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FAQs about CPR/Bak-Pak Skimmers 

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CPR Bak Pak Skimmer, no bubbles, skimmate prod.   8/1/12
Hello all,
<Good Evening Karen, Bobby here>
Thanks for all of your help through the years. I have yet another request for assistance with my 46 gallon reef tank. It is mainly a softie tank that has been doing very well, up and running for five years with a hang on back CPR skimmer. About six months ago, I switched from a hang on back filter to a canister filter in order to run charcoal. The skimmer has functioned very well, but is producing less since changing out the filter.
<The canister filter is likely more effective/efficient than the HOB filter and it is possible that as a result you have less nutrients overall for the skimmer to process resulting in less skimmate>
I did a water change three days ago, cleaned the  skimmer, changed the charcoal packs and since cannot get the skimmer to produce any bubbles in the first chamber. There is, however, a large amount of bubbles exiting into the tank. I have done every adjustment I can think of. There is no Venturi effect happening at all. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! I have been very happy with this skimmer and I am out of ideas.
<A number of variables here, but I will offer you a couple of ideas.  You mention there is no venturi effect. I would start by ensuring the air intake hose is not clogged or kinked.  Secondly, make sure that the skimmer was put back together correctly, pump set in correctly.  When you cleaned the skimmer, was it possible that there was any residue such as soap, cleaner, lotion on your hands, etc that could have got into the water that would have negatively affected bubble production?   A few things to consider. Keep me posted>
Re: CPR Bak Pak Skimmer    8/2/12

You rock!
<Well Thank You!>
 The airline, where it attaches to the pump, was clogged with salt. I remove it, used a clean sewing needle to unblock it, rinsed and reattached.
Working again, like new. Thanks again.
<You are very welcome>
 You saved me the purchase of a new skimmer. It is soooo hard to keep explaining the cost of maintaining this tank to my husband!
<I have just convinced my wife there are worse things!!  Happy Reefing!>

Bak Pak Skimmer Performance 7/6/12
Hello Crew,
<Hi Jerry>
I have Bak Pak protein skimmers on my two tanks. One is a 55 gallon with 4 H. erectus seahorses, and the other is a 29 with a Banggai Cardinal, Neon Goby, Tail Spot Blenny, Chalk Bass, and Yellow Banded Possum Wrasse. The Cardinal is the largest fish; the bass and wrasse are both under one inch in length, and the Blenny is not much bigger. Neither Bak Pak skimmer produces much skimmate. No matter how I adjust the collection cup, at most I get froth that produces liquid in the cup that's only slightly discolored.
<My first thought is that there isn't much waste to collect with your bio-load.>
Much of the time the foam doesn't rise high enough to spill over into the cup; sometimes, rather unexpectedly, it will start to foam up and collect liquid. I hear about running skimmers "dry" or "wet" and I don't even know what "dry" means, since all I usually get is a sort of film on the surfaces in the cup.
<This film does contain waste and basically all dry means is having the collection cup raised up to produce a dryer foam and more concentrated waste.  I personally prefer something middle of the road.>
 I've read on WWM that the Bak Pak is an "okay" skimmer, but the AquaC may be better. I'm wondering if it makes sense to replace my skimmers with a different model, or if this is the most any skimmer will do in my tanks.
<If the skimmer is operating properly, it will produce skimmate based on your animal load.  I suggest you check the air venturi tube and make sure there isn't any blockage as this would cause a reduction of skimmate.  The AquaC is a more efficient skimmer but what you have should work fine if properly adjusted.>
I have a problem with hair algae in the 29, and I get Cyano in the 55; the nitrates are about 20 ppm in both tanks.
<Part of the problem and high phosphate levels will also contribute to the problem.>
 I use Poly Filter pads in Aqua Clear power filters in each tank, which undoubtedly do some of the job of removing organics. I'm wondering, given that when the skimmers are producing foam, it's mostly clear, does this mean my water just doesn't have much gunk in it, so no skimmer would produce the smelly "skimmate" I keep hearing about?
<Is possible but your nitrate level indicates something is amiss here especially with the light animal load you have.
It's your call on whether you want to upgrade your skimmers.>
don't want to buy new skimmers if it won't make much difference.
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

CPR Bak-Pak Skimmer Performance - 8/23/11
Dearest Crew,
Thank you so much for your ongoing support. You're a true blessing to the hobby!
<Why thank you!>
Just a quick question today. My 54 gallon reef tank has been recovering very well after moving. However my CPR Bak-Pak skimmer has stopped skimming. I've contacted CPR and they helped reveal that the 30 lbs of oolitic sand that I added effected the performance of the unit. The problem however has not been resolved. The skimmer is pumping water like it should via the Rio rejuvenating pump (purchased brand new two weeks ago to see if this would solve the problem- it did not).
The skimmer produced the correct amount of micro-bubbles but a large portion of them are pumped into the tank and nothing skims. I've had this unit for 3 years and have not experienced this problem. CPR support hypothesized that the 2 part putty I use may affect performance (I already knew this) as well as the sand. They also recommended a large water change which I performed (30%). The unit has been performing in this manor <manner> every since the sand was added (about 2 months ago). I have cleaned it several times to know avail.
Here are the tank parameters:
Temp: 80-82 degrees F
SG: 1.024
pH: 8.2 (p.m. reading)
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: reads as 0 although present in system
DKH: 7
Calcium 460
Magnesium: 1100
Kent Salt Mix
Tropic Marin Bio calcium
RO water
10% water change every Saturday
Fish feeding daily (one fish only)
Coral feeding three times a week
I do think that this issue is related to water rather then due to the skimmer itself, most likely a result
of a change from the added sand. I just cannot understand why it has not resumed skimming even after cleaning
repeatedly and doing a large water change. I don't think that replacing the skimmer is the solution.
Any ideas or suggestions?
<With one fish and a nitrate reading of 0, I would not expect too much skimmate but it should produce some foam.
I would check out the air inlet on the pump or where ever the air hose connects and look for a build up of calcium which would affect air production in the skimmer
and decrease it's efficiency.
I'm betting you will find some type of build up in the air inlet. A small drill bit works quite well for cleaning this out.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re CPR Bak-Pak Skimmer Performance - 8/23/11

Thank you so much James.
<You're welcome.>
Calcium build-up in the venturi was one of my guesses too. I cleaned the old Rio pump several times, including using miniature brushes soaked in vinegar. I'm currently using a 2 week old, brand new pump so I'm pretty sure that this is not the issue. Thanks for the drill bit idea!
If I do end of replacing the skimmer, do you think that this may solve the problem?
<Do not know.>
I can't see an valid reasons for why the skimmer, old as it may be, would cease to stop producing foam. Tons of micro-bubbles are being producing in the chamber but it seems that something is preventing them from creating a cohesive foam.
<Have you been using a new additive or food (liquid or dry) around the time the problem started. Some additives, foods, etc, and new plastics will/can cause a breakdown of surface tension due to oils, which will not allow the skimmer to produce waste. Back pressure will also cause this problem, can your collection cup breathe/release the air the skimmer is producing? Do you have another tank set up that you could try the skimmer in?
If not, take it to your LFS and try it in one of his tanks. If you are using a foam prefilter on the pump inlet, try removing it and see if performance improves.>
I have quite a few LPS corals and I'm quite generous with feeding them (although not so as to create algae problems). I know that the nutrients are in there.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Quick pH/Skimmer Question 8/24/11

Greetings, crew!
<Hello Dustin>
After several days of feeling satisfied with the current status of my system (a first), and finding no real "issues" that require immediate attention (or, as my wife calls it, an excuse to go out and by more stuff at the LFS), I'm grateful to finally have a quick inquiry to bring to the table.
After reading your articles regarding pH in marine systems, and the proposed solutions for low pH, I started to think more about my skimming setup. My skimmer is a CPR SR3 installed in the middle sump compartment of my Biocube 29. Now one of the suggestions for a skimmer to more effectively oxygenate the water was to run its air inlet to an external source where the CO2 in the air was naturally lower. It finally hit me: the air hose for the inlet is regrettably short,
<For a reason.>

and rests inside of the lid on a closed top system. By simply getting a longer airline and running it outside of the lid, wouldn't I likely be providing a better source of oxygenated air and consequently raise my pH a bit?
<You will likely hurt the skimmer's performance. Less air will be fed into the skimmer with a longer air line unless you feed it with an air pump. I'd leave well enough alone, the large amount of air bubbles produced by the skimmer will drive CO2 out of the system.>
It's not terribly low at 8.0, but I'd like to see it stabilize at around 8.2 (just in case, my dKH is pretty stable at 10 on the German scale, Calcium ranges from about 400-420ppm).
Thanks again for the wealth of information, and giving me something to read during my idle time at work!
<You're welcome and keep reading. James (Salty Dog)>

Skimmer and outside tank accumulation questions  - 05/26/07 resending due to large attachments the first time around <Okay!> > Hello! > I get a lot of good info from your site and you have helped on a couple of occasions.  So, I thought I would see if you have any advice given my "newbie-ness" as a marine hobbyist. > Setup: > 75 gallon tank > 72 lbs of live rock > 1-1.5" of live sand > Eheim 2026 canister filter > CPR Dual Bak-Pak with Bio Bale removed > Livestock (just added 4 days ago and seemingly healthy): > 2 Ocellaris Clowns > 1 Christmas Wrasse > Water metrics excellent per LFS test prior to purchasing livestock. > Questions: > 1.  Given my setup, is there an ideal placement for the skimmer? <For the unit you have, about in the middle, back is fine... A better skimmer in a sump would be ideal> You will see in attached pic that the skimmer is towards the middle of the tank. > 2.  I also get lots of microbubbles from the Eheim return. <Mmm, should have none... you have a leak in the plumbing... likely at the junction of a fitting and the tubing... more likely on the discharge side... Read on WWM re...> I have it > submerged so that it doesn't make cause surface agitation and keep the noise down.  I noticed a bit of air in there and I was going to try and make sure > it's balanced to get the air out. <Mmm, not "balance"... as the air would eventually all be discharged... you have an entrained air-leak> Any thoughts on this? > 3.  Do I have the collection cups properly place - CPR documentation very poor and the LFS had their display broken down for cleaning? (see pic)  The > skimmer also produces some larger bubbles from it's return - not many, but some.  Is this OK? <Is... design defect... you might want to look into upgrading the pump, re-fitting it with a needle wheel type impeller...> > 4.  I have a "film" at the top of the water surface.  Isn't the skimmer supposed to remove this or will I always have a slight film at the top? <You don't want a/the film... and this skimmer does not have the means, capacity to remove... Do look into the after-market surface skimmer attachment for your Eheim...> If it's not supposed to be there, what are some options to remove this? <See WWM re...> > 5.  I have an accumulation at the bottom outside front edge of the tank and on some the Eheim inlet / outlet fittings.  It looks like salt, which would worry me b/c my immediate thought is leakage.  Have you seen this before? (see pic) <Yes... need to check for the source here... splashing, spray, other?> > Thank you in advance!! On Wisconsin! <Okay... keep reading wherever you are, want to be. Bob Fenner>

Bubbles and Lips, Skimmers and Fish Injury 5/8/07 Good Morning everyone! <Good morning to you.> I have two questions that probably could be answered on the chat forums -- but I can't seem to register right now.  I hope that gets fixed soon.  <Me too.>    I was fiddling with my CPR Bak Pak protein skimmer this weekend.  It hangs directly off the back of my display tank and the little pump that came with it seems to be failing.  The original pump was a Rio 600 RVT which seemed to do an OK job, but I was never happy with the open face of it. <Standard pump that comes with it, but does not have the greatest reputation for reliability.>  Nothing ever got sucked in but I've always been concerned, so I got a Maxijet 1200 as a replacement.  This pump solves the open face problem, but the air intake tubing just being jammed in the filter screen seems a bit cheap to me.   So anyway, I was experimenting with using an air pump to force air into the intake of the pump rather than allowing venturi action and I got good results by regulating how much air was sent in ... and it was my intention to pump the rest of the air into a regular air stone in the main tank ... until I realized that I rarely if ever see air bubbles, air stones etc. in marine tanks.  So what I'm asking is if there are technical reasons why people don't put air bubbles directly into the display tank?  <A couple of reasons, one is that they get clogged very quickly especially with all the life in a marine system.  Secondly the popping bubbles make quite a mess with salt spray.  The first effects you more here, you will need to change your airstone frequently here.>   Second question is about a new acquisition, a Coral Beauty that is alone in a quarantine tank.   He eats very well and is very VERY active, spending his entire day swimming back and forth right in front of the glass-- maybe even against the glass.  He refuses to use either of the PVC caves I've provided (one white PVC the other black ABS) and prefers to sleep wedged into the suction cups from where the heater used to be (heater was moved to prevent burned CB problems).    But his upper lip is a like a thick white stripe.   It doesn't look like any sort of growth or covering like a fungus ... as much as it looks perhaps a tiny bit swollen and perhaps rubbed.  From all that swimming in front of the glass, maybe?  Does this suggest any action other than just further observation?  <Sounds like a physical trauma, maybe a shipping injury or even a burn from the heater.  Either way just keep up the water quality to prevent infection and observe.  I'm guessing with a little time this will heal.> Thanks again!!!! <Welcome> <Chris>

Skimmer Stopped Skimming 10/30/06 Dear Bob, <Hello John.  James for the vacationing Bob.> First off,  I purchased your book a few months ago. And let me say that I have made changes to my system for its benefit  that would never have thought of without the assistance of your book. My little 29 gallon  tank went from an algae infested overstocked, green and brown wanna-be system  to a striving  reef ecosystem with loads of soft corals and pink/ red calcareous algae everywhere, In a matter of weeks. <Mmm, knowledge has remarkable effects.> Now, the system is a drilled 29 gallon AGA with a blue internal overflow box. I ditched the sand, and put starboard on the bottom (which is now purple). I Need to scrape the glass about once a week now. The is an acrylic sump with bio balls removed, with heater and debris catching micron filter which is replaced daily, and Chemi Pure is used and replaced once every two weeks. <Certainly doesn't have to be changed that often.  I use the product myself, rinse the bag once weekly, and use for three months.> Water changes are done twice a week. <Wow, overkill.  Once weekly would be ideal.> Six gallons is taken out and replaced with Reef crystals mixed water, while blasting the bottom and rocks with a powerful pump and turkey blaster. There is a prawn goby and clownfish in the system. Now the problem is that my CPR Bak Pak 2 RR wont take out any skimmate. I have had 0 skimmate in the past few weeks. I thoroughly clean the whole unit in hot water once a week and have even tried replacing the MJ. No luck. No skimmate. What's The problem? Hopefully , with a good understanding of my system as give, you will be able to help. <Nothing is wrong here, John.  With your maintenance schedule, small bioload, and use of Chemi-Pure, there is little waste to remove.  I like to call Chemi-Pure, protein skimmer in a jar.  Very effective in removing organics.  Sounds like you have a well run system.> Thanks a lot. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

CPR Skimmer Pump - 11/27/05 Hello, <<Howdy>> I've been running my skimmer for 2 years now with a Rio 600, and I've noticed that is not foaming like it was. <<Have you ever cleaned the skimmer/pump during this period?...may be all it needs...or maybe a new pump impeller.>> I would love to buy a new and better pump for my system. What would be the right choice? The people at CPR said that it is rated for a Rio 600 only. <<Did it work fine in the beginning? If so, why not get another Rio 600? Otherwise, pick up another brand with like qualities (flow rate) to the original pump.>> Thanks <<Regards, EricR>>

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 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>

Protein Skimmers/Bak Pak Question Good evening Feel a little foolish about this question! I'm replacing a pump for my BakPak II skimmer. I had a MaxiJet 1200 and I'm changing to a Rio 600. The pump produces tons a bubbles when free floating in the tank, however when I connect it to the intake tube on the skimmer, nothing, nada, zilch! Flow but no bubbles. My LFS looked at me like I was nuts? Air tube is out of water and wide open. Has anyone experienced this or am I nuts. <Mark, for an experiment, shorten the air tube as much as possible and still be out of the water. I'm wondering why you want to reduce the flow rate to your skimmer. MaxiJet put out 295gpm and the Rio 600 is at 200. James (Salty Dog)>

Protein Skimmers Hello <Hi Todd> Yesterday I got the SeaClone 100 for my 10 gallon nano reef. It works but the intake assembly is HUGE. It overpowers the corals and tankmates. I was thinking about getting a Bak-pak 2R but people say that microbubbles enter the aquarium and wont stop until it's been 1 whole year. Do you know any hang on skimmers that aren't very wide, up to 20 inches high, and in the range of $120 and $160? Should I get a Bak-Pak r2 and experiment with it? I heard that besides the bubble problem, it is a very good skimmer. <Todd, CPR makes a bubble trap for that skimmer that usually sells for $20.00 on line.  Might consider that.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks From Todd        

Bio-Bale question Hey guys. Love reading your stuff. Quick question, Does CPR's Bio-Bale hold nitrates like the bio-balls do? Thanks in advance. <Am pretty sure this stuff is just polyethylene (turnings, like from a drill bit working a solid piece)... Will definitely encourage the forward reactions of nitrification... but not "hold" nitrates... more likely to experience more/higher concentration with its use than not... I have mainly removed this material from CPR's products... Bob Fenner> 

- CPR Skimmer Questions - Hello wise ones of the wet world: I looked at the FAQs for CPR skimmers and did not see a reference to my topic. I use a CPR DX 6 venturi skimmer on my 125G fish only tank that is powered by a Rio 1700. The tank has been running for 5 ? years and ammonia and nitrites are zero, with the nitrates hovering around 50 (no doubt due to the wet/dry filtration system).  I went on CPR-USA's forum and did not notice any threads regarding the DX 6. Please keep in mind that this skimmer was with the system when we bought our home. My question pertains to the efficiency of the system. I read varying posts from those that state that a skimmer should garner one cup a day of skimmate to those posts that aver that, depending on the maturity and other filtration means of the system, low skimmate production is normal.  <You know... the statement that any skimmer should produce a predetermined quantity of skimmate is just a fallacy and misleading. There are too many variables in play that a statement like "your skimmer should produce a cup a day" will leave most of us - yes, myself included - falling way short. If your skimmer is producing anything, then it is working... if it produces half a cup, two cups, or a small film of slime in the bottom of the cup, it is working and doing its job.  Just for example, I'll explain my own situation - I have a 400 gallon system, with an AquaC 240 skimmer, an over sized pump and ozone. If I adjust my skimmer to produce wet foam, it will overflow to the tune of about 20 gallons onto the floor while I sleep. If I adjust the skimmer to produce dry foam, I get maybe a cup in two weeks.  In the latter case, what I collect is genuine sewage [foul, stinky, and viscous] so I'm happy with those results, and don't concern myself with measuring up to a cup a day. Likewise, and as you observed, as systems mature over years they tend to skim less and less, so for you, I'd say no worries.> I have 10 fish in my tank, including a porcupine puffer and three fish that measure about 4 to 5 inches each. So, I think that the bioload is there for the skimmer to extract some major junk. I have read suggestions to upgrade the Rio to a 2100 or 2500. Also, fellow aquarists have stated that adding an airstone down the throat of the skimmer will increase air production and therefore extract more gunk.  <Have made this modification myself to the smaller CPR skimmers with great results... in general, the CPR skimmers aren't aggressive foamers, so it is possible to enhance the efficiency of the unit, but even with that done, don't shoot for a cup a day.> I would appreciate your input as to possible solutions. Thanks, Mitch <Cheers, J -- > 

Ich, anemone compatibility, Biobale Hi Guys, <Jason> Thanks for your time, your website is incredibly informative! I'm relatively new to the hobby, having only started my first 30 gallon saltwater tank a little over six months ago, and I can't seem to learn enough. <Me neither!> My tank's current residents include a false percula clown, a sailfin blenny and a domino damsel who is residing in a long tentacle anemone. I also have a serpent star, a brittle star, two peppermint shrimp, an emerald crab and somewhere around fifteen hermit crabs. My lighting is a 2x65w Orbit lighting system, and for filtration I have a BakPak skimmer accompanied by a Whisper 30, <Good> a MaxiJet powerhead with a sponge filter attached, 3 inches of sand and 30lbs of live rock. I have had some trouble with the BakPak where the path to the path to the output valve gets clogged (my suspicion being that the Biobale is responsible)... <Me too... you can remove this (I would)> ... causing the skimmer to overflow and dump onto the floor. This was very disappointing and makes me leery of sustained use of this particular skimmer, do you know of anyone else having problems with this unit? <Often hear of same... have told Suk Kim (owner of Creative Plastics Research) re.> Anyhow, all of my tank's inhabitants were doing very well for a while, most surprisingly the anemone who I was a bit apprehensive about taking on but has nearly tripled in size since purchase. Well, my poor little fish came down with a case of the ich recently and I had to move them to a hospital tank that I had just set up and treated with copper. The hospital is pretty small, as I wasn't really sure of what I was getting into and the people at the LFS were less than helpful (apparently they are fine with over stocking my tank with incompatible fish (my first inhabitants) but quite testy with answering questions when problems arise). The hospital is only a 5.5 gallon tank and currently houses my clown, blenny and damsel. I've been keeping an eye on the levels and they tend to be ok and the fish seem to get along. Would it be wise to upgrade the hospital tank to something larger in mid treatment (I didn't think so, and I really want to be cautious here because the fish haven't been eating much (or at all) since being put in the hospital).  <This size system is too small to treat all your fishes... AND they ALL need to be treated... taken out of the main tank as you've done...> Also, I have never seen the blenny eat either the flake food or the shrimp pellets that I feed the other two fish, will he get by in the hospital?  <Not indefinitely... and this fish does NOT eat these foods much if at all> There is little algae growth for him to munch on and I am not sure what to supplement his diet with while he is being treated. Also, I was curious if getting a cleaner shrimp might deter future ich outbreaks.  <Will indeed help>  I've read that they've been known to clean Tangs and some other species, but would they do my clownfish or damsel any good? <Yes> Do they eat parasites when they are free swimming or still dormant in the sandbed? <No, just on host fishes> My next question is about coral and anemone relations. I've seen it written often that you should not mix the two, but I have not found much justification for this printed in literature. <Mmm, they have aggressive mechanisms... stinging cell structures, digestive dominance... to prevent competition for space, light, food in the wild> My LTA has his foot firmly planted in the sand and I was interested in growing some small button polyps on the uppermost reaches of my live rock. I understand that anemone movement can potentially knock over corals, but my anemone appears happy and unlikely to move, and my intuition is that the polyps should not be as sensitive to the anemone's movement as something larger and more branchlike anyhow. <I would hold off adding other stinging-celled animals to this size system> Lastly, I was just curious if using my hospital tank as a refugium for better filtration when it is not needed for sick fish is a good idea and if there are any good tutorials on setting one of these up around.  <Ah, a good idea... much archived on WWM re> Thanks again for all the great work!  Jay <Glad to share. Bob Fenner> 

Skimmer recommendation 9/17/04 How do you feel about the Bak Pak r2?  A little less expensive (a little more affordable for me)? thanks <Hmm... they just are a bit more finicky/less consistent. You get what you pay for my friend. If you are an experienced aquarist, have owned skimmers before and have a very good idea how they work and how to adjust them - then maybe the inconvenience and extra tinkering are worth it to you. For most folks, I'd strongly recommend a more friendly design like the AquaC. Anthony>

- Nothing in the BakPak - I have a Bak pak protein skimmer.  I leave it on all the time and lately there is no bubbles or waste in the top.  Should I turn it on and off. <I'd leave it running all the time - no harm done.> If so when can I tell it needs to be turned on.  Thanks again. <Cheers, J -- >

Skimmer Help Hello, <Hi> I currently use a CPR Bak-Pak on my 55 gallon reef tank. Recently I have noticed a thick yellow film on my water surface, I've cleaned the entire skimmer and the film has not gone away. <first add some carbon if you have yellow water it will clear it up right away, Also get a powerhead or 2 and angle them so that they ripple the surface. the surface of you water should have no dead spots> Recently I have been battling algae and have lost two fish, corals are fine. <test water chemistry test phosphates and if high use a good phosphate remover ROWAphos is the best I have used. this should help get algae under control. Also add a lawnmower blenny > My question is should I get rid of the Bak Pak and go with a Berlin HO? < like I said I don't think the skimmer is your problem, I think it is your water quality Hope this helps Mike H> Is the Berlin HO superior to the CPR? I really appreciate any guidance. Thanks, John

- Tuning The BakPak - Hi Crew, The water level inside my Backpack skimmer is starting to get so high that I can't put the cup high enough to go over the bubbles. The bottom of the cup is still under the water, even with the rubber band/o-ring is at the bottom of the cup. The skimmate is going to be very wet & thin if this continues. The skimmer did not do this before. Am I doing something wrong?  Do I need to clean it out? <Might want to check the exit port for blockage.> I have BioBlox in there, but like I said, this just started happening & I've had this skimmer for around 5 months. <Have the BioBlox been in there for five months. I know from experience that if there is any chance for back pressure in the settling chamber of this skimmer to get blocked up, it will perform exactly as you describe. I'd try rearranging the BioBlox to try and promote the free movement of water through that second chamber on the skimmer.> Thanks, Pufferpunk <Cheers, J -- >

- CPR Skimmer Modifications - Hello, <Hello, JasonC here...> I have a 55 gal reef tank with a CPR backpack skimmer on it. Would it be helpful to add a pre-skimmer and bubble trap (have been getting bubbles out of my return). <It wouldn't hurt.> Would I be wasting my money on this purchase? <I don't think so.> Also I like the way the black pre-skimmer covers the powerhead. Are there any benefits to the pre-skimmer. <Yes, it tends to pull water from the top of the tank where the proteins that one would like to skim, accumulate.> Thanks for your time! <Cheers, J -- >

Poor Skimmer performance Dear Anthony - I currently have a CPR Bak Pak protein skimmer on my 58 Gallon tank.   <not a bad skimmer at all... affordable and can work well with slight daily adjustments> The tank is being converted from FOWLR to  Reef.   <hmmm... indeed a skimmer upgrade may be a worthwhile consideration. Beyond time-saving/maintenance... a better skimmer will perform more consistently in the lower nutrient reef system (corals compete for nutrients but fishes do not... hence the reason why even poorly designed skimmers can work well/better in high DOC fish only displays)> I do not get a cup of dark skimmate from this tank every day, and I didn't even achieve that when I had a heavy load of fish.   <Yowsa... it should be very easy to do in a FO tank (and that's an understatement). Some common flaws include drawing water from more than 1/2 below the surface of the water (if fed from the display) ... OR... prefiltering water (big no-no... like a filter bag, foam block, prefilter, trickle filter, etc inline between the raw water and the skimmer)... and lastly, for all models: feeding the skimmer from a well (the display or sump) that isn't perfectly static (like a display with an overflow or a proper skimmer box in the sump to catch and overflow all raw water from above). Fluctuating water levels of even 1/2 inch daily (evaporation) can be crippling to a skimmer.. especially the mid and low shelf models. Although the feed pump is engineered to be constant, they are all influenced by head> I have cleaned it, I have added the pre-skimmer, and I still do not achieve this level of skimming.   <could be the installation as per above> I am considering  replacing the CPR with the AquaC Remora Pro.  Do you believe that this is a good investment, <it is a sound upgrade indeed> or is the CPR unit as efficient and my water is just really clean HA HA?   <now that's funny! :) Since I have had the pleasure of owning or working with some wicked skimmers (commercial Tunze and Euroreef, RK2, etc) I am completely awestruck at how much skimmate can still be produced in a seemingly pristine reef display (little or no fishes, no feeding, etc... and still getting daily collection!). I am furthermore ashamed for the manufacturers that sell completely inferior skimmers for as much as $200! I'm not saying that the CPR is one.. again, with some daily adjustments it can be made to work well. However, once you see a Euroreef or Tunze produce daily skimmate like clockwork without little or no adjustments, you'll never want to go back!> BTW I have adjusted and played with the skimmer continuously, <yes... this is the trade-off with even good mid shelf units ($100-$200) IYO does the AquaC require less tinkering.   <far less but still some. Most all brands do> The only additives to the tank are top off water ESV 2 part solution and non oily food.  I do not believe these should affect the performance of the skimmer.   <agreed... not much. But anything that breaks the proteinaceous sheen at the surface (unseen) impedes skimmer performance. If you hand goes into the tank once a day, your skimmate collection will suffer. Another reason to minimize fussing with the tank> If you had to decide between changing the Skimmer or adding the CPR Aquafuge refugium which would you do, or at least do first? <I wouldn't take the CPR fuge for free. Upgrade the skimmer. Refugiums are awesome, but easy to build bigger, better and light years cheaper than the aforementioned. Just my opinion though> Thanks for your time.  James <my great pleasure. Kindly, Anthony>

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

Re: Skimmer bubbles Thanks. I checked the CPR website and they do not seem to have a product that matches your description. Are you talking about modifying one of their products? <<Sorry about that/this... yes, am talking about using their "constant volume, overflow box" as an "innie" rather than an "outie". Will cc the fine folks at CPR (cprusa.com) to see if they can say all this more clearly (I hope!). Bob Fenner>>

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

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

What model Protein Skimmer? Hi guys, <Hello again, PF still with you again.> I am currently thinking of upgrading my skimmer as I think it is not going to be powerful enough. I have a Bak Pak 2 skimmer which hangs off the side of my Amiracle sump. I have a 55 gallon tank and I'm finding out that even though the literature on my Bak Pak says it's good for tanks up to 60 gallons everyone I talk to says it's good for small tanks say 30 gallons. <Much like what I've heard.>     Your web site highly recommends the Aqua C skimmers. <With reason.> I read their website and the only model they make that fits my small sump space is the Urchin model which claims to be good for tanks from 20 to 75 gallons. <Well, there's also the HOT models, if you have the space in back of your tank and don't mind the power head being visible (or hiding it behind some LR). > It looks like it functions just like my Bak Pak2. I am not sure the difference between the two skimmers except that the Aqua-C sits directly in the sump. <From what I understand, it's different methods of injecting air bubbles.> If I buy the Urchin will it be a sufficient upgrade for my needs ? <I use the Remora with the Maxi-jet upgrade on my 75g, it pulls a lot of nasty gunk out.> I am planning on getting 55 lbs of live rock and fish only . <I'd go ahead and get the Urchin, do yourself a favor and get the upgrades: the Maxi-jet pump and if you have room the pre-filter box. You can use the pre-filter to hold the carbon I mentioned in the previous email. Hope it all turns out well, PF>

HOT Skimmers? Hi guys, <Scott F. with you tonight!> Just wondering if you could recommend a good HOT skimmer for a 45gal FOWLR tank.  I'd like to eventually move up to a reef tank, but haven't yet because of the lack of skimmer or sump.  I was looking at the CPR BakPak 2R, but would like to get a professional opinion. Thanks, Rene Magdaleno <Well- I wouldn't call myself a "professional"- but I am a fellow fish nut! I have used and like the CPR BakPak, as well as the Aqua C Remora. Both are well engineered skimmers with good reputations. Do check out our advertisers who may carry these skimmers. Good luck! Scott F.>

Skimmer Dilemma I'm a newbie with an empty 39 gal.  I plan to keep fish only with liverock and sand.  I've read your reviews of the AquaC protein skimmer and am curious if anyone has an opinion of the CPR Bak-Pak 2.  I can't decide between the two. <Well- these are two skimmers with great reputations. They both have their supporters and detractors. Both are well-made, and have been proven for a while. I'm going to assume that you're comparing the Aqua C Remora to the Bak Pak? In my experiences with both units, I have gotten great skimming for such a compact size. I don't think you'd do poorly with either one, with a slight edge to the Aqua C. Why don't you go on our WetWebMedia.Com Chat site and see what other users have to say? Good Luck!   Scott F.>

Re: Hey Bob! Skimmer for established coral tank, refugium Hi Bob, Quick question....I have looked up and down your site (good one) and was wondering if you had a 20 gallon refugium type tank and were looking for protein skimmer would you use the CPR back pack or the AquaC Remora? I went through every link on your page including the chat rooms but nobody really seemed to ask this question. I have no sump, no extra filtering, 3 powerheads, no fish, 48 lbs of live rock and various propagated corals. Growing very well by the way.) Thanks again for all your assistance. <Likely the CPR Bak pak here... as only want "some" fractionation and the system is already up, going well. Bob Fenner> Beers, Paul (again) =)

Skimmer won't skim Dear Bob,  My 75gallon has a canister filter and a sump with a CPR in sump skimmer. It hasn't been skimming.  I also had this problem with a sanders ah400 skimmer is their any reason why a skimmer won't skim? Water chemistry is good this is a fish only tank all fish appear healthy. Can you give me a review on a Berlin skimmer?  <No worries on the skimmer slowdown... this happens with age, balancing in a system. And I would go ahead with the try of mixing the two Centropyge argi with all others in the 75. The Berlin skimmer as in the Red Sea Phishfarm line? It's a fine product. The Berlin method? Please see the skimmer printed materials on our site: Home Page . Bob Fenner, who is from North Kingston, R.I. and his parents from Providence >

Surface skimming Bob, Once again, I am seeking your help. I have had a 40g tank running for about three months. I have about 40 lbs of live rock along with 2 fish and a handful of inverts. My problem is that I noticed a need to skim the water's surface. I have a Bak-Pak II skimmer currently running and it does a fine job except it is not designed to skim the surface. Is there any product that I can add to the Bak-Pak system that will solve my problem, or am I going to have to add another hang on? <Hmm, you might be able to rig up a "surface skimmer" that would work in conjunction with your Bak Pak pump... a floating ring, with tubing down to it sort of arrangement... Maybe adding some aeration (a stone, venturi intake on a powerhead?)... Do you know the source of the material at the surface? Perhaps the periodic (weekly?) drawing of a clean paper towel, wicking across the surface, a dipped-pitcher are the simplest approaches here...> If so, what? IYO, how would you solve this problem? I am thinking about the powerhead to the Bak Pac in a removable box of some sort which would allow surface water in instead of tank water.  <Hey, me too> IMO it would need to be removable (every other week, month?) so the tank water could be skimmed as well. Or, is this not a problem I should be worrying about?  <Worth investigating. You don't want material coating the top of the water... gas diffusion problems> Thanks for your guidance in trying to keep me (the neophyte) on the wide path of saltwater. God Bless America.  Thom Walters <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

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