Do i need a filter if im going to have a protein skimmer??

Discussion in 'Saltwater Aquarium Filter' started by Harrison, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. Harrison

    HarrisonValued MemberMember

    Im going to have live rock good lighting a heater and powerheads i just confused as to weather i need a filter and a skimmer or just the skimmer let me know pls

  2. e_watson09

    e_watson09Well Known MemberMember

    If you have lots of liverock and a couple good powerheads I think you're fine without.
  3. OP

    HarrisonValued MemberMember

    whats a decent powerhead make ? and is 2-3 enough ?
  4. pitbull_nc

    pitbull_ncValued MemberMember

    That would be enough powerheads as long as you have enough live rock. I personally run a HOB filter as well to be on the safeside.
  5. OP

    HarrisonValued MemberMember

    HOB filter....?
  6. ryanr

    ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    HOB = Hang on Back

    And, although we're covering this in your other thread. The simple answer is no, you don't need a filter in marine/reef environment, whether you run a skimmer or not. Caveat: Depending on what you're doing with the filter.

    The main reason is nutrient control - Filters (when used like a FW filter) tend to become a 'trap' for Nitrates and Phosphates (NO3/PO4).

    As I suggested, the entire FOWLR/Reef system is one giant filter. The Live Rock is your bio media, and converts your ammonia through to nitrates. The power heads work to move the water over the 'media' (live rock)

    Many reefers use traditional filters, but remove the bio-media, and use it primarily as a chemical and mechanical filter - that is, running carbon and phosphate/nitrate removers, and filter floss etc. The down-side of running filter floss in a filter is you need to regularly change the filter floss - it is easier to run a micron sock or filter floss in your sump, where it is more easily removed than pulling apart your filter.

    Adding a Protein Skimmer helps remove the Dissolved Organic Compounds/Carbons. Also known as a foam fractionator, a protein skimmer is a chamber in which aquarium water is brought into contact with a mass of tiny air bubbles. Many dissolved organic molecules are surface active, and are attracted to the air bubbles and rise with them to the top of the chamber where they gather as a foam and can be collected and removed from the water.

    A skimmer provides a good method of export of DOC. This affords any system a level of stability, which is most desirable.

    As for your power-heads, there's more to a FOWLR/reef than just powerheads, the total system needs to be turning-over at a given rate. The common accepted minimum TOTAL turnover of the system is:

    Sump about 5x your system volume
    Total FOWLR 10x total system volume
    Total w/Coral 20x total system volume
    Total w/SPS Corals 30x total system volume (SPS corals require higher flows)

    This is a massive generalisation, but a good guide, many reefers run SPS at 50-60x turnover!

    These turnover rates are the combined GPH of your Powerheads + Skimmer + Return Pump rates.

    In my reef system, I have:
    Approx volume 250L (66G)

    2 x Tunze 6055 Powerheads running at about 50%, so about 2500LPH = 5000LPH
    1 x Tunze 9011 DOC Skimmer, runs at 1200LPH
    1 x Eheim Compact 2000+, runs at 1200LPH

    Total Turnover = 7400LPH (can go to 12400LPH if required)

    So I have approx 7400/250 ~ 30x turnover in my system

    In Gallons 1955GPH/66G system
  7. pitbull_nc

    pitbull_ncValued MemberMember

    +1 ryanr. that was an exceptional answer to this question. very detailed. made me look simple lol.
  8. ryanr

    ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Thanks pitbull.

    I should also add, on the power-head thing.

    2 is better than 1 in my opinion - I have 1 on each side of the tank, 1 points more toward the surface (good for gas exchange), the other points lower and to the centre-ish.

    The reason for this (and I have them on an alternating controller) is to create a more 'tidal' flow in the tank. The water flows from the left, then the right, then the left again etc. It allows my corals (Elegance, GSP and bubble) to 'wave about' in the flow, rather than constantly being blown in one direction (which isn't good for them).

    It also helps prevent (prevent not stop) detritus building up in any one spot, helps transport stuff all around the tank for filter feeders (like my blasto), and helps to reduce any dead spots in the tank.

    The fish also seem to enjoy having alternating 'currents' (in a natural reef there is no such thing as a constant flow)

    Note: I'm still playing with the positioning of my power-heads, but I let my corals dictate where the flow should be (they retract if they are constantly battered about).