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FAQs about Skimmer Operation/Maintenance 7

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

Skimming and DSB information >Dear Mr. Fenner: >>Good morning, Marina here to help you. >I have a 55 gal saltwater tank with Tidepool w/ BioWheel sump, Mag Drive 700 pump, two Rio power heads inside the tank.  I recently replaced the SeaClone 100gal skimmer with Turboflotor 1000 & Rio 2100.   >>Do watch the Rio pump closely, as there are not infrequent reports of them burning up quite literally. >The skimmer sits in the sump and is currently supplied by water pumped with small power head from the sump.  I had it plumbed directly from the overflow for a few days, but I could not quite get the flow rate right using gate valve and the two little valves on the skimmer, so that the skimmer would work at least as well as it does now with the little power head.  I read posts on your site suggesting that replacing the needle wheel with the original paddle wheel might make the skimmer work better.  Is this because it increases the flow and consequently lowering the pressure on the intake and getting more air to be sucked in? >>There seem to be problems associated with the needle wheel, and yes, anything that increases the venturi effect will produce more efficient skimming. >I also have between 40 and 50 lbs of live rock and only one inch of sand. I'm not quite sure about the exact weight as I acquired the rock over a period of time and did not write down the weight of the individual pieces. The tank is stocked with few soft corals (Zoanthids and Corallimorphs) and one yellow tang and three convict blennies, one cleaner shrimp and one small orange or red sea star (probably Echinaster luzonicus). >The tank has been running over a year now and the water parameters seem to be fairly stable (pH ~8.3, ammonia & nitrite not detectable, 9dKH, 340ppm Ca, Phosphate < 0.05ppm, 1.024 spg, 78F temp).  I use RO/DI water (weekly 5gal change, keep water aerated in a bucket for 24 hours before use), dose Kalkwasser (drip to replace evaporated water), Reef Builder, Reef Raise Ca, a couple of drops of Lugol's twice a week, and run Black Diamond Carbon. >>Alright, though honestly, that you have detectable phosphate readings at all may produce problems in the long run.  Are you detecting phosphorous when you test the RO/DI water before you mix it, perchance? >I would like to keep a few more specimens of corals, but need to figure out how to deal with Cyano that occasionally comes back.  I did some research on your site and others, and it seems that aquarists maintaining similar reef tanks tend to rely on their live rock and their skimmer for filtration.   >>The concern with Cyanobacteria is quite real since you're getting detectable levels of phosphates.  This must be addressed. >If I understand it correctly, the filter pads can become nutrient traps and the wet/dry filter can contribute to the build up of nitrates in the system. >>There are those who argue this is true, but the simple fact of the matter is that if you have sufficient denitrifying bacteria cultured, the "nitrate factories" (quite the misnomer, truthfully) will be of no concern.  Live rock of good quality is one method by which to address this.  I will suggest deepening your sand bed to a minimum of 4" with sugar fine sand that is calcareous in nature--Aragonite, "Southdown" (a calcareous sand, which, if I recollect, is harvested in Florida), and even other finely grained sands will work (though you'll not gain the additional benefit of buffering found with calcareous substrata).  The sand bed (DSB) must be of sufficient depth to allow the development of anaerobic areas where you'll culture the denitrifying bacteria that will convert nitrates into their constituent components, including simply nitrogen gas. >I recently removed the filter pads from the Tidepool sump because they were just too dirty to be cleaned and because of the information I mentioned above.  Now the question is if I can also remove the BioWheel without stressing the system.  I'm worried that I will also remove a portion of the nitrifying bacteria and before the colonies of these bacteria living in the live rock become large enough to handle the bio-load in the tank, the levels of ammonia/nitrite my get too high.  What do you think? >>This is a possibility, so I recommend that you add the DSB, or, if you wish, construct a refugium (we have much information on site in the marine aquarium articles section) by which you can ALSO address the phosphorous problem via growth of macro algae. >I would also like to add a small algal tank (1 - 2 gal) and grow some macro algae in it.   >>LOL!  READ first, Marina.   >What I would like to know is how deep should be the sand bed, what is the recommended flow rate and what kind of light should be used (? Watts, full spectrum?). >>Ok, Petr, I'll give you some links that will get into this more specific information, and it will outline how the whole process works and how you can best design your system.  Remember, a DSB can be utilized directly in your display, where circulation and other issues don't need to be addressed. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/livesand.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/denitrification_erfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeFilt.htm >>Look through these, there are links within the links, there should be sufficient information to get you well on your way.  Best of luck!  Marina Skimmer Questions for a 90g  2/22/03 <Hey Jeff, Phil here!> I have a Berlin Classic skimmer on a 90 gal reef tank.  The skimmer is in a sump and is operated by a RIO.  Throughput on the skimmer is about 150GPH. The skimmer does not generate a great deal of waste product and tends to be rather finicky.  My tank seems to suffer from algae issues, even though I use RO water...  Any thoughts as to the ideal skimmer rate (GPH).<This skimmer requires more like 500 gph if my memory serves me correct.>    Any thoughts on how to improve this skimmers performance?<More flow would help a LOT!!>  If I were to replace the skimmer, and suggestions on a better product?<Read through http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimbestof.htm and look for tanks around 90 gallons.  Lots to pick from!!> Any thoughts on the ETSS Reef Devil? <Good skimmer but very costly!>   Thanks in advance.   Jeff <Hope this helps!  Phil>

Turboflotor 1000 noise So I have a Turboflotor 1000 in my sump that I am really happy with, however, I have a question about what people do with the "exhaust pipes" (where the water actually exits the skimmer back into the sump). The company supplies two "L" pipes that direct the water down and have a porting for air in the top. However, if the water level in the sump is at 6" as directed, then there is quite a fall for the water,  making quite a bit of noise. I have tried extending the pipes to beneath water level but it seems that porting on top of the "L" is not sufficient, and I get a "bloop" of released air every 5 seconds or so. I have tried angling the pipes toward the walls of my sump so the water spills down the side. This helps the noise, but seems to speed up the evaporation process. After all this, I am just curious if someone has a better method of doing things. thanks a lot all. <Try putting something under the outflow that rises enough to break the flow of water/air so it doesn't fall into the sump water, but flows into it. A small plastic container with rock, filter media, etc. will break the flow/noise.  Either that or more vent in the outflow to relieve the "bloop" before it becomes one.  Craig>

- ETSS Skimmer Retrofit - <Greetings, JasonC here...> I know that you folks do not normally comment on the pros or cons of individual skimmers.  I was wondering however you can share any info about the potential benefits if any of taking the bio balls out of a large ETS and putting in 2 Becketts. <I think it would work.> It seems as there has been a lot of favorable press about the Becketts, and if this may be more productive in the ETS than the current bio balls. <Yeah... in my opinion though, Becketts need big pumps to really maximize their efficiency - not a big deal if you have the pump already, I suppose. They can also be rather noisy compared to others. All that being said - they do work more than well enough.> I realize that you would then need a valve to control air flow. <That too.>  Anxiously waiting your thoughts. <I say it's worth a try, but perhaps do it in a way you can revert back to the original design. You wouldn't want to add the Becketts and then end up tuning the thing down to nothing to make it work... would be a waste of electricity.> Thanks in advance. <Cheers, J -- >

ETSS skimmer Retrofit 2 To Jason C <Hi there...> Becketts do not need large pumps to work well I used a MD40 RLT on a skimmer that can take care of a 400 gal tank. <My friend, I would define that as a large pump.> What Becketts do need is pressure more than flow to work well. More builders of skimmers used Becketts than ever before. <As do makers of hot tubs - I didn't say they were a bad design, but the "need" of high pressure is indicative of a lack of efficiency. No worries.> RGibson <Cheers, J -- >

Lack of Efficiency in Pumps To Jason C  <Hi.> The need of pressure to run a Becketts is not indicative of a lack of efficiency I could point out that Euro reef skimmers heat up the water of a 180 gal tank by 2- 3 degrees that is pure lack of efficiency just to run a skimmer. The MD40RLT is far from large,MD100RLT,MAG Drive 18 Gen-x/Mak4 they are large. Becketts make for good protein skimmers you will get more dark skimmate from a Beckett than from most skimmers and that is what its all about. <You're the boss!> Have a good day. <And you too.>        RGibson <Cheers, J -- >

- Skimmer question (plus a few others while I have your attention) - Hi. <Hello, JasonC here...> My protein skimmer (an Aqua-C remora w/ a Rio 800 and a surface skimmer) is not collecting large amounts of gunk -- I'm very lucky to see much of a volume even after a week. <And that worries you why?> The skimmer is on a 29 gallon tank that is lightly stocked and lightly fed (I have a false percula, a lettuce Nudibranch, a small bubble tip anemone, 2 hermit crabs, 3 red collared snails, 3 peppermint shrimp and a number of feather dusters).  I feed small amounts of frozen krill and mysids probably once a week, but have a good amount of copepods/amphipods/algae that seem to satisfy the clown and the other inhabitants. <My friend, this tank is neither large enough, or stocked enough to be pulling out "large" amounts of gunk - I wouldn't worry about it much, skimming out anything is better than nothing, and you've chosen a good skimmer to do it with - no worries.> In addition to the feeding, I have 110 watts of PC over the tank.  The tank has been up for about 2 months now (an upgrade from an older, existing tank) w/ 40 lbs of live rock, 2 and 1/2 inches of live sand and 12 hours of light a day.   I keep getting a lot of algae growth.  I know this is normal in new setups, but it waxes and wanes.  The algae growth indicates to me that there is a buildup of nutrients in the water.  I have tested the water and don't read any nitrates, ammonia or nitrite (I understand that the algae may be using the nitrate as it develops), but think that something must be out of whack. <Did you test for phosphates? Did you consider that nitrate [a nitrogen-laden compound is also a "nutrient" that would be used by algae, perhaps the reason why your tests read zero.> pH remains pretty constant at 8.3 and salinity at 1.023-1.025  Would increasing the size of the pump on the skimmer increase foam production and waste collection? <Only marginally - again, you don't have a very large system or bioload here.> Also, would increasing the depth of the sand bed to 4-6 inches help to cut back on what might be feeding the algae? <Nope.> Finally, one of my collared snails, the largest, has been acting very strangely.  He began extending off of the live rock and today I found that he had fallen off of a rock and quit moving.  I took him off the substrate and placed him on a rock and he hasn't moved since.  I did lift him up to see if he was still alive and he responded with some movement.  What would cause this sudden behavior change and do you think it would be best to remove this snail from the system before he dies and releases toxins into the water as he decomposes? <Charles Darwin in action - natural selection. Most of the snails available for fish tanks really aren't great reef inhabitants, mostly because they tend to fall over, fail to right themselves and die. As for polluting the tank, perhaps you might want to do an experiment and see if your skimmer pulls any more gunk if/when the thing does croak. I much prefer Nassarius snails as they actually keep the sand bed clean, which in turn will likely reduce that source of "nutrients" you are looking for. Algae eating snails rarely keep up with demand.> As always, thanks in advance. Chris F. <Cheers, J -- >

Maximizing Skimmer Efficiency Bob/staff; <Scott F on call today> Since I asked a question yesterday, further reading here leads me to think that my skimmer is not positioned in the sump right. Is that creating the poor output? <In many cases, improper placement and irregular water depth can radically effect skimmer performance> I have a 20g sump and wet/dry filter with bio balls ( that I am removing today ), then, baffles to contain the carbon, then an open chamber where my skimmer and return pump sit.  This seems to be the easiest place for the skimmer, but not the best....right? <Not in my opinion. I think that you'll get much better performance if you position the pump where it will receive the "raw" unprocessed water directly from the tank overflow. This water is usually skimmed from the top inch or so of the tank, and essentially contains the most organic material in the system. This organic-rich water is very conducive to proper skimmer performance! Also, try to make sure that the water level in the section where the skimmer is located remains as constant as possible, as fluctuations in water depth will result in poor performance. Also, be sure to clean the skimmer regularly, as drying organic "sludge" in the skimmer neck can effect proper foam production. You also may need to adjust air and/or water flow into the skimmer to get the proper "dry" foam> Should I re-plumb the system so that the water line from the display is divided to the skimmer and filter.  Can this be done by gravity and eliminate the skimmer pump (Rio 800)? <Probably not a good idea to lose the skimmer pump, but you may want to get more water to wherever the skimmer is located...good idea. Some people even construct a dedicated "sump" for the skimmer, so it receives a constant level water flow from the main tank. I'd keep it simple, and just try to relocate the skimmer to an area of the sump where it receives more "useable" water> This is all so new to me, I seem lost every week.  Can you help? Thanks....Mike <I hope I gave you a start in the right direction, Mark! You're doing fine...just read up the FAQs on the wetwebmedia.com site for more information on skimmers and their setup. With a little tweaking, you'll get that skimmer producing in no time! Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Making A Few Adjustments Hello Everyone !! <Hi there! Scott F. with you> My name is Kostas and  you have helped me many times in the past ! ( I am the one trying to set-up a reef tank in Rhodes Island Greece. Nearest LFS 45Minutes by plane :- ) I'm still waiting for some extra Live Rock another 10kg so total now would be 20kg. Unfortunately something happened and not one single importer has any LR in all of Greece!! <Wow! Hopefully things will improve in time> Any way the tank is up and running for 3 months now. I have a 10-13 inch Live aragonite sand bed, No lights on, Protein skimmer on 24h, and readings are temp 26 Celsius, ph 8.20-8.26, ORP 428 !! <Sounds nice so far> I ran the calcium for about 1.5 weeks until I managed to burn the pump. Now waiting for the replacement, but for that period calcium went to 397 from 220 and many rocks got some nice purple coralline all over them. <Those reactors really work, once you get them "tuned" properly> The problem is that my LR has a lot of brown algae covering them. Also when I clean the glass surface then the algae attaches to the sand bed, creating brown spots everywhere. I try stirring the sand but it just re-settles somewhere else. My protein skimmer is working (All products from Lifereef, ,so venturi type PS ), doesn't create much foam though. The PS although tuned ok as to my little knowledge (based on the instructions ) doesn't seem to skim much. As I experiment today a little I stopped the main pump (Three return lines one through chillier and UV) and noticed the PS creating much more foam now, but white in colour. No food has been added, just some flake food twice in these past three months. <I'd keep playing around with the skimmer, trying to get a drier, darker skimmate. Place the skimmer in an area of the sump (assuming it's in the sump) where it gets a level flow of nutrient-rich water, and keep the skimmer clean by regular weekly maintenance. A clean skimmer works better! Execute regular water changes with quality source water, continue feeding carefully, and be consistent in your maintenance procedures> Also two days now I have some micro bubbles, but this time they seem to come out from the sand bed !!!! I had some before when setting up, so now I observed that they come out from the sand. Also when I look close to the sand bed I can see them "sitting " on the bottom. When I stir they start floating to the top, where they break to smaller parts and go back down again !!!! <Well, the bubbles might simply be the desirable end product of the denitrification processes occurring in the deep sand bed...I would not worry about it> I also started the UV for about 3 days now. Water seem to be more clear now, but the water vinyl tube has now turned black. <Some plastics may react with the UV in different ways...Make sure that the tubing is not becoming brittle, or cracking in any way> Since I don't add anything I stopped testing for a while. Last test a week ago. Ammonia not detected, dKH 7 / 12 when calcium was running (hasn't tested since then), No nitrite or nitrate detected (all tests with Salifert test kits.) Salinity at 1.025-1.026 Tomorrow hopefully I'm getting the 10kg of Indonesian Live Rock, plus a special plastic stand that you can pile the LR on and create an aquascape. I have to use this since I don't have much LR to create a base. <That's a good idea...be creative, and you can do a lot with a small amount of rock!> In the future when I find more LR I will remove it. I'm planning on scrubbing  the LR I already have in the tank and add with the new one on the stand. Hope that does something.? <Physically removing the algae present in the tank can help a bit, but it's more important to correct the source of the algae, which is usually excessive nutrients, such as phosphate. Waiting for your advise Best Regards, Kostas <well, Kostas- I hope that I've given you a few tips that can help here. Feel free to contact us again if we can be of further assistance! Keep up the good work, and be patient. You're doing just fine! Regards, Scott F>

Skimmer stopped skimming?  - 2/11/03 Hello crew.... hope you're all hanging out somewhere warm, wet, sunny and sandy....<Nope. Here at home. Wishing and thinking. Bob is though. You got Paul in his place> lot's of white stuff here in Boston this year. <Hockey.....cool> Hopefully someone can help me understand what's going on with my BakPak2. <Let's see> Here's the details: 29G, 30# LS, 5# LR (should be at 15# right?) ,Go for more. I would put more like 35-40lbs>, CPR BakPak2, Eheim Ecco 2233, 22watt fluorescent fixture. 1 true percula about 1.5 inches, 2 three stripe damsels about 2 inches, and 1 turbo snail. Specific Gravity 1.023, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0 ppm, Nitrate 10 ppm, Phosphate 0.1 ppm, ph is 8.3. Originally (back in December) my BakPak was making a lot (and I mean A LOT) of foam.  Then it gradually got down to a very stable production of dark green "gunk". <Very well and good> Then on the 26th of January I removed all of the substrate and put in the 30 lbs of CaribSea live sand (crushed coral).  Also at this same time I added 5 lbs of Walt Smith live rock that I had cured an additional two weeks in my QT.  Since then my skimmer started creating less and less foam.  I completely disassembled and cleaned the pump with its airlines, valve, and muffler.  Even with the valve and muffler removed I can't make enough foam to reach the top of the neck in the collection cup. <Strange> What gives here? <Not sure. Many adjustments to be made. Did you check the CPR site? See here: http://www.cprusa.com/support/troubleshooting-bakpak2.html#3 and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toskimornotfaq.htm>  The bio-bale is still in the skimmer - probably contributing to the high nitrate reading. <Yeah, I removed mine. Love the CPR BakPak, but never had this happen to me>  Is it possible that my husbandry (feeding once daily six days a week with caution not to feed excessively and weekly 10% water changes) combined with the bio-bale and LRLS is keeping the dissolved organics so low that I can't create enough foam to reach the top of the neck in the collection cup? <Doubtful, but very possible. Good husbandry goes a long way> On a positive note the tank is extremely clear and the advanced HLLE of one of the damsels is almost completely corrected.  I am still having trouble controlling the diatoms and assume this is related to the high nitrates. <Very likely. Remove the bio bale but the high nitrates and diatoms in the water also tells me that your skimmer is not skimming....hehehe>  Will Caulerpa grow with my 22watt fluorescent and will the additional nutrient export help with the diatoms? <22 watts is probably not enough for Caulerpas. Maybe a 32 watt power compact retro kit? More than likely though, you are probably way under PAR for Caulerpas and macro algae. Check here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/fluolgtgmar.htm read the FAQs and other links from this page. A good starting off point on lighting. Nutrient export will always help as Caulerpa will usually out-compete the diatoms. In this case however treating the "result" without finding the "source" is not an answer. More water changes! Increase them, and the amount exchanged using quality salt and source water. Be sure the source water is not high in phosphate, silicates, and/or nitrate with a reliable test kit> Similarly will the life on my LR thrive on the 22watts? <Depends on what life your talking about. Sponges, amphipods, worms, coralline algae, etc. will not have a problem. Corals and other plant matter will.> Thanks for your time and help.  I know that this tank is small but a large part of my current success is directly attributable to all of you here at WWM. <Thank you for the kind words. No worries on the small tank setup. You will find success through diligence. Sound planning and maintenance will really help the small tank setup succeed.> Thanks a million <Thank you, Rex, Paulo>

No skimmate - 2/12/03 I can't get any production out of my Marine Aquatic, AIS-90 skimmer, <Not familiar with this brand of skimmer. Maybe check their website for adjustments or troubleshooting?> only about 1/2 cup a day, if that. <Well, sometimes I only get a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup a day as well. Sometimes I get a full cup. Proper maintenance of your skimmer will help (if you are not already doing so!)>  I think it is sized right, full airflow, only 9 mo.s old, I cleaned it several times to ensure full water/air flow. <OK>  My tank is 8 yrs old, I bought it with a business and have improved the water quality and maintenance since taking over 1 1/2 yrs ago.  Still, nitrates continue to go up.  I had a large problem with hair algae, most of it is gone now.  Can this be do to decay of the remaining algae? <Doubtful, but maybe. This tells me that your skimmer's not working.....heheheh..... More water changes. Larger amount with good source water. Test the water to ensure that there are no nitrates, phosphates, and/or silicates. Maybe time to try a new skimmer???? There are many brands to choose from. I would take a look at the skimmer FAQs and the forums here. See what is said not only about your skimmer, but maybe about your loss of skimmate in general. Here is a good link for skimmer information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toskimornotfaq.htm> My tank is: 90 gal tank, 10 gal. sump, wet/dry filter with bio balls, <Hmmmmmmm> 402 power heads, about 75 lbs of live rock( I think Florida ), 96 watt power compact, 4 bags of carbon, changed monthly, ph 8.4, alk 300, nitrites 0, nitrates 40,<Wow...> sal. 28ppm,<Lower this slowly over a day or two to about 1.023 to 1.025 then dial it in> cal. 400, phos. .25 <Also may be contributing to your hair algae problem. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm>, and I now do water changes 7-10 days apart, 10 - 15 gals.. <Larger water changes may be in order here. I would do 20-25% for a while until the nitrate/phosphate go down. Do you have a deep sand bed or what is your substrate depth? This is sometimes a contributing factor into high nitrate issues which in turn can lead to algae blooms. The recommendation is 1/2 inch for non anaerobic or 4 inch minimum for anaerobic sandbed I believe. Anthony??? Jason?????...........> I have 1 hippo tang, 1 yellow tang, 2 percula clowns, 1 flame clown, 3 green Chromis, 1 beta, 1 hawk fish, many mushrooms (6-7 all fist size), <The mushrooms don't mind a little higher nitrate, that is why they are flourishing> 1 white star polyp, 30 - 40 red and blue legs, 20 - 25 snails. Did I ask too much? <No way.> I'm sorry, but I'm reading so much on your site and have info overload.<Understand>  Do I need the bio balls? <I would try without them>  One guy tells me to keep them, another said they add to my problems. <Well, always differing points of view. Do your own research. If it doesn't seem to help put the Bio Balls back into the tank.> I'm confused, please help me. <No need to be confused. You have made a very valuable step into gaining knowledge. You should be proud of yourself. You are on your way to becoming a better aquarists because of that step. Hopefully I was able to move you in some sort of direction. Good luck, Mike. Paul - out> Thanks....Mike

Nothing left to..........skim???? 2/8/03 Hello & Good Evening, Anyone Guarding The Post On A Friday Night? <Saturday afternoon and all is well that ends well. Paul on duty, sir!> I'm wondering about my Protein Skimmer. <K> AquaC Remora Pro being used on a 55gal tank.  Currently only have 55lbs of Live Rock and a DSB.  Using the LR for my cycle.  I emptied the waste cup yesterday, it had about an inch of gook in it.<Good>  Waste wasn't black like coffee, more like rusty water. In my experience, this sometimes is the case, but a bit low with a live rock cycle> In any case the Skimmer isn't producing enough foam now to make it into the collection cup. It's been over 24hrs.  Has the tank been 'skimmed dry'? <No way! I would try a bath in very hot water for the collection cup, and maybe a cleaning for the chamber. Some adjustments may need to be made to the placement of the collection cup. Check with the manufacturer site and look on our (WetWebMedia) forums for some recommendations. Also check here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimmaintfaqs.htm >  I've played with moving the cup both up and down with the same results - nothing.< I like my collection cup bottom rim (orifice) about a 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch under the bubble line>  Right now the cup is setting just about as low as possible. <Not correct in my opinion>   I'm also in the 3rd day of a major algae breakout.  Been reading the FAQs and believe this to be a normal part of the cycle. <Yep. Lots of organics>  On the other hand, I'm understanding the algae breakout is due to lack of aggressive skimming. <Even with skimming there are lots of other sources of organics to possibly enter the tank. For instance, water source, salt source, carbon use, as well as animal die off from the rock, and feeding. All of which the effects will be greatly reduced through skimming but never completely gone. Even a well working skimmer might not be able to handle it all. Give some time. Proper water routines and overall maintenance of tank will help greatly reduce problems in the future. Read the various FAQs on water quality and live rock cycling.>  Tank is being skimmed - just nothing getting collected. <Understood. Try the link and or search WetWebMedia for "No skimmate" "No foam in my skimmer" if you haven't done so already. See what comes up.> My head hurts and I'm confused! <No need fir brain pain. Should be fun to find all the information to be had!> Please share a morsel of your Saltwater Wisdom O Great Keeper O the Fishes! <Sorry I couldn't be of more help here, Scott. Try a few of the suggestions and search around our site. Check the WetWebForum as well. Lot's of people use and like the Remora's. The owner, Jason Kim, from my understanding, is a great resource and very approachable. He may have some ideas to help you. Send him an email here: support@proteinskimmer.com > Scott <Good luck. Paul>

Skimmer Efficiency Hey Fellas, <Hey! Scott F. here today!> Quick question and thanks in advance.... <Fire away!> I have a Berlin Red Sea Hang-on Skimmer, 55 gallon tank, 10 gallon sump. I plan on hanging the Skimmer on the back of my tank with a 700GPH submersible pump sitting in the last chamber of my sump, pumping the sump water back into the tank. Is this an ok setup? <This should work okay. The most important points to remember for efficient protein skimming are 1) The skimmer needs to draw it's water from the most organic-laden region of the aquarium (usually ht surface of the water), whether fed by overflow into a sump, or directly from the surface, and 2)The water level supplying the skimmer should be as consistent as possible. Even minor fluctuations in water level (either in the sump or the tank supplying the water) can dramatically affect skimmer performance and consistency. In fact, some hobbyists construct a "level flow" box just to receive water from the main tank and supply the skimmer.. Regardless of how you do it- just make sure that your skimmer cranks out a couple of cups of dark, yucky skimmate a week, and you'll be on your way to a healthy tank! Take care! Regards, Scott F>

- Skimmer Setup - Dear crew <Hello, JasonC again...> I read your faq's on the Turboflotor 1000 skimmer, and I could not find a description of how, or what is a properly functioning Turboflotor should look like, any directions?? <No... this is really a question for AquaMedic - we don't compile or keep instructions for the various makes/models of skimmers.> Because right now my skimmer is doing ok I guess, lot of foam, and skim ok. I notice as I turn down the flow of the water circulation (from the Rio 600). Foam increases, I guess the trick of "tuning the skimmer" is that to get a balance on both the water level inside the skimmer and the bubble count. <This is true for pretty much any skimmer.> I can tell you that my skimmer is second handed, and I don't know anything about needle wheel, but do you think that the water level inside the skimmer should be inline with the base of the collection cup?? <I wouldn't think so... would be better a bit lower so that there is room for the bubbles to accumulate before heading into the collection cup. Again, you might want to contact AquaMedic for more specifics about this particular skimmer.> Or higher?? <Definitely not higher.> Also, is that right that the 1000 multi is harder to tune? Or getting it to work properly?? <I have no experience in this area - do consider posting these questions on the forum.> Eric <Cheers, J -- >

Re: protein skimmer Hello to all! <And hello to you, JasonC here...> I'm writing regarding my red sea Prizm skimmer. <OK.> I am curious if it would be beneficial to hook up an external aerator to the hose pulling in the air?  As from factory, the hose is hooked up to the skimmate holding chamber and is adjusted by opening/closing the water intake.  So the air is just sucked in by the pump on the skimmer.  Would adding an aerator provide me better skimming, via forcing air to mix w/ the water. <It might, although there will be a break even point after which you won't be helping any more - put a valve on the pump or poke some holes in the line to regulate the amount of air you add.> Not sure, just kinda thought about it at while at work. <Is not a bad idea.> Currently, it takes about a week to fill the whole chamber up w/ skimmate. <I wouldn't use the speed of filling the cup as a measure - I know other people at WWM have said some [IMO] crazy things like "One cup per day" and what not, but each tank out there is different, and there's really no way to live up to these standards - I say any skimming is better than none, and the amount/type of skimmate is highly variable based on skimmer design, bioload, etc.> I also have a SeaClone 100 on an 18 gal.  Would I be better off switching skimmers? <Probably not.> I know neither of these are the greatest skimmers..  In the $150 range, what skimmer would you recommend if I decide to just scratch the whole deal and buy a new one? <I would save up a little more cash and try and get an AquaC Remora... these are my favorite and really a great skimmer.> I have a 65gal, with 60lbs of liverock, 5 fish, 1 button polyp, 1 toadstool leather, and 1 brain coral..  By testing, all water specs are in good range. Thanks, Jason-Surfs up! <Cheers brah, J -- >

Another skimmer question I have written a couple of times before -- I have the 45 gal tank with the Atlantic gorgonian octocoral.  Anthony was good enough to identify it for me from a picture.  Now I don't have to call it some made-up name!  By the way, after reading the FAQs today,  I think you guys have the patience of saints! <It's the beer.> I have read your FAQs on skimmers, yet a question remains.  I have a "Berlin" Red Sea skimmer.  Using the Mag 5 pump, it never was particularly impressive.  When I switched to an Eheim 1060 with a very short hose from the pump (4 inches), the skimmer is completely opaque with bubbles, and I can always see stiff, brown foam heaving in the top part of the bubble column, and there is always some bubble overflow where the column ends (at the curved bottom of the collection cup lid).  There is a thick layer of gunk on the inside of the column, and there is some skimmate in the collection cup.  No way, though, am I getting a cup of skimmate a day (collection cup or standard cup, for that matter).  I might get a cup every ten days. <I would think you might get it at least every two or three days, tops.>   The tank has one Firefish, one mandarin (he's three years old!) and two very small PJ cardinals.  I have one leather coral, a Tridacna and some wildly propagating star polyp.  I feed once a day.  I do a 5 gallon water change every week, and clean the Eheim canister filter (with surface extractor) at the same time.  I do have a prefilter sponge which I also clean at water-change time.  I also clean the detritus from the sump, as well.  The water looks crystal clear.  I have a 10000 K 175 watt MH light, with 2 20-watt actinics.  A light film of green algae will grow on the front glass in about 3 days (not thick, mind you, but visible).  Although I have about 120 lbs. of live rock, I still maintain the dreaded "wet-dry" with bioballs.   The tank is 10.5 years old. <Green film is likely driven by nitrates (from bio-balls).> Given what you know about skimmers, would I really notice a difference in skimmate production if I went to the AquaC Urchin?  Or is the fact that my Berlin is producing constant stiff foam an indication that it is getting all the dissolved organics that there is to get?  Thanks for your advice. Tom <Some skimmers are more efficient than others, and some types of skimmers remove different elements, in different quantities, than others. The Aqua-C skimmers are a favorite of many due to their improved efficiency as are Euro-reef skimmers. Both of these would be improvements over the Red Sea Berlin. Yours, Craig>    

What stops skimmers from working Dear WWM, <Warner Bro.s? What's up doc?> I have searched the WWM database and used the forum, but I still cannot figure out why my skimmer stopped working 12 days ago.  The skimmer is a quality unit (AquaC EV180).  After a lot of tweaking with the skimmer, and discussions with the skimmer's manufacturer, I am pretty certain that the skimmer itself is operating within its design parameters.  It seems that the water just does not want to foam anymore. <May be that you don't have much to remove> Is it possible that there is chemical contamination?  I do not use any chemical additives/medications (other than dechlorinator during water changes) and the fish food is fairly common (marine dry flakes, brine shrimp & Julian Sprung's red & green seaweed).  The tank is about 12 weeks old,.  The skimmer was working fine until skimmate production fell-off about 2 weeks ago and has since then stopped.  No foam is even evident in the skimmer's riser column. <Does sound like it> The only possible sources of chemical contamination that I can think are: 1.  A gasket on the thru bulkhead fitting on the sump is in contact with the water.  It was purchase at Sears Hardware.  I do not know if it is natural rubber or synthetic rubber. <No worries here. All such gaskets will be safe to put in a baby's mouth...> 2.  Cyanoacrylate glue (i.e., Superglue) was used to repair some synthetic decorations as recommended by the aquarium decoration manufacturer.  This glue was also used to secure black plastic covers over PVC pipe inside the tank to conceal it from view.  All glue was fully cured for about 1 week before use. <No problems here either> The water chemistry is fine (pH, salinity, temp, ammonia, nitrite & nitrate are normal).  The tank is fish only with no live rock.  Filtration via Eheim canister filters and a UV light. <Interesting> Do you think that the two sources above are significant?  Are there any home-tests that I can perform on the water to see if contamination is present to hinder foaming? thanks in advance cheers, Jeff <I would not worry re the current situation. You could change some water, add chemical filtrant, even add some live rock... and this would likely stir your skimmer to foam generation. Please see here re skimmer operation: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimmaintfaqs.htm and the many FAQs pages after. Bob Fenner>

Tunze skimmer tuning and Bio-load issues Dear Sir, My tank size is 100 gal with 100 lb live rock, 8 soft corals, 7 fishes - all 2-3 inches - 1 purple tang, 1 damsel, 1 flame angel, 1 juvenile Pomacanthus imperator, 1 pacific blue, 1 tomato and 1 other.   <do be mindful of the adult size of the Imperator and blue (angel or tang)> Water conditions : Alkalinity - pH 8.3, 12 dKH, ammonia and nitrite level close to 0, nitrate 15-20 ppm. I got 2 canisters, filled principally with carbon and PH rock  to maintain alkalinity. 8% Water change is carried out weekly. <my advice would be to increase this amount of water exchanged... too modest for this fish load especially as it matures. At least 15% weekly... more would be better> I do not have a sand bed,.   <no worries if nitrate control is not an issue> Tank bottom is covered by a layer of crushed  live rocks averaging 1.5 inch cubes. <too thick... I fear long term detritus accumulation here... thin by siphoning to .5 inch> The question is about my 3130 Tunze skimmer, <excellent unit> which produces about 80c.c of skimmate everyday but of brownish green colour, not the dark coffee colour that you always say is indicative of effective skimming. Is it to do with low bioloading or I did not tune my skimmer correctly?   <a matter of tuning likely if you feed your fishes 2-3 times daily (hopefully)> Your  advice please  as on how to ensure the setting is optimal (any physical observations apart from the conditions of the skimmate)?  The instructions on the manual do not help much. The skimmer has been in operation for about 2 months now. <no worries... easy to adjust. Leave the air full open as you likely have it now (as evidenced by the light and copious skimmate). Be sure to clean this air venturi regularly to maintain strong airflow too (distilled water soaks and rinse). To get darker skimmate, simply raise the body of the unit (keep it level) in slight daily increments of say .5 to 1" out of the water. Your model may have clips on rails to slide the unit up for this purpose. Else prop it underneath. The only other possible problem is the delivery of water. If the unit is not a surface mount in the display, then it needs a dedicated chamber in the sump which catches all overflowing raw water from above first (before anything else). This ensures optimal skimmate production for any skimmer. A fluctuating sump level instead (without the skimmer catch basin) will corrupt skimmate performance> I intend to add one or two fishes in order to have a complete range of colours in my tank. Yellow is the colour which is lacking. Any good suggestions? <I would not recommend any more fishes at all. The tank is not big enough already to allow the angel and blue (angel or tang) to reach adulthood in the long run. See their adult sizes confirmed at fishbase.org. You would essentially have two 12" fishes (the Imperator can actually grow much larger but it is unlikely) plus a purple tang which gets sizable (say 8") plus six other fishes in a mere 100gallons. It simply will be too much in the 2-5 year time frame. More importantly... these fishes live well over 10 years (Imperators are on record well over 20 years captive). Adding even more fish simply would not be prudent> Regards TFChow <kindly, Anthony>

Proper Tuning of Protein Skimmer? Good Evening! <<Nice Hitchcock <G>>> My order of LR came in today ( along with my copy of TCMA ). <<Wooo, Hooo>>  I'm unsure if my PS is properly tuned.  It's foaming like mad and I've emptied the cup 3 times in the last hour.  The skimmate looks to be regular tank water.  Am I overskimming, under skimming?  I've read that the first day or so of LR will cause a lot of foam, I'm just wondering if I'm skimming correctly.  Not to mention I'd like to be able to get more into the book than reading 4-5 pages and then having to stop to empty the cup.  <<Hard to say, not knowing the manufacturer! If this is an air adjustment, you might lessen the amount of air. If the cup is adjustable in the foam column, you might move it up a little. Maybe the manufacturer web site would help. Hang in there, the fun is only beginning!!!!>> Many Thanks. <<Your welcome, Don>> Scott

Re: Skimmer These inane questions will stop (or at least slow down) soon... I promise :) I wrote yesterday re: lighting for my 29 g,  Anyway, I went to Petco to pick up an inexpensive pump for conditioning my water-change reserve in the Rubbermaid container and Holy Clearance Batman!   I came across the Berlin Airlift 90 for $12.  I couldn't help myself, so I bought it.   After bringing it home and playing around with the fit in the empty tank, I think that with a Dremel, I think I can get it to fit my Eclipse 3 in the space to the right of the BioWheel and still have room for the thermometer.  Given the information I have read on the skimmers, would you recommend this course of action? I may have to Dremel the top so that part of the skimmer sticks out, but I can rig up a disguise so it isn't quite so unsightly.  Thanks a billion again for your assistance! John <This isn't our fave skimmer, but of it fits, why not? The price was right. The Eclipse tanks are hard to fit skimmers to. If it works, then it works! A skimmer is a necessity.  Craig>

Skimmer questions... sump level Hello Anthony, I am going to go with the Euro Reef CS6-1 on your recommendation. I am happy you speak the truth and have the most respect for you. <thanks kindly, my friend. Its a pleasure for us to serve the hobby> I have roughly 24" clearance in my stand and the CS6-1 stands 20" will this be a problem? <I have no idea, bud> What about leveling for optimal performance. <a dedicated box to catch all raw water from above first for the skimmer is critical. Do not simply place a skimmer or skimmer fed pump in a fluctuating sump... it ruins skimmate performance. You always need a static water level> I only ask you this before I buy it a realize I can't raise it high enough to perform. Can it be mounted on the outside of the sump? <not sure regarding your sump design> With all of these reasons in mind. One last comparison. Aqua C EV-120 only 18" in height Can this be mounted on the outside and I believe I read on this unit if the water is no more than 9" it doesn't need to be leveled. I am sorry that I ask so many questions, but this is a lot of money and I want to do it right. I stepped up from the Turboflotor because what you are recommending me.... so I trust your input. <I'd like to help, bud... but none is clear enough to give good advice here without seeing the set up. This is where fellowship with a good local aquarium society is crucial. There is nothing like seeing local installations of friends tanks in person. Do research at a local club... friendly local stores too that will show you their filtration. Reward their kindness by buying the skimmer through them> Either way you help me I am going to send a e-mail to the manufacture of "our" choice stating the help I received from you and this site... Thank you and I just about done and ready to purchase my skimmer. <thanks kindly... they deserve the recognition too> Just one of these two. The Aqua C EZ-120 doesn't come with a pump, but a Rio 2100 is recommended. I have one of these laying in my heap of filters! Do this power heads slow down after time of is it just the impeller getting magnetized? <I believe that all pumps wear appreciably in time> The Euro Reef comes with a pump.... so either way I am spending $300. Is the water level in the sump important to make a skimmer more efficient? <it is critical!> Thanks and this is it..... after this e-mail I am on my own and I can call the manufactures if I have problems setting up. I have read that Aqua C has great service and very good directions. <Aqua C is famous for their outstanding customer service. It improves the value of their product ever more> Thank you on your input about ETS skimmers and the Turboflotor, I believe in my mind you helped steer me away from the wrong skimmers for my need... thank you Paul <best regards, Anthony>

Skimmer Sizing Hello! I am buying equipment to set up a 270g tank.  I am reading that you want to have a 4-6 times turnover rate for the skimmer, to cover any type of fish/reef you may want to go with.  This would be 1080-1620gph.  The under tank cabinet height is 30" max.  I have a 36x21x20H wet/dry, with baffles between the mechanical and sump areas.  The bio ball area is 12.5x19".   So, if I understand everything correctly, I will not need the mechanical side if I have a good skimmer, and I could use this for skimmer space.  Or, I can use an in-line unit and save the space.  Do I need to supply the skimmer from a sump or can I do it directly from the overflow?   <Either way will work. The best results are had by feeding the skimmer overflow water which contains the wastes from the surface. The mechanical side can house a skimmer, live rock, etc. The skimmer doesn't have to be sized to the total volume turnover as most have their own pump when not hooked-up in-line, so they don't rely on or work within the 10-20 time turnover for reef tanks and have their own pump rate and needed skimming dwell contact time. I like the Euro-reef for this as they come with their own pump, etc. ready to go, they just need a specific depth range in the sump.> I have not been able to find a skimmer rated for 1080-1620 that is less than 30" tall.  The ETSS 1800 fits the size requirements, but is very expensive and has a min limit of 1400 gph, which is to high if I go with soft coral.  The ETSS 800 fits, but won't skim over 1000gph.  And the ETSS line is not preferred.   The Euro Reef line is too tall to get to the 1080-1620 gph range that fits in my sump. However, this seems to be the most favored brand, due to performance and ease of cleaning.  Is it best to get another sump that will fit the CS12-2 or 3? Do you have a suggestion?  Money (although always tight) should not dictate the best long term solution.  I think it is worth the investment now for the right selection. Thanks, Mike <I like Aqua-C's and Euro-reefs. You have a couple of choices....another sump if it allows more head room, or, if the proper size skimmer won't fit regardless, perhaps two smaller skimmers that will fit and process the volume of water you want. I would definitely recommend over sizing skimmers in any case. Many of the skimmer manufacturers recommend over sizing for reefs tanks. You may also want to look at Tunze skimmers, they have a couple models that may fit better for you. I would recommend their ratings for best skimmer efficiency.  Enjoy!  Craig>

Water film I have a 55 gallon reef tank four years old. Occasionally I get a film on the top of the water. My lighting is two 40 watt bulbs. One day light and one actinic bulb. I have a Sea Clone protein skimmer which filters up to 100 gallons. One power head on each side of the tank. Looking into the tank the water is crystal clear but looking through the glass up the film can be seen. Any ideas what can cause this occasional problem. thank you. Ceil <Proteins and wastes tend to collect on the surface, this is why overflow boxes work best for removing and routing them to the protein skimmer for removal. As this is an "occasional" problem, it is likely related to cyclical water conditions, perhaps from water changes containing various elements, a dirty or inefficient skimmer (Sea Clones are not particularly efficient), filter sponges or perhaps just before your water change or after dosing various elements, notably iodine. A skimmer box will surely remove it and water testing is in order as well.  Craig>

Protein Skimmer stopped working Dear Crew Member, My protein skimmer stopped working for about 3 or 4 days now.  No hint of foam is even evident in the riser column.  The protein skimmer is clean and the settings on the unit are within the manufacturers specs.  It was working well for may weeks. The only change to my aquarium was the addition of a store-bought titanium grounding probe, recommended by my local pet shop, to help my yellow tang get 'yellower' again. <The probe is not the cause here and it likely won't help the tangs color. More likely than not, either your water quality isn't very good, or you're not providing enough of the right foods for the tang> However, all my fish appear to be fine.  Here are some specs on my aquarium:150gal fish only marine tank with about 12 small 2" fish (no live rock or invertebrates) Eheim canister filters (glass/ceramic bio media, floss & carbon) AquaC protein skimmer (spray induction type) UV sterilizer light pH=8.2; ammonia=0; nitrite=0; nitrate=15ppm; salinity=1.022, temp=77 fish foods used = flakes, enriched frozen brine shrimp & red/green seaweed <Tang could use a vitamin c supplement like Selcon. Consider growing some macroalgae for food> Why did the protein skimmer stop foaming?  The only new additions lately was the grounding probe and a small blue hippo tang.  No chemicals have been added. Would overfeeding perhaps cause this? <Overfeeding would produce the opposite effect. Take the skimmer apart and clean...especially the venturi valves. Lack of air will stop a skimmer cold in its tracks> thanks for any advice...Jeff Jeffrey Makiel Linden, NJ <You're welcome! David Dowless>

More Efficient Skimming To Whom Ever Is Covering: <Scott F. covering tonight!> I would like to thank you in advance for assisting me in answering my questions. <Our pleasure!> I was informed by this website in the past that when I place my Aqua-C skimmer in my sump below that the overflow water (raw) should try and enter the skimmer area first, become skimmed, then exit to a filter pad if so desired before being returned by pump to main tank. <Yes- this is the best way to get efficient production from your skimmer> My questions is should I or can I heat glue a piece of plexi-glass to section off the skimmer section, then allow the skimmed water into second section where it will pass a filter pad and pumped back into main tank? Does this produce a better quality of water for the tank? <I think that this is a great idea. it will have the added benefit of reducing the potential bubbles that could get into the tank from the skimmer. Be sure to change or clean the filter pad regularly (like a few times a week) to avoid a build up of detritus and organics> Or should I just place the skimmer near the drain tube from my tank overflow, let the skimmer do its job and then place the return pump at end of sump to pump the water back into tank? <I personally like the first idea better!> Thanks again for your assistance. Regards, Mendy1220 <And thank you for stopping by!>

Skilter Question Just purchased a "Skilter 250" for the purpose of skimming my 55g FOWLR tank in conjunction with my Penguin 400.  (Not the best skimmer, I know I know….(now anyway))   It's been in for a week now and all that happens is a few big bubbles that make it to the top of the tube where they expire, nothing in the collection cup at all… I've tried the valve almost wide open for a day, half-way for a day, etc.  My LFS hinted that it takes a while for some sort of "build up" to occur in the tube before it really starts dumping skimmate.  By the way, I'm sure there's stuff in there to skim, tank is 9 months old, <... this is enough time for "build up"> 1 yellow tang, 1 hippo and 2 clowns. All tests are good, Nitrites 0, except for Nitrates (80ppm) Should I modify this thing, give it more time, or what? <Have seen some modifications... placing a fine airstone (hooked up to an air pump, with check valve...) with the stone inserted straight down the middle of the middle (with the cover left off the Skilter collector cup)... but, I would return this unit to the store if you really want a skimmer, save up and buy a real one. Bob Fenner> Thanks heaps, David

Re: Skimmers Good afternoon or morning whenever you get this and thank you in advance. I currently own a Red Sea Berlin (in Sump) skimmer for my 180 gallon reef. <sorry to hear it my friend> The tank is about 9 months old and I'm fighting some algae (hair) and I believe I am becoming a little dissatisfied with my skimmer. <we could write a small book with this sort of feedback that we hear weekly from aquarists on several such popular brands> It does not seem to produce the amount of skimmate that it should. <agreed> Reef keeping and nutrient management is not new to me so I won't get into that. I know you guys hype the AquaC brands of skimmers. <I do like them very much. Also partial to Euroreef skimmers> I was looking into the EV-240 or the Aerofoamer 824. The Aerofoamer seems to outclass the EV from the information I'm finding. <barely if so... but more importantly, the Aerofoamer is over engineered. More difficult to clean and maintain with those miserable thumb screws. Also more heat/power from pump likely.> As the saying goes you get what you pay for and the Aerofoamer is very pricey but I'm wondering if I should suck it up and just pay the piper to play in this field. What are your thoughts on each of the skimmers mentioned? <I think the Aerofoamer is overpriced, tedious and over-engineered (skims very well though). I feel that Aqua C products are one of the very best values on the market for skimmers. And I think that a Euroreef is a nice compromise between the two (as good or better than all for skimmate production... idiot proof and easy to clean) if you have the money for it. Best regards, Anthony>

Aqua C EV 180  with a Becket 1408 foam head Anthony I am sending the pictures of the Aqua c EV180 protein skimmer  with before and after with the Beckett 1408 foam head. It takes just 10 min to change it over, and it will get twice the dark skimmate per day in the cup. and much better control. The pump that was used for the Aqua C was not change to do this . Your help to polish the article would make it much better.    RGibson <thanks kindly, Ralph. All in good time. But thanks for contributing. We are tied up in the final edit of the book now at any rate... quite busy from the next month. Looking forward to your piece though! Kind regards, Anthony>

- Skimmer Cleaning - Hey Crew, <Hey to you. JasonC here...> I have a CPR Bak-pak II skimmer on a 54 corner tank that consists of several anemones, clams, crabs, polyps, and a clown and marine beta. <Sounds like more than a tank-full.> The skimmer seems to stop skimming after a week or two after I do a water change and do admit that there seems to be a build up of "gunk" in the neck of the cup.  Could this be the reason that I do not get proper skimming? <For certain. You should clean the collection  cup at the very least once a week, once a day would be ideal.> Or do you need to change the pump every year or two? <Or clean the pump every couple of months at the least.> Any advise as to how to tweak this skimmer would be much appreciated. <Sadly, there's not much you can do to this skimmer to tweak it - just keep it clean.> Best Regards, Michael J. Bukosky <Cheers, J -- >

Calcareous Tubeworms blooming from excess nutrients You mean that my protein skimmer should fill up weekly.  Mine doesn't. <I could probably guess your skimmer brand too. Seaclone... Prism...? Hmmm... at any rate, yes my friend: a well tuned and well designed skimmer should yield a full cup of dark skimmate daily in a tank that is stocked and fed well. 3-5 cups weekly is a minimum necessary from any tank and may not even be enough (as evidenced by algae blooms or blooms of filter feeding Syconoid sponges or worms as you have seen in your tank)> Should I do weekly water changes?  I haven't been.   <monthly is a bit frugal but can work if large enough (30-50%) and carbon is used weekly, tank is lightly fed, lightly stocked, skimmer works well...etc. Else, do consider small weekly water changes (10-25%)> I change carbon monthly. <excellent. Its even better to change 1/4 weekly (same monthly amount of carbon... just changed more often for improved water quality). So much has been written about nutrient control and skimmers in our archives... please do browse on wetwebmedia.com. Best regards, Anthony>

HLLE It looks like I've got HLLE to combat on my powder brown tang, and I have two questions after reading the FAQs: 1. Can Kent's Coral-Vite be used as a food additive?  The directions only site usage directly to tank, but it has potassium iodide and calcium iodide among its ingredients.  I can soak it onto O.S.I. Spirulina, or Hikari Daphnia. <You can/could, but I encourage you to also look into, get Selcon> 2. Do you have any knowledge on the usage of MelaFix (Tea Tree) for HLLE.  I thought that it might make sense to use this for the skin regeneration while I attack the core of the issue with diet additives and additional natural sunlight. <Yes... and I don't think it's appropriate here> The OSI Spirulina has always been the morning feeding, and they get more of the same plus krill for my puffer at night.  I also have Boyd's VitaChem (which lists no iodide, but it does have the micro algae).  I will also be doing weekly water changes from now on, which I was slacking off to every 2-3 weeks.  Finally, I'm off to buy some Nori shortly. Thanks for all the wonderful info on your site. <Thank you. Do also look into checking your water quality, keeping your skimmer in efficient operation. Bob Fenner>

Re: HLLE How does one measure the skimmer's efficiency? <By the quantity and quality of material removed, by the change in ones water quality measures, by the apparent improvement in the vitality of your livestock> I have a small Berlin Airlift which produces about a quarter inch of waste per week in the cup. But even if the yuck doesn't make it into the cup, it seems to collect on the walls of the tube prior to going over the edge.   The pump is a Tetra Deep 24-2, which goes to a two levered bi-valve.  This provides for some under gravel bubbles as well as skimmer operation. <Time to upgrade... big time. THIS is the tool (lacking) that is largely responsible for the HLLE you're experiencing> For water quality, I keep an ammonia alert in the tank. <This device is inaccurate and unreliable> I thought for sure that the recent power outages during the Santa Ana winds were going to kill my bio filtration, but there was never any ammonia build up, and my ph always tests ok.  I used to let a lot of green algae grow on the rocks thinking that this would reduce my nitrates, but since my tang has taken up residence, he has seen fit to nibble it all away. Are nitrates removed with the organic waste by the skimmer? <To some degree (comma or no) yes. Bob Fenner>

Re: HLLE I guess I should have prefaced my inquiry with the tank size.  We're only talking about a 30 gallon hex tank with 3 filter devices...the mechanical filter hanging off the back (Hot Magnum), the under-gravel filter, and the protein skimmer.  I know it's not a major league skimmer, but with only 3 inhabitants (5" puffer, 3" tang and 2.5" hawk) I figured the combination of filtration methods would be adequate.  No? <Thanks for the further input, but no... the puffer and tang produce much more "gunk" than your present skimmer is removing... and it's malaffecting their health, particularly the more sensitive tang. I would upgrade the skimmer. Once you see the amount of material further removed, and the tang improve you'll be a believer. Bob Fenner>

Re: I had to shorten skimmer tube Dear Bob, I have a 20 gallon aquarium and I just purchased a Visi-jet protein skimmer.  I had to shorten the tube so it would fit in the aquarium, which made the tube about half the original height.  Does this make the skimmer less effective? <Yes, it's designed, engineered to be as it comes>   Also,  It is producing an excessive amount of micro bubbles.  I adjusted the skimmer to the suggested adjustment. I tried turning it down so it didn't produce such a high level of bubbles, but I don't think it will produce foam at a lower level.  Is there something I can place on the output of the skimmer to break up the bubbles? Suggestions? <I would look into one of the vertically smaller air-driven types of skimmers. Sander's "piccolo" or even the Lee's domestic model and abandon the one you have. It can't be made to function in your depth system> Also, if I have good circulation in the tank are these bubbles bad for the fish, live rock and live sand or is this healthy for the tank? <Not too bad if they're 1mm. or greater in diameter... but a nuisance visually. If smaller than 1mm, can be trouble... a possible source of embolism related maladies.> I read in your articles that you didn't feel it was necessarily bad, however the bubbles are very excessive, and I wonder if they could be damaging in such a small environment. Thank you for your time and thoughts, Dawn <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

AquaC Skimmer Hello WWM Crew, just want to say, all of you do an excellent job here! <We thank you!> I just setup my 55g tank and have used many suggestions I have read here.  Everything is going fine so far… 65lbs LR, 50lbs Southdown sand, 1 dozen snails, ? dozen Scarlet Reef crabs, etc.  I am only about 1 month into it… and I don't want to rush it.  One minor problem I have been having is the AquaC Remora Skimmer.  It works great by the way!.. but the vibration from the Maxijet 1200 pump is driving me nuts… Is there a chance I have a bad one? <I'm not sure what kind of vibration you're talking about. I would look for some way to make the connection from the powerhead to the skimmer tighter...possibly add some padding in the area where the vibration is occurring. I have and continue to use Maxijet products and have never had a vibrating powerhead. Something may be wrong with either setup or the powerhead> So many people seem to love them.  I now need buy some powerheads for water flow, if my Maxijet isn't defective, I need to look for a different brand… which brand should I go with? <IMO most powerheads are created equal, with the exception of Zoo-med sweeping powerheads. They really are a total waste of money> Also I was thinking of setting up 1 powerhead in each back corner (total of two) crossing over each other.  What would be the right amount of gph for each of this powerheads for my 55g. <Don't worry. Buy high gph. You will never get too much circulation from a powerhead. Or have each blowing into the front panel of the tank...for the same purpose. I use the largest Maxijets available for my 100 gallon (I think about 260 gph). It still isn't much>   Thank you <You're welcome! David Dowless> -Brian   

RE: AquaC Skimmer I guess "vibration" wasn't the best wording for the pump itself... it is really a hum (loud)... that in turn seems to vibrate everything in the room... and since the pump is not touching anything except an adapter tube for the Remora... I can't see how to dampen it anymore... I am really nervous about adding two more of these and having it sound like a idling jetliner... do yours hum at all? Sorry to be a pain... I just can't see how this can be normal. Thanks again <Jason (Kim) and I have been over this issue (cheaper pumps... and their inherent shortcomings). Please look into replacing the pump with an Eheim... this will solve the noise problem, and the service factor (longevity, energy savings, less waste heat) will pay for itself in several months. Bob Fenner> -Brian

- Skimmer Production - Real quick Question...........why isn't my skimmer producing dark foam? <Could be the skimmer type, could be a lot of things...> the foam is dry but white and I know there's plenty of load on the tank. <Dry and white is good enough.> Thanks, love the site and bob's book ps........skimmer is in a 29 gal sump <PS, don't worry about this so much. Cheers, J -- >

Re: skimmate Hello, my friends, hello: <Hi Rich> Specs: 55gal all-glass, FOWLR, CPR Bak Pak 2R Skimmer, 25lbs LR.  I never get "black coffee" skimmate.  The best I get is green (foul-smelling, gut-wrenching awful green), while still getting an good amount per day or two. <You aren't going to get really dark, dark skimmate from a BakPak. A half a "skimmer cup" full a day, sometimes more depending on what you feed, etc. is fine.  The best skimmate is had from a well adjusted BakPak. The cup funnel should be 1/8" below the water level of the skimmer when the air valve is correctly adjusted. This is best seen as fine bubbles *just* making it down to the bottom of the skimmer return, before reversing direction and rising again into the collection/reaction chamber. I close the valve all the way (water will rise as pump pushes all water/no air) open the valve slowly until the water *just* reaches the lowest level (normal running water level) and then one half a turn more. Make sure your venturi is clean, pump and ports are clean, and view the skimmer from the side to be sure the above conditions are right. If not (clogged venturi/port/etc. it will not put out enough air/fine bubbles to skim.> Questions: 1) Should I slow down the output and wait more days for the darkest possible?  I have been reading you should get a cup per day. <Nope, set it to get as much of the darkest skimmate a Bak pak will produce. Pretty dark green gooey tea...for dolphins or something.!> 2) How about a cup's worth in a single day no matter how dark? <Nah, quality over quantity!> 3) Is that a cup, as in 8 ounces, or as in a skimmer cup? <Half or more of a skimmer cup per day.  Sometimes it will be more (try feeding shrimp to an anemone with a Bak pak, it will foam and even overflow at times!) and sometimes less.> 4) This becomes the quality vs. quantity issue, right? <Yep. more or less.> I only have 4 Damsels, 1 Emerald Crab, 2 snails and a Red Reef Hermit. The tank is only 4 months old. 5) Is it a not-enough-bio-load issue? <maybe.  Just make sure your skimmer is running right, is well adjusted and pulling in the right amount of air. No worries!  Craig> Thanks, again!  Rich

Re: skimmate Hello, my friends, hello: Specs: 55gal all-glass, FOWLR, CPR Bak Pak 2R Skimmer, 25lbs LR.  I never get "black coffee" skimmate.  The best I get is green (foul-smelling, gut-wrenching awful green), while still getting an good amount per day or two. Questions: 1) Should I slow down the output and wait more days for the darkest possible?  I have been reading you should get a cup per day. <You're doing fine... as per the rest of your note here> 2) How about a cup's worth in a single day no matter how dark? <The actual "a good cup a day" is too gross a generalization> 3) Is that a cup, as in 8 ounces, or as in a skimmer cup? <Depends on the actual make-up of a system, livestock, feeding...> 4) This becomes the quality vs. quantity issue, right? <A bit of both> I only have 4 Damsels, 1 Emerald Crab, 2 snails and a Red Reef Hermit. The tank is only 4 months old. 5) Is it a not-enough-bio-load issue? Thanks, again!  Rich <You are correct. Bob Fenner>

Throw Another Shrimp In The...Skimmer? Greetings crew, <Hey! Scott F. here with you!> While preparing to remove my Red Sea Berlin HOT skimmer for its almost monthly cleaning (will be upgrading to a Remora Pro very soon! the Berlin hot makes a "decent" amount of brown skimmate weekly, but not more than 16oz a week. plus I'm getting tired of cleaning the venturi etc..) I noticed a good deal of tiny Mysis and a few copepods residing inside that must have gotten pumped in. <That happens on occasion! I know it sucks to do this, but consider twice a month, or more frequent cleanings...You will definitely get better performance from a clean skimmer.> I would like your opinion on dumping the remaining water in the skimmer and its precious cargo back into the tank. <I'd dump the water, and pour the Mysis into a net to reintroduce them> When turning off my skimmer pump, there's always some brown bubbles and goo that drip from the collection cup back into the skimmer. Its probably not more than a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon worth of stuff. <Not a whole lot that you can do about that...I wouldn't worry too much> My tank is literally swarming with Mysis and copepods as it is, but I figured why throw away some great Pterosynchiropus splendidus food, right? <That's what I'm talking about, man! Rock on!> Thanks for your time! Emerson <And thanks for writing! Regards, Scott F>

- Skimmer Tuning - Hi WWMCrew- <Hi, JasonC here...> Local store sold me a skimmer and pump. Water is well below the water line mark on the skimmer. When turned on I get lots of bubbles in the sump and therefore in the display tank. I spoke with the local shop and he swapped out the pump and the water rose slightly, very slightly. Still way below the water line mark. I don't have as many bubbles getting into the sump but the only way to not get any bubbles is turning down the air to zero, yes 0, meaning the skimmer is useless. Should a larger pump take care of this if he suggests another pump. <I'm not really sure a new/larger pump would be the correct solution. You should be able to restrict the effluent from the skimmer with a valve. If this skimmer doesn't have one, then perhaps you should consider exchanging it for one that does... or doing a retro-fit yourself.> He said I can return the skimmer if I am not happy. The only other local store sells Berlin Turbo skimmers and Aquaria Life Systems (A counter current style). Should I try one of those and if so which do feel would work the best? <You may have to or turn to ordering it through the Internet.> Would either of the two mentioned be better or just as bad as what I've got? <Hard to say from my side of the desk... it's really more of a factor of how it performs in your system, and as you've seen already... there are limitations - water level in the sump, strength of the pump, etc.> The one I currently have is a Sea Life. <Hmmm... I'm not sure these have valves on the output side of the skimmer, but they should. Is the only way to deal with varying water levels in the skimmer.> Oh- the local store where I got this first one said give it time as I only have live rock in the tank and with fish it would get better- hum. <Not if that water level doesn't come up, but still... I would give it some time as all skimmers need a week or so to break in.> Any help would be great from you great ones. Thanks <Cheers, J -- >      

New System Setup Thank you Scott!  So far so good!  I have the sump setup and new Aqua-C Urchin Pro working. <Great! Glad to hear it. That Urchin is one cool skimmer, huh?> Two more quick questions please.  The siphon U-tube is a bit to large to allow me to close the tank lid as it sticks out to far from the back of the tank wall.  Must the Siphon tube be ridged, or can a flexible piece of 5/8" tubing be used? <Well, rigid siphon tubes can be problematic at times...I couldn't imagine the potential problems that could arise with a flexible one...I'd keep the rigid one and cut out (or have a pro do it) a section of the lid. Of course, the ultimate solution would be a drilled internal overflow...but that entails starting over again..> Also, since I replaced the power head in the tank with the outflow from the sump (Mag 5 pump at 4' below output should be 300+ gallons per hour), will  the outflow provide enough current in my tank?  It is a 37 gallon oceanic show tank. Thanks again! Bryan <Well, Bryan, depending upon the types of animals you are keeping, 8-10 turnovers per hour is not too bad. You can always add more circulation if you feel that it is needed, of course. I think that, if you could swing it- a more powerful pump would be a bit better. Or, perhaps you could construct a "closed lop" for extra circulation...Lots of possibilities if you're a bit crazy and creative! Good luck, and have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Defective protein skimmer? Hi WWM, thank you for everything.  I am writing to ask about a possible problem I may be experiencing.  I have a 180 gallon tank that has been set up for about three weeks now and lately I've notice a lot of brown algae or diatom outbreak after I placed 50# of live rocks. <Normal and expected> I've read a lot about diatom outbreak and protein skimmer on WWM and I learned from the WWM crew that the number one solution to a healthy tank and to get rid of brown algae is to use an efficient protein skimmer producing a couple cups of dark stuff a week. <Yep> The problem is, I have a SeaLife pro 200 wet dry filter with a built in  protein skimmer, which I've been hearing nothing but bad remarks, well.. anyways, it doesn't seem to skim anything at all!! Nothing is coming out of the collection cup for about 4 days now. <You should be getting stuff especially from a tank with new live rock> I've followed all the instructions and everything, but it is still not working.  Is this a bad protein skimmer?   <Not familiar with the brand> Is there anything I can do to solve this problem? <If the skimmer has any kind of adjustments (water through the skimmer, venturi, etc., work with these at different levels. Also the water level around the skimmer is very important so be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions on this matter> Because with a diatom out break, I figure that the skimmer should be working at top peak, but it just won't budge.  Help me!!!!!!!!!! <Try what I suggested. I wouldn't toss this skimmer yet> Thanks! =0)  -PHT- <You're welcome! David Dowless>

Re: skimmers I have a 55g tank with a Fluval 404, 40 lbs of live rock, a 2 in bed of crushed coral with a 2 in bed of live sand on it. I am planning on a reef and fish tank. I have 2 small damsels right now. I am trying to find a skimmer that will sit in the cabinet under the tank. I don't not have much room to put a hang on filter. Is there anyway to run a skimmer off the filter and then return it to the tank? Thanks for your help, S. Harrell <Hi Stephen, Check out the marine set-ups on WetWebMedia.com.  Skimmers work best when skimming the surface water, usually through a skimmer box/overflow which takes the top, nutrient rich layer of water. Your Fluval canister takes water from deeper in the tank and lacks the proper flow rate for most skimmers to work properly. I would advise either a hang-on like a Remora Pro, or a skimmer contained in a sump which sits in the cabinet. The problem with this set-up is the overflows required for existing glass tanks. There is much more on these topics at WetWebMedia.com or in any number of good books on setting up reef/marine tanks.  It would pay handsomely to look into this quite a bit more before you jump.  That's half the fun!  Do also look at the live sand section of WetWebMedia.com and figure out what you want to do with your substrate before you add anything further. You might consider mixing these different substrates together to avoid trapping detritus, wastes, etc.  Enjoy! Craig>

Re: 2 skimmers? Hi guys, Thank you for taking time to reply to my questions. I have a 80 gal bow tank filled with 2" of crushed coral & 65 lbs. of LR. Now From the pre-filter ( 4x9) , the water flows through bio balls, up to a protein skimmer, then flow over a 10"W x 4" top w/ drainage holes flowing through bio balls, then to Rio 2100 pump to the tank. Would I be better off taking the area where the water flows over the balls from the 10 x 4 top out, and replacing it with another identical skimmer ( venturi ) ? This is a FOWLR tank as well.    Also how long should my tank be running if this is a good option? Any other thoughts or tips on these systems would be appreciated ! Thank you ! D. Mack <Mornin, if you current skimmer is functioning well, I do not see any need for a second one.  You might consider removing the pre filter and placing the skimmer before the bio balls, that way the skimmer is taking in the raw surface water and you do not have prefilters going biological on you.  There is a ton of info on marine filtration at the following URLS.  check them out and let us know if you have any more questions.  Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm >

Is two cups too much: Skimmate Anthony   Is two cups of the dark liquid per day from the protein skimmer to much from a 180 gal reef tank with a few fish and feeding them one time a day?       RGibson <not at all... sounds very efficient. I would rather deal with replacing trace elements via water changes and feeding in a well skimmed tank, rather than struggle with the same actions in a poorly skimmed tank with high DOC levels. Kudos, Ralph... it sounds like your skimmer is nicely tweaked! Anthony>

- A 'brief question - Pre filter/skimmer J-tubes losing prime <Greetings, JasonC here...> Hello and thank you so very much for providing the time to answer so many repetitive questions for all of us reef lovers  :-) I'll try to make this brief so we can get right to the meat of my problem. <I looked ahead... it's not exactly what I would call brief ;-) > I have a 55 gallon acrylic fish/live rock/coral salt water aquarium with wet-dry sump (minus bio balls as this was causing a nitrate' fest so I pulled em out). The sump has a Berlin turbo skimmer and a few power heads for circulation and one leading to a 10 gallon refugium I have set up in the adjoining cabinet about 3 feet away with a gravity fed return to the main sump.  The refugium is on a reverse daylight schedule and houses Chaetomorpha macro algae, as I am not a big fan of Caulerpa and all of the toxic headaches it has caused so many others in the hobby-addiction :-P Anyway, my problem is this.... I have the "dreaded" hang on the back prefilter box with two "J"-tubes as suction, leading down two 1 1/4" drain hoses into my trickle filter in the sump. Problem is, ........POWER FAILURES Ughhhhh!!! What happens is that the J-tubes seem to lose their prime when the power goes out, and the tubes partially empty, or sometimes fully empty. <That is the nature of the beast.> Then when the power comes back on, the return sump pump begins pumping water into the main tank and the tank overflows all 10-15 gallons of sump water all over my wood floor. Yes, ...that's what I love the most...warped wood. Anyway, I'm just not up to draining the main tank completely and drilling a bulk head fitting with a stand pipe and some form of internal filter box siliconed to the inside of the tank.  I just cant do it. <Then instead perhaps you'll enjoy replacing the floors more so...> So, I am asking your professional opinion on how I can remedy this situation of the J-tubes losing their prime in the hang on back prefilter/skimmer. <You can't...> It's a typical setup that comes with most pre made wet/dry systems. you know...comes complete with the twin black drain hoses, etc. If you don't think you can come up with some type of reconfiguration of the J-tubes and housing, then perhaps I'll have to resort to the disgusting method of rigging a power head from the main tank via a tube into the sump, so that when power returns, at least the tank will have water "pumped" back into the sump. That's VERY unsightly and am hoping to get around having to do that. <You could always drill the tank ;-) > Please help if you can. <I think you already have a good grasp on how you can help yourself.> Warmest regards, and thank you again for providing assistance to those of us in need. Steve <Cheers, J -- >

Tunze skimmer Hello, probably a question for Anthony: I just got a Tunze 230/3 but the instructions don't say a whole lot.   <yes... alas, it is common with imports. Fortunately, this well-designed model is simple enough> In your faq's I've read that once it's "tuned" it's very low maintenance, <yes, remarkably so> is tuning it simply turning the one air control?   <nope... even easier. At least at first. Tune air flow almost to full bore. There is no water flow adjustment... that is plug and play (full bore). Thus, the only adjustment that you have to make on this model for your specific system (assuming you have it in a place where there is no change in water level (as all skimmers or skimmer pumps should be), you only need to slide the skimmer up or down slightly to affect the quality of skimmate. If you get no skimmate or very little dry/dark matter... lower the skimmer body 1/2" daily until wet dark skimmate is produced. On the contrary, if very watery skimmate is collected (clear or yellow), then raise the skimmer daily in 1/2 intervals. If this is a top/rail mount unit then you just slide it up and down the clips. If it is a sump model, you should have the unit in a skimmer box that catches all overflowing water (non-fluctuating water level) before overflowing into the sump (fluctuating level). In this application, you can simply prop the skimmer up with plastic eggcrate or pieces of PVC (whatever) until you get to the ideal depth> What should I observe when it is best tuned?   <when you can start with a clean cup and next and then collect a full cup of dark skimmate (like coffee), you have it tuned> Any other info on this skimmer would be much appreciated!  Thanks! Mike <no worries, bud... you'll love this skimmer after its tweaked (days to weeks). I have purchased 5 or 6 for my own use in the last 15 years. Excellent skimmers. Anthony>

Where Did That Dark Skimmate Go? Greetings WWM crew! <And hello to you! Scott F. at your service!> I recently had a problem with some of my fish looking as though they were getting ich or some other bacterial or fungal infection. In the morning when the lights had just come on they appeared rather dusty-looking and in the evenings they just had cloudy eyes. In order to get the three of them out I essentially had to remove every rock in the tank. <Not fun, but necessary!> Since I had to do this I took the opportunity to do some late spring cleaning to the tank. I vacuumed every bit of the gravel and replaced almost 50 gallons of water. After I got all of the rocks rearranged ( quite nicely actually, I enjoy the change ) and added the water back I turned all of my equipment back on. This was yesterday and ever since then my skimmer has been producing a skimmate that is essentially all water with a slight smell of normal skimmate. Any ideas why this may be, suggestions? <Sounds like the skimmer needs to be adjusted for air/water flow. By changing the water and stirring up the substrate, there may have been some water chemistry changes, which are making the skimmer yield different substances in the skimmate. It's definitely possible that the specific gravity may be lower than it was previously, or the water level in the tank may have changed slightly when you re-arranged the rock. These are things that have a direct impact on skimmer performance. I'd make some adjustments until the skimmer once again yields the dry product that you want.> I have a Seaclone 150 in my sump which may or may not be a quality skimmer( its done well for me I guess, I don't have another to compare it to ). <It may not have a great reputation, but if it is producing dark, yucky stuff a few times a week, it's a winner!> Anyway your feedback, as always, is much appreciated. Here is my tank's MO: 125 gallon AG 30 gallon Sump 65 lbs. LR (various) 60-70 lbs. base rock (various) 2.5"-3" Aragonite and sand substrate 3 x 250W MH 5.5K 2 x 96W PC True Actinic Large Tube Anemone 3" Clam (?derasa?) 3" Pencil Urchin unidentified corals and sponges growing on LR 2 Green Chr. (1.5") 2 Firefish Gob. (2") 1 Clarkii Clown (1.5") 1 Yellow Tang (3") 1 Coral Beauty (2") <Sounds like a nice mix of animals; not too heavily stocked!> Temp = 78 pH = 8.3 Ca+ = 400 PO4 = 0 Fe = 0 NH3 = 0.3 NO2 = 0 NO3 = >10 sp. gr. = 1.022 <Ammonia should be undetectable...Keep checking to verify this, okay?> One more question. What would you recommend for flow rate through my sump per hour with the info you have from above? I have 2 300W heaters, Skimmer, and lots of Carbon and Phosphate pads in the sump. I need to upgrade my pump and possibly overflow soon because I feel that the tank is not turning over enough times per hour for the equipment to properly function. My overflow is the Tidepool SOS ( 600gph max ) and my pump is a Laguna ( 385gph, although much less at the head I'm pushing. Actually quite embarrassing ). Do you think that my overflow will be adequate or should I go for something with a larger capacity? <Well, I'd like to see the tank turn over around 8-10 times per hour at a minimum (many SPS freaks go for 20 + tank turnovers and hour!). You may need to modify the overflow to get more water flow. Definitely worth some research!> Any suggestions on submersible pumps? <The "Mag Drive pumps work well. The ya did some heat to the water, but the added power is a good trade-off, IMO> Thanks again, hope this isn't too long for you. Stephen Baker <Certainly not too long, Stephen. And you system seems fine- really, just a few minor modifications will make things even better! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Skimmer Bubble Problems Hello, I have had a 46gal reef tank set up since September. I first purchased a Aqua C Remora from the internet cause of all the good reviews it was given. It worked good but put too many micro bubbles back into the tank making it look terrible. <Just build a simple skimmer box to hold this skimmer water before it enters the tank> The instructions said the bubbles would subside after a few days which they didn't. So I turned the skimmer off and naturally the bubbles disappeared. I know a skimmer is vital to a reef tank so this left me perplexed!! <If it's pulling nasty stuff out of the water, you had best keep it going. Hair algae and other nasties are always lurking just around the corner> So I was running my tank without a skimmer for about 2 months and everything seemed to be fine but I knew I needed a skimmer. I recently purchased a Red Sea Prizm and now I am getting the same results with the bubbles. <This item is certified crap by many hobbyist's standards...and it's loud! Sell it on EBay!> I read the instructions and it says to turn the flow down which I did but still am getting a slower rate of many micro bubbles which make the tank cloudy, I can't live with this. I have tried putting blue filter floss in the output flow to try and stop the bubbles but not working effectively. Do you have any solutions or adjustments that I might be overlooking or is this bubble thing a normal occurrence. Thanks for you time. <First I would write both of these companies and get their suggestions. What you need is a skimmer box to catch and filter these bubbles. I think that Aqua C makes a box for this express purpose. Write or call them and see. David Dowless> Jim Stephen

A bad night - ammonia, bubbles, noise Hi again Anthony Thanks for the reply about the mushrooms.  I will proceed with feeding them once the current crises have abated, <understood and agreed> if any are left.  And thank you for telling me I can save my star polyps.  I now seem to be having several minor crises at once pertaining to setting up this new (used) 115 gal tank and need some advice about how to proceed.  Please forgive this very long painful email, I am nearly drowned in saltwater, my house has a huge noise and the smell of rotting marine life permeating it, and it's two in the morning.  This is on par with a night on call in neonatal intensive care.  (Only I had better luck with babies on ventilators.) <my goodness... the yeoman's chore!> The setup: 1.  The tank itself has been in my living room for 48 hours with water (~60gal), substrate (original, used, live), heater, large powerhead.  I was waiting for it to settle out enough, and for me to generate enough RO water, that I could fill it up, move the live rock back in, and start running the skimmer. <Hmmm... get that skimmer running ASAP anywhere the curing matter is. It should have been improvised from GO and will save a lot of lives and work for you> 2.  The live rock, several snails, crabs, and 1 sand-sifting starfish have been in a big tub with heater and powerhead in the bathroom, waiting for the tank to become habitable. 3.  I have those little ammo-alert ammonia indicators with suction cups in both places, but I discovered tonight that my actual test kit is empty, because I never need to use it. <indicator discs and test strips are unreliable in the worst ways. They can predict the next president as easily as they can read water chemistry with accuracy> 4.  I didn't bring any of the original water, but have either generated or purchased all of it since Saturday, heated, aerated, salted to 1.024. Tonight I decided to proceed - substrate was settled and I finally had enough water.  So I added the water, the overflow overflowed, and I started the pump and skimmer (that was all running just lovely and fine at this other guy's house for 4 years).   <he says? <G>> I was getting worried about the tub in the bathroom - starting to smell bad though the ammonia alert read zero, <understood... I do believe there was ammonia indeed> so I moved in the live rock as well. Problems: This took a while. So now it's 2am and I have suddenly an "alert" level of ammonia in the tank - this is level 2 of 4 levels of badness on the little indicator (sorry-test kit empty), and I have about ten zillion little air bubbles in the tank, and a huge noise in one overflow box. <the pump has been cleaned or was oversized from go... it is out pumping the overflow (hence the noise). Also, something is introducing bubbles into the sump and/or not blocking the inevitable ones from the overflow crash... these bubbles are getting aspirated through the pump. The other possibility is a pin-hole leak on the outflow side of the return pump plumbing causing a venturi> 1. What is the most likely thing I did wrong that allowed this ammonia spike?  I really didn't expect this tank to cycle given the large amount of healthy substrate and LR. <his/your handling of the rock in transport... poor live rock and coral (mushroom) health to begin with... lack of aggressive water flow in the holding tank at home> 2. I know this will go away in time, but in the meantime what in the world should I do with the snails and crabs and starfish? <for peace of mind... they can be put in a bucket that sits in the sump (lip out of water) to stay heated but the running tank water bathing around it but not contaminating it with ammonia. Then you can just do a quick and painless daily water change on this little bucket until the tank calms down. You may not even need an airstone if you change enough water> (I'll tell you what I did- I put 3 of them in my clean, occupied quarantine tank with SG 1.019, and put the rest in the sump of the big toxic tank, and I'm hoping some will survive until morning. I just couldn't violate my rule and put them in my nice healthy little reef, even though I know I might be killing them with either NH3 or hyposalinity.) >3. I realized that what I thought was stirred-up substrate in the tank is actually my entire system filled with air bubbles.  I have been messing with things for about an hour but haven't managed to stem the flow of tiny air bubbles from the sump with skimmer into the tank.   <a course foam block on the intake of the pump will work as a quick fix. The air bubbles are likely coming from the skimmer having too much water flow through it. Or a poor skimmer design.  Do tell what kind of skimmer you have and perhaps we can help improve the situation> I can't seem to alter it by playing with skimmer, position of pumps, or valves on the flow tubes.  There is no vortex/whirlpool around the pump intake, that's the only thing I really know to look for.  Please name some common causes I can look for, I'm new to this overflow thing, but I swear I set it up just like the other guy had it. <no worries... likely a response to a good cleaning and better flows all around> 4. Also, my entire house is filled with this tremendous gurgling sound from one of the two overflow boxes.   <another common problem with commercial reefs... undersized overflows> I can't figure out what is different between that one and the one that is quiet.   <simple resistance... level, run of pipe, a bend, extra elbow, etc downstream. Perhaps the gurgling one has its outlet to the drain releasing under water while the other one is slightly above (release air and is quieter)> Please name some common causes of this. <easily corrected as per above> I don't know what you need to know to advise me on this or I would give you more detail.  The pipes are rigid 2" PVC, not hoses. I really appreciate the time you guys spend slogging through lists of stupid problems!  (This is when I wish I wasn't the only reef person I know - I need a reef support group for stuff like this.) Tracy :) <no worries at all, dear. We will get this worked out and you can relax in front of this tank as a release from your tough job very soon :)

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