Protein Skimmer Maintenance

7 May 2007
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East London
Being a guy who likes simple filtration i invested in the biggest skimmer i could find at the best possible price.
As this is my only real source of filtration i make a point of keeping a close eye on my skimmer and its yield of skimmate.
Since adding some big surgeon i have had to up my feeding to include more frequent meaty foods into their diet and thus i watch my skimmer more even closley than ever now

Some critical points i feel we need to check are:

heat generated by pumps due to blockages:
this can easily leat to catastrophy in the event that a pump purns out due to insuffiecient cooling or a impellor stuck in place in the stator. the resins could melt exposing the electricals which can have terrable consequesnces for both inhabitants and aquarist alike..

bubble injection rate:
as salt could have crystalised in the intake yoy will notice a definate decrese of bubbles being thrust into the skimmer body.. thus reducing the effectiveness of even the biggest skimmer. it wont necessarily labour the pump but its not ideal... i perform a simple check by putting the tip of my finger on the air intake suction pipe to assess its suction ability. im lucky enough to have a 3 pump skimmer so comparision is easy for me...

Growth on pipework:
I have seen some pretty nasty growth occur in bothe the skimmer and the pipework feeding and exiting the skimmer, i would look at this annually if it does become a problem but it will have to be assessed as per system. i would incorporate all plumbing be checked as chances are it wont only be isolated to just your skimmer if its occurring there..

Growth in the skimmer body:

i have in the past had massive amounts of corraline algae colonise my skimmer body, to the extent where i could not see the bubbles! im not too sure how this exactly negitivley effects the bubble production as i would think it would create more redirection in the chamber but as simular with a car that just had a service my skimmers have always just performed better after propper a clean. i spend a bit of money when it comes to this and i try use a very strong mix i(f not undiouluted ) of white vinnegar and warm water. the longer the vinnegar is in contact with the corraline they will scuffle to neutralise one another so i add a mild solution at first rinse out and reapply.. on badly calcified growths a few attempts of acetic acid application will be neceesary to attack the base in order to neutralise it.




Tip: Do not scrub the skimmer body you will most deffinatley scratch it!!! its worth the extra few bucks spent on vinnegar and a bit more time waiting for it to weaken the corraline than a horribly scratched skimmer body! especially considering the price of these things!!! Paitience!



Obstructions in impellor:
This one effected me the most over the past few years, i have found everything from bugs to baby limpids to cotton and even cat hair in my pin wheel impellor, these all greatly reduce the effieciency and the balance of the impellor and could lead to premature wear of the stator which in turn will compound the problem and eventually necessitate the need for a new pump.. simple maintenance can deter that unnecessary expense.

Handy tools and liquids for maintenance:
old toothbrush
clear vinnegar
mild hydrocloric solutions
warm water
household sponges
longnose pliers
there are no fancy tools needed it can be as complicated as you make it but just as easy!

Things to be cautious of:
  • One very expensive mistake ive seem learnt the hard way and experienced myself is removing the ceramic shaft incorrectly, my advice: treat it as it is pletonium about to expolde and work extreemly carefully with them! they are such a pleasure regarding being a less likley to wear part but are so brittle when pressure is applied wrong!
They can also be expensive to obtain and scarce if certain models of pump on the skimmer are older and discontinued! so beware!

  • Ceramic bushes and or spacers can easily get flushed down the drain! so rather work over a counter top when dismantling the impellor structure, believe me for some reason that little thing just makes that impellor so much better hence its reason for being there!
TIP: if you are not really tech savvy use your smartphone to take pictures of the process before you dismantle the pump and every stage thereafter, you can then flip back through your photos in reverse and re-assemle the pump perfectly ;)

  • rubber seals are little things that can cause a grown man to cry! especially on an externally mounted skimmer pump which relies on these seals to keep the pump watertight! personally i remove them and wash with warm water if im batteling to get them to seat i am guilty of using a bit of vaseline to re-seat them, i have not had any problems with using the vaseline even getting it into my water but i am not too sure on how safe it is in large amounts so use sparingly and try avoid water contact. Im sure there are more approved methods but in desperate times plans are made.
i hope that this has helped somewhat i am no expert but i have had a fair number of mistakes and hope that i can save you doing the same :)
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