Protein Skimmer Options?

kamryn2474
Member
I’m a fresh water hobbyist who’s trying to dip my toes in to salt water slowly (I’m going to college for marine biology soooo I feel like if I don’t know my stuff about a salt water tank obviously I’m not doing this right lol) I have recently purchased a FLUVAL SEA EVO XII AQUARIUM KIT, 12 GAL and I was wondering since it’s so small (and if I keep easy fish) would I really need a protein skimmer? Or maybe a natural way to help with the natural protein collection?

Thanks for any advice!
Kammy xx
 
sipec
Member
kamryn2474 said:
I’m a fresh water hobbyist who’s trying to dip my toes in to salt water slowly (I’m going to college for marine biology soooo I feel like if I don’t know my stuff about a salt water tank obviously I’m not doing this right lol) I have recently purchased a FLUVAL SEA EVO XII AQUARIUM KIT, 12 GAL and I was wondering since it’s so small (and if I keep easy fish) would I really need a protein skimmer? Or maybe a natural way to help with the natural protein collection?

Thanks for any advice!
Kammy xx
You certainly don't need one
Are you going to do fish only or fish and coral?
 
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kamryn2474
Member
Joey Bekius said:
You certainly don't need one
Are you going to do fish only or fish and coral?
I’m hoping to do a few small fish but mostly coral though since I’ve heard they are good for starting out
 
sipec
Member
kamryn2474 said:
I’m hoping to do a few small fish but mostly coral though since I’ve heard they are good for starting out
Depends on the coral really
Make sure to do your research before buying anything
And gl
 
Lchi87
Member
HI and welcome to fishlore!

You definitely don’t need a skimmer for a tank that small. Weekly water changes and not overfeeding will help keep your nutrient levels in check.

I would say from my experience that starting with a FOWLR (fish only with live rock) is the easiest to start out with. Fowlr tanks do not need the special lighting that a reef requires and once you have coral, you will need to invest in the lighting as well as monitor your alk, calcium, and magnesium regularly to make sure they are stable and not swinging back and forth. For me, that was a lot to digest in the beginning so I started with just fish and worked my way up to keeping corals.

Hope that helps and good luck with your studies! I kinda wish I had taken marine bio when I was still in school
 
stella1979
Member
HI Kammy Welcome to Fishlore.

You definitely don't have to have a skimmer on a nano tank... though, skimming doesn't hurt, lol. I've been running a 20 gallon long for nearly 3 years without a skimmer and I do have some tips to make up for the lack of one. Keep in mind that the purpose of a skimmer, (among many other 'tools' of the trade) is ultimately for nutrient reduction because the skimmer works by removing organics before they are fully dissolved or broken down into (algae's favorite foods) nitrates and phosphates. So, what we are discussing here are alternative methods to achieve the necessary nutrient reduction which in turn will keep nuisance algae at bay.


Stick to your water change schedule like clockwork. Many salty hobbyists do what they can to extend the time between necessary water changes but we do not have the large setups and gear that allow for that. Thus, 20-25% per week, every week. The amount of water you change may be higher if you are keeping enough fish that the bioload is also high, (I wouldn't recommend more than two small and peaceful fish for a 12 gallon but we can certainly talk more about stocking later if you'd like.)

Consider dedicating a portion of filtration space towards growing chaetomorpha macroalgae, aka, chaeto. Like the marine plants we don't want, chaeto utilizes nitrates and phosphates for growth and it is able to outcompete other algae in the system. Growing chaeto in this way is effectively putting a refugium on your system. My little fuge is inside an Aquaclear 70 HOB. Alternatively, you might consider growing the more decorative types of macroalgae right in the display but this will take some research because some of them are just as needy as corals. Pretty though.

Don't overfeed your fish and once the tank is stocked, consider running a form of chemical filtration that will reduce your phosphate level. ChemiPure is one such product and many reefers are happy with ChemiPure Blue though I personally prefer ChemiPure Elite. The difference is... different absorbent materials inside the pouch. I'm not sure atm of all the 'ingredients' but I do know Elite contains GFO (granular ferric oxide) which is a common phosphate remover in the hobby.

I'm not familiar with your tank or the mechanics/filtration of it, however, if you do run a filter pad or floss for mechanical filtration... buy it from the sewing section at places like WalMart or online via eBay or Amazon. You're looking for 100% polyester without any flame retardant properties and you want to buy in bulk so... you can change that filter pad or floss very often. This is what will catch the bulk of 'gunk' in your tank (large particles and small which would otherwise be skimmed) and if the 'dirty' floss is left in the system for long, the detritus caught up in it will begin to break down into dissolved nutrients, thus, nitrates and phosphates. Personally, I do not always run mechanical filtration, but when I do, I change the filter pad twice a week.

These are all methods of nutrient reduction I use on my own little reef tank. Depending on bioload, feedings, cleanings, and so on, you may need to use all or some of these methods. Generally, in a new tank, fresh from the cycle... well, you don't need a skimmer, a fuge, chemical media and so on. However, in my experience, following the floss and toss mechanical filtration method mentioned above does seem to help with the new tank uglies (namely, the diatom phase most new salty tanks go through). As the tank gets stocked and fed regularly, the nutrient level in your system will rise and you will want other/more nutrient reduction methods in place.

Hope this helps!

(Aww dang... took too long to write the above and Lchi87 ninja'd me!)
 
Jesterrace
Member
On a nano of that size it's almost best to go without simply because nano skimmers are rarely worth the expense and hit and miss for performance. Your food source also goes a long way to the cleanliness of your tank. I've tried a number of different foods when I had my skimmerless smaller tank and the water was visibly cleaner when I switched to LRS Reef Frenzy (which is also a great mixed diet for fish, inverts and corals). You can see everything it offers in one food source here:

 
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kamryn2474
Member
Thank you all for the advice!!! I really appreciate all of it and now I know what to get for filtration as well which is a huge help! I feel like a dunce being surrounded with all this knowledge I didn’t even know I needed haha!
 
Jesterrace
Member
kamryn2474 said:
Thank you all for the advice!!! I really appreciate all of it and now I know what to get for filtration as well which is a huge help! I feel like a dunce being surrounded with all this knowledge I didn’t even know I needed haha!
One of the things you find is that precious little of your freshwater knowledge helps you out with saltwater and in point of fact there are many bad habits to shed. One of the hardest things to do is to convince someone that has years of freshwater experience to research and treat saltwater as if they were a newbie who had never had a tank before. I started with saltwater first, but I spent 4 months researching before I bought my tank and I avoided many of the common newbie mistakes that folks make when going from fresh to salt (ie knowing about RODI vs Tapwater, not cutting the corners on lighting for corals, water evaporates but salt doesn't).
 

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