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FAQs about Skimmer Operation/Maintenance 9

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System Review-Skimmer HELP - 12/23/03 Bob, <Adam here today, at your service!> Ok, I've spent untold hours doing research and reviewing this site.....first s/w tank...extensive f/w exp (discus, live plants, etc).  Mostly fish, maybe a few coral later....Here's my plan 40 gal tank 40 lb live sand 50 lb live rock Magnum HOT (mech/chem) 2 X Eheim Aquaball Powerhead Moonlight 2 X 65 (unless there's a better choice in this $ range for 24" max length) Heater <Sounds like a good plan in general, but the HOT power filter is probably unnecessary.  Lighting options are limited at such a short length, but 2' VHO is an option.  50lb of rock sounds like a lot.  If you get good quality open structured rock (think Marshall Islands or Kaelini), you could probably use ~30 lb.  Especially with better more open rock, the old rule of 1-1.5 lb of rock per gallon is a gross overestimate (unless you are using aquaculture Florida rock which tends to be very dense).> DYING trying to decide on a hang on skimmer...down to AquaC Remora and Tunze System Hang-on (with possible future osmolator add on for water level mgt.) I like the size/looks of Tunze....all the great posts and comments on the Remora... <For that size tank, any of the quality hang on's will perform well.  CPR backpack, Remora, Tunze, Deltec, even the Red Sea Prism Pro.  German skimmer users are like German car drivers...  They tend to be a bit fanatical and happy to pay a premium for some performance benefits that some would find unnecessary.> Which is quieter?  Compare effectiveness?  Maintenance? <I don't have the first hand experience with all of them, but I have heard outstanding reviews of the Remora, Tunze and Deltec.  The Remora is probably the best bang for the buck, and since the Tunze and Deltec hang *inside* the tank, they will take up valuable space.  I doubt that noise will be an issue with any of them.  Regular maintenance is pretty simple on all, but the German machines are more complicated to tear down for major cleaning.> Help...general comments on proposed setup also welcome.  thx!  Rick <Hope this is beneficial!  Adam>

- Turn Off the Bubble Machine... - Hello Crew, First I want to say that your site is just amazing.  I am new to the hobby and have learned so much from you all. <I'm glad you find the site useful.> I have a new 180g reef.  It was cycled with live rock and sand and now has a few mushrooms and brains, along with a few small fish.  I am having a terrible problem with micro bubbles in my system ever since I first turned on my protein skimmer (Euro Reef CS8-2). After I turn the skimmer back on from cleaning it every couple of days, the water column is so full of bubbles that you can hardly see anything and all the creatures try to hide.  It eases off after an hour or so, but the water always has a lot of micro bubbles (24 hours per day).  It is very distracting when looking at the aquarium and am wondering if it has any health consequences on the fish/life in the aquarium. <No... this won't harm your tank's occupants.> When I shut the skimmer off for ten minutes, the water is crystal clear - as soon as I turn it back on it is cloudy.  The diffusing sponge for the skimmer is on the exit pipe and the skimmer sits in my 30 gallon sump along with the two micron bags that filter the two 2" drains coming in from the tank.  I can see millions of micro bubbles pouring into the sump water from the skimmer exit pipe.  I am wondering if this is a normal thing, or if I might have a defective skimmer some how. <I doubt the skimmer is defective, but there could be issues with the design of your sump... perhaps not a large enough settling chamber or baffles that would help keep some portion of the bubbles in the sump. This may also be due in part to the skimmer being brand new - most skimmers need some time to break in and until that happens their performance is a little off.> I would really love to fix this problem as it is quite unattractive with such a beautiful tank.  Any help you could provide me with would be much appreciated. <Do give it another week or two before you do anything drastic. I'd also contact the folks you bought it from... perhaps they've seen this problem before and know the cause exactly.> Sincerely,  Joe <Cheers, J -- >

Skimmer noise solution for Red Sea Classic - 10/28/03 Morning Crew, Just a quick follow-up to last week's conversations about excessive skimmer noise from my new RedSea Classic. The company did indeed send me a new impeller assembly for the Berlin Turbo pump as promised and it has solved the problem nicely. The new part had a slightly different design than the original which leads me to wonder if they're aware of a problem. <perhaps....> Regardless, the unit is now quiet. <Very glad to hear>Thanks again for you help, and keep up the terrific work with your site. Randy C. P.S.: Also as you suggested, I've ordered and anxiously await my copies of "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and "Reef Invertebrates". <Excellent. Thank you>

Fitting A Skimmer Into A Tight Spot Hi. <Hi there! Scott F. with you!> I have a almost 3 week old 75 gallon SW set up with 50# live rock and live sand, also I have currently 5 damsels to help the cycle go faster, and I plan to add a valentini puffer, zebra moray, Copperband butterfly, and a yellow tang. <Woahh! Way too much bioload for this sized tank...Please re-think your stocking plan...> I know that these fish produce a lot of waste <Ummm- yeah!> ...so I have a Sea Clone 100 skimmer on the back of the tank....I have conducted more research and found this skimmer is inadequate for this tank, is this true? <It has a less than sterling reputation among many of our readers...> If so, What skimmer would I need to purchase, I was thinking about the Berlin Classic. <Lots of good ones out there. I like Aqua C EV Series skimmers, or the Aqua C Remora Pro if you want a H.O.T. skimmer. Euroreef is also excellent> I have another problem, the tank is pushed up against the wall and I only have a couple inches so a hang on the back skimmer will not work I think, so what are my options? Thanks-Wazuph2o- <Okay...Well- if you're using a sump- the Aqua C or Euroreef would do the trick. If you don't have a sump, your options may be quite limited, unless you use a skimmer that can mount internally, like a Tunze "Universal" model...The only other solution might be the worst...Draining and moving the tank out from the wall if you need to use a H.O.T. skimmer...In the end- do what will work best. However, by all means- please revise the stocking plan...You and your fishes will be much happier in the long run! Regards, Scott F>

Skimmer Placement >Hello to all! >>Hello to one!  Marina tonight. >I have a question on where to place my AquaC remora skimmer.  I have a 65gal reef w/ a gravity feed 20gal refugium.  My tank is being filtered by the refugium and a canister filter.  I've had the skimmer hanging on the back of my tank w/ the surface skimmer box for about 7 months now.  If possible I would like to place it in my refugium just to get it out of the display tank.  My refugium is built out of a 20H and features one piece of glass dividing the incoming water from the rest. The refuge is being fed by a small maxi power head. Would my skimmer perform just as well if I placed it in my refugium?  Thanks,  Jason -Surfs Up! >>I don't see why not.  Give it a try, I say.  Marina

Protein Skimming or Activated Carbon...Or Both? Does carbon treatment and Protein Skimming do the same thing? <Good question. They both do assist in removal of dissolved organic compounds. However, carbon can also remove substances that discolor the water, such as tannins, some dyes, etc. Protein skimming does a great job removing many of the same substances, but uses the principle of electrostatic attraction to "grab" dissolved organics and "stick" them to the surface of bubbles. A good skimmer will remove a tremendous amount of materials from the water, and, unlike carbon, a skimmer does not have a "useful life". However, in order to do the best job possible, a skimmer needs to be cleaned regularly (like weekly or more often). Ironically, the very "crud" that a skimmer removes so well can accumulate and inhibit foaming! By keeping your skimmer clean, you're assured that it will perform at its best at all times.  In the end, I think that a marine system should be run with BOTH carbon and skimming. Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.>

- Turboflotor Installation - Hi all, <Good day!> After much research, based upon input from fellow reefers, suggestions on this site and basic criteria involving the parameters of my tank, I decided upon an Aqua Medic Turboflotor T-1000 as a skimmer. Finally ordered and received the skimmer...the set-up directions SUCK!!! <They [AquaMedic] have some odd assumptions.> Nothing seems to really fit with anything else. <The inherent idea is that you are 'supposed' to feed the skimmer with water directly from the tank, and then have the pump as an air/water-mix induction.> And I had no idea that I was STUCK with a Rio pump...HELP!!! <That's not the end of the world... these pumps work fine providing that you clean them regularly, and you need to do this with other brands of pumps anyway.> Now I have a skimmer that has awful directions as far as how to set it up, nothing seems to fit, one part seems to be broken (not really on the diagram, so I'm not sure, but it seems pretty broken to me) and I'm also stuck with a Rio when I ordered a Mag 7 (to upgrade from the Rio) but the needle wheel impeller won't fit on a Mag 7. <Complications for certain... you should really contact the people you bought it from, or even AquaMedic directly if it seems parts are missing. You might also want to read our Turboflotor FAQ - might be some useful information there: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/turboskimfaqs.htm > Ideas??? <You could use the Mag 7 and the Rio - plumb the Mag 7 in as a main pump, and use the Rio for the needle-wheel.> Suggestions??? <Hmm... again, I'd be calling the people I bought it from.> Help??? <Do try with both pumps, I think many people use it this way.> Diagram, better than the manufacturer's??? <Sorry, no... but a good idea to produce one.> Kind regards, Misty <Cheers, J -- >

- Turboflotor Installation, Follow-up - Thanks for you input and direction. <My pleasure.> I've heard really great things about this skimmer, most of them in your FAQ's. <Well, it's certainly not junk - just bad instructions.> Just kinda strange to get something with so many parts and so little input... don't ya think they'd sell more if they made it a little easier ? ;-).  I'm a former marketing director... hmmm... maybe they could use a consult. <Perhaps.> I'll try with both pumps, and I do try to clean everything at least once a month, so what's a couple of more... <Glad to hear it.> Thanks again... can't wait to get this thing up and running (but first I need to get a bigger sump...fun, fun).  I love how this hobby makes you an electrician, a plumber and a carpenter (not good at that one yet) all in one day! <True dat.> Kind regards, Misty <Cheers, J -- >

General skimming - 9/25/03 Crew: Thanks for the reply. <It's what we do>  To review, I am curing 22lbs LR in my second display tank, a newly setup 29 gal display tank (my first is a 55).  Let's say I don't rush the process either,<Very good> and I go for 6 months or so without adding any fish or inverts. <Very excellent>  I have read that this would tremendously help the pod population. <Agreed!!!>  What and how often do I feed this "empty" tank? <Oh you could do a  flake or so every few days>  Do I wait to until after it cures to feed it? <Not necessary>  That brings me to an interesting question (to me, anyway): If you have 2 identical FOWLR tanks setup, the only difference being that one has a skimmer and the other does not, what would be the difference in husbandry? <Well usually one would find less nitrate for starters. (So I guess you could say water chemistry). Here is something out of a blurb by Mr. Fenner himself: "The bulk of undesirable organic wastes that we want to eliminate from our systems are "surface-active", collecting near the surface of a gas-liquid interface. This affinity can be capitalized in a column of aquarium water with air bubbles mixed in. Trapped materials, including wastes, uneaten food and more are subsequently collected at the top as foam. These tools are therefore referred to as foam separators, fractionators, air-strippers, or protein skimmers." A little more information that I have personally come to understand: Skimmers remove proteins before nitrifying bacteria have a chance to break the molecules down thus converting them to nitrate. With less waste to process, less oxygen is consumed by the bacteria. Higher oxygen and lower nitrate means a healthy aquarium. High nitrate means algae could run rampant. Something to think about anyway.> I know mine are not identical, but I am curious about your answer. <Paul> Thanks, Rich

Skimmer flow Bob- could you tell me if a protein skimmer water movement adds to the flow rate of the reef tank. The skimmer is out side the sump with a external pump 700 gph.         RGibson <I'd say yes... and would like to add a proviso... that there is MUCH more flow in the wild in most all settings than anything a hobbyist supplies... Practically speaking, w/o sucking up or blasting your livestock against a tank wall, there is no such thing as "too much" water flow. Bob Fenner>

-Skimmer needs raw water?- hi, I tried looking on your website for the answer to this question but couldn't find it... sorry if you have to repeat yourself :) I have a 55g that has only fish that has been drilled for overflow and return pipes already... I read on your website that skimmers need raw water... what can I do if the wet/dry is already setup and the hoses are already glued together... the raw water is already going to have to go through the mechanical (poly pad), bio balls before it reaches the skimmer in the sump right??? does that mean that it is worthless for me to have a skimmer in the sump... <No worries, skimmers don't NEED raw water, if you could set it up that way, we'd encourage you to. Your skimmer will skim just as well after the mechanical filtration.> or should I hang one on the back of the tank, but I have a SeaClear acrylic tank that has that "lip" on the back of the tank... <The most important part of skimmer placement is making sure that you get water that is skimmed off of the top of the water column, this is where all the good stuff (yummy lipids and such) ends up that will be taken out by your skimmer. So, if it's in the sump, that's good enough!> if you have any advice on my situation as well as the product that would best suit my situation I would really appreciate it... <Sounds like you're going to be in good shape. Are you planning on using live rock in this tank? It's an incredibly better filter than the wet/dry. Good luck! -Kevin> thanks in advance aloha Reid

- AquaC Urchin and Ozone - I have a urchin pro which I just found out is not compatible with ozone. <I don't know if I'd use the word incompatible - there just isn't a easy place to get the ozone in like the fitting on the AquaC EV series. You can use a venturi fitting on the powerhead to get ozone into the skimmer, but it will affect the efficiency of the skimmer.> I know that the ozone discharge is supposed to go into the skimmer intake. <It doesn't have to go there.> Is there another way to dose ozone safely without adding it directly to the skimmer? <There are ozone reactors on the market which will accomplish the same thing.> Thank you for this wonderful site. Alex <Cheers, J -- >

- SeaClone Problems - To whom may concern, my name is Carlos and I just purchased a SeaClone protein skimmer. First I was gonna use it for my 20 G. reef tank but it seems like it was too much for the tank so I put it in my 150 G. salt water tank (SUMP). I have bubbles going into my tank but I have foam coming out of the waste cup. Adjusting this type of skimmer seems difficult what I'm I doing wrong? <Nothing, I'm sorry to say that this skimmer is limited due to poor design - it's just not a good skimmer.> How do I adjust my skimmer? <By tossing it out the window - just kidding. Save some cash and get a hold of an AquaC Remora or perhaps Remora Pro for that 150 - you will not be disappointed.> Help is appreciated. <Cheers, J -- >

- Plumbing & Skimmer Bubbles - Hello crew, <Hello to you.> I have a wet dry/sump that houses the skimmer in one of the two parts. My skimmer is an "ASM G1" skimmer which it's supposed to be like Euro reef. <Ok.> Because of the size of the sump the skimmer fits snug. I have bubbles coming out of the "leveling" tube and this ends up going into the pump and up to the tank. I have tried putting a sponge at the bottom of the skimmer but made no difference. What I am thinking of doing is to build a bubble trap (baffle). Since this does not fit the sump, I thought of building it external. My sump has a 3/4" bulk head that is connected to the main pump, I want to build the baffle so it's connected through this 3/4" bulkhead, and then drill another one on the other side to connect the pump to it. Would this work? <I think so, but I'm not sure from the description how this will affect the bubbles.> While I'm at it, I need to increase the flow to the tank so I thought that I could actually drill another hole on the baffle to connect another pump, but I do not know if the two pumps will dry out the baffle since it would only have one connection to the sump... <Possible... might need to increase the size of that bulkhead.> Hopefully you can understand this. Or any tips to eliminate the bubble on this skimmer? <Really sounds to me like you have a mismatched set - the skimmer and the sump - would be better perhaps to redesign and build a new sump altogether that had a settling chamber, perhaps some baffles to allow the bubbles to settle out. If I understand your description correctly, space is at a premium, which means your baffle idea will likely be undersized, and may not be effective - very hard to predict.> Thank you <Cheers, J -- >

Skimmer catch basin in 120G FOWLR Hi Crew! <howdy!> I was hoping for some advice on rearranging my sump. I have a 120G FOWLR tank that has been up for about 2 years.  It has an internal overflow feeding the sump. My issue is that my in-sump skimmer does not have a constant water level and I'd like to correct that for maximum efficiency.   <excellent!> Currently, water comes down through the overflow through a wet/dry.   <its best to intercept the water raw from the overflow (before anything else). Do see if you can fit a drilled plastic or glass vessel (Rubbermaid and Tupperware work great here) next to the sump and with the overflow holes at the top just slightly higher than the sump (to over flow into the wet/dry). Let this standing vessel be your skimmer catch basin> The sump also contains a heater, skimmer, and return pump.  I believe the sump is a 40L glass aquarium.  I would like to put an acrylic dam in the sump.  How can I do this without tearing down the sump?   <it would largely be a waste of time if still after the wet/dry... your goal is to skim organics out before they can be nitrified.> Can I put it in without emptying the sump?  What should I use to seal it to the glass? Thanks in advance for all the great advice! Holly <best regards, Anthony> - Noisy Pump - I just got my AquaC Remora Pro skimmer with a mag drive pump.  I even got it installed!  Unfortunately, there's an obnoxious rattling sound coming from the pump and just intermittent gurgles of water into the skimmer.  Now, I'm no marine biologist... but I don't think it's working right.  Any ideas? <I'm not a marine biologist either but I think your pump is broken. I'd pull the volute off the front on the pump and give things a look-see.> Mucho appreciation! Mike <Cheers, J -- >

Overflow Question 9/9/03 Greetings Crew, <howdy> I've got a question regarding an overflow box on my soon-to-be SPS reef tank (150gal).  I've read in Anthony's coral fragging book that one can increase the efficiency of the protein skimmer by overflowing the thinnest layer of water possible.   <Yeppers> To this end, I was thinking of adding to the back of the tank an external overflow box that would run it's entire length and drilling 3/8" holes equally spaced across in the tank back.  The external box would house three 1 1/2" stand pipes.  Is this structurally sound and will this provide adequate flow for the 20+ turnover rate I'm hoping to achieve? Thanks, Ron <it is likely to be structurally sound or stronger for the panes of glass from the overflow acting as braces. I must admit though, my reference was to holes drilled high on the back wall... not the bottom of the aquarium which I avoid (noisy and wastes space). As to the flow rate... do check the bulkhead mfg specs for reassurance - some variation here. Best regards, Anthony>

Live rock and skimming - 9/9/03 Hello Crewperson: I just received a small shipment (22lbs) of LR from online supplier.  I have read the FAQ's on the subject of curing LR, but I have not seen this one. <likely...> My situation is this: 55 gallon All-Glass, DSB, 42lbs LR, Bak Pak 2 skimmer, powerheads.  I have a 29 gallon tank that is filled with some water from the display tank and some of my fresh batch of stored salt water.  I put the new LR in this tank with a seeded power filter and a PowerSweep powerhead.  At the moment, I only have the one skimmer. <Nice!!> Should I take the skimmer off of my main display for a week or two while curing my new LR? <Well, if you only have one skimmer then I would leave it on the main display tank. I have cured all my live rock without a skimmer. I usually let it cure for about 3 weeks minimum, even if it smells clean and the water parameters look good. I don't rush the process. Ever! -Paul>

-Red Sea Prizm skimmer problem- Hello there, I was looking through your website and I found a lot of helpful information about protein skimmers, but not exactly on my problem.  I have a 55 gal tank with an ornate wrasse, a yellow tang, a maroon clown, 2 PJ cardinals, and three green Chromis.  The tank is filtered by two penguin 330's and an AquaClear 4000 powerhead. The tank has been up and running for quite a while (at least 6 months).  I bought a SeaClone skimmer for the tank a couple of months after its setup and it never stopped spewing bubbles into the tank. <Hmmm... they're pretty cheesy skimmers but not that bad. I wonder if something else was going on.> So much so that the entire tank was clouded whenever the skimmer was running.  In addition to that the cup would overfill with water and explode onto the wall every other day or so. <Ew, sounds like fun>  Finally I had enough and figured something was messed up so I just returned it for a different skimmer.  My new skimmer is a Red Sea Prizm and it has pretty much the same problem as the SeaClone. <Not much of an upgrade, I'd have gone with a precision marine hot-1 or an AquaC remora.> Not so much the bubbles rather the cup fills with water within a minute despite how I adjust the flow. <Something else is going on...> I don't know whether I am doing something wrong or maybe the tank doesn't have enough organics in it to skim? <Oh, there are always organics to skim out> This is a most frustrating problem and I was wondering if you guys could give me any suggestions? <Are you using any dechlorinators for your top-off and water change water? Stuff like stress coat and Novaqua can cause some pretty potent over foaming episodes. I'd suggest running some fresh carbon, and if possible, let it pull out 10 or so gallons of "skimmate" as a water change. Who knows, it just may take out enough of whatever is making it over foam. Hit me back if nothing works... -Kevin> Thanks a lot for your time and I hope to hear from you soon. Jim T.

Skimmer Woes 8/25/03 I have a 75 gallon marine tank. 60 pounds of live rock, 20 pounds live sand.  I also have 2 yellow tail damsels, 1 clown, 1 puffer and 1 red flame angel.  It has been up for about 5 weeks. During this time I have collected about a tablespoon of skim from the skimmer.   <holy cow! Ahh.. the skimmer is not working. Needs tweaked/tuned... or is a poor design. I'm hoping this is not another Prism/Berlin/Seaclone story. Do check our FAQs and archives for common good and less than ideal brands that commonly get reported> Now the foam stays about 1 inch above the water line marker.  If I drop it down I get  2-3 inches.  No color--just white.  Prior to this I was getting skim the color of weak tea.  Is there a problem with the skimmer? <lets try to tune it first... a few cups of dark coffee like liquid weekly are desired to prevent algae problems for you. A skimmer upgrade may be necessary> Problem started over the weekend. Thanks <best of luck, Anthony>

Algae Woes and Skimmer... er, well... Doesn't Blow Bubbles Well - 8/23/03 Anthony, Thank you very much for your response!  Bingo on the skimmer.  I have a Prizm.   <truly sorry to hear it. Only half-joking too. Do browse through our skimmer archives and you will see that certain brands very commonly come up as less than impressive... and others to the contrary> It only made truly nasty skimmate during the initial cycle.  Since then dark green tea at best which never has that withering smell my nostrils remember from the initial live rock die-off.   <indeed... should be getting dark skimmate a few times weekly in good times... and certainly during bouts of nuisance algae as you have now. The poor skimmer performance is surely contributory if not causative> For water movement I have a maxi-jet 1200 powerhead and the sump pump is a Mag drive 7 that I've detuned slightly with my flow control valves, so I think that's OK.  One of my earliest attempts at algae control involved much larger than normal water changes, but seemed to make the Cyano really take off.    <yes... excellent> I use only DI water and Instant Ocean.   <all good> The skimmer does seem to be producing more skimmate now that it's mounted in the sump but it's still not coffee like. <Doh! is it in a skimmer vessel that has a standing and static water level... catching all raw water from the tank first (see marine plumbing article on WWM)..?. OR...is it simply sitting in an open sump with a daily fluctuating sump level from evap and top-off changes? If the latter... not ideal> Any ideas on how to tweak a Prizm to work better?   <not involving a sledge hammer? Heehee... they are way too unpredictably sensitive and inconsistent. I will not waste my time on them and do not recommend others to do so either. I'd sooner see you do extra water changes> I am going to do a little research and get another skimmer if that's what it takes, but if I can dial in the Prizm a little better in the meantime I'd like to.   <if you will stick with this tank for many years or are considering a bigger tank in the next few years... let me suggest you cut to the chase and make one last purchase of a quality skimmer: get a EuroReef. They are plug and play... idiot proof and worth every penny> I'll also investigate using one of the macro algae that you mentioned instead of the Caulerpa.  I had read about your concerns with its use in refugiums, but I understood it more to be a problem with maximizing coral growth, which is not my goal.   <not at all... your problem will be trying to safely thin its growth without releasing excessive noxious elements from it in such a small volume of water> At least I'm turning a $2.50 bunch of Caulerpa into a $5.00 bunch while I'm figuring out what to do.  Attached is a picture of my tank in cleaner times. Thanks again! Matt <best regards, Anthony>

SKIMMER QUESTIONS Hello WWM, Since you've done such an excellent job on answering my questions, I thought I'd lay some more on you.  ;)  <thanks bud> I have an AquaC EV-180 skimmer on my 55g.  For a brief history on my tank, it was included in the purchasing of my condo, which was last year, so the tank has been running for at least a year, I'd suspect 2. <ok>  I'm upgrading to a 180g and would like to use this same skimmer on the new tank and would like your input on how to do the change.  First of all, the previous owner of the 55g set up the skimmer externally, and plumbed the return without unions or ball valves, so the only way to remove the skimmer would be to cut off the pipe that the return is plumbed through.  So once it's removed, I'll either have to find a way to plug the hole, or go sump-less.  <I would definitely go with a sump... even if it meant purchasing a newer, and more efficient skimmer> I've thought of two ways to accomplish the switch:  The first way would be to remove the sump on my 55g and switch the EV-180 to the other tank, meanwhile using a CPR BakPak on the 55g.  This way the 180g will cycle with an appropriate skimmer.<ok>   Plus, I'll be adding fully cured LR and seeding my sand bed with LS, so the cycling process shouldn't take too long. <I would let it cycle for at least 4-6 weeks. If you try to add livestock early they normally suffer, its better to just let the aquarium cycle for the normal period of time>   My main concern is if the change in the water volume and skimmer in the 55g will be detrimental to my fish.<very doubtful> The second method is a little more complex.  Cycle the 180g with the BakPak. Granted, this is like using a toothbrush to clean Grand Central Station bathrooms, but I figure it's better than nothing.<I suppose>  Once the tank is cycled, cut off and drain the sump, remove the EV-180 and use it on the 180g (sorry if this is getting confusing) and move the BakPak to the 55g. In other words, switch skimmers.<Understood>  Let both tanks stand for about a week, then switch the fish. <I would add one fish at a time... you don't want a nitrite or ammonia spike in a new aquarium>   My main concern here is how the cycling process with fair with such a small skimming. <You don't even need the skimmer for the aquarium to cycle... just a wet/dry filter... return pumps and LR (and you really don't even need LR)> Your opinions?  Any other process you see more fit?  Thanks in advance,  Jonathan <Your ideas seem reasonable... but I would definitely have a sump... maybe even a refugium (very beneficial), good luck, IanB>

Thanks and Some More Questions.... Hello Kids! I wanted to thank you for the info that you previously gave me about installing a protein skimmer. I installed it in the sump and it's busy making cappuccino now! Fortunately I have more questions to ask! Just to give you another overview of my tank, here goes: 75 gallon tank w/ 70 pounds o' live rock and some soft corals (Xenia, Zoanthids, mushroom polyps, colt coral and a finger leather) and one SPS (hammer) blocked by a piece of LR from the rest of the tank and no soft corals close to it.  One Sebae anemone that is in a corner by itself, no corals close to it (at least 15 inches). Two perc clowns that live in the anemone, 1 yellow goby, 1 cleaner goby and 1 mandarin goby. 20 gallon sump with bio-balls in a column with additional 10 pounds LR and Caulerpa. It is full of amphipods and other good stuff that would bite you if you were to put your hand in. 1- I asked about adding a hippo or Sailfin but you (being Anthony) said that the tank is too small. If I were to add Banggai Cardinals (tank raised o' course), how many could I add and not be overstocking? <A pair at the most> Currently I do 10% a week water changes and nitrates are zero, and things in the tank look happy to be there. 2- Will running the skimmer 24/7 be detrimental to my filter feeders? Are there optimal times during the day or night to run the skimmer? <not really, and the skimmer ultimately foams better at night> 3- Currently I am running lights in the refugium 24/7. What would a benefit be of running the lights on the opposite lighting schedule of the tank? <Running lighting 24/7 can be very detrimental to photosynthetic machinery in the refugium algae. Benefits of running lighting on opposite schedule are a more stable pH and higher O2 concentrations at night> 4- Should I place the zoanthids at the bottom of my tank so that they don't spread close to my other corals, or just wait till they get close and trim them up? <I would place them relatively far away> 5- Would it be a problem to add clams to the tank? Is there any merit to the claim that bristle worms eat clams? <Shouldn't be a problem as long as your lighting is sufficient, definitely do some background research on the species you are most interested in keeping. In general, no, Bristleworms will not eat adult/sub adult clams> 6- do you people have a good time doing this? I have a great time reading your postings so know that you have a fan here in Colorado who really appreciates the time that you put into doing this work. <I very much enjoy it :) > thanks!  Miguelito

Skimmer and Soon-To-Be-Overstocked Tank - 8/22/03 My tank is run by a Mag 12 and I have two powerheads inside the tank for internal circulation.  I thoroughly checked out my skimmer and found some errors.   <common with most tanks... few skimmers are well-tuned> It is skimming perfectly now and I'm getting lots of yucky stuff every day.  Will this help with the hair algae?   <outstanding, and yes... sure to starve out algae in a matter of weeks. Have patience and control other nutrient sources (input from food, tap water quality, etc)> If so, how long will it take for the hair algae to die off / not grow?   <about 2 weeks likely> As for my tankmates.  They get fed 3 cubes of Formula One or Two, a 5" x 2" strip of seaweed, and twice a week I include a clam, mussel, or a small amount of zooplankton.  Am I feeding them too much or too little?  They all seem very happy and healthy.   <I cannot say if the amount is too much, but for the frozen whole prey items (clam, krill, etc) it is very very important to thaw and decant all pack juice from the portion and not pour this into the tank... it is rocket fuel for nuisance algae. Thaw such foods in cold water, strain and put meat only into the aquarium> I consider my tank under stocked -- please tell me what you think.  I have one Naso tang (7"), one Half Moon Angel (5"), one Sunset Wrasse (7"), one Blue Throat Trigger (6"), one Yellow Tang (3"), and one Maroon Clown (4"). <I do not feel that your tank is under stocked, my friend... quite the contrary with even a short view of 1-2 years. The cumulative adult sizes of these fishes is around 48"... Naso (18"),Angel (12-16"), Wrasse (12), Trigger (12") Tang (6-8") and Maroon Clown (6-7")... over 5 feet of fishes (!) if you had the space and husbandry to bring them to adulthood. See fishbase.org to confirm all. now even if these fishes stunt at half potential (and lets assume the stunting does not lead to their premature death in just a few years, which is not a likely assumption IMO) that still means you will have 24-30" inches of fish in a tank that is only as wide as 4 of these fishes will/could be long. Honestly... I feel the tank is poorly planed unless you intend to get a 300-500 gallon aquarium in the next 2 years. Else, you need to thin out the ranks. Start with the Naso, send it to a public aquarium where it likely belongs ;)> Thanks for your advice and helpfulness.  You guys are much appreciated!   <best of luck... and please do take the stocking advice to heart. Most aquarists make the mistake of looking at their immature sized fishes and ignore the long view for their needs. Anthony>

- Forum Problems and Remora Question - Something is wrong when I tried to register on the forum, I got the page cannot be displayed when I tried to submit my registration info. So I'm e-mailing instead. <Fair enough - we are aware of the issue with the forum and are working to implement a solution just as quickly as possible.> I have the AquaC remora pro skimmer with a Maxijet powerhead. I want to use it on my 55 gal tank but the problem is that it was left on the side by its previous owner. He gave up the tank, emptied the water and left the skimmer just hanging there for about a month. When I took it out there were still some water inside it which smelled really bad. I scrubbed off the brown stuff that was built up on the pre-skimmer box, outside the skimmer, and inside the skimmer. I rinsed it as much as I could and now it looks almost new. The only thing is that there is still some brown stuff in the hard to reach places inside the skimmer. There is still a smell and the powerhead smells as well after cleaning it. Is this okay to use? <Sure.> What can I do? <If you are really concerned, you could set up that skimmer on a five gallon bucket of a weak bleach solution and run it for an hour or so... followed by running it again on a bucket of clean water.> I really want to use this since I've heard that this is the best hang on skimmer out there. <In my opinion, you are right.> Please help. <Cheers, J -- >

The Trouble With Bubbles... Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. today!> First let me say what a great website (And Bob's book is not too shabby either ;-) - wish I had found it before I went to my LFS cash in hand...despite many years of Freshwater keeping and despite asking all the right questions, they still managed to sell me some duff gear... <It happens! LOL> I tried to register for the forums but the code is broken at the mo so I hope you don't mind me emailing you direct <I think that the problem with the Forum is being addressed as we speak...And - direct responses is what we're here for!> I have just set up a 55gal tank and am looking to improve its design. I have a Fluval 404 filter and a Seaclone skimmer (sorry :) ) as well as all the usual bits and bobs. The skimmer is the newer improved version (shorter contact tube, o-ring etc) and the only reason I bought it is it is the only HOT skimmer that fits a Seabray tank (tiny holes in cover :(). It is currently spewing forth loads of micro bubbles into my tank (which is empty bar 20kg of live rock as I am currently cycling). So my questions are thus : - 1. I am considering modifying the skimmer by doing away with the vortex system and sticking a pumped wooden air stone down the middle. Instead of using a separate powerhead to supply this skimmer could I attach the return from the filter ? Would this cause any problems / inefficiencies? <Well, I can make some jokes to the effect that it couldn't make the unit work any worse, but....Seriously, I don't know if the return will provide enough to power the unit effectively. I do not have any personal experience with this unit, so I think that you would be better contacting the manufacturer directly regarding modifications to the unit. Or, when the Forums are up and running again, you may want to ask some fellow Seaclone users how they modified theirs...> 2. Will the current spewing of micro bubbles affect anything on my live rock ? <Well, the micro bubbles could have some adverse effects on sessile inverts, so you really want to solve this problem as soon as possible> LR been in for 5 days now, tank filled 2 weeks ago, skimmer on for the last 2 days - apparently the bubbles will stop after 3 days but I am less convinced having used the AS venturi system on my other powerheads... <Here's to hoping!> 3. Sort of unrelated, but until you fix your forums you are my last hope :) I was gonna stock the tank ultimately with 1 Orchid Dottyback, 3-5 Green Chromis, 1 Dwarf Angel (probably coral beauty) and possibly Another small fish. Is this too much. <Nope- I think it's about right for this tank, and an interesting mix at that! The "one more small fish" could be a blenny or goby, and that would do it for fish, IMO!> I will be adding some inverts (shrimp, some hermits and snails and 1 or 2 easy corals :) ) in the next yr or so but wanted to see whether this was an acceptable load :) <I like your slow, patient, and cautious approach! You're in this hobby for life (right?), so what's the rush!> Many thanks in advance for helping this extremely frustrated (and no fish are in yet) aquarist... Cheers, Richard <Hey, Richard- you're doing fine! These bubbles will go away in time if you search for and correct the root cause. And take the stocking slow and steady! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Skimmers, Snails and Fish Hello, Specs: 55 gal, Eheim canister, one power head for movement, very thin layer of crushed coral substrate, no LR. Eight months operation with only a blue damsel and ocellaris clown. I refuse to have fish die due to bad conditions so I have been going very slowly. <Good to hear> A few questions: (1) Recently got a Tunze skimmer (replaced a brand I am embarrassed to name). Small Comline hang-on. The instructions seriously suck. Everyone recommends these but no where can one get assistance on adjusting them. (When/If I figure it out I'll be making a site to help others.) But currently...there are three things on the neck of this below the collection cup. One adjusts the air. One is for ozone (?). Then there's a third for SOME thing else. I am not using ozone (don't know a thing about this). So, do you know if these 2 openings should be closed up somehow if not used? <Sorry, I have no personal experience with this skimmer. But, I'll wager someone on our forums does! Go to http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk and post your question in the Equip/Dry Goods forum.> (2) If introducing cleaners (snails or crabs) is quarantine necessary? <Nope> (3) I have not had the red algae bloom, but I do have a little green algae going on. I kind of like the look of a little bit of green. But is this harmful to fish in any way? Should I diligently remove it? <Directly, it is not harmful to the fish, but it will have a tendency to suppress Ph. On the other hand, it is exactly what the angel will like to have. I would try to control as best you can at this point.> Lastly: I plan on adding only 3 more fish total. Plan is: a Pseudochromis (maybe the bicolor);  either a Pygmy or Lemonpeel dwarf Angel; and a Flame Hawkfish. Do you see any problems there? <The Flame Hawkfish will enjoy any shrimp you have :), so the shrimp are out. The hawk will pick on smaller fish as well. The hawk and angel are both aggressive so you want to add them last. Sounds to me like you are showing patience and that is most difficult of all. Have fun, Don> Thanks, you guys are invaluable for the hobby. <Thank you and help spread the word!>

Protein Skimmer Tuning - 8/15/03 I have a 190 gallon with just six fish in it -- very under stocked.   <hmmm... that depends. What kind of fishes? To be sure, do you have a long view for their adult sizes? Too often folks keep juveniles of tangs, angels, wrasses, etc that have adult sizes of 8-12" or more but think of the tank as under stocked without regard for adult sizes in just a couple years> I have an AquaC EV180 protein skimmer with a Mag 7 running it.   <great skimmer> However, I don't get a lot of skimming from the skimmer.  I get MAYBE one cup per week of dark yucky stuff.   <if this tank is being fed several times weekly or better (esp. daily), then you can certainly get a lot more skimmate produced. Surely several cups weekly if you feed the fishes daily. What goes in must come out <G>> The water quality is always perfect though and the fish are wonderfully healthy.  I do a weekly water change of 10%. Am I not getting a lot of skimmer activity because the tank is so under stocked or do you see another problem?   <I'm sure the skimmer can produce better. One of the most common flaws that causes this sort of problem is installing the skimmer in an open sump (as opposed to the pump/skimmer/feed being installed in a separated chamber with a static water level - a skimmer well/vessel). Open sumps have fluctuating water levels (even if slightly with daily evap top-off) that ruins skimmer performance. Else, the feed pump is drawing from too low below the surface of the water and not getting at the concentrated overflowing proteins> Currently, I am fighting hair algae -- can't seem to get rid of it.   <do recognize that your comment re: "perfect water quality" is mistaken, my friend... evidenced in part by this classic nuisance algae. And I say it with all due respect. People write to us all the times talking about problems or nuisance growths in their tank but stating they have perfect water quality (and not mentioning any of the parameters to us to verify for you)> Could this be playing a part?   <almost certainly> How do I find out what's causing the hair algae and get rid of it? <excess nutrients or lack of adequate water flow or (likely) both. Do seek 10-20X tank flow turnover per hour. And really tweak and tune that skimmer! :) > Thanks for any advice you can offer.  Have a great weekend. <there are several outstanding aquarium societies in Florida that have local and regional conferences. Great place for you to network, trade livestock and get shared opinions (plus see some sweet local tanks). Orlando has ORCA... there is also a Miami club, a Tampa club... and new starting South Florida club to begin with. Do consider visiting them. Most/all are on the big message boards like reefcentral.com. Kindly, Anthony>

Changing Protein Skimmers Hello, and thank you for this site!  My son and I acquired a Prism Pro Deluxe skimmer for a 75 gal before we found this site and read all the bad things about this skimmer. <Ah, kudos for including your children in this. Both of you are in for a lot of fun!> This is our first marine tank, so we don't really know what works and what doesn't.  Honestly, I thought the Prism worked, until I started reading the reports on this site. They shake my confidence to the point where I'm seriously considering junking the Prism for an Aqua-C. <The Remora Pro with surface box is what I have on a 75 and it works very well> Right now the tank has 11 lbs of live rock (fully cured, as far as I can tell), and one very large hermit crab. This must be a light load and so a skimmer should not have much to take out.  The skimmer produces a little output per day (haven't thought to actually measure it, but I'm sure it's not a cup a day) and the output seems dark and foul-smelling (which is what it's supposed to be, I assume).  So how can I tell if this skimmer is OK or junk? <You are right about the load, it is very light, so output will be lower> We are seeing micro algae growing on the live rock.  Is this an indication the skimmer is not performing as it should? <Yes. But don't over look source water, water quality, feeding etc. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm > We will soon get 100 lbs of live rock, and a few weeks down the road start putting fish in.   <Note, the new rock, even if cured, is likely to cause a short re-cycle. The more raw the rock, the longer this period is likely to be. Also, please read here about quarantining new additions. You won't be sorry for have a hard and fast 4 week quarantine rule> Is it possible this skimmer is working fine now with its light load, but the problems will show up later when the tank gets more in it? <As above> Thanks, Tom <Good luck with your endeavor, Tom. Don>

Excal skimmer (8-9-03) I'm sorry I didn't clarify that - I have a box for the skimmer- the bubbles are escaping thru the bottom <Try tuning it down or add another sponge.  Also try contacting their customer support to see what they recommend.  Cody>

Mangroves killed my skimmer? 8/6/03 I've gotten 10 mangroves (seeds) floating (in Styrofoam) on the top of my 90gallon tank. <wow... that's a lot of mangroves! What will you do with that many when they mature?!?> Right after I added them, my skimmer went flat, it didn't remove anything in 2 days... Is this normal? Why? <not surprising or good... the raft is disturbing the proteinaceous sheen at the surface... the concentration that he had hoped to funnel and export through your skimmer> Do I have to choose between mangroves or skimmer? <nope... just move the raft to a lit sump or refugium> I mean skimmer is good for removing proteins, mangroves for nitrates and phosphates... would be cool to have them both working... will mangroves also act as 'skimmer' if the skimmer is removed, if so, will they remove organics just as good as the skimmer would? Thanks <I absolutely adore mangroves... have written about them at length... grew out several thousand in my coral farming greenhouse over the years... and I can honestly tell you that they are very weak for nutrient export in aquariums. They cannot even compare to a skimmer. Do adjust my friend. Anthony>

Re: Mangroves killed my skimmer? II 8/8/03 Anthony - <unnamed person...> ><wow... that's a lot of mangroves! What will you do with that many when they mature?!?> They will not mature, I'll keep cutting off the leaves :-) <that's what you think ;) Please do research more about the extreme sensitivities of mangroves to pruning. The state of Florida and others have legislation on the subject because they are so sensitive (and crucial for coastal ecology). As it pertains to yours... cutting the axial tip before it branches sometimes simply kills the propagule! And for how slow they are to branch... you have your work cut out for you> > <not surprising or good... the raft is disturbing the proteinaceous sheen at the surface... the concentration that he had hoped to funnel and export through your skimmer> Hmmm... not sure what you mean here, could you be more specific and simplistic? I still don't' understand how adding mangroves to the tank makes the skimmer stop working, but adding them to sump or refugium would not? <please re-read the rationale: its the raft, not the mangroves that is the problem. Proteins that you hope to export from your skimmer migrate to the surface of the water (as sea foam does in the sea on a much larger scale). Your raft may be breaking or disturbing the sheen that forms, thus diluting the concentration of proteins that make it to the skimmer. Skimmers are notoriously sensitive to having very stable and consistent influxes of water. If your skimmer is in an open sump with a fluctuating water level... you have even bigger problems then (needing a static water level and a feed of surface extracted water directly)> > <I absolutely adore mangroves... have written about them at length... grew out several thousand in my coral farming greenhouse over the years... and I can honestly tell you that they are very weak for nutrient export in aquariums. They cannot even compare to a skimmer. Do adjust my friend. Anthony> I remember seeing a website somewhere that did measurements with control and mangroves and it seemed that mangroves did pull out all the nitrates and phosphates... hmmm... confused here. <I'm not sure how I can clarify it for you based on a website that you seem to recall. I can only offer you my extensive experience with this beautiful Angio. Leaf growth is often concurrent with leaf drop. In the aquarium, that means little or no net export of nutrients. Where mangroves are of considerable benefit is in their root systems. That's what makes them such great mechanisms for exporting or at least sequestering elements on a coral reef. But that mass takes years (often decades) to develop and is unlikely to ever make an enormous impact in your aquarium. They are a help... but there are much better species for vegetable filtration (like Gracilaria or Chaetomorpha algae... or better still, a proper turf algae scrubber). Anthony>

Berlin skimmer: dry foam too dry 8/1/03 I have a Berlin xl skimmer and my problem is that the foam that it produces seems to be too dry. Some of the foam goes to the bottom of the cup the rest of it comes out the top. It will push that lid off and collect on the side and the top. I had foam hanging the entire length of the collection cup when I got home from work. I got the foam off the cup and was holding it in my hand. I've been trying to adjust it so it isn't so dry, no luck as of a week. HELP?? <I've said it before and I'll say it again: I would not take a Berlin skimmer for free. The amount of e-mail we get on some brands is remarkable. Do search through our archives for a consensus on this topic. Alas, I have no solution for modifying or improving this skimmer. There are much more reliable styles/brands out there IMO like Euro-reef or Aqua C. For what some skimmers cost, its a shame that they are not more reliable. Best regards, Anthony>

-Berlin XL- I have a Berlin xl skimmer and my problem is that the foam that it produces seems to be too dry. Some of the foam goes to the bottom of the cup the rest of it comes out the top. It will push that lid off and collect on the side and the top. I had foam hanging the entire length of the collection cup when I got home from work. I got the foam off the cup and was holding it in my hand. I have been trying to adjust it so it isn't so dry, no luck as of a week. <I'd put something heavy, like a rock, on top of the collection cup to keep the top on. It sounds like the skimmer is doing a good job, it is desirable to have very dry foam, I'm envious! If you want it wetter, try raising the water level in the skimmer neck. Good luck! -Kevin> HELP??

-More on the bearded Berlin XL...- I tried to put something heavy on top of it the only problem is that it comes out the vent holes and runs down. <Annoying. Is there some way to attach a tube to the vent which would lead to a remote container?> When I am home this is not a real problem I can check it but if I am sleeping or at work I am scared. The one time I got home from work and the foam was hanging halfway down the skimmer about 6 inches from the water level in the sump. Some of the stuff I know ran into the sump so I did a water change and hoped for the best. Some things did not look too happy but they are perking up. I have a feeling that the only way to solve this is to take it out of the sump. That was in the future plans but I guess this will speed up those plans. <It may be worthwhile to try sealing up the cup and drilling a hole on the side for a hose barb. You could attach a piece of tubing to it so it could freely drain into a milk jug or something of that sort. You may want to order a new one if you care to try this, since it would be really easy to destroy it in the process!> If I take away my overflow boxes and run dual skimmers into the sump into filter material then back into the tank would that be good and doable? <I don't understand... How is water going to drain into the sump w/out overflow boxes?> I have an extra skimmer in the closet and I hate the overflow boxes and the noise they make. <It's like music to my ears....... NOT! Much props to Mr. Durso for coming up with a way to silence pre-drilled overflows! -Kevin> Tanks for the help.

-Fluval powering a skimmer?- Hi, Is it a good or bad idea to try an attach the output of a Fluval to the input of my skimmer? <I doubt it would supply adequate water flow to make the skimmer function properly.> If it is a good idea; where do I get the air from for the skimmer? <Turboflotors come with their own pumps with a needle-wheel impeller and with a built in venturi. I'd look into getting one of those since they're specially designed for this skimmer. -Kevin> Thanks, Aaron

- Skimmer Adjustments - My skimmer collection cup never gets that brown stuff into the collection cup, the brown waste always collection in the narrow reaction tube where the bubbles and air mix, bubbles in the collection cup are always clear, the brown waste always sticks to the small 2inch diameter tube, it's dry like a fine paste, does this mater? <Yes and no... any skimming is better than none, but because you didn't tell me what type of skimmer it is, I'm not certain what type of adjustments you could make. This issue could either be something that can be addressed by tweaking the skimmer's operation or perhaps just a design issue. Cheers, J -- >

Adjusting a protein skimmer my skimmer never gets the brown slime into the collection cup, clear bubbles go into the collection cup the brown slime always builds up in the narrow reaction chamber, I know you might say adjust the flow or air flow to the skimmer ,when the slime builds in the narrow reaction chamber it just sticks to the sides ,never follows up with the bubbles into the froth cup, answer would be appreciated, slimes is not loose spinning around in reaction chamber, its sticks to the sides of the plastic, sorry to repeat myself 3x times <Without knowing what type of skimmer this is, I cannot comment. Normally, production is related to 'fine tuning' air and water flow as you stated. Some brands of skimmers seem to be more affective than others. You might read here and the links beyond for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bestskmrSelfaqs.htm, Don>

Re: my protein skimmer Wow, this is terrific ,thanks for replying to my question, my skimmer is made by Marine Technical Concepts, Inc, its a hang on back, TM 3000 columnar protein skimmer, I must say this ,your site is very, I mean very informative ,why because not of the topic, but how you break them down into sub topics, and the answer and question section is so wonderful because most of use share the same problems now and then, I just click and usually can find an answer to my question, your time is very much appreciated, I will have another question in a day or two, sincerely Rob <Thank you for the kind words, Don>

Evolving Reefkeeping Philosophies I have a 220 gallon tank with an Amiracle 30 gallon sump. I have 2 overflow boxes that hang on the back of the tank. They say that you should use raw water to run in to the skimmer. <Yep! The most efficient placement, IMO. Scott F. with you today> If my water is flowing into the sump via the overflow boxes then into my filter pad then bio balls how do I get raw water to my skimmer then get that water in to a filter pad? I do understand the concept but most of the sumps that they sell are not set up that way. I will admit that when I purchased most of my stuff I had sucky advice. At that time I did not know about wet web media. Thank God I did learn about you guys (and girls?) though. I know that the output of my skimmer will not keep up with the incoming water. What do I do? <Well, you don't have to feed it 100% of the incoming water...just provide it with a nice flow that will keep the water level constant and consistent where the skimmer is located> I do have an extra sump laying around could I use that somehow? <Sure- you could create a "level flow" skimmer box, as outlined in Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation"> It is smaller, like a 10 or 15 gallon sump. I have searched here and the internet but have found nothing solid to go on. Would it be feasible to eliminate the sump totally? <Nope- but I'd consider eliminating the bioballs entirely! It's okay to "prefilter" the water of gross particulate first by letting it flow over a filter pad (just change/clean it often).> A friend was selling his tank and I bought it. He had over 300 pounds of live rock in his tank. Before that I had a little over 300 pounds in mine. So I have over 600 pounds of live rock in my tank. <All the more reason to '86 the bioballs...Your rock and sand will do the biofiltration/denitrification> He had his tank setup for about 6 years and the only filtration he used was a skimmer. I am leery about using that set up since I have never done it before. <Well, that was one of the cornerstones of the "Berlin" method of reefkeeping- just a skimmer for the mechanical filtration...Possible to do that. However, I like the idea of a sump for "processing" the water (i.e.; mechanical prefiltration, chemical media, heating, etc.> I have looked for a good site explaining the Berlin style but came up wanting more. Know of any good sites or books about it? <I'd do a keyword search on both the WWM site and one of the larger search engines...There has been a ton of stuff written on it over the years. One caveat- part of the original "Berlin" technique was to not use any substrate, in the hope of keeping the tank "nutrient poor". This usually resulted in accumulations of nitrate, and unstable alkalinity, pH and calcium levels in tanks that were not super-conscientiously maintained. Be sure to embrace the "evolved" Berlin philosophy (called the "natural" method most of the time), which utilizes a live sand bed (preferably a "deep sand bed of 4-6 inches or more) to help foster denitrification and chemical stability.> What do I do. I am leaving the survival and quality of my tank in your hands. ( no pressure) Would it be ok to use 2 skimmers? I have a Berlin XL and a Turboflotor, yeah I know, they work though. Talk to ya later <Hey, two skimmers is awesome! However, if you're good with maintenance, and you clean and maintain your skimmer regularly, there is absolutely no problem with one skimmer...That's the way probably 90% of all systems are maintained. Not to say that an extra skimmer is a bad idea- just that it's not necessary. If you use a modified "Berlin" (natural) approach, dumping the bioballs, etc., I'm sure that you'll get the results that you're seeking...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Salty Skimmate? Dear WetWebMedia, <Hey! Ryan with you> I am aware that we must replace water in our marine aquariums that is lost do to evaporation with an equal amount of clean fresh water. <Yes> However, what do we use to replace the water lost by skimming? <Nothing.  Taking a measurement of your salinity and making an adjustment with your weekly water change is adequate.>  I guess my real question is, is skimmate salty or not? <Sure> I'm not about to taste the skimmate to find out! <Aw, come on.  All the cool kids are doing it!>  Also, I am trying to find the proper setting for my skimmer.  I believe that getting it to produce the thicker gross looking foam as opposed to just slightly cloudy water is best.  However, when set up like this there is numerous times during the day where no skimmate is produced. <With a well established tank, there can be periods in the day where the skimmer doesn't produce.  This is pretty uncommon, and usually only in lightly stocked tanks with lots of live rock.  Check out Reefcentral.com for ideas on how to fine tune your skimmer- modifications may even be available.>   I assume that is normal and I should stop futzing with the skimmer settings and just let it do it job?  <Not if it's not doing it's job!  You should be able to see a difference in your water testing if your skimmer isn't cutting it.  If you've kept a log of water quality this will be easy to see.  Good luck, Ryan> Thanks for providing such a great and informative site. Regards, Alex

Confused by info on your site 7/18/03 Everything I read on your site says to get a protein skimmer, get a protein skimmer, get a protein skimmer! <I would agree... strongly recommended for most all marine aquariums> So needless to say I was a little confused when I read this from one of your staff. "I think that if your DSB is well-established, and sufficiently fine, then you should actually be seeing gas pockets. Also, consider nixing the skimming, this can remove many of the planktonic/microbial critters that you are growing in your DSB."*Marina* Please help me out on this. Connie <Connie... do consider that there is no one "best" way to run an aquarium versus all other methods as doomed to fail. Rather, there are many possible methodologies to be employed with various emphasis to archive success. Do your research and form an intelligent consensus on the matter that seems to serve you best instead. Anthony>

- Skimmer w/ no Instructions - <Hello, Kevin here today> I recently purchased an Aqua Clear Aquatics Hang On 75 Skimmer for my 37 gal aquarium in which I have an Emperor Bio Wheel Filter, 10lbs of live rock, 2 hermit crabs, a Coral Beauty Angel, a Tomato Clown, an Iridescent Jawfish and a cleaner shrimp. Was this skimmer a good choice? <Sounds like it should work out fine> Also, there were no instructions with the skimmer only word of mouth on how I should set it up. I am not sure I have the water level correct in the tube leading to the collection cup. So far, the bubbles and water are clear. <I checked out their website http://www.aquaclearaquatics.com -  but couldn't find any contact info or downloadable instructions. From checking out the picture, I'd put the water level up to black o-ring in the neck. Good luck! -Kevin> Any help is appreciated. Sincerely, Jennifer

Poly-filters instead of skimming? What's up guys? Short question until my girlfriend gets back from the LFS that is. Is it OK to use a poly filter 24/7? Other than the cost obviously. Would there be an any harm to the tank? <Poly filters remove all kinds of stuff, besides its phosphate removing capability, I don't see the need to run one all the time.> I am using a protein skimmer but it is a Turboflotor and it is more picky than my girl. <Let's hope she doesn't read the FAQ's!!!> Maybe 2 days a week it produces the dark stuff, other than that I just yell at it. <Although Turboflotors aren't the greatest skimmers, they still should produce consistently. Take it apart, clean out the pump(s), run freshwater down the venturi line, and give the skimmer body a good cleaning. Polyfilters aren't replacements for protein skimmers. Good luck! -Kevin> help me

ETSS skimmers and live rock placement... Kevin, Thanks a lot for the info.  I bought the ETSS skimmer.  I am looking forward to trying it.  This is definitely a better quality skimmer than I have had before.  I was also interested to find out it has little bioballs inside it. Do you know why? I know what bioballs do in a wet/dry filter...is the same thing here?). <They're not for bio filtration, they actually control the consistency of the foam. I'm not sure if you're supposed to add more to make it drier or vise-versa...> I have a few setup questions.  I am getting ready to start setting up my 135 tank.  I have read a lot about setting up a new reef, but I am not sure about something.  Should I put down an initial layer of foundation lace rock and some basic live rock BEFORE adding the substrate or should I put down a shallow layer of sand before adding the foundation rock?  I have read where you  shouldn't have deep sand under your rock, but I didn't know if you should put the initial rock directly on the glass bottom.  Also if I shouldn't put sand under the initial rock, would it help to put it on egg crate instead of on the glass? <I'd install the sandbed first. Cut pvc pipe pieces about a half an inch to an inch shorter than the depth of the bed. Stick these pieces all over the place in the sand where the rock will sit to prevent the structure from tumbling down should something dig underneath.> I read one article where somebody built a PVC "framework" (sort of like a couple of shelves) with egg crate on the bottom of it to hold the rock. This guy even drilled holes in the live rock and strapped it to this PVC frame in spots to make it better.  Have you heard of or done this? <Yep, some people really like to anchor the rock like that. It's a great way to build complex structures like caves and the like, but you're all done if you need to move any of the rocks.> I want my rock to be secure, but this sounds pretty complex (I am a very detailed person...my wife calls it anal, and I would probably drive myself nuts trying to make this perfect :-)  <Hehe, yeah, no need to go through all that. Just set the base pieces on the pvc pipes and you'll be all set.> Sorry, for all the questions, but when I set up my 55 gallon reef, it was my first attempt at anything like this.  I know I made a few mistakes, this new tank is a big jump for me, and I want to do my best to set it up right at the beginning. <You're on the right track!> I really appreciate all of your help and patience with novices like me trying to learn more. <Enjoy and good luck! -Kevin> Paul

Where's the stinky gunk at?! Greetings, I purchased the AquaC Urchin with the MaxiJet 1200 based on the research from WetWebMedia and my sump area constraints.  WetWebMedia had many postings regarding the efficiency of AquaC's products and it fit well under my tank.  Here is the problem.  Since I purchased the unit over 4 months ago, I never have had more than 2 tablespoons of skimmate per week! <Dark, sludge, light, watery, need more info.> That seems is a little low, but I'll give you the tank specs and maybe you can make some recommendations.  Otherwise, I'm having a hard time justifying the skimmer when my old tiny (Berlin 60 size) airlift skimmer produced the same amount - a constant reminder from my spouse who thinks that I should have spent the money elsewhere. <Ew, those in-tank berlins are really terrible, the urchin should blow that thing away.>  I say where else but on the tank!  Anyway, here are the tank specs: 40 gal display with 10 gal sump. Overflow goes through a coarse screen (I've tried it with and without the screen for weeks no difference in quantity of skimmate produced) Sump has constant level for the heater and skimmer, a deep sand bed (6" deep 12" wide 8" length), and finally a couple of baffles before returning through a Mag 5 pump Lighting is 130 watts split Actinic and 10,000K Additional filtration is done with an Eclipse III hood - jammed the lighting in front of the filter Chemipure, Phosphate sponge, PolyFilter, and activated charcoal are always present in the sump <I wonder if having all that "stuff" in there is impeding skimming.> About 40 lbs of live rock - in the tank since the start Fish are fed flake twice a day with squid, zooplankton, krill as treats on the weekends and sporadically during the week 5 fish - Two Clarkii clowns, one Kole Tang, one neon goby, and one royal Gramma 1 emerald crab 8 snails various sizes 8" rock of zoanthids and 5 inch rock of mushrooms <There should definitely be a whole bunch of gross yucks filling up your skimmer cup...> Tank has been running successfully since start-up 12-1-01 (about 18 months) - BTW this is thanks to the WWM crew - I've lost some snails and crabs but only the start-up fish have been lost (4 damsels that dwindled to one humbug that is still alive in a separate 6 gal tank with a coral banded shrimp) - convict tank. All critter are quarantined between one week (emerald crabs) to 4 weeks (fish) prior to reaching the display tank Water changes of 16 gallons are done every two weeks with Instant Ocean water that has aged for 24 hours min Sand bed is a mix of fine and coarse sand 3-4 inches deep. Temp - 78 PH - 8.3 Ammonia - 0 Nitrite - 0 Nitrate - 10-20 <Likely caused by your use of many mechanical filters, cut back to one or none and this should go away on its own.> Salinity - 1.021 <A little low for a reef, NSW is at 1.0265, you can bring it up slowly over the course of several days.> Alk - 3.0 Calcium - 350-400 Phosphate - 0.4 <Ahhh! That's a TON of po4, this should be your #1 priority. Try some SeaChem Phosguard because it seems like that phosphate pad is not doing the trick.> I do not have a lot of room under my tank and the Urchin seemed like the best choice.  By the way I even purchased an additional collection cup with the drain spout due to the large amount of skimmate that was to be collected and I didn't want to empty it every day!  It is still waiting for the big moment.  I'd like to think that my tank is SO clean that there just isn't anything to skim out, however, my experience with the airlift skimmer showed greater quantities of dark green skimmate under the same conditions. <First, make sure nothing is blocking the air inlet by removing that little screw and running the bottle brush through it a few times. Take out all those filter pads and just run some granulated phosphate remover (carbon once a month for a few days is all that is needed). Also, clean out the maxi-jet impeller and impeller chamber. Since you are running various resins to remove all sorts of stuff (we have no clue about what kind of stuff that the Chemipure and Polyfilters are removing), it may be somehow impeding skimming. Follow these recommendations and hit us back in a few weeks if things have not picked up. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks, Kinzie

Super Reef Devil pump selection... Hi, I have a chance to get a good deal on an ETSS Super Reef Devil Protein Skimmer.  I have a 135 gallon reef tank with about 175 pounds of live rock. Do you think this would be a good choice?  <Sure, I've heard many good things about ETSS skimmers. But then again, I've also heard bad things.> If so, what pump would you recommend to run it? <ETSS recommends a pump that produces 650gph @ 0ft. You could use a Rio 1700, Mag-drive 7, Sen/Sedra 7000, etc.>   I hear a lot about Rio pumps, but I have also read where they aren't the greatest pump either.  <You got that right, the only reason anyone still buys them is because they're really cheap. I'd go with a mag or a Sedra. If you buy this skimmer off the shelf, they come with a cap 1800, you may want to look into that as well. Good luck! -Kevin> Thank you very much, Paul

Re: Where to put DSB, need help with skimmer adjustment. >Hi - Thanks for all the help.   >>Hello, and you're welcome.  Marina tonight. >I'm setting up a 180 Gal reef tank, and moving very slowly.  I'm currently in the process of curing 250 lbs of live rock.  I plan on getting 50 to 100 lbs more.  I'm curing the rock in a 70gal Rubbermaid trough and my 140 gal sump using a Fluval 404 filter and my Aqua-C EV240 skimmer. (All the filtration setup is in my basement - the tank is above the basement and I'll cut two holes in the floor for water moving between the basement and upstairs.) I'm having a little trouble getting the skimmer adjusted.   I always seem to be turning the outflow value one way or the other.  But I'm starting to get some good dark skimmate. So far - that's all good. >I also just got 400 lbs of Southdown sand (I live on the west coast - Seattle) but found someone on a newsgroup that had purchased a skid.  My question is about the DSB.  I'm a little concerned about putting the DSB in the tank (60x30 - x 24 high).  I'm thinking about putting the DSB in a Rubbermaid trough that's a 50 gal - about 28 inches wide and 48 inches long.  So I would have slightly less area (and consequently slightly less surface) but I could make a slightly deeper bed with the same amount of sand.   >>I've seen it done, and it works great. >My concern is detritus getting into the sand.  At some point it seems that the sand is going to be filled with gunk and have to be churned/cleaned.  It will be easier to do that in a trough that in the tank.   >>No, you do NOT want to do this with a DSB.  Please see here (and follow other links for more information, also, see the setup section of our marine aquarium articles on the home page at http://www.wetwebmedia.com   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm >So if I have the room and ability to locate the DSB outside of the tank, is that preferable to being in the tank itself? >>That's a matter of personal preference.  You would do better to use animals like sandsifting sea stars and cucumbers to handle the detritus and stirring issues, but part of the *reason* for having a DSB is to gain the anaerobic area that will allow natural denitrification.  If you stir the bed up on a regular basis, you have just defeated its purpose.  The tubs, a refugium, or within the sump and/or tank will all work just fine.  FYI, the system in which I saw the tubs being used (within the sump) was on a 150gal, and the sump is UNDER the house (no basements in Cali, mate).  This guy has an AWESOME system, and he uses the DSB tubs to put his frags and/or the corals that are not doing well.  They tend to come back in there.  Also, he has much macroalgae in this section of the system.  Hope this helps!  Marina >Thanks for answering all my questions so quickly and thoroughly!

Oddball protein skimmer not working correctly... Hi, I wrote last night, and have more questions tonight.  I've been reading the site, and have a question on filtration. As I said before, I have a protein skimmer made by US Aquariums <Hmmm... never heard of that one.>, with a RIO 600 powerhead driving it.  I did not get a instruction set with the skimmer.  I am not sure it is hooked up correctly.  I also can't find a web site for the product. <Yeah, that's probably why I've never heard of us aquariums, must be a really small local company or something> The RIO has an air inlet, and I'm assuming this should be outside the tank, so that it can draw air? <If there is no other air tube that connects to the skimmer then you are expected to use the venturi integrated into the Rio. And yes, it definitely can't be submerged.> If not, where do I plumb the 10" piece of hose to?  The skimmer does not seem to be working correctly, in that the bubbles in the canister never come out over the top into the balance of the canister.  Shouldn't that be happening? <Yep> When I put the air pickup in the water, water flows over the sponge and straight into the output side of the box, this is not right either? I've read the filtration section of the site, and think that I will use a Berlin style filter.  It has the orange sponge atop, with the bag of small ceramic, I think,  rings in the bottom.  Do I have one now, or is this just a protein skimmer? <Hmmm, this isn't a skimmer, it's some type of mechanical and bio filter. If you take a picture of this protein skimmer I can tell you exactly what to do to get it working.> The local shop told me that they thought it was a combo, filter and skimmer. <Let's see a picture of this thing! Close up of the protein skimmer if you please. -Kevin> Thanks again for the help. Victor Worley

Oddball protein skimmer not working correctly... In regards to Victors problem w/ the US Aquarium protein skimmer, I had one and can scan and email the directions for him, once of course I locate the directions. :>   <Thanks a bunch Dave, if he e-mails back I'll refer him to you. Unfortunately the way that the email is set up on our end doesn't allow me to go back and find his email (once they get posted on the FAQ the email gets deleted). We'll post this on the FAQ's and hopefully he'll see it.> Possible to hook us up? <Victor, if you're out there, Dave has directions for that skimmer that he'd love to share with you. Email him at dkhacker(at)alltel(dot)net. -Kevin>

Pump for an EV-120... Hi Crew.  I am collecting the equipment to set of a 50-gallon reef tank.  I just purchased a slightly used AquaC EV-120 skimmer that did not include a pump.  The manual recommends four pumps:  the Mag 500, Dolphin DP 560, Iwaki 20 RLT, and RIO 2100.  Of the four, I ruled out the Iwaki because of price (maybe I'll upgrade later).  I've been reading on your site (and heard from retailers) that there are problems with Rios burning out, etc. <Yep, god bless TAAM for such a quality product... At least they're cheap.> So, it seems it's down to the Mag 500 and the Dolphin DP 560.  Both seem to be about the same price. Do you have a recommendations on which to select, and why? <Either one will work well, I run several mag.s and neglect their maintenance like the plague and they still run strong. I also run one on my EV-180 and it performs very well. So, it's up to you, the mag might be a little smaller as well.>  Also, would any other pump work well with this skimmer? <Nope, you should be good with either the mag or the dolphin> Thanks, Tim <Happy skimming. -Kevin>

- Skimmer Production - Hello WWM crew. <And hello to you, JasonC here...> I hope you can help me with some problems. I have a 9 month old 45 gal tank with an 2235 Eheim Ecco canister, BioLife 55, Prizm skimmer and 2 40w marine whites + 1 40w actinic bulb. I know my system is primitive but I am only 16yrs old so my budget is relatively tight. <Understandable.> I have live rock and a bubble coral that has almost tripled in size. For some reason the Prizm has not produced any skimmate for about 3 weeks I know what you think of this product but is there any way of getting it to work again? <Keep it clean.> Bearing in mind that it used to produce adequate weekly skimmate. <Perhaps your bio-load has decreased or the system has come into balance. It is not unheard of for older systems to produce less skimmate over time.> I believe that this has caused problems with recent high nitrate levels and whitespot outbreaks. <I'm not sure about that... skimmers don't typically remove nitrates. You might want to look for other causes.> Another skimmer is not really an option. Thanks in advance. <Cheers, J -- >

Hmmm, now where are those skimmer instructions? All Hail and Cheers to the WWM Crew: <Don today as  your humble crew member> Understanding just how dumb I am, I thought I'd share my latest, of oh so many, errors just in case someone out there is down at my level. (This is exacerbated by refusing to read directions as anything other than a last resort.) <Right there with you as I normally rate the success of my day, not on the lack of mistakes, but how successful I was at fixing the mistakes I made <G> > I've had my Aqua-C skimmer for longer than I care to admit and only this week decided to look again at the directions. They clearly state the water level should be below the interior platform (not within a 1/2 inch of the removable waste cup). You can only imagine the improved performance I've seen. DUH and DOE. <Your lucky to have your instructions! Normally I throw them away before the box and packing material. Thank goodness for the Internet as I have been to many manufacturer's web site to download instructions <G>> Sincerely Dana. <Seriously Dana, thank you so much for sharing your experiences. This is so beneficial in helping all of us learn and understand> P.S What think you about running a hang on power filter with charcoal changed out weekly? <I am all for running carbon, but it doesn't have to be in a powerfilter. You can put a bag of carbon anywhere there is decent water flow. Most folks put it in the bottom of the sump or build a media chamber in the sump for this purpose. If you do decide to use a power filter, then make sure you keep the sponge clean, like every other day or so. Or you could remove the sponge all together. I like the idea of having two bags of carbon and changing them on alternating weeks. Hope this helps, Don>

Turboflotor Query Crew, I have the Turboflotor 1000 protein skimmer (pictured in attachment, one on the right). I know that this must be feed from a secondary pressure pump, and that the Rio2100 only mixes the air into the chamber. What is the flow rate that should be achieved into the skimmer? In other words, how many gallons of water need to be pushed through the skimmer for optimal use? Sincerely, Craig <Hi Craig, the best info on Turboflotors comes from the manufacturer.....try http://saltaquarium.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.aqua%2Dmedic.de/index0.html  for all the poop on Turbos. It looks to me like they are passively fed from the sump overflow/feed.   Craig>

Adding Skimmer I am planning to add ES5-2 skimmer to my Amiracle sump/refugium. I have 1.5" of substrate and Caulerpa in the refugium. The skimmer will be sitting in the refugium on the substrate. Do you think it will be OK for the skimmer to sit on the substrate and having Caulerpa around the inlet pump. Or should I put some foam on the pump inlet to make sure not to get substrate or Caulerpa sucked into the pump. Any other advice for such a setup. Thanks. <I recommend a skimmer box, preferably with the overflow from the display draining directly into the skimmer box, and a box overflow maintaining a constant skimmer box water level for optimum skimmer performance (and no problem with substrate, Caulerpa, etc.). See the sump pages in the marine section of WetWebMedia.com. there is a lot more there.  Craig>

Pushing The Envelope, or Heading For Disaster? (Yanking a Protein Skimmer) 2 months ago I set up my first aquarium ever. <Congrats! Your troubles are just beginning! LOL...Scott F. with you today> 55 gallon marine (acrylic show-long). I have 50 pounds of live rock (Tonga branch only) & 1-3 inch live sand band (aragonite). I only use r/o water for water changes (10% weekly) and r/o freshwater for evaporated makeup water purchased from LFS. <Sounds good!> I have Coralife power compacts twin 96 watt bulbs (one blue, one day) both on individual timers.  Actinic is on 12 hour cycle-day is on 7 hour cycle. Fixture has built in fans, also installed "feet" for lift of fixture due to heat. <Smart- as you are no doubt aware- PC's do burn pretty hot!> I started with an Emperor 400 and  Via Aqua multi skimmer with built in UV. A couple weeks ago, I sold my Emperor 400 and now only use the skimmer. <Very 80's...very retro...groovy> I also have 2 moderate power heads. I have no sump and no hood.  live stock includes - 4 brittle stars & 1 newly discovered baby brittle...1 Foxface Rabbitfish (about 3 inches in length).....1 Banded Goby (about 3 inches and always sifting)......and 1 Mandarin fish (maybe 1 1/2 inches.....I know....I know.....but I can see that there seems to be a reserve of pods on the walls) <If he's eating- no problem...> I would like to get a hang on the tank fuge to cultivate the pods for him. <Good though- nice idea for the system as a whole> I also want to add some crabs and maybe some snails.  I also have 4-5 soft corals halfway down.  I'm CAREFULLY adding Salifert trace elements, and so far have only purchased phosphate tests & calcium tests (will be getting the rest soon). Also adding DT's plankton. <You might want to verify if the species that you are keeping actually utilize phytoplankton...Usually, it's only consumed by soft corals that have really small polyps, which prohibit the consumption of zooplankton...DT's is a good product- but no sense in spending the $$ if you don't need the stuff> Water quality seems excellent. Ok, I'm almost ready to ask my question!!  My goal.......is to get rid of skimmer as well...oooh. I can almost feel your hand slapping my face! <Several hands, actually> But, c'mon- I have a really low fish stock! <It's a noble experiment- one which quite a few hobbyists have undertaken over the years...But I really believe that, in the long run (I'm talking 1 year or more), you will be doing more harm than good by removing the skimmer. I'm a big one for running a system without all of the elaborate technical props that hobbyists love to play with, but a skimmer is really a rational necessity, IMO. Protein skimmers are really the "first line" of defense against a variety of water problems, such as a sudden influx of organics due to an undetected dying animal, accidental overfeeding, buildup of allelopathic compounds produced by coral, etc.. I believe it was Anthony who wrote that "sudden, mysterious crashes" of marine systems and protein skimming are mutually exclusive". You rarely hear of such events in a system with a well-tuned skimmer. Think about it: When you empty your skimmer cup (a couple of times per week, if it's adjusted correctly), look (and smell!) at the crap that is collected. Remember, in the absence of foam fractionation, most of this stuff stays in the water, degrading water quality. Sure, regular, frequent water changes will help remove some of them, but skimming is a continuous process that will benefit your system immeasurably. Finally- ask yourself- why do you want to remove the skimmer? Sure, there have been some successful hobbyists who yanked their skimmers from reef systems and enjoyed success, but these were usually under special circumstances, such as attempts to culture plankton in the tank, or experimentation with  heterotrophic corals, such as Dendronephthya, etc. For general, long-term husbandry, I'd think twice about yanking that skimmer...This is a closed system, and control of water quality is totally in your hands...Lecture over!> I considered mangroves, but you guys say they're not efficient enough for nutrient export, so how much macroalgae would I have to cultivate to get rid of the skimmer, and is it ok if I do the cultivating in the tank? <It's pretty difficult to calculate how much volume of macroalgae you'd need to remove "x" amount of nutrient from the water...Way too many variables come into play. You probably should consult the book "Dynamic Aquaria" by Dr. Walter Adey, who has done extensive research with algae turf scrubbers at the Smithsonian, if you're interested in this method. I recommend macroalgae as a supplemental nutrient export vehicle, grown in a separate area of the system (i.e.; sump, refugium) for greater control and ease of harvesting.> Oh yeah, I would have no problem getting rid of the Foxface (if I could even catch him) if he would eat the precious algae. <He probably would, which is why you should cultivate it in a separate part of the system> Sorry for the long version here, but you guys are the only ones I feel comfortable asking and listening to. <Very kind- but remember- we don't portend to have all of the answers...We're hobbyists just like you- and offer our experiences and opinions- what we speak of here is not "the gospel", so you need to take any advice- from anyone- with a grain of salt, and do what makes sense to you.> Of course, I may not listen to you anyway because you guys make up half this stuff anyway......(those are your own words from past faq!!!) <Half? More like 3/4's...LOL> Love the site! Thanks in advance! <A Pleasure...It's neat to experiment, and I love your enthusiasm...don't lose it! Just temper your experiments with a dose of practicality, and an eye on the long term...I'm sure that you'll make the decisions that are best for your animals! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Skimmer Question  5/22/03 Thanks for the information concerning the use of a skimmer with an Ecosystem setup. If I choose to use a skimmer, where should I install it.  Inline?  It will not fit into the Ecosystem sump.<It's going to depend on the type of skimmer.  Not sure which crew member helped you last, but depending on your tank you could mount the skimmer in the sump, or even hang it on the back.>   Thanks, James<No problem!  Phil>

- Seaclone Skimmer Production - Hi, <Hello, JasonC here...> I must say your site is full of information . . . so much that I'd imagine the answer to my question is in there somewhere, but heck if I've been able to find it.  So, here goes! I have a 55 gallon marine tank that has been running for approx. 8 months.  It has a Volitans lion (5"), a Huma Trigger (4"), a 2" orange tail puffer, a 1-2" damsel and 4 lbs. of new live rock. <That's a dismal amount of live rock... you'd be well advised to try and get about one pound per gallon in there. Not only will it benefit the biological filter in your tank but will also provide more cover for your fish, who will feel exposed and vulnerable without it.> My flirtation includes a Penguin BioWheel filter, a Merlin biological filter, and a week old Seaclone protein skimmer. I was patiently allowing my skimmer to run for a week so it could "break in" as the instructions said.  Then, I fiddled with the air valve and found my skimmer suddenly producing foam and a bit of skim.  This went on here and there with minimal foam production.  My skim about in just bare drippings at the bottom of the cup after about a week and a half.  Today, I noticed no foam production, and an influx of micro bubbles going into the tank (maybe it was already like that, but today I really noticed).  I've fiddled with the air valve and replenished a bit of evaporation . . . .yet still do not see foam production the way I find it described on your site. Am I doing something wrong? <Well, not really - there are two issues here. First, the Seaclone skimmer is a really, really poor design, and isn't capable of producing the skimmate you've read/heard about. Second, and perhaps more importantly, statements have been made in the past about what you should expect to see in a skimmer, and I take issue with this. There are simply too many variables to say things like, "If you don't get a cup a day of stout-beer-type skimmate, you're doing something wrong." These statements are gross generalities, and should be taken with a grain of salt, or perhaps a cup of skimmate. Every skimmer and tank combination is different, and individual users will tune their skimmers differently to produce different results.> What can I do about these micro bubbles... are they harmful? <No, they're just a result of a bad design. Get another skimmer, perhaps an Aqua-C Remora.> Is it possible that my tank does not produce consistent skimming needs with what I have in the tank? <No, I'd blame this all on the skimmer - the types of fish you have would normally produce some pretty nasty stuff in a worthwhile skimmer.> Thanks in advance!!! -Dave <Cheers, J -- > Reef Devil Cracked Hi there, I have an ETS reef devil 2 that .....well I dropped! The upright tube snapped off, and I got that reattached with solvent( needle type applicator. Though the black box at the bottom suffered some hairline cracks at the joints and elsewhere. What I did was, cut new pieces of acrylic and used solvent and hot glue to weld in place over existing cracks.. Do you think this will work? Hate to loose $300+ from this accident, Any other suggestions.

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