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Thread: Going Skimmer-Less?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    Going Skimmer-Less?

    I am thinking about going skimmer-less with my Reef Tank and going scrubber ONLY.

    I have a question for the general forum about it.. Has anyone else tried it for a period of time? What was/is your experience?

    I know Borneman? recommends it, but I am curious about anyone else doing it.


    My main thing about running a skimmer is not just about removing waste but Oxgenation of the water volume through the MB the skimmer produces and also if there is DISCOLORATION of the water yellow/green (tinge) from going scrubber only. I also build and sell my skimmers and standpipes to the public... if there is something that will work AS good if not better than my skimmers, and costs about 1/10th to run and maintain, then I am all for it for my customers.

    My fish are very active and I think its due to good gas exchange and dissolved 02 from the skimmer. However upon throttling up my overflows and increasing the hole size in my standpipes, I found that my OVERFLOW flow itself from each of my pipes has even MORE air to it now that the airline has been increased. Which makes me feel even BETTER about going Skimmerless, as the overflow stanpipes and drain lines are mixing quite a bit of O2 in the water as they circulate the flow, so not having a skimmer which is adding 02 is probably OK.

    My questions about oxogenation and pollutant removal have been pretty much answered by SMM through PM, makes sense that the Algae will also aerate the water (Salt water doesnt carry 02 very well, esp as temps rise) as it respires and photosynthesizes on the screen. Seems like the scrubber will do EVERYthing that a skimmer will do an more (ammonia removal?) so that is a good thing.

    Also a fun fact about the earth and the ocean that MOST people probably dont know is that 75-80% of the 02 we breathe does NOT come from the Rainforests, (doesnt mean I am a fan of cutting them down) but rather from Algae in the oceans, (earth is covered with 3/4 water) which come to think about it, makes me feel even better about going skimmerliss as the algae will add even more o2 to the water as it respires.

    My concern was in CLARITY of the water.. to those of you who have tried no skimmer

    has the water seemed more cloudy/colored since removing the skimmer?


    (color and snow is probably not a bad thing for critters stuff floating around, not so good for viewing tho. but I gather as skimmer "strips" most of the good stuff out of water along with the bad, making the water clean but "void")

    Plus not having another PUMP and expense of skimmer (for newbies) is REALLY a plus IMHO as I see it if the scrubber can do the trick. Not to mention less heat, and also Way less cost going scrubber only $300.00 for skimer/pump vs $25.00 for scrubber? lol

    Nother thing I was thinking about is less VIBRATION in my sump to tranfer into tank (less hum for fish to live with too) The electrical savings prolly equal out adding the lights in place of the skimmer pump so thats probably a wash there.

    Main question I have is did water remain clear going scrubber only? Or was there always a "tinge" to it?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    doncaster UK
    Posts
    212

    Re: Going Skimmer-Less?

    hi m8 ive run my tank with no skimmer from day 1 , granted there's not a lot of corals in there at the mo but here's the test results
    Salinity 35 ppt 35 ppt 35 ppt
    Alkalinity 8 to 10 DKH 7 DKH 8.0 DKH
    Calcium 390 to 450 ppm 420 ppm 410 ppm
    Magnesium 1250 to 1400 ppm 1280 ppm 1275 ppm
    pH 7.90 to 8.40 8.30 8.10
    Ammonia 0 ppm 0 ppm 0 ppm
    Nitrite 0 ppm 0 ppm 0 ppm
    Nitrate 0 ppm 0 ppm 2.5 ppm
    Phosphate 0 to 0.03 ppm 0 ppm 0.11 ppm
    these parameters after only two weeks .
    and here's a tank shot .


    and i put a nem and clown fish in after 3 week there doing fine and also a copperband ,

    i have not added any supplements or changed the water since i set the tank up 2 months ago .
    HOPE THIS HELPS

  3. #3
    Administrator
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    Oct 2008
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
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    10,016

    Re: Going Skimmer-Less?

    I of course have been scrubber-only (and no water changes) for one year now. Many others on here too, and many on other forums including Borneman's. On here, however, once folks get their scrubber working, sometimes they don't come back for a while. So you might have to do some reading of their old posts.

    My main thing about running a skimmer is not just about removing waste but Oxgenation of the water
    Scrubber oxygenate more than skimmers, because of the large surface area (especially with a fan), and because of the strong photosynthesis.

    if there is DISCOLORATION of the water yellow/green (tinge) from going scrubber only
    Coloring (algal content in the water column) is caused by cleaning the screen in the tank; it should instead be removed first. There is no coloring if cleaned properly. And if done improperly, it will clear up by itself as bacteria and copepods eat the algal material out of the water.

    if there is something that will work AS good if not better than my skimmers, and costs about 1/10th to run and maintain, then I am all for it for my customers.
    Cost to make is probably about the same, if you include pump, lights, timer, acrylic housing.

    (ammonia removal?)
    Ammonia is algae's favorite food.

    the 02 we breathe does NOT come from the Rainforests, (doesnt mean I am a fan of cutting them down) but rather from Algae in the oceans
    Aside from bacteria, 90% of all living matter in the ocean is algae. That means the remaining 10% is everything else... whales, crabs, fish, etc. Algae pretty much IS the ocean, and it what makes it operate.

    has the water seemed more cloudy/colored since removing the skimmer?
    Cloudyness comes from not cleaning the screen often enough, so the bottom layers die. Or, in improperly-built scrubbers, it also comes from too little flow (which does not let the algae grow enough, so it dies just the same.) One cleaning (or flow) is fixed, cloudiness too is self-correcting via the bacteria.

    "Snow" (detritus particles) is an entirely different thing. This is all organic, and is all food for the corals and small fish. This is also how reef water looks. Most of the "snow" will be copepods from the scrubber. Copepods are, by the way, also the most prevelent zooplankton component on real reefs.

    $300.00 for skimer/pump vs $25.00 for scrubber? lol
    Yes if you build it.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    81

    Re: Going Skimmer-Less?

    thanks for the comments guys,

    I plan on putting up some pictures and video's shortly of my design..

    Once my Scrubber is mature enough I will dump the skimmer or shortly before.

    Im starting to see some growth after 2 days.. really slight

    All the other's experiences are very encouraging going without skimmers.. one less pump is always good!

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    49

    Re: Going Skimmer-Less?

    How long has your current system been up and running? How much live rock is there? Do you have substrate? Do you have a DSB? If your system is heavily stocked, you should be carefull about stopping your skimmer cold turkey. Rather wean it off slowly whilst monitoring your water parameters. Look at your reef holistically. You scrubber will only be a part of the filtration/purification process.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    81

    Re: Going Skimmer-Less?

    My system has been up and runninga bout 6 years. NO DSB. Tons of LR... My live rock was REALLY LIVE too, I had it shipped in WATER, came full of critters and hitchikers, (some good some bad) Water Volume is large enough at about 150GA total including sump that I think I would be alright dumping the skimmer. (no rapid changes as with smaller volumes)

    Have fuge but no macros at the present. Leaning towards Algae Scrubber only, as SM stated a good scrubber will starve out the Macro's anyways. And it seems PODS like the turf algae as well, so you get that beni too using AScrubbers.

    Will not bail on skimmer until algae scrubber is up and running.. and matured a bit... but looking forward to one less pump/electrical draw on my system, granted the lights add draw too, but already had ONE light, adding one more is gota be cheaper or equal to the pumps use, and adds little or no heat to system.. if anything scrubbers will COOL the water just by the exposure. Evap might be higher, but my skimmer sucks up a lot of water on its own too.

    I think the Algae will do all I need to keep the tank clean, and after reading Borneman's experience and logic, and others too, Im pretty convinced we really dont need skimmers if we utilize scrubbers. In fact they may actually be holding back our tanks

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    49

    Re: Going Skimmer-Less?

    If your system is 6 years old, then you are well experienced already. Excuse my lecture on stability in my last post please. I went skimmerless a year ago, and have only had benefits. I did however make the change gradually. My scrubber was growing well, with a good weekly harvest of algae before I switched the skimmer off completely.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    81

    Re: Going Skimmer-Less?

    No worries, skimmer has been removed a few days ago.. funny how much QUIETER my system is too... Water seems to remain pretty clear in display, so LR doing some filtering too on its own.. I figure WITHOUT the skimmer, there will be even more FOOD for the Scrubber to grow faster. Skimming while trying to get a scrubber going is kinda battling each other IMHO with skimmer removing food that the Algae Scrubber would probably thrive on. So we see.

    So far and algae is just starting to grow on the scrubber after only a few days. Pods have eaten some so I did my first RO rinse today.

    LIke I said my main concern was 02 in the water, not as much as what the skimmer removes.. I think it removes more than we would like to think about, while not removing things like PHosphates and Ammonias, both of which the Algae will do. I am getting plenty of 02 mix through my overflows and even through the scrubber its bubbling bettween the sheets, without the algae adding 02 through respiration yet.

    If I see any radical changes, I can always hook it right back up, but for now its gone..

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