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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The use of protein skimming as a viable form of filtration in freshwater aquariums is finally reaching the masses. The German firm, Schuran, is actively marketing freshwater protein skimmers. Here's a few pictures.

Has anyone used one of these on a freshwater tank?
 

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I was under the impression that the lower PH we keep in our tanks would make foam fractioning less efficient?

Anyway, I wouldn't use one in a planted tank but I guess in a heavily stocked pond it could be a useful addition.

Giancarlo Podio
 

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I think it has to do with the salinity of the water, but why wouldn't you use it in a planted aquarium?
 

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What exactly do these do? I know they skim the surface for proteins and it removes them. But does this lower the amount of Ammonium in the water? If so i would use it. Then universal fertilizing solutions could be made by light intensity! That would make things much easier for me as i could use a stock solution of fertilizer on all tanks.
 

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Art_Giacosa said:
I think it has to do with the salinity of the water, but why wouldn't you use it in a planted aquarium?
Well first of all aren't we usually faced with insufficient nutrients for our plants? I mean most of our fish loads can't sustain the rate of growth we have without requiring extra fertilizers, a skimmer would further reduce the nutrients the plants have available to them. Plus I'm guessing it may even remove some of the ferts we add. I can just imagine the skimmer overflowing with foam when it's time to fertilize...

Second, if these work in similar ways to regular SW skimmers, they use air which creates huge amounts of gas exchange, for us meaning CO2 loss. You'd have to pump a lot of CO2 into a tank I'd imagine to counter balance the loss from a skimmer.

Like air pumps and carbon filters, they are good but keep them away from my plants :)

I don't know it just doesn't seem like something we "need". I mean sure in reef tanks small traces of macros can be trouble, but we're lucky in freshwater and even better off when live plants are involved. A fish only tank sure, or a lightly planted overstocked tank... nothing regular water changes won't solve. On the other hand it would be nice to see such devices used where fish are overstocked and water quality is often less than perfect, fish stores are a perfect example.

I may be wrong...

Giancarlo Podio
 

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Dont think it'd work well in a planted tank - but may have
use in freshwater fish setup where you have large heavy/messy
feeders or a great number of fish - it'd take the crap out before the
bacteria turn it into nitrates thereby keeping the nitrates down.
 

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Giancarlo,

You make some good points. I think the possibility of taking out the EDTA, as an organic, and in degassing the CO2 would be drawbacks. I don't think it would impact the fertilizers in other ways as I believe it is the negative charge of a protein that is attracted to the positive charge on the bubble surface.

I guess I'll have to build one and do some experimenting. :D
 

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Interesting, I was under the impression that protein skimmers only work for saltwater aquaria. Do I use one for saltwater...YES! Will I use one for freshwater...probably not.
 

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About 10 years ago I was running skimmers on reefs. Of course these were a neccesity in keeping live rock/corals happy. I had a cheaper protien skimmer, yet it was still effective. It was a HOB skimmer and would dump the water back in the tank. With this kind of design it would definately disrupt co2 levels.

Matt
 

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From what I read, protein skimmers can remove some nutrients from a SW tank, like iodine, etc... Not quite sure how much an effect it would have on FW tanks & their chemistry though (prob not much, as they aren't as efficient on FW anyway). For show tanks, with their usual light fish load, etc... I'm not sure if I see a need for one. For a normal tank with a good amount of fish, or just messy fish (like my puffers :x ) it might do something... But just by most of their design, there would be a lot of CO2 loss.

Nano-reef's forums have a nice DIY skimmer design that is easy to make & cheap, not to mention works very well, but it, also, would cause a lot of CO2 loss.
 

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I messed with Fw skimmers long before I got into plants so heavy. I guess around 1988-89 I have an experimental "everything" tank with dual skimmers, Ozone, algae scrubbers, plant filters and a batch denitrifier.
I compared these.

Plant filters clearly won out.
Cheap, easy, least amount of electricity usage, something useful as an export, simple.

About every 10 years or so someone tries to repeat the same thing in this hobby it seems like.

I'll say this: why bother with skimming.

I'll haggle anyone on this topic. I've already done this a long time ago.
Simply because a few cases have shown it to have some effect on a flithy system does not mean it's a good idea to buy one and put it on your tank/lake or pond.

A few hear this and go around telling everyone that skimming can work on FW and everyone should try it and buy one etc.

The bandwagon rolls downward once a again(every few years some similar topic comes up).

Water changes are a non issue for most FW systems, an automatic water changer with a float switch is a better investment. So export is much easier.

I've never gotten any foam out of one and drove the venturi counter current types hard and with high fish loads.

I do not think they will ever "come into their own" in the FW market as much as some might want to push them which is all this pandering is from some SW folks.

FW folks are cheap as it is and FW plant filters have a much better place in the market, but only a couple of relatively unknown companies(Tunze and Hydrologix) make these and they cost too much to be mainstream.

I made some and they are nice and work great, but they still will cost a lot unless you have someone like Marineland etc make them with injection moulding.

Certainly skimmers and plants are at diametric odds whether marine or FW.

I did try Ozone in conjuction with FW skimming, that worked okay, but then you are in with another device, and a Redox controller and a carbon cup to prevent residual from leaking back into the main tank.

You really wanna do all that crap and spend all that money when a water is cheaper and easier?

If you have very hard water, you might get some skimming and Aquatonics also sold a foaming enhancer way back when I also used but still got nothing with moderate water, KH of 8, GH 12.

So you can send me your money if you plan o buying one, I'd suggest a plant filter personally.

Skimmers for Fw have a very narrow range of useful application and with respect to lake management, I'd never suggest one, if space was very tight etc, I might suggest one in conjuction with Ozone and a controller etc. But then a water change would be easier and take up virtually no space.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Hi all. First of all, this looks like a very good site. Keep up the good work

I am a Saltwater keeper, but like to look at Freshwater too and would like to put my 2cents into this topic

A skimmer works by jetting air into water to attract the protein. As air is negitlivly charged, and protein is positive, tthe two will stick together. (Thius is a very basic way to discribe what happends)

With fresh water, i dont know how youu could rase the spitific gravity (amount of salt) in the water to charge the protein, i guess if you injected ozone into the skimmer insted of air, it would work. However, i dont think you would see as much benifit from it the you would in a salt water tank..

Have fun

Mark
 

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You could use very hard water, not just Na/CL, but it would take huge amounts.

It's some company trying to suggest a new way to sell their product to folks that don't need something that does not help them nor work any better than an air stone.

Plants work much better, I've done this test a logn time ago.
That's why I grow plants and don't have all sorts of techy devices.

For Saltwater, refugiums work great also. So do skimmers, I prefer macros/plants to nasty foam personally.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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As already pointed out due to pH / salinity levels these things won't work on FW setups... but even within the salt communities there are several folks turning them off... it turns out skimming very aggressively keeps food and nutrient away from corals, macroalgae and other parts of the food web. So while it'll keep you nitrates as low as possible quite a few are experimenting and turning them off to great results in SW setups! They still are very helpful during rock curing stage but after that point when coralline growth starts to kick in, it might make more sense to leave them off, kinda like the feed plants type approach. Our skimmer has been broken for a while our Riccordia sp. and Montipora. sp. are pushing out from impressive growth rates now, 1/4" or so a month for the Montipora!

Jeff
 

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i guess my question is whether or not "surface" is synonymous with "protein". i've never had a sw tank, so i don't understand the whole protein issue. i just know that fw doesn't have an application for a protein skimmer.

hagen's website offers little on how the surface skimmer works, except that u hook it up to one of their x04 series canister filters. the fw skimmer looks dramatically different than anything else than the sw variety, so i'm not entirely sure if they function the same.

sorry if i don't entirely follow this thread. still a lil confused... :?

-r
 

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Entirely different technologies and purposes... "surface skimmers" are basically an attachment you put onto the filter intake to draw water from near the surface instead of the substrate level... this can help with the oily film/"surface scum" a lot of us get on planted tanks without overflows.

SW protein skimmers are large tubes where water is injected in the middle. Air is introduced into the tube to create a thick foam, organic waste floats to the top into a collection cup thats you clean out every so often.
Jeff
 
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