Skimmerless, will it work?

Discussion in 'Reef Chemistry by Randy Holmes-Farley' started by Yas, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. Yas

    Yas Member

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    Hi everyone,

    Yesterday, my tank became skimmerless, and I would like to hear from you what you think.

    My ammonia was 0.25 yesterday before going into skimmerless. Toady, after removing the skimmer, it was 0. Here’s what happened.

    Though my nitrite and nitrate were 0 and phosphate was around 0.07 these days, I was still getting a lot of algae on the glass, and I had to clean it every day, and I thought it was strange because people around this level of nutrient normally don’t clean their glass as frequently as I do. While at the same time, my SPS corals were constantly getting pale and slowly dying. When I recently started feeding heavily and getting a bit of nitrate, SPS colors became deeper.

    For me, SPS corals dying while having much algae on glass was weird. Algae grows because there are enough nutrients. SPSs die because of insufficient nutrients. So the symptom was crazy for me.

    I tested ammonia then and found it was 0.25. So I struck upon this idea.

    I don’t have enough bacteria to consume ammonia. Maybe I should stop the skimmer and put heavy amount of biological filter media in place because my skimmer could have been sucking up too much nutrients needed for feeding bacteria. So skimmer could have been the cause of insufficient bacteria, and that’s why skimmer had to sit in there. So maybe the skimmer itself was the reason to be there.

    So I stopped the skimmer. But let me explain my setup. I use a heavy amount of chaeto with 24h lighting. Out of 70G total water volume, 12G equivalent space in the sump is full of chaeto, and it’s heavily densed. Without this chaeto, skimmerless wouldn't have been possible.

    When I stopped the skimmer, I was afraid of having nutrient hike. So I added two more led lights to chaeto, one from above, the other in the water, since I had a small water-proof led.

    Also, in place of skimmer, the space was filled with diced car wash sponge. I read some interesting articles about using sponge as bio filter media somewhere on the Internet. My intention was to get more bacteria as nutrient-consuming living thing which could also be good food source for SPS.

    I don’t run GFO and GAC.

    Today, I tested nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, and phosphate. Everything was 0. This was the first time I got all zeros. I don’t think the sponge filter started working overnight. It was the big chunk of chaeto and reinforced lighting, I guess.

    This level of nutrient-reduction speed is almost scary to me. I kept feeding my seven fish as heavily as usual, and I got all zero readings. I fed crams, hatched brine shrimp, dry foods, frozen mysis, today alone.

    My skimmer wasn’t noisy at all. And I didn’t intend to save my electricity bill. I just wanted to avoid sucking up beneficial bacteria and their food source. My SPSs aren’t in good condition either because of ammonia or insufficient nutrients, I guess. Removing the skimmer could solve both.

    But I don’t know if this really is a viable solution. This is only one day, and I’m not sure if this is sustainable or not. So I want to hear if this is a good idea or not.

    Here are some pics of my sump setup.

    IMG_20180203_005603.jpg IMG_20180203_005623.jpg IMG_20180203_005557.jpg

    Thank you!

    Yas
     
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  2. Sea MunnKey

    Sea MunnKey Valuable Member

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    Ever since my re-boot of this system, I've been skimmerless with weekly water changes. Mixed reef with sps, lps, softies & nps ... ;)
     
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  3. Randy Holmes-Farley

    Randy Holmes-Farley Reef Chemist Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Expert Contributor

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    Many people have skimmerless tanks just fine.

    I went skimmerless for a few months as an experiment. The main drawback I found, and the main reason I like skimmers, relates to aeration. In my case, the pH rose significantly (due to using limewater), indicating the air exchange is incomplete. Other studies show that O2 is also boosted by skimmers.

    So for that reason alone, even if no others, I'd use one. :)
     
  4. Sea MunnKey

    Sea MunnKey Valuable Member

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    I have a dry sump with skimmer ... just never got to play with it. Or plain lazy butt.
     
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  5. Yas

    Yas Member

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    Wow, that's nice! I was really really scary so it's very good to know you are successful with skimmerless. Thank you!:D
     
  6. Sea MunnKey

    Sea MunnKey Valuable Member

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    Mind you I do auto dosing ie. Ca, Alk & Mag. I don't check water parameters except daily "spot checks" on the corals. AcroPower & Reef Roid's once a week. Yes ... I'm lazy :D

    The most time I'd spend prior to the water changes ... I use my old Python to go through my sandbed for trapped detritus & white sand all over again!
     
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  7. Yas

    Yas Member

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    Well, I hope chaeto can generate a bit of O2, but the pace of generation would be too slow compared to a skimmer. Maybe placing a wave pump would do? Ah, I no longer have a space for a wave pump in my sump because of sponge!;Joyful
     
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  8. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Photo of the Month Award Build Thread Contributor

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    I agree with Randy. It isn’t a need no, I did it for many years , and as my skimmer was on the fritz in one tank, I have been the last few months. Lol.

    In my set ups I opted for tunze comlne skimmers. Rated for the size of the tank. As to avoid overskim , let the biologicals and fuge work.
    One way to accomplish this is also to skim dry.

    Ime , the feeding to nutints takes a couple weeks to see. So when feeding heavily , bear that in mind.

    Ime , mechanical filtration is the most helpful when running skimmersles.

    Fwiw, my “skimmerless “ tank.
    6CCADB75-D570-4C6A-9C2C-73FF17B59573.jpeg
     
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  9. Sea MunnKey

    Sea MunnKey Valuable Member

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    Tunze powerheads (on both ends) blowing against each other & close to water surface to mix with (indoor) air. Kinda like oxygenating remix ... :D
     
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  10. Yas

    Yas Member

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    Ha ha! Your Python! ;) It seems your laziness is working! And it's great! Yours is balanced so well.
     
  11. smoothmove

    smoothmove Member

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    I am a believer in a Huge skimmer. Lately, I have been dialing it back and turning it off with great benefit to corals. So far, I haven't had any downside.
     
  12. Sea MunnKey

    Sea MunnKey Valuable Member

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    I don't bother to read or get influenced by all the new tirades of NEW methods or hypes anymore. I used to do that and heck ... I'd rather spend that money collecting nice corals and watch it grow and multiply right?

    Got kids to care for and they need dad's attention and support ... ;)
     
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  13. Yas

    Yas Member

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    Right, I have to watch the long term effect of heavy feeding. Thank you for the pic. Looks like a healthy tank.
     
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  14. DracoKat

    DracoKat Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    My skimmer runs at night only. I find it helps to maintain the tank as opppsed to letting it run 24/7
     
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  15. Yas

    Yas Member

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    It's probably my chunk of chaeto. Without it, I won't go skimmerless. I have a fairly oversized skimmer, but it's too strong especially with chaeto.
     
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  16. Yas

    Yas Member

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    Yeah, I already paid too much tuition fee already, and it's time to graduate now.:p
     
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  17. Yas

    Yas Member

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    Thanks! This could be useful. I don't know where to balance now. So it's good to know.
     
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  18. Mark Derail

    Mark Derail Active Member R2R Supporter

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    I'm considering reducing my skimmer usage also, but want to offset with an airstone when the skimmer isn't skimming.
    Perhaps 4 cycles of On / Off in day, to go 50%-50%. Test before and after.

    What I noticed is that my lights above the chaeto is on 12hrs (offset to DT) and the chaeto has stopped growing. Tank is now at 7 months.
    When tank was young - month 1 - 5 - the chaeto would grow like crazy - had to throw out half each week.
    The last month or so, it is stable - not dying - but hardly growing.

    None of my params are zero, none are very high / what I consider normal.

    I do believe we can actually over-skim. I'm not using any reactors.
     
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  19. Dogtown

    Dogtown Active Member

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    Glad it’s working for you. Like others, my skimmer is dialed way back to skim ultra dry. I go 2-3 weeks without needing to remove whatever skimmate it pulls out. I don’t want it removing too much tea.
     
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  20. Mark Derail

    Mark Derail Active Member R2R Supporter

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    I'm going to try this first. Right now I pull quite a lot and have to do bi-weekly cleanings.
     
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