Should I get a skimmer for a 20g cube?

Matt Miller

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I keep going back and forth on this, what's everyone think about a skimmer for a 20g?

Right now I only want 2 clowns and bta's, no plans on cuc yet. I am open to suggestions though as this time.

I plan on using chaeto, floss cup, and pods once it's cycled and fish in.
 
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TriggersAmuck

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They say a picture is worth a 1000 words. The Tunze 9004 pictured in my post does a great job at pulling out muck while being super easy to clean the cup every other day and maintain every few months. I strongly recommend having something of a CUC (after myself having gone a year without any and seeing the consequences).

Strongly recommend viewing this video, which while being long, has some great info. Pay particular notice to their discussion of skimmers and roller mats towards the end:
 
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SliceGolfer

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I run an IceCap K1 Nano in my Waterbox 20. It does a good job of pulling out organics. Chaeto and a skimmer may be too much export for a 20. Since you’re going after pods, start with the fuge. You could always add a skimmer later. Chaeto will require a solid N&P source, and iron. If this is a new tank, best to skip both for 3-6 months while things cycle and stabilize.
 
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Matt Miller

Matt Miller

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@Matt Miller - Are you running a sump? That will dictate to some degree which skimmer you can operate. Having said that, looks like SliceGolfer was able to fit it into the WB20 chambers.
I'm just using what's already built in the back of the cube. I'm changing to the floss cup right away, but not adding a sump.

My goal is a simple low maintenance tank.
 
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Matt Miller

Matt Miller

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I run an IceCap K1 Nano in my Waterbox 20. It does a good job of pulling out organics. Chaeto and a skimmer may be too much export for a 20. Since you’re going after pods, start with the fuge. You could always add a skimmer later. Chaeto will require a solid N&P source, and iron. If this is a new tank, best to skip both for 3-6 months while things cycle and stabilize.
I was thinking I needed to wait a bit for the chaeto, but not too sure about the pods. It will be all new, using real reef rocks, live sand and Dr tims for cycle.
I do plan on cycling in my backup 20 and running that till my display is all ready.
 
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Matt Miller

Matt Miller

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They say a picture is worth a 1000 words. The Tunze 9004 pictured in my post does a great job at pulling out muck while being super easy to clean the cup every other day and maintain every few months. I strongly recommend having something of a CUC (after myself having gone a year without any and seeing the consequences).

Strongly recommend viewing this video, which while being long, has some great info. Pay particular notice to their discussion of skimmers and roller mats towards the end:
I have been through your build and a couple others that has me leaning towards a skimmer, and with the sales right now I'm thinking about grabbing one and waiting to use it.
That's a long video and I will try to watch it, just not going to be able to today. Thanks for that.
I do plan on a cuc, just haven't really done any planning yet.
 
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SMSREEF

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I don’t think you need a skimmer in a 20. Actually I don’t need one on my 60 and had to take it out of the sump.
There are many ways to remove things, filter socks, macroalgae, etc. just depends on where you want to go with the tank, and what the levels of your nutrients are.
 
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TriggersAmuck

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I'll give you the Reader's Digest message in that long video: Socks or filter floss serve a different mechanical function than a protein skimmer (yes, it is mechanical even though the process relies on charged bonds between interfaces), serves a different function than the chemical side, which can be accomplished via refugium (algae uptake) or media (GFO/Purigen/Activated carbon in particular). I'm leaving the biological side out, which is accomplished largely by your rock and sand. At the end of the day it is a matter of how do I feed corals and living organisms sufficiently while matching the rates which the system can adequately maintain required nutrient levels through consumption (by corals/algae/media) or minimization (mechanical removal).

In a small tank (I have a 14g one, which qualifies) large (or easy?) water changes certainly qualify for removal at both mechanical and chemical levels (diluting concentrations of NO3/PO4 while removing physical detritus blasted from sand/rock) as well as increasing concentrations of alk and calcium.

In that video they emphasize that yes, you can over-remove if it is to the detriment of the organisms needing said "nutrients" to flourish. Conversely (as is the case with my tank) I have skimmer and mechanical means and large (80%) water changes and yet this isn't sufficient to keep long hair algae at bay. The analysis is a bit more complex than how large or small a tank is, and large or more frequent water changes (enabled by smaller tanks) is just a piece of the puzzle. :)

The ideal goal is to be able to put a lot of food input into the tank for coral growth and at the same time export a lot of the unused nutrients. Lot in/lot out, versus minimal in, minimal left behind, which can result in pale corals, stunted growth, less than healthy livestock. This rate of input/output is very much dependent on the stage of lifecycle of the tank. A new tank is going to consume very little, while a 5 year old tank covered inch by inch with corals is going to need a much larger input (and will also consume a much larger input meaning less NO3/PO4 left behind).

To me, the trick in an anemone specific tank is that you need to wait for awhile to achieve the stability needed by 'nems, which means there is much more likely chance of a nutrient increase and algae takeover, especially in a dry rock based system.

If anyone has ideas how to bridge the gap between a new sterile system and an anemone dominated tank, I'm all ears. :) @OrionN?
 
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jk_s124

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I have a similar size tank (biocube 29) and skimerless. I went through this same decision about two years ago. I tried a hydor nano skimmer and it never really was dialed in and then died. I have been skimerless since and have never regretted it. I have 6 fish ( over stocked by most accounts ) and have always maintained the right amount of nutrients. Just detectable phosphates and 7-10 nitrates. No algae problems, feed heavily (again by most accounts) and maintained by filter floss, a bag of 3 tbs of gfo mixed with 3 tbs of rox carbon changed out every three weeks and 5 gallon weekly water changes that I am very consistent with. I have had success for a few was years this way. An icecap skimmer is by far better than the hydor one i tried. And running one will most likely yield great success too. I prefer personally to have as little unnecessary equipment as possible though. Neither choice will be wrong. But skimerless has worked for me and has always been my suggestion.
10D59C23-7280-441D-9E46-BAD2E7186DE6.png
59DD7A4B-849D-4E33-9F66-87BB40E37908.jpeg
50D4D649-8A24-44ED-9201-6CB6A39442E0.png
01830339-CB05-4FEF-A8F5-67EB12343A12.jpeg
 
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Matt Miller

Matt Miller

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I have a similar size tank (biocube 29) and skimerless. I went through this same decision about two years ago. I tried a hydor nano skimmer and it never really was dialed in and then died. I have been skimerless since and have never regretted it. I have 6 fish ( over stocked by most accounts ) and have always maintained the right amount of nutrients. Just detectable phosphates and 7-10 nitrates. No algae problems, feed heavily (again by most accounts) and maintained by filter floss, a bag of 3 tbs of gfo mixed with 3 tbs of rox carbon changed out every three weeks and 5 gallon weekly water changes that I am very consistent with. I have had success for a few was years this way. An icecap skimmer is by far better than the hydor one i tried. And running one will most likely yield great success too. I prefer personally to have as little unnecessary equipment as possible though. Neither choice will be wrong. But skimerless has worked for me and has always been my suggestion.
10D59C23-7280-441D-9E46-BAD2E7186DE6.png
59DD7A4B-849D-4E33-9F66-87BB40E37908.jpeg
50D4D649-8A24-44ED-9201-6CB6A39442E0.png
01830339-CB05-4FEF-A8F5-67EB12343A12.jpeg
Wow, that looks good!

Thanks for the information, I feel like I can try to go without for now and just pay attention to how everything goes.

I'm getting close to going wet so I'm having 2nd thoughts about everything.
 

Tcook

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Great looking tank jk. I have a Nuvo 20 and was running the IM skimmer. Never stopped filling the tank with microbubbles. I finally pulled it out today and will just do 5 gal water changes weekly.
 

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