Skimmerless, will it work?

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

  1. Cory

    Cory Valuable Member R2R Supporter Article Contributor

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    Ive had a skimmerless ats system. Sucked up all the nutrients and corals starved.

    However now i use my skimmer for gas exchange and because i dont know what all that dark black skimmate is. Id rather it be out than in!

    I also dose vinegar and remove the bacteria through that.

    This is all in an effort to remove algae.
     

  2. NY_Caveman

    NY_Caveman Troglodyte R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    Funny. Been following. When I started skimmers were just coming on to the scene. They changed everything. It improved my reef in a measurable way. After almost 30 years people are asking about ditching them. Nice.

    I will use one, because I think I know how to reef with one.
     
  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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    They are often not as effective and cause salt creep/spray. Gas exchange is much harder them people think. :)

    The fact that algae raised the pH is actually an indication of imperfect gas exchange, not necessarily an indication that it is solving the problem. :)
     
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  4. Fragzilla

    Fragzilla Active Member

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    I've done the same, switched my skimmer off and the main difference I can see is more phosphate reduction. I guess the skimmer was taking out more nitrogen based waste and leaving the chaeto with the remaining phosphate with no nitrate to facilitate the removal of the phos, now I've got trace nitrates and phos is <0.03ppm which beats using a skimmer and then having to run gfo to mop up the remaining phos any day of the week, GFO was causing a lot of instability in my system previously.

    The tank hasn't looked this good in months and if anything I'm having to feed more. The green algae on the sandbed has vanished and I'm not getting any cyano anywhere in the system.

    When the phosphate gets too low and nitrates start to build up I then get the slime/dino's on the glass and its remedied by remove some chaeto and then I see my zoas not stretching so much (they stretch from low phosphate = can't process light energy) I then remove 1/4 of the chaeto and it fills a carrier bag.
     
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  5. Fragzilla

    Fragzilla Active Member

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    Couldn't it also suggest the removal of acidic compounds, no3 po4? As well as an increase in o2 production?
     
  6. 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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    The raised pH during the light cycle is an indication that the algae (or whatever) is photosynthesizing and consuming CO2 (which in turns means it is making O2).

    The algae is likely also consuming nitrate and phosphate, but that is not likely why the pH changes. The mere presence of nitrate and phosphate in the water do not impact pH. They are not "acidic".

    If nitrate (and to a much lesser extent, phosphate) are declining through biological uptake and incorporation into tissues or used in denitrification, then that process boosts alkalinity, and higher alkalinity will lead to a higher pH when equilibrated with air. If you instantly did that to 50 ppm of nitrate, the effect on alkalinity is 4.5 dKH, and that would boost the pH of water perfectlyy equilibrated with air by about 0.22 pH units. Likewise, if the tank produced 50 ppm of nitrate immediately from ammonia, the effect is the opposite, with a 0.22 pH unit drop when perfectly aerated. If nitrate is approximately stable, regardless of the level, there's no effect on pH by nitrate or phosphate.
     
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  7. Chris Villalobos

    Chris Villalobos Active Member

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    I see your point about ph fluctuation and the lack of gas exchange. So is gas exchange more important than higher ph? Though uncommon, if we had a system that was able to raise ph to 8.3 due to a lack of gas exchange might that be better than a system that sits at 7.8 with extraordinary gas exchange? Or is the ultimate goal stable ph within the range of 7.8 to 8.3

    Also I believe salt creep with a bubbler could be solved with a basic plastic soda bottle with holes cut in it. The same concept of how skimmers keep salt creep from happening. Though I do see your point that most bubblers on the market are probably not very efficient. :)

    If my skimmer was quiet and didn’t need constant maintenance I consider putting it back in.
     
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  8. 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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    I'm not certain what problem is worse for corals and other organisms, pH 7.7 or O2 at 80-95% of saturation.

    Eric discuss O2 measurements in detail here:

    Borneman EH. 2005a. The need to breathe in reef tanks: is it a given right? Reefkeeping 4(5)
    http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-06/eb/index.php

    Borneman EH. 2005b. The need to breathe, part 2: experimental tanks. Reefkeeping 4(6)
    http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-07/eb/index.php

    The Need to Breathe, Part 3: Real Tanks and Real Importance
    http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-08/eb/index.php
     
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  9. shred5

    shred5 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    I miss Eric. He was a blast to hang out with for sure, Plus he kept the hobby in line, no bull.
     
  10. Tahoe61

    Tahoe61 Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member Moderator Emeritus Build Thread Contributor

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    No skimmer, it can be done. You just have to put the extra work into it, and keep a lower bio-load. Take it for what it's worth and keep in mind I did not run a skimmer on these nanos at any time, nor did I consistently test for N/P. Each image is from a different tank.

    jbj 30 acropora.jpg haddoni.jpg jbj.jpg
     
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  11. Sea MunnKey

    Sea MunnKey Valuable Member

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    Definition: Sucky = I literally suck, useless, numbnut, hopeless ... :confused:

    Oh yeah ... water changes too ... inclusive!!! :D
     
  12. Lasse

    Lasse Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Squad Leader R2R Excellence Award Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor

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    In well planted freshwater aquarium - depletion of oxygen during night time is well known and have killed a lot of fishes. My experiences are that this can happens with skimmerless aquaria with a high density of corals if no other method for gas exchange is in use. I have run this type of aquaria and I have had experiences of no problem in the evening and 90 % dead fish in the morning. Bornemans experiments also indicate this. In my case - it was a Red Sea 130 D without skimmer but with a very dense population of Xenia, softies an mushrooms. My concern of not use skimmer today is only related to gas exchange - not if it remove waste or not. IMO - must of the smelly black waste that I have in my skimmer cup is bacteria sludge formed in the cup and the neck of the skimmer. The skimmer takes away amino acids from the water - the bacteria grow in this nutrient rich water. In my case - I try to minimize the skimate and run the gas exchange as much as possible.

    Sincerely Lasse
     
  13. Yas

    Yas Member

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    Hello folks,

    I replaced my test kits, and the results of the brand new Red Sea test kits were as below.

    NH3/4: 0.2
    NO3: 5
    NO2: 0.2
    PO4: 0 (Hanna)

    From what I read here, NO3 has been drastically increasing after taking out the skimmer. I'll have to consider putting the skimmer back or reducing the feeding. Because I recently introduced a baby robustus butterflylfish, I was feeding very frequently, but now he is fine. So I can stop heavy feeding.

    If I put it back, I'll have to run it very weakly.

    I think PO4 is still too low. I may have to reduce the light or adjust the lighting time.

    As for pH, I only tested twice by now. 8.2 on 9pm last night and 7.8 on 9am this morning, light was off on both occasions.
     
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  14. Lasse

    Lasse Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Squad Leader R2R Excellence Award Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor

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    IMO - If your NO2 reading is alright - the NO3 reading is wrong. NO2 in the sample will give a false (to high) NO3 reading. The NH3/NH4 reading - I do not trust it. In my experiences - Red Seas ammonia measurements often show just 0.2.

    Sincerely Lasse
     
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  15. gregkn73

    gregkn73 Member

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    Running a skimmerless tank , since the beginning, first a nano reef 50lt and the last 3 years an 800lt reef, I know how effective are algae to remove nutrients, and also Oxygenate water during night, with reverse to DT photoperiod . Since they wrote here some very long time reefers , I wonder why skimmers became a mainstream filtration method, at 90s? Didn't you run refugium with algae back then?[​IMG]
     
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  16. 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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    You write that is if the current trend is away from skimmers and they are somehow a holdover from the past. I'm not sure that is an accurate characterization.

    But to answer the specific question, yes, people have grown algae in refugia since the 90's at least. Stephen Spotte discusses "seaweed filters" in Captive Seawater Fishes" in 1992. It is possible they have, on average, become more powerful with brighter lighting, new setups, etc.,
     
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  17. Dennis Cartier

    Dennis Cartier Active Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    I think the transition to LED has had a much greater effect on fuges, even more so than they have on tanks, and the writing is on the wall that they will eventually become the only game in town for tanks. Spectrum specific LEDs appear to be a very good fit for fuges as the requirements (of algae) are much easier to meet, compared to corals where LED lights have to provide what corals require to not only grow, but also colour up.

    Dennis
     
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  18. 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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    I'm not sure that growing algae entirely competes with skimmers since they seemingly accomplish different things. :)
     
  19. Dennis Cartier

    Dennis Cartier Active Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    We are on the same page. I agree that fuges and skimmers have totally different purposes, and are complementary. My point is that in the past, fuges were mostly used in a supplementary fashion, and it would have been unthinkable to have a fuge as your main type of filtration (like in the Triton method), where the fuge does the heavy lifting.

    Dennis
     
  20. shred5

    shred5 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Algae scrubbers and fuges were used for a long time and are nothing new. They kind of went away for a while especially since bacteria driven systems emerged and people started Keeping more SPS and ULNS. It is thought that if you can grow algae in your fuge or scrubber your nutrients are already to high. The ideas is to keep nutrients low enough to not be able to grow algae. There still is allot of high-end sps'ers who feel that way. You nutrients are to high if you can grow algae and it hurts the colors.
     
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