Have a wonderful NEW YEAR!

Discussion in 'Idol Marine' started by Idol Marine, 9 Jan 2015.

  1. Idol Marine

    Idol Marine

    Joined:
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    Dear Idol Marine friends,

    The New Year has arrived and we are operating at normal hours again.

    PLEASE NOTE, OUR SHOP LINES ARE IMOPERABLE AS THEY HAVE BEEN STRUCK BY LIGHTNING.
    Telkom is working on the problem.
    In the mean time please contact us either on the 011 312 1485 or 082 904 3313, 082 464 7798, and 072 331 1362.

    In this feature we will discuss Protein skimmers

    The majority of unwanted organic wastes found in our aquariums collect at the surface of a gas-liquid interface. These "surface-active" materials, including fish wastes, uneaten food, and decomposing matter, are what we attribute to tank pollution. We associate this extra waste with increases in nuisance algae, cyanobacterial blooms, and a generally unhealthy tank appearance.
    Therefore, when you add new fish, and/or increase the volume of foods in your tank, you should strive to remove an equal amount of potential pollution. The good news is you can reduce some of these potential wastes by removing them from the water before they cause problems.
    One method of removing organic wastes from a fish tank is through foam fractionation or skimming.
    The protein skimmer originated in the wastewater treatment industry many years ago. It was used primarily to reduce the organic load before the water reached the activated sludge reactors. This technique exploits the affinity of organic waste to be adsorbed by air bubbles. In basic terms, organic-waste-laden aquarium water is reacted in a column of air bubbles, the waste sticks in the foam, and the foam collected. Foam is what is produced when one passes a gas through a liquid that contains high levels of surfactants.


    So what are we trying to remove?


    Fish faeces and waste, of course. In reality proteinacious waste only makes up a small portion of what we are trying to eliminate, what are protein skimmers removing? More importantly, why do we even call this device a "protein skimmer" when no or very little protein is removed?


    Dissolved Organic Compounds (DOC)


    DOC’s are the waste molecules skimmers are designed to remove; these are produced as by-products from the breakdown of biological materials. This pollution arises from not only the deliberate input of foods in our tank but also from decaying organic matter (bacteria, algae, etc.). DOCs are bipolar molecules; these surfactants are attracted to air/water interfaces, i.e., bubbles. A bipolar molecule contains one or more atoms attracted to air, and one or more atoms attracted to water. A skimmer exploits this difference in the following manner:
    "As an air bubble moves through the column of organic-laden water, the electrically charged protein molecules (which contain electrically polar and electrically nonpolar regions) are attracted to the air/water interface of the bubble. The polar regions of the molecule (made up of nitrogens, oxygen, etc.) are attracted to the air/water interface and these polar "tails" stick out away from the air bubble into the water column. The nonpolar regions stick out into the air bubble because it does not "like" to be in contact with the polar solvent (i.e. water). If you could look at this bubble under high enough magnification down to the molecular level, the entire air bubble would look like a fuzzy ball with protein tails and other electrically charged tails sticking out from the surface of the air bubble. The polar regions outside of the air bubble stabilize the air bubble very much like a soap bubble in your kitchen sink or your washing machine. This is the reason why foam begins to build up at the surface of the skimmer. As the protein-laden bubble reaches the top of the protein skimmer, the proteins begin to accumulate which creates a stable foam bubble. These stable foam bubbles take a long time to pop. Thus, the proteins slowly are concentrated at the top of the skimmer where they are slowly pushed through the "throat" of the protein skimmer and into the collection cup."

    This description was clearly described by Shane Graber. His link to his article can be found at:

    The longer that the DOC are in contact with the bubbles, the more of them will attach to the bubbles, the more of them will be removed. Longer contact times allow for less adherent molecules to be attracted and "stuck" to an air bubble. Other compounds besides DOC can be removed as well. These may be VOC (volatile organic compounds), POC (particulate organic compounds), uneaten fish food, trace elements, secondary metabolites from soft corals, bacteria, macro- and micro-planktons, coral eggs and sperm and other similar compounds.
    Protein skimmers can be an effective method in reducing the problems related to waste accumulation in our tanks. The application of skimmers have been associated with reduced waste (reduction of DOC), reduced algal growth, and increased water quality. The hobbyist needs to ensure bubble production is maximized (smaller bubbles work better than big bubbles), and consequently, the water in the reaction column should be milky white in appearance. The foam produced in the skimmer should be continually moving up towards the collection cup so that is being collected and removed from the system. One final word on skimmate consistency; this topic is often a subject of debate (i.e., thick, mud coloured, and dry versus watery and iced-tea coloured. Any skimmate is far better than NO skimmate at all. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
     
    Last edited: 9 Jan 2015
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