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FAQs about DIY Protein Skimmers

Skimmer Articles:
Protein Skimming: An Important Tool For a Successful Reef Aquarium by James Gasta
Protein Skimmers: A Myriad of Choices
by Steven Pro
Protein Skimmer Impressions by Steven Pro
Tunze 9002 DOC Skimmer Product Review by Justin Norman,
Vertex Aquaristik, A promising line of skimmers from Germany, by James Gasta
AquaC Auto-Shutoff Waste Container, Product Review by James Gasta

Marine Filtration, Mechanical, Physical & Chemical

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Estimate DIY skimmer capacity? 4/3/12
Hi Crew,
<Hello Dave>
Can you help me estimate the capacity of a protein skimmer I acquired?
<How much water it will hold or what size tank it will support?>
It is part of a custom made acrylic sump that was one piece in a whole-system purchase. I am now considering retaining the sump only, and upgrading to a larger tank, but don't know to what size/capacity this skimmer may scale. The tank it came with is 135 gallon capacity.
<I would assume that this would easily handle the 135.  As far as handling a larger tank, you would have to try it and monitor nitrate levels.>
Its measurements are 17.75" H (to top, where skimmer cup joins and sits on top) x 9.25" D x 8.75" wide.
It is fed by two Danner Model 7 Mag Drive pumps, with venturi tubes attached.
Its water height can be adjusted by an adjustable baffle.
<Mmm, with that much water flow into the skimmer, I'd say this may be capable of handling a larger system.  Is it keeping the nitrate levels low in your present system?>
See picture, attached. You can see the square-shaped collection cup sitting on top of the skimmer in action. The sump's overall dimensions are 17.75" H x 12" D x 24" W.
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Re Estimate DIY skimmer capacity?    4/3/12
Salty Dog,
<You're welcome Dave.>
I'm not sure I have a good baseline of what this will do to my current tank. I got this from a guy who ran the tank for 10 years...used his old tank water (which turned out to be a very bad decision - nitrates started at around 300ppm)...then used his base rock (which was left to dry for a few days before I put it in the tank)...so I have done massive water changes, and now seem to have fully cycled, but need to continue massive water changes...Nitrates are still around 100...
<This will take time.  Hopefully you didn't use his substrate.>
In the meantime, the skimmer has not been operational throughout due to Danner pump fixes that were needed. It is now in full operation, and pulling organics, but nothing significant. The picture shows the skimmer cup with a few days' worth of waste in it (note, I decided after taking the picture that the baffle level is set too high as it seems to be allowing non-skimmate into the collection cup).
I'm wondering if another option on increasing skimming capacity would be to upgrade the pumps?
<Generally skimmers are designed to work with a given water flow.>
 Due to the acrylic work, it seems I'd need to use something with identical/exact measurements. I may send a picture of the pumps to Danner, and ask them whether the higher gph models would easily replace the model 7s to enable this.
<The next pump up would be the Mag 9.5 which pumps 950gph and it does have the same 1/2" inlet/outlet connection.>
Also, I've recently noticed that while there is heavy air-mix action going on, the venturi tubes aren't tight-fitting. Maybe this is reducing its skimming capacity?
<Without actually seeing up close, I could not tell you.>
Any other thoughts based on my responses?
<Well if you upgrade the skimmer you will have to find one that would fit in that skimmer box and still be efficient enough to do the job.  I'd probably just get another sump which would allow me to select a skimmer of preference rather than one that would fit.
Your 20 gallon sump is a little small for a 135 gallon tank.  You can tell if you simulate a power outage and see how high the water level comes up in the sump.  James (Salty Dog)>

DIY Skimmer Question    1/30/12
Dear WWM Crew,
I made a DIY counter current protein skimmer for my 24 gallon tank a year ago. It is constructed from PVC and the reactor body is 4" in diameter and 26" tall. It worked exceedingly well, pulling out dark green skimmate with gunk from my tank which used to house two fish and some shrimp and other invertebrates but no coral.
Recently I upgraded my system to a 55 gallon display tank with the 24 gallon tank becoming the sump. I am using the skimmer on this tank now and it is working wonderfully. My question however is that the flow rate through the skimmer is just over 30 gallons per hour. I am worried this is insufficient for my current system. Would it be an issue if I increased the flow through my skimmer?
<Only actual trial can tell, but the current flow rate is likely fine here>
I am also thinking of using my old main pump which is rated at approximately 500 gallons per hour to with a venturi before the intake since replacing airstones is quite expensive in relative terms over here.
But i don't mind retaining the airstones also. Do you think this pump would be too large to couple on this skimmer if it is being used with air being injected into the intake?
<Likely so, but again, only testing can/will be able to determine>
Unfortunately over here the best skimmer I can find is one made by JAD, a Chinese company, and i don't know if it will work and I don't know anyone else who is using these skimmers either and the aquarium shops here do not hold saltwater systems so there is no way to test it out either.
<Many good products (and some shoddy) are made for our interest in China...>
Bottom line should I do something or am I doing fine as it is?
<Fine as is>
Thanks so much for all your help.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

DIY Protein Skimmer -- 09/16/09
Guys I love your work, I need help with building a protein skimmer. I had a SeaClone skimmer that worked for awhile but has now stopped working. I wanted to build my own and have it setting in the tank. Do you have any diagrams where people have made with any success or should I just go out and buy another skimmer?
<<I'm sure it can be/has been done, but I don't know of any 'good plans' for hang-on skimmers'¦try a general search of the Net re. However, for such a skimmer, a quality 'manufactured' product is likely a better/more reliable investment. Do check out the Urchin and Remora skimmers from AquaC or one of the hang-on styles from Deltec. EricR>>

DIY SKIMMER, design  11/29/08 Hello WWM crew! <Ian> Sorry about the grammer, read it and was suprised! <Happens> You guys have a great site and i always use it! Heres my situation, i am building a diy skimmer and have everything set up except for the neck. My problem is: should the top part of the skimmer where the foam dries out(neck?) be narrow or wide? <Mmm, either... some folks make narrower in order to make an easier "platform" to situate the collector cup... others make the cup and contact chamber the same diameter, and just set the former on top...> Also, should it gradually become narrower toward the extreme top? <Again, not necessarily... "if" the water level is adjusted w/in use, some/enough of the bubbles and gunk will accumulate near any "foamy" area near the top... rise and burst in the area of the exit into the collector cup> I have been researching different skimmer models such as the ASM G-seris and Coralife skimmers. ASM and Precision Marine skimmers have a relatively wide neck that is uniform up to the top, while Coralife and Turboflotor have a narrower neck that slims as it approaches the top. How should i design my neck and what are the pros and cons of the different styles of skimmers? <Mmm, there's surprisingly little actual science with this line of gear in our interest... Sometimes "looks" and just what materials are available have dictated (are dictating) what goes into fractionators... not enough consideration of actual function> Thank you in advance, Happy Thanksgiving, Ian <Now in my turkey sandwiches, digestion phase. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

DIY Skimmer 4/19/08 Hi I currently have a 28gl mini reef and am just beginning to build a custom overflow with acrylic to add water volume and house my heater, skimmer, (SeaClone 100 but upgrading soon) etc. <A very worthwhile project.> After measuring my supplies I think I'll have more than enough acrylic to DIY my first skimmer. Without going into too much detail my basic plan is to feed an acrylic skimmer with the return from my Rena FilStar XP2 canister filter but my main concern is how to get air into the mix. <Hmm, yes.> This wouldn't be a problem except I'm out of power outlets so I was thinking about some kind of venturi valve. I recently bought a power head that just had a little air line sticking out of the top of the nozzle which I guess sucked in air by creating some kind of siphoning effect. <Yes, similar to a siphon effect.> If I did the same thing but had the air line at the end of the outtake tube from the filter going into the skimmer would this suck enough air? <Likely not, but worth a try to see.> Would I need it below or above the water line to work? <Below the waterline inside the skimmer.> Could I just use pvc or would I need a real valve that gets narrow were the air line is? <PVC will work, although you may find the need to construct some sort of constriction in the line to draw in air.> Also wile I'm saving up for a new skimmer I've been thinking of ways to improve my Seaclone (hopefully from horrible piece of crap into mediocre headache) and from my understanding of skimmer design the longer the bubbles are in contact with the water the more efficient the skimmer, so I was wondering if adding a long coiled up piece of flexible tubing after the power head but before the skimmer would increase the contact time it sounds like it would be great but what do you think? <Contact time is just one factor in the equation. Bubble quality is another. Many small bubbles being superior to a few large bubbles. With the long run of coiled tubing before entering the skimmer the bubbles will combine into larger bubbles.> Should I try this on my DIY skimmer? Sorry about the long letter I've just got a lot on my mind I just hope this makes at least a little bit of sense. <Oh yes, it does! This is a project I strongly encourage you to pursue. Building your own skimmer rarely works optimally the first time out. You will need to just build it and start playing with different configurations regarding water/air intake and maybe even the skimmer body itself. It is as much research/development and trial/error as anything. I will advise you to use a dedicated pump for the skimmer. Besides the difficulty of drawing air off the canister, you will have a varied output dependant on the cleanliness of your filtration media inside the canister. I just will not be consistent. The pump off your Seaclone will be a good place to start.> Thanks and keep up the good work! <Welcome, will do!! Thank you and good luck, Scott V.>

AquaClear 500 to Skimmer 11/21/07 Hi, I have a spare AquaClear 500 hang on filter and was wondering if there is a way to convert it to a protein skimmer for use in my sump. <Unlikely, wrong size, shape and mechanics. You would be better off purchasing a skimmer or building one from scratch if you are handy.> <Chris>

Skimmer ID?...Tis Homemade Me Thinks - 05/15/07 Hi crew! <<Hi Glen!>> Hope you are very well. <<Yes...  Thank you>> Can you possibly help me identify the attached protein skimmer? <<Looks homemade to me mate>> I got it in a package deal with the recent 200g tank I purchased.  It is venturi driven and looks large and very sturdy, but I am yet to get any results because the tank is not yet cycling, so there are very few things to skim out? <<Mmm, no...should be producing skimmate...especially if the live rock is not fully cured.  From the photos it appears to me there are not many bubbles in the reaction chamber of the skimmer as it looks to be semi-transparent through the bubbles (do I see the tube from the collection cup extending almost to the bottom of the skimmer?).  The reaction chamber should be completely opaque/milky white from the bubbles, regardless of whether there is anything in the water to skim.  It may be a matter of tuning this skimmer...or it may just be a poor design/engineering.  If you can't get this skimmer working for you and you want to stick with a "hang-on" style, I suggest you look in to the AquaC Remora Pro as a quality replacement>> Many thanks! Glen Hendry
<<Happy to assist.  Eric Russell>>

Re: Skimmer ID?...Tis Homemade Me Thinks - 05/16/07 OK great info thanks. <<Quite welcome>> BTW: There is no live rock yet, just ~60lbs of base rock and dead corals; therefore should the skimmer still be producing skimmate? <<Hmm, perhaps not much then...but that skimmer should still be "producing bubbles" as stated previously>> I am leaving the system circulating for a couple of weeks with just water and salt and the base rock.  The first LR will come this week and the cycling will begin. <<Yes indeed>> I will tune or re-pump with skimmer then. <<Okay>> This leads me to another question, I made a mistake and got 1" sand for 200g display tank substrate, which is white and fine and lovely to look at, but it is play sand from home hardware store and likely (but unknown) Silica based. <<Probably, yes...though dropping a pinch in some white vinegar should tell>> Will I have uncontrollable nuisance algae forever, or will keeping nitrates at ~0 with 8" DSB and macro in the 'fuge keep it in check? <<It should be fine.  I and others I know have used Silica-based sand in marine systems with no adverse effect re.  The biggest downfall is the lack of buffer capacity/absence of useful Earth-element and bio-mineral content as compared to Aragonite-based sand>> I will if I have to, but do not want to have to remove all the base rock and siphon out all that sand!  It has just settled after all :) <<No need to my friend...not in my opinion>> Thanks again, truly. Glen <<Always welcome, enjoy your new setup.  Eric Russell>>

Sinularia sp. coral cutting? Filtration questions. Alcyoniid comp., skimmer sel.   3/31/07 Hello Bob, I have been watching a Sinularia sp coral in my 90 gallon reef for the last week since it was injured by something in the tank, (we came to the conclusion it was more than likely stung). <I do recall this> The dead patch on the coral seems to be spreading now, I was thinking of using a razor blade and slicing off (out) the infected (Dead) tissue then giving the coral a tech D or Lugol's solution dip directly after. <A useful approach... Do this cutting outside the main system... of course> The torch coral I mentioned in previous emails seems to be doing  well now, the one damaged head died off, however no sign of infection as far as  I am aware of and all of the other heads look great. I have another Sinularia sp  coral same type and color about 8 inches from the injured one <Mmm... not advised... really... in the wild, all the Alcyoniids, in fact almost all alcyonaceans are found in single species AND single genus stands... Unless these are clones, I would keep them in separate systems...> and it seems to be  doing excellent. All other corals in the tank are doing very good. I am putting a larger filtration system on this tank, I don't have much  room to do a larger tank as you mentioned before so I decided to put in a larger filtration system below it. I will be using a sump that while running holds 30 -  32 gallons, (full sump size 53 gallons) with 1,270 gallons per hour flowing from sump to tank. In this sump I created an area for biological media since the tank is pretty heavily stocked. The water from the overflow runs through filter floss, then through bio media, a settling chamber then over  flows into a space for activated carbon (Chemi-pure), then into a chamber  that houses a poly filter pad. From there the water goes into a large empty  area for protein skimming, temperature control, and return to the reef.  Does this sound like a good idea to you? <Mmm, yes. Some folks would encourage the placement of the skimmer first... the chemical media last... In actual application there is little (a few percent) advantage...> I am also putting a larger protein skimmer on the tank measurements  7" diameter, 36" to top of neck in collection cup, the skimmer will be run by a 1,100 gallon per hour pump. Would this pump be excessive to you? <Mmm... no... if this "fits" the use of this device...> I already have the pump and I figured that is a pretty big skimmer. This skimmer is a venturi style skimmer. <For you and all readers, beware of "venturi" this or that... Sure, sure, it's a fun word to say, but has actually little to do with whether a skimmer is more/less "efficient"...> The bubbles from the venturi will have to rise 30" in complete contact with the water to the neck of the skimmer. The skimmer will also have a 10" diameter cup on it to allow for more collection between cleanings. I designed the skimmer to be completely taken apart for access to all parts of it  for cleaning and maintenance, <Ah, good!> and when put back together it is completely sealed. The return to the sump will have a gate valve, <Do remove the metal screw in the handle...> and entry to the skimmer  will also have a flow control valve. I will be using 3/8" air line for the venturi that will feed into the top of the collection cup to cut down on noise.  Both lines running into and out of the skimmer are 1" diameter PVC. Any feedback or comments on this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time and consideration. Brian  Crenshaw PS. I  also received my microscope (QX5) and the Fish Disease Diagnosis, and Treatment  book you recommended. Both are great! Thank you  again. <Ahh! Many enjoyable and constructive hours ahead... and the sharing with others!!! BobF>

Skimmer/Refugium Question 3/20/07 Hello! <Hi Rob> Thank you all so much for your knowledge! <You're welcome.> I know of no other place to get reliable, accurate answers to my, sometimes stupid questions! <No stupid questions, just stupid answers.> So Its your fault that I keep bugging you!! <I/we accept the blame.> I have a pond liner tank beneath a south facing window. This tank has live sand/rock, coral and a few inverts. It is connected to a reverse light cycle refuge with Chaeto and a skimmer. My plan is to place a 75 gallon next to this tank connected by an overflow. The 75 will contain a few fish, sand and live rock. Making the pond liner tank my refuge. It will remain fish free. I am planning on making another diy skimmer to connect to the overflow. It will then dump it's out-flow into a ten gallon tank with the Chaeto. The skimmer will have two limewood airstones, <I'd rather use a venturi, the limewood airstones do produce a fine bubble mist, but do clog easily and need to be cleaned/replaced often.> and be about three feet tall. Powered only by the overflow. <Different.> My thought is to make this a low flow system to get the best out of the skimmer and Chaeto before it reaches the coral tank. Does this make sense? <All depends on how well your DIY skimmer works.> I have heard," the higher flow rate, the better" when it comes to skimmers. This doesn't make absolute sense to me. <We are talking powered skimmers here where higher flow rates process more water per hour.> I would think, the longer the water stays in the skimmer <Yes, contact time is important.  Generally, the larger the contact chamber, the better.> and in contact with the Chaeto, the better the results. <The water in the ten gallon tank will always be in contact with the Chaeto.  No skimmer will completely remove all nutrients in one pass.> Please help! I would like to, for once, do this right the first time!! <Do read here and linked files above for more help in your decision making.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/proskimrart2.htm> Not sure what fish I will be putting in the 75 gallon yet. They wont be big messy fish, but don't want to have to worry about them being reef safe! I want a small niger trigger for sure, and then we will see! Thanks a lot! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Rob

Skimmer ID 1/23/07 Hey crew, <Hey Brandon> If anyone can place a name on this skimmer it should/would be ya'll. Can you please tell me what type of skimmer this is or does it look like some DIY project. I can not find information on it anywhere and I need to know if a Mag 2 will run it, if not will my Mag 7 blow the top off of it. <Definitely appears to be a DIY.  Never saw a manufactured skimmer that looked like that.  Try the Mag 2, I'm thinking it should do the trick.  You do have valves on the outlet/inlet to control the flow, so too much pump should not be a problem.> Thanks,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

DIY Protein skimmer and stocking/setup ?'s   11/19/06 Bob, et. al.    <Branon>   I recently moved and am able to set up my 150 gal (72x18x28) as a reef tank. I don't have 'deep pockets' and would like to do this as inexpensively, yet effectively as possible. I am attaching thoughts on a DIY protein skimmer <Don't see here... have you reviewed those on OzReef.org?> <<Oh, actually do see it here... there is a concern I have with the source/delivery of water to this skimmer... I would NOT have the overflowing water from the tank above simply feed the skimmer as illustrated... too hard to determine the consequent level of water in the contactor... with the adjustment valve shown... Need to either provide a "constant level" sort of overflow to this feed (like a simple tee with the excess dumping into the sump) or another non-gravity feed source...>> for your review/input. If these plans aren't workable, then I may have to save my pennies and get a Turboflotor 1000 (is the multi better than the sump model? Vice versa?) <About the same IMO> I am also asking for your opinions on the proposed stock list and setup. I am upgrading from a 55 gal, 4-5" DSB, 60 lbs LR and a few soft corals. I plan on only doing 1/2-1" sand/rubble in main tank and using approx 110 lbs of aragonitic concrete rock base (Aragocrete), seeded with the LR I already have and a few lbs of new stuff. Main filtration will be surface skimmer--> filter pad (avoid detritus buildup-changed/cleaned weekly)-->1 cu. ft. of bioballs (oxygenation)-->LR rubble-->mag18 T-ed to the far ends of the tank. Additional circulation will be 3 MaxiJet 900s and either the CAP 2200 or Surge 3500 (both about 650 gph) as CL. The total anticipated flow will be about 2300 gph on the modest side. The PS will empty into a 24x18x5" DSB fuge/algae scrubber pumped back into the sump feeding the Mag18. A DIY Kalk-reactor and float valve will take care of top-off. Softies are the primary focus for corals (2x250W 10000k MH and 2x65W CFL Actinics). Starting livestock are an ocellaris clown adult, a coral beauty angel, a lg. yellow watchman goby, a skunk cleaner shrimp, a coral banded shrimp, 2 peppermint shrimp and some sm. hermits and snails. My desired livestock are: Sailfin tang and/or purple tang, another dwarf angel (flame or Singapore), six-lined wrasse, copper-band butterfly, 6-8 blue reef Chromis (dithers), 4-6 Ventralis anthias, algae blenny, Rainford's goby, a few more peppermint shrimp, a fire cleaner shrimp, a Linckia star and more snails...no more hermits. Corals will be of the hardier softies...Ricordea, anthelia, mushrooms, zoos, frogspawn, bubble, Capnella, etc... I would also like to through in a clam (Tridacna, I think). The livestock will come gradually, w/ snails, corals and Chromis first, allowing the Aragocrete to become populated. This will start after 2 mon. of the tank being up and running, thought slowly. The protein skimmer won't be run until the tank's been running for about 4 mon to allow colonization. The next additions will be the wrasse, goby, blenny, and shrimps. Next follows the copper-band, then the tang(s), then the dwarf. The Linckia will be added after 8mon-1yr for stability and the anthias at about the same time-frame. The only new equipment being added is the mag18 and PS. I already have all the materials for the rest. Thank you for your time and input. <Sounds like a very nice plan... and it's obvious you have been studying... your careful approach here will surely serve you. Bob Fenner>

Counter Current Protein skimmer dimensions?   10/8/06 Hello, it's been a while since I've pestered y'all because everything's been going so well...shucks! Well, I'm moving to a larger house and will be upgrading my 55 gal reef setup to a 150 gal setup (72x18x28) <Man! Wish I could triple my income!> and I'm wondering about upgrading my protein skimmer with a DIY similar to that on your site. I would like to make the body out of  PVC and about 24-30" total height--ish. I would like to know what the recommended diameter & height should be and if using a Surge 3500 pump (660gph @ 0') would be advisable for this application. Also, would it work more efficiently to use the venturi in conjunction with the air stone(s)--I'm thinking 2-3 lime wood stones? <Nah! The diffuser and air driven mechanism is an outright pain to maintain... use a venturi...> Here is my design to make sure I'm not forgetting/missing anything: 1 overflow w/ 2x1.5" drains (currently in use on the 150gal) into 15 gal DSB algae scrubber/refugium (heavy-duty Rubbermaid-type bucket) which spills over into 30 gal settling tank/sump (another Rubbermaid) for protein skimmer/auto-top off from RO/DI. <Mmm, I'd reverse these two sumps and their contents... easier to keep a constant water level in/with the skimmer... and more room for the DSB/Algae...> Depending on budget, a Nielsen reactor as well. A 1" bulk head will feed into a little giant 1/12 hp industrial application pump w/ 3/4" inlet & outlet (currently feeding the 150 gal with a measured 550 gph w/ approx 6' head and feeding an under gravel jet system, so about 14' total of 3/4" pvc structure.), with ball valves before and after, and running through a SQUID. A CAP 2200 (675gph @ 0') will power a closed loop and additional current will be added by 2-3 MaxiJet 900 or 1200s. Total flow target is 1200+ gph. The tank will be set up for soft corals and inverts and will likely be lightly stocked (small budget). I'm planning a 4" DSB w/ plenum and will be starting w/ 70-150#s LR (I already have 70# and may get the rest, pending some good fortune), <And specials on "whole box" deals...> with plans to add more as $ is available. Lighting will be 2x250W 10000k Ushio MH and 2x60W CFL actinics. Oh, I was also offered a snowflake moray and told they're reef safe...opinions seem mixed on this. Any input? <Mmm, "safer"... but still will eat all smallish crustaceans... run into things... produce a goodly amount of ammonia with size...> Thank you for your invaluable assistance.      Branon <Do look over the fab DIY site: OzReef.org for input re the skimmer... and more! Bob Fenner>

- Skimmer Operation 6/23/06 - Hello crew, <Hello.> I have a homemade Down draft skimmer ( plan from the web. The first week, it seemed to work well.  Lots of bubbles an produced kind of thickened dark green juice. I collected about 1/2 cup a day. Now, it seem to less bubbles, and the level of bubbles kind of low. If I increase the pressure (by open inlet valve bigger), it produced wet, and lots of water. The outlet is set full open and at lowest setting. So I only can control the inlet.  Is there something I have do wrong, or something I can make it works better? <Well... very difficult to "know" if you did something wrong as I can't see your skimmer. However, many times new skimmers work amazingly well in the first couple of days because the tank has never been skimmed before - only to settle down to a much lower level once dissolved organics are under control. It could very well be that your skimmer is working just fine. I'd give it some time.> Thanks, Vinh. <Cheers, J -- >

Skimmer upgrading problems   6/11/06 Hello, <Hi there> I just tried to retro fit my Top Fathom skimmer model 100. It's originally a venturi type that ran w/ a Mag 7. It only works okay in my opinion so I decided to try "modernizing" it w/ the Aquamedic Ocean Runner 2700 using it's needle wheel design and going away from the old venturi type skimmer. Upon finishing all of my plumbing and tapping the input fitting for the airline to the needle wheel pump and set-up, didn't really work very well at all!? <Not too surprising, considering the "engineering" involved to have about a/the "right" amount of pressure, flow rate... may not be able to be done with the height of water in the TF contactor column at all... There's more than "cutting, gluing whatever size/shape of parts" to making a functioning skimmer for sure> It didn't really suck up many air bubbles and I'm very disappointed and wonder what I may have done wrong? <Mmm, if you can "bench test" the unit, try changing a static/set amount of head/height of water in the contactor (the tall tube)... at some amount of water here the given pump, impeller will push a goodly amount of bubbly water... you might be able to modify the contactor (by cutting it, re-solventing it to the lower height... to make it work...> I lightly blew into the tubing to see if more air would help but it just bubbled out of the input (w/out it's sponge pre-filter installed at this point). <Ahh, telling> Are needle-wheel pumps all alike? <Mmm, no> Should I have tried to use a Sedra pump instead as recommended by my LFS? <This should generate a bit more head, might work, or work better...> I didn't think there to be any real difference between them? <Oh yes> Is there something I may have missed in my conversion that I'm not aware of and/or it's compatibility w/ my Top Fathom skimmer? It seems very close to the Euro skimmer to me but??? <... not that similar... the Euro Reef skimmers are well-engineered...> So until I can figure this out, I configured everything back to the way it was (w/ the venturi input but left the Aquamedic Ocean Runner pump in place at this time). So now I suppose that I need a regular Aquamedic Ocean Runner 2500 impeller unless the only difference between the 2500 and 3500 is the impeller (same body and magnet) and not the housing (like Mag pumps). Could you please tell me if the 2500 and 3500 model pump housings are the same size? <Don't know... but appear to be. I'd write the manufacturer re> If this is the case, then I could use the larger 3500's impeller for increased flow rate. I would get more flow out of the pump than using the standard 2500 impeller. <Not this simple... Think about what you're considering here... What might be the consequence of just increasing flow rate? Pressure? The amount of "bubbliness" of the flow water? How might you have to/want to change the height, diameter of the contactor column, the overflow of water from here... to get you what you seek?> Please help and thanks in advance, Joe <Keep scheming, devising here Joe... and consider the time "savings" from just buying a better unit. Bob Fenner>

Bonding PVC - 05/13/06 Bob/staff, <<EricR here>> Hi. <<Hello>> I am going to be building a DIY skimmer with my dad to replace the Skilter. <<Cool!>> I want to know is it safe to use pvc glue to bond pvc pipe? <<Yes...and your only practical alternative for secure/leak-proof joints>> Will it be toxic to the reef animals? <<Not once it dries/cures>> I am using the design on WWM/ DIY skimmers. Thanks John <<Good luck with your project, EricR>>

DIY Beckett Skimmer 8/2/05 Hello crew.  I have finished my DIY skimmer and got it hooked up to my sump to test it out.  To my surprise it looks like it might actually work.  I have one problem though.  The Beckett is producing very fine bubbles, but some are getting trapped under the top of the box, and when they get big enough they burb up to the top.  Do you have any ideas on how I can fix this?   Also, it is not producing any type of foam head.  Is this because it is fresh, clean saltwater with no fish or anything?  (All I did was mix up some saltwater to test it, it's not even hooked up to the tank yet.)  Please let me know if you did not receive the pics, because I believe you need them to better answer, plus I would love to see them posted cause this thing only cost me about $150.  Thank you.                                                                           Mike <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaqs.htm and use the Google search tool on WWM with the terms "skimmer, bubbles"... look up cached so it will highlight... Bob Fenner>

- Questions about DIY Skimmer Design - Hi there, I'm thinking of trying the DIY skimmer you have the designs for at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diyskimmer.htm  <Ok.>  I was wondering why there needs to be two slip valves and three separate pieces of clear PVC at the top?  <At least one of the slip connections is so you can remove and clean the collection cup. I'm thinking the second one would let you adjust the height of the riser tube. The clear PVC would give you an idea of how the skimmer is performing.>  Why not just one piece of PVC?  <Well... you would want to at least clean the thing, yes?> Also what rating of air pump would you recommend?  <I'd spend the big bucks and buy a Luft pump... worth the money and should deliver plenty of air.> Ditto for rating of water pump?  <Is up to you... the larger the better... I'd think at least 500 to 750 GPH for starters.> Cheers, Emma
<Cheers, J -- >

DIY protein skimmer Its a in tank co current  model I made based on the diagram given in www.saltaquarium.about.com. <Definitely pretty impressive to be able to follow a diagram like that.> I am attaching the picture of the same. It also say its the least efficient skimmer as it requires lots of maintenance which makes me wonder why I selected this design. <Just trying it out? planning on doing another perhaps?> I assumed that the water will flow out from the bottom which I have kept it open. Its more than 24 hrs and my skimmer is till working. It produces much thick dry foam. But the greenish / brownish gunk is still not visible. ( Could it be that there are no fishes in my tank , the greenish gunk is not appearing )<Is it a brand new tank?> I stay in India and its really difficult for us to get good protein skimmers like Euro Reef , Aqua C etc etc... Even if we get, its very very very costly that we Indians cannot imagine to buy it. Nor we can buy it directly from a outsource as we have to make payment to the manufacturers in dollars which is not possible because of various government regulations.( Dollars can flow into India but cannot flow out . hahaha )<Definitely a problem.> Anyway I will consider your advise and act upon it. <Good luck and please do let us know, MacL> I will keep u informed. Thanks Adam, for your immediate reply You guys are really doing a wonderful job.
Best Regards,

DIY Protein Skimmer design 9/23/04 Hello Crew, I just made a protein skimmer. I don't know whether I have made it right or wrong.  So I am sending you the diagram of the same and requesting your expert advice.  Mine is a 40 gallon FISH ONLY  tank and the height of the protein skimmer is 18 Inches. <Based on your diagram, the basic designs looks Ok, but you don't show an outlet.  Water must be able to move through the skimmer.> I had ick in my tank and now its empty for almost a month. I have kept the air pressure for this skimmer at maximum and its producing enough foam. But the only problem is its only plain water which remains in the collection cup. I am not getting the tea colour waste matter as discussed in the wetweb forum.  Have I gone any where wrong? Please advise. <It sounds like the water level in your skimmer is too high.  It looks like this unit is designed to hang in the tank, correct?  I am sending back your diagram with an outlet added.  I would construct the outlet of 1" pipe.  You can adjust the water level in the skimmer by raising or lowering the unit in the water.  I hope this helps!  Best Regards. AdamC.>

Red Algae, Diy skimmer, and Beautiful black Arowana Hi,<Hi back, MikeD here> I am some what new to this site but I really enjoy it so far.  Couple questions if you can help.  I have a 75 gallon reef tank and just lately its starting to get over taken by the bad bubbly red algae I think it is.  Any suggestions on how to get rid of it quickly?<IMO "quickly" is always a red flag trouble word. There are many things that will make it go away including 1)increased circulation, 2) RO/DI water,3) increased partial water changes, 4) eliminating "oily" foods and 5) siphoning it off while doing partial water changes. There ARE products available to kill it as well, but use with caution as each has a definite disadvantage to be considered.>  I have had it set up about a year.  Also I have 2 aggressive salt water fish I am moving to a smaller tank anything you can suggest or a site I can look at for a diy skimmer that's cheap since I only have 2 fish in the tank?<sure...check the DIT forum here or at Reefcentral.com>  One last question, in the 125 gallon I am getting a large black Arowana and a white Oscar not sure what else if anything, (dorado (doratto? catfish, sting ray) anything you can suggest?<Arowanas grow to almost 3 ft and are huge PLYS they are acrobatic jumpers. One will fill a 125 by itself and they commonly kill themselves leaping into the hood/lid....they can jump almost 3' straight up after insects, small frogs and even small birds. their mouth has been compared to a landing barge and their genus name, Osteoglossum, means teeth on the tongue and they consume HUGE amounts of food as they grow.>.  These fish are paternal mouth brooders would the bright red gravel take away from his beautiful look or what can you suggest for his aquarium to be set up as.<Almost anything you'd like. The black Arowanas end up silver and almost identical to the silvers. Tankmates can be tricky do to their large size and gaping maws, so I'd suggest caution here....I kept my last one with a Tiger shovelnosed catfish as a tank buddy, that way anything that dodged one was eaten by the other, with NEITHER up nor down safe.>  I would rather not have it plain.  Thank you in advance for your help.  Tim and Kim.<Hope this helps. Use caution if you get a little one and raise it. I lost a small baby by feeding it a live spider. The head shaking was evident that it had been bit inside the mouth and it gradually wasted away from the venom over a period of 10 days or so. This IS rare, but it CAN happen, with most spiders cheerfully just considered more food.>

Skilter retrofit - 5/7/03 Hello again: <Sooooo sorry for the delay. Have not only been trying to prepare for the close of my marine biology course but my job is really busy at the moment. Paul at your service (albeit very very delayed)>   Thanx for your reply, <No problem> i thought you had forgotten about me!!! <Never, a matter of checking my inbox and getting the time to answer. So sorry for the delays> But i have a nother???(sorry) What did you mean by retro fitting my Skilter??? <I know people add airstones and do some other retro fits I cannot name specifically any retrofit or vouch for its use. Check out the various forums and DIY sites out there and ask about Skilters and ways to improve performance on them. I personally have never employed the use of the Skilter system but have seen it's use in some impressive tanks.>  I'm willing!!! i would like to know how, can you help me on this? <I will keep your email and try to get some help for you, in the meantime, just do a search in google for "Skilter" or "Skilter DIY". Here is a starter link for you to look through http://home1.gte.net/rhe1/nanoreef/comingsoon.htm. Good luck> do you know some one who can!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME!!! <My pleasure. Sorry for the delay>

Re: Air injection I am trying to build my own protein skimmer and I have all of it pretty figured out except for one part.  The air injection area.  From what I can see, is it a pinched area in a tube were the air is directly injected through a small air port on the end of the pinched area causing a jet and sucking the air.  Any insight or internet sights giving insight into air injection on a protein skimmer, whether venturi or down draft would be great thanks. John <Hi John, try these links and those at the top of each page. There are several options available for injecting air, Beckett injectors, etc. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diyskimmer.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/DIYskimrfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimmerfaqs.htm Also search the web for DIY skimmer plans, there are a bunch out there! Craig>

Troubleshooting a DIY Protein Skimmer Hi, I have a diy protein skimmer, I designed it to look like the ReefLife HOT skimmer. It's 24" H and 4" in diameter. I'm using the Rio 1700 pump and a 3/4" Mazzie injector. The problem I'm having is that the skimmer fills up all the way to the collection cup and for some reason I am not getting a  fog of micro bubbles. The people at Mazzie spec out this 3/4" injector for the Rio 1700. The pump up to the injector inlet is 3/4" and from the outlet of the injector down to the bottom of the skimmer is 1/2" PVC and the outlet is 3/4" with a gate valve can this be a problem? I'm only get a few large bubbles, I tested it in tap to see a fog of bubbles but it's not producing much. The pump is more than enough to drive a venturi injector. Any clues to want I can do to make it work. Thanks <Either the injector isn't working, or the pump is pushing too much water through the skimmer and needs a valve on the inlet, not the outlet.  Give it a try.  Craig>

diy skimmer I have just one more question about my diy skimmer. What is a good flow rate for an air pump for skimmer? <Hmm, reminds me of questions re how much water it will take to fill up an aquarium... depends on the size, depth of the device, types of diffusers, number... practically speaking you want as many 1 mm. or so diameter bubbles as you can get.> The tetra Luft pump is a little pricey, but I know someone who has a Schego air pump (I have read these are good brands), that puts out 200l/h. <Both good units. I prefer the Luft pumps for greater longevity and quiet> Would that be big enough for my skimmer, or do I need bigger?  My skimmer dimensions are again 16"tall(reaction tube), and 4" diameter. Thanks again for help. <Both would do... for one, two "stones" (likely limewood)... do keep these clean, rotated out to dry every week or two. Bob Fenner>

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

DIY Protein Skimmer Hi WWM Thanks so much for your guidance thus far. I have never thought myself able to attempt DIY projects before, however I am now determined to make this skimmer a success. Anyway your suggested modifications were very helpful, and in relation to them I was wondering whether using my old SeaClone's collection cup on the DIY design would be a good idea. <It seems a little small.> I intend to source clear acrylic tubes if possible, with white PVC as a last resort. <Also, look around for clear PVC as another option.> Would it be better to construct my own collection cup, or would the SeaClone be quite OK? <Cheap enough to build a larger one. I think Anthony used Rubbermaid food bowl.> Also, when you describe water level in the skimmer, and it's control via gate valves, I follow what you say. However I am at a loss as to where the level should be optimally set to produce foam. Does the water need to be exactly at the bottom of the collection cup uptake tube? If so, is this so the foam can coalesce in the neck and collect? <Once you have the skimmer constructed it will be far easier to see where you get maximum production. You want to try to minimize the skimmate collecting in the neck, but you also want to avoid filling you cup with a nearly clear skimmate, too. Just below the collection cup is good, but you will have to tweak this regularly. The only drawback to these DIY designs, they are hands on. I do not wish to convince you not to do it. Just keep in mind that its performance depends on how much you are willing to work with it.> Any information would be greatly appreciated. Have a great day, Andrew <Thank you, you too. -Steven Pro>

Tiny Little Starfish Hello all, or rather, whoever ! I had moved my 55 gallon tank a month ago and everything is pretty much broken down. Various fish are in different tanks all through the house, all inhabitants are doing great in their little vacation homes. My concern is this: The main tank which just has a lot of my live rock and live sand in it is infested with tiny little whitish, bluish starfish. I have had a few of these guys from the beginning but never so many like now. The tank has about 40lbs of live rock in it, about 4 inches of live sand, lots of brittle stars, macroalgae, etc., but no fish. I have read some things on these little guys, and I know they supposedly eat coral, don't have any of that, so it doesn't really matter (but will in the future), but I just don't want them in there and refuse to kill them. Is there some fish or such I can get to eat them? Do you know of any damage they may cause? <Without a picture, I can offer you a few good guesses. First, I bet the starfish are harmless. They allegedly eat coral, but you have none and they still reproduce and thrive, so I think they are probably eating something else. Secondly, they are reproducing without fish in the tank. Again, it makes me think they are eating something that the fish would normally eat and compete against them/starve then down in population or whatever fish you have may eat some of the starfish. I would not worry about them at this point, but do try to make a positive identification. Take a look in Julian Sprung's book "The Invert Guide" and Dr. Shimek's "Key to Identification" found on his webpage.> Also, I made my own protein skimmer (countercurrent flow, airstone driven). Since the filter system is broken down right now, I was thinking about changing it to Venturi driven. Is this more trouble than it's worth? <Generally less maintenance than CC air driven models, but far more difficult to DIY.> Do these things really run better than with airstones? <Very debatable. If you are getting good production now, I would be inclined to keep the current unit.> I sure go through a lot of airstones and thought it might even be more cost efficient over time. Whatcha think? <Airstones are pretty cheap. It would probably take years to recover and money saved in airstones versus the pump and Venturi valve to run the new DIY skimmer. Upon rereading, I am not sure you wish to DIY. If not, I would look through the FAQ's on skimmer selection for various recommendations for various size tanks and applications.> Thanks for all the advice, and have a good weekend, Jana <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

DIY skimmer plan Bob... I just attached the attached skimmer diagram into a reply for a WWM quiz or. <Got it! A beauty> Do post/file this on WWM if you like. A simple counter current skimmer of the old Nilsen style variety. <Will do so, thank you. Bob F, who suspects you will feel the "old cheerleader effect" taking a break from WWM (do ask folks if they're aware of the site... you will be surprised... maybe not).> Antoine

DIY Skimmer Hi Anthony. So very good to hear from your again. Well, I read the FAQs about skimmers and the pros and cons of the various kinds. In the spirit of responsible reefmanship and in the tradition of DIY I built a 4" x 36" countercurrent skimmer that is supplied by the system pump and is aerated with a WISA 200. <excellent! nice size and hardware too!> To my surprise, the thing actually works. I am just not exactly sure how much air to chase through the thing. Since you have mentioned that you are familiar with these skimmers, would you be so kind as to tell me how to tune the rascal now that I have it actually skimming, though a bit wet I think. Cheers, Fred. <my pleasure... with such air driven skimmers (which I feel produce very good quality skimmate!) it is best to pick one of your variables and keep it constant... air or water flow. I prefer constant air flow. Use fresh lime wood airstones and change them consistently (once monthly is in the ballpark) and aim for maximum aeration/air flow but do not make adjustments to it. The water flow is what will change perhaps daily (minor adjustments). You will want/need a gate valve on the outflow side... no other will do (ball valves are too course for fine adjustment). Hopefully your DIY skimmer has a clear neck... if not, consider revisiting and adding a long clear neck to it for visual inspection as you make the occasional changes to water flow and the subsequent change in water/foam level in the neck. Keep an eye on the water flow and clean pumps, intakes, impellers (whatever necessary) to keep things running smooth. It doesn't have to be super fast. Even 400gph on a unit this size would be fine. And so... with maximum/unchanging aeration from a wood diffuser, the gate valve will be opened a little bit when the foam is too wet, and closed a little bit when it is too dry (raises the foam/water level in the neck). The advantage to such DIY skimmers is that they can produce more and better skimmate with minor daily adjustments as necessary that only take a moment or two. The only disadvantage is that they require this little bit of extra work and the monthly changing of an airstone compared to venturis. I prefer these countercurrent skimmers to most all others when time allows for maintenance. Best regards, Anthony> 

DIY Protein skimmer I located a plan for a DIY skimmer, and wonder if you believe it would be capable of servicing my 120g tank if I plan on having a medium density bio load eventually ? The relevant link is : www.aquariacentral.com/diy/skimmer3.gif  Thank you in advance Andrew <yes, my friend. This is a very simple but effective countercurrent skimmer. It is very inexpensive, sturdy and can be adjusted to produce excellent quality skimmate reliably. The disadvantages are that is not as attractive (PVC parts) and some say that it requires more maintenance than most ventures. However, the monthly changing of an airstone is really no different than the cleaning that every Venturi gets... and the sometimes daily tweak of the outflow gate valve keeps skimmate production maximized and keeps you in tune with your system rather than a Venturi that gets plugged in and ignored. Some modifications to this design should include a clear PVC "neck" to serve as a sight glass for convenient monitoring of water level adjustments. Also, the ball valve on the outflow is unacceptable... a gate valve will serve you much better (fine control of water level backing up or releasing volume in body chamber which in turn crucially affects the foam level in the neck. This diagram also lacks an air inlet... should be positioned for convenience. And lastly, slip unions on the neck will allow for quick and convenient of neck and collection cup for weekly cleaning (open gate valve to drop water level conveniently to do this). Admittedly there is a learning curve on this style skimmer as hard or harder than any other skimmer. But it will produce skimmate as much or more than any $300 model with a minor daily adjustment. It all comes down to how much time you are willing to spend to save time spent on daily maintenance. Admittedly, it is a crude and simple design. But that doesn't make it bad... just know that you have options. The opposite end of this skimmer question would be a Euroreef or Tunze skimmer... extremely low maintenance, very reliable but top shelf prices. I have enlisted the help of the WWM crew to help me post the diagram from my book for a simple inexpensive DIY skimmer... do let us know if it doesn't come through. Best regards, Anthony>

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