My view on skimming

Alan

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IMO the first line of defense in the battle of degrading water conditions is the protein skimmer. As with the marine hobby in general the advancement of the protein skimmer has kept pace as aquarists demand better performance from their skimmers all the time, to the point now where you can get a skimmer that can over skim your system and remove too much from the water column. Some of the skimmers in the market at the moment have been developed by hobbyists that have not been happy with the performance of the “off the shelf” skimmers and have become leaders in the war of mixing water and air with the least amount of power used. Unfortunately to evaluate the quality of skim mate produced you would have to have it analyzed in a laboratory I have not read or been aware of any analysis to date. But despite this, the hobbyist [myself included] likes to see a quantity of smelly skim mate, as aquarists all over the world brag about how many cups produced in X amount of hours, but more importantly you should note the quality of the skim mate. It should be a dark brown smelly substance.
With the demand for the quantity of skim mate that is being met by some of the newer skimmers the older skimmers that were considered fine skimmers now find them selves being relegated to smaller systems by hobbyists.. In our small but growing society of the marine aquarist in South Africa this demand has led many of the importers to start importing some of the “new age” skimmers to satisfy the demand here, some of these skimmers do command a fairly hefty price tag. Our local hobbyist now has a fairly wide range of skimmers to choose from and this leads to a certain amount of confusion especially for somebody just entering the hobby as every hobbyist will swear by the skimmer they are using. Never mind the new comers even the experienced hobbyists often struggle trying to get to grips with the ratings. Let me give you an example and for this example I am not saying that any of the brands are right or wrong. In fact for now let’s call them brand A and brand B. Both these skimmers use the exact same pumps to drive their in sump skimmers.

Brand A
The pump used is the Italian made Sicci pump with the modifications specified by company A.
Air delivery is 800L per hour
Water delivery is 1200L per hour
Power consumption is 23w
Uses needle wheel technology

Single pump rated 2000L
Dual pump rated 4000L
Triple pump rated 6000L
Quad pump rated 8000L

Brand B
The pump used is the exact same Sicci pump, with modifications made by company B.
Air Delivery 1200L per hour
Water delivery 1500L per hour
Power consumption is 20w
Uses thread wheel technology

Single pump Rated 2000L
Dual pump rating 3000L.

Comparison
Single pump A. Air – 800Lph B. Air – 1200Lph
Water – 1200Lph Water – 1500Lph
Rating – 2000L system Rating – 2000L system

Dual pump A. Air – 1600Lph B. Air – 2400Lph
Water – 2400Lph Water – 3000Lph
Rating – 4000L system Rating – 3000L system

The dilemma
Which skimmer is over rated or under rated or is skimmer B just setting the new standards again for the future. I chose these 2 skimmers as they are both in sump and both use the same pumps for water delivery and air intake. Both the brands are very well known and both are well designed skimmers and both are of similar size. I know which skimmer I would buy here especially as brand B is considerably cheaper than A. But what is the proper rating? To reach a conclusion here I would say if skimmer A has the correct rating I would not push the limits of this skimmer and I would be very aware of stocking levels in a 4000L system, where as skimmer B I would comfortably run it on a 3000L heavily stocked system, I would even push it to 4000L. There are many such comparisons that can be made, which really makes it confusing. This is why it pays to do research before the purchase of a skimmer it will pay in the long run.

Operation of a skimmer?
Very simply put it mixes air in the form of bubbles and water from the water column and hopefully will form foam that can be removed from the system. Pretty much like the ocean on a windy day when the waves and wind form scum on the top of the water and the wind blows it away.
Although a fairly simple process, chemically it becomes fairly complicated, I have never found the need to go that deep though. Simply put, the dissolved waste in our systems has a polar attraction to air so when the water is passed through the skimmer the particles / molecules stick to the air bubbles and are removed from the water column before they are broken down by the filtration. Why remove when we can filter? The reason for this is to keep nitrates and phosphates to a minimum. If we can remove the waste before filtration then the end products of filtration won’t pollute our systems. If you have ever seen a tank that runs with out a sump you get an oily build up at the water surface, this is the polar attraction to air that I spoke about.

To skim or not to skim?
It is certainly possible to run a marine tank with out a skimmer, but beware of your fish stocking levels and maintenance schedule. I think a system that has a decent skimmer is far more forgiving and stable than a system with out. I would always advise the use of a good skimmer. A skimmer can be an effective weapon in the constant war against algae and high nutrient loads in fact if a tank has an algae problem you can often overcome the problem by upgrading the skimmer.

Which Skimmer?
This is a very difficult question to answer, at the end of the day it depends how much you can afford and how well stocked your system is. This is one piece of equipment I personally would not cut corners on as stated before, it is your primary tool to keeping your water healthy. Most hobbyists when starting off in the hobby start with the Jebo/Queen skimmers, personally I don’t think this is a bad thing and must be considered a learning curve because if you can get these skimmers to perform [and they can be made to perform] you will start to understand how a skimmer works and how to set a skimmer to produce foam. Most of us move away from them onto the more expensive, less fiddly and more efficient skimmers. Here is where we as aquarists have to do the research and ask questions as to which our next skimmer will be.
 

leslie hempel

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some very good comparisions and food for thought there alan.... i feel it will always be a debate as to which skimmer to use as they are forever increasing in efficiency as you have stated... the main thing is getting the right skimmer for the correct system (difficult one) having worked in the industry you always get the guys who promise4 never to overload or exceed the proposed monthy stocking reguime... after a week or two they are buying fish like crazy trying to skimp on waterchanges and still running the skimmer you initally sold them forgetting that you sold them this item in sight of a slow stocking regeime....

in my opinion i would recoment the biggest you can afford as my saying goes: you can turn a big skimmer down but not a small skimmer up.

ultimatley with time this will allow you to set the skimmer up according to increase on bio load..... the trick is getting the guys to by big in the first place..

as for the comparisions, what was the in thing today will be the old thing tomorrow much like the computer industry... i think it should be on the reefkeeper to decide on his systems ultimate proposed outcome and buy a skimmer to suit his requirements and not be tempted by "that one more coral or fish"

my 2c sorry if i have wavered off topic a bit....
 
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The skimmer Whisperer has spoken.. :)

Some very interesting points you make Alan and couldn't agree more. Design the system you have in mind around your skimmer.
 

leslie hempel

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yeah no doubt alan has played around with these gadgets a little more than the rest of us....:lol:

i still cant wait to fire up my turboflotor baby i obtained from him and pump a little more air as per the famous sir alans suggestion.....

will start a thread when im a little closer to start up....
 
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I have just bought a Deltec APF 600 skimmer it is in excellent condition and I think I got a bargain. I have read a little on using ozone - has anybody used ozone and can somebody give the pro's and con's?
 
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well said alan

since we both know which skimmers A & B are and one should not always judge a book by it's cover, do you seriously think these skimmer are able to handle a 2000/3000L system regardless of what the specs says. I personally wont go above 1000L with either one of them(talking about heavily stocked systems), but that is just me based on the performance I have seen from these skimmers.

Although it's not mentioned in your post, contact time is surely one of the most important factors when choosing a skimmer. We have touched on the subject before, but my feeling still remains that these newer fatter designs of skimmers is not as effective as the taller(and maybe thinner) skimmers. Logic just dictates that your contact time within these different chambers cannot yield the same result. They do have their place in the market as I myself am using a fatter shorter skimmer due to space constraints, but if space was not an issue I would def. of gone for a skimmer as tall as I could.

And then there is placement of the skimmer ....
 

Mekaeel

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well said alan.my total water volume is just over 850litres.what skimmer would you recommend as you are well clued up regarding skimmers?also that im on a tight budget.i was at seans place (sunburst) and was really amazed at the way his reefoctopus performed,4pump recirc skimmer.my problem is that my stand is too low and i will not beable to fit in an insump skimmer.maybe just manage to squeeze ina ts1.i would like something capable of hadling my system volume.any suggestions on a stand alone skimmer?
 

Alan

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Mekaeel, I also have the dual pump reef octo and am totally impressed with it, pulls out plenty gunk. I would look at something in that range. The reeftek and octo range skimmers are well priced effecient skimmers.
 
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Well I got a 500l system and been running an AM1000, did not know any better so thought it was ok - 1/2 cup every 4 day's nice and dark...
Been running a 1 pump Reefocto rated for 1500l and I am blown away, cup is also about 1/2 and is about 3 or 4 times the size... I also got issues with how it's been placed so sure I'll get some more gunk when done correctly...
 

Kanga

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Thanx Alan, this is a very interesting and certainly very necessary topic.
please keep these views coming.
 

Mekaeel

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Mekaeel, I also have the dual pump reef octo and am totally impressed with it, pulls out plenty gunk. I would look at something in that range. The reeftek and octo range skimmers are well priced effecient skimmers.
thanks alan.let me sort out my finances and take it from there.... :)
 

Alan

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well said alan

since we both know which skimmers A & B are and one should not always judge a book by it's cover, do you seriously think these skimmer are able to handle a 2000/3000L system regardless of what the specs says. I personally wont go above 1000L with either one of them(talking about heavily stocked systems), but that is just me based on the performance I have seen from these skimmers.

Although it's not mentioned in your post, contact time is surely one of the most important factors when choosing a skimmer. We have touched on the subject before, but my feeling still remains that these newer fatter designs of skimmers is not as effective as the taller(and maybe thinner) skimmers. Logic just dictates that your contact time within these different chambers cannot yield the same result. They do have their place in the market as I myself am using a fatter shorter skimmer due to space constraints, but if space was not an issue I would def. of gone for a skimmer as tall as I could.

And then there is placement of the skimmer ....
I actually dont know what you base your discussion on when you say you wouldn't trust the BM250 for anything more than 1000L heavily stocked system? I would certainly trust my one to run my 2000L heavily stocked system no problem.
As far as contact time goes it think there has been a skimmer revolution, more than likely because the majority of aquarists suffer with space constraints. Most of the skimmers been developed at the moment are the shorter fatter ones. I think the compensation comes in with the amount of air now being injected into skimmers. Bk [arguably the best skimmer in the world at the moment] and BM use the same method for skimming where by they inject a massive amount of air into the skimmer and then force this mixture up a narrow riser tube thus saturating the water with bubbles. I can only imagine that this increases the polar attraction of particles to air and thus one of the reasons for their success.
 

Muz

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I have just bought a Deltec APF 600 skimmer it is in excellent condition and I think I got a bargain. I have read a little on using ozone - has anybody used ozone and can somebody give the pro's and con's?
I can't see any cons of using ozone, as for the pro's I would say increased skimmer efficiency..

Muz
 
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alan, i'm basing my discussion purely on observation. I'm not saying these skimmers cannot run a system of 2000L+, I would just prefer to be on the safe side and work on a lower rating. I agree that the whole design of these skimmers (BM/BK) is pretty good and I like it, otherwise i would not of bought one.

Back on the topic of skimmer A vs skimmer B. The fact that skimmer B's specs on paper(watt/air/water) is better than skimmer A makes you wonder why the big difference in ratings. I do trust the rating of skimmer A, as it's a company not likely to inflate ratings. There is quite a difference in the design of these 2 skimmers and I would of thought that the design in skimmer B would lend itself to having a better rating, seeing as the design is the same as that of "arguably the best skimmer in the world at the moment" and the fact that it draws more air and water than skimmer A.

Now if you compare the ratings between these 2 skimmers taking into consideration that skimmer A has an "conventional" design(but drawing in less air and water), is this an indication that the "conventional" designs are still superior to the design of skimmer B?

I hope i'm making sense ... lol




tic tac/muz - the basic pro and con of using ozone. pro - increases skimmer mus. con - if overdosed can kill everything in the tank. I'm not familiar with the design of the APF, but if it uses any o-rings, using ozone could damage these parts and a few other parts in the long run. So just keep an eye on your skimmer.
 

Alan

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When running ozone into a system it must be done with a ORP controller otherwise you could wipe your system if ozone is overdosed. The o rings and pvc/acrylic all become brittle with ozone. make sure your skimmer is designed to run with ozone.
 
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I don't really think any skimmer is designed to be run with ozone if long term since they are all made of plastics.
Your best bet would be to run ozone through a cheaper / disposable skimmer that can be tossed after a few years.
 

leslie hempel

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the berlin skimmers lay claim to being ozone resistant but for how long im not sure......
 
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to the point now where you can get a skimmer that can over skim your system and remove too much from the water column.
To new to this to figure out A and Bs :whistling:

How do you recognise over skimming and what is the effect and dangers of it?

Does the quality of the skimming deteriorate of you down tune a skimmer?

How do you do it?
 
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