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FAQs about Skimmer Operation/Maintenance 8

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Tunze 233 Skimmer and Installation I'm setting up 50-gallon reef tank and looking at skimmers.  I want to create a refugium in the sump, which is a 20-gallon long tank.  I see a Tunze 233 skimmer advertised (used) as extremely plankton friendly.   <agreed... I like them.... sometimes love them. Fine skimmers by me> However, from the pictures I've seen of it, it looks like a hang on skimmer and it appears to draw water from near the top of the tank.   <actually... Tunze has a skimmer to fit most any application ...sump, internal rail mount, etc... you were looking at the latter. Any of their nicely compact skimmers can simply be placed in a small skimmer box that receives raw aquarium water (downstream from an overflow works well for this as a separate vessel that catches water before traveling further down to the sump... or... as the first compartment in a partitioned sump. See diagram here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm > I've read in this forum that Tunze is an excellent skimmer.  I wonder, however, if it is a hang on skimmer (which I'd place in the sump) is a problem because you have keep the sump nearly filled with water, <this and any skimmer intended for the sump must have its own partition with a standing overflow or an actual box/vessel that does the same. No skimmer will run optimally if placed in a sump with a fluctuating water level as you have suspected> which I am concerned would not leave sufficient room for back flow in case of a power failure.   <not a problem unless the sump is undersized> Also, are these finicky to set up and run?   <not at all... one of the very easiest. After the first few days/weeks of tweaking and adjusting (shimming/raising and lowering the unit to realize maximum skimmate performance at the proffered running water level)... you are home free after that. They are remarkably consistent in skimmate production> Apparently there are no instructions with this particular unit. <huh? Ahhh... I don't follow. They come with instructions... however simple they might be. Tunze even has a "drawn" wavy water mark line on the unit for the suggested/ballpark running level. Adjust the unit to that level, plug it in and that's about it. Not much more instruction needed I hope <G>> Any advice?  Thanks. Tramill <best regards, Anthony>

Seaclone modification Not really a question, just trying to share some hopefully helpful information. <Good> I recently broke down and got a protein skimmer for my 40 gallon tank. I was aware of the lackluster reviews of the Seaclone 100 but an e-bay deal was there that I just couldn't pass up. Upon initial setup I have to agree with the majority opinion, the things like a muscle car on a wet road; the wheels go fast but it doesn't get you anywhere. Anyway, after watching it do nothing good (and yes, actually some bad....couldn't see the rocks for the bubbles) for a day or so, I decided to try something. I sliced an approximately 2" x 3" x 1/8" piece off the foam block I had in the Aquaclear 300 I had been using to augment my powerheads for circulation. Then I stuffed the foam right behind the skimmer outfall slot. It's just the right thickness to fit nicely between the outer tube and the intermediate tube, and large enough that after a little tucking it's in no danger of washing out. The unit immediately started being nicely productive. Besides the foam baffling out the micro bubbles that were invading the tank, the increased backpressure in the system raised the water level into the collection cup, effectively shortening the distance the froth had to rise to get into the collection cup. I found the stock air valve to be adequately precise to now adjust the water flow and bubble mix without any further changes to the equipment. If you could somehow make this information available to any other Seaclone users it would be ( as Martha would say) a good thing; and much appreciated. Heck, maybe even Aquarium Systems should see this. <Hey, no illegal stock trading!> Modern Proverb? Before beginning a hobby with aquariums, develop an appreciation for sushi. Chris Muir Federal Way Wa. <Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Re: Microbubbles/sump Thanks for your help. I am thinking about getting a second 25-30 gallon sump. I want to run two 1" lines from the original sump to the new sump using passive flow to feed it with water. In the new sump I would like to put a remora fractionator and run my 1" and 3/4"return lines from it. This would make the intakes going into my original 20 gal sump and the returns from the new sump. Will this eliminate the microbubbles due to the separation of lines? Will the new sump fill correctly by passive means? Are 2 fractionators massacre and worthwhile? My current fractionator produces a cup every 2 days of fairly dark skimmate but it is not black. Your thoughts before I do this would be appreciated. Thanks <If you are going to the trouble of installing a sump, go with *one* properly sized sump and one efficient skimmer. Then, one or two drains and one properly sized return, perhaps a manifold for more than one outlet, depending on set-up. In short, I would simplify the sump, drain, return, and skimmer.  There is no need to produce "black" skimmate, the skimmate may range from fairly light to dark green. With a longer sump the bubbles will have more than ample time and space to dissipate before getting to the return pump. Before you go through all this, be sure your return pump line(s) are tight and not sucking air....causing your bubbles.  Craig>

Skimmer Performance Hi Guys, <Hi Steve, PF here this am> Yesterday I removed my in-tank sump and moved my skimmer (in sump version) into an external sump.  The sump water level is consistent and the water level and bubbles in the skimmer chamber are adjusted to the same level they were before.  My problem is that before I moved the skimmer I got consistent dark foam every day.  Now, 24 hours later, I am getting no foam at all in the riser column leading up to the collection cup. <Did you clean out the column of the skimmer? The pump feeding it?> Should I be concerned with this, or just give the skimmer a few days to adjust?  <I'd say clean it out and give it a few days.> I know I have lots of proteins in the tank, so lack of them is not the problem.  What about the water leading into the sump?  The tank is draining about 600 gallons per hour in the sump via a 1" ID pipe causing the water in the sump to be very turbulent...something that my skimmer is not used to.  Could this be the problem? <I wouldn't think so, after all, it's pretty turbulent in the skimmer itself.> Thanks a lot...Steve <You're welcome, hopefully it'll start cranking out the gunk really soon. Have a good day, PF>

RE: Skimmer in Sump not Working <Hi again Steve> Well it's working a little, but no more near how it was before.  I'll give it a few more days.  Just in case, any thought on a good in-sump skimmer?  Something that will work to its full potential sitting in about 5 - 6 inches of water. <Well, I don't use one myself, but I've heard good things about the AquaClear and EuroReef units.>

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

Euro Reef Skimmer! Hi guys hope u guys are doing well I have a question which regards to the ever popular Euro Reef Skimmer I been using the C6-2 for years and been happy with it with a mud like substance every 2-3 days and literally have to clean it twice a day and recently upgraded to c8-2 which is bigger in diameter but same height as my old one I have a 180 SPS system by the way and a question came to my mind about these 2 that they both use Sedra 500 pump,  yet the two are rated differently in terms of the size of the tank. Another words how can a larger diameter C8-2 be better than C6-2 where they both use same rated pump of 500 gal/hour? <A larger diameter chamber would allow a bigger water column for the bubbles to work in.> The weird part is that I am now getting less skimmate now that I upgraded to C8-2 Is it because it is new? <I would think so, most skimmers have a break in period of from days to weeks, see what's it's up to in a month or two before making an final judgments. Some skimmers have oil left on them after manufacture.> Thanks guys in advance! <You're welcome, have a good night, PF>

- Skimmer Pump Issues - I have a Turboflotor 1000 sump skimmer with a new Rio 2100 pump and needle wheel. I have a SEDRA 3000 as the other pump; I have had this skimmer for approx. 3 years with no problems except replacing pumps. However it is no longer blowing bubbles unless I disconnect SEDRA pump. <So the Rio works I hope...> The venturi holes and air tube are clear and clean but not getting any foam in my cup. <You might want to make sure the impeller assembly is clean.> I have a 150 gal saltwater tank with fish and live rock. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated as I know my tank could be in big trouble. <The pump and venturi may be too deep to establish good air flow, try bringing this closer to the surface of the water. Cheers, J -- >

Skilter Off Kilter? Hello crew: <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I have a 44 gallon aquarium with a Skilter 250. I know  the skimmer is not that great but it does its job fairly well. <That's all that counts! If it's working for you, be happy!> But then a got a Magnum 350 ( with the carbon filter), and now my skimmer in not skimming any foam out of my aquarium! Is this because the mag is doing both of the jobs? <Well, hard to say. It may be for a variety of reasons, ranging from different water flow, "tension", etc. Probably not a function of the Magnum removing organics, but more of a function of hydrodynamics...Give it time- I think it will resume skimming again.> I know I can retro fit my Skilter to work better but I don't know how. Can you help me on this? <As far as I know, the best way to modify the performance of the skimmer is to adjust the air flow...You may want to contact the manufacturer and see if they have any other suggestions for this...> Thanks for all you do!!!!!! <And thanks for paying us a visit...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Skimmer Questions - Hello, <And hello to you, JasonC here...> I recently bought a Berlin air-lift 90 protein skimmer and installed it last night. After running for the past 20 hours it is only producing white foam that contains no dirt to the naked eye. I was wondering if my system is just at a very clean state or is the skimmer not working correctly? I have about 10 different fish and 3 anemones with snails and crabs and about 20 lbs live rock and live sand. The system has been running for 1 1/2 months now and all measurements are in check. The only high number is nitrates at 20 ppm. Could you tell me what you think is going on?? <For certain, this is not a very efficient skimmer, but there are couple of things you can do - if you didn't already, you should rinse that skimmer in hot water before using on your system, just to get rid of oils from manufacture - this will help. Also, you may need a larger air pump to goose the bubble production a little more. Above all, be patient and give it some time. Lastly, I do think your system is on the new side, but does sound like it has enough of a bioload that there should be some production, perhaps consider a bigger, more efficient skimmer for the future.> This fish all seem well and normal. I also want to mention I have 2 40watt Coralife bulbs and 2 18" actinic bulbs. <Sound good.> Thanks, Bob Weiss <Cheers, J -- >

- Say What? - Thanks for your fast reply...I do have a question for ya? What did you mean by "Lastly, I do think your system is on the ne"? I don't understand what you mean...could you explain. <Odd, it would seem the email was cut off, my apologies... here's what I said: "Lastly, I do think your system is on the new side, but does sound like it has enough of a bioload that there should be some production, perhaps consider a bigger, more efficient skimmer for the future."> The skimmer is producing a steady white foam with no color to it whatsoever. <Even without color, there is 'bad stuff' in there.> It has been running now for 3 days. Also, I forgot to mention that I dosed the tank with MelaFix for protection 3 days ago. Not sure if this has anything to do with it. <It might.> Thanks again, Bob <Cheers, J -- >

Tab A into Slot B I read in an answer from P.F. <Speak my name and I shall be summoned. ; ) > that the Maxijet-1200 was a great upgrade from the Rio 1400 for the Remora so I bought the Maxijet.  Now, can you please tell me how to go about doing the change out from the Rio 1400?  I know I am not the sharpest tack on the card but have been able to keep salt water fish for years successfully so I can't be hopeless. <We all have things we're good at, and some we're not. Cars require gas, oil changes, and air in the tires. After that... it's off to the garage for me.> Is there some kind of conversion kit I need in order to attach the Maxijet? <Nope, I just got some tubing from an LFS and cut a short length of it (like 2" short) to act as a coupler. I think it's 1/2" tubing, slip it over the short tube that come with the Maxijet. Wish I had a working camera, I'd just send you a picture. Now to sweet talk the wife into replacing the camera...> I have really not been as impressed as I had hoped with the Aqua C and thought maybe this would be the answer.  Thanks for this great resource. <Your welcome, hopefully that helps, if you have questions about your unit, you can contact AquaC directly (not that you can't contact us mind you) here: http://www.proteinskimmer.com/contact.htm  They're very nice and quick at responding. Have a good one, PF>

Micro bubbles from skimmer Hey guys, Just one quick question: I have a hang-on protein skimmer/filter on my 25 high aquarium. What is the best way to get rid of micro bubbles? I messed around with it last night and woke up in the morning and the filter was dripping on to my carpet. The water goes through three different cambers before flowing back into the tank. The middle chamber has a sponge on top then a bag of carbon then ceramic bio-beads on bottom. I can not figure out how to get rid of them. Thanks, I hope you can help. Chris <If this is a new tank it may be initial water params. Another cause might be skimmer adjustment.  These skimmers usually have an adjustable needle-valve to control the amount of air mixed in the water, adjust it down a bit until the air bubbles *just* make it to the last turn in the skimmer, before being pulled back up to the collection cup. It is necessary to watch the bubbles through the skimmer body to get it just right. If this doesn't work, a skimmer box with bubble trap designed for your skimmer should do the trick.  Craig>

Protein Skimmers, nutrients Hello WWM crew ! I have read a LOT on skimmers on your site. I have a 65 gallon tank (with sump) with soft corals and live rock. I think my tank is turning into a nutrient sink.  Got about 3" of sand (sugar sized aragonite). I now know it should be 4" to 6" for DSB.  I think I will slowly take it back down to 1/2". Don't think I'll like the looks of DSB.  I've got pretty good circulation (I think) in tank (two Rio 600's plus return from sump). I have been using a Turboflotor (T-1000) Multi for about a year. The venturi is clean and it does produce many fine bubbles. I started getting some algae problems with a little green Cyano a while (6 months?) after adding the additional sand slowly. <I'd still look at circulation overall and water quality to begin with, are you using RO/DI water? The TF as you know isn't the best... Perhaps run a canister with PolyFilter?>   I pulled my old AETech Reef Devil 40 (the original one) out of retirement with a Rio 2500HP.It did seem to pull out more and darker skimmate than the TF. I'm wondering if this thing would overskim my tank. <Not if you are worried about possible build up...I'm not sure there is such a thing as overskimming....> Is the Reef Devil considered an energy hog with this pump (Rio 2500)? <Maybe for a 65...but the sump adds some volume.  It depends on what is needed.  Skimmers for this capacity run on Mag 3's and Rio 1700-2100, depending on design.> I have been thinking about getting a Euroreef CS6-1. You think I would be wasting my money? <I haven't heard of anyone buying a Euro Reef and being unhappy.  Yet.  You could be the first!> I would like to see these skimmers compared, but I can't check out the Euroreef without buying one. I have read great reviews on them and also Aqua C. Hope you have experience these so as to be able to compare them. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks, Steve...... <I like the Euro Reef for efficiency and price.  A good choice. Craig>

Large Fishes-Serious Water Treatment! I'm confused about water circulation and water turnover rates in my 280 FOWLR Tank. I currently have an Ampmaster 3000 pump  connected to my sump. Now my question is why should I have this much water running through my sump when my skimmer (Turboflotor 1000) can only process so much water anyway? Would my system benefit better if I used the Ampmaster 3000 in a closed loop situation and use a lower rated pump connected to the sump? <That sounds like a better arrangement to me. As you correctly surmise- there is no sense in pushing more water through the skimmer than it is capable of processing> If so, what size pump should I look for? <You really need to test for a level of circulation that works for your skimmer, as well as the ability of your overflow to handle the amount of water moving through the system.> By using the Ampmaster in a closed loop situation I would have better luck in keeping all those micro bubbles out of the display tank. I have tried different things and searched for a solution but I have not been successful. That is a lot of water splashing down in the sump just to be pulled right back up and pumped into the display tank. <True...I really like the idea of the Ampmaster powering a closed loop. This should work nicely> My tank includes a 20" Tessalata Eel, 5" Pink Tail Trigger, and a 12" Vlamingi Tang. I would like to add a Miniatus Grouper as a final addition to the system. <And that will be some final addition at a length approaching 15-16 inches! They can really mess up a tank in a relatively short time with the copious amounts of metabolic waste they produce. All the better that you have vigorous water movement and aggressive skimming! You've got some serious waste producers in that tank!> Just trying to find one of the appropriate size from my local dealer. I have approx. 300 lbs of LR and1/2 inch of crushed coral. I recently upgraded my lighting from florescent lighting to (2) 6 ft VHO bulbs and now green algae is starting to grow on the acrylic everywhere. My water parameters are all good. PH 8.6, Nitrates 10ppm, Nitrites 0, Ammonia 0, Alk 5ppm. My phosphate levels are in the 3ppm range. They were a lot higher before but I was able to get them to come down by doing 20 gallon water changes weekly and keeping my PH levels up. I know it would be best if I could get this level down to zero but is this possible with the fishes that I have? Is there anything else besides the phosphate levels that I might be missing contributing to the algae growing so quick on the acrylic?  Antoine Dunn <Well, I'm impressed by your stable water conditions, particularly when you consider the fishes that you've got in there! Phosphates are a major contributor to algae in closed systems, and 3 ppm phosphate is a SERIOUS amount of phosphate to deal with! Unfortunately, phosphate tends to accumulate as a result of feeding, as well as in source water. Nitrates and phosphates tend to serve as "algae fuel". Some ways to counter the accumulation of these substances are to continue your aggressive water changes (I tend to favor two smaller (5% of tank volume) changes a week, continued protein skimming, use of activated carbon, Poly Filter, or other chemical filtration media (replaced regularly). Use of quality source water (RO/DI) will help, by providing a "head start" with good quality water. It will be a battle, considering the fish load that you keep, but you can keep the water quality high indefinitely with good husbandry. Keep in mind that some algae is both natural and beneficial in closed systems, so as long as it's not taking over everything, I would just keep it in check through regular maintenance. Sounds like you're doing well so far, just keep up the good work! Regards, Scott F.>

Skimmer and Erythromycin Thiocynate Crew, <Dave...> First off, thanks for the help so far. I've read Robert's book, excellent! <all good <G>> I'm a little over two months into my 75 FOWLR tank. About 90 lbs of Marshall Island rock, 20 gallon sump, and skimmer. Well I use to have a skimmer that is. I took the advice for the LFS and bought a quick fix for Cyano algae. <Doh! usually a nutrient and/or water flow (inadequate) problem> Two sponges first for 24 hours then the next for another 48. Said to add Erythromycin Thiocynate to get rid of the Cyano. (Should double check the WWM before adding anything to my tank, yet another lesson learned!) Within minutes of adding the Erythromycin the skimmer went nuts. <Ayah....> Started overproducing very wet foam (water) filled the cup in under 5 minutes. Ever since I haven't been able to run it. I've searched around and didn't find a thing about this problem. <no worries... just do one or two large water changes in the next week to dilute the "problem"... that should put you back on track shortly after that... at least regarding the skimmer. Still won't help you with the flaw in the system that caused the Cyano in the first place... nor will it help restore the beneficial fauna killed by the antibiotic used I the display... yikes! (never do again, please)> Before this the skimmer was producing excellently, it is a Euro-Reef ES 5-2. Talked to the manufacturer, he said to add carbon and try again in a few days. It's been 6 days and I'm starting to worry about not running the skimmer. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated? Thanks, Dave <best regards, Anthony>

- Aqua-C and ClearTank - <Greetings, JasonC here...> To the Grand Poohbahs of the Captive Ocean, the great and all-powerful Wizards of Wet, the Sages of Surf and Surge... I beg a question or two... Seriously, you guys have saved me from so much grief, thus the superlatives. <Well, thank you for the accolades, but I really am just a normal human, same as you.> I have a 60 G system w/some soft inverts and fish that are doing relatively well but there's an inconsistency problem with my Aqua-C EV-150 skimmer which seems to manifest itself with inverts looking good for a week, then a little anemic, then good again. It seems it's efficiency is directly related to the water level in the sump. <This is quite true...> I get it tweaked so that the foam isn't too wet or too little or none. In a few days the water level drops and so does the foam level. Is this just part of the way the Aqua-C's work? <Well - the 'tweaked' setup of your skimmer has as much to do with the water level in the sump... there are ways to design your sump so that the skimmer sees a constant level of water, and or use an automatic top-off device to keep the water level in the sump constant.> This model has been replaced by the EV-90. <Am quite familiar with these.> Secondly, I talked to the President of the company that makes ClearTank, the polymer spray that minimizes algae growth on glass/acrylic (you spray/wipe the stuff on a new dry tank before set up) and he guarantees the stuff. He was very convincing. I've ordered a bottle. Have you guys heard one way or the other? <Nope.> I'm going to be building a new reef system soon and I thought I'd give it a try, unless you guys, the Gods of Gorgonians, say nix. <I can't imagine the stuff would really last very long, or long enough... but I'm sure you can let us know how it goes.> Silicon Valley Steve <Cheers, J -- >

Protein Skimmers and "Grunge" Hi guys, <Scott F. your guy tonight> A couple of quick questions for you tonight.  I currently have a 55 gallon marine tank and am upgrading to a 110 gallon within the next few days. <Bet you're not sleeping to much this week, huh? I know that I'd be too stoked to sleep...! Wow- it's scary what excites fish nerds like me, huh?> I have a Oceanic Plus model 6 protein skimmer.  The included pump is an Eheim unit that pumps out about 300 gph.  Assuming that the skimmer is a venturi model, are there any potential negatives incurred by replacing the pump with something that puts out 700 gph or more? <Well, it really depends on the size of the venturi, and the ability of the skimmer to keep up with increased flow...You'll just have to test it and tweak as required...Sorry I couldn't be more specific!> Kind of a strange question, but do snails and crabs have an impact on bio-load capacity of a marine tank? <Sure. Not to the same extent as fishes and larger invertebrates, but these animals eat, respire, and excrete metabolic products into the water. Now, let's be realistic- it probably takes quite a few Turbo snails to equal the metabolic output of say, a Yellow Tang- but the point is, you should consider these little guys as bioload when studying the stocking capacity of your tank> I know that there are general rules of thumb when it comes to number of inches of fish per gallon(s), but does adding a healthy number of these inverts (to minimize algae and detritus) affect the stocking parameters of the tank? <Well, I really think that the "inch of fishes per gallon" rule is somewhat inaccurate, as far as I'm concerned, you need to look at a host of factors, such as the habits and requirements of the fish, the companions that it will reside with, the fishes' ultimate size, the filtration and skimming available in your system, etc. 8 inches of one inch gobies will not put out the same metabolic waste, nor do they have the same tank size requirements as a single 8 inch Humu Humu Triggerfish, etc. Do consider the "big picture" when stocking your tank...> Finally, without appearing to endorse one supplier over another, have you had any experience with the reef janitor kits from G.A.R.F. or any other suppliers? <I've used products from my favorite source, Indo Pacific Sea Farms in Kailua-Kona.. They offer a variety of worms, snails, and detritivore kits, along with great service! G.A.R.F. has a good reputation, too.> What about their GARF Grunge product? <I personally do not have experience with the product, but I have a number of friends who do, and they were pleased with the product...Lots of vendors, and even fellow hobbyists, offer similar "rubble" products to help "kick start" your system...Ask around on the WWM chat forum> In your opinion are these worthwhile investments? <They certainly can't hurt- but you can obtain similar results by obtaining a few cups of sand and some small rocks from a friend's established aquarium> I have continuously battled a hair algae problem even though I minimize my feedings, maintain water quality within desired parameters, and do approx. 15-20% water changes every other week.  My nitrates are running around 30, phosphates are 0,  Nitrites and ammonia are 0, PH 8.3, Calcium 375-400, Lighting is total 260 watt PC lights (half actinic/half daylight) that are on for about 8 hours/day.  Water flow is throughout is brisk with multiple powerheads.  I have about 40 Lbs of live rock, which appears to be a very fine host for the hair algae.  Any thoughts or suggestions or comments would be much appreciated. <Algal blooms are common in new tanks, and will dissipate in time, once nutrient export processes "kick in"...Continue aggressive husbandry techniques, including the water changes, protein skimming, etc. You can read up about these techniques on the WWM site!> As always, you all do a great job helping the rest of us inch closer to success. Thanks. Dave <Thanks for the kind words, Dave! I learn a little more each day, myself! this hobby rocks, huh? Regards, Scott F>

Cloudy water Ok here goes. I have a 55 gallons saltwater tank. Fluval 304, two power heads, sea clone skimmer and a disconnected under gravel filter holding up about a ? inch of crushed coral gravel. I have been gone for a few month (six) and the tank received very little maintenance and water changes. The fish are alive tomato clown, royal Gramma, blue damsel and yellow tang. But brown algae has taken over the tang looks terrible and the water is cloudy. I tested the water ammonia and nitrites are 0, but nitrates are way high like 140? I've been doing 15 gal water changes every two weeks now for about two months.  I took all the coral out and washed it off and vacuumed the bottom gravel thoroughly. The nitrates are still high and the water is still cloudy. I never had a problem with cloudy water before I don't know what to do?  The tang is eating like crazy but not gaining any weight. Clamped fins lost the tissue between the dorsal spines you can see the red blood vessels. Feeding him red and green seaweed sheets soaked in Selcon eats formula two, flakes anything and everything but just won't turn around.  Tanks been up for three years and fish the same. Don't want to lose the tang but think it to late. <Don't give up just yet.> I've always battled the nitrate problem in this tank any advise? Better skimmer? <I'd start doing the 15gal water changes every around every 3 days until the water parameters are back in line. How is your current skimmer performing?  A good skimmer will help a lot. Do you  have any Live rock?  -Gage> Thanks roger

Working on cloudy water Current skimmer seems ok clean. Got to clean it every couple of days. <when you clean it does it look like brown muck, or green tea?  We are aiming for brown muck.> Sponge seems to get clogged and reduces the flow. Can I add live rock directly into the tank. Cure it first? <Sponge?  Where is the sponge located?  If it is before the skimmer I would get rid of it, you want your skimmer getting raw surface water.  It is nice to keep rock in "QT" for a while while you watch for unwanted critters, if you are curing it yourself you can do this while it cures.  If you are certain it is cured it would be ok to add it straight to the tank. -Gage>

Skimmer upgrade/function Hi again, <Hello yourself.> You asked what type of skimmer I was running? It's a Turboflotor 1000. Should I upgrade to a G-3? <I'm not really familiar with that model, but since you're going to be getting a new one in the near future, I wouldn't change it now. I was curious as I didn't see mention of a skimmer in your original post. Just did some research on the Turboflotor. Among the pieces of advice I saw: clean the nipple where the air feeds in once a month, and replace the Rio with a Mag7 and use an air pump to inject air into the venturi. Now, I would do these only if it wasn't pulling a satisfactory amount of skimmate out - you should be emptying the collection cup once a week, at least. HTH, PF>

Live Rock Brown muck.  On the sea clone the sponge or I guess pre filter with an air line fits over the intake were the power head is close to the surface couple of inches down). I might be able to rig it without the sponge but I don't know how it would get air. I guess I could use some type of tube with a hole drilled in it. <If it is going to cause it not to work correctly I would leave it alone and clean the sponge often.> From everything I've read it sounds like the live rock is really the answer. How much rock. Pull out the dead coral decorations). <You can keep the coral decorations if you like them, I personally really like the look of live rock. Somewhere around 1 to 2 lbs per gallon is good. -Gage> Thanks for your help

Working That Skimmer... You said work your protein skimmer hard. What do you mean? Can I adjust how hard it works? <Yep- What I mean is to adjust the flow of water/air so that you are getting a regular production of dark skimmate a couple of times per week. Most skimmers allow this type of adjustment...> As far as using a deep sand bed to help control nitrates, my eel moves the sand bed around quite a bit, doesn't that make the deep sand bed ineffective? Some areas are deep and some are down to the glass bottom. <Well, constant disruption of a deep sand bed will hamper some of the denitrification processes that occur within the bed. You could still utilize a DSB if you lay some window screen over some of the bed to keep the eel from digging too deep into it.> Thanks a lot for you help. Ron New Jersey <My pleasure, Ron! Keep having fun! Regards, Scott F>

Re: Live rock and sand for a new tank Hey Don, Thanks so much for responding to the below.  Is it even worth spending the extra money on the live sand at 30#'s?  Per your instruction I guess it should fall within the 1" range but is 30 #'s going to supply any real benefit to the tank or do I need to go with the 4+ inches?  Should I just stay with the original crushed coral substrate I have and forgo the live sand since cost is an issue?  I can do the 30# but no more right now. <Personally, I would stay away from the crushed coral as it is a detritus trap that needs to be cleaned on a regular basis which destroys any bacterial benefit. I would go with the live sand if possible. You do not need to buy all live sand. You can buy fine aragonite 'dead' sand and then get a cup or two of live sand from an established system. The 'dead' sand will quickly become 'live' and this will help seed the pod populations as well> As for the skimmer, well I screwed that one up already and purchased a Seaclone style skimmer.  Was before finding WetWebMedia and all the info out here.  It will have to suffice for the time being. <Been there, done that. I had the SeaClone skimmer and found that it is extremely sensitive to the depth of the pump inlet below the surface. As little as 1/4" could stop production. Once I found the sweet spot and kept that dialed in, I was able to get regular production, just not as much as we would like to see. Experiment with the depth, keep the thing spotless and you may get some decent production> I will also take your advice and forgo the biomedia and use the wet/dry box as a sump. <That is the way I would go, Don> Thanks <You are very welcome, keep in touch> Louis Rizzo

Skimmer bubbles Hi Crew ... I have a question about my hang-on skimmer. The skimmer puts out a ton of bubbles and I am having a problem with the bubbles getting underneath all my rocks and bugging the hell out of my fishes. I went to my LFS and they suggested putting a little plastic overflow box with foam over the openings of the box and let that be on the output of the skimmer. Well that maybe solved 50% of the big bubbles but still my tank looks milky with fine fine bubbles getting thru the foam. Even with this reduction in bubbles it does help the situation with bubbles getting in every crevice. What to do ??? Please Help... I have run out of solutions. If there is a solution that u can come up with please detail it as much as possible. I am kind of on the thick side and I am in need of much details. Thanks for all your help in advance ... Regards, Ash <This could be the skimmer and how it's set-up or adjusted or water parameters allowing bubble formation. The bubbles shouldn't be able to get through the foam. Definitely something wrong!  Set-up skimmer according to manufacturers specs (pay special attention to air intake adjustment if any) and make sure water params are normal (pH, alk, calcium, SG.> Also depends on skimmer, model, manufacturer. Craig>

Modifying a Remora Skimmer Good Afternoon Gentlemen and Lady, <Well, maybe not a gentleman...But you have Scott F. with you today!> Ok, I finally had it with my Red Sea Berlin Hang On Skimmer. I finally broke down and bought the Aqua-C Remora. <A great choice in H.O.T. skimmers, IMO!> I just wasn't having fun with the Berlin. I found myself on all fours every night, trying to find the right air/ water equilibrium. My question is, I bought the Remora Hang-On with the MaxiJet 1200 pump and I had to double the length of the tubing so that the pump would be completely submerged. Will this affect the performance of the skimmer? I guess I'm a little "gun-shy" because of my experiences with the Berlin. Much thanks, Greg <I don't think that it will be too much of a problem, but you may have to experiment a bit to get it right...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Skimmer bubbles Hi again ... Thanks for the reply. I wasn't really that concerned about the Ich as much as I am about the bubbles in the water from the skimmer. I mean there are so many fine fine fine bubbles in the water that the water looks like Milk. It's getting underneath my LR too which isn't good at all. I have a feeling if I keep the skimmer working like it is, my fish will develop a disease called Emphysematosis, Gas Bubble Disease. My question was, what do I do to reduce or eliminate these bubbles in the water? And if it is by using more equipment, please let me know what you recommend and where to get it? Thanks as always for your time and support for the marine community. Regards, Ash <This could be a number of things....water parameters (proper alk/calcium/ph) or skimmer adjustment or defect. These skimmers aren't known for their quality.  Does it have an air adjustment/needle valve? It could need adjustment.  A properly working skimmer won't produce too many bubbles.  I would refer to the manual, dealer or manufacturer, but I wouldn't let it continue.  Craig>

BGA and Skilter adjustment questions (revisited) >Hi, >>Hello again. >Thanks Marina, for your answers. Here are just a couple of clean-up questions, if I may ... >>Of course. >(Oh, cool April fool pic yesterday, btw ...) >>April Fool's?  Uh oh!  Ok, if you're talking about that seahorse with the sea monkey (my av) riding it, I have no idea where that came from! > >I have a skimmer question, but vital statistics first:-20g-"long" tank, (i.e. shallow) cycled but still maturing at about 2 months old, 1/2" "live" Arag reef sand (before I knew live sand wasn't), about 15lb LR, 1 x Natural daylight 17W NO tube and 1 17W Actinic, giving around 1.5 effective W/g.  Skilter (w/Walsh mod), additional CAP200 powerhead, and temporarily a Magnum HOT for added circulation. > >>Eck.. Skilter, eh? >Yeah, well, the noise is comforting, in a way ... ;-) >>LOL! > >One tomato clown with his buddy, a green tip (in Actinic light, anyway) long tentacle anemone transplanted from my 37g FOWLR, and 1 blue damsel.  Ph 8.3, temp 77, Ammonia & Nitrate close as dammit to zero, Nitrate coming down from around 50 to around 12.5 and still falling, Red Sea Phosphate test kit shows same color as new water - very pale yellowy green, but no color that is actually on the test card! > >>If you're getting readings at all of ammonia and nitrite, then your tank is not actually cycled, it's still in the process. >I'm not. I'm sorry, I misled you: I meant that Ammonia and Nitrite are indistinguishable from 0 using the "Tetratest" test kits. >>Ok.   I had seeded the tank with very mature live rock, so cycling didn't take long, but it has definitely cycled :-) >>Great, so at least that's not a worry. >Nitrate is now WELL less than 12.5, and continuing to decrease with daily water changes. >>Even better!   > >C. sertularoides (sp?) > >>? >I meant Caulerpa Sertularoides. >>AHA! > >I added a month ago is growing amazingly fast. > >>Ok >My macro algae is also taking off like crazy - is that due to the reduced Nitrates? >>A bolting macro is telling you (like anything else, really) that it's getting all the food and good environmental conditions it needs.  It may be what's consuming your nitrates, too.  If it's pretty, your LFS may want to take some harvest in trade for store credit. > >I got a purple BGA attack a short while ago ... <clip> > >>Alright.  Although, you should know that it's more likely that your high nitrate readings could just as likely be the cause.  See here--> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm >Got it, thanks! >>You're welcome! > >The BGA is turning from purple to dark brown. Can I assume I'm winning and that it is about to collapse and will require rapid water change etc. to prevent toxic damage? > >>Not necessarily "rapid", per se, but frequent. >Yeah, frequent, that's what I meant :-) >>Ok, then we're both on the right track. >But is the change of color a meaningful indicator? >>Aaahh...interesting question.  You know, I don't have the answer for you.  As I understand it, when we see a change such as color or form, it could be indicative of the advent of a new species, or subspecies.  If anyone else on the crew has the answer to this question, please chime in! <Skimmer discussion skipped> >I stirred things up in the tank to break up the red/brown "mats" of BGA on the LR, sand, etc, after which I got "weak tea" in the skimmer for an hour or so. I'm also playing with airstone positioning on the Skilter to get the best out of it. >>Do the best you can. >Can I restate my green filamentous algae question ? Will the green hair algae go away naturally, or do I need to scrub? I do have macro algae growing quite well now, and I don't want to destroy that, but I want to get back to plenty of coralline like my other tanks. >>Well, if it's doing well as is, and you want the other macro(s) to win the upper hand, then yes, you'll have to harvest. > >Last question: Because it's a shallow tank, the actinic and regular lamps don't mix well, so I swap the lamps front to back every couple of days to hit the LR at the back and the anemone and Caulerpa in front. > >>Not sure I understand what you're saying. >I meant that whatever bulb is in back, lights up the back, what's in front, lights up the front. The tank is so shallow the light doesn't mix back to front like it would in a deeper tank. >>Ok, thanks! > >>Live rock doesn't need lighting, your anemone does.  Also, actinics aren't a necessary component of lighting, they are more for aesthetics. Look here for information on lighting--> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm >Excellent document, thanks. >>That Anthony guy surely knows his stuff.  ;) >I guess from your answer and from the link, I should just put the same lamps in front and back, but selected for the anemone, which really means forget the Actinic in favor of full spectrum, unless I upgrade to PC. I'll try to get financial approval for that ... >>LOL!!  Spoken like a true husband (or at least s.o.)!  Yes, that would be the course of action suggested.  Remember, good reflectors can do a LOT to help spread the light, too. > >It is time to replace the wide-spectrum lamp. As I eventually want to end up with a Walsh-style nano-reef with a little soft coral, should I just go to all 50/50's, or just get a 10,000K for the anemone for now, keep swapping, and change to PCs when the tank is mature?  Many Thanks! > >>What you first need to do is decide what you *really* want to keep.  Putting in animals such as soft corals and leathers in a tank (*especially* such a small tank!) with an anemone is a bad idea. >Aha - good to know. Thanks for that ! >>No problem. > >>If you want the anemone, then keep it just to that.  It could (with good husbandry) soon outgrow that 20 gallon, too.  If it does, then you move it to its own tank (50gal or larger) then you can consider the corals in the 20. >I'll put it back in the 120g I'm planning, when my ship comes in ;-) >>Great plan.  Let's hope it's one of those Princess Cruise Line ships...or better yet, a Windjammer Barefoot Cruise! >I really need to properly identify this anemone now, so I can determine its lighting needs. It is around 4-5 inches diameter, including tentacles around an inch or so long, green tipped at the ends when viewed in Actinic light, but otherwise an off-white color with pink/purple coloration in the main body and tentacles. It is paired with a tomato clown.  Could you suggest a reference site with pics?  Thanks!  Julian. >>Hhhmm...I haven't got anything more than what's on this site at the moment.  Look here--> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/anemones.htm  There are links to many and all things anemone to be found on the WetWeb.  Tanks for the update, Julian!  Marina.

BGA and Skilter adjustment questions >Hi, >>Hello! >First, thanks for opening my eyes to the depth of this hobby. Talk about enlightenment !!!   >>Indeed.  And don't hesitate to explore other sites, as well. I have a skimmer question, but vital statistics first:-20g-"long" tank, (i.e. shallow) cycled but still maturing at about 2 months old, 1/2" "live" Arag reef sand (before I knew live sand wasn't), about 15lb LR, 1 x Natural daylight 17W NO tube and 1 17W Actinic, giving around 1.5 effective W/g.  Skilter (w/Walsh mod), additional CAP200 powerhead, and temporarily a Magnum HOT for added circulation. >>Eck.. Skilter, eh? >One tomato clown with his buddy, a green tip (in Actinic light, anyway) long tentacle anemone transplanted from my 37g FOWLR, and 1 blue damsel. >Ph 8.3, temp 77, Ammonia & Nitrate close as dammit to zero, Nitrate coming down from around 50 to around 12.5 and still falling, Red Sea Phosphate test kit shows same color as new water - very pale yellowy green, but no color that is actually on the test card! >>If you're getting readings at all of ammonia and nitrite, then your tank is not actually cycled, it's still in the process.   >C. sertularoides (sp?) >>? >I added a month ago is growing amazingly fast. >>Ok >I got a purple BGA attack a short while ago (possibly because I was daft enough to use an invertebrate formula to feed tiny tubeworms that came on some LR) and am fighting that in the usual way (Caulerpa, frequent water changes to reduce Nitrates, long light cycle). >>Alright.  Although, you should know that it's more likely that your high nitrate readings could just as likely be the cause.  See here--> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm >The BGA is turning from purple to dark brown. Can I assume I'm winning and that it is about to collapse and will require rapid water change etc. to prevent toxic damage? >>Not necessarily "rapid", per se, but frequent. >Secondly, I bought the Skilter 'cos I have no money :( and I did the Tom Walsh mod on it with a Lee's wooden airstone and my old Elite 802 pump. I assume I need to keep the Skilter's own air mixer working too, because it was worthless with only the airstone. >>Not surprising. >Even with both running all I get from the Skilter is daytime white froth with a ring of only enough green gunk to stick to the lid of the collector box. >>Then you effectively have no skimmer.  Since money is an issue I suggest searching our site for (IIRC) Ananda's soda bottle skimmer.  It's ugly, but it works (from what I've gathered). >Do I run the Skilter's aerator full throttle? >>I would.  The issue with skimmers is having sufficient contact time--air bubbles in contact with the material being skimmed. >Do I need to upgrade the air pump to something more powerful? >>Why waste your money?  Save up to get a quality unit instead, in the meantime deal with your problems via water changes (though truthfully, they cost you as well). >I assume there's enough junk in the tank to feed the Cyano, but I can't get much out with the Skilter. >>Shows you what quality is, doesn't it?  LOL!!  I'm just kidding, but only a bit. >Penultimate question: will my green filament algae (came with one piece of LR from another tank) die off eventually with good husbandry? >>It could, but at this point you need to get your tank fully cycled (which, btw, could cause problems with your anemone) before you can determine what your nutrient export demands will really be.  Over-filtration is generally far better than under, however. >Last question: Because it's a shallow tank, the actinic and regular lamps don't mix well, so I swap the lamps front to back every couple of days to hit the LR at the back and the anemone and Caulerpa in front. >>Not sure I understand what you're saying.  Live rock doesn't need lighting, your anemone does.  Also, actinics aren't a necessary component of lighting, they are more for aesthetics.  Look here for information on lighting--> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm >It is time to replace the wide-spectrum lamp. As I eventually want to end up with a Walsh-style nano-reef with a little soft coral, should I just go to all 50/50's, or just get a 10,000K for the anemone for now, keep swapping, and change to PCs when the tank is mature?    Many Thanks! >>What you first need to do is decide what you *really* want to keep.  Putting in animals such as soft corals and leathers in a tank (*especially* such a small tank!) with an anemone is a bad idea.  If you want the anemone, then keep it just to that.  It could (with good husbandry) soon outgrow that 20 gallon, too.  If it does, then you move it to its own tank (50gal or larger) then you can consider the corals in the 20.  Good luck!  Marina

UV vs. Skimmer Dear Crew: What an awesome group of people and a terrific website!!!!!!!! The only downfall is you can find yourself at the computer screen for hours on end!!   Great reading.  Keep up the good work. Hoping you might answer whether I need any additional equipment. Current setup is a 150 gallon Marine Tank, 1 year old.  Fish Only. 1 Large Clown Trigger, 1 Picasso Trigger, 1 Blue Tang, 1 Sail fin Tang, 5 Yellow Tang, 1 Naso Tang, 1 Mexican Rainbow Wrasse, 12 Damsels, 2 Tomato Clowns.  All are doing very well.  Feeding Seaweed sheets, Brine Shrimp, Formula 2 and periodic Squid etc. The tank has numerous dead coral pieces.  I am cleaning the tank at least every 2-3 weeks due to the coral, powerheads, glass etc. building up with brown algae.  Bleaching and elbow grease always solves the problem.  Question?  Can the brown algae buildup be cut down with additional equipment such as a UV sterilizer or a protein skimmer?  The current equipment setup is:  @ wet/dry's (stand wouldn't accommodate one larger one) Three cabinet setup.  1 Wet/dry on each side.  2 Magnum 350's, 1 with pleated filter, 1 with carbon in the middle.  4 x-large powerheads in tank, 2 spread out on each back side of tank.  Circulation only w/ 1 bag of carbon in each powerhead strain canister.  Lot's and lot's of water movement.   After each cleaning within a day the tank is crystal clear but generally erodes within 3 weeks.  In addition to more frequent water changes (25%??)also how often? is their anyway of lowering the algae growth? PS: I have been using tap water with chlorine etc. remover.  How important is it that I start using Distilled water? Also, is there anyway of brighten up white coral?  Does it brighten more with bleach or sitting in the sun?   What is a good rule of thumb for bleaching and cleaning Dead Coral.  Thanks for any help you can provide!!  Lane   <Hey Lane, a good skimmer would definitely help in this situation, you have a heavily stocked tank and some messy fish, the skimmer will help to remove excess nutrients from the water.  Take a read over our skimmer section for more information.  The tap water could also be contributing to the algae problem, it may have a large amount of phosphates or other nutrients to help the algae grow.  Distilled water will cost you a bundle if you are doing 25% weekly water changes, you might consider looking into an RO, DI, or RO/DI unit.  I have heard good things about the Kati and Ani system from DrsFostersSmith.com. I have not had to do much coral bleaching, I'd say a good dose of bleach and water solution should take care of it, 1cup (straight bleach, no perfumes or dyes) per 5gal of water.  Maybe more bleach, be sure to give them a good rinse when done and let them dry in the sun to dissipate the bleach.  Best Regards, Gage>

Skilter produces no foam... (03/28/03) Hello, <Hi! Ananda here tonight> I have a Skilter 250, and I was wondering how much air should I be injecting into my tank??? And also I have not seen any foam in my collector cup so far, I've only had the tank running for 4 months. Is that normal??? <This is not a good skimmer by anyone's stretch of the imagination. So I'm not surprised that you haven't seen any foam. BUT, with a good skimmer, you should see foam within a day or three, or less. Unless your tank is 20 gallons or smaller, I'd upgrade to a better skimmer. (Use the Google search tool and look for "skimmer" and your tank size.) In the meantime, you can do some modifications to the Skilter to help its output. One forum member's suggestions on these pages: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=5&thread=3450 and http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=5&thread=5381, with diagrams here: http://wetwebfotos.com/Home?actionRequest=userview&userID=1222) Thank you for your time   <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Skilter 400 Protein skimmer 3/25/03 Hello, I find your site very helpful and am looking for information on the Skilter 400.   <its a novel idea... but a poor performer. I wouldn't buy one unless you are handy and willing to modify it. Aquarists had rigged ingenious modifications for this model (injecting air with an air pump into the venturi or drilling the lid and adding an extra airstone, etc)> who produces this filter Supreme?   <sort of, yes... EG Danner produces Supreme and these Skilters> do they have a site.  I am using this on a 30 gallon tall fish and invert L.R tank, it has been working well for about 3 months, but overnight we had a nitrate nitrite increase hence sick fish which we moved out to another tank, but it looks like the foam is going back over into the tank instead of up into the collection cup, any ideas?  we are using the lee's airstone instead of the bubbler that came with it <ahhh... perhaps a large part of the problem. Do purchase a limewood or basswood airstone made for premium skimmers. Bubble size is crucial for this awkward design to work at all> thanks Lauren <best regards, Anthony>

- Skimmer Upgrades - <Greetings, JasonC here...> Anyone on your team have any experience with the Red Sea Berlin Turbos? <I have some...> For about $75 I could upgrade by original Berlin classic to the Turbo version by purchasing their upgrade pump / impeller system?  Any thoughts on how much improvement that might provide? <A difference that is hard to quantify... best to just say, the upgrade would provide a noticeable improvement.> I have an oversized pump currently running the classic, and I can only get about 150 gph through the unit based on the venturi restriction...  I'm running the largest RIO  --  3100. <Perhaps too much pump - the modified impeller in the upgrade kit should churn the water a little better and maximize the affect of 150 GPH restriction.> Thanks for your thoughts. <Cheers, J -- >

Skimmers and Kent Pro tech Hi I have a 90 gallon Fish only tank. I used Kent pro tech coat to remove chlorine. This tank is a new setup". I have a LifeReef skimmer and after 10 days it is still over-reacting from the pro tech coat. Any Idea on how long it take for the pro tech to "dissolve" from my system? Would Chemi-pure remove it? Thanks for any advice Mike <This will usually dissolves within a couple of days, don't add any more chemicals to the tank.  Also make sure your skimmer is adjusted properly.  If the skimmer is adjusted properly just let it run its course. Cody>

Lighting, flow, temp, etc. Marina, Thanks for the advice!  And actually, I do have a skimmer, although admittedly not the BEST.  One of my sumps is a CPR CF194 with the built-in skimmer.  It pulls out some yucky stuff, but not as much as I'd ideally like to see.  The skimmer also has an ozonizer as well. Rich >>Very glad I could be of help.  If the skimmer is pulling a dry foam with an exceedingly nasty skimmate, then I would assume that it's doing the job for you. Marina

Getting a Skimmer To Do The Job To Bob Fenner of Scott F.  Greetings <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I have used my wife's computer so this email is being sent under her address.  I am Joe Braff. <Hi Joe, how are you today!> We have two tanks. One tank is 30 gallons with two clownfish and a Chromis.  The other tank is 60 gallons with about 40 pounds of live rock, two clownfish, a royal Gramma, and a dwarf angel fish.  Both tanks have 404 Fluval pumps with four baskets of charcoal and two baskets of BioMax.  Both tanks have a CPR reef protein backpack skimmer. <I'm sure that you mean activated, carbon, as opposed to "charcoal", right?> I have two questions. 1) How often do we need to change the charcoal in the Fluvals?  It is my understanding that charcoal no longer is effective once it become saturated with impurities.  How do we know when the charcoal is no longer absorbing impurities?  The amount of impurities should be different in each tank.  Does the charcoal in the 60 gallon tank with rock and more fish need to be changed more often than the 30 gallon tank? <Well, carbon has rather finite life span, as far as a chemical filtration media is concerned. After it loses it's absorptive properties, it will continue to function as a mechanical media. To be honest with you, I don't wait for indications that it's time to change the carbon- I just get in the habit of changing out the carbon on a regular basis (like twice monthly), and that is that! I suppose you could wait until water clarity diminishes as an indicator, but I wouldn't...just get in the habit of changing it regularly> 2)The CPR in the 30 gallon tank collects only about a half a cup or so per week and, except for right after doing a water change,  does not have as many bubbles as the CPR in the 60 gallon tank.  The cup in the 60 gallon tank needs to be empted a couple times a week.  Is there something wrong with the CPR in the smaller tank?  Is this collection amount enough for this size tank?  If the CPR is not bubbling, does this mean that there is no protein to be removed? <Well, no. It really means that the skimmer needs to be adjusted and tweaked to allow more air or water, or moved around to allow a more constant level of water. Keep on top things, and you should be able to get the skimmer to crank out a couple of cups a week of dark, yucky skimmate. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Little Teeny, Tiny Skimmers.. Dear Scott: Thank you for responding to my husband's email so quickly. <My pleasure!> We were in the midst of a brouhaha about changing the carbon; also yesterday I got so disgusted with the CPR in the small tank that I ordered an Aqua C Remora for the 60 gallon tank and we'll then move the CPR which seems to be working sort of, to the smaller tank. <You'll love the Aqua C Remora...It's the cream of the crop in H.O.T. skimmers, IMO> These CPRs are junk and cannot be tweaked beyond what we have already done. <Well, not really "junk", but they do have their limitations> I'm going to toss one snf when mein Herr sees the difference I'm sure we'll replace it too. <Unique strategy! You heard it here first, folks! LOL> Another question:  is there some kind of skimmer I can use for my acclimation tank?  I have a BioWheel and a sponge from the main tank for this 10 gallon tank, and find I need to change the water every other day, as apposed to weekly in the tanks with skimmers. <Well, not a bad habit in a quarantine tank, even if you do use a skimmer> Is there such a thing as a teeny tiny skimmer that would work in this acclimation tank:?   <Well, there are a few, inexpensive co-current protein skimmers that come to mind. Sanders makes a tiny one, called the "piccolo", which would work. Lee's and Coralife also make inexpensive units suitable for this purpose...Or, maybe you could adapt your "retired" CPR for this purpose?> Many thanks, Scott, and have a great weekend.  (You have just made my life easier!) Connie <Glad to hear that...Whatever I can do to ensure domestic tranquility is a good thing! Regards, Scott F>

Stop Those Evil Skimmer Bubbles!!  3/14/03 Hello Bob!<I'm not Bob, but some people call me Phil...> First I just want to thank you for a fabulous site. I started in marine aquaria back in high school in the late 80s... 29 gal system.. bacteria in the crushed coral substrate (back when people said sand was bad and others were recommending NO substrate with Bioball external filter).. That went along ok though I was still rather green to it all and finally sold it when I started college.. A few months ago my friend was starting college and GAVE me his system...<For free... wow a nice friend!> 60 Gallon Glass Tank and wood stand AquaMedic Turboflotor 1000 in a 20 gal. sump<IMO, not a very good skimmer> Two powerheads in the tank for current over the reef.<Probably going to want more water movement> 80lbs of live Fiji rock 1/2 - 1" live sand bottom brain coral frogspawn coral Rust collared mushroom rock two types of macro algae Sailfin Tang and a few hermits<Going to need a bigger tank for the Tang, over 125g> Due to the fact that I live in NE Mississippi where there are no stores close by to BUY anything, I have to do everything mail order.  Now I know I shouldn't have cause of the bio load, but I had to buy all my fish and verts at the same time or the overnight shipping charges would have killed me just buying a few things at a time. I used your site extensively for vert and fish compatibility and had to change what I wanted several times in order for life to coexist somewhat peacefully (my flame angel chases my Firefish every once in a while, just for sport I think! hehe).  So here is what I added. 1 flame angel  3"<Watch him, he may nip at corals> 2 aquacultured false perculas  1 1/2" (I try for aquacultured when I can find em) 2 Firefish 2 1/2" 1 cleaner shrimp 1 blood shrimp blue leg, left handed and scarlet reef hermits (20 total) red serpent star 10 Astrea snails 5 Cerith snails 1 medium sized green torch coral<One of my favorite corals.. it was my first coral that I got> Due to the quick jump in bio load I did a partial water change each week for the first three weeks and all my levels stayed down cept for the nitrates which went up to 80.. but are now down to about 40.<Ouch 40.. double ouch for 80.  Am glad there coming back down> Current levels are: Calcium : 490 DKH : 11 PH : 8.2 Ammonia : 0 Nitrite : 0 Nitrate : 40<Lets get this down to zip> Salinity 1.245 Dosing with Kent Stront/molyb, calcium and SuperBuffer along with CombiSan and Marine Snow feeding a mix of Nutrafin Max flake, Nutrafin Spirulina flake, Tubifex, minced freeze dried krill and frozen Mysis shrimp.<Lucky fish!> The only casualty I had was the red serpent started loosing little pieces of his legs each day. I'd didn't look like anyone was picking on him, but after he got in real bad shape the hermits laid into him. I tried to rescue him by putting him in the sump but to no avail.  I'm still puzzled as to what happened to him.  The blood shrimp has molted twice in the last two months, and since I've had that tank the live rock is showing things that weren't living when my friend was running it. Three rocks have sprung purple colored mushrooms and other rock is covered in some small polyps. All in all I think the tank is showing very well with a good mix of algae growing including red and purple coralline algae. Any clue what could have caused the demise of the starfish?<When you added him, how slowly was the acclamation process?  If it was too fast, he might have gone into shock.> also, I noticed every once in a while after dosing the tank, It seems some of the live rock bleaches in spots.  White showing through in very small patches, but algae seems to regrow over that area in a week or so. Well I would not have had the success with this tank that I have had without the knowledge presented on your site.<Could be from a high amount of dosed matter "touched" one spot of the live rock. I've had this happen before.>So Id like to give a little back :) My one big problem was a severe amount of bubbles entering the tank from the Turboflotor. It has some age on it and would not work consistently with the air intake.  So to fix this (cleaning and all other routes did not work), I hooked up an air pump and valve system to regular air to the skimmer. Now it works great, but as others have noticed with some of these, you get a TON of tiny bubbles.  It looked like it was snowing in my tank, and well we don't want to over oxygenate the water now do we. I searched your site about it and although several ideas were presented, none were that easy or complete a solution... so.. I have one for you (thanks to my engineering degree and a love of ice cream).  The system works great and you get a little added filtration as well. Supplies Needed 1 gallon ice cream pail with the lid (I think fish seem to prefer chocolate) 1 sharp box cutter or utility knife several PVC joint fittings one huge nail and a hammer or a hole punch 1 bag filter pad (I used Marineland rite-size bonded filter pad.. the blue stuff) 1 bag filter fiber carbon and 2 carbon bags 2 suction cups First clean your ice cream pail and trim the lid so it fits neatly inside the pail. About 2 inches from the bottom, start cutting slots in the side of the pail. I made mine about 3/4" tall and about 1 1/2" long... spacing them about 2-3 inches apart as I went around the pail. Next, take the lid and punch it full of holes.  I put maybe 100 holes in mine real quick with a big huge nail.  You want enough holes for the water to run through the lid easily. Next take the fittings (I used these just cause I had them laying around) and put them in the bottom of the pail, then put the lid down on top of it. You want the fittings or other objects at the bottom, to keep the lid above the TOP of the slots you cut.  This creates a reservoir for the water coming down, which then spills out of the slots and into your sump. Above the lid, place one layer of blue filter pad (I cut mine in a perfect circle for the ice cream pail). Next lay down about two layers of filter fiber for some extra cleaning ability.  On top of that, take your two filled carbon bags and lay them out.  Above the carbon, lay two more layers of the blue filter pad.  This filled the pail almost to the top for me.  On one side make two small holes and attach the suction cups to hold it to the wall of your sump. Now its IMPORTANT that when you place it in the sump, the slots are ABOVE the max waterline for the sump, as to allow the water to freely and easily exit your new bubble trap/filter. Just direct your outflow pipes so the water is discharging into the pail and there you go. No more bubbles.  About once a month its a good idea to remove the filter fiber as it starts to get filled up and slows the water flow down.  If you notice your pail overflowing at the top, its time to change the filter fiber.  The bonded filter pad though shouldn't need changed. This has worked great and no bubbles seem to escape it.  Much easier than building baffles and all that other stuff. I think it took me no more than 25 minutes to make it. I've attached a small drawing of it and hope this is able to help others. Sincerely, Johnny Parks<Thanks for the info on stopping bubbles!  Your drawing didn't come through.. can you resend it?  Good luck w/ your tank.  Hope this helps!  Phil>

Overactive skimmer Hey guys, how is everyone? <Good tonight, thanks for asking> Anyway I have one quick question, I have newly set up 100gal tank with about 30lbs of live rock, and I'm planning to add about 80-100lbs of live rock some time next week.   My problem is that I added stress zyme when I first started about 2 weeks ago and my skimmer has been going nuts ever since.   The skimmer is a euro reef 6-2 and it just keeps overflowing. <Yes, common with these types products>   My question is this should I do a water change to calm it down or will adding carbon be enough? <You can, but waiting would work as well.>   also any other ideas how to bring it back to normal. <Depends on how much of the stuff you added and how much volume you have.>   My water chemistry seems to be in order. It just seems that things are not getting better with time. <I would give more time> Thank you for your time and any ideas. <Your welcome, Don> Pawel S

Skimmer disaster! Man found floating in his own tank - 3/10/03 Hi folks! <Hi Ben. Sorry for the delay. Ben? BEN?!!!>    I have a serious problem right now. When I was doing my skimmer maintenance I tripped and spilled the entire content of the collection cup on my living room carpet! <Maaaaaaaaan!> The carpet cleaning machine got almost all the stain out, <Cool. OXYclean to the rescue!>  but the rotten egg smell still remains. <Sure that wasn't you? <G>> How might I clean it up? <Well, this is not a question I expected. The best way to beat the smell might be time. Open the windows, spray some Fabreeze, and kiss your a** goodbye?> It is 8pm now. <OOOOPS. Sorry for the delay.> My wife will be home at midnight. <Ben.....Are you there?> I would appreciate any experienced input. <I think I am not exactly the most experienced in this area but honestly, just do what you would if a cat marked or some other animal urinated or defecated in the house (if you have animals of that sort) Try, Fabreeze and or OXYclean to finish off the lingering effects. So, I hope you are not dead, and let us know what you ended up doing! Again, sorry for the delay>      thanks,       Ben (a.k.a. dead at 12:01)

Re: Skimmer Thank you. I've tried some adjustments, and a wipe of the cup, and overnight the skimmer is skimming. The foam seems quite stable (I understand this is good) and the skimmate, while not a thick gunk (I could never get that from my very noisy Bak Pak2) it is a brown liquid, rather than a light tan.  <Very good to hear. Thank you for the follow up, Cody! >

Seriously smelly trouble (03/07/03) Hi folks! <Hi, Ananda here on a Friday night...yep, I have no life...oh, wait, I have fish!> I have a serious problem right now. When I was doing my skimmer maintenance I tripped and spilled the entire content of the collection cup on my living room carpet! <Gack!> The carpet cleaning machine got almost all the stain out, but the rotten egg smell still remains. How might I clean it up? It is 8pm now. My wife will be home at midnight. <I hope you're not on Eastern time, or this is gonna be a bit late...> I would appreciate any experienced input. <How about some not-experienced-with-this-problem-but-I'm-here input? I'd suggest wetting the stain with hydrogen peroxide -- test on an inconspicuous corner of the carpet first to make sure it doesn't remove color from the carpet! Then blot and liberally cover the stain with baking soda. Use a scrub brush and really work it into the carpet fibers. Let it dry, if you have time, and then go over it with the carpet cleaning machine again.> thanks, Ben (a.k.a. dead at 12:01) <Hope this helps... --Ananda>

Skimmer pump? Thanks again. . .one more question.  Could I use my Mag 9.5 to run my Aqua C EV180 protein skimmer if I go with a Mag 24 or Iwaki as the main pump?  Thanks. <I would double check the pump size(s) needed for your Aqua-C. If the 9.5 is a bit much you can use a valve (on the outlet) to throttle it back to the required flow. Our sponsors that carry Aqua-C also have them presented with a choice of appropriate pumps. I would look at the pumps they sell with the 180 to see if your 9.5 will work. (oversize a bit is fine w/valve.) Hope this helps!  Craig>

Super Charging The Aqua C Urchin Skimmer! In response to Scott F's helpful reply to my question "Sump + skimmer (Urchin Pro) with single pump?", I also heard back from Jason Kim at AquaC, as follows.... "Bruce: Thanks for the message, your idea sounds fine and we do have a number of customers who run their Urchin/Urchin Pros exactly in this manner.  The main problem you will face is finding a suitable pump that will be able to provide the right flow rates and also adjusting the flow correctly once everything is set up. The skimmer is going to run best when provided with a flow of 300-500 gph unrestricted.  This is a wide range, but since you are going to the trouble of doing this yourself I figure you might as well beef up the flow rate and get better results.  In other words, a flow of 300 gph will give you Mag 3 level of performance.  If you move towards 500 gph, you are talking Mag 5 performance which is 30-50% stronger.  The Urchin Pro will yield excellent results at this level. In sizing the pump... If you want 500 gph of actual flow back to the tank, you will need to find a pump that produces 500 gph at however many feet of head there are from the sump to the tank, plus the 300-500 gph unrestricted (no feet of head) for the skimmer.  An example of such a pump would be something like the Iwaki 40RLT (which is even a bit more powerful than that) or the "Quiet One" pump. If you didn't need as much flow back to the tank, which is probably the case, you could get away with something like the Iwaki 30RLT or equivalent.  There are a host of submersible pumps that would also fit the bill, but it sounds like you want to avoid those.  I mention the Iwakis since they are easy to find, very high quality, and it is easy to find flow rate info on them.  There are, however, many other external pumps that would certainly work... On your other question, the water outflow from the skimmer is simply a square hole that is milled into the side of the unit.  Water "cascades" out this hole and down the skimmer body.  If you butted the skimmer up to a baffle directly, the majority of the water flow should travel on to the next compartment, and you would have little or no flow that ends up back in the same compartment as the skimmer.  This really wouldn't be an issue, so it should work just fine. You will need a couple of high-quality ball- or gate-valves on the output of the pump so that you can control the flow to the skimmer and tank...  this should be relatively easy to do, it will just take some experimentation once you get everything set up to find out how to divide the flow rates. Let me know if you have any other questions and I can help out!" Jason Kim, President, AquaC, Inc. http://www.proteinskimmer.com <That Jason Kim is an alright guy, huh? He knows his stuff, folks- THAT is one reason why we recommend his products so often...> Scott, your comment about needing to concentrate raw, protein-laden SURFACE water into the sump skimmer is indeed a potential weakness in my single-pump sump design; the two big overflows at the top of the main tank are intended to address that need. <Yep- surface overflows will do the job> Also, my sump will not include ANY mechanical filtration (except in emergency), although it will admittedly contain live-rock rubble to provide some  nitrogen-processing. <Good idea, IMO> On that subject, one last question.... Am I right in assuming that live rock in a total-darkness sump still helps water quality in the main tank? At a minimum, total darkness seems a low-tech way to kill off unwanted green algae on live rock without losing the beneficial bacteria inside. Yes? No? <Well, yes- the bacteria should still do the job, even in darkness. You still need to obey all standard rules of tank maintenance, etc, to keep things humming- but this should be fine> THANKS AGAIN! - Bruce Mewhinney P.S. - I'll take pictures and document results of this skimmer/sump/single-pump setup. <And thanks for sharing Jason's response, Bruce...Sharing is what this site is all about! Regards, Scott F>

Skimmer Questions  3/5/03 Phil,<Hey Rick> I've got the live rock and skimmer in the tank and the Fluval filter is up and running.<Good good good> Should I be running the skimmer all the time during the cycling process?<Yup, my rule is as soon as the salt is added to the aquarium the skimmer should be running.> I also seem to be getting micro bubbles coming from the outflow elbow on the Bak Pak skimmer is there anything I can do to diminish this?<As far as I know the only way to stop this is to buy the "bubble trap" that CPR sells.  I remember hearing once, that a guy put a small piece of sponge in the outlet.  It stopped most of the bubbles.  But I've never seen/heard about this since.> Once again thanks for the advice.<No problem, hope this helps!  Phil>

Skimmer Setup And Sump Configuration Dear WWM Wetheads: <That has a much nicer connotation than "Dead Head", huh? Scott F your "Wethead" tonight!> I'm planning a saltwater 75-gallon-tank+20-gallon-sump setup that I'm trying to keep technically simple, both to minimize electrical requirements and to simplify maintenance (the usual Holy Grails, in other words). <Yep- nothing unusual here! LOL> In my case, I plan to run a SKIMMER-ONLY "reef" tank+sump, heavy on the live sand+rock, with only rare use of a filter system. No macroalgae, sump illumination, wet/dry filters, bioballs, GPS, ABS, fender-skirts, and so on. <Ahh...a "stripped down" version, huh?> Well, probably a float-valve to add distilled water as needed. <Well- you have to make some concessions to practicality, huh?> I intend to use an AquaC "Urchin Pro" skimmer. My understanding so far is that the sump would normally have one downstream external pump returning water back up to the display tank, and separately the dedicated, smaller pump submerged on the in-sump Urchin Pro. MY QUESTION: is it possible to set up an Urchin Pro with just ONE (presumably oversize) external pump simultaneously powering the skimmer and also circulating water back up to the display tank? <Interesting idea...but I'm not sure if that will work...> There are several obvious risks (like under- or over-pressurizing the skimmer). Have you seen such a setup work? <No, I can't say that I have...I'd contact Aqua C, and talk to the owner, Jason Kim. He's a great guy, and is always eager to help his customers...Maybe he has tested the Urchin in such a manner...The web site address for Aqua C is www.proteinskimmer.com  I'm sure that Jason could help you here...> My instinct is that, with variable or self-regulating(?) valves, the output flow from a more-powerful external (not submerged) pump could be split into, for example, 20% for the skimmer and 80% for return to the display tank. The obvious question here becomes "Why put the skimmer within the sump at all if it no longer gets its water input from a submerged pump at its base?" Probable answers: no-brainer direct outflow of water from skimmer back into sump; better sound/vibration muffling; safer setup in case of leaks/spills; less space occupied by machinery under tank. <Probably all of the above...However, there are many skimmers that are designed to be located in the sump that get their water from a dedicated pump, which draws water from...the sump!> My projected plumbing setup would have: dual rear overflows in the display tank (no siphons, just wide slotted boxes and two 1.5" bulkhead drains at surface level), <May be kinda noisy...but should work fine...> with flow directed down to the skimmer's small compartment #1 in sump; then overflow from compartment #1 would move to larger compartment #2 (containing live-rock & rubble, intake+return for hang-on filter, and well-protected large intake leading to external pump). The external pump would send most of its output up to the display tank, and a much smaller flow to the skimmer input. <Ahh...here's the problem...A skimmer needs to receive its source water directly from the aquarium itself...raw, "unprocessed" water contains the most organic material for the skimmer to work with. If you supply the skimmer form the final compartment (i.e.; the return to the tank), the water has been "processed", and much of the organic material that the skimmer could have removed has been dispersed throughout the sump, and back into the tank...Not too efficient, IMO> My assumption is that I could direct the skimmer's output flow so that it falls entirely into compartment #2. Note that the skimmer's input would not come from where it sits in sump compartment #1, but from water which has passed through compartments #1 and #2 and then the external pump; however, that water would almost never be "filtered" before skimming. <Well, I think that it would...remember, a proper skimmer setup draws from the top inch or so of the aquarium, where most organics are present...by letting the water circulate within the sump before it's fed to the skimmer, you've essentially "processed" the water, as outlined above.> I can easily imagine doing this setup with down-draft/airstone or venturi skimmers, but I'd prefer instead to hook up an AquaC Urchin Pro in my sump (very efficient, quieter, doesn't need air-pump, tiny footprint, low maintenance, etc, etc....). The AquaC skimmers just need pressurized incoming water to run their "spray induction" systems. <Yep- great products...they do the job!> I have Cc'ed the AquaC folks in case they see good reason to shoot this fantasy before takeoff (or maybe they're game and will sell the Urchin Pro with a recommended external pump instead of the "stock" submerged Rio or Mag?). I will forward to you any input I get from them. Thanks in advance!! Bruce Mewhinney <Yep- see what Jason has to say...Should be of interest to our readers! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Noisy Red Sea Prizm Skimmer on a 50G tank Does anyone know if this thing is always this loud?  I mean honestly it sounds like a pepper grinder sitting on the back of my tank.  What other skimmer would YOU recommend in it's place I have a 50 gal. tank and am looking for a skimmer preferably something in the same price range ;-). <Don't have any direct experience with this skimmer, but I am sure you can post a message over on the WetWebMedia forums at http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk and get a response from someone who has. See here for suggestions on skimmers made by the crew here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimbestof.htm. Hope this helps, Don> TIA

- Help with Turboflotor Modifications - I looked through the FAQs on your website, and I saw several recommendations to upgrade the pump on the Turboflotor 1000/Multi to an Eheim 1060.  I followed the FAQs as best I could, but I'm having a problem.  I have the pump on the outside of my sump.  There's a 1" vinyl tube that goes from the pump to the water in the sump. <Through a bulkhead, yes?> I rigged a "tee" on the submersed part of the 1" tube.  I then connect another 1" tube that sticks out of the water to the "tee".  I put a valve to control the air flow on the end of the tube outside of the water.  I put a 3/4" tube from the output of the pump to the skimmer.  The problem is that there is too much water flow through the skimmer. <You may need to put a valve on the output side of the pump.> It's filling up the cup with clear water in a matter of seconds. The out flow of the skimmer is opened all the way.  No air is being pulled through the valve even though it is fully open. <You might want to experiment with the placement of the T-fitting - I'm assuming here this is what you are using for the air...> Can you help?  I don't have much experience doing this, so I may be overlooking something really stupid. Thanks. <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 -- >

The Great Skimmer Debate.. 2/22/03 Hey Bob and folks,<Hey there!  Phil answering some questions this morning!>

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