Modified Protein Skimmer For Freshwater?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Tank Equipment' started by Jason Watkins, Jul 30, 2017.

  1. Jason WatkinsValued MemberMember

    Hey guys. I am trying a little experiment with a 75 gal freshwater tank of mine. I bought it as a complete setup and it came with a sump and protein skimmer as the original owner had it set up as a reef tank. After doing some reading I found out that protein skimmers don't work all that well in fresh water because it doesn't tend to create a foam as easily as salt water, so I took the skimmer out and have just been using the sump in the standard 3-step filtration configuration with carbon/zeolite blend sandwiched between two filter pads. I got to thinking though. I put the skimmer back in and added a large air pump, which I connected two air stones to and placed in the bottom of the skimmer column. I then adjusted the water level inside the column to just under the lip of the collection cup. Any thoughts on whether or not that much increased airflow might actually make the skimmer work, if even to a diminished degree over a salt water setup? I figured I already had the skimmer so why not try. It's not like I went out and bought one or anything, and if nothing else, it should be a great way to aerate the water without it being visible in the tank. Thoughts? Anybody tried this already?

  2. TwoHedWlfWell Known MemberMember

    Additional reason they're not used so much in fw. water changes are much easier and far more effective.

  3. Jason WatkinsValued MemberMember

    Either way, I'm really only interested in it as a supplemental measure in addition to my regular maintenance; not to avoid any of it. Just thought it might be neat to try.
  4. Jason WatkinsValued MemberMember

    Well, It appears to work. I might actually need to turn it down. this is two days worth. it rose to the overflow level and drained. It's thick, slimy and a nice healthy shade of green. Possible success...

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  5. grantm91Fishlore VIPMember

    They can be used in fw, i learnt about this by accident when i was reading reviews on amazon, a guy ran a huge bubble magus one on his koi pond and it skimmed some gunk let me tell you. I cant really advise or say how beneficial it will actually be but I'm gonna watch this thread as its an interesting subject.
  6. TwoHedWlfWell Known MemberMember

    That looks extremely watery, I don't know if that's enough that I'd call it working. In a marine tank you'd expect to get something like this:


    Can you adjust it so it's a lot drier?
  7. Jason WatkinsValued MemberMember

    Yeah, I too can't say for sure one way or the other if this is having any beneficial effect whatsoever. I certainly wouldn't recommend at this stage everybody run out and buy protein skimmers. It's intriguing nonetheless. I took a picture of my under-tank setup. It's a mess and crowded as all get out. I haven't had it very long and figuring out how to make it look less "fire hazard-ey" has proven to be a challenge. Thankfully it isn't typically visible. So I beg your pardon on that.

    The previous owner installed a little overflow to the cup. I'm planning on possibly attaching a hose and running it to a collection jar. Other than that, my only modification was running both air lines from a large air pump (with air stones) down to the bottom of the column. Foam level in the column is easily controlled by adjusting the flow rate on the air pump.

    Anyway, that's where I'm at. If I have any further success I'll be sure to post it here.

    Attached Files:

  8. grantm91Fishlore VIPMember

    No i doubt he could get darker than that in a fw unless it was a big filthy system, like i said about the koi pond guy. This probably is pointless but its a fun little experiment i guess. I think this guy did well to skim that in the first place from his fw haha. d863374c36e5fd16c95ff6a3162ee60f.jpg it took me 5 days to get that in my sw tank but thats also a wet skim too really, it was my first 5 days of running a skimmer.
  9. Jason WatkinsValued MemberMember

    I have backed down the water level in the column. I had zero prior experience with these things and judging from my reading on the subject, I expected there to be little to no foam so I ran it a bit high. We'll see.
  10. grantm91Fishlore VIPMember

    Yeah I'm in-experienced too, but i played with a diy air driven one a few months back and judging from that in sw I'm betting that you wouldn't get the bubbles consistently high enough in fw to get a thicker skim, but if you did that up to now who knows.
  11. Jason WatkinsValued MemberMember

    Well, here is about four days worth of the cocktail. It's still not quite as dark as what you guys showed me, but it's considerably darker than my last sample. All I did was turn down the airflow. Too high and it's either watery or the skimmer boils over like a volcano. I only have one fish in my tank. It's a 5-inch long bluegill and the tank is a 75-gal so I wouldn't expect too much filth despite her being a heavy feeder. I am currently treating parasites as she was wild caught, so my sump doesn't have any carbon in it. Despite this, the water hasn't gotten cloudy and nitrate/nitrite levels have stayed low. It may just be a coincidence, but there it is. I taped up the overflow as a stopgap but I still plan to have it flow to a collection jar eventually. I expected this to not work at all so to see it actually collecting some crud has me geeking out over here. I can't say for sure it's worth it for people to buy these for FW setups, but they can be made to work, it seems.

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  12. grantm91Fishlore VIPMember

    Amazing, i think this is so cool, you did good with this project id keep it going its obviously beneficial if your getting that off just one fish in a 75g.

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