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FAQs about Skimmer Operation/Maintenance 1

Related FAQs: Best Skimmer Op./Maint. FAQs, Skimmer Op/Maint. 2, Skimmer Op/Maint. 3, Skimmer Op/Maint. 4, Skimmer Op/Maint. 5, Skimmer Op/Maint. 6, Skimmer Op/Maint 7, Skimmer Op/Maint. 8, Skimmer Selection 9, Skimmer Op/Maint 10, Skimmer Op/Maint 11Skimmer Op/Maint 12, Skimmer Op/Maint 14, Skimmer Op/Maint 15, Skimmer Op/Maint 16, Skimmer Op/Maint 17, Skimmer Op/Maint 18, Skimmer Op/Maint 19, & Best Skimmer FAQs, Skimmers in General, Best Skimmer Selection FAQs, Skimmer Selection, DIY Skimmers, CPR Skimmers, Deltec Skimmers, ETSS Skimmers, Euro-Reef Skimmers, Prizm Skimmers, SeaClone Skimmers Skimmers for Eclipse Systems, Skimmers for Small SystemsSkilter Skimmers, Tunze Skimmers, Algae Control

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

Big RK2 skimmer with automated collector chamber wash down system at Pacific Aqua Farms in Los Angeles.

DIY skimmer frustrations  12/13/05 Can someone help me out here, I built a protein skimmer and the venturi is working ok but the bubbles aren't as small as I want them to be, how do I make them finer, the skimmer is working ok but not producing as much foam as I would like, any help would be nice. <Unfortunately, the image sent doesn't show this feature. Depends on what you're using to make these bubbles... perhaps a finer diffuser, smaller aperture venturi, more pump pressure/volume would improve your bubble fine-ness> I also can't raise the water level to high or the venturi won't work at all. By the way you guys are doing a great job, I have almost everything I need just from your FAQs, keep up the good work, sorry about the size of the photo, wasn't sure how to make it smaller.  The skimmer is about 3 to 3 and a half feet tall, I tried running a tube on the inside to go close to the bottom of the chamber, but when i did this and I tried to raise the water level to the right height I would lose my air flow all together. so consequently where the inlet is the height where the bubbles come out. I want to get them closer to the bottom so they can run through more water. Sorry so lengthy but I really need help. oh, I don't know if you need this info but it's powered by a Rio 2100 pump. <... again, can't tell much from your description, nothing from the image. Is there a local marine aquarium club nearby that has a member that could/would come by and take a look/see? Perhaps someone knowledgeable at a local store? Bob Fenner>

Re: skimmer frustrations  12/13/05 Hi Bob, thanks for the reply, again sorry about the pic. I don't have any diffuser inside, so I guess this is my problem, <Could be... or other possibilities mentioned... a needle wheel impeller on the Rio 2100 might "do it"...> I'm still fairly new at this and you guys are a big help. Keep up the good work. I will try a more powerful pump and where/ what kind of diffuser should I get? and where does it need to be installed? <... ask at your LFS... They might be able to order the other impeller from Mr. Taam, or All Seas Marine...> Again, thanks for your time, I know it's valuable, you're a life saver.   <Literally, with action by others, yes. Bob Fenner>

Skimmer Cleaning Great site keep up the good work <thanks kindly> I just got a used aquatic life support systems protein skimmer from my LFS.  It has little barnacle like build up all inside and I can't take it apart to clean it and vinegar didn't work very well.  Any ideas would be helpful.  Also what's your opinion on this skimmer.  I can't find out anything about it.  I have it on a 46 gallon bow front 50 lb. live rock 2 inch live sand bed small sump for the skimmer anyway thanks for your time and any info would be extremely helpful <just use a stronger acid and do so carefully... Muriatic acid can be found at the local DIY center for cleaning tools/concrete... make a dilute solution and run it through your skimmer on a separate sink/bucket. Some experimentation needed... perhaps just a 1/2 cup acid for 5 gallons of water will do. Safety goggles, protect from children, pets, etc. Anthony>

Pump it up Hi Bob, I have a question regarding my sump/refugium. I would like to buy a Turbo floater T1000 which requires a pump and also I would need a second pump for the return to the main tank from the sump. Is this a correct assumption or can these be combined. <Better by far to have two separate pumps here... hard to adjust the flow, pressure for the skimmer...> Ideally, I would like the skimmer in the sump/refugium. I don't know of anyone with such equipment to view, and I would need to mail order the skimmer, so I'm not sure how the setup would be configured. Your input would be appreciated. <Configured? Mmm, maybe take a look through Oz' Reef, champion DIY site re our field: http://www.ozreef.org/ and elsewhere on manufacturers sites (Our links page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/links.htm) for ideas on layout. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Roland

Re: new setup Hey, you know that XP3 I talked to you about upgrading from a XP1? That process went fine as expected but my protein skimmer (SeaClone piece of crap) stopped all production after adding this filter. I've tried a lot of different air inflow settings and to no avail. should I be concerned??? <Not much cause for concern... there is presently not much that your current skimmer can/does remove. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimmaintfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Setting up Euro Fil 125 From Flying Fish Express I ordered the Euro-Fil 125 "Reef Ready" filtration system for reef aquariums up to 125 gallons. Package includes AquaC EV90 Protein Skimmer with a Rio 1700, CPR CS90 Overflow Box, Drain Hose, Foam Block, and a 25 micron Pre-Filter Bag. The return pump I bought was a Rio 2100. I have a 55 g tank. There were no directions with the filter, just some with the overflow box and the Ev 90. I have no idea how to set this up. Please bear with my ultra beginning skills. Thank you so much Bob for asking around for me. I called FF Express last night but they gave another number and no one was around. Will these people be contacting me in a few days? <I do hope, trust so... If not, please do re-contact me. Bob Fenner>

Re: Setting up Euro Fil 125 Bob, Wow, this looks like a fun one. I'll email her as well right now. <Thank you my friend. Bob Fenner> ------------- Jason Kim

Re: Setting up Euro Fil 125 Hello there, Bob Fenner forwarded your message to me, I read over your email and it appears you have quite a set-up on your hands. Like Bob said, the best thing you can do is contact the individual manufacturers/vendors regarding the installation procedure and also read through the various instruction booklets carefully. Did your EV-90 skimmer come with a User's Manual?? If not, let me know as I can email you a copy (they are also available to download off our site at www.proteinskimmer.com/products). This manual covers most of your questions and includes diagrams regarding set-up. Stuff you'll need: 3/4" ID flexible tubing (approximately 2-3 feet) to connect the Rio 1700 to the skimmer's inlet barb (the black 3/4" barb fitting). Plastic hose clamps are also a good idea, available at your local aquarium shop or possibly hardware store. These will keep the hose secured to the pump and skimmer. The skimmer collection cup drain takes 1/2" ID flexible tubing, you can set this up or not, depending on how often you plan on emptying the collection cup. Don't worry about this for initial set-up. The blue valve is for air flow control, the gray valve with the red handle is for water level control. This is a detailed topic... I suggest going over the User's Manual carefully and if you still have questions let me know and I can help out. You won't be using the "air tube" or "venturi attachment" on the Rio 1700 pump. Just attach the pump directly to the skimmer with the 3/4" ID tubing and this is all you need to get it running. Please let me know if I can be of any more assistance! ------------- Jason Kim President AquaC, Inc. 7965 Silverton Ave. Ste. 1314 San Diego, CA 92126 858-689-1121 sales desk 858-564-3419 fax www.proteinskimmer.com <Thank you for your prompt, complete service as always Jason. Bob Fenner>

Sump Question Bob, I know you get a lot of kudos' on your site, and how helpful you are. Through your book/site... I have at least a REALLY good starting place to try and keep me out of the major pitfalls... that way I can avoid some mistakes, and go on to make new and exciting mistakes..:) <Same as me!> A quick question if you don't mind. I'm not even sure if anything is wrong, but would rather find out now than later through a bad experience. <Okay> I installed a sump in my 90G reef on Monday, and since then, my protein skimmer has not collected a single thing.  <Ahhhh> Prior to the installation, I was getting maybe a 1/4 cup per day, or less, and don't know if this is just due to an increased volume of water and it will start collecting, or some problem with how I have it set up (tank has been running about 4 months).  <Not a problem... a benefit> I have attached a diagram of the setup (sorry it's not to scale, and a bit crude, but should be easily readable). I don't want to bog you down with a whole bunch of details that may/may not matter... but some items that may matter: moderately stocked fish-wise... about 10 soft corals.. good water quality. Would be more than happy to provide any/all info you think may matter. Is there something here I need to be concerned about? Thanks... <No problems my friend... your system, with the addition of the sump is achieving a "skimmate-free" balance. I would likely leave the fractionator going... but it will likely collect little to nothing going forward. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimmaintfaqs.htm Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Protein skimmer? Hi Mr. Fenner, Just got a Red Sea Berlin XL model skimmer. It is currently hooked up in-sump. I will also try external to see which way works better. <External likely... unless you can situate it in the sump where the water level is about constant (in the sump) they tend to be hard to adjust> On the collection cup there is a little right angle nipple that is open. I assume this is if I want to add an ozone feature which I do not.  <Mmm, more to add a larger collection site... like a one gallon plastic milk or water jug... rather than the small volume of the supplied cup> I took it off, and installed the little end cap that came with the unit to block it. Is this done right?  <I'd check their e-site> Also I got a Mag drive 700 model to work with it. Is this pump o.k. or too strong. <You will soon know> This is what was recommended when I ordered it. ( from M.O.P.S on-line) The skimmer is working fine, and producing a very thick fine cloud of bubbles, and the foam is good that is produced (thick, and heavy). My concern is I am also getting water up in the collection cup. Is this because the intake is too strong, and that the water level is too high in the chamber? <Yes> I've read the instructions over, and over but could not find anything detailing what the level of water should be in the top of the skimmer, and I am only getting a trickle out each of the returns. Should I put an adjustable valve on the intake? <You could> How do I fine tune it? ( water flow level versus thick dry foam in the cup)? <By manipulating the flow/pressure in, level/flow out...> <Read over the manufacturers site here. Bob Fenner> Thanks a million in advance, Greg N.

Re: Protein skimmer? Thanks for the reply. Repositioned it externally, and is working much better now. <Ah good> I also added a valve on the intake, and adjusted accordingly. The return flow is much better now also. As for adding the bigger collection chamber, ( duh! I should of thought of that, because IT IS in my plans to buy one, and I should have figured out that's what the little nipple is for.) By the way I just got a scanner, and want to send you a couple of pictures of my display tank in the near future for you to see. It is my pride and joy, as is my 11 month old son!!, am really proud of both!! Greg N. <As you should be my friend. Bob Fenner>

Bubble filtering... Bob, Thank you for your help with my Tang concerns. However I have another dilemma that I hope you can answer. I have a bubble problem. How can I get rid of them without a trickle filter? <A few ways...> The sump that I am using isn't equipped to handle a trickle filter. I am also using an ETSS in sump skimmer that is taking up most of the room before the baffle. Would a fine mesh media bag help or would it constrict the flow of water coming down? <Yes, or a discharge of the water from the skimmer over a section of Dacron/batting filter material, or open-celled polyurethane foam...> My set up is in this configuration… CPR siphon/overflow using 1" pipe to an 11-gallon sump (sump divided in ? with baffle) On left side, feed from overflow (1" PVC) and ETSS skimmer (Takes up approx 90% of the space.) On right side I have the pump for the skimmer, return pump to tank, heater, temp and PH monitors. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks in advance! <If you don't mind switching this skimmer out, I would. Is this tank so big that you consider a downdraft mode fractionator as practical? I would get/use a different mechanism model... that is smaller, not as "bubbly". Please see the "Skimmer" sections on WetWebMedia.com for input here.  Bob Fenner> Regards, Keith Broadbent

Re: Protein Skimmer I have recently moved my Prizm protein skimmer from inside the tank to the sump. I have noticed that the water in the protein skimmer is clearer then when it was in the tank. Do you think that it is not skimming properly or is it just that the water is going through the filter then to the skimmer? <Mmm, water is the same... likely some physical characteristic of the move (probably the varying height, difference in level of the sump, skimmer) at play here. Bob Fenner>

More skimmer questions Hi Mr. Fenner, Over the weekend I purchased an AquaC Urchin Pro Sump Skimmer for my 72 gal. tank. Since we put it in, there is a million tiny bubbles in the tank. We have turned back the pump some. Can you advise as to what I need to do. The skimmer seems to be working, should I be getting a lot of dirty water from box? Sorry for the dumb question, I thought I would get more junky muck from the box. <Please see our sites sections on Skimmer Maintenance: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimmaintfaqs.htm re what can be done to curtail those bubbles. And I'm sending your note to Aqua-C's maker Jason Kim for his input as well> Respectfully, Lori Equipment 72 gallon bow with overflow, Visi Therm 250W heater Lifeguard Quiet One pump 1140 GPH-full flow, set on about 3/4 2-automatic self rotating power heads, (power sweep 228) Compact aquarium fluorescent reflector, (not sure on the bulbs, looked this am and said 700 on bulbs looks like they are bent in half) Nice lighting but would like more of a purple color in my aquarium. Aqua Clear Aquatics prefilter w/bio balls, & surface skim box. (hope this makes sense to you) <Yes, sounds like a very nice set-up. Bob Fenner.> 90lbs. live rock, live sand, crushed coral

Re: More skimmer questions Lori, Bob just forwarded your message to me... it sounds like your tank might be a brand new set-up with virtually no bioload as of yet?? If this is the case, the skimmer is going to behave abnormally for a while or until you get some fish and bioload in the tank. If there is very little in the water for the skimmer to remove, you'll be getting inconsistent performance and this is completely normal. <Ah, yes> The Urchin Pro typically requires a full week to break in, and during this time it will release extra microbubbles back to your sump. I would give it some time and they should decrease in number dramatically. One last note... if you are using any sort of "stress coat" additives or water conditioners these chemicals can alter the water's chemical properties and result in a vast increase in microbubbles. I recommend against the use of stress coat or any additives other than those specifically designed for alkalinity maintenance, calcium maintenance, or trace elements. I would check out the wetwebmedia.com site for more info on skimmers in general, and Bob's articles cover the topic very well. If you have any other questions don't hesitate to contact me! Jason Kim President AquaC, Inc. 7965 Silverton Ave. Ste. 1314 San Diego, CA 92126 858-689-1121 sales desk 858-564-3419 fax www.proteinskimmer.com <Outstanding. Thank you for this Jason. Had forgotten about the effects of many "water conditioners". Will post to the WWM FAQs for others use. Bob Fenner>

Amiracle protein skimmer Bob, I've been reading all the Faq's I could find but couldn't find an answer. <Would take several lifetimes by my estimation to come close/r to having most all here> I was given a 100 gal setup by a good friend which included an Amiracle SL-250 and associated skimmer. <A very good friend> Since there was no manual with it I don't know the proper water level in the sump and also don't know the correct height to keep the bubble level in the skimmer. Can you give me some in sight on these? <Mmm yes... the water level in the contact chamber (the tall cylinder where the air and water mix together) should be within an inch of the collector cup (the part you remove to empty out the collected gunk/foam). The difference in water heights between the supplying sump and skimmer is good at several inches... to allow enough force from your pump to mix air/water into the contact area, and hence foaming... but more important than difference in water levels is that it be consistent (to keep the relationship of pressure and flow volume constant... So, if you can juxtapose the skimmer in an area where there is a berm, overflow, some sort of barrier that the water level stays the same in...> I also have a penguin 330 and 170 wet dry filters on it. Do I also need the bio balls in the sump? <Do put this plastic media in for now, while the system is establishing itself/aging... and consider its removal as nitrates accumulate... likely in a couple of months. Do read over our site (www.WetWebMedia.com) re these key terms, issues. There is a useful search engine (by Google) there.> I use it mainly as something to put the skimmer in. <I understand.> Thanks, Gary Leifur <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Skimmer Operation Hi! I have a 55gal salt water tank with four small fish and about 50 lbs. of live rock. My tank has been set up for about three years, but I moved recently (about six months ago) and had to take the tank down and set it back up. I have noticed recently that my protein skimmer isn't skimming anything. I fiddled with it, but have had no luck creating any bubbles (enough to deposit anything in the top portion of the skimmer). The water is still flowing through, but it seems too fast. When the water is being returned to the tank it is overflowing out of that little black collection box with sponge in it; not filtering out the bottom of the box. Basically it just seems that the water is flowing through the skimmer and right back out again with no effect what so ever. My question is does your tank ever get to a point where you really don't need the skimmer and can turn it off for awhile, or do I have something all wrong. I don't really feel like I know a lot about how that skimmer is suppose to work! Any help you could give would be appreciated! Thank you so much! Destiny <There is probably nothing wrong with your skimmer or system... as you suggest, your system has achieved a sort of balance. I would keep it going, but not worry about the lack of skimmate. If you'd like, you can read about other peoples' similar experiences, on our site here: http://wetwebmedia.com/skimmaintfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Surprise by snail mail Bob, Guess what I found outside my front door yesterday? A skimmer from San Diego.  <Sonofagun> And to my surprise, it wasn't a Remora, but a EV downdraft skimmer! I just had to plug it in to see it in action, and I gotta tell you, that's one awesome skimmer!  <That Lorenzo snuck out w/o picking up the other six... Zo! You're driving me to purchase that FedEx stock!> I thought the Turboflotor was good, but this downdraft skimmer is head and shoulders above anything I've ever used. <Will send your regards to Jason Kim, the maker (Aqua-C)... his shop is "right around the corner" from where we live> Looks like I'm keeping the downdraft, and giving my Turboflotor to my parents instead! Mucho thanks again Bob. Hope you're settling in and enjoying your new place! <Still "in transitio"... arghh, sigh, oh-well... Bob Fenner>

Tiny bubbles, high temps, and noisy skimmer Hi Bob Fenner, First, let me say that I have the highest respect for you and your marine aquarist colleagues not for your success in growing rare corals, or even for keeping any coral alive in an enclosed system. I have the MOST respect for you and your colleagues for successfully setting the tank and system up with out pulling all of your hair out. (You may all be bald for all I know). <Have a five head rather than fore from such behavior> This has been the most frustrating endeavor I have ever dealt with. <Tried golf?> Just when I think the hardest part is finished, something even more challenging comes up. I have everything up and running (this time for good, not just practicing). The system has been running for 2 days now and I have three main problems hopefully you can help me with: 1. I have lots of tiny little bubbles in my main tank (55gal). I have an Iwaki 1000gph pump which I turned back a little after talking with a rep from the company who suggested I do this in order to cut down on the bubbles. In turn, I had to turn back the overflow box as well, which definitely helped reduce the initial bubbles coming into the sump tank (35 gal - with about 20 gal of H20). I also have an elbow (pointed down) attached where the pump pulls water out of the sump. This seems to help too, but the fact of the matter is there are still lots of tiny little bubbles in the main tank. Most tanks don't have bubbles do they? <No, these can be trouble... there are a few ways to minimize them...> It doesn't look like it in the pictures I see, and it is bad for corals and fish, to some degree, correct? <Yes... consider using a device for coalescing these bubbles... on the discharge side of the source/s... a container with foam, sponge, Dacron filter media... to have the water and bubbles spill into> Pic. of set up for your reference just in case you don't have it anymore: <<tank diagram.bmp>> 2. Speaking of the pump,... the thing is quite and works great, but it has increased my temp from a steady 76F to 81F. <Yes, a difficulty with Iwaki's> That is at the hottest part of the day, and we are in the hottest part of the year. I do not have high intensity lighting set up yet, just a few fluorescent bulbs. I plan on getting VHO's - somewhere around 300W. Will this also increase the temp some?  <Yes> And is 81F for just part of the year alright? Because I know it won't be this hot in the winter,... even in a few weeks.  <But... will the "base temperature" of your house be the same? This is the "bar" that the heat sources are working upward of> Granted, I have a shelf set up for a fan to point right in between lights and tank, so that may help out some.  <Yes, a few degrees likely... do mark, re-top-off your system daily...> I don't know if you foresee a chiller in my future or not. <I don't... and try to forego such gear> At this point, I am just going to wait for cooler weather before I get any animals in the tank. (This is FORCED patience !) <Patience nonetheless... and to some large degree elective...> 3. This one might be a tough one: I made my own protein skimmer. It works great. Here is what it looks like: <<protein skimmer.bmp>> <Design looks fine. Do keep your eye on the life/utility of the airstone, especially if it's made of wood> The gurgling noise through the vent is pretty loud. I am thinking I can muffle it somehow without making it air tight.  <Yes. Raise it up and rubber-band a layer of "batting material" (from a yardage store or the same stuff sold (often colored blue) in the pet-fish interest) around a riser piece at the terminus (a piece of pipe with some holes drilled in, slots cut in to the side... all just pushed together with a slip-slip union (to facilitate removal, cleaning)> The problem is that the output has massive, large bubbles pulsating out of it into the sump.  <Some "tweaking" of water flow, and/or the plumbing diameter leaving the skimmer is called for here...> It is difficult to explain, but it is very rhythmic....BLUH, BLUH.....BLUH, BLUH...BLUH, BLUH. I am assuming it is pulling large amount of air from the vent. <I understand... though having a hard time keying and laughing at the same time (sorry)... Either slow down flow, and/or increase diameter of exiting lines> I don't know. All I do know is that it is splashing water all around under there, and actually, now that I think of it, it was only doing this every once in a while when I first got it going, then after about an hour or so it started doing this. Do most in sump skimmer make so much noise? <Not ones that are engineered, built, installed, maintained properly> I know this is a long one, but I am utterly confused right now in several different directions. UHHHH! Thanks for any advice, Jana p.s. Tell Lorenzo thanks for the advice. I have learned all about eBay this weekend and am posting my overflow box for sale there. Thanks again, Bob! <Ah! Will do so. Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Foam Fractionator CEO of Aquatic Engineers called and made another suggestion for eliminating bubbles... Plumb a second sump in-line after the Ecowheel, which would gravity fill. Then, pump the water out of this second sump for return to the tank. This gives the bubbles a chance to precipitate (more correctly, the opposite of precipitate I guess, but I don't know what that word would be) before being returned to the main tank. I could also put the foam tray you describe vertically in the second sump to further reduce the bubbles. <And grants you a location to situate your skimmer!> 1) Do you think this will dramatically reduce bubbles? <Yes... I would add the foam, filter media tray in-between... that I mentioned in this string> 2) This WOULD provide a spot to sneak in a protein skimmer. Any recommendation for a small skimmer that can efficiently handle a high capacity? Space is very much at a premium, so footprint of the skimmer is important. Also, stand interior height is only about 28".  <Hmm, yes, the same suggestion... a Euro-Reef... get it with two Eheim's... you will be very pleased...> Lastly, the tank is in a living area, so the skimmer needs to be very quiet operating. I know that's asking for a lot, but I figure you've seen 'em all. <This is the best choice on the planet... Bob Fenner> J.D. Hill

Foam Fractionator Dr. Bob, Are there any worthwhile skimmers that DON?T have to be mounted on the tank or used inside a sump? <Yes, all sorts> Anything that can be used in-line on a pressurized return line or gravity fed?  <Hmm, not safely, without a sump/overflow of their own...> As you may remember from all my zillions of e-mails, my system is 500 gallons, uses canister filters in a closed (pressurized) system, and an Ecowheel in lieu of a sump (although the Ecowheel guys say the microbubbles created by the air pump serve the purpose of a skimmer,  <Not correct> with the foam being used to fertilize the macro algae). Also, other than cosmetic issues, any worries about the slew of tiny bubbles that get returned from the Ecowheel to the tank? Will they cause damage to fish or inverts?  <Maybe... too many, too fine bubbles can be trouble... besides being unattractive> Certainly don't have to worry about oxygen levels!! Best regards, J.D. Hill <If it were mine, I'd rig up a EuroReef skimmer (link on WWM) here on a lighted sump... really... and utilize an overflow box to the sump, an Eheim pump to return it (the largest size)... and ship the gunky collectant water to whoever told you their "wheel" will do the same job. Bob Fenner>

Re: Foam Fractionator Hmmm, was afraid you'd say something like that. Problem is, that the overflow feeds the Ecowheel. Is there a way to rig 2 sumps without the danger of one overflowing? <Sure... as long as "each in seeking it's own level can't, doesn't overflow its basin"> And yes, LOTS and LOTS of tiny bubbles. Any recommendation for eliminating these?  <A tray of foam or Dacron polyester filter media to return the water to on its way into the tank... will help coalesce those bubbles. Bob Fenner> Spraying the return across the top of the water has helped to some degree. I think I read somewhere in your labyrinth of FAQs (maybe in the skimmer or UV filter sections) that there's some kind of filter that removes bubbles?  J.D. Hill

Re: Foam Fractionator Also, didn't someone at one time make a top mounted venturi? I think I have picture in an old book. Are they still around? Do they work? J.D. Hill <Hmm, yes... though usually made for "public aquarium" size volumes... Sanders, RK2, other companies make these... the first your dealer can order from Quality Marine (LA), and http://www.rk2.com/ Bob Fenner>

Found the problem Mr. Fenner, Sorry to write to you twice in one day. At least this letter I have no need for a quick reply. I wrote about problems with my skimmer. Well here is the sad news. I found a crack in the hard plastic where the air line ends and the water from the pump is put into the skimmer. I had hoped it could be fixed. I turned everything off and took it out for a closer examination. It was leaking a steady amount (I thought I was adding more evaporation water then normal) and the crack is far into the unit. I have no way to fix this. I think it would be best, or I should say safer, to buy a new skimmer. Why take a chance on my fixing it and invite disaster?  <Well, the repair might prove sturdier than even the original construction.> I was thinking of the classic Berlin skimmer. That way I could have it in my sump and leave more room for my live rock and decorations. ::sigh:: I hope no harm will come to my fish because I need to wait until Monday (payday) before I purchase a new skimmer. <No, but do contact the manufacturer. Who?... re this unit. They may well comp. you a new replacement part... wanting to find out why/where their products fail> I just thought I would let you know my problem is solved albeit not how I would have hoped. :) Take care friend, Josie <Sounds good. Bob Fenner>

Fine Air Bubbles Hi Robert, Glad to find that there is someone out there like yourself.  <I suspect, even hope there are many of us> It's been hard starting in the Marine aquarist hobby and quite frankly not cheap.  <You and I are going to make all this history> I have a 125 gallon 'fish only' marine aquarium. I designed my own filtration system based on a 30 gallon tank (Sump) , UV sterilizer, Turboflotor Skimmer, Fluidized bed filter and micron bag mechanical filtration. My question is based around the skimmer. It seems to be creating far to many fine air bubbles which, as I've recently found out, is causing a lot of problems in my aquarium. Is there anyway to eliminate/control these bubbles and why do they present so many problems? Tom <Yes... please peruse the following FAQs file for how others have attached in-tank containers to diffuse these fine bubbles: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimmaintfaqs.htm  Bob Fenner>

Harmony? (systems in balance, skimmer "maintenance") Bob, First of all, as always, thank you for your previous help and guidance! <Sure, you're welcome> I was wondering if you know of or hear much about reaching a sort of "harmony" in reef tanks very often without using skimmers? <Yes... a "balance" is often struck with aged, well-managed systems... such that there is little to no skimmate> I have a 72 gal. reef tank with a Fluval 404 canister and a red-sea Berlin airlift skimmer (I know, not very powerful) <Au contraire, this is a good unit... and there are "just" airlift type skimmers that are far superior than all but the best air-entraining types... just more maintenance.> and a couple of powerheads. During the first 3-4 the skimmer regularly produced 1/4" of dark green gunk per day and after my 60+ lbs of LR cured and I did a water change I've never had any nitrates. <Yes... good> Now the tank is 7 months old and the skimmer barely produces 1/4" of only slightly brown water per week (I change airstones regularly) and I still have no nitrates. Other water qualities are good also (no nitrite, no ammonia, ph 8.2 and steady, phosphate less than .2ppm) <Sounds good> Have I reached an equilibrium of sorts? Tank has yellow tang, flame angel, maroon clown and 3 damsels along with clean up crew of various snails and small hermits, 2 cleaner shrimp, 2 5" derasa clams, Alcyonium coral and an Alveopora (I know, bad choice but I just now read that they may do better in a skimmerless tank)  <Yes, this and the closely related Poritid genus Goniopora for sure.> I am very careful with feeding, twice a day only-with food soaked in Selcon twice a week. I also have (had) a large patch of teacup Caulerpa that will grow for several weeks profusely, then all of a sudden there will be a bunch of loose pieces floating around the tank. The Caulerpa will look almost gone only to regrow within the next two weeks. <Yes, like what is said of teenagers, "going through a phase"> Something must be right cause the clams have shown a bright white growth of new shell of about 1/4" since I got them 3 months ago and my snails from my clean up crew have reproduced and I have numerous baby snails. My liverock is also littered with feather duster worms and all corals seem to be fine. Anyway, I don't think I'm planning on removing my skimmer even if it doesn't produce much...I figure it's a safety net if nothing else. I was just curious if you know of many tanks or claims that skimmers aren't needed. (every so often I hear/read of someone bragging that they don't need skimmers in their tanks!) <Sound approach> Also, thank you for you earlier advice on getting Borneman's (sp??) book on corals...it's great and I am using it to more carefully plan my next coral purchases! <Ah, great. Yes, a worthy tome. Bob Fenner> Kris, PA

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>

Skimmer operation Am new to this, have read much, but have not seen the answer to the following anywhere: I have a 2-3 month old 110 G FO+LR tank, with only 7 fish so far, with wet/dry & skimmer. The skimmer is VERY large (sized for ~200+G), as I plan to remove the wet/dry later on. I know the operation of the skimmer may change as I add more fish, etc. So far the skimmer seems to work for a day or 6 to 7 hours as I expected, generating a stiff dry, brown/tan foam. Then it may just churn water for much of the next day, then start foaming well again. Sometimes it produces a lot of a very wet foam in between. Also I seem to observe that if the salinity or pH is increased, the skimmer foaming gets better--Am I imagining this? Should skimmers produce the dry foam virtually continuously eventually, or will it always vary day by day? <Your skimmer will vary it's output greatly according to water content, bio-activity, additives, chemicals present, etc. Eventually it will probably settle into a more predictable routine, as your tank and your maintenance habits also become more stabilized. A 2-3 month old tank is still settling, believe it or not. And as you add life, rock, and remove other filtration systems, your skimmer will certainly react in different ways. Regards, Lorenzo>

Protein Skimmers and excess DO Hi, <You're saying 'hi' to Lorenzo, standing in for Bob-in-Asia> I just found on your sight an interesting statement about dissolved air in marine tanks. "Too little or too much dissolved gases, or a rapid change from water that is saturated with gases to a normal level. This can be a problem when releasing newly arrived fish into the aquarium. If the water is not mixed, the fish may suffer a condition that is very similar to "the bends" suffered by SCUBA divers and may be just as deadly." <Definitely happens. To scuba divers, in a way to mountain climbers, and certainly to fish, even in aquariums.> I searched for this because I think I did something wrong and lost fish. My favorite a flame angle. I just added a skimmer to my tank. I adjusted this to have a lot of air. This caused lots of small bubbles throughout my tanks for several hours. Have you ever heard this killing fish before? Did I have this set for too much air. <Yes, death by embolism happens occasionally, and yes, the skimmer was probably mis-adjusted. Skimmers make some incredibly fine bubbles (they're supposed to), and those bubbles can be quite harmful to fish, and many invertebrates as well (kills anemones fast), if the bubbles are flooding the tank. This is why the good skimmer mfg'ers claim "no bubbles in your tank!" > Ammonia <<.25 Nitrate <.25 PH 8.3 Nitrate 80ppm <Your nitrates are too high. Do more water changes until this comes down and stays down. Below 10ppm would be good. If it won't stay down, try feeding less, and/or getting more live rock.> Me <Cool initials!> Mark Eason <LG - Lorenzo Gonzalez>

Overflowing Skimmer <Lorenzo here, standing in for Bob-in-Asia> Well it is that time of year again for me. Each year when the weather suddenly changes from cooler to warmer, my protein skimmer goes out  of control and begins to fill up the skimmer's cup and over flows out  onto my carpet. Usually it happens when my wife and I are at work and  unfortunately about 5 gallons gets dumped on my carpet. I'm afraid that  the water might induce wood and carpet damage.  <Yeah, it certainly might, especially 5 gallons!> I'm not to sure what to do, the protein skimmer I have hangs on the back  of my 55 gallon tank and provides lot of power and does a great job. Is  there a type of protein skimmer that can I can purchase that feeds  overflowing water back into the tank or a special cup that will not allow this to happen? Your advise will be very appreciated...especially with the wife. :) <Look into the Remora by Aqua-C (or if you have a lot of fish in your 55,  the Remora Pro.  I have a Remora 0n my 60, and it's about right, though I  think I wish I'd got the Pro. I think these are the very best hang-on-tank  skimmers available right now. They're quite compact, and the cup design on  these skimmers makes accidental overflow pretty much impossible.  www.proteinskimmer.com - tell Jason that Lorenzo and Bob sent you...> Thanks again, Larry <You're very welcome>

Berlin Hang On Skimmer (adjustment?) Bob, I am trying to find out why after a year of using my Berlin Hang On Skimmer it has started to produce tons of micro bubbles that are pouring back into my tank, while producing little to no collection of waste. Up to a month ago I was cleaning the collection cup once every 3-5 days, with no micro bubbles. I have contacted Red Sea and they told me to check the venturi valve, air line tubing and the main gasket, which I have and all seem in excellent condition. I have changed nothing else in my daily, weekly and monthly practices to provide me with insight as to why this is happening. Have you heard of this? If so, what is the cause and correction?  Thanks, Nick <Have heard of, seen, and had such happen to me... likely this is a "clog" of some sort in the venturi: Do disconnect the whole unit, bring it over to the sink, dismantle the valve and pour some white vinegar through it on both sides, while opening/closing the valve... do check about the unit nearby for evidence of other "calcium/mineral" deposits and vinegar/acetic acid wash, brush and rinse them off as well. There are a few other possibilities... having to do with your pump, impeller... but try this first. Bob Fenner>

Re: Berlin Hang On Skimmer Thanks for the quick reply. I did as you noted over the weekend, I took out the venturi which was pretty clean, no calcium/white hard build up. I cleaned it anyway with a small brush and fresh water (have used white vinegar in the past). I also removed the air line to check for leaks due to small cracks and looked at the ring gasket which was also in excellent condition. As for the pump, I have an Eheim. I cleaned the top plate which keeps the impeller in place as well as the impeller. I also cleaned the housing that the impeller sits in with a small brush and the opening and the hose which carries the water to the skimmer. I have seen a slight increase in foam collection, but the micro bubbles are still heavy. I have been through the FAQs on WWM and will look into the CPR overflow idea, my concern was why all the micro bubbles now. <Wowzah... good, complete answer... It may be that the bubbles are "simply" due to changes in your system, water... and if not unsightly (just adjust the mix, flow), I wouldn't be the least concerned. Systems do age, change, requiring little to no skimming, producing no foam/collectant at stages. Bob Fenner>

Re: Protein Skimmer Hi Bob!!! Just wanted to get back to you about our protein skimmer discussion. Well, after I thought over all the options, and looked at the different models out there, I decided to get an Amiracle 23 in. skimmer. I also bought the suggested (by them) pump for it, the "Aqua Clear 200", made by Hagen, and a "Supra 2" air pump. Well, I replaced my Sea Clone skimmer with this set up, and what a difference!!!  <Yes... I'll bet!> This new skimmer draws stuff out of the water in 3 days, that the Sea Clone couldn't get out in 3 months!!! I am just totally amazed by this skimmer!!! And the best part is how QUIET it is!! The only problem I did have was that water was getting up and around the top of the rubber gasket that holds the collection cup in place, and was dripping. I solved this by inserting under the top of the gasket a rubber "o" ring, to pull the bottom of the gasket up tight to the bottom of the plate that's holding it.  <Good> It was approximately .09" thick, and about 1.5" in diameter. That did the trick!! I am completely happy with this set up, and would recommend this to anyone. You also asked me to get back to you on the ease of navigating your web site. Bob, it's very easy!! <Great to hear/read... will send to Miguel the Webmastah!> If you know what you want to look up, you can get there in just a few clicks. No problem!! And if one just wishes to browse, that's great!! One thing will lead to another, as they say!! Thanks Bob!! Pat Marren <Chat with you soon my friend. Bob Fenner>

Fine bubbles from protein skimmer Hi, Sorry to bother you once again, but I have another question. I was reading through the files on protein skimmers and reading about how to try and stop the fine bubbles from entering the main tank. If you could explain more in depth on how to do this because I would like to hook up my protein skimmer but it spills a lot of bubbles into the tank. thanks <Many folks report good success with hanging a box/in-tank refugium (like the ones made by CPR in their tank and returning water from their skimmers into these where they have placed filter media (my fave is Fein flocken by Eheim, but Dacron works as well). Bob Fenner>

Non foaming protein skimmer Dear Bob, My Berlin protein skimmer has suddenly stopped skimming foam. After a water change the skimmer stopped skimming foam. It is a Berlin ho with a Rio 2500 pump. I have rinsed and cleaned it but to no avail? The pump is pushing lots of bubbles up the tubes but zero foam for two weeks now. Since this is my main source of filtration (live rock the other) I am getting a little worried. Any suggestions? thanks, lc <Really just to relax and enjoy your system, but keep the skimmer going... for other reasons... but most of the "stuff" that your skimmer could remove is no longer being produced... your system has phased into a state of "non-gunk removal"... Bob Fenner, who says, please read through the "Skimmer Maintenance FAQs" posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for much more>

Skimmer Problem Hello again Bob, I have a Turboflotor skimmer for my reef tank. When I first set up the tank, it worked perfectly. It's been 9 months now, and the amount and the bubbles being produced is less than half of what it originally was. I soaked the venturi in vinegar, cleaned the inside of the skimmer, cleaned the pump, and that seemed to help a little. Is there something that I've overlooked that could remedy this? Thanks once again... <Hmm, "nothing to remedy"... your system has "settled in" and you have much, much less "to remove"... No worries> Hope this finds you well, Tony <Yes my friend, thank you. Bob Fenner>

RE: Skimmer Problem Bob, I don't think I was clear. I meant the amount of bubbles being produced by the venturi into the contact chamber, not the "waste" bubbles. Sorry, Tony <I am also sorry for not being more clear... there are actually less bubbles to be had for the same reasons. No worries my friend (just less polar molecules...). Bob Fenner>

Skimmer Problem Hello Bob, Once again, if you don't mind, I need your advice. I have a Sea Clone Skimmer (unfortunately bought prior to me finding your site) on my 40gal SW tank. It used to work rather well but for the past month or so it hasn't produced anything. I tried to replace the air valve (I've read this sometimes helps) but this proved useless. I have heard that oils from human skin may cause the skimmer to stop working, true?  <More often from foods... and an easy, neat demonstration/experiment...> While reading your skimmer page I noticed you discussed cleaning the unit with white vinegar, do you think this may help? <Likely not... probably your forty is "cycled" sufficiently that the types of materials available are not easily removed by skimming period...> I know the best answer is to get a better skimmer but my budget demands that I exhaust all alternatives. <Actually, I wouldn't get another skimmer here... unless you go to a larger system, new rock... > Thanks for all your help, I truly appreciate your time. Chris <Glad to offer my opinions. Bob Fenner>

Turboflotor/Skimmer Parts Cleaning Hi Bob, I've had my Turboflotor (skimmer) running for about 6 months now. The air output or input) was beginning to less than desirable. I took out the skimmer for maintenance, cleaned the inside, and soaked the venturi valve in vinegar for about 10 min. Upon setting it back up, the air was ALMOST back to normal. QUESTION Is vinegar the best method to clean the valve, and if so, how long should I let it sit in the vinegar? <Yes... especially over the internet... the simplest organic acid, CH3COOH,acetic, aka vinegar is a safe, slow, low dilution/concentration that will work to dissolve away both organics and minerals to restore such ports... about ten minutes in "white" vinegar is about right... freshwater rinsed and replaced....> Any other thoughts/comments would be great. Thanks again and hope all is well, Tony <Thanks for the notice, prompting. Be seeing you. Bob Fenner>

Turboflotor T100 Dear Mr. Fenner: After reading the archives here about protein skimmers, I decided to buy the T1000 for my 75 gallon FOWLR tank. I have been fiddling with this thing for two hours. The problem is I can't get it to product any bubbles. It came with the RIO2100 pump. Instead of plumbing it directly to the overflow, I have it hooked up to a RIO600 pump. Can this be the problem?  <Yes, not enough flow or pressure... some folks even encourage the use of a Rio2500.> Am I getting to much pressure or too little pressure?  <Too little> I'm sorry to bother you with yet another skimmer problem. I can't seem to find any place on the web that explains the operation of this skimmer.  <No worries... there are some obscure listserv archives, the manufacturer (in Germany), a scant discussion by the US distributor... if you'll seek their URL's.> And the directions it comes with are, to say the least, practically useless. <Agreed> Thank you for any help you can provide. Susan Krueger <Put the 2100 back on and be patient... Bob Fenner>

Strange Skimmer Problem Mr. Fenner, I have recently bought a Red Sea Berlin skimmer. Everything is fine, except, of course the bubbles. Now, I've heard of the "breaking in period," but this has nothing to do with a foam head or stuff like that. Any ways, the problem is that, no mater how much I mess with the air flow adjustment, all I get is a few microbubbles or big, useless bubbles. I've heard that with Red Sea Berlins, you can't even see through the column of bubbles. Is this true? <Not necessarily... not that type of skimmer... and variable collectant with age, maturation...> The venturi key isn't blocked, and everything is normal. I have a Rio 2500, about 900 gph but ordered an Iwaki pump that does about 1,200 gph. I heard the more powerful the pump on a venturi skimmer, the better. Is this true? <No... these devices are spec.ed for certain pressure, flow characteristics... more flow, pressure won't make the unit more efficient.> Andrew Vickers <Bob Fenner>

Re: skimmer Dave/Bob, I actually spoke with Dave on the phone yesterday about this problem he is having, and we've been communicating over emails. It won't hurt to address the issue again if this will be posted on Bob's website, since others may need to find this info in the future... The problem Dave is experiencing with his EV-150 is pretty uncommon, and unfortunately we haven't figured out what exactly is causing the skimmer to create so much foam. In most cases, there is a problem with the water chemistry that causes skimmers to go "berserk" like this, and the problem is only temporary. Stress coat or water conditioners are particularly bad, and some trace elements/coral foods can also cause foaming to go nuts. In Dave's case, none of the above seemed to be playing a role, and we have considered everything from a faulty water pump (pushing too much water) to reef fairies that are dumping soap into his tank. The skimmer itself has no moving parts or pieces to "go bad", which leads me to believe that something else is causing this problem. The only variable having to do with the skimmer itself is the actual spray injector - I shipped Dave a new injector to replace the original one to see if this could be the culprit. Let me know how things progress, and I am always here to answer any questions you might have... Best regards, Jason Kim <Thanks Jas... thought I was going "berserk", but my ideas are about the same as yours... probable cause is unfortunate water chemistry... maybe a drop of defoamer at this point or fatty food feedings... would help "burst some of these bubbles"... Bob Fenner> > Dear Bob, > I have always enjoyed reading your stuff, and your book is > indispensable. Here is my problem. > I have a 90 gal reef tank with a 20 gal sump tank. I recently expanded > from a 55 gal tank and the livestock is doing well-corals as well as > fish and clams. I upgraded from my CPR BakPak to an AquaC EV150 >running in the sump with a RIO 2500 as recommended, and have had >nothing but trouble. I have followed the instructions carefully, but after >about 5 weeks of fiddling I cannot get consistent results. I occasionally > succeed in getting a fairly rich foam and then come back an hour later > and find that I am pouring out gallons of thin stuff. My overflow > reservoir has actually dumped onto the floor a few times. Since I have a > float valve on my system to maintain salinity (and a downstairs neighbor > who is touchy about floods) I am paranoid now and cannot leave the > skimmer on when I am not there. Also, when this happens my float valve > puts fresh water into the sump and the salinity drops a bit, which I do > not like. If I back off on the gate valve, either I produce nothing,, or > I get copious, thin, watery product even with the valve completely open. > Since this system seems to be inherently unstable I am willing to eat > the price and buy something that is efficient, reliable and not likely > to cause a flood. I feel bad for my neighbors so the flood avoidance > thing is really important. What would you suggest?  >Thanks for your help. Dave <Yikes... Hear what you're saying... and will defer this message to friend/inventor/manufacturer Jason Kim of AquaC to answer directly (and will post his response on the WWM site: his website: proteinskimmer.com. Bob Fenner>

Re: skimmer Thanks. I have already spoken to Jason, who was anxious to help, but was as puzzled as I am. Perhaps it is a bad pump and I will do a switch with another one to find out. David Dubnau <Hmm, do wait a few weeks... I fully suspect that the "water anomaly" that is likely the root cause of your "overflowing bubbles" (with apologies to Don Ho), will solve themselves soon... with the establishment of your live rock and other factors... Just wait, maybe cycle the skimmer on only when you're around... for now. Bob Fenner>

New AquaC I recently purchased an Aqua C Remora protein skimmer from FFE (small one with Rio 800 pump). I've had it for nearly 2 weeks, but I can never leave it alone for long because it keeps collecting full cups of water. A great deal of foam is collected, but it breaks down into water, and the cup is full of water in 1-2 hours. I've tried adjusting the cup to all possible heights. I even took it to the LFS and had them run it. It worked perfectly for them. So is it my water? My SG is at 20. Any ideas? <Thank you for writing, and yes, the excessive volume and "wetness" of your protein skimmer collectant may well be due to a simple factor you mention: your low specific gravity (you list as 20, probably 1.020). Do elevate this (over a period of a few days, about a thousandth per day) to something closer to Natural Seawater (NSW), 1.025. The higher density is more useful to you for your livestock and skimmer function. The easiest way to achieve this elevation is to remove a gallon or so of water, add a cup or so of salt mix, dissolve it thoroughly and slowly pour or siphon this hypersaline solution into the middle (not onto sessile/non-mobile invertebrates) of your tank. You should see a continuing "dry-ness" to the material you collect in your skimmer cup, and much less volume. Bob Fenner>

Protein skimmer I recently purchased the red sea Berlin ho protein skimmer w/ a Rio 3100 pump that was recommended from FFExpress. it has been running for 3 days now and it hasn't collected anything. my tank has been cycling for about 4 weeks now w/ 60 lbs. live rock and about 3 in. of substrate and no fishes. the manufacturer suggests a pump rated about 500 gph but the Rio 3100 is rated at 900 gph. could that be the problem? also I have the air valve opened all that way. does the skimmer need a few days to prime itself? the tank hasn't been skimmed yet. maybe there isn't anything to skim? any suggestions? thanks.  <Not much to skim yet... take your time, with adding the livestock, feeding, there will be some collectant... Enjoy your tank while it is in such a balanced state. Bob Fenner>

Skimmer I just added a Ozonizer that runs through my Protein Skimmer. After 24 hours of running them together, I noticed only a little white foam in my skimmer cup. Usually in this time period I would have an 1 inch of dark brown gunk in the skimmer collection cup. Is this normal for an Ozonizer to cut down the dark waste that is usually produced without ozone? I thought ozonizers increased the efficiency of a Skimmer?  <Yes, all very typical... think about this... the ozone itself (triatomic oxygen, O3) is oxidizing the dissolved organic compounds way ahead of the skimmer's removal... In a way, I guess this does "increase the skimmer's efficiency"... by making it less necessary. What a tool, eh? Bob Fenner>

Tweaking A Biozome Skimmer! After a 4 year hiatus from a reef system my wife is allowing me to set up salt again (Something about ruining her floors the last time). I still have all of the equipment, and I cannot remember how to tweak the skimmer (I have a 65 gallon tank with a 22 gallon sump). The Skimmer is a dual chamber Biozome with a unknown venturi. Are there any online articles that explain how to due this. The owner of my local shop has closed lately and I need some help Thanks, Bill Eddings <Hmm, probably a matter of adjusting the discharge (or possibly intake, rarely both) flows... do you have a valve on the incoming or outgoing side? Any way to adjust the height of the collector cup (device on top that accumulates the gunk)? Bob Fenner>

Re: Tweaking A Biozome Skimmer! I have a ball valve on in output of the pump that goes into the venturi. It is on full blast. I have no valve on the air intake for the venturi. and a gate valve on the output of the skimmer. I have it adjusted to take the water column in the skimmer up about 2/3 of the way. Seems like 2/3 was the magic number on the column, but I'm not sure and also seems like you turn the airflow down on the venturi to decrease bubble size, just don't remember. Thanks, Bill Eddings <Ah, good explanations... Do adjust the outflow to about a half inch below the collector cup... Two-thirds up is way too low... You can, but don't think it's necessary, get an all plastic air-valve and put it on the air intake to the venturi... I'd adjust raise the water level.... this will likely reduce the size of the bubbles as the water column is increased... along with the use of seawater (instead of the fresh you may be running in it now, remember?), and the "aging" of the water with livestock in your system. Bob Fenner, who welcomes you back "into the fold">

Too many bubbles Bob I am the new owner of a reef tank. I have been experiencing a problem with too many bubbles coming back into my tank. I will report the system configuration and hopefully you can give me some helpful ideas to address the problem. 125 gallon tank aqua EV150 protein skimmer  40-50 gallon sump RIO 2500 driving the protein skimmer Iwaki pump for the return (this was originally purchased for the ETS skimmer that was replaced twice in the first two week for leaks in the skimmer)  <Really? Unusual> in-line chiller, probably 150 lbs. of live rock in the system with 3 inches of live sand.. 2 more Rio 2500 for water movement in the tank some one told me the water treatment that I have been using to treat my tap water is sometimes associated with bubbles...  <Not persistent bubbles... saturated gas initially perhaps> we recently added bio balls to the system to reduce the bubbles and it has helped...is there something that you would suggest? Thanks, Tom <Yes, consider rigging up a box with slots cut in it and hanging this box inside the tank with filter media (Dacron polyester is fine, Eheim grob or Fein flocken would be best), and discharge return water into this... the bubbles will coalesce there. Such boxes can be bought/modified (like www.cprusa.com's constant volume boxes, refugiums) or made (specimen container with holes drilled, melted into it). Bob Fenner>

Seaclone protein skimmer I have a 75 gal. LR and fish tank, and bought a SeaClone protein skimmer about a month ago. That was before I knew the specs. Well, it was producing a fair amount of sludge for the first couple weeks, and the past few days it has produced nothing. Is this bad? Is this normal. Also, I have a patch of green algae (it almost looks like blades of moss or grass.) Does this need to be removed?  <The lack of sludge is "a good thing" as it probably indicates a "balance struck" between various desirable biochemical reactions taking place in your system... vis a vis the live rock... and the algae you describe... don't remove it...Bob Fenner>

Turboflotor...again Hi again, Sorry for bugging you, but I had a quick one. What level should the water be in the Turboflotor reaction tube? Mine comes to about the very bottom of the collection cup, where it starts to "Cone", is this correct? I've got everything wide open, so it's flowing through as fast as possible. I even have the 2 adjusting pieces removed. Thank you, hope all is well, Tony <Never a problem to "e-chat"... Your water level in the skimmer is at the maximum height... and is fine... the level is adjustable for a few reasons... strength of pump, water level in the sump... amount of removable material in solution, desire of how much of that material the aquarist wants to remove... No worries... if your foam (if you have any, if not, not to worry) seems too "wet" or of excessive volume... you can lower the height in the contact chamber...Bob Fenner>

Protein skimmers Hello Bob I was wondering if I could get your opinion on skimmers. At present I have a Red Sea Berlin it always has a foam column but vary little in the cup, after a week perhaps a 1/4 cup in the overflow. This being my first tank is it normal or a bad skimmer?  <Probably not a bad skimmer, model or individual... your tank is just not producing much excess removable material... you could always put another model on and see if it pulls out more... but I wouldn't... there is such a thing as "over-skimming"... You're likely fine with what you have> I have started putting together a refugium as you recommended to me before but I feel I want to keep a skimmer in the system if only as a back up.  <Okay> I must admit my local shop finds the ecosystem another dream  <A dream being realized by more and more folks daily... just saw a few additional examples of these applications this last week in PA...> but on the other hand they have suggested much worse, not to mention higher cost.  <Ah>  Back to the skimmers there seems to be several designs all claiming to be the best and all dealers claim you must get the largest since the manufacture's recommendation is wrong.  <There is no one "best" as applications, desires vary... there are more/less efficient modes, models...> I again thank you for all the info so far. By the way I found all my lights were to the red pulled the pc and new bulbs in the halides algae is becoming less. Thank You ..........Randy tank size: 135gal approx. 200lb L/R in tank and 40lb in sump 3in sand bed in tank bio load : 15 fish, 24 corals and a hundred or so hermit crabs <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Protein Skimmer Operation Bob: Should the protein skimmer be foaming all the time? I haven't noticed any foam or waste accumulating in the collection cup for about three weeks. I see that the water is bubbling in the reaction column, and it appears that everything is attached properly. The water quality is excellent, and the fish all look great. Perhaps the wet/dry filtering system is performing so well that the skimmer's utilization has been reduced dramatically? I would appreciate your words of wisdom. Thanks, Mitch <Probably more of the latter... I wouldn't be overly concerned at any length... Maybe give the contact chamber and collector cup of the skimmer a good scrubbing and freshwater rinse. Bob Fenner>

Protein Skimmer? Hi Bob. I have a quick question for you. I just bought a protein skimmer and I was wondering if I should let it run all of the time, or maybe like twice a week. I read somewhere that if I leave it on all of the time it actually starts to remove the good stuff i.e. trace elements (doing more harm than good). What is your opinion on this? Thanks, Brandon <Depends on the system, the livestock mix, and the desires of the aquarist... Most skimmers can/should be left on continuously... But there are systems that are run with refugiums, mud, algae filters... or just with a balance of light, live rock, sand, low feeding... that don't need, don't benefit from running a skimmer at all... Skimming does indeed remove a good part of biominerals, desirable organic molecules and more... along with a myriad of undesirable materials... In general, for most fish, fish and invert. and reef systems, periodic replenishment of the desired matter that a skimmer removes (through water changes, supplementing, feeding) is well worth "the cost" of incidental removal... Bob Fenner, who, like anyone, would need to know the particulars of your system to make a judgment call...> Sorry about that :). I have a 30 gallon fish only setup with 3 fish (a coral beauty, a Firefish and valentini puffer) a few hermit crabs, a pacific cleaner shrimp and an anemone. I am using a magnum 220 canister filter with charcoal as the filter medium and the protein skimmer is a SeaClone. I also do a 20% water change each month. I want to keep it fish only for now . . . I need to learn a few more things before upgrading to a reef tank. - Brandon <Ah, much more clear now. Yes, I would run a not-so-efficient model like the SeaClone continuously on a system like yours... No problems! Bob Fenner>

Live Rock & Skimmer My tank is 1 1/2 months old. I had a skimmer running from day 1. One local store said my tank will take many months to cycle because the skimmer was ran immediately. Is this true?  Thanks again. <Does the person who told you this know you have live rock in your system? No, in my opinion, your tank will likely cycle if/when whatever the cause of the initial die-off of organisms on the live rock solves itself... in a short while... I would not turn off your skimmer... and would have run it from day one with the rock in place. Bob Fenner>

Skimmer Hi. Love your column. I had a small problem with red slime recently, so I  added some of ultra life's red slime remover. I have had good results in the  past with this product, but that was before I had a protein skimmer. Now,  about an hour after I added it, my protein skimmer went nuts! It pulled  five gallons of water out of my tank as a very thin, watery foam in less  than twelve hours! Is there any way to solve this problem? I am using a  Skilter 250 with a supplementary airstone. Thanks, Brian Baker  <Hmm, well yes... give up on the Red Slime/Blue Green algae remover and investigate and solve the root causes of this problem... Poor circulation, poor aeration, too much nutrient due to? Overfeeding, poor filtration, poor maintenance, lack of competing organisms for light, nutrients...Bob Fenner>

Dying fish... Bob- I called Ed at Octopus' Garden and he does not  have an iron test kit. He didn't even have one listed from his suppliers. I did find one online that I have ordered, it's sensitive to 0.001mg/L. What's considered a 'safe' level? After thinking about the possible iron problem, several weeks ago I replaced a check valve on the return pump that wasn't working. The valve was a standard Home Depot type garden valve that had been installed by the local store where I purchased the tank. That may be where the contamination was coming from as the valve has not worked for about a year and was corroded inside. Assuming that it is iron in the water, where do I go from here? Will water changes, charcoal, poly filters, etc take care of it, or has the iron been absorbed into the substrate, live rock, etc.? If so, is that all trash now or is there some way to salvage the LR? Thanks. Andy Lange <<Ah, yes to the iron test kit... many folks believe up to 0.01ppm (the same as mg/l) is tolerable to most captive marine life)... And yes, or should I say, "Ah ha!" to the rusty screw on the valve... a common cause of trouble and a source of amazement to me for some of the companies that make down-draft skimmers... A pad of Polyfilter will remove any ferrous material... and should show up as a brownish to orangish stain... and the bit that becomes/has become tied up with your live rock, other decor, is of little consequence. Bob "Iron Man" Fenner>>

Protein skimmer I have a red sea Berlin skimmer classic. I have a 65 gallon reef set up with  90lbs of live rock. I only have 3 fish 1 purple tang,1clown and 1 lawnmower  blenny. My problem is that I have never seen any protein coming from my  skimmer. I tried adjusting my air but nothing seems to work. I am wondering  if a 750gph pump is good enough. My skimmer sits under my tank outside my  wet-dry. I also have a couple of corals (three). If you could help me out in  any way that would be great. Thank you for your time. <<Ah, you actually don't need my help... but, in point of fact it is YOU who have helped many others by your message here. Your system is "in balance"... by having it properly set-up and maintained, with few organisms and doubtless little (over)feeding, your live rock (and live sand made by the LR) is "using up" the phobic organic molecules the skimmer might otherwise be accumulating. There is nothing wrong with your skimmer... there is everything right with your set-up, system and livestock. Bob Fenner>>

Microbubbles From Skimmer Dear Mr. Fenner, I have an AMiracle Venturi Protein Skimmer that outputs some microbubbles into the aquarium. I've seen other products that feature accessories to reduce or remove the microbubbles from protein skimmer before the water is returned to the main tank. Why is it not desirable to have the microbubbles returning to the main tank and does one need to be concerned about the microbubbles in a fish only setup? Regards, Alec  <<There's actually quite a danger in having many fine bubbles suspended in system water. Two examples: Emphysematosis, "gas bubble disease"... sort of like the bends for fishes... and some types of exophthalmia, aka "bubble eye" are directly due to fine bubbles. Best to have a mechanism for coalescing, collecting, popping them. Bob Fenner>>

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>>

Skimmer bubbles I recently switched to a hang-on style skimmer on my 72 gal. reef tank after several extremely frustrating experiences with the sump on that tank. It is an E.T.S.S. Reef Devil. I am very happy with the fact that it seems to be a very efficient skimmer, but it is dumping an extraordinary amount of tiny bubbles into the tank. To the point that it looks like a snow globe. I put a small mesh bag over the return spout, but this had no effect. What do you suggest to get fid of these bubbles? <Either buy or build a device (CPR, www.cprusa.com, makes these) to have your discharge empty into the tank... and fit the container with some rough Dacron filter media (like the permanent, one purchase stuff Eheim offers). The catchment will look like a little box with cutouts (like a medieval guard tower) for the overflow water to spill back into the tank. Bob Fenner, who doesn't like those tiny bubble effects either.>

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