To Skim or Not To Skim....?

Discussion in 'General Equipment, Hardware, Filtration' started by dansreef, Apr 4, 2017.

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  1. Yes and I use a Protein Skimmer 24x7 or 100% of the time

    33.3%
  2. Yes and I use a Protein Skimmer part time

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Yes and I do not use a Protein Skimmer at all

    4.8%
  4. No I dont use a Algae Scrubber

    61.9%
  1. dansreef

    dansreef Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Hi Everyone. I thought I would pose a question to the community here that I have been kicking around. I would like to get people's thoughts? Please read this entire post before answering. Also, please answer the polling questions below.

    First.... a bit of background. I have been keeping saltwater fish and corals starting in the late '80s when I was in college so I am not a newbie. That said, the technology and the capabilities that have been brought into this hobby or obsession....over the years is incredible. I am in a constant state of learning. I have three reefs currently including my 180 gal show tank which is the subject for this query. You can find my 180 reef build in my profile block.

    I have had all sorts of issues with my 180 since I started it... from AEFWs, to one of the worst Dino strains I have ever seen. I have done a lot of interesting things to get rid of them and have. I have been Dino free since November. I have corals now that are thriving and a population of fish that are doing really well... All in All.... I am pretty happy with my tank right now.

    Back at the beginning of 2016 I bought an Algae Scrubber and installed it on the system. You will find details on it as well in my thread. I have been through two protein skimmers. More on those as well in my thread. I currently am running a Skimz skimmer. Both are running 24x7.

    So as I sit today.... I have perfect or maybe too perfect of water parameters. I dose BRS 2 part and Mg, as well as some trace elements in small amounts. I have been following the thought.... have tangs in your system and feed them well. Their poop will provide all the tank needs...and then some. Well... my Nitrates have been zero... as tested by two different test kits over the last 2 months. My Phosphates are Zero to .02 as tested by two methods and have been for a couple months now. Again, the water parameters are perfect....

    When I bought my scrubber, the manufacturer said that a) it was bigger than I needed. I bought a spec'd model he built for a commercial guy that changed his order... I got a good deal..., b) that with a good scrubber I could and should take my protein skimmer off line entirely as it would no longer be needed. In fact, using a scrubber over a skimmer would also require less dosing of trace, less water changes.....etc....

    This leads me to my question to the community: if you are running an algae scrubber, are you also skimming? If so, why? Are you running 24x7? If not, what is your experience running a scrubber only? Is the scrubber keeping up with the nutrient export?

    Oh one other note.... I have a basement sump and the water flows to and from there and is mixed well in the sump so air water agitation is not an issue for me.... Skimmers can help with the O2 exchange for some tanks... I get plenty.... Also a scrubber also helps there too...

    I have read where some of the modern skimmers can pull too much out of the water in some aquariums...including trace elements that then need to be replenished. In my situation, could I, should I start scaling back skimmer usage? I have an Apex controller and can go from 24x7 on the skimmer to a reduced schedule or I could take it offline entirely.

    Yes... I know.... why mess with something that is working right now. If I don't need both... why have both running.... I can save with energy and heat... and perhaps with dosing and water changes.

    So... What say you? Please answer the poll questions. All additional info, feedback, insights... are welcomed.
     

  2. gcarroll

    gcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    From what I have seen, Algae scrubbers are typically used in small tanks. Bugger tanks typically may employ chaeto in a refugium.
     
  3. dansreef

    dansreef Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Hmmm.... Interesting comment. My experience is somewhat different. I have seen scrubbers used in systems and tanks and in a couple of good LFS.... Seems as the bigger the system the more a standalone scrubber made sense. That said, I have seen some home made stuff for small systems. Also seen the hang on the glass kind.... etc...
     
  4. JoshH

    JoshH Swimming in the deep end... R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019 R2R Secret Santa Build Thread Contributor

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    I would almost say, switch the running of the skimmer to 12 on 12 off and see what results you get then go from there. Every tank will be different and doing different things will cause a different reaction with each set up. Doing this will give you a real answer as to how your system will react to the change and if the scrubber being on more than the skimmer actually makes a difference. If you notice a postive change than try 6 on 18 off and so on. I'm a total newbie to reef keeping so take my words at face value but it's what I would do if I was in the same situation.

    JM2C
     
  5. yellojello

    yellojello Active Member

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    Do you have any nuisance algae at all? How often you do water change?
     
  6. dansreef

    dansreef Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Regarding nuisance algae....very little. With nutrients so low...and two tangs... anything in the display is devoured. My plan is to add a couple of additional tangs...I just haven't found the right specimens.

    My plan at this point is to put the skimmer on a schedule. I just have not figured out the schedule yet.
     
  7. steve bergmann

    steve bergmann Member

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    Great question!! I have a 600 gallon system and had two protein skimmers on it. I am not convinced that they are needed so I pulled them. I run a very large refugium 100 gallons and a 400 gallon show tank with another 100 gallon sump with rock and coral frags. I am running the Triton system, now minus the protein skimmer, and not doing water changes. In running the ICPT test I have no phosphates in the system so the refugium is pulling them out. I do have a lot of flow in the show tank with 4 ecotechmarine mp60's. I also have two pumps in the frag sump providing current over the rocks and frags. The show lights and the refugium lights are run inversely. The show tank is an SPS tank and so far the corals seem to have not noticed the lack of protein skimmer. It has only been 60 days with no skimmers so only time will tell. The tank has been up for about 7.5 years.
     
  8. Orm Embar

    Orm Embar Active Member

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    Going on month 8 of a Red Sea Reefer 170 with macroalgae in display and refugium, no skimmer. I had nitrates at 5 with display only dragon's breath, and then undetectable after adding chaeto/dragon's breath in a refugium with a 24w grow light. I think that skimmerless systems can be run; it all depends on bioload (food in/fish volume) vs nutrient export (amount/type of macroalgae and lighting, other forms of nutrient export)
     
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