Protein skimmer for non-reef tank?

Discussion in 'Saltwater Tank Equipment' started by fish4life157, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. fish4life157Valued MemberMember

    Hello Fish Lore! I have a 55 gallon currently cycling saltwater tank. I was wondering if I really needed to purchase a protein skimmer even though I don't plan to have corals anytime soon. I am just a beginner with saltwater tanks and I want to know if a protein skimmer would be necessary for a non-reef tank. Also how much water should I change in the 55 gallon during weekly water changes. Thanks!
  2. scotty bWell Known MemberMember

    i havent ventured into saltwater yet but my understanding is the skimmer stops decaying organic mater from messing up your parameters so it would help keep the fish happy in the long run, in fw its 20%-30% weekly water change but i am unsure with sw
  3. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    IMHO, protein skimmers should be used on all SW setups. That said, in a FO/FOWLR, they are not 100% required, but highly recommended.

    Skimmers work to keep DOCs out of the water column, ultimately helping to keep nitrates down (by removing the organics before they can rot and become NO3)

    Most SW fish are wild-caught, and as such, are not exposed to nitrates, thus keeping them to a minimum is in the best interest of the fish. Too, unlike a FW environment, NO3 levels greater than 2ppm combined with elevated phosphates can quickly lead to an algae problem.

    If you choose not to run a skimmer, it is highly recommended that more frequent water changes, i.e. 10% twice a week (not 20% once a week) can help to keep the concentrations down.

    And as discussed in your other thread, I would ditch the canister (they become nitrate factories unless cleaned every week) and just run a skimmer.
  4. EiennaFishlore VIPMember

    Another good reason to run a skimmer: Replacing the salt from all those water changes is expensive. XP I'm learning that with my brackish tank.
  5. MikeFishloreAdmin Moderator Member

    I too would run recommend running a protein skimmer, even w/out corals.
  6. fish4life157Valued MemberMember

    At my local pet store they have used the same model of canister filter on their 55 gallon display tank for years with constant no nitrate levels for years. I has five fish and lots of hard and soft corals. If it works fine for them why wouldnt it work for my FOWLR tank?
  7. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    What nutrient reduction method does your LPS use on the tank?
    Do they have a skimmer running on it?
    How often do they clean the canister?
    How much water do they change, and how often?

    I'm not going to say you can't have a sucessful reef tank using a canister, I'm sure many do. But without knowing the whole picture and the maintenance regime, it's hard to look at a setup and draw conclusions.

    If someone were to look at my reef, and not open the cabinet, they would assume there is no filtration, no heaters. If they open the cabinet, they'd see two fluidised reactors, a skimmer bubbling away and two heaters. They also wouldn't know that all the snails they can't see help keep it clean, and the shrimp too. Nor would they know that I dose supplements weekly, and change 10% of the water every week.

    My point - SW systems are very diverse, and behind the scenes, there's a fair amount of work goes into keeping the display tank looking good.

    It's up to you which way you go, but if it were me, I would add a skimmer, and drop the canister. That's just my approach based on all the horror stories I've read about canisters on SW setups.
  8. fish4life157Valued MemberMember

    Thanks for the input but I just dont want to spend the 450 dollars on a sump and protein skimmer. I have definitely given your response a thought and I have chosen to keep the canister. Keep in mind that I am a beginner and I don't plan on having corals in my 55 gallon tank. I have called around and this is my plan for the tank. I am doing a 15% water change each week and I will clean and replace the pads on the filter every three weeks. I am planning on getting two to three green chromis, a six line wrasse, 2 picasso clownfish, a red shrimp, lots of snails and crabs, and a coral beauty angelfish. I am ready to do more work on the tank if need be. But if you can find me a good skimmer and sump filter for my 55 gallon that is not to pricey please post it on this form. Thank you so much for your help!
  9. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    I'd go three chromis - the more the merrier for them ;) The rest looks pretty solid. Try and introduce the angel second to last, and the wrasse last - this will help avoid territory problems/aggression.

    You also don't need a sump to run a skimmer, you can get in-tank and HOB style skimmers that are reasonably priced and work quite well ;)

    We've got a few reviews of different skimmers here:
  10. fish4life157Valued MemberMember

    Thanks man! If you could choose one of the many listed which one would you get. You have been a lot of help! :;thx
  11. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Really depends on your budget. I'm a high end shopper, so I'd go Tunze, but probably not the nano for a 55G, it's pushing it a bit. Probably the 9004,  

    Only disadvantage of Tunze, they don't do HOB skimmers, so you'd lose some of your tank space.

    The AquaC's get great reviews, I'd probably start there, or Reef Octopus, they make great skimmers at (relatively) cheap prices.

    In your position, continue on the current plan (with canister) and keep an eye on parameters (particularly NO3). You can then do all the research you need, and save for a good quality skimmer (that doesn't necessarily mean expensive). The best advice I can give is, buy quality from the start, it'll save you in the long run.
  12. fish4life157Valued MemberMember

    What I plan on doing is to wait to purchase the HOB protein skimmer until nitrate levels rise(even slightly). I will continue to perform all regular maintenance and watch the tank closely. Because I don't want to purchase the skimmer for my tank till the conditions make it necessary to have one. do you @ryanr think this is a good plan? Or should I just buy a good quality HOB skimmer immediately.
  13. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    I don't think there is a need to get a skimmer immediately. If it is within your means, then certainly start with a skimmer. I'm the kind of person that likes to have all my equipment at the start, rather than trying to make things fit later down the track. That's just me though.

    I'd continue with your plan, but always keep in the back of your mind that you'll want to add a skimmer. Do your rock-work with it in mind so that you don't have to mess with the 'scape down the track.