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Are protein skimmers really needed?
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Flame Angel
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: 2006.11.10(Fri)2:35    Post subject: Are protein skimmers really needed? Reply with quote

I believe that protein skimmers are not needed. I may be stating the obvious here, but most fish stores (although they are probably just trying to sell things to me), websites and books all say that a skimmer is necessary for a successful reef aquarium.
I know an aquarium will run better with a skimmer but they seem a bit of a waste of money and time.
I have run a very successful marine aquarium (which is slightly overstocked) for easliy over a year now (I know this isn't that long) with plenty of live rock and frequent water changes. I also have a simple filtration system, just an undergravel filter and a small internal power filter. Although I do have quite hardy fish (clownies, flame-angel and dusky wrasse), I also have corals which are fine with some food supplements and relatively good lighting, 2 blue fluorescent tubes and 1 white fluorescent tube, each 25watts (is this the right units to use for lighting?).

This is only my opinion and there may be something I am missing.

Any thoughts/corrections would be great.
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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: Meadowlakes, TX

PostPosted: 2006.11.10(Fri)6:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

It depends on what thtank size is and what the inhabitants are and how diligent you are with water changes and cleaning. Please list the equipment size and what each living thing is. I know you listed corals but are these sps, lps or softies? It makes a difference and also how long has this been set up and what do you test for? It is possible to have a healthy tankwithout a skimmer but it depends on your diligence and the setup.
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perfectblue
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Joined: 01 Jan 2005
Location: MN

PostPosted: 2006.11.10(Fri)6:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can definitely run a successful saltwater tank without the use of a protein skimmer. Skimmers will however help with maintaining good water quality especially in tanks with a heavy bioload. It really depends on what type of setup you have and what livestock you will be keeping. I've seen larger tanks(70g+) running great without a protein skimmer, or even a refugium.

I don't think protein skimmers are a waste of money and time, but a piece of equipment that if used on the right tank can provide many benefits. Once I started using a protein skimmer I was amazed at the amount of waste it pulled out.
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dale
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Joined: 10 Jan 2005
Location: Abbotsford Canada

PostPosted: 2006.11.10(Fri)21:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a difference between what you can do and what you should do.

Do you suppose all those LFS's, books, websites and fishkeepers know a little something or is this really a "Dark Op's" conspiracy propagated by the worldwide protein skimmer consortium?

Just the other day I serviced a tank that had a SG/Salinity of 1.030 (needed 15G.'s added to the sump due to evaporation), another tank that hadn't had it's Fluval FX5 cleaned in 4 months and a tropical tank that read 55*F so... anythings possible.
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Peppermintboy
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Joined: 10 Nov 2006
Location: Australia

PostPosted: 2006.11.11(Sat)14:40    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I don't k now anything about Protein Skimmers but Flame_angel11 has done a GREAT!!! job at setting up his tank and running it for a year now. I have seen it and well the fish are going fine and well does he really need a protein skimmer??
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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: Meadowlakes, TX

PostPosted: 2006.11.11(Sat)18:37    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is still up for debate, we don't know the size, stocking and other equipment. The UGF is a nutrient sink and is a potential hazzard if it gets disturbed. Fish only it isn't that important if water changes and cleaning are performed. We still don't know what kind of corals, how long they have been there and waht his current water measurements are. An improperly filtered system is a time bomb..I can't tell because he hasn't responded back yet.

If given a choice of skimming or not skimming I would choose skimming anyday. There is no reason not to and lots of reason to.
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FloridaBoy
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2006.11.12(Sun)0:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

A quality skimmer is a great benefit in my opinion.
That first year is not too bad, but LONG TERM, the dissolved organic compounds (DOC's) and nitrates will often start climbing faster than the water changes can reduce them. Undergravels are one of the simplest and best ideas, I love them but sadly they slowly destroy themselves by drawing organic material into the substrate and clogging it. This can be resolved by partially replacing a portion of the substrate from time to time but in the end they, along with many other devices are not true filters at all; they remove nothing from the water column---only convert wastes to DOC's.
The skimmer or foam fractionator truly is different from all other so-called filters, and unique in that it removes/exports DOC's using a nifty bonding trick at the molecular level, and it does this very efficiently, IF it is all of the following:
1. a well-designed model
2. large enough for the tank
3. set up properly
4. maintained properly.

The flip side: unfortunately many skimmers in use at any given time do not meet all the above criteria and consequently they are a waste of money.
For more thoughts on this do read Steven Pro's articles here:

http://www.wetwebmedia.com/proskimrart2.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/protein_skimmer_impressions.htm
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dale
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Joined: 10 Jan 2005
Location: Abbotsford Canada

PostPosted: 2006.11.12(Sun)2:05    Post subject: Reply with quote

and this recent post by yours truly.
http://www.aquahobby.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=38764&highlight=
In particular, look at the part where I test my skimmer. All that green goo is concentrated dissolved organic compound. If left in the tank it will break down to its end form nitrate. The skimmer removes it from the tank (as shown). If not for the skimmer, how would that dissolved organic compound be removed?
The most common method is partial water changes, but these only remove a fraction of the waste a good skimmer does. The problem is that the DOC's are diluted throughout the entire water column. In order to remove 100% of the DOC's you would need to perform a 100% water change, all the time.
As stated, a tank can run for a long time without a skimmer (I've even written an article showing how) but eventually nuisance algae begins to become more predominant and delicate flora and fauna deteriorate. I have experienced this in my own skimmerless tank.
Can you run a tank without a skimmer? Yes - but understand the limitations of such a set up. I, like others, would always recommend a skimmer for longterm success.
I doubt this will sway flame angels opinion - I suspect he is being a little less than up front about his tank conditions judging by his equipment list - but it may help others who are also considering the same issue.
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Flame Angel
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: 2006.11.12(Sun)2:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dosen't live rock do pretty much the same job as a protein skimmer, just not as effectivley?
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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: Meadowlakes, TX

PostPosted: 2006.11.12(Sun)10:37    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not even close...live rock only performs denitification and on a small scale The point of a skimmer is to remove the doc's before they can turn into nitrate. You must find a way to export the nutrients, your UGF is holding them in place allowing them back into the water column. It is a time bomb simple as that. My first tank crash came from a dsb in my display and an engineer goby who grew and decided to excavate the whole tank. The mess of nutrients he released into the water column wiped out most of my stony corals.


We still don't know what your setup is so this thread is really not going to help you much. Why can't you tell us what the tank is and the equipment and what the water tests show? My guess is your nitrates are very high and will only climb higher.
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