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FAQs about Skimmer Operation/Maintenance 13

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

Plumbing silicone   1/7/06 Hey crew, <Scott>   I've recently acquired a ETSS  skimmer and would like to plumb it externally.  The problem I see  is that the sump needs to be drilled and a bulkhead fitting  added.  The wet/dry at this point (still a new tank) is the only  filtration so far.  I don't see a  problem to stop the flow  through the wet/dry for 10 minutes to drill and add a bulkhead.   The problem I see is all of the silicones I have found available need  48 - 72 hours to cure before touching water.  What would your  suggestion be? <Why do you need silicone.  Bulkhead fittings come with a rubber gasket to seal itself to the wet/dry.  As for plumbing the skimmer, plumbers Teflon tape is all that is needed.>   <<RMF suggests using a smear of 100% Silicone instead... on all threads in contact, and the gaskets... easy to remove, make a positive seal, and chemically inert>> As always thanks for the advice, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Scott

Skimmer "break-in  12/28/05 Dear Crew, <Jimmy>      Just a question re: skimmer break-in.  I have a 180 FOWLR that used to have 2 TurboFlotor Multi's for skimming.  I recently replaced one of the Multi's with an AquaC EV 180 driven by a mag 7 pump.  It has been almost a week and the EV 180 has yet to produce any skimmate while the remaining TurboFlotor continues to pull about 1/2 cup of light skimmate daily.  I am running ozone thru the TurboFlotor but not the EV 180. The AquaC in adjusted appropriately.  I am told that there may be a "break in" period before the skimmer starts to work.  I have read in WWM that "break in " periods really do not exist. Do break in periods exist or should I be concerned? <My opinion is a couple days or so to allow the new acrylic to "season" so to speak.  Your ozone is helping to make the flotors more efficient and I'm thinking this is what your seeing.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks Jimmy Rigging Skimmer, Among Other Problems  12/22/05 Bob, Anthony, you guys are like movie stars to me. I unknowingly bought an autographed copy of Reef Invertebrates, my personal favorite! Bob's Conscientious Marine Aquarist and Eric Borneman's book on corals are also incredibly useful to me, as well as the web site. Thank you. <AdamC the stunt double here today.  Anthony and Bob do see these replies and will greatly appreciate your very kind words.> I wanted to get your opinion(s) on my tank's well being and in the process bounce a couple ideas off of you. My only saltwater reef tank is 29 gallons. I have two inches of oolitic aragonite as a substrate and about 30 pounds of live rock. The tank is three months old. I use one 20K 150W Coralife metal halide for lighting. I have a small hang-on filter where I use carbon and phos-pads. I also have two RIO 400 powerheads blowing diagonally across the surface and a Fluval 304 powerhead several inches below them for current. My protein skimmer is a Bak Pak 2 with a micro-bubble remover and a section for biological filter media. <All sounds great.> The tank is primarily dedicated to SPS corals. I built two shelves with the live rock like reef flats that have nearly a dozen small frags: Montipora capricornis, digitata and verrucosa (spelling?); pink and green Seriatopora; Turbinaria scroll coral; several Pocillipora and Stylophora species; Hydnophora; and, yes, one red Goniopora. <Wow!  With good growth rates, these corals could easily turn your aquarium into a 29 gallon block of limestone in a few months!  Seriously though, do beware of space limitations and aggressive interactions.  Most of your corals are weaklings, except for the viciously aggressive Hydnophora.> I also have several small 2-3 inch clams and a thorny oyster (the T. croceas on the live rock with the SPS's). I feel guilty telling you I have T. gigas and T. derasa. My only softies are two nice Ricordea rocks (one pink, the other green), a small patch of green star polyps and a very small, bright green Sinularia. <More fast growers!  I see a bigger tank in your future.  Did you ask Santa?!?!?  You will also have to be very diligent in maintaining calcium and alkalinity levels.  I have often joked about actually being able to hear T. Derasa sucking calcium out of the water!  HA!> My fish include a Conde's Fairy Wrasse, a tiny Salarias segmented and a Yasha Hase goby (paired with a Randall's pistol shrimp). My inverts include a Staghorn crab, a yellow boxer shrimp, a Pom-Pom crab and three Trapezia crabs living in the stonies. My algae eating crew includes five Nerites, five Nassarius, a red Fromia starfish, a tropical abalone and a blue Tuxedo urchin. <Nassarius and Fromia are decidedly NOT algae eaters.  The Fromia may eat some as it grazes for other more meaty things.> My water parameters: NH4 0, N02 0, NO3 5-10 ppm, dKH 8-9 degrees, Ca 360 ppm, pH 8.2. Weekly 5 gallon water changes (Oregon tap water's 7.4 pH 1 degree dKH). Feeding frozen Cyclops-eeze, algae wafers. Not using R/O. Other than the giant clams becoming giants and the Goniopora eventually dying, can you predict any eminent disasters? <Everything sounds OK.  Obviously, overcrowding will be an issue.  As far as the red Goniopora... many have good success with these, and at one time, mine was one of the fastest growing corals I have ever had.> I have three things bothering me. I have green hair algae. Food for the inverts, fish, vegetable filter, etc; perhaps excess nutrients from inefficient skimming? <This could be, but this skimmer should be adequate for your tank.  I would strongly suggest adding a few Astrea or Trochus snails or one or two Turbos.  You may also want to check the PO4 of both the tank and your tap water.  This can be a significant problem.> I read Anthony's article and my skimmer is a hang-on variety. The pump is submerged more than two inches, and the water level varies considerably (1/2" evaporates every other day). The pump pulls air through a tube, as well as water. I don't think it pulls as much air as when I bought it. The pump isn't clogged and no salt creep is blocking air passage. Do you think I could hook up an air pump to aid the skimmer's pump? Would that help? <I have significantly boosted the efficiency of these skimmers by dropping a wooden airstone into them.  It may be worth a try.> Also my dKH is 8 and my Ca is 360 ppm. I use "Kent's Calcium Reactor," not a calcium reactor, nor Liquid Calcium (with calcium chloride). It's supposed to raise both simultaneously but doesn't. The numbers are stable but on the low end. Should I leave it as is? <If you want to raise both, you could simply use more of these products.  I am not familiar with this specific product, but Kent's "Tech-C" as well as ESV's B-Ionic and Two Little Fishies "C-Balance" are all excellent two part additive systems that give excellent control over Ca and Alk.> Any suggestions on my set-up, equipment needs, compatibility issues, etc. You guys are my only trusted source of reference. Sorry about this email's length; I don't write you guys enough. Take care, Adam Michels <It sounds like you are generally on the right track.  The only issue of concern is space and possibly PO4 from your tap water. Best regards!  AdamC.> Skimmer on a Timer - 12/21/2005 Hello WWM crew. <Hiya Mike!> This site is awesome, there is so much information on hear that after some time I just can't read anymore. <Ah yes...The aquatic equivalent of a welder's "Arc Burn".> I have just begun my 30 gallon reef system about over 2 months ago. This truly is an addicting hobby and definitely hard on the wallet...but so worth it! <Preaching to the choir my friend!> The tank is glass, no sump, with a Emperor 280 BioWheel, 28-30 lbs live rock, and two powerheads. The next piece of equipment will be a hang on skimmer which I will be ordering very soon. I couldn't decide between CPR Bak Pak or the Aqua C Remora but after reading some forums out there and a good push from your website, I have decided to go with the Aqua C. The reason why I chose Aqua C is because it seems to be one of the quieter skimmers around and this is important to me because my tank is 5 ft from my bed. My question is if I purchase the Aqua C and the skimmer turns out to be louder than I thought can I put it on a timer and have it skim during the day and off at night? <It's best to run 24 hrs., waste doesn't take time off:)> Will the water quality suffer much and would this setup damage or reduce the life of the skimmer? <Probably not a tremendous difference but Aqua C is a good skimmer and pulls noticeable skimmate every few hours. Most impact would be on the pump life not the skimmer itself. It's not good for them to start and stop continuously. Not loud anyways, scarcely above a whisper. More of a distant, constant, soothing static. I doubt you'll here it at five feet. > I wouldn't want to damage a $160.00 piece of equipment, I might also want to use it in the future if I decide to upgrade to a 75 gallon. <I believe the Remora Pro is sized up to 90 or something like that but don't quote me. They are accurate with the size rating however so you can trust what they say the skimmer can effectively handle.> Thanks for your help Mike <Gladly. - Josh>

Protein skimming  12/21/05 Hi Crew, <Hello Jimmy> Happy Holidays !! <And to you!>  I am currently running two TurboFlotor multis on a 180 G FOWLR.  They are both sump mounted, with two 30" x 12" x 18" ( LxWxH) sumps under the tank, with ozone injected into both. I really have not had any problem at all with this setup and the Turboflotors have been relatively easy to adjust.  One to two cups of nasty skimmate is produced daily.  Tank inhabitants are doing great.  The addition of the second skimmer has been a great move for this ecosystem because one TurboFlotor was not enough. I already have an AquaC EV 180 that I recently pulled off another tank.   Do you think that it would be worth the difference swapping out one of the Turboflotors for the EV 180 ? <That choice will be yours to make.  I believe the EV is a little more efficient than the TurboFlotor.  Try it and see if it makes a difference.> Is a pump required in order to use ozone via the JG fitting for the EV.  <Not familiar what the "JG" fitting is.  Ozone generators are going to require some sort of air pump to push the gas into the skimmer.  If the "JG" fitting is designed to act as a vacuum sucking the gas out of the generator, then it very well may work.  ORP levels would have to be monitored to ensure enough ozone is being fed into the unit.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks Jimmy

Re: protein skimming  12/21/05 James, Thanks for the response. <You're welcome.> Sorry for the slang....JG fitting is a John Guest fitting that is used as a "quick disconnect" in RO systems and the like. <Boy, I've been around longer than most trees and I've never heard that one till now.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks  Jimmy Re: protein skimming  12/21/05 Take a look on AquaC's website and you will see.  I had never heard of this until recently either !  I have been keeping tanks 35 years. Oh, by the way something cool happened one week ago in my tank.  Snails looked like they were having a "mass spawn"  I had never seen this before !  Thanks Jimmy <Jimmy, always reply with the original query, most important.  Do resend in that format.  Thanks.  James (Salty Dog)> www.proteinskimmer.com

Protein skimmer question Hi, <Hello Eddie> I have a Bak Pak 2R skimmer that's producing a lot of bubbles all  the way up to the collection cup, but it's only collecting a very little skimmate. About a month ago or so I used an AquaClear 500, that I normally use just to run carbon, to use with filter pads I had sitting around. I used a  powerhead to blow the crap from the rock and the substrate around. As I took out  each pad after each day, I saw it took a lot of crap out with it. But I'm  wondering if it has to do with my protein skimmer acting up now. I don't know what else it could be. My  system is only 4 month's old. Any  suggestions?  <Eddie, do you clean the skimmer weekly, especially the riser tube?  If not, it should be cleaned on a weekly basis for best efficiency.  Happy Holidays.  James (Salty Dog)>      Eddie

Seaclone 100...  12/17/05 Hey guys how's everything? I just recently purchased a Seaclone 100 for my 90 gal. I have the air valve open enough so that the foam is just below the bottom of the middle tube where the collection cup is. So basically right where the water flows back into the tank. I was wondering, is it normal to have so many little micro bubbles coming out into the tank. i <I> was told its because its a new skimmer. i wasn't sure if maybe i was letting in too much air or if it is indeed because its a new skimmer. If am doing it wrong just let me know how much air i should be letting in and such. i really appreciate the help. Sam <... please learn to/use your spelling and grammar checkers, the WWM Google search tool... and read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seacloneskimfaqs.htm Basically, this product is feeble.... I would trade it in. Bob Fenner>

Some unknown... (infestation of pests or detritivores?) in a protein skimmer.  12/13/05 Hello Guys. <Hi James!> I was at a friend's home and noticed the protein skimmer was not generating skimmate material <Woops! Good catch.> so I offered to look at it and clean/service it. <WOW! Come to my house please...> In the process I discovered that the inside of the (Prizm) <Pretty feeble, but can be made to work, and effective in smaller tanks.> filter had small jelly, off-white to translucent (worms, slugs...?) <and/or sponges, cnidarians, tube-worms, who knows...> things that some were flattish, others oblong and round like a hydra, other had yet what may have been pronounced tentacles like a spaghetti worm. I have not seen such things before (I never thought to run my skimmer this way... hose left on the priming barb) and am not certain as to what to even look up on them. <Pretty common to find such detritivore/filter-feeders in skimmers or other filtration systems. It can be like a little refugium.> Oh, some of the pages on marine diseases are not coming up today as I was trying to look up some of the worm related information. <We'll look into it, thanks.> My take on this is that these things have made home in the protein skimmer as it had not been cleaned <Ugh.> (in fact it was not generating any skimmate material for quite sometime. <Just circulating water, and acting as a refugium of sorts - which is useful too.> I had noticed the collection cup was dry as a bone and (again, mentioned before) the hose was on the priming barb. <Well, there ya go. No air entering the unit at all.> Sorry, I have no pictures. This was just an offer to do something good for a friend. I wished I would have had gloves on while handling the skimmer. <As long as you didn't have any open wounds, there's probably little to worry about.> I approximate the time left in incorrect operation to be about 1-2 months. Any thoughts or suggestions as to where I should be looking further? <Nothing to worry about.> To me it looked like nothing short of an infestation. <Perhaps, but much of it will die with the skimmer in appropriate order (tiny bubbles destroy sponges.> I would also note that the Prizm design is difficult to get brushes into for removal of detritus and other leftover materials. <Yes, but this is true of many skimmers, due to the need to convolute the water path and trap bubbles.> Some notes on the tank: regular fish mortality <UGH, that's an awful phrase.> with previous recurring overstocking problems (often times the fish were angels and tangs). Low pH was a factor some weeks ago (not sure now). There was no test kit (testing materials remaining) available so numbers can not be given. Certainly an algae issue; slimy and red... usual from infrequent maintenance <Exactly.> with same algae on/in the sand at tank bottom and all intakes for pumps, skimmers and etc. The tank was running well for more than a year but has been neglected of late since the one room mate whom has been traveling does most of the maintenance. <Well, either ask them to let you have it, or volunteer to take care of it indefinitely... let your conscience decide!> Sincerely James Zimmer Garfield, NJ <Best regards and Happy Holidays! Lorenzo, Santa Monica CA.>

Overskim  12/5/05 Hi guys, <Hello Steve>  Hope all is well with you all! A quick question - I have a 47G reef with AquaC Remora and Eheim 2016 canister filter fitted (the aquarium is only 3 months old btw). However, as canister filters are renowned as 'Nitrate factories' I was debating whether to remove it and/or replace it with a BakPak 2 skimmer (at least I'd have some bio filtration still). IYO would this be overkill on the skimming front and would you in fact leave the existing filter running for some time longer before removing?  <Canister filters are only nitrate factories if they are not cleaned/changed weekly. I'd guess most people change/clean them monthly at best. I've been running a canister for a year now and my nitrates are undetectable. No such thing as overskimming in regards to the "overkill" question. If no nutrients are present (unlikely), no skimming occurs. You're present system sounds fine, just be sure to replace the filter pad/floss weekly.>  I thank you in advance for any help, Steve Morse.  <You're welcome, James (Salty Dog)> 

Finicky Skimmer Said Five Times Real Fast (Skimmicky Finner)  12/10/05 Dear Madam or Sir: <Hello, Adam J helping you out today.> I have another reason to probe your experiences and technical expertise.   This time, my inquiry relates to my Excalibur HV-I hang-on skimmer with a RIO-800 pump. My tank's basics:  8 months of operation 55 gallons 6-gallon weekly water changes w/ RO water from the local fish store (increased to 10 gallons two weeks ago) <Good.> approx 65 lbs of live rock approx 1" crushed aragonite bottom 1 canister filter <Be sure to clean this out weekly to avoid debris/detritus accumulation.> 1 small-CPR HOB refugium w/ Chaetomorpha (on a timed, opposite light cycle and a 3" sand bed) 3 powerheads (two aimed at the Chaetomorpha in an attempt to cut down on debris accumulation) <Mmm, yes when you prune your Chaeto, its a good idea to give it a shake as well and then siphon out the various debris that comes from it.> salinity 1.0235 pH - 8.1 dKH - 9.0 Ca - 440 temp - between 77 and 78 F nitrites - 0 nitrates - between 0 and 5 (sometimes it is difficult to tell the shade of yellow, but never to the 5) <This is acceptable.> ammonia - between 0 and .25 (again, sometimes difficult to tell the shade of yellow/green) It is stocked with 4 Chromis, 1 neon goby, 1 flame angel, 2 - 3 peppermint shrimp (I bought 3, but only see 2 at any given time), 1 royal Gramma, and 2 clowns. It also has an assortment of hermit crabs and snails. My skimmer's production continues to decline. It went from approximately one-quarter inch of dark fluid every 3-4 days two months ago to about one-quarter inch of weak, green tea every 4-5 days. The change roughly corresponds to when I shifted to 10-gallon water changes.  <Not uncommon for skimmer production to become less as the tank matures but this is a drastic change.> I've cleaned the skimmer's pump twice within the month, but did not find any obstructions. The pump has clean air intake lines, clean impeller and clear impellers, no problems with the magnet, and what appears to be a strong discharge. <This pump, the Rio, is not my first choice. If it is acting up on you I would remove it immediately and replace it with a Maxi-jet 900 or 1200.> Yet, skimmer production keeps falling. Once, a few months ago, a clog in the air inlet line proved to be the problem, but no such luck this time.  I imagined my tank reached a perfect balance, but seeing all the junk that comes from the macroalgae when it's moved cleared that delusion in less time than a commercial break. The Chaetomorpha does not really tumble, and was in the front of the aquarium (where it collected all the uneaten food). That is why I moved it to the top of the tank where I can aim two powerheads at the mass.  <This is better the water flow aimed at it will help in keeping this debris out.> So, I essentially have two questions. First, what should I do to increase the quality (or should that be foulness) of my skimmate? <I would switch out the pump as I suggested and see how that works, possibly increase the air intake as well (turn it up).> How should my reaction chamber appear, and how much foam should I have crawling up the sides? <The chamber should have micro-bubbles in it and the skimmer should be tuned to produce I've raised and lowered the discharge piping, as far the foam production itself hard to say with venturi skimmers, they are pretty tricky to tweak and then there's the quality of the skimmer itself too. I would just "play" with various levels until you get the skimmate you desire. Then again it could just be the skimmer itself, you may be doing nothing wrong at all.> but that only seems to change the water level and not foam production. Given my tank's population, I feel that I should have more from the skimmer. Besides, I sometimes see that think layer of film across the top of my tank's water. <Some powerheads agitating the surface will help with this as well while you are tweaking the skimmer.> Also, will adding more amphipods help remove the detritus from the macroalgae?  <They are detritivores.> Some are enroute to the house, but those are mostly to serve as snacks for the fish during the day. It could be my Chaetomorpha is too dense, but wanted an opinion from you before I start tossing it aside. <Don't toss it prune it.> Thank you for all the guidance you've given to me, and all you do for the hobby. <Welcome, Adam J.>

Finicky Skimmers  12/12/05 Mr. Adam J <No formalities, necessary, Adam will do.> - Thank you for your help.  I'll look at the other pumps, especially as this gives me an excuse to go to the local store on a weekday. <Ah, you think like me, I'm always looking for an excuse to go LFS hopping.> Currently, my skimmer takes a suction from, and discharge to, an extraction box.  If the Maxi-jet 900 or 1200 does not fit in this box, is it better to run without the box, or to find a pump that fits within the current box?   <I'm not a fan of prefilters on skimmers, simply because its hard to guarantee that the water level in the box will stay constant. IF the water level drops you could run your pump dry and burn it out...so it is my preference not to use one.> I do not know if my tweaking helps or hurts, but I suspect it has little effect.  I walked around Sunday, looking at Excalibur skimmers in two different stores.  Some seemed to work better, others not quite as well.  It is difficult to tell "bubble" quality in the reaction chambers.  Also, some of the skimmers were hooked to banks of aquariums with a heavier load than mine, and, of course to aid in the capture of fish, no live rock. <I would get the new pump first adjust the venturi to a normal position (lots of micro-bubbles) give it time to break in and then see how that goes.> Sincerely yours, Sam <Cheers, Adam J.>

Protein skimmer and wet/dry 12/8/05 Outstanding site fellas. I have a 90 Gallon Fish-only w/ wet dry and Mag12. I plan to add a protein skimmer and am leaning towards the AquaC EV-180 or EuroReef based on your recommendations.  <These are excellent choices of skimmers. Do also consider the ASM G-Series for Euro-reef level performance at a much lower price.> The question I have is regarding water flow. I understand you strongly suggest that the skimmer should precede the wet dry. My wet dry is gravity fed from the tank - space limited. I could easily add a skimmer (outside the sump - no room inside) and a 2nd pump (inside the sump). That would of course mean that the water is first fed through wet dry then through skimmer. How can I precede the wet dry with a skimmer? <In an ideal world, surface skimmed water from the tank would be fed directly into the skimmer. In the real world, skimmer design and practical considerations of system design almost always prevent this. Fortunately, it really isn't a big deal. Keep in mind that Aqua-C skimmers can be run externally, ASM cannot and Euro-Reef models must be special ordered for out of sump use.> I'm assuming I need to gravity feed the wet dry. Ideally one could gravity feed the skimmer and have it gravity feed the wet dry but I don't have that kind of height. Am I out of options with this setup? Maybe a second sump/pump for skimmer - but that would present ramifications with synchronizing the pumps' flow rates. <Keep it simple! Added complexity leads to more problems and more risk of water on the floor! I would simply run the skimmer externally, fed from a separate pump (pumping from and returning to the wet/dry... minimal flood risk) or choose an in-sump model that will fit.> Other consideration is to eliminate the wet dry in favor of sump with live rock and/or sand. If I take that approach, any suggestions on fazing out bio balls gradually while avoiding ammonia spikes? <Now you're talking! If you choose this route, I would suggest cycling the live rock in a separate container (any kind of tub or bin will work). This can be done with the help of your new skimmer. Once the rock is cycled, it can be added to the tank and the bio balls can be removed 25% per week until they are gone. Removing the bioballs should free up enough room to run the skimmer in-sump if you choose.> If I plumb the skimmer after the wet dry (easiest setup in my case), am I gaining anything with reducing Nitrates? Thank you very much. Tim  <Skimmers reduce nitrate by removing the organics that eventually get metabolized to nitrate. Unfortunately, this effect is modest. Live rock and/or a deep sand bed in conjunction with a skimmer is really the best ways to deal with nitrate. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/Filtration/Filtration.htm.  Best Regards. AdamC.>

Protein skimmer operation  11/18/05 I've been on the web site reading about protein skimmers & system set up. When you refer to the skimmer needing "raw tank water", what exactly do you mean? <Mmm, an indication of "where" the skimmer should be placed in a series of operations/modes of filtration. That is, "near the front", with the newest (raw) water... ahead of mechanical, biological filtration> Is this water that has not gone through a pre-filter, filter sock, etc? <Mmm, in general, yes... though I do like using these first myself...> Also, do you know of a good web site to purchase Euro-reef skimmers? Thanks --- Corey <I'd try the etailers Custom Aquatic, Marine Depot, Dr.s Foster & Smith if you know the model you want. Bob Fenner> 

To skim or to stock?  11/10/05 Hi, Crew, Branon here. I need to know if I should get some detritivores or start up the ol' protein skimmer or both. I've got a 55gal reef setup... or at least started. I've got 30+lbs. of dry (now wet :-) Fiji rock (buddy left it out to dry on his front porch when he tore down his 75gal FOWLR tank last year...), a 4" CaribSea special grade sand bed on a 1" plenum. I've got another 1/2" Aruba/oyster shell rubble on top of that and 10lbs. of GARF Grunge TM live sand activator. <Heee, just aragonitic material smashed up by an old guy and a hammer> Right now I'm running a 40w 6500k NO and 2 65w super actinic CFLs for 12hr/day. As soon as I finish building the hood it'll have 1 250w 10000k Ushio MH and the 2 65w CFLs. The system has been up for three weeks and there hasn't been any ammonia/nitrate/nitrite spike that I have seen (testing every third day). I haven't checked phosphates or Ca yet, but I'm dosing weekly with B-ionic (2 TBSP ea. 1&2) and Kent Essential Elements (1 tsp/wk.) and am pretty sure those amounts aren't hurting anything. My make up water is treated/buffered tap water. In the last 2 days I've seen a lot of green, hair, and rusty looking algae really starting to grow. I don't want to do resins, etc. for phosphates/silicates/et al. and can't afford the RO yet. GARF recommended leaving the protein skimmer off to allow the maximum effect of the activator. Should I get some crabs, snails, etc... to keep the algae in check or turn on the protein skimmer or both? <I'd do both> The only thing living in the aquarium thus far is what I was told is a colt coral 3.5" and a small mushroom 3/4"...and some sponges and such that have started to populate the rock from the Grunge. I've attached pics of the coral and the tank, trying to capture the algae.  <I would still do both... maybe turn the skimmer on for a day ahead of cleaner-upper organism addition.>  Thanks for the input and the awesome site. <Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Mud Question  11/9/05 Hello Crew. <Steven> I have been reading up on the "Miracle Mud" and the benefits from utilizing it. I have a 250 gallon FOWLR along with a 50 gallon sump + refugium set up. In the main tank I have ~225 lbs. of Tonga cured live rock, and about 4-6" live fine aragonite deep sand bed. In the refugium I have crushed live rock with Caulerpa and mini compacts running 24hrs/day. The inhabitants are a medium Orange shoulder tang, medium/large Longnose Butterfly, large Bicolor Rabbitfish, med/large Bicolor angel, small/med. Chevron, 30" Zebra moray, and a medium Chrysurus angel.  I was thinking of removing the crushed live rock as the substrate in the refugium and replacing it with miracle mud. Could  this mud be used without the Eco System set up, and instead just added to my already existing refugium section of my sump? <Yes> If so would there be a problem with taking the Caulerpa off of the crushed rock, removing all of the rock and replacing it with the mud, then add the Caulerpa back on top of the mud? <Not likely> Last question: Would this process potentially shock my system by removing the rock/Caulerpa, then adding the mud and Caulerpa back? <Mmm, there is a possibility of the Caulerpa "not being happy", but taking care to pinch/crush it off the existing rock, rinsing it before returning in/over the mud/refugium should be fine> I will stay with the skimmer as I tend to be an "over feeder" and don't entirely buy off on the concept of Miracle Mud to the exclusion of a skimmer.  Your thoughts are greatly appreciated. Steven  <I would use both the Mud and a skimmer... Leng Sy is a friend, oh, and the owner/mgr. of EcoSystem Aquarium... and he has relented re his stance on the use of both. I would leave yours "on" continuously, though some folks advocate, use skimming in conjunction with mud filtration on a punctuated basis (with a timer, on/off every few hours). Bob Fenner>

Skimmers  11/8/05 I have a question about some protein skimmers here.  I have had a bit of a lousy ride trying to find one for my 29gal  FOWLR Tank. Being the novice I am I first went out to buy the SeaClone 100, which would not even adjust. Then I bought a similar looking unit by Catalina Aquatics. Still no good. Actually fell apart in tank.   Next I bought the Prizm Skimmer by Red Sea which I thought would be a good choice, slim, quiet better design, that put way too many microbubbles in my tank for over 2 weeks. So now, I still have my Whisper Power filter that came with the kit, only with some Purigen as a nitrate sponge, but I would like something to pull the nutrients out of the water. I change out 5 gallons of water every week, replacing with Nutri-Seawater (Real ocean water). Do I keep that same  Schedule with a skimmer??  <Jon, the Prizm Skimmer is not a bad skimmer for your tank size. Certain additives in the water can cause excess bubbles. I have a Prizm on a 29 mini reef and I have yet to see any bubbles. For skimmers to be efficient, they must be cleaned weekly. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks !  <You're welcome> 

Do You Want to Skim it Now, or Skim it Later?  Skim Me Now! Skim Me Now! 11/4/05 I need to know when I should start my protein skimmer. My new tank has been running for a week and the only thing I have going are the lights and power heads. I know I should weight to add life forms  <Yes.>  but I need to know what else I should be doing.  <I prefer to start skimming immediately especially during 'the cycle' and most skimmers need a break in time anyway. This 'break-in' period can take up to 2 weeks sometimes. As far as more detail in the cycling aspect please search WWM Re: Marine Nitrogen Cycle, Adam J.> 

Skimmer bubbles 11/1/05 Hey guys, <Mike> I have built a Beckett style skimmer (similar to Precision Marine's Bullet-2) for my 150 FOWLR and am testing it using regular ole tap water. The bubble size is a little too large for good efficient skimming. <Yep... will change using "used" marine> I was wondering if the properties of the tap water, as opposed to salt water, would have anything to do with bubble size. I'm pumping with a Mag 24 and have adjusted the air intake to decrease the size, but I am just not getting that really fine bubble. Would freshwater keep me from getting the proper size and amount of bubbles I need? <Yes. Bob Fenner>

Cleaned Skimmer Not Working - 10/30/05 Hello... great site! <<Thanks>> I have looked for an answer to my question but haven't come across it. <<OK>> 4 days ago I combined a 70 gal. reef and a 50 gal. reef in a new 130 gal. tank. I probably used 60% old water and 40% new. I have an AquaC-150 that has worked well in the past. I gave it a thorough cleaning with vinegar as it was very dirty and calcified. It skimmed the first night for a couple hours and has done nothing since. I believe the water level is where it should be. <<Hmm...are you sure? After such a thorough cleaning you may need to raise the water height a bit for a while.>> There is no obstruction in the nozzle. The sump water level is consistent and the water comes directly from the overflow to the pump but the foam does not build up in the tower. <<Raise the water height until it does.>> I am wondering if my cleaning has screwed it up or if the tank move and all the new water have resulted in nothing to skim? <<Always something to skim. As you surmise, the cleaning has changed some properties in the skimmer...but no worries...make adjustments to get it working properly and keep an eye on it to make more adjustments as necessary as it "ages" again.>> Like I said, it has been 4 days now and I am confused, especially since I thought there should be some die-off with a move and a small cycle (which is why I would really like the skimmer working). Any insight and recommendation would be appreciated. <<Adjust and monitor...>> Troy <<Regards, EricR>>

Re: Cleaned Skimmer Not Working - 10/31/05 Hi, and thanks for your prompt response. <<Welcome>> I thought it must be the skimmer as you suggested so I moved my Remora Pro from the other tank I have running onto this new tank since I am concerned about the small cycle I may go through. This old skimmer was working fine on the old tank and now has the same problem in the new tank... no foam buildup. This makes me think it is something with the water in the new system preventing foam buildup. I have tested for all the usual and everything seems fine. Perhaps more telling is the fact that every living thing in the system seems fine, including 4 Crocea clams. Do you have any ideas? <<Hmm...most any system will produce skimmate with a good skimmer (like the AquaC you have), it is rare that a system would be so devoid of waste products/decomposition as to not produce anything...but that doesn't mean it can't be so.>> By the way, I used RO water and no chemicals other than salt. I am not really panicking since everything seems fine but I sure am puzzled why the skimmer would not even foam for a few minutes in 5 days. Any more insights are greatly appreciated. <<Trust your instincts for now, keep the skimmer running and keep an eye on the system. I'd be interested to hear how things progress.>> Thanks, Troy <<Regards, EricR>>

Re: Cleaned Skimmer Not Working (Update) - 11/02/05 Hi Eric (my father's name by the way), <<Hello Troy>> That's why I like you guys... because you're very knowledgeable. <<I like the sound of this. <G> >> The Remora started skimming after 24 hours of "settling in" and so it appears your first assumption, that the cleaning I gave the EV150, was indeed the problem. <<Heee!...I love it when I get one right!>> Incidentally, it is still not skimming after 1 week. I emailed AquaC (great service) and it seems the skimmer is functioning properly so it just may take some more time I guess. <<Hmm...possibly...>> At least I have another skimmer now working on the system in the meantime. Anyways, I just wanted to give you kudos for helping out and being right in the first place. Troy <<The pleasure is mine. EricR>>

Skimmer clarification 10/30/05 Hey guys and girls. I have gotten into an argument with a LFS manager about skimmers, and was hoping you could help clear this up. Well here goes. I know from experience that my skimmer produces 1/2 cup to 1 cup a day of nice skimmate. My bioload is very low I only have 1 hammer coral, 1 torch coral, 2 cleaner shrimp, 1 coral banded shrimp, 1 Protoreaster nodosus, 2 damsels and 1 freckled Hawkfish and still get that amount of skimmate on average for my 125 with 150 lbs of live rock.  My friend has a 180 gallon with 200lbs of live rock and a huge amount of fish including large Queen angel, 1 Niger trigger, hogfish, anemones, tangs, wrasses and many more.. My friend asked me to look at his skimmer to check for proper function. He only gets maybe 1/2 cup of skimmate in a week. His skimmer is powered by a 1800gph Mag drive pump and his air valve is opened all the way. I told him to tell the pet store guy something is wrong with it and to return the skimmer.  My friend was told that 1/2 cup of skimmate per week was about right and anything more than that is too much. So. How is that possible? My skimmer is power by a Rio 2500 and gives me great production. Now my friend thinks I don't know what I'm talking about. Can you please settle this matter. I think my skimmer works great. Thank You <Mmm, will try to make a clear, succinct statement re... Different systems have varying capacities (that change in time) re how much quantity, quality of skimmate they'll produce per any given type/model of skimmer... some systems develop to produce actually very little skimmate period... irregardless of comparatively larger amounts of biota, feeding... The best way of assessing "who is right" here is to add/swap skimmers, pumps and "see what you get". Cheers, Bob Fenner>  

Foamy water & Skimmer on overdrive 10/28/05 I have a 70gal reef tank, established 3 years now. I did a 10 gal. water change yesterday using Red Sea Salt (same brand I always use) my water is very foamy, and my BakPak II skimmer is now going crazy, filling to the top with pretty clear but mildly slimy water every 3 minutes. I unplugged it over night last night (so I could go to bed). All inhabitants seemed to be doing well this morning so I did another 5 gal water change (to flush it out more). <Good> Kept it off all day today (while at work) and when I came home the refugium underneath is full of foam just from the sump hose flowing into it. As soon as I plug in the skimmer it fills to overflow with the slimy water. I did not use anything that could have had soap. Do you have any idea? Still the animals seem fine. Carol <Hmm, some thing/s are either going on in your system (a mass spawning event for instance... by small animals in the substrate...) or someone has poured in some other something that causes mass foaming. In either case, dipping, toweling off the excess foam and the water changes are the route to go here. Bob Fenner>

Where Do I Stick It?  What About Flow?  Skimmer Set-up 10/25/05 Hello! I love your website. I have recently bought an approximately 450 Litre marine tank with a built in trickle filter. I wanted to buy the best skimmer I could get, but Aqua C and EuroReef brands are not available in Australia :(.  <It is always amazing to me how hard it is for you Aussies to get equipment that we take for granted!> <<I don't know.. they are on the other side of the earth, surrounded by water and all.  MH>> So I bought the most expensive one which was an AquaMedic 1000 TurboFlotor. You might find my question trivial but it has been bugging me. The tank is not set up yet and I've been working out where the skimmer will go. It fits (just) in the trickle filter and I plan to put the bioballs and Ehfi substrate underneath the Ocean Runner pump.  Here is my problem. The direction of water flow through the trickle filter is from left to right (can't be changed). The skimmer seems to be constructed so that it should be placed somewhere where the direction is from right to left because the pump is on the right side and the outflow tubes are left. I was wondering if I do place it in the trickle filter will it just be recycling it's own outflow water? It's really the only good place I can fit it short of putting it smack bang on the front of the tank! Advice much appreciated.  <As long as you can operate the skimmer normally (without blocking inlets or outlets), the orientation of the skimmer relative to the water flow will make very little difference in it's performance. Best Regards. AdamC.> 

Skimmer in overflow follow up 10/31/05 Thanks for the reply Adam. My skimmer's outflow tubes are not EXACTLY blocked. They have about 1cm clearance to where the water will be pumped straight onto the back glass of the trickle filter. This is obviously not a good thing-but I think it may be my only option.  <This is no problem as long as the water level in the skimmer can drop low enough for proper function. Also, if you need more space, I believe that the outflow fittings on this skimmer can be removed, which would give you an extra inch or so of space. Best Regards. AdamC.>

RedOx, skimming  10/21/05 Hello Bob, I am curious as to why my ORP reading is lower (around 312) when I run my protein skimmer vs. above 400 when not using it? <Mmm, removal of charged particles, molecules, atoms by the skimmer> I stumbled upon this discovery when my skimmer pump failed and was out for a month. The ORP reading had been running 300 to 380 over the last year. Then shortly after the skimmer pump went out, ORP reading jumped to around 450. Once skimmer pump was replaced, ORP dropped back to historical levels. I am using a PINPOINT meter. I was under the assumption a protein skimmer increased the oxygen level in water column, which in turn raises the ORP reading. <Mmm, does "some things" that both raise and lower reduction/oxidation potential> I have a 90 gallon reef tank utilizing a plenum with a 5 inch sand bed. It is a lightly stocked reef with 5 fish and 60 lbs live rock. Lights on (varying intensities) for a total of 16 hours per day. Skimmer runs for 7 hours during night time. Set-up is 14 months old. Thanks for all your great insight over the years. Randy <Welcome, and I would not be (overly)concerned here. Bob Fenner> Poor Skimmate Production 10/3/05 Hi crew!  My question is in regards to my Bak Pak protein skimmer.  I have well established [10 months] 55g FO setup using a media containing canister filter, uv sterilizer and a Bak Pak skimmer. Fish include a Heniochus butterfly, Percula clown, Longnose hawk, and a Flame angel.  I'm getting little if any skimmate.  I have added an air line with a lime wood to add bubbles.  This produced a dense cloud of microbubbles, but still little skimmate.  I purchased an Aqua Remora hang on skimmer only to be disappointed that it did not fit into my acrylic tank because of the hood of my tank.  Please!!!  Any suggestions to improve the function of my skimmer. <With your stocking level and assuming normal feeding, you should probably half fill the collection cup every few days with the air wood added.  If you are getting less than this, it could be due to something breaking the surface tension of the bubbles.  Possible culprits include oils from your skin, oils from fish food, aerosols used in your home, etc.  You may also consider cleaning the entire skimmer and pump by placing it in a bucket of water with about 1/4 cup per gallon of bleach.  Either run the pump in this solution or disassemble it.  Let it sit overnight in the bleach solution and the next day rinse all with warm water, allow to dry and put it back on the tank.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> UK marines, poor English, laziness in general  10/2/05 aloha again, thank you very much and I know how to spell the species names but fat fingers and a lack of coordination don't show this, <Then use the Net...> secondly, I have heard that many Centropyge angels are natural algae grazers and I figured seeing as my tank would be too small for a tang or Foxface one of these may help to prevent my Caulerpa from reproducing and spreading uncontrollably. <No> and a final note on my choice of skimmer, I am not sure whether you know but in England there seems to be a large ethos on "under skimming" tanks so as to preserve plankton populations in circumstances where a refugium would be impractical, <Have seen this. I write for a marine magazine there> I have heard of using a powerful skimmer on a 12 hour cycle but I fear that the constant switching on and off would damage the impellor and cause an oxygen imbalance throughout the day. <Better to have a poor design/engineered one if this under skimming is what you want to achieve... and leave it running continuously> best regards <What is it with the "i's?"... lack of capitals... please don't be/appear ignorant... use your grammar and spell-checkers before sending correspondence. Bob Fenner> Skimming and Rowaphos 10/01/05 Hi WWM crew. The most valuable web site... I learn & enjoy and thanks to you all. I am setting up a 210 gal FOWLR system in my office with 75 gal refugium under the cabinet. Its been set up and running for 10 weeks. I am trying to reduce any chance of algae problem in the beginning for future and my set up is follows. It has ozonizer and controller that is set to 350 mv and is in working order,  6" DSB in the refugium (36" X 18" X 6" in volume with 9 bags of 30lbs Aragamax Sugar-Sized Sand). The main display has 1/2" of the same kind of substrate with 175 lbs of live rock. AquaMedic 29" protein skimmer with Mag Drive 5. Iwaki MD100RLT motor for circulation between refugium and main display. Aqua Medic NitrAte reductor that release 0 nitrate and 0 nitrite after filtration. 3 bags of Chemi pure in the refugium before the return motor. Lighting with 2 XM 15000k 175W metal halide and 4 60" VHO 140w each (2-AquaSun 10000k and 2-Super Actinic 420 nm peak Bulbs). Total of 910 Watts. Turns on 7 hours a day with timers in sequence. I have a little more lighting in case I change to a reef later but not now.  I do not turn on  metal halide bulbs at this time. I only have one 12" Golden Moray Eel that I added 3 weeks ago and feeding is done twice a  week as you recommend and doing very fine. I filled the system with RO/DI water from the start. Water test are done daily with Salifert test kits.  Ammonia 0 ppm,  Nitrite 0 ppm, KH 9.6 dKH, Ph 8.2, Nitrate 10 ppm, Silicate 3 ppm, Phosphate 1.5 ppm, Temperature 80 F., ORP 350 mv with 24 hours monitor & controlled with ozonizer. I was worried about the nitrate, phosphate, and silicate test reading and I read about Rowaphos PO4 & Si02 Absorber on the website and I added 700 ml of them in Fluval 404 Canister filter with 2 sheet of Poly Filter that cut in small pieces with 1 qt of E.S.V. Granular Activated Carbon. I used a cut to fit filter pads in between them to have maximum water contact time for the materials. They recommend to run the filter for 24/7 for maximum removal of unwanted algae problem caused by phosphate and silicate from the beginning. The skimmer removed at least 1.5 to 2.0 cups of waste every day and the water was crystal clear. Now here is the problem. After I installed and run this Fluval 404 Canister filter with all of the filtering things inside my skimmer produced a small amount of black waste and stopped producing anything for 2 weeks . The water is cloudy now. The Nitrate level is still around 10 ppm, phosphate dropped to 0.4ppm, silicate dropped to .05 ppm after the canister filter ran for 3 days. I turned  off the canister filter, adjusted the skimmer, vacuumed the substrate, performed a 20% water change, turned off the ozonizer, adjusted lighting time more and less, but still no skimming. My knowledge is ran out of idea and I could not find related FAQ's on your web site about this problem I have. Please HELP me and Thank You in advance.<<Rowaphos is effective at removing phosphate and silicate from water. Phosphate contributes to algae growth while silica contributes to diatom blooms. A properly functioning skimmer removes organic waste from the water. These are two different things. From your description, it sounds like the Rowaphos was working in that the phosphate and silicate levels were dropping. Removing phosphate and silicate is not removing protein waste. While the tank rock is cycling, the skimmate production will be higher. After cycling, fluctuations in production will be related to the amount of waste available. This is a function of the number of fish in the system and the amount of food you are introducing. Ozone will also affect skimmate production and generally enhances the skimmer performance. If the skimmer production diminished it could be because the skimmer needs adjustment or it might be because there is not a lot of waste to remove. A lack of waste could be caused by a combination of things including: the system has completed the initial cycle, you have a large water volume with only one eel and you have stopped the ozone. Additionally, Chemi-Pure removes waste. The cloudy water could be caused by a bacterial bloom, sediment in the water column or micro bubbles. Sediment will settle out and a filter sock will help. If it's micro bubbles, you will need to find the source of the bubbles. If the cloudy water us related to a bloom of some kind, fixing and increasing the skimmate production will help clear it. At this point, I would check the skimmer adjustment, continue with the water changes and monitor the system. Good luck - Ted>> Skimmer Experiment - 09/29/05 Guys (and gals! I was corrected on that one last time ;) ) <<Tis good to learn from one's mistakes <G> >> While waiting for the new Tunze 9002 to be available for my reef aquarium (actually plan to use 2), I thought I would experiment with the Clear-For-Life skimmer that came with my Uniquarium.  It produces skimmate daily, but it's very watery.  You can adjust it till you're blue in the face, but all you'll get is mediocre skimmate. <<Generally a function of mediocre design.>> So, I thought I would try replacing the stock Rio 600 RVT with a Maxi-Jet 1200 with venturi option.  Its only been running for about 14 hours, but the Maxi-Jet, while producing very fine bubbles, produces NO skimmate in this skimmer. <<I'll refer you back to your "adjust till you're blue in the face" comment.>> It seems in looking at it, that the total amount of bubbles at the top of the skimmer is less than with the Rio.  No bubbles are escaping the skimmer, so I expected more.  Is this because of increased water flow on the 1200 without significantly increased airflow as compared to the 600? <<Likely just the opposite.  The Maxi-Jet is probably producing more air volume with the venture than it is producing water volume/flow...thus the water height in the skimmer body is too "low" to allow the foam to make the journey to the skimmer cup.  Unless you have some way to raise the water height in the skimmer body (possible by restricting the outflow), or can reduce the air intake (defeats the purpose of the venturi), or can add a second variable-flow pump... Getting the picture?  Poor function by design,>> Or am I just being impatient? <<Some skimmers can take a bit to get back to where they were before a cleaning...don't think that's the issue here though.>> From all I've read on WWM and on the Internet in general, I expected better production using the 1200, even on this sub-standard skimmer. <<I am doubtful it is the powerhead's fault.>> Sidebar question <<we charge more for these <grin> >>; space considerations are driving me to the decision to use 2 Tunze 9002s in the filter chambers of my 50G Uniquarium. <<Shouldn't be a problem...>> Aquarium is mixed LPS/Soft Coral with a significant amount of live rock and 1-2" sand bed.  The 9002 is rated for 52G.  Does that mean a 52g TANK or 52g of WATER? <<I would take this measurement as total volume, regardless.  Best to over estimate than under estimate.>> Do (2) 9002s sound reasonable? <<Sure, won't hurt anything in my estimation, though probably not necessary on this tank...Tunze skimmers enjoy a pretty good reputation.  Regards, EricR>> TJ

Re Skimmer Experiment  10/1/05 Thanks Eric.  You were 100% correct in the fact that adding the venturi to the 1200 restricts water flow. <<Ah!... nice to know I get some things right <G>.>> I did a little experiment in a tub of water and the venturi device not only restricts water flow tremendously, but it causes some pulsation as well. <<Yes, to be expected...mismatch between air input and water flow.>> I actually found a way to make it work, but poor skimmer design is poor skimmer design, so the skimmer is going anyway..... <<Agreed my friend>> For interest, this is what I did; If you take the 1200 venturi device, and look at it from the bottom, there is a hole in the center that the airline connects to and 4 slotted ports around that for water flow.  I took a small rotary file and increased the size of the water-flow holes.  That increased both water flow and airflow, smoothed out the pulses, and improved bubble production by at least 100%. <<excellent>> Of course the skimmer is still balking at producing much, BUT I've sure got a lot of tiny bubbles now. <<I guess we're back to the design...>> Lawrence Welk would be proud, skimmer on way to trash...... << <grin> >> Thanks for the advice on The TUNZES. TJ <<Most welcome my friend... EricR>>

Source Water and Protein Skimmers  9/26/05 James: Thank you for the response.  I've run tests against source water and no problems with it.  I do not use any additives that activate the skimmer. Do some additives stay in solution unless removed? <Yes> The food is almost always consumed completely by the tank inhabitants.  I've added a PolyFilter in the overflow and Pura filter pads to the wet dry. Yet, when I do a water change, and when I pour the water into the bucket,<Is this old water from tank or new water?> it is really foamy (and the bubbles stay in tact for quite a bit of time).  I've implemented (last week) a regimen now of 4 gallons water change every other day.  For now, I'm not using the RO unit due to the production time and my personal schedule (it is being used for the small reef though). Moreover, I've been doing 10% water changes every other day on the reef tank, however the bubble problem occurs there as well. Is there anything I can add (chemically or physically) to remove whatever bacteria or item that is causing the excessive foaming? <Matt, did you get a hardness reading?  If you pour water from your tap  into a pail, does it foam also?  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, --matt

Re: Source Water and Protein Skimmers  9/26/05 > James: > Thank you for the response.  I've run tests against > source water and no problems with it.  I do not use > any additives that activate the skimmer. > Do some additives stay in solution unless removed? > <Yes> --MATT-- I know that aloe Vera is a big foaming source and added it when I was first building the tank (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Stress Coat).  I know longer use this product and now I use a skimmer friendly additive (Seachem Prime or Marine Bio Coat).  Other than that, I've added Kent Trace Elements. --MATT-- > The food is almost always consumed completely by the > tank inhabitants.  I've added a PolyFilter in the > overflow and Pura filter pads to the wet dry. > Yet, when I do a water change, and when I pour the > water into the bucket,<Is this old water from tank > or new water?> --MATT-- This is the old water. --MATT-- it is really foamy (and the > bubbles stay in tact for quite a bit of time).  I've > implemented (last week) a regimen now of 4 gallons > water change every other day.  For now, I'm not > using > the RO unit due to the production time and my > personal > schedule (it is being used for the small reef > though). > Moreover, I've been doing 10% water changes every > other day on the reef tank, however the bubble > problem > occurs there as well. > Is there anything I can add (chemically or > physically) > to remove whatever bacteria or item that is causing > the excessive foaming? <Matt, did you get a hardness > reading?  If you pour water from your tap  into a > pail, does it foam also?  James (Salty Dog)> --MATT-- I noticed that there is Nitrate in my tap water. Source water reads about 150ppm on the hardness (lake Michigan water).  Alkalinity looks good, ph is solid. My tap water does not foam. <Matt, I've come to the conclusion that the additives you are using is remaining in solution (Bio Coat) and causing your foaming problems.  The Bio Coat will cling to everything else in the tank along with the fish.  No danger at all in using the product of course, but I've always been a believer of "if it works, don't fix it". When quarantining a fish, administer the Bio Coat in the QT if you prefer to use it. I've been in the hobby 30+ years and recall only using a similar product twice, and discontinued after experiencing the same problem you are describing.  Regular water changes should dilute this enough to eliminate the foaming provided you discontinue the use of the product in the main display.  James (Salty Dog)> --MATT--

Protein Skimmers, Can You Skim too Much?  9/25/05 Hi <Adam J with you this evening.> Just a simple question, I will be setting up a 125-gallon tank in the next few months but I really need a better skimmer for my 46-gallon tank right now.  Would it be safe to buy a Euro reef skimmer rated for a 125-gallon tank and apply it to my 46-gallon tank, or would I be over skimming? <This will be fine, in my opinion you cant overskim, short of stripping every nutrient from your water (which is not likely). However if you are unhappy as to the 'power' of your skimmer you can always restrict flow to the skimmer by adjusting the pump.> Thanks, Jed <Anytime, Adam J.> Positioning a Protein Skimmer For Optimal Performance  9/21/05 First of all guys, want to thank you for all the help. I've been using your excellent site for advice and this is my first time writing in questions. <Welcome to WWM! Scott F. here today!> I have a 50G Uniquarium with a healthy mixed soft/LPS coral reef system. I am in the process of removing the bioballs in that chamber of the Uniquarium to bring nitrates down as they are pretty much stuck at almost 20PPM. <Removing the bioballs will be a big help in this endeavor!> All other water parameters are fine. No separate sump. Here are my questions: The Uniquarium uses a black sponge pre-filter in the first chamber. <Which I would clean very frequently (like several times per week.), before it becomes a potential nutrient trap!> Water overflows from tank, hits the venturi-operated pump (mounted half-way down the first chamber) that runs the airflow into the center of the Clear-For-Life skimmer in the next chamber (pump output goes through a hole thru the wall of the chambers), then water not pulled in through the pump, hits the foam filter at the bottom of chamber one and enters the skimmer in chamber 2 from the bottom. The skimmer is open at the bottom of the cylinder. Several times I've read on your site that you should not pre-filter the skimmer flow. Is this system pre-filtering that flow? <If you have a sponge or other mechanical media pulling particulate out before the water hits the skimmer, that is okay. However, if you're talking about using activated carbon or other chemical media before water hits the skimmer, that's kinda of counter-productive, IMO. You want "raw", unfiltered (chemically, anyways) water supplied to the skimmer for optimal performance.> Water in the venturi pump is not filtered, but water entering skimmer chamber from bottom is. Also, since I'm not very happy with the clear-for-life skimmer, I'd like to find one that will fit in either the skimmer chamber or empty Bio Ball chamber of the Uniquarium. The skimmer chamber is very small. The bioball chamber is larger, but obviously only has a few inches of water in it. The Urchin may fit in the skimmer chamber or Urchin pro might fit the bill in the bioball chamber, but would the Urchin Pro work under those circumstances? <It might be better to position the Aqua C Remora in a hang-on-the-back configuration, assuming that you have room behind the tank. The pump feeding the skimmer can be located in the "wet" portion of the filter chamber.> Now that I have the empty bioball chamber, other than using it for carbon, etc, would you recommend putting a foam filter in the water at the bottom of the chamber which is downstream from the skimmer, especially if I remove the "prefilter" I mentioned above? <If you are going to use some prefiltration, mechanical media is advisable- and you should use it before the skimmer to remove particulate.> Thanks in advance TJ <You're quite welcome! I think that you're on the right track. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Skimmer  9/19.5/05 I'd like to run my 110gal tank's overflow directly to the very large 8" x 5' counter current skimmer that I'm going to build. Is this the best place for it if I don't plan on any mechanical filtration? <I'd run a part of the overflow into the skimmer and the rest into the sump if you plan on using one (recommended).> I'd like to switch my skimmer box over to overflow hoses (acrylic tank). What size would be appropriate? <All depends on the capacity of the skimmer you're building and the flow rate it would be capable of.> I've also a problem with micro bubbles in display tank from my mag 36 pump which runs through four 5/8 Rio motion agitators that hang upside down at the top of tank. Can I stop them from forming? does it matter? <You are probably sucking air in someplace in the system.  Are the agitators completely submerged?>  I can't tell you how much I enjoy the knowledge you guys share with everyone! Thanks many times over. Bill Mintzer <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Source Water and Protein Skimmers 9/19/05 Crew: Love your site, you guys (and gals) are the best. Here is my current set up. 90 gal FO sump, wet/dry (filter pad changed weekly, prefilters washed weekly) Coralife Super Skimmer 125 g (sitting in clean side) 1.023 salinity 0 amm 0 Nitri > 20 ppm nitrA 8.3 ph Phosguard in sump frequent water changes (10% every 5 days) Magnum 350 for chemical (cleaned weekly) I use treated tap water with skimmer friendly products only. Residents Diamond Watchman Goby Snowflake Eel Koran Angel A Wrasse (blue face, yellow stripe mid-body, red tail) A dog-face puffer and a stars and stripes puffer (rescued, I know he'll eventually outgrow my tank, but it was take him and raise him or let the owner kill him :-[). Anyways, the skimmer I'm using is producing an abundance of microbubbles.  I worked with my LFS and they are baffled as to why the skimmer isn't working correctly.  They even set up a 48 hour test in their store on a vacant system and it worked like a charm (no massive bubbles on output).  After eliminating all the chemicals as candidates we narrowed it down to source water quality.  As an aside, I have brown algae that returns within 3 days of cleaning... I've purchased and am in the process of setting up an RO unit, but at the rate it goes, it will be weeks before I cycle all the water in the tank.  I want to fix the source water problem before I hook up anymore items (like a UV filter). My LFS thought perhaps because my house is older (50 years+), that there are large amounts of iron or heavy metals in the source water.  I personally think it is from feeding daily (freshwater MYSIS, Emerald Entree, Plankton and Brine [on a random schedule]). Any thoughts? <Quantities of food should be limited to only what the animals will eat.  Leftovers just adds more nutrients to the water.  As for source water, you might want to take a sample to a pure water place in your area and test for Total Dissolved Solids (TDS).  James (Salty Dog)> --Drags P.S. I have gone so far as to contact Energy Savers and they think there is something in the water.  I have another tank, a reef, that exhibits accelerated algae growth. Plumbing/hiding an external skimmer  9/17/05 Hi Guys I am planning on buying this new protein skimmer, It is called the IM1000. I live in South Africa and this skimmer is locally made based on the Deltec model, it is suitable for a 1000l tank, my tank is approx 400l. <The Deltec folks are here at the MACNA show in Washington... I and twelve other fellows helped them lift their tank into place last night> I have seen this skimmer in action and I am very, very impressed by it and its construction, however my tank does not have a sump which it can plug directly into. This is a free standing skimmer and the only way I am aware of installing it is on the outside of my tank, the problem with this is that the skimmer will have to reside on the outside and it will be very visible as it will need to be the same height as the hood of my tank enabling water to be returned from the skimmer back to the tank. This is rather a big skimmer and it wont look good alongside the hood of my tank. <Agreed> Is there any other way I can get this skimmer hooked up without having it to sit so high up? <... in another room?> I really  want to get this skimmer working on my tank as I am aware of the benefits that it will bring to my system. Please help. Thanks <Well, there are "squattier" makes/models that do a good job as well... Bob Fenner who can't do the magic of making yours invisible> Swimming Against The Tide!  09/13/2005 Hello Crew, <Hey there! Scott F. at your service tonight!> I have a 29 gallon saltwater setup, with a Clownfish, a featherduster, and a couple hermits. I have a Biowheel filter rated for up to 50 gallons, and I just recently added a Red Sea Prizm protein skimmer, rated for up to 100 gallons. But about 3 hours after I installed the skimmer, my clown fish started swimming funny "like he was struggling". He was swimming face down, and in the corner of the tank, over by the intake. I was wondering what would have caused this. TOO much water flow? The skimmer was sucking to much? Please help!   Brian <Well, Brian, Clownfish are not the best swimmers, so it is not unusual to hear of the fish struggling against some flow. I'd keep an eye on the fish for signs of injury or disease. If the flow is too much, you may need to direct it or diffuse it throughout the tank. Keep a close eye out and adjust as needed! Regards, Scott F.>

Protein Skimmer (Gimme Some Info To Work With!) - 09/11/05 What kind of installation is an RK2 RK600PE protein skimmer? <<You don't really give me much to go on here do you... but if I were to hazard a guess as to what you are asking, I would say it is an "external" installation.  Meaning it is placed outside the tank or sump and plumbed to receive water from/return water to same.  Maybe this link will help with the info you seek:   http://www.aquaticeco.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/product.detail/iid/7911/cid/1991    ...Regards, EricR>>

Skimmer Problem... Seaclone  9/10/05 I have a 55 gallon salt water tank which I converted in May of this year and it's fine however I have a Seaclone 100 skimmer that is constantly bubbling up and it makes my tank run low on water and I have to refill because of the draining there is just to much bubbles coming into the collection cup. I've tried adjusting the outtake to the minimal but no luck. My question is it possible for a skimmer to go bad because of power outages? <Mmm, no... this product is just poorly designed, un-engineered... a gimmick> and if so what can I do to get the skimmer back working properly? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seacloneskimfaqs.htm Short answer: get a real skimmer. Bob Fenner>

Re: Live Rock or Not? 9/5/05 Ali, I received my Remora Pro with the mag 3 filter. WOW it is much quieter than the Prism even for a break in period. Thank you for the great advice. <Ginette, just wait until the unit breaks in! It'll be jammin'> I called every LFS and no one carried the AquaC products. I ordered through Marine Depot (yeah free shipping). <Ah, next time you call MD ask for me!> I am happy to say the 13lbs of LR is not dying so far on me. I am seeing some purple buds growing and found some tiny snails. I removed the air stones. Am I correct that the skimmer will give me the same effect and that this will reduce the salt creep? <Salt creep is only caused when saltwater comes into contact with aquarium edges and/or equipment, generally due to splashing or 'saltwatery' hands/towels touching them. You really don't need to be utilizing air stones so you did the right thing by removing them as the new skimmer will be much more efficient. I would highly recommend adding as much water circulation as possible, without blowing your sand all over the place, during the 'cycling' phase. This can be easily achieved by utilizing small powerheads such as the MaxiJet 900s (roughly 230gph while being an energy efficient 8 watts). Good luck Ginette! - Ali> Increasing Skimmer Performance and Removing Wet/Dry Filter  9/2/05 Hi, <Hello Paull> I just got a new Queen venturi skimmer (a Chinese knock off of a good brand I think) which sucks in air via a normal sized air hose - do you think it would increase performance if I got an air pump to force feed the skimmer? <I wouldn't> Also, my tank has been set up for about two years now and the main filtration is a penguin BioWheel. It's a 40g tank and I'm not sure exactly how much live rock I have but there is enough so that I wouldn't want to add any more for lack of space, so I am reasonably confident that there is over 40 pounds in there, and its all been in there for over a year. I'm thinking about removing the BioWheel for the same reason that you guys suggest removing bioballs, except I'm unsure how to do this since I can't take a small amount of the wheel at a time. I also want to make sure its worth it - is it feasible to remove the BioWheel for a day or so and then test the water to see if there is any appreciable increase in ammonia, nitrite etc (I would keep the BioWheel wet somewhere else so it doesn't die off). Have you any suggestions? <If your tank is not heavily stocked, I'd just remove the bio wheel.  The live rock is doing most of the bio filtering anyway since it is exposed to the water constantly rather than being pumped across it as is in the bio wheel.> Thanks for your help  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Rose Anemone a natural pro-skimmer 8/28/05 Hi Guys! <Hello Dave> You're the best, best. Most useful site around and a must before (and all to often after) any trip to the LFS. OK... I added a rose anemone about a month ago and "she" is doing great. The odd thing is my Bak-pak 2 has been getting zilch for skimmate ever since. My readings are all clear (NO2, NO3, pH, Alk.,) and all my stock is doing seemingly better than ever, including a remarkably reversed sick yellow tang. Is this anemone (7 or 8" across) filtering my water, thus lightening the BakPaks workload? Is this crazy talk? =) <Highly unlikely> One more question: A while back you recommended a bag of Chemi-pure in the Bak-pak. I tried that and it overflowed! Any advice? I put it in the "return" chamber, NOT the "bubble/foaming" chamber, btw. <Don't believe there is enough bypass area in the Bak pak to prevent overflowing. The Chemi pure is rather dense.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks again for everything! <You're welcome> DS Protein Skimmers And Ozone - 07/25/05 Bob, <<Eric R. here...>> What is the proper tuning of a protein skimmer that has ozone injected since the waste appears much clearer. <<"Tuning" is no different than without ozone.  You still want a thick dark skimmate, unless you're skimming "thin" for a reason (e.g.- fighting nuisance algae).  I noticed the same as you when I first added ozone...skimmate became lighter in color...and less of it.  I discovered this was due to less air being processed by the venturi on the pump to which the ozonizer was connected...in other words...the ozone didn't lessen my skimmate, the skimmer just wasn't performing as well as before.  By not using an air dryer and ensuring tubing diameter was maximized, I was able to keep the air restriction of the venturi to a minimum and restore the performance of the skimmer.  Removing/not using a dryer may not be the best option depending on the size and type (hot corona vs. cold corona, UV, etc.) ozone generator you are employing.  In this case you can try adding a tee-fitting to the pump venturi to allow more air to be drawn in.>> Regards, John

Skimmer Cup (Clean Out The Gunk!) - 07/20/05 Hi <<Hello>> I love your site-as a beginner it's been helpful. <<That's great!>> I am confused-I have an ASM G3 protein skimmer-my friend (salt water guy for many years) set up my 90 gal saltwater tank. <<Picked a nice skimmer for ya too.>> He told me when I empty the protein skinner that I should leave the mud inside the collection cup. <<I disagree...accumulating solids in the reducer/neck of the skimmer and the cup will inhibit efficiency.>> He said dump water, but put the cup back with all the mud intact. <<I would (I do) clean out as much gunk as possible.>> I set up the tank in Jan, and my nitrates are climbing steadily.  I change 10-15 gals per 2 weeks and have 6 fish.  As of this week mud is accumulating in my sump. <<Uh oh...not good...>> Have I gotten bum advice? <<In my opinion, yes.>> Please help before my fish die! <<Nitrate accumulation can be a result of several factors (over feeding, excess bio load, etc.), but the accumulation of decaying solids from your skimmer is definitely a concern.  My recommendations are...clean your skimmer (might not be a bad idea to remove and give a thorough cleaning), siphon what gunk you can from the sump, perform a large water change, and add some chemical filtration (carbon/poly-filter).  From this point, when emptying the skimmer cup (at least weekly)...remove/rinse as much material as you can from the cup and wipe down the inside of the cup and the neck of the skimmer with a paper towel.>> Patti <<Eric R.>>

Skimmer Drains...Are They Good? - 07/07/05 I have a 72 G bow front salt water tank and am thinking of getting an AquaC Remora skimmer. <<A good choice.>> I see that they offer one with a drain fitting and one without.  What are the pro's and con's of each. <<The drain fitting lets you "ignore" cleaning the skimmer.  The skimmer will perform better with regular cleaning/maintenance.  You can opt for the drain, but don't blame the skimmer for poor performance if you don't clean it at least weekly.>> Also they are now recommending a surface skimmer box to put the Remora in that will assist the skimming process.  I haven't seen much info on this product so am wondering if it is being recommended by others. <<Organics tend to accumulate at the air water interface (surface) of your tank, the surface skimmer pulls these substance from the surface layer of water and concentrates them in the skimmer box for the skimmer to remove.  The skimmer will work without it, but the skimmer box will facilitate removal of the oily film on the surface of the water.>> And since I'm feeding flakes for the most part and I don't want all the food to go directly into a filter before it has a chance to get eaten. <<Feeding from the surface is not a natural behavior for many/most of the saltwater fish we keep.  I recommend you wet your flakes (any food) in a small container of tank water (and add some Selcon if you can) before feeding to the tank.  And please do feed a varied diet...flakes, pellets, frozen, etc..>>   Your insight on these subject is greatly appreciated by this novice. Darry <<Regards, Eric R.>> Skimmer problems... or not? Hi, <Hello> 3 weeks ago I installed a Rena XP3 canister filter and an Arctica chiller. And also I stopped using a phosphate remover because it was not working well. Everything seemed fine but then my skimmer stopped producing foam and one week ago I replaced it with a CPR BAK-PAK 2 skimmer thinking my old one which was a Sea-clone after several problems just stopped working. One week has gone by and the CPR skimmer also produces nothing. My bio-load is on the low side and all parameters are fine but I have always had a noticeable accumulation in the collection cup everyday for well over a year. The only additives I use are a Seachem ph buffer and a Kent marine iodine additive. I am not sure what is causing this whether it be the new chiller, filter, loss of phosphate remover, or one of the two additives.  By the way my tank is 46 gallons with 50 pounds of live rock. Thanks for the great site, Jed <Very likely nothing wrong here. Systems can/do achieve something in the way of a "stasis" with skimming... where there is little skimmate... I would keep running the unit/skimmer. Bob Fenner>

Skimmer Placement, Pet-Fish U. Hey Bob, First let me say what a great site this is, more information than one can ingest. <Mmm, "small bites, meals..." No need (I hope), reason to "over-eat"> Have read  " The Conscientious " from cover to cover about six times now, what a great piece of work, required reading for newbies like myself! I will be converting a 125 gal. tank from fresh to salt water, fish only. We have been using the Sealife Systems 200 wet/dry and overflow/prefilter and wish to continue with this. I will heed your advice and purchase an Aqua C EV 120 for the skimmer duties, now my question. Is it best to run this skimmer in the sump, drawing intake and exhausting water back into the sump, or can I draw raw water from my prefilter via 3/4 flex hose to the intake of the skimmer pump? <You can... and there is some small advantage here... in terms of "efficiency"... but to put or try to place this in perspective, there is more to be gained via regular maintenance...> I have read so many ideas on this site, that I am now confused. I know it's best to use unfiltered water to skim, so thought I might add a 3/4 barb to bottom of prefilter box and plumb direct to pump, with skimmer in sump; or should I just leave well enough alone and put the whole set-up in the sump and hope for the best! <This last is very likely what I would do> Just an afterthought, Bob, you should create a Saltwater University and hold a two week course, just for people like me. You'd make a fortune! Thanks for all your help, and wishes for continued success. <Thank you for your kind words, enthusiastic sharing. I have gotten past the need, desire for money, but do find merit in the idea of getting together, formal instruction and the fun I/we might have in such a setting. Bob Fenner>

Confused about placement of skimmers Hi all, your site has become invaluable to me as I am new to saltwater and want to create the best living conditions for all my new friends. I want to give you a brief history before I ask the protein skimmer question. I started my 75 gallon in December, using an older book I found at the bookstore about saltwater aquariums. I kind of did things backwards and bought everything, then finding out later what will need to be upgraded. Anyway right now I have a Fluval 304, 2 Aqua C HOTs, about 40 lbs of live rock and a Penguin powerhead. My inhabitants are: 1 CC starfish who is eating me out of house and home 1 maroon gold-striped clown who spits gravel at me all the time 1 bossy domino "The Great Pumpkin" 2 4-striped 2 mellow blue-yellow tailed 1 fat and happy scooter dragonet a few assorted snails (kept getting eaten) 2 large hermits who destroy all macro algae I try to plant, including shave  brush 6 electric blue hermits Water parameters are good, SP 1.022, ph 8.2, ammonia, nitrites O, my nitrates are a little high at 20, alkalinity 2.1 meq/l. I have to scrape algae off the sides of tank weekly, but no hair algae, knock on wood. Anyway, I want to eventually add more reef-type inhabitants so I have to invest in better filtration, lighting and a good protein skimmer, the protein skimmer being my very next investment. I bought  my  tank with cabinet and wooden  top, which allows me only 3 inches of headroom for a skimmer. My question for today is do you know of any good skimmer that meet the headroom qualifications? I know the Red Sea Pro Prism operates with 2 inches of headroom but after reading your site this does not seem like the best skimmer I can get, and I already had a disaster with the dreaded Sea Clone, which ran great all day then in the middle of the night I checked on it and my living room was getting soaked, luckily I only lost about 4 inches of water!. What about the protein skimmers that can sit under the tank like a canister filter? Please help me with these problems, best wishes Debbie  <Debbie, the Prizm Pro is a decent skimmer, but I believe it is overrated as to the tank size it can handle.  I use one myself on a 29 and it does a good job.  I don't think the water is processed fast enough to satisfy a 75 gallon tank.  Try going to www.proteinskimmer.com.  They have a model called the Remora that would do the job providing it would fit.  I believe they have dimensions on all their skimmers.  James (Salty Dog)> Skimmer Observation, food binder and foam city Dear Bob and Crew, <Dean> I recently made an observation that might be of help with other people having problems with their skimmer's inconsistent performance.  I am a mechanical engineer/machinist by trade and I built a counter current down draft protein skimmer for my 55 gallon tank.  I too had problems with inconsistent amount and type of foam produced.  It would produce foam that was almost clear liquid in abundance some times and then other times it would produce the dark nasty skimmate other times.  And them sometimes none at all.  I thought it had to do something with the design of my skimmer or the amount of air induced by my airstones.  I bought three different types of air pumps.  Tried two different designs of skimmers etc.  It was driving me crazy. I feed a variety of foods both frozen and dry.  I have relatively small fish so when I feed the frozen foods, I cut them up into small pieces so they can be consumed quickly.  One occasion, I cut the pieces up into relatively small pieces.  At that time, I had not emptied my skimmer for a couple of days.  Within in a few minutes my skimmer was foaming over.  I again had to turn down the amount of air to my skimmer.  Then it occurred to me that it might not be the skimmer design at all. So I performed an experiment.  It took several hours for the skimmer to calm down so I could turn up the air again.  I got out the food I had put in my tank.  I have three different types.  Two of them have the gel binder in them. The third food did not have the binder in it.  Do you know where I am going with this?  The next feeding I used the food that did not contain the binder and no change in the performance of my skimmer.  The next time, I used the food with the gel binder.  Again my skimmer went crazy again. Conclusion, It is my belief that the gel binder was the cause of the problems I was having with my skimmer.  I no longer use any food with the binder and I now get consistently the same amount and quality of skimmate. And I don't have to touch the air adjustment on my skimmer. Thanks Dean <Thank you for this input. Oily foods, others do have a tremendous "foaming" enhancement effect... make skimmers "go crazy", particularly ones that incorporate highly whipped air and water. Bob Fenner>

- Skimmer Set-up - wonder how to set up septic tank/skimmer to our 100 gallon tank with magnum 350-220 filtration system <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/proskimrart2.htm, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/protein_skimmer_impressions.htm and the FAQs beyond. Cheers, J -- >

How Do You Like Your Skimmate? (Cont'd.) Thanks for your quick reply. The skimmate is a light straw colored effluent. Am I adjusting it incorrectly? <Well, Gary- it might not be "incorrectly" adjusted. Remember, different skimmers on different systems may produce compositionally different yields of skimmate, hence the color. As a very rough "rule", however, you can generally get a darker, more organic-laden skimmate with a fine adjustment. Perhaps less water flow might help. Again, feel free to experiment, but don't drive yourself crazy. Be sure to mark the settings that you have now before you begin experimenting, so that you can always find where you were! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> 

In Search Of The Perfect Skimmate! Hello, Crew! I recently bought a Turboflotor Multi skimmer with Ocean Runner pump and after a week of running it only produces white foam that turns into a very light brown colour in the collection cup. My reef aquarium has been up and running for 6 months without a skimmer and I am wondering why I am not getting the thick, smelly stuff. Could it be that my tank water was pretty clean? <Hard to say, really. In my opinion, almost any system can yield the kind of dark, yucky skimmate that we are referring to if the skimmer is optimized. On the other hands, different models and brands of skimmers may pull compositionally different yields of skimmate from the water, so the whole "dark, yucky" skimmate thing is somewhat subjective. It's a good target to shoot for, but any skimmate is better than no skimmate, IMO. Keep tweaking the skimmer if you want, but as long as you are getting some skimmate, that's a good thing!> It was perfectly balanced before adding the skimmer, but I worried about dissolved organics building up, this I bought the skimmer. I know it is for a larger aquarium than mine, but I might want to go larger in the near future. <Nothing wrong with going with a slightly oversized skimmer, as far as I'm concerned.> Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated.  Here is info about my set up: 25 gallon 30 pounds live rock sand bed 4" 2 Brittle Star 10 micro hermits 2 Scarlet hermit crab 15 snails 1 Clownfish 1 Yellow Tang 1 Sapphire Damsel 1 big Favia 1 branching Frogspawn coral and tons of various creatures in the rocks and sand; spaghetti worms, micro star fish, amphipods, etc. And a few growths of macro algae which I find keeps the more undesirable  forms at bay. Never had an algae bloom after about 2 months into this little adventure. <Glad to hear that! Your stocking level is about maxed out as far as fishes are concerned, IMO. Sounds like you've achieved a nice balance, though.> My water parameters have always been kept within natural ocean ranges and I use filtered natural sea water for water changes, and distilled for top off. After cycling, my nitrates went down to zero and have since been immeasurable with testing. 10% water change every month. <Good husbandry works wonders!> I want to get more corals and feel that now is the time. I have added life forms so slowly since starting the tank 6 months ago. This is why I added the skimmer. I find it hard to believe that all the dissolved organics are utilized by various life forms in the tank and want the skimmer to start working. Any suggestions? Thank you very much! Yishi Ben-Avraham <Well, Yishi, you have a very capable skimmer with a good reputation. My best advice is to keep tweaking it until you get better skimmate production. If you are getting a consistent yield (even if it's not "dark and yucky"!), I'd be content with that as long as the animals seem to be healthy and happy. I wouldn't go crazy trying to get the perfect nasty skimmate! Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.> 

How Do You Like Your Skimmate? I have a 12 week old 100g FOWLR tank. I'm using a Top Fathom Model 110A skimmer with a Rio 1100 pump. With the water level set to the highest and the air valve fully open I only get 1 cup of light brown fluid a week. Is this just a weak skimmer, am I adjusting it incorrectly or is there nothing else to pull out of the tank? <Gosh, I feel sort of bad about this "skimmate deficiency" thing that I've written about so often here on WWM. I've often suggested that a skimmer produce a couple of cups of "dark, yucky skimmate" per week. I guess the point is that if you are achieving consistent skimmate production out of your skimmer every week, and the tank is doing well, I'd be pretty happy with that.  On the other hand, you can always keep trying to get a better skimmate production, within reason. I would not ditch a skimmer that is producing! As long as it's not a watery, straw-colored effluent, then I'd be rather content with the production.> My Nitrates are 40 and I want to add some mushroom and leather soft corals but will wait until my nitrates come down. Will a different skimmer help? What should the nitrates be before I add the corals? All my fish are doing great. <Well, nitrate in and of itself is not a bad thing. It is a sort of "yardstick" of overall water quality. Yes, it is thought that some corals will not do well with high levels of nitrate, and that nuisance algae could proliferate in systems with such levels, but some nitrate may actually be a good thing.  In fact, some German hobbyists have actually been experimenting with the addition of nitrate to help grow corals and clams. The bottom line is that you should try to keep nitrate as low as possible, but I wouldn't go bonkers trying to hit zero. Let the health and appearance of your animals and the overall system be your guide. Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.> 

Skimmer stopped working Hi, <Hello> I started to add some garlic to the fish food 4 days ago. It is liquid and is very slimy. About the same time, my AquaMedic 5000 baby stopped producing any foam at all. I have cleaned the whole thing with water. Could the garlic have done something to the sides of the skimmer and collection cup? <Yepster> If so, how would I clean it as normal water has obviously done nothing. Thanks in advance, James <Time wounds all heels and will eventually clear out the oil from the garlic incident. Now, I've got to go howl at the moon. Woooohhhh! Bob Fenner>

Adding refugium, effectiveness effect on hang on skimmer My question is I have a 90 gal. with an Aqua C hang on tank protein skimmer, 80 lbs. live rock, 50 lbs. branch rock, and power heads. I would like to add a refugium, under tank, with a it's own hang on tank overflow. Will there be any problems with the effectiveness of the skimmer and/or refugium with this set-up. I don't want to give up the hang on protein skimmer and go with an in-refugium model, since I already have the on-tank model. Any input & experiences would be greatly appreciated before I attempt to build a refugium. Thank you. Nikki <Mmm, as long as the skimmer and overflow are kept within specification of each other with water level in the main tank there should be no ill-effect on the skimmer. Bob Fenner> 

Algae and Skimmer advice Hello to my marine aquarium heroes -- and thanks for your time in keeping up this site!, <Welcome> I am at a seemingly dead end and need some advice on a red slime problem in my tank -- I've looked at enough photos online to be convinced I have Cyanobacteria.  The slime seems to accumulate on the substrate and the live rock within 1-2 days of my siphoning or blasting with a turkey baster.  It has really started getting out of hand the last two weeks.  I believe I am a relatively "light" feeder -- small pinch of flake food or 1/2 tablet of frozen, twice a day -- and although I am using tap water (typically mixed 2-3 weeks before needed), I am showing no nitrates and less than 0.1 phosphates coming out of the tap. <... have you read on WWM re Cyano, control?> My first potential culprit is my skimmer (Aqua C Remora, upgrade to Maxijet pump).  While mine produces about 1/8 cup of light green tea skimmate daily, it is much less than I have seen suggested in many of your responses. <The "rule of thumb" statements re amounts of skimmate to be expected are misleading> I purchased the collection box to better skim the surface but have not noticed a gain in performance.  Upon emailing Aqua C, I was told that it may just be due to the low bioload but after reading hours of faq's on WWM, I'm not sure that advice is correct. <I am> I don't believe there are any adjustments I could make to my skimmer so I'm wondering how to tell if I have a bad one. <Very unlikely... I know of Jason Kim, his skimmers... very well... they are consistent, well-made products> I purchased this skimmer because of the general high opinion of its performance so if it is working properly, I must be doing something else to lower its performance. <Mmm, no... I'd explore other avenues... test your source, system water for nutrients, look for delimiting them, use countervailing strategies... BGA can be beaten with understanding, a strategy> I bought the canister filter at the suggestion of my LFS but after reading some of your responses, I'm thinking I may be better removing it.  In my attempt to avoid creating too many nitrates from it, I clean the filter and all levels every two weeks. <Perhaps too infrequently> I take care to only clean the rock level of the filter with old aquarium water so as not to completely destroy the bacteria colony.  The rest I wash thoroughly in tap water.  Would you suggest removing the canister filter now or sometime in the near future? <Will have to see what other filtration, set-up, maintenance...> I plan on purchasing additional live rock (I will certainly cure it in a separate tank!) to help with the water quality, hiding space, visual appeal, etc.   <This will help for sure> My particulars: -75 gallon: setup early January 2005 -Coralife PC lights (260 watts: 130w 10k, 130w actinic) Added 6-8 weeks ago. Used standard bulb that came with tank setup for the first couple of months (skimmer took precedence of my $). -45 lbs live rock + 30 lbs dry rock -Eheim 2217 canister filter with carbon added -2 Maxijet 900 powerheads -4-5 inches of aragonite substrate Live stock: -Red flame hawk; Yellow tang (small); False Percula clown; Royal Dottyback -10 hermit crabs; 30 snails Water Quality: Ammonia: 0; Nitrite: 0; PH: 8.2; Nitrate: 10-20; Phosphate: 0.1; <You want this to be near zip> SG: 1.023 Carbonate Hardness: 200+ (this puzzles me because it consistently reads so high) Change 10 gallons of water every 2 weeks Oceanic Salt Your guidance is certainly appreciated! Brad <I'd look into growing some purposeful macroalgae... perhaps a sump/refugium, a DSB... many other possibilities... Use WWM my friend... read our articles, of others similar experiences... peace of mind is only a few hours away. Bob Fenner> ORP/Skimming Hi, I am a new aquarist and reader of your book and website, which I have found very useful and informative. Thanks for being around to answer our questions. <You're welcome> First off, my reef tank stats are the following: * 90 Gallon tank * AMiracle wet/dry trickle filter, Mag drive 90 pumping back to tank * Lighting - (4) 96W CF, 10K, and Actinic 03 Blue * AquaC - 120 protein skimmer * 120lbs live rock and 80lbs live sand (aragonite) * Some fishes, inverts, clams and coral * Tank has been operational for about 4 months with no significant problems * Water chemistry Ammonia=0, Nitrites=0, Nitrates= very low, Alkalinity=350 * SG = 1.023, started with RO/DI water and added salt mix (Instant Ocean) * Temp is a constant 80 +/-.5 degrees I have a few questions I would like to ask your opinion on. 1) The tank's ORP over night is about 250-260 (pH is 8.35), then when the lights come on it jumps to 320-330 (pH 8.00), is this normal operation? <Yes> a. Are my ORP levels too low, should I try to raise them? <ORP levels of 320/330 are very good.> b. I suspect they are low and have just purchased a Red Sea ozonator w/controller and probe. Should I program this to try and keep the ORP in the 320-360 24x7, or will it spike even higher in the daytime? <At these levels your ORP will never exceed what the controller is set for.> c. Or should I run the unit only over night? <Personally, If I have ORP levels or 320/330, I would not have bought an ozonizer/controller.> d.   Does the ozone rich water out of the skimmer need to be charcoal filtered, or can I just run it back unto the sump? <It should be carbon filtered or you will have a rich scent of ozone in your house.  Too much may cause some nasal problems.  It is a very strong oxidizer.> 2) My protein skimmer (AquaC-120) seems to skim/foam for a while (a couple of days) then nothing for a couple of days and then back to skimming, is this normal? It doesn't seem to correlate to pH, feeding, insertion of hands into tank or addition of ESV B-Ionic Calcium Buffer. <Not unusual> Thanks for the assistance. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Vic Mail Order Company Hunt - 05/05/2005 Hi crew, Could anyone tell me where I might find some information on a 13yr old counter-current protein skimmer made by Summit Aquatics Unlimited? < This site has some mail order companies and they list a possible candidate for the place you are looking for http://fins.actwin.com/dir/vendors.php?c=21 I would try to call them direct and see if they can send you a manual> thanks. Larry < Have a good one!  EricS> CPR Skimmers Hi crew, I want to thank you for all the good information you have provided me with. I have a question regarding my skimmer.  I have a Bak-Pak2 clone running a Rio 600 powerhead. I've read here that I should be skimming from as close to the surface as possible. The center of my Rio intake is about 4 inches from the surface. Do I need to raise this up to skim properly? <Mmm, no> Should I shorten the intake pvc that is connected to the powerhead? <I wouldn't... need some depth to prevent air-intake...> Being a clone, I'm not sure that the CPR skimmer attachment would fit. I just don't think I'm skimming as well as I should be. Thanks in advance, Larry <These skimmers are not the "most efficient" but work fine in almost all applications. Please read over the Skimmer Selection and Maintenance FAQs posted on WWM... for many more opinions, comparisons. Bob Fenner>

Operating Sans Bubble Trap with Skimmer Hey Hey!! <Hey, MikeG here.> I just got my BakPak 2r for my 10g nano. <Rather large for such a small tank, but not really an issue (I shouldn't talk, I have the same on a 20, though I've been accused to being crazy a couple of times before ;) )> I also got the bubble trap but it was so big' it wouldn't fit between my rockwork. So, I took the sponge from the bubble trap, and stuffed it right next to where the output begins (in the skimmer) and there are no bubbles and no need for a HUGE bubble trap.  <Good, glad you discovered a solution.> I'm also replacing the maxi jet with the Rio 600. I heard that it is more efficient and quiet. Trust me <Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Mike G>

Protein Skimmer/Ozone Hi WWM crew,  <Hello Ivan> I've followed your website for quite a while and have always been very impressed. I have a question regarding ozone use. I have a 125G 2 year old reef aquarium, lightly stocked and with 140lb live rock. It has metal halide lighting, a refugium and strong circulation (6X tank vol. through sump per hour, 14X tank vol. internal circ per hour). I use a Deltec TS 1060 protein skimmer and the mix of soft and hard corals have steadily flourished over the last 18 months but I've had a battle with a persistent red slime algae over the last 3 months. I have lots of snails and hermits but they can't seem to keep up with the algae.  All water chemistry (salinity 1.024, calcium 420,pH 8.0, dKH 10,nitrite 0,nitrate 5,phosphorus 0) were ideal so I bought an ORP meter and found the ORP to be 280. I have just bought a Sander ozonizer (100mg/hour) to help this but every time I run it into my protein skimmer air inlet (as advised by Deltec), the room reeks of ozone, even with activated carbon in the skimmer chamber. I've tested all the connections and taped them up too for good measure. Can you tell me if a badly adjusted skimmer might be the problem (excessive gas venting??) also, can you give me a very rough idea how fast the ORP may increase if I can find a way to run the ozonizer continuously?? Very many thanks indeed for your help!  <Ivan, I looked on their site and could not find the model number you list, maybe an older unit. Anyway I would contact them as to the problem at http://www.deltecusa.us/  Good luck. James (Salty Dog)> 

- TurboFlotor Modifications & Operation - Hello, all! Greetings from Manila, Philippines! I did the Turboflotor modifications (as I got from WWM -- THANKS!!!) as follows: 1. "plugged"/"capped" the intake (within the chamber) that feeds the pump, so therefore pump now draws water from the sump and is no longer a re-circulating model 2. changed from a needle wheel to a regular impeller of the Rio 2100 (because I lost the original needle wheel). In other forums, when someone asks how to improve their Turboflotor, I always point them to WWM or tell them the WWM suggestions. They have always been thankful (as am I), but have always been curious WHY/HOW it works. Observations: 1. The skimmer (with the WWM suggestions) is working better than its original design (more "gunk" taken out of the system and more consistent). 2. As stated above, the skimmer is no longer a recirculating skimmer, but a one pass skimmer. On the other hand, more water is processed this way. Questions: 1. WHY does it work better this way rather than the original recirculating design? <I don't know.> As I browse in reef related forums in DIY sections et al, people are making recirculating skimmers, and new models of Euro-Reef/ASM/etc are recirculating... so why does making the [originally recirculating] Turbo Flotor 1000 into a single pass end up improving it?  <Honestly don't know.> (Of course, I'm happy that with the improvement! Just want to know WHY or HOW the (welcome) improvement happens.) 2. Would looking for the original needle wheel produce better foam/gunk than the regular Rio 2100 impeller? <Perhaps... would be useful to experiment.>  I read an answer before that WWM crew/BobF that the theory (of using a needle wheel impeller in the TurboFlotor) was good, but in practice/implementation, the regular impeller was just as good/better... why?  <Probably because the needle-wheel does not move water quite as efficiently - it like trying to row a boat with a stick rather than an oar.> (Also, since I changed TWO variables -- plugging the hole AND switching to a regular impeller -- I can't say which of the two made the improvement) 3. Would using an Eheim 1260 (apparently a "newer" version of the 1060 that was suggested by BobF and WWM crew in lieu of the Rio 2100) IMPROVE the skimmer production of this TurboFlotor?  <Probably.>  (using the regular Eheim impeller) ... or is it just that the Eheim will prove more durable in the long run?  <The Eheim is a more reliable pump.> Reason I ask is that, ON PAPER, the Rio 2100 supposedly has a higher GPH rating, and a lower electrical consumption (31 watts versus 50 watts, even 65 watts according to some aquarium e-tailers). And on the wallet front, where I'm from, the Eheim 1260 is 4x the price.  <Sure, but if you replace four times as many Rio pumps, then what did the lower initial cost really buy you?> Thanks! <Cheers, J -- >  Adapting a HOT skimmer for in sump use I have a CPR Bak Pak 2 which has been operating in my 55 gallon reef with a recently added 20 gallon sump.  First question is the water in the sump is too low to just hang the CPR skimmer on the back and have it operate? Is there a way I can adapt this skimmer to work in my sump? <Yes... most easily by building a baffled area of stead water depth... hanging it over the side of this part...> Second question is right now I am using a siphon setup to feed the water into the sump covered with a pre-filter sponge to keep the fish and snails from getting sucked in. I was wondering how bad this is and if it's essential to get an overflow instead (I'm on a tight budget that would limit me from getting a coral or fish). Thanks in advance for the advice. - Ryan <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm See the area labeled "Set Up?"... go there, scroll down to "Filtration".... read the parts on plumbing, overflows... Much you need to know... BTW, please have someone proof your writing... companies product names are proper nouns (capitalize)... i's are capitalized... your spelling will improve with the use of a spell checker. Study my friend. Bob Fenner> 

I lost my toothpick!  Skimmer Cleaning Mishap Crew, Hey there! <How goes it, M. Maddox here today, right after a chemistry quiz, wish me a 100...> Your website has helped me be a better, more informed, and happier aquarist. <Glad to hear it - it has helped me greatly as well> Anyway, I have a possible problem. While finishing up the cleaning of my Bak Pak (outside of my tank of course), I held on to my "cleaner" toothpick. Well, wouldn't you know the darn thing fell into the tank. My husband and I sifted through the sand for some time but no toothpick. Should I be worried? The tank is a thirty gallon hex. <It shouldn't do anything but increase the bioload slightly ;) If it was a typical wood toothpick I wouldn't worry at all> Thanks in advance. <Honor to be of service *takes off top hat and bows* ok ok so I'm glad to be out of my chem class...> Kim <M. Maddox> 

- Crew Members Have [Skimmer] Questions Too - Hey guys, I have been having some trouble with my skimmer in the sump to pull enough dark colored waste out from the tank, I know this because my air driven skimmer in the tank was pulling a lot more and a lot darker material. I'll run down the sump setup so you know what I think is happening. Water first passes down overflow 1 to a wet dry with a ChemiPure bag in the upper perforated chamber before it hits the bio balls. Then this water goes down and collects where a modified Rio 1700 sucks it into an old unnamed skimmer that usually does a remarkable job of skimming. As I got the whole setup from a friend who was getting great results with it. <Think the bag of ChemiPure is a clue.> To fix the problem and to combat a minor case of Cyano I put a second overflow box temporarily on the tank to bring raw tank water into the sump near the skimmer so that it avoids the wet/dry. Normally this would not be the case but I have to drill the new tank for my refugium since the old one broke so I wasn't able to use both overflows at once due to space constraints. so is this the best idea to get the skimmer to do better or does bypassing the wet dry really have nothing to do with the skimmers poor performance.  <The access to "raw" unfiltered water should help the skimmer, but can also clog/foul the pump more easily. Do check/clean the pump often - at least monthly.>  This is the skimmer that was caring for the 12" lion the 8" miniatus and the 7" hippo in the 55 that I wrote in about before. Is it better to run the air driven and the in sump to get the best skimming possible?  <Why not?>  I've not really used an in sump old model like this so other than adjusting the water level there isn't much else to do (I have it set to the optimum arrow so that it sits right below the cup.  Any ideas guys?  <Well... seeing as you didn't reveal the "old" model of sump skimmer... it's hard to say whether or not it's just a poor design or perhaps something else. Would leave both skimmers running... you have nothing to lose.> Justin (Jager) <Cheers, J -- > 

Multiple Skimmers And Pump Selection (Pt.2) Thanks for the advice Scott, I have just a few questions left. <Ask away!> I will plumb both the Bullet 1 skimmers with one pump. The recommended pump for these skimmers is rated at 750 gph (Iwaki 40RLT) so I will need one pump at around 1500 gph. The Iwaki 70 would fit this range but I have never heard these pumps in operation. I am looking for a quiet pump. <I love Iwakis, but they are not the most quiet pumps out there, IMO! They are extremely powerful and reliable, however!> As I said before, I have used the Little Giant 4's before and felt they were loud. How does the Iwaki compare to the Little Giants? <I have heard both, and I think that the Little Giants might be a tad quieter than the Iwakis. Again, get multiple opinions on this! I would also give some strong consideration to the Sequence line of pumps. They are very reliable, quiet, and efficient. Do remember to ask for the saltwater safe seals, however.> I have heard that the Blueline is very quiet as well, they have an 1800 gallon model which I could tee off to the sump. Do you have experience with that brand? <I do not, but I have heard nice things about them.> Which brands are generally accepted to be the quietest? <Usually, I hear (no pun intended) that Dolphin, Sequence, and the former Custom Seal Life "T" series are among the most quiet pumps out there.> Thanks in advance.  Justin Kyllo <Glad to be of service! Regards, Scott F.>

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