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Are protein skimmers really needed?
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Mat167
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Joined: 21 Jun 2006

PostPosted: 2006.12.29(Fri)22:57    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not to raise issues or anything, but I know for a fact that regardless of the size of the aquarium (within reasonable context of course) it is possible to maintain a healthy reef without a skimmer. Now I'm not saying that this is a good idea, my boss has been dealing with marine fishes for many years now and he is still stuck in the old ways. At the store where I work, we have a 150 gallon reef with two hang on the back filters with nothing but activated carbon and filter wool (at home I am starting a reef WITH a skimmer). All the test results are fine, and I assume this is mainly because it is not over crowded or over fed.
Furthermore, he refuses weekly water changes because of the required use of salt Rolling Eyes and so the only time new water is introduced is when the water level is topped up. So as long as you plan on keeping hardy fish/corals and don't over crowd/feed I'm sure you'll do fine despite the fact that it is not the wisest decision you could make Razz
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Flame Angel
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: 2006.12.30(Sat)0:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mat167 wrote:
At the store where I work, we have a 150 gallon reef with two hang on the back filters with nothing but activated carbon and filter wool (at home I am starting a reef WITH a skimmer). All the test results are fine, and I assume this is mainly because it is not over crowded or over fed.
Furthermore, he refuses weekly water changes because of the required use of salt Rolling Eyes and so the only time new water is introduced is when the water level is topped up.


Wow, thats quite incredible.
What types of fish and corals are in the tank?
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dale
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Joined: 10 Jan 2005
Location: Abbotsford Canada

PostPosted: 2006.12.30(Sat)0:07    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think we would all agree that many things are possible. The question is what gives us the best chance of success when all factors are considered. If you run a small FO tank the cost of a skimmer may seem prohibitive but once one begins establishing a full reef, or stocking expensive species, the initial outlay for a skimmer is quickly recouped. Right now I am probably at $1200- $1500 in livestock. Is it worth risking the health of my tank inhabitants to save $200 - $400?
Another thing to consider is the nuisance/economic hardship that a poor water quality problem might incur. I just finished treating a clients 300G. tank for cyanobacteria and the cost to him has been several dead fish, 2 weeks of poor aesthetics, $125 materials and $300 labour. One can also factor the cost of having to cook rocks due to nuisance algae outbreaks etc...This is the type of risk assessment we all have to do for ourselves though.
The idea of not doing PWC's because of the cost of salt is pretty funny actually. If the boss did a 15% WC it would only cost about $5. Tell him to do the fish a favor and cut back on one Starbucks Mocha each week Very Happy
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rickyfins
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Joined: 04 Dec 2005
Location: Altoona PA

PostPosted: 2006.12.30(Sat)2:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a HEATED subject and will be for many years to come.

Here is what I suggest, it is not law, but just my recommendation.


FOR Beginners

I would without a doubt use one if you are unfamiliar with a saltwater aquarium. I would only venture into keeping an aquarium without one once you are experienced and know what you are doing.

YES it is possible to keep fish and a reef without one, I have only recently tried it and have been successful at it for nearly a year. With that said I have been keeping fish for nearly 20 years, and have had saltwater fish and a reef for nearly 13years now. That aquarium is 29gals and has all soft corals and LPS in it. A snowflake eel, and 2 maroon clowns are the inhabitants and I have a DSB as well. The system is 8 years old and has been stable since setup.

thanks,

Rick
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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: Meadowlakes, TX

PostPosted: 2006.12.30(Sat)9:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think it is that heated of a debate anymore. Most people use skimmers now. Start a thread on ReefCentral in the SPS forums and see how many people with SPS tanks don't run skimmers...there will be very few. You can drive a car w/o a seat belt but you will be safer with the seat belt. If the setup isn't going to have SPS in it you can run skimmerless and keep up with water changes and be OK. Water changes do export nutrients, all the skimmer does is export them before they break down too far.
It is known that for soft corals that dirtier water is OK. Sps will not grow in dirty water and will die. Running high lighting with dirty water is a sure way to grow nuisance algae.

As far as the LFS not doing water changes that isn't uncommon. We have one here that does that, and he is known for browned out SPS. It takes about a week in his tanks for new shipments to brown out. He gets away with it because his prices are good and he sells the stock before it dies usually. His tanks are littered with bleached coral skeletons. I sometimes buy his browned out corals and revive them. The lfs above may be turning his inventory before the poor water conditions kill them. If it is all soft corals they will live much longer.
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Flame Angel
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: 2006.12.30(Sat)16:57    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm still a beginner with corals.
Can you actually determine between sps and lps without knowing what species they are just by looking at them? For example, in freshwater, even if you didn't know what a swordtail is, you could still tell it was a livebearer because of the shape, swimming style ect. (If that makes sense)
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Flame Angel
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: 2006.12.30(Sat)17:32    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, what would be a good skimmer for my tank? Tank is 75cm x 35cm x 45cm. Inhabitants are 2 Ocellaris Clownfish, 1 Flame Angel and 1 Dusky Wrasse, with some corals-mostly softies. I have already listed most of this stuff already on this topic so....yeah.
Thanks
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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: Meadowlakes, TX

PostPosted: 2006.12.30(Sat)19:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know what skimmers are available in your area...but we do have some Australians here who would.

It is easy to identify the difference in sps, lps and soft corals. Go to www.liveaquaria.com and click on corals. It is much easier to do that than for me to try and explain it here.
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Flame Angel
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: 2006.12.30(Sat)23:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do skimmers using an air stone and an air pump need a wooden air stone or can ceramic ones be used? Or can you use both, but a wooden one will be more effective?
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sirreal63
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Joined: 21 Feb 2004
Location: Meadowlakes, TX

PostPosted: 2006.12.31(Sun)11:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

In answer to all of the questions...yes. Ceramic ones don't produce small enough bubbles to be effective and current technology doesn't use airstones. Needlewheel pumps are currently the best way to inject air with tiny bubbles.
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