Skimmerless, will it work?

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

  1. shred5

    shred5 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    In the late 80's and early 90's our reefs almost look like fuges with macro algae growing in them. I need to see if I can find some old reef shots and scan them. I wish I would have kept all that old stuff from like saltwater monthly. I still like the look.
     
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  2. gregkn73

    gregkn73 Member

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    My English are too bad :) I never wanted to wright that the current trend is away from skimmers.i just wonder , based on my experience, how effective ats + chaeto are, on removing nutrients, why the introduction of skimmers in the hobby , improved the reefing experience.

    Also I thought, both algae and skimmers, are used for nutrient reduction, with a different mechanism. Why did you wright, that they accomplish different things?

    And please explain me, if I can keep easily nutrients at levels I want, oxygenation of my water is not a problem, since I keep a high bioload, with no fish dying, why I need a skimmer? What more can i accomplish by using 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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    I highlighted some of the most obvious differences:

    Growing algae has these effects:

    reduces N and P, increases organics, increases O2 during the day, lowers it at night, increases CO2 during the night and lowers it during the day, consumes trace elements

    skimmers have these effects:

    exports dissolved and particulate organics, maybe exports bacteria and phytoplankton, drives aeration toward equilibration with your home or exterior air (which can raise or lower CO2 and O2)
     
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  4. gregkn73

    gregkn73 Member

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    Well Randy, now I can see that we wright the same things. I wrote that they use different mechanisms to reduce nutrients, and you described them, very detailed. But your detail description, IMHO, shows the great advantages of algae ,in reducing nutrients!

    Skimmers remove nutrients, by removing organics, phyto, bacteria, all of whom are corals food. Instead algae remove only inorganic nutrients, after the corals have consume everything they could.

    Skimmers oxygenate water 24h, so permit Oxygen fluctuations, due to photosynthesis, by corals during lights on and respiration during lights off. Instead by keeping algae in reverse photoperiod, you can keep more stable Oxygen levels, because corals and algae photosynthesize and respire , at opposite times.

    Another possitive effect of algae is the production of organics, as you wrote, that are much more bioavailable to reef inhapidants, than votka or vinegar.

    And finally,algae consume trace elements, but since we already adding trace for corals, what is the problem , to add some more for algae?
     
  5. Yas

    Yas Member

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    Hi Folks,

    I have put my skimmer back for the reasons below.

    1. My 70G tank seems to be too small for an organic cycle to happen (or I keep too many fish)

    I really liked the idea of organic cycle where excess nutrients are naturally processed by abundant bacteria. From what I see from the comments of so many skimmerless people here, I'm pretty certain skimmerless is possible, there's almost no doubt about it to me. But with all the eight fish I keep in the closed environment, NO3 indicated that the bio load of my tank could exceed the naturally sustainable level.

    Like I wrote, I have once achieved all zero readings, but after I replaced my test kits to brand new ones, NO3 was 5, but the color chart was really hard to read, and it was very 10ish 5. So I now doubt my previous test kits could have been too old and inaccurate. Even if my previous ones were valid, the fact is that I have a very 10ish 5 NO3 right now.

    2. Functionality diversification

    As Randy puts, I now believe skimmers and chaeto have different functions. In my case, after taking the skimmer off, NO3 kept rising while PO4 was zero, which means chaeto is extremely good at consuming PO4, but not as good as a skimmer in terms of NO3 reduction. I think in order to have major parameters, such as NH3/NH4, NO2, NO3, and PO4, in check, letting a skimmer do its job is one way. I don't say it's the best way, but an easy and safe way.

    3. pH safety net

    Actually, my pH has been 7.8 in the morning and 8.2 during the day and evening, and my pH levels haven't caused any trouble by now. My chaeto was lit 24H and I even stirred water surface of the sump using a pump. So this might not have been an issue for me. But, just as an additional backup to keep pH in a right range, skimmer may be good. I'm not saying you must have a skimmer, but I would say safer. Needles to say, a skimmer doesn't have any ill effect. So there's nothing wrong having one in my sump. In the Randy's article below, I found some facts I can't ignore.

    http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-09/rhf/

    In a sense, all that most aquarists need to know is that pH is a measure of the hydrogen ions in solution, and that the scale is logarithmic. That is, at pH 6 there is 10 times as much H+ as at pH 7, and that at pH 6 there is 100 times as much H+ as at pH 8. Consequently, a small change in pH can mean a big change in the concentration of H+ in the water.

    This means though the swing of pH looks tiny for a keeper like me, the swing could be huge for those sea water creatures. They should be able to tolerate some swing to some extent, but I want my tank to be better, not just tolerable.

    4. Heavy feeding

    I could have reduced my feeding and wait for the NO3 level slowly subsides, and this is a very realistic option for some people, I believe. But my tank mates are aggressive eaters, especially my margined coral fish loves raw or frozen cram and other meaty foods, and I don't want to impose a food restriction on him. Fat fish looks nice and beautiful.

    Some thoughts

    Surface of my live rocks became noticeably cleaner after taking off my skimmer, which suggests if I kept skimmerless, my tank could have been cleaner. Does it mean biological filtration became active by stopping the mechanical filtration?

    I still like some aspects of not having a skimmer; less heat source, no noise, no electricity, more space in the sump, etc. My previous skimmer pump was suddenly dead and it was really chaotic. I had hard time finding a right one in a very short period of time, but the skimmer pump of the one I got was defective and I had to ask the manufacturer to replace it. If bio filter provides a complete cycle, then there's no need to worry about such confusion.

    Again, depending on your bio load, skimmerless could even be a favorable option for the reasons mentioned above, and it's the matter of choice, not about which is better. Also, even though my chaeto amount is big, what if the amount is doubled? It could effectively put all params in check, maybe. I actually like this kind of challenge, but I can't risk my tank mates for my curiosity.

    Maybe there should be two different categories, light bio load skimmerless and heavy bio load skimmerless. My tank is somehwhere in between, meaning there involves some risks.

    In my mind, there is no conclusion on this. And I believe I don't have to conclude on it. I just took a safer path at this time, and there's nothing wrong with it. And there's absolutely nothing wrong for those who do skimmerless, of course. I would like to thank all you guys who commented here. I think I leaned a lot. All comments were very helpful to me. Thank you!
     
  6. gregkn73

    gregkn73 Member

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    Some conclusions I thing are wrong.

    Chaeto definitely is reducing no3 more efficient than po4.

    Why did you lie your chaeto 24h? I thing that this is very wrong. Once I tryied it, i nearly crash chaeto and ats. Plants need a light off period to function. Photosynthesis and respiration needed both. I thing that Krebs cycle take place during lights off? I am not sure.

    You can see a stabilization at pH levels, if you light your fuge at a reverse cycle to your DT. Not continuously! The fluctuations of your pH, is just showing the phosynthesis and respiration cycle of your corals at DT, since you light your fuge 24h.

    If you want to experiment , take off your fuge and keep on your skimmer. I am pretty sure that you will come very soon to the same conclusion as me. How more effective are algae at reducing nutrients :)
     
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  7. Yas

    Yas Member

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    gregkn73, your suggestions are very interesting and it seems very easy to implement too. So all I need is just turn off the led on chaeto while my main tank led is on? And does it make chaeto work far more efficiently?
     
  8. gregkn73

    gregkn73 Member

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    Well I don't remember if it is Krebs or Calvin cycle that happens during night for all photosynthesizing organisms, but IAM sure from my experience that both ats and chaeto , nearly crashed= stopped growing, yellowing-browning , for me when I tried 24h lighting, so IAM pretty sure that you can see better results if you use reverse photoperiod for you fuge to your DT, with Max 18h light for your fuge.
     
  9. shred5

    shred5 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Or it could be said the skimmer removes some organics before they have the chance to break down and become food for algae.

    Skimmer has better control over nutrients. If a fish dies it takes a while for algae to grow enough to consume the nutrients where a right sized skimmer should handle it. I have also seen algae die, Then what they release nutrients back? can happen.

    I am not against algae filters or fuges just playing the other side. I still prefer a skimmer and use these other things to assist in some occasions. I am not a fan of cheato because to me it traps more detritus than anything. I have seen people rip apart their balls of cheato and so much crap in the middle.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2018
  10. 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 compared 24/7 and shorter period lighting on my refuigia (mostly Caulerpa racemosa) and did not notice a growth difference in the refugia or any difference in the display tank. So I went to shorter periods offset from the main tank since it takes less electricity.
     
  11. 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 what you are basing that claim on. I doubt we even know what all is released from algae (probably a very long list of organics), but I am confident that it is not all more bioavailable than the acetate from vinegar.

    I'm not even sure you could name a single organic chemical that is more bioavailable than acetate? What would it be? Every life form on earth can use acetate in some fashion (I think), and in marine sediments, it is the highest concentrated organic compound and has a rapid turnover rate (consumed and then more replaces it). It also rapidly turns over in the open ocean.
     
  12. 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 what sense that makes. How does aeration permit or encourage oxygen fluctuations? It will always tend to drive O2 toward 100% saturation, and most of the time that likely means add more O2, but during the peak of the light cycle it may mean driving some off, minimizing fluctuations.

    Algae on a reverse light cycle will tend to do that as well. It adds O2 when lit and uses O2 when not lit.
     
  13. Cory

    Cory Valuable Member R2R Supporter Article Contributor

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    I wonder if it uses a lot of o2 when not lit?
     
  14. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I've read through updates so far and have not seen detail about the .25 ammonia

    Lasse
    When you calculated it out, I was wondering what mechanism exists in his reef such that surface area lacks in that only a consistent fraction of total nitrogen waste is left unoxidized

    The source has to be sustained at +6 ppm daily for reasons mentioned



    Sometimes the chemistry reading just has to be challenged in my opinion if we're dealing in key terms: matured, all fish accounted, not topoff originated, not sandbed, sustained low level non salifert ammonia reading

    Reefs are too hungry for raw ammonia to leave five percent untended

    Salifert is never part of such threads/thread trend such that Google has fifty pages like it does for sustained .25


    Please post a full tank shot of this tank
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2018
  15. 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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    An ATS may not (and may not add much either) since it is sort of out of the water, but algae in darkness do consume O2. Whether it is a lot or not is hard to quantify in this context.
     
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  16. shred5

    shred5 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Lets say you are out of town for a few days and a large fish dies or you loose a couple fish or a large coral or anemone dies for some reason. Which would you trust more to keep your tank alive? Algae grows to the nutrient levels but it does not do it over night. A properly sized skimmer should handle it. But what else happens when a fish decays? It can drop oxygen levels fast. Which helps against that the most?
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2018
  17. Cory

    Cory Valuable Member R2R Supporter Article Contributor

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    Id take more faith in algae removing ammonia as skimmers dont.

    Not only that but decay is a slow process, ammonia would be taken up by algae as quickly as it is produced. But ive not seen any studies.
     
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  18. shred5

    shred5 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    What kills most tanks in this situation is the massive amount of bacteria that grow and cloud the water removing lots of oxygen. Most algae cannot out compete bacteria in situations like this.. Low oxygen is what kills the tank in most cases. Algae can not remove this bacteria.

    Ammonia can certainly be a issue but it already would be in the water and at that point too late in those kind of quantities.

    A fish can rot pretty fast in warm water a coral or anemone certainly can fast enough to crash tanks, it has happened many times.
     
  19. gregkn73

    gregkn73 Member

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    On Triton's claim , that organics produced by chaeto ,is a mild organic dosing....but if you say that acetate , is better I trust you more :) In any case what I wanted to point , is that organics produced by algae, are most probably beneficial than harmful, to reef inhapidants.
     
  20. gregkn73

    gregkn73 Member

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    Skimmer aerate 24h.
    Corals, through zooxanthellae , produce more o2 during day, and only co2 during night . No mechanism to counterbalance ,less o2 production during night, except,you operate skimmer, only during night...

    Algae and corals lited on reverse cycle, counterbalance ,o2 and co2 production of each other. No fluctuations here.
     
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