Euroreef and Aqua C get my votes for top of the line and low maintenance> My salt brand is Instant Ocean.  <excellent...tried and true> I run PolyFilter and carbon.  <interesting and agreed> The filter color does not indicate any metal contamination.  <glad to hear it> I am pleased to know that is not my temperature. Seems I am left with improper acclimation.  <alas... perhaps yes. If any consolation... snails and shrimp are extremely sensitive to acclimation> If I decide to try more of these, I will acclimate even slower and for a longer period. Thank you for your time. Greg <best regards, Anthony>

Stress Coat Hi Crew, Sitting here in Silicon Valley waiting to be laid off. Figured I might as well be productive and email you <grin>.  <How about an exciting career change to aquarium install and maintenance?> Here's a question I've been mulling over off and on for a while....there's another FAQ on the site today asking about the use of stress coat and how it made his skimmer go crazy. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? <Mmm, well... more bad than good... as in overflowing collector cups, throwing water away...> Is it possible to increase skimmer performance by adding stress coats or some other additive to increase surface tension? <Yes... actually done in some aquaculture applications. Not of practical consequence in captive systems in my estimation... the water won't/wouldn't really be any "cleaner" by doing so> I was going to dump a bunch of Palmolive in to get rid of that fish smell anyway :-D. Wes <Hope you're joking. Bob Fenner>

Skimmer q.. Hey gang, when I set up my tank (130g FOWLR), I had my store manager do it (can't get hold of him).  We setup a used skimmer we had, which is apparently good, looks like an old Kent type, have an aquaclear802 powerhead pumping thru a hose going into the side of the skimmer, the hose has a valve in the middle of it which he had set to what I guess he wanted for flow.  Over the past 8 or so months, noticed my skimmer producing less, struggling to get the foam up to the top (getting an inch or so in the cup every few days, <You pump may need cleaning now.> been told by Bob or Steve that with my load I should be getting a cup a day) and into the cup, so I adjusted the valve and now its a foaming like crazy and filling a cup a day.  It's not that real dark crap it used to be, its a much lighter color, do you suspect that I have it set to high now <Yes> and this cup full is not the stuff I want out, or the more in the cup (whatever the color) the better? Thanks guys......riot <Dark is best. -Steven Pro>

DIY skimmer I have recently built a DIY counter-current skimmer and it does not seem to be working right. I would like to ask a few questions to help me with my problem. First of all my skimmer is PVC with reaction tube being 16" tall and 4" diameter. Does it need to be taller to work effectively (I have read of varying heights of this tube)? <This really depends on your flow and size of the tank, but maybe a bit short.> I would like to know if there is a certain amount of water that should be entering the reaction tube for maximum bubble contact? <A slow flow is best.> My flow rate at the water input is about 200-225 gph. Is this too fast or slow? <A bit too fast for me.> Also a lot of the bubbles are going into sump through exit hole at bottom. Is this normal? <If you slow the flow down, the bubbles should quit escaping.> What should the water level inside the reaction tube be (mine is about 3/4 full)? <This depends on the design.> Should it be higher or lower? I have tried different levels but no difference in skimming. I am running a Tetra DW18 deepwater air pump (made just for skimmers) and 2 ceramic airstones instead of regular as they produce finer bubbles, which I have read is better. <I prefer wood airstones and this pump seems way too small to me. I use Tetra's Luft Air pump, now marketed under the Coralife brand name.> Is this a big enough air pump? <I would prefer larger.> My problem is that the bubbles are just rising to top with no, skimmate as they call it, rising with it. The bubbles just rise and pop that's it. It has only been running a day so don't know if that is reason for no skimmate or not. Any help or advice you could give me I would appreciate it, thank you. <Take a look on our webpage here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diyskimmer.htm for a nice DIY design to compare yours to. We also have a DIY skimmer FAQ page here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/DIYskimrfaqs.htm -Steven Pro>

Aquasafe and skimmers Hello again, I added some Aquasafe similar to StressCoat because my algae blenny was attacked, probably by my banded moray eel, and I wasn't thinking when I added it.  Over night my skimmer went crazy and overflowed. I did a water change and added about 1/2 lb of carbon trying to get it out of my tank.  Do you have any ideas on how I can get rid of it or will it go away on it own? Thanks for your time yet again <The chemical will indeed "cycle out"... and likely has largely done so by now. I would wait it out at this point. Bob Fenner>

Protein skimmer troubles Hi. Maybe you could help me out. I have a Red Sea Berlin Turbo hang on protein skimmer. I pulled out the innermost tube of the skimmer to clean it and noticed that there was a square piece of plastic, the width of the inner diameter of the tube, sitting loosely in the end of the tube where it inserts into the base of the skimmer. Follow me so far? <I think.> I wasn't sure what to do with it so I just put it back as untouched as possible, at which point it promptly fell into the base of the skimmer and I had to tear the whole thing apart again. My owners manual does not mention this square of plastic nor is it shown in any diagram I could find. Needless to say it's not working right now and I'm open to suggestions. <I believe the piece you are talking about should be attached to the inner tube. It goes on the bottom, across the middle, arranged vertically (if you follow me). You may want to contact Red Sea tech support to confirm. There website is here http://www.redseafish.com/> Thanks, Dave. <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Microbubbles I did move the plate coral down to the sand like you said, it appears to be more pleasant there. I recently read several post on aeration and you don't need air stones or powerheads with bubbles if you have a good skimmer.  <mostly true> My question is what about micro bubbles? I hear that micro bubbles are bad for the fishes gills.  <a weak argument but there is concern that the mechanism for causing the microbubbles (a pinhole leak in plumbing that aspirates air) can cause a supersaturation of oxygen that produces symptoms in fishes like the "bends" in humans.> Is there any truth to micro bubbles being bad, and if so why? <as per above and not possible from the skimmer. Dangerous microbubbles are produced with pressurized pumps... not simple venturis> thanks again!! <best regards, Anthony>

Skimmer Connection Hi Bob,  I have a few questions to ask.  1 my skimmer has to now be sat in my larger sump/trickle filter I've built and the inlet will be under water now (the skimmer is a beast millennium) what do you recommend clamping the pump pipe to the inlet of skimmer with? <Nothing, just get tight fitting vinyl tubing and hose barb connections.> 2 the tower on the trickle side has 2" below water and 15" above water in the submerged bit I was going to use coral gravel and in trickle area Eheim substrate will this be ok as I've read many places bio balls increase nitrates 1 LFS said use Alfa grog but I've read this is a pond filter media really not suitable for salt water aquariums what do you recommend as media in tower? <Any artificial media (bioballs, crushed coral, foam blocks, etc.) in a trickle filter or Wet/Dry will produce nitrates.> 3 I've just purchased a t-5 lighting sys and would like to use live rock in main tank for decoration will it survive ok in FO tank and under this light also do I need any additives in tank <You should maintain appropriate levels for pH, alkalinity, and calcium if you want to maintain your coralline algae.> 4 previously I've used Cuprazin about 9 months ago for a whitespot outbreak will copper still be present in tank.  I used coral sand for bed and coral skeletons and Tufa/ocean rock for decoration if copper is present shall I use poly filter to remove all traces thanks for the help. Craig brown <The copper has bonded to the calcium based media (everything you mentioned above) and will continue to leach out. Particularly susceptible animals would be any encrusting corals (mushrooms, polyps, and any soft or hard corals attempting to attach to the contaminated substrate) or crawling inverts (snails particularly). -Steven Pro>

Skimmer and Coral Placement Mr. Fenner <Anthony Calfo in your service> Thanks for all your help! I ordered the Remora Pro w/mag3 pump and the prefilter. It should come in today or Monday. I put in a Rio 1700 to get more surface agitation. This seems to be helping a lot and I don't have the need to have my to Hagen 301's running now. The Rio puts out enough gph to have my whole tank circulating well. I see your point about not needing the Magnum 350, but I like having it going for the carbon media. I have a new question. The Remora Pro's intake is on the left side, being that my circulation is going from top left to right, will the right side me a good spot for the skimmer? Or should I put the Rio on the other side as to get the surface organics pushed to the left of the tank where the Remora would pick all the organics up in the corner?  <the placement of the skimmer should not be critical for skimmer performance... as for water circulation... one cannot fairly say left or right alignment without watching how the flow runs in your particular system with the dynamic of the rock scape and tank size. Simply aim for random turbulent flow and no dead spots> At this point my tank has been going for about 2 months. The branch coral has the most coralline algae growing on it. I'm still waiting for the large rocks to take off well. Thanks again!! I just spent 3 hours on your site last night reading. I've enclosed a picture for any comments or suggestions. thanks, ART <thanks for the picture.... I noticed that you have your green long tentacle Heliofungia placed upon the rocks. Please remove it to the sand bottom ASAP!!! They never occur on rock in the wild and will inevitably die from the abrasion of polyps cycles when placed on a hard surface. This coral will die within 6-12 months if left in place here. Else, all looks well. Best regards, Anthony>

Prizm Skimmer Hello,  <<Hello, JasonC here...>>  I just bought my first skimmer and it is a Prizm (Red Sea product) I'm having a bit of trouble adjusting the flow just right it seems to either make a lot of wet foam, thus wasting a lot of water, or producing no foam, thus behaving much like an expensive boat anchor.  <<I'm glad you said that and I didn't - unfortunately, this skimmer doesn't have a stellar performance record. With some luck it may improve given a little time to break in.>>  The difference in settings is like one millimeter. Any advice?  <<Be patient and if that doesn't work, perhaps return it and try an AquaC Remora. Cheers, J -- >>

Water pump to skimmer Hello, <<Hello to you - JasonC here.>> First, I love this site. I'm new to reef keeping and all this info is greatly appreciated.   <<I'm glad you find it useful.>> Specs 75 gallon glass 18 gallon sump Turboflotor 1000 skimmer I'm still in the process of buying the rest of my equipment, I really don't want to buy anything I will later be disappointed with. I plan to (eventually ) have a reef tank. My question is what size pump should I use to pump water into the skimmer from the sump.  <<What does Aqua Medic recommend? That's what I would use/approximate.>>  I have been told to use Rio 600 by some and Rio 2100 by others. <<Wow... that's a pretty diverse range. If those were my choices, I'd definitely use the 2100. The 600 is anemic by comparison.>>   Can you help?  <<I don't know, you tell me - was that helpful? ;-) >>  Also do you think a Mag 7 is enough on the return (4 " )?  <<Yes, would work fine and in fact is the exact same pump I run on my 75, although I will just add that I have another three Maxijet 1200's in the tank to aid with circulation. Just something you might want to consider - when it comes to circulation, it's really hard to have too much.>> Thanks, Christie <<Cheers, J -- >>

Skimmers, Plumbing I am a saltwater newbie setting up a fish only system. <Allow me to welcome you into this great hobby. Please peruse our website, www.WetWebMedia.com, and think about buying a book or two. Mike Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium" is an excellent first book.> I purchased a bunch of unused 2 year old stuff that has never been wet. Oceanic R/R 120 tank 4'x2'x2' with stand. The primary filtration is an AS9000D Aquaricare™ Algae Scrubber™. And a bunch of neat things that do not come into play for this question. (U.V. sterilizer, pumps, heaters etc. etc.) I am in the plumbing (mock up) stage now. The Algae Scrubber and sump take up a LOT of my under-tank stand space and I want to keep all my equipment down there. Due to space requirements and what I've read about them I'm considering buying an Aqua-C Remora Pro Protein Skimmer w/ Mag3 pump, maybe a 3 month old used one. <Ok> It, and the Prism Pro would fit where I want to put them but I've read enough about the Prism Pro to avoid it. <I have never used the Prizm Pro model, but did not particularly care for the regular Prizm for all but the smallest of tanks.> Ok, here are my questions. 1) Do we like this skimmer? (Remora Pro) <Sure> 2) Any hidden reason not to buy it used? <It will depend on the seller.> 3) Someone said that that a skimmer input should NOT be drawn from the filter output water, which in this case, it would be. Is this true? <Yes> And why? <Because skimmers work most effectively removing compounds from the water before your other filters have a chance to break them down.> Is that not essentially what's being done in a system where live rock and a Protein Skimmer are used? <No, not really.> I guess I could plumb it from the unfiltered water line, but I would really like to know why. <The Remora is a hang-on unit and does not need to be plumbed in at all. You just hang it on the back of your tank and you are done. It is completely separate from the rest of your filtration.> I thank you in advance for your input. <I hope I have been helpful. -Steven Pro>

RE: Protein Skimmer and Bubbles Dear Anthony, Thanks for the reply. <quite welcome> I have fixed my Aqua C Remora Pro skimmer problem by adjusting the height of the collection cup through the "O Ring" provided. It is working very well now. However the bubbles are still there, according to Aqua C's Q&A, bubbles are created by stress coats caused by mixing water with chemical addictives or high organic waste.  <agreed...colloidal material> I don't think my problem is the latter as I don't over feed my fishes.  <it can be the types of food fed just the same... heavy gelatin based frozen foods or rather oily fishes (silversides)> I will not use any chemical addictives for mixing synthetic sea water the next time since I used filtered water to mix with the salt.  <indeed for most they are not necessary when the new seawater is properly mixed and aerated for a day or so in advance> I stored my premixed water after they have been aerated for at least 48 hours. <excellent> I suppose I just have to monitor and experiment a little. <alas, yes my friend> Thank you. Regards, Daniel <best regards, Anthony>

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