Protien skimmers, an essential piece of equipment

aresgod

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Jan 14, 2004
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#1
ok here we go,

Protein skimming, also know as foam fractionation is a mechanical form of filtration. The idea behind protein skimming is fairly simply, many organic and inorganic substances(all that nasty stuff that collects in the collection cup) are naturally atracted to the interface between water and gas(air).
All a protein skimmer does is create a large interface area between air and water by producing all those little bubbles we see inside our skimmers when they are operating properly. The bubbles will rise naturally, with the atracted protiens attached to the microbubbles. The bubbles will rise to the top of the funnel and then burst releasing the liquid wastes into the collection cup. Some "studies have indicated that upto 80% of organics in an aquarium can be removed by an effiecient skimmer"(Dakin, 28). Skimmers can however have a negative effect when adding medacations to an aquarium because it will remove the majority of what is added to a tank.

KINDS OF PROTEIN SKIMMERS

There are three basic designs, the direct-current, counter-current and powered venturi skimmer. They all operate on the same ideas mentioned earlier, they just go about achieving the results differently. Some people believe one design is more effiecient than others, but that is something that I will adress later.
Direct Current- this is a basic skimmer design that involves and airstone placed inside a skimmer with the water from the aquarium passing over the bubbles in the same direction, this method however allows very little contact time for air bubbles and the water because the water and air bubbles are traveling in the same direction.
COUNTER-CURRENT- is similiar in design to the direct current except the water flows in the oposite direction of the airbubbles generated by the airstone, allowing a longer contact time, allowing more wastes to attach themselves.
Venturi Skimmer-
"Venturi air-injection was the next big technological development in the evolution of marine aquarium protein skimmers. A venturi is a specially designed piece of plumbing with a profile that resembles an inverted "T". Water is forced through at high velocity, which causes a low-pressure suction on the open stem (top) of the inverted T and draws air in. You may have noticed this feature on powerhead water pumps. In this application, venturis are used to inject air into their water stream to aid in oxygenation. In this application they are rather crude devices, but you get the picture. Protein skimmer venturi valves, however, are high precision instruments engineered to produce a very fine-sized air bubble. The better ones also come with a threaded needle control valve for fine-tuning the amount of air injected into the skimmer"(Steven Pro) I just used Steven's deffinition of Venturi, it was simple and illustrated the advantages of Venturi skimmer, and honestly I don't think I could do better.

Hopefully this helped with your understanding of what a skimmer is, how they work, and how essential they are to this hobby. I am also going to include a section in this post for people to post what skimmers they have used, and their experiences with them.
Brahm

oh yea and feel free to correct and add to these definitions

also we can start a poll to see what skimmers everyone uses, but i will do it later, im late for class
 

S.Reef

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Dec 1, 2003
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#6
Any practical size tank should have a protein skimmer-3 gallon nanos with skimmers are ridiculous. For a 55 gallon tank I would get a backpak skimmer.
 

Henry22

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Oct 5, 2004
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#7
I have a 20 gallon i set up four days ago and just put in 10 1/2 lbs of mixed live rock from base to fiji and after the tank establishes itself and after i add the cleanup crew and 2-3 fish i might upgrade my lighting and try a coral or two, is a protein skimmer needed. I also plan to get 10 more lbs of lr before i add anything
Thanks
 

aresgod

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a 20 is kind of border line, if it is lightly stocked and your diligent about water changes then it shouldnt be necessary, but if your lazy and/or want to stock on the heavier side then I would recomend getting one
 

Managuense

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May 16, 2003
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#10
just my 2 cents - i feel that plankton strippers are completely unnecessary on most salt systems provided that weekly dilutions are made as a form of nutrient export.

skimmers, reactors, etc. IMO are ridiculously overpriced devices simply designed to circumvent simple routine maintenance.

think of how much RO water and salt mix you can purchase for the price of an aqua-c or a a bak-pak.

the prescence of "nasty stuff" in the collection cup provides little evidence that anything beneficial is being done, since many dissolved organic compounds are vital to many systems, particulary reef systems.

that being said, cpr bak-paks and aqua-c's are excellent at what they do.

good article at any rate:)
M
 

wayne

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Oct 22, 2002
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#12
Managuense, I think you're right to about 30 gallons, but above that I tihnk you're wrong, skimmers become a very useful, if not quite essential tool in maintaining water quality.
Weekly dilutions are a great idea, but chaning 10% a week on an average 55 gallon tank is just not going to do it. I change 50% on my nano at least once a week as that is possible. Do I believe that's realistic for a 120 gallon tank? No I do not. But if it's a reef with a couple of decent sized fish, and a small bunch of anthias or whatever, it might be necessary. Actually reefs may be able to develop other ways of nutrient export (though overstocking as is normal will be a problem for many of these systems) but the real problems come with FOWLR and Fish only. These tanks frequently contain gross (in every sense of the word) amounts of dissolved organics that have to be handled some way. The protein skimmer is a very effective way of removing organics before they start to hammer on your biofiltration, or just become algae food.
I know full well how much salt you can buy for the price of a decent skimmer - and I know how quickly you'll use it up as well, and the maths don't work in favour of the salt in the long run. But to base your maths around 5 gallon changes, or 10% on a 55 is not realistic.

I am the king of water changes. I was not slightly bothered by the labour required to do biweekly 25% on my tropheus and discus, and frankly often did more than that. If I was keeping those fish again I'd plumb them into the mains. But I don't think that it's terribly practical to run a decent marine system sans skimmer, and to expect an easy time of it.
And before we go to that discussion I am fully aware of Jauberts systems, Adeys work (theoretically great , doesn't work in practice)and the ecosystem method.
 

Managuense

Superstar Fish
May 16, 2003
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#13
that's cool bro, disagreement makes the forum fun (especially since i RARELY post much these days) :)

that problem i find with "skimmer pushers" is that it is still relatively unknown exactly how much skimming (and i mean EFFECTIVE skimming) will actually lower measurable DOC's such as nitrates, or phosphates, etc.

I know many people who, after removing their skimmers, find that their coral grows at a seemingly higher rate.....obviously still with the use of carbon on occasion.

on a system with plenty of good LR (with anoxic conditions existing) it seems that nitrates are of no noticable difference with or without skimming.

what is your experience with this?

interesting science behind this.......even if i am way off my rocker :)
M
 

wayne

Elite Fish
Oct 22, 2002
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#14
Oh effective skimming can remove a ton of stuff, you just need to look at the skimmate.
I would agree that many people seem to do better when they turn their skimmer off, there are also a lot of people, especially non reef people who do much better when they get a skimmer.

Do not mix up DOC's with nitrate/phosphate. Skimmers do NOT DIRECTLY remove nitrate phosphate, what they do is remove organics BEFORE they mineralise to these non organic compounds. By lightning on the load on the biofilt, they can allow the biofilt to do a better job on the mineral products that are left.

My experience with low nitrates/ high nitrates on skimmed/ unskimmed systems is that it is perfectly possible but not on an average system. As the rate of oxidative processes in an aquarium will generally be far higher than reductive (it' s the enviroment, essentially oxidative) I feel it unlikely that nitrates will not reduce themselves out withour something actively removing them, be it a dsb, or a bio influence (Caulerpa, clams, fast growing stonies) whatever. This was the bane of the Live rock only 'Berlin system' in it's true form.

You should look at the skimmers on a farm system. Typically these are big air blown olde worlde units, and you would be astonished at how much kak they can lift off what are essentially low bioload systems.

I would agree you can overskim systems, however the effects are usually less dire than underskimming/cleaning,

I have no greal 'love' for skimmers, but they are damn good at doing a job.

More tomorrow
 

dbarrs

New Fish
Dec 30, 2005
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#15
Hello everyone I am a newbee at this and I wandering if there is a way to build my own skimmer or should I purchase a new one. Also I was told to use ocean water in my tank instead of the salt mix. Can someone let me know which way to go. Thanks.
 

wayne

Elite Fish
Oct 22, 2002
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#16
Yes you can d.i.y., but if you have never diy'ed it is not the easiest to build, adjust.

Unless you live somewhere with pristine ocean water mix your own
 

dbarrs

New Fish
Dec 30, 2005
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#17
I have a 125 and I have been drug though the mug on prices for things that I don't need. I spoke with a local supplier and he said live rock and a protien skimmer would be enough. Is he correct.
 

shwnicus

Large Fish
Feb 22, 2006
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#19
welcome!

there are LOTS of th DIY skimmer plans to be found on the web, some good, some not so good, very view will perform as well as a quality commercial brand like the remora (read the review article above). I think it depends on the size tank your are using and what you bio-load is.

as for the ocean water, I think that depends on your source of it. for example, I'd avoid it if you live in southern Louisiana. knowing what we dump in the Mississippi here in Missouri, I wouldn't want traces of that in my tank ;)
that said, I know there are some in here that do use ocean water, hopefully they'll chime in.

as for the arguement about the necessity of a skimmer: I hate to be devil's advocate here, but I think its largely situacional and dependant on your tank size, its bioload, and your maintanence level. as much as I REALLY want one for my 20 gal, its problably not necessary as I am religious on weekly water changes. Its not that the skimmer wouldn't produce foam, I'm sure it would, but that the price of the skimmer would not out perform the organic removal of my water changes. the need for a skimmer also is going to be effected by the life in the tank. some things need those proteins to filter for food, some find those organics toxic. and again, it (the skimmer) will not lower levels of the big 3 (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) but will lower the concentration of chemicals that degrade into or that bacteria can eat and thereby produce the big 3. you really just need to know your tank life and find that critical balance between nutrition and toxin. ideally, the skimmer removes not all organics, just the excess. I have read the argument repeatly about "dirty" water causing corals to grow better. seems like an off argument to me. after all, if you over-feed your dog, it bets bigger (fatter) but thats not exactly a good thing is it? :eek: same thing here, its finding that balance thats important. the skimmer is an efficient tool to helping you find that in your tank.

and as someone else said, if you think I'm off my rocker, please chime in! thats what forums are for :D

dbarrs said:
Hello everyone I am a newbee at this and I wandering if there is a way to build my own skimmer or should I purchase a new one. Also I was told to use ocean water in my tank instead of the salt mix. Can someone let me know which way to go. Thanks.
 

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