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View Full Version : A store told me no skimmer needed?


Tofat
12/18/2009, 10:33 PM
Hi, my name is Izzy. I again am kind of new to SW tanks, and new to the RC. I live in Florida and go to about three stores for advice on what I need to have and do for my sixty five gallon SW tank. I am really into using products that will give my soon to be new family members (Fish and Coral haha) a good quality environment. Meaning I do not mind chucking out the money for equipment, but I also have other things I need to spend money on. I am for one, not happy with the three stores I go to, since none of them agree on almost anything each one preaches. So now the big question is to have or not to have a [U]Protien skimmer. [U] I have one store telling to put the biggest one I can buy in my sump. The other store says just put one that can just do up to your tank size. The last store says dont put a Protein skimmer in your tank cause we do not even use one.! :sad2: ! That is my face of confusion and frustration on what to do. Now these stores are successful stores ironically, and a lot of people go to these stores. I love that I joined the RC because I know that here you guys will give me the best advice :dance::bounce3:. So now do I need a protein skimmer? If I do why? Please enlighten me, and give me the facts that prove if I do or do not need one. Also if I do what is a good size and brand to look up? .Thank you for just reading and even more thanks for your advice. :bounce3::bounce3::dance::bounce3::bounce3:

corigan
12/18/2009, 10:52 PM
Welcome to the forum. IMHO I would never run a tank without a skimmer. They are also usually rated improperly. A big skimmer as the one the store suggested would be the best bet IMHO.

steevareno2002
12/18/2009, 10:55 PM
A protein skimmer is the heart of any saltwater aquarium IMO...It removes disolved organics before they have a chance to potentially pollute your tank. It oxygenates the water too. The guy that said you don't need one probably wated to sell you the miracle mud refugium system to export nutrients. Go with a skimmer, the bigger the better. Needlewheel pumps are the ones that I would look at if I were you. I like Octopus because they give you good performance for not alot of money. I think Vertex are another good choice and there are plenty more that will skim your tank well. HTH...

stealle
12/18/2009, 11:04 PM
Welcome to RC!!!

I think you will find most people recommending a large skimmer. Usually one rated for about twice your tank size. So for your 65 gallon, I would look for a skimmer rated for at least 100 gallon or better yet 150 gallon.

There are some nice looking tanks without protein skimmers. Usually those have large refugiums and/or deep sand beds for nutrient export. However, the norm is to use a protein skimmer.

Good advice from a LFS is a rare gem in my opinion. I quit asking for advice from my LFS. I have some good books, I read a lot of articles from reefkeeping.com and some others. Also, here on RC you will find that most people have a similar opinion when it comes to the basics of reef keeping. I think you can find some of the best advice right here.

This thread is probably most appropriate for the "new to the hobby" forum. You might want to check out some of the info in that forum. Good Luck!

kaiserkid
12/18/2009, 11:27 PM
I agree that you should most definitely run a protein skimmer. As far as the size goes, well that depends on the bioload you are planning on having. Putting a skimmer rated for a 220 gallon on a 65 would be overkill. On the other hand putting a skimmer rated for a 15 gallon nano on a 65 (while better than nothing I suppose) would not be advised either.

My recommendation is to do your best to plan your bioload. If it is going to be light then getting a skimmer rated for your size tank (not under) will do fine. If you are planning on stocking heavy or have a tendency to over feed, then step the skimmer up a bit. If you are not sure it would be best to err on the side of caution and go a little bigger.

As far as why do you need a protein skimmer in the first place? I'm not sure exactly how much detail you are looking for so here is a little (very little) to get you started. If you need/want more information on it or anything else we (Reef Central addicts) will be happy to help you out.

*Disclaimer - I am sure I am not using all the correct terminology here.*

Protein skimmers clean the water by removing particulate matter from the water column. Air is "chopped" up into micro-bubbles and injected into a reaction chamber. As the micro-bubbles rise organic matter sticks to the surface of the bubbles and is deposited in a collection cup on the top of the skimmer as the bubbles pop. This "skimmate" is what you will be dumping out.

The reason for all of this is to remove as much organic matter (detritus, excess food, etc...) before it begins to break down.

As organic matter breaks down it turns into Ammonia (bad for fish), then aerobic bacteria converts it into nitrites and nitrates (bad for inverts), from there anaerobic bacteria convert the nitrates into nitrogen gasses which harmlessly leave the tank. The amount of each of these types of bacteria depends on the depth of your sand bed and the amount of surface area you have for them (rocks, bio balls, etc...).

*Second disclaimer - Talking, posting, or even thinking about the use of bio-balls in a reef tank can subject you to endless hours of debates about "nitrate factories". Ponder and post at your own risk. :lolspin:

BigMike75
12/18/2009, 11:38 PM
<img src="/images/welcome.gif" width="500" height="62"><br><b><i><big><big>To Reef Central</b></i></big></big>

A protein skimmer is a good thing to run. Some people do it without one but you have to do alot more work.

tkeracer619
12/19/2009, 01:13 AM
The skimmers that come with sumps are horrible at best. Stay away from that crap at all costs.

For your tank there are several budget skimmers that will perform great.

Here are a few to look at that will actually give you your monies worth.

http://www.aquacave.com/reef-octopus-nwb-150-br-needle-wheel-protein-br-skimmer-749.html

http://www.marinesolutionsinc.com/catalog/Protein-Skimmers-MSX-Skimmers/c22_48/p131/MSX160/product_info.html

Make sure you have enough flow in the tank to keep particles suspended so the skimmer can remove it.

Colione
12/19/2009, 01:24 AM
I definitely advise going with a skimmer, but there are a lot of people who run beautiful tanks skimmerless, they usually do a lot of things differently, so I would read up on their threads.

Just do a search for 'skimmerless' and see what is working for them. I would say that is usually reserved for experience reefers, but go be educated about it!

McCrary
12/19/2009, 01:41 AM
The reef octopus tkeracer619 recommended is a decent skimmer, a good value and completely affordable.

I have seen successful tanks run without skimmers before, it is very hard to do. The system has to be meticulously managed and the parameters stringently controlled.

A fish store may not have a skimmer on a single tank, but to recommend a tank without a skimmer to an individual new to this hobby is foolish and the fish store may best be avoided in the future.

Any skimmer rated for around 200 gallons will be fine for your system. People new to this hobby overfeed and overstock and a skimmer rated for well above your system is going to be crucial for your long-term success.


Make sure you have enough flow in the tank to keep particles suspended so the skimmer can remove it.
Flow is very important, but dissolved organic compounds (DOC)'s are really what skimmer's remove. A good skimmer and large, consistent water changes can go a long way to being successful in this hobby.

PaxRoma
12/19/2009, 01:53 AM
welcome!
as you do more research, you'll find out that there're many ways to a successful tank. I am one of the very few on RC that think protein skimmer is an accessory rather than necessity. I use mud filter in place of PS, have my skimmer only on 5% of its capacity and only for 3hrs/day. I believe this has help me raise 1 very beautiful goniopora, nutured 1 back to life, and a population of fat fishes. Please browse through my other posts if you would like more info.
I am planning to post my tank pictures when the time comes (the time when most people say goniopora wither away) :p
I don't think my tank is very hard to maintain. I do maintenance just like everyone else (weekly test, monthly water change, etc)

McCrary
12/19/2009, 05:46 AM
I am one of the very few on RC that think protein skimmer is an accessory rather than necessity.

A protein skimmer is a necessity, if and when enough experience is gained to break this rule you won't be asking this type of question here anyway.

From personal experience I can tell you that a good, productive skimmer and consistent water changes will do wonders for your system and can be the difference between success and failure. I have seen professional systems that ran for years crash, simply because fundamentals were put aside. It is easy to bend or break rules when a system is running smoothly. But the same rules that were so easily cast aside while the system was successful are suddenly reintroduced at the first sign of trouble. Sometimes the reefer is experienced enough and the system recovers. Sometimes the system can't recover and the domino effect of nutrient imbalance implodes the system and it crashes. It is generally better to be safe than sorry and a good skimmer can make you a lot more safe and a lot less sorry.

smcfall176
12/19/2009, 06:29 AM
I agree a skimmer is a must. Even if you are a water changing monster that alone is not good enough at least I dont think. I use a ASM skimmer. They are great and at a good price.

stanlalee
12/19/2009, 09:49 AM
you'll find out that there're many ways to a successful tank. I am one of the very few on RC that think protein skimmer is an accessory rather than necessity.

I agree. ran saltwater tanks with higher bioloads than now from the early 90's and didnt even consider a protein skimmer until 2005. Numerous biocubes and small tanks still do just fine without skimmers (as well as several full size examples).
Skimmer is most definately an accessory. large water changes, macro fuges, oversized volume increasing sumps, jammed pack corals for utilization ect are all techniques of transporting, utilization or dilution.

With that said I wouldn't recommend NOT getting one (there's no reason not to, it helps export plus oygenates the water) but its not REQUIRED. Didn't the last Advanced Aquarist test show all 4 skimmers they tested (reputable ones) only pulled out 10% of total dissolved organics from reef tank water no matter how long they ran. You can easily achieve better results with water changes in which the "dissolved" organics will be proportionally removed to the percentage of tank water replaced (not to mention the organic particles removed that havent yet dissolved) . if you fill a skimmer cup of skimate a week and compare it to total tank volume and how much of that skimate is actually water and not raw organics I'd put my money on large weekly water changes being way more effective than skimming. its just more feasable on large tanks (and easier in general) to export via skimming. water changes can also be altered in volume and frequency to make up for bioload variances while a skimmer once purchased is limited to its capabilities.

rbnice1
12/19/2009, 10:51 AM
I run big skimmers on my sps tanks but on my nano softy tank I have no collection cup on its skimmer. it is just there to aerate the water.

So it really depends on what your plans for the tank are. If you are running a really light bioload and want to have dirty water corals(zoas, shrooms, any other softy) I would run a smaller skimmer or your water may be to clean. If you will have a lot of fish, or you want to have lps or sps run a good skimmer.

Just my experience.

Moebuis
12/19/2009, 11:02 AM
A skimmer is not "needed", but it makes maintenance a heck of a lot easier. If you're going to be keeping SPS the I'd say it's a must have. I ran skimmerless for about a year and thought my water was clean. I added a skimmer and my wife thought I bought new lights it got so much brighter. I recommend them for all tanks and a properly sized skimmer at that.

jumpingintosalt
12/19/2009, 11:42 AM
I had a 75g with no skimmer and no water changes for almost a year but I also had a fuge with macros and about 200# of live rock. I eventually was getting spikes in nitrates and such so had to do the skimmer and water changes. So it is possible but eventually if you have fish the load will be too high you will need it

Zebodog
12/19/2009, 01:03 PM
A skimmer is far from a necessity as evidenced here:
http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1506957&highlight=no+skimmer

A good skimmer will make your life easier however and if you have the space and dollars there really isn't a good reason not go with one.

skanderson
12/19/2009, 01:12 PM
i agree with the poster above. you can do without a skimmer but you need to watch your stocking and make sure you have some adequate method of nutrient export. anything you put in the tank stays there unless removed. the most popular method now is with protein skimming. other methodologies will work but are a bit more sensitive to abuse which most people who are new to the hobby are likely to do. good luck with the new setup.

Whaledriver
12/19/2009, 01:21 PM
You have to decide on the philosophy of how to run your tank. Its kind of like choosing a religion. Some dont like skimmers but that is not mainstream thinking.

If you are new to saltwater the skimmer will help solve alot of problems that happen as you learn how to run a tank. Think of it as insurance against stupid mistakes.

As far as size and ratings go think of a skimmer as container for foam. The foam concentrates the pollution that is collected in the cup at the top. As you can guess the more foam the better so when comparing skimmers size matters. There are other things to consider but if you don't know get the bigger one. I would get a needle-wheel skimmer and even better a recirculating one just my preference and experience

Tofat
12/19/2009, 07:03 PM
Welcome to RC!!!

This thread is probably most appropriate for the "new to the hobby" forum. You might want to check out some of the info in that forum. Good Luck!

I would love to ask more questions pertaining to this topic. But I will respect Stealle's request, and continue my search for knowledge in "new to the hobby" forum. :fun2: :hammer:

tkeracer619
12/19/2009, 07:12 PM
I would love to ask more questions pertaining to this topic. But I will respect Stealle's request, and continue my search for knowledge in "new to the hobby" forum. :fun2: :hammer:

No need to let this thread die if you still have questions regarding it. You will be hard pressed to get the attention you have already gathered in this thread in the newbie area. Asking newbies which skimmer to get is like asking an accountant to give you legal advice.

stealle
12/19/2009, 07:14 PM
I would love to ask more questions pertaining to this topic. But I will respect Stealle's request, and continue my search for knowledge in "new to the hobby" forum. :fun2: :hammer:

I don't care, really. I have no authority here anyway. I was just saying for future reference you may want to post other newcomer type questions in that forum. However, this is a "filtration" forum so it works here too. Don't let me hold you back... ask away.

ibefishy
12/19/2009, 07:18 PM
I wouldnt say a skimmer is a necessity, but I wouldnt try to have a tank without one.

PaxRoma
12/19/2009, 08:17 PM
if you decide to use skimmer, use it vigorously the first 3 months after set up. That will help minimize the algae outbreak you will have later on. That is the only thing I would do differently if I have to redo.

JoshPremierAuto
12/19/2009, 08:39 PM
I'm of the get the largest that you can fit and afford school. You wouldnt keep using the restroom at your house without flushing would you?

HUNTINREDNECK
12/19/2009, 08:43 PM
thats ok my LFS has 1000w sodam pot growing lights on it thay got from police action

jerryz
12/19/2009, 09:31 PM
McRary probably came the closest are they needed? no but by the time you can "brea" the rule and not run one you aren't really asking that question on this forum. You have a pretty strong grasp on what you intend to do instead and why it should/will work. Run tanks both ways. Not really in love with them but typically plumb them in and at least make sure I can run them when I want to.

Tofat
12/19/2009, 09:36 PM
I don't care, really. I have no authority here anyway. I was just saying for future reference you may want to post other newcomer type questions in that forum. However, this is a "filtration" forum so it works here too. Don't let me hold you back... ask away.

Ah ok, I understand just trying to find my niche here. Well on the other hand, I also am running a wet/dry filter, and 2 retro fit kit PC lights. They together equal 384 watts, which is almost 6 watts per gallon. Just so you guys get a better idea of what I am working with here. So so far I am kind of sold on getting a protein skimmer just cause it will only help not hurt. I really am into doing what’s best for the coral and fish to what I can afford lol. Meaning I do not mind chucking out the money for the corals and fishes comfort. I just do not want to pull out a mortgage lol. But did I hear correctly that I can run a refugium instead of a protein skimmer? I also find that I would much rather prefer that filtration since I hear that, I am going to need to take out the bio balls anyways form wet/dry. I also would like to use mangroves, I hear great things about them. But again for right now I am kind of sold on getting a protein skimmer for insurance. Also for corals I am going to start easy, because I really do not want to rush into the hard stuff. I rather crawl before I run. Thanks for reading and thanks for your advice.
:bounce3::bounce3::dance::bounce3::bounce3:

Blackgagt1
12/19/2009, 10:53 PM
i have always told everyone i meet who wants to setup a SW tank that the 4 most important items to running a successful SW tank is...

1. Live Rock
2. Water movement
3. SKIMMER
4. Patience

PaxRoma
12/19/2009, 11:36 PM
If you're running a wet/dry filter then definitely get a skimmer.
IMO if you're running a remote DSB, mud filter with some live rock you definitely can cut down on skimmer, not just to prove a point that you don't need skimmer but because skimming take out beneficial plankton as well.

jjk_reef00
12/19/2009, 11:47 PM
Get the skimmer and save yourself a lot of headache later. Also I would remove the bioballs from your wet dry.

scaryperson27
12/19/2009, 11:51 PM
The first thing I would ask when someone is looking to see whether they need a skimmer or not is what kind of inhabitants are going to be in the tank. If you are going to have LPS or SPS corals, then absolutely run a decent skimmer. if you are going to keep Goniopora, or Soft corals, mushrooms, leathers, then running a huge skimmer isn't quite as necessary. Also, if your parameters (PH, N02/3, NH3/4) stay stable without a skimmer, than there isn't that much of a need for one. If you are going to get a skimmer, just upgrade to the MSX-160 that was posted here before. I have had a great experience with mine so far. The low wattage is a plus too :)

if you decide to use skimmer, use it vigorously the first 3 months after set up. That will help minimize the algae outbreak you will have later on. That is the only thing I would do differently if I have to redo.

I wouldn't do that. For the first three months you are trying to propagate bacteria in your aquarium to help it establish. I don't run my protein skimmer for usually the first three weeks and I also seed my tank with a bacteria. Then once things really get rolling, I start the skimmer. That's when it's time to really hold your nose.

PaxRoma
12/20/2009, 12:15 AM
I wouldn't do that. For the first three months you are trying to propagate bacteria in your aquarium to help it establish. I don't run my protein skimmer for usually the first three weeks and I also seed my tank with a bacteria. Then once things really get rolling, I start the skimmer. That's when it's time to really hold your nose.

even with the best of skimmers, you will not be able to get rid of all the nitrifying bacteria. To cycle the tank you really don't need a heavy population of nitrifying bacteria because if you add fish or corals slowly (which most hobbyists should do), the population will adjust itself overtime to the correct bioload.
On the otherhand, if you have heavy nutrient in the beginning, not only do you get high amount of bacteria but also high amount of diatoms, algae spores, etc. This will seed prolific diatom, algae outbreaks subsequently.
Also, when the start up is heavy in nutrient, some of these nutrients will be absorbed into live rock and released into the water overtime which will contribute to the chronic cyano, algae down the road.

maynardjames
12/20/2009, 12:34 AM
also if you get one dont get a cheapo.or you will just end up replacing in the near future with a better one. i learned that the hard way. not saying you have to get a 500 dollar skimmer just a decent one.

Hdhuntr01
12/20/2009, 12:39 AM
For what it is worth. If your LFS told you that you do not need a skimmer and they did not explain a few other possibilities that some people are trying out then that is a LFS that would not get any of my money. The basic answer is YES you DO NEED a skimmer unless you are experienced enough to attempt one of a small handfull of alternatives. Until you have gained that experience, I would advise you to put as much emphasis into buying a quality skimmer as you will put into choosing the lights for your tank.

scaryperson27
02/01/2010, 11:53 PM
even with the best of skimmers, you will not be able to get rid of all the nitrifying bacteria. To cycle the tank you really don't need a heavy population of nitrifying bacteria because if you add fish or corals slowly (which most hobbyists should do), the population will adjust itself overtime to the correct bioload.
On the otherhand, if you have heavy nutrient in the beginning, not only do you get high amount of bacteria but also high amount of diatoms, algae spores, etc. This will seed prolific diatom, algae outbreaks subsequently.
Also, when the start up is heavy in nutrient, some of these nutrients will be absorbed into live rock and released into the water overtime which will contribute to the chronic cyano, algae down the road.

The idea is to have a good amount of bacteria before you add a load onto the tank. You will get a good amount of diatoms and algae spores if you don't provide the correct form of nutrient export. I seed a good strain of bacteria into my tanks called Microbacter7. This competes against other forms of nutrient export.

Also, when you start up, the heavy nutrients that you are talking about that will be absorbed into the rock, are the nutrients that are already processing off of the rock in the first place. When it finishes processing, the N03 turns into nitrogen gas.

A skimmer should be turned on at around 1 month IMO. That's what has seemed to work for me.

mick243
02/02/2010, 01:18 AM
IMHO, run a decent skimmer from day 1.

if you think the average reefer doesnt need a skimmer, drink a cup of the output.

kobett
02/02/2010, 01:24 AM
I just got a skimmer after 4 months that my tank's been running. The water is definitely cleaner than before. I should have got the skimmer since the beginning!

brako
02/02/2010, 04:07 AM
Skimmers are so vital to the tank, id be lost without mine