Does protein buildup warrant running a protein skimmer

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shartpants007

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The last few days I've gotten a buildup of protein at the surface of my 20 gal tank. I'm currently running an Aquaclear 70 that's been converted into a makeshift refugium filled with pods and macro algae, which has carbon too. The question is, should I re-equip my coralife HOB filter/protein skimmer, or get a wave pump to point at the surface?
 

fryman

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The last few days I've gotten a buildup of protein at the surface of my 20 gal tank. I'm currently running an Aquaclear 70 that's been converted into a makeshift refugium filled with pods and macro algae, which has carbon too. The question is, should I re-equip my coralife HOB filter/protein skimmer, or get a wave pump to point at the surface?
Flow can be tough to dial in for a small tank. I've seen the oily slick at surface on smaller tanks before, usually when there's insufficient flow and/or nutrient export.

I don't think a hob provides sufficient water circulation for a 20gal. I have a 15gal with an over-sized hob filter that runs 24/7, but also use a powerhead that runs during the day, 2 hours on then 2 hours off. There's no visible surface film and the water is usually crystal clear. I run carbon only if the water starts to get cloudy, which happens on occasion for unknown reasons (bacteria bloom maybe?). Carbon makes the water clear again.

I don't think a skimmer is typical for a 20gal, although some do it and it could work too.

GL
 
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shartpants007

shartpants007

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Just a follow up: this is what the protein looks like. It's not like any biofilm I've ever seen but I've mostly dealt with freshwater. When you touch it, it "cracks" rather than just dispersing and will stick to your finger.

IMG_20210507_183913.jpg
 

fryman

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Yeah I still think you need more water circulation, but also may have insufficient export. Another possibility is some contaminant. I.e lotioned hands were in the tank.

Did you check nitrate/phos levels?
 
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shartpants007

shartpants007

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Yeah I still think you need more water circulation, but also may have insufficient export. Another possibility is some contaminant. I.e lotioned hands were in the tank.

Did you check nitrate/phos levels?

I'm trying to get a Current USA eFlux wave pump but they're all price locked at $70 which, for the time being, is more than I'm willing to pay for a tiny underwater fan.
I might have said it before but right now I'm using a makeshift HOB refugium with macro algae in it, and I'm not really sure how well the seaweed is actually doing at sucking up nutrients.
I don't think the other HOB filter/skimmer I have would help much since the intake is so low below the surface and it's better at filling the tank with bubbles than skimming.
I don't tend to use lotion on my hands, so there's a possibility something like that made it in, but it's very unlikely.
I don't have a phosphate test kit but my nitrates seem to be in the acceptable range.
 
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shartpants007

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for now this will do the trick for the $$$$ Shop around you might find one cheaper.
Get some salifert test kits too :)


Thanks. I might go with that or something like it if I can't find anything soon. I was only looking for the eFlux since I already have the light and system that goes with it and I could program it easily.
 
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FWIW, I have a 55g using as a QT observation tank with an Aquaclear 110 and a sponge filter at the opposite end. The Aquaclear only has the filter foam with lava rock on top. I get plenty of surface movement and water stays clear so far.
 
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Do you think there are benefits to turning your skimmer off for periods of time?

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