The Protein Skimmer is Necessary (I am looking at you, Nano Reef)

Discussion in 'Other Reef Talk' started by OnTheReef, May 5, 2017.

  1. OnTheReef

    OnTheReef OnTheReef (Eric) Supporting Member

    No, really. After the buying the line that nano tanks don't need a skimmer for the last several years; that nutrient export can be handled by water changes and a little chaeto ball, I am sorry, it just doesn't fly. I have had an AquaMaxx HOB-1 on the IM Fusion 30L for a little over a week now and it's producing plenty of goo, despite having a chaeto ball in one rear compartment and doing a ~ 20% (5 gallon) water change since I spun up the tank again. After having the last two nano setups cursed with repeated algae outbreaks, this is my story and I am sticking to it. *removes soap box stage left*
  2. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

  3. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    It all depends...
    With SPS and no fish, you can have almost zero feeding. No skimmer needed.
    Otherwise - skimmer probably needed.
  4. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    I agree ... fish and tank feeding are a huge factor, especially in small tanks!

  5. OnTheReef

    OnTheReef OnTheReef (Eric) Supporting Member

    All my nano systems have had fish, so there you go.
  6. OnTheReef

    OnTheReef OnTheReef (Eric) Supporting Member

    So the post apparently got deleted, but someone replied as to whether I was trolling or had given this post some thought. :eek: I'd been stewing over this for awhile and there was certainly a bit of /ragequit thrown in there too. Let me add a little more detail:

    I bought an up-and-running JBJ Nanocube 24 on craigslist about 1.5 years ago. I inherited some problems as the tank owner had been lapsing on maintenance and water changes. I got everything running smoothly, then began moving the system from a high nutrient softie and LPS dominant system to a low nutrient system with a mix of LPS and more tolerant SPS corals. I had anywhere from 2 to 4 fish in the system in this incarnation. Repeatedly, everything would seem great and then bang! brown plague algae outbreak. Bang! Dinoflagellate outbreak. Bang! Green hair algae outbreak. During all of this, there were zero detectable phosphates and zero detectable nitrates. I was running carbon and purigen media bag. The middle compartment had rubble and chaeto. During water changes, I would pull the chaeto and media bags and vacuum the detritus out of the rear chambers. In other words, an assiduously clean set of processes and still I was beset with periodic plagues. During this same time period, I ran a BioCube 29 and an Innovative Marine Fusion 30L, with a very similar set of problems.

    The GHA outbreak was the cracking point. I broke everything down. The corals went into tubs and a frag tank, the fish went into my hospital tank and the live rock went into a Rubbermaid tub. I gave it a two-week blackout and then "cooked" it until the nutrients were all gone. Now I am running the IM Fusion 30L with an Aquamaxx HOB-1, in addition to the regular measures I was using before (carbon, purigen, rubble, chaeto, etc). So far, so good. The skimmer is extremely active and needs cleaning every 1-3 days and thus I deem it essential. Hope the context is clarifying.
  7. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    The 0 readings are not because you had 0 levels. Rather, the algae was using them up. If you have algae, you have excess nitrates and phosphates.

    In a AIO, it is difficult to have an efficient nutrients export process using just chaeto. While purigen helps, it's still a passive process.

    I believe in an AIO system, bigger water changes are the way to go for nutrient control.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  8. OnTheReef

    OnTheReef OnTheReef (Eric) Supporting Member

    Yes, I think I have experienced this phenomenon before even in larger tanks (I have run systems up to 100 gallons). I think this is why physical removal and competition for nutrients (live refugium) are so effective at beating back blooms of one sort or another. The protein skimmer is removing larger organic molecules before they can break down into the simpler ion species, which I think is another important component of nutrient control. Larger water changes are going to do the same thing, but since the protein skimmer is most active at night and I generally do my water changes during the day, I am still convinced that the protein skimmer is an essential part of my nutrient control strategy.
  9. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    Out of curiosity what's the lighting you're using like? And specifically what's the photoperiod?
    Much natural light?
  10. OnTheReef

    OnTheReef OnTheReef (Eric) Supporting Member

    The JBJ 24 Nanocube has the LED upgrade in the hood and had no natural light exposure. The photoperiod was 12 hours.
    The IM Fusion 30L has the Maxspect R240R (the model number is stylized so that it looks like "RAZOR") and was running at 45% on each LED channel with a photoperiod of 12 hours. It's next to a sliding glass door, so during the fall and winter it was getting muted light from outside.
    In the reboot, I've turned the LEDs up to 60% and shortened the photoperiod to 10 hours. Since I now have a PAR meter, I realized that all of my corals were not getting enough light intensity. With the new settings, PAR is 80-100 at the bottom of the tank and 140-200 at the surface. As the sun has shifted toward the Equinox, one front quadrant of the tank is now catching about 2 hours of sunlight in the early evening, but this was not happening during the fall and winter when I was battling dinoflagellates. I am looking for a good solution for blocking the sunlight; it will probably be a retractable shade on the pergola outside the sliding glass door.
  11. Nano sapiens

    Nano sapiens Guest

    I deleted my original reply as I had to ask myself the question; "Is this OP serious or just having a bad day?", especially considering the definitive subject wording.

    Running without a skimmer didn't work in your experience, and that's legit. But your title says that a 'Protein skimmer is necessary...', so the question to ask is how do you account for the thousands of nano reefs worldwide that operate successfully without one? We all form opinions based on our own experience, but thoughout the decades in this hobby I have found that a step back to look at the 'Big Picture' is most helpful in obtaining the true state of affairs.

    Experience has shown that reef tanks, of any size, can be successful, or unsuccessful, with or without tools such as a skimmer, GAC, GFO, etc. There are so many variables with each individual reef system that it's not possible to conclude that one must setup a reef aquarium in one way or another to be successful. Identifying what works for YOU is what's really of importance, so 'skim on' :)
    Coral reefer and OnTheReef like this.
  12. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    12 hours is WAY too long imo. Heck, even 10 is pretty long. I'm at 7 total hours lights on and that includes ramp up and down. I believe that is the major factor in your algae issues.
  13. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    I have also heard that weak lighting over a longer period benefits algae over coral.
    Absolutely no idea if that is valid though. I have never seen a real test on that.
  14. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    My light period is 16hrs long.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  15. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    My light:
    Sun rise...tank is next to a big window and get various amount of indirect light depend on time of year
    1pm my light turn on and ramp up
    5-7pm noon and then ramp down to 11pm
    11-1am all blue ramp down
    2am light off.
  16. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

  17. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    No and no and no.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  18. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    You also have a much larger than nano tank. And you ramp up and down your lighting intensity. I'm not sure what the point of these two posts is? Yes photo period can be longer than 7 hours, but is unnecessary for coral health, and was likely a contributing factor to OP algae issues is HIS NANO tank. Obviously all tanks are different, but when I see algae problems and a 12 hr. Photoperiod, I always decrease it.
    I felt this was an important observation since he didn't even mention it in his rant.
  19. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    So you don't have a nano tank or problems w managing nutrients, but if you did you don't think a 16hr. Photoperiod would contribute to nuisance algae growth?
  20. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    My poop doesn't stink. Now we have contributed equally useful posts to this discussion.

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