ETS skimmer

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JEFF PFOHL

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May 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/24/95
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Anthony Tse (t...@ohm.nrl.navy.mil) wrote:

: of gunk in then they get out). Then they went on to claim they can get
: a pint of dark smelly gunk out of a running 150g reef day after day
: after day for more then a month. I found that more then a little hard
: to believe. It is entirely likely that one can get a lot of output

Perhaps, as I'm only guessing, that the ETS had not yet brought the
water down to its lower limit by the month's end. The claim may be
that the skimmer's threshhold is so low that it can continue to pull
gunk out for a month after the other skimmers decide that the water is
already clean enough. I have no idea how much time it would take a
skimmer to pull 100 ppm of gunk down to 10 ppm. But is it definitely
longer than the skimmer that only pulls down to 50 ppm.

What were your final observations regarding the Klaes skimmers you
were looking at? Why have you decided to opt for the ETS over the
Klaes?


--


JEFF PFOHL
E-MAIL: PF...@NUCMAR.PHYSICS.FSU.EDU
PHONE : (904) 644-1598 work
(904) 224-0707 home
(904) 644-9848 fax


"I will shoulder more than my share of the task, whatever it may be.
100% and then some!"


Anthony Tse

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May 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/24/95
to

Well, I am doing some serious planning about getting an ETS, so
I re-read everything I got on the skimmer, carefully this time.

The first time I read the Aquarium Frontier review, something
jumped out and triggered my skeptic/exaggeration alert, and it's still
there the fifth time I read the article.

It is fine and dandy when they talked about side by side testing
using a vat full of skimmate from other skimmers and got buckets worth
of stuff coming out of the ETS (assuming they put more buckets worth


of gunk in then they get out). Then they went on to claim they can get
a pint of dark smelly gunk out of a running 150g reef day after day
after day for more then a month. I found that more then a little hard
to believe. It is entirely likely that one can get a lot of output

after putting in a more efficient skimmer for the first few days,
hell, that happen to my lowly Oceanic #4 after I cleaned its pump, but it
should slow down after a few days when the polluten content
of the tank is brought down to the limit of the skimmer skimming capability.
From then on, you shouldn't get much more out then the amount of food
you put in. So to get a pint of dark smelly gunk out, you would have
to feed like crazy. What did they do? Put in a pound of Formula II
everyday?

Let's do a really simple minded, overly simplified, and probably
wrong example. Say you have a 100g tank, and you feed enough food every
day to raise the polluten content by 100ppm. Say you started
out with skimmer A that "shuts down" when the polluten content drop to
50ppm. So you put the skimmer in the tank, ran it for a few days, got
lots of gunk out, until the polluten content of the tank drop to 50ppm.
From then on, you should get enough out of the tank to keep the tank at
50ppm, namely, the 100ppm you feed everyday. Now, you switch over to
skimmer B, which "shuts down" at 10ppm. So for the first few days,
you get out the 100ppm you put in, plus part of the 50ppm that is already
in the tank. When the tank stablized at 10ppm, you will again, only
get out what you put in, namely, the 100ppm. So if my theory (Tse
Theory of Gunk Conservation) is correct, you will get out the same quantity
of gunk, no matter what skimmer you use, after the tank has stablized to
the limit of the skimmer, with the obvious difference that the stablize
level is skimmer dependent. This will also lead to my other pet theory,
that skimmer size should not depend on tank size, but should depend on what
"clean" level you want to achieve.

Having said that, it is entirely possible, and likely that the
ETS is the best skimmer around, and I will still likely buy one, but
come on, a pint of gunk every day?

-Anthony

John Baez

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May 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/24/95
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Anthony:

Your theory sounds interesting but we would have to add to it the waste
produced by biological processes within the tank. Even if you never fed
it waste would be produced in proportion to the biological processes
taking place.

I've done lots of experiments with skimmers in search of a good design.
I like the ETS but my wife would be very upset if I put a six foot tower
in our family room. I may still buy it in the future to experiment and
run one of my 'test' tanks.

What I have found is that each tank has a 'scum production ratio' all
its own. I've also found that skimmer size has a lot to do with the
amount of scum produced.

I currently have a DIY skimmer with 1000+ cubic inches of reaction area
on my 150g tank. The reaction area is 24" tall and square (7 x 7). This
guy gets about 5-8 oz. of scum out of my tank every day! I only feed
my tank 3 times a week sparingly as I only have a few fish. Redox
levels average about 360mv with the high around 380mv and the low around
350mv.

The same skimmer operating on a less populated tank the same size
produced less scum. Also, an older design, which was smaller (24" high
x 6" diameter) didn't do as well even though it was on the same tank
with the same turnover rate and the same amount of air injection.

As an experiment I tried an even smaller design (24" x 4") with equivalent
turnover and air injection and saw my redox levels go down to about 300mv
in less than 2 weeks! Nutrient accumulation was evident in the algae that
grew on the glass walls. This guy was promptly removed and put back on
the 55g where it did quite well.

What you say about initial gunk production is true if the tank has been
less efficiently skimmed prior to adding a new, more efficient, skimmer.
I've seen this a bunch of times as I fiddled with different skimmer
designs.

My theory is that a properly sized skimmer with a recirculating pump
and strong air injection will rival the ETS. IMO the ETS's advantage
is its capability to generate a very dense mass of air bubbles without
the use of venturis or air pumps. If you can achieve the same density
of air bubbles in other units they would be just as effective. I hope
to design and carry out an experiment to show this in the near future.

John

Kristi Bittner

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May 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/25/95
to
Robert Schuh (rsc...@ix.netcom.com) wrote:
: In <3pua8t$s...@ra.nrl.navy.mil> t...@ohm.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
: writes:

: > ....
: > Having said that, it is entirely possible, and likely that the


: >ETS is the best skimmer around, and I will still likely buy one, but
: >come on, a pint of gunk every day?

: >
: >-Anthony

: Their testing method flawed. You can not run two skimmers side by side
: and expect to get proper results. You would need to run them by
: themselves for a period of time and take quantitative measurements on
: both,ie; redox.

Huh. I always thought it was a pretty cool idea to run the two skimmers
side by side...:-( It seems like the only way to guarantee that the
skimmers are working with identical water/bio-load conditions. I don't
know the physics or chemistry of protein skimmers very well, though. Is
there an interaction between the two skimmers or something? Can you
explain why running the two skimmers side by side might not be an
accurate comparison?

Kristi

Anthony Tse

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May 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/25/95
to
In article <3q111b$q...@ixnews4.ix.netcom.com>,

Robert Schuh <rsc...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>Their testing method flawed. You can not run two skimmers side by side
>and expect to get proper results. You would need to run them by
>themselves for a period of time and take quantitative measurements on
>both,ie; redox.
>

I like their testing method. There are too many varibles that can
change from one day to another to use a back to bac test.

-Anthony


Tim J. Patterson

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May 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/25/95
to

: > ....
: > Having said that, it is entirely possible, and likely that the
: >ETS is the best skimmer around, and I will still likely buy one, but
: >come on, a pint of gunk every day?
: >
: >-Anthony

: Their testing method flawed. You can not run two skimmers side by side


: and expect to get proper results. You would need to run them by
: themselves for a period of time and take quantitative measurements on
: both,ie; redox.

Huh. I always thought it was a pretty cool idea to run the two skimmers


side by side...:-( It seems like the only way to guarantee that the
skimmers are working with identical water/bio-load conditions. I don't
know the physics or chemistry of protein skimmers very well, though. Is
there an interaction between the two skimmers or something? Can you
explain why running the two skimmers side by side might not be an
accurate comparison?

I'm afraid I also don't follow why you can't run them side by side. It
seems like the very best comparison to me. Identical water going into
both so comparison should be legetimate.

Tim


Robert Schuh

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May 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/25/95
to
In <3pudkv$g...@mailer.fsu.edu> pf...@nucmar.physics.fsu.edu (JEFF
PFOHL) writes:
>
>Anthony Tse (t...@ohm.nrl.navy.mil) wrote:
>
>: of gunk in then they get out). Then they went on to claim they can

get
>: a pint of dark smelly gunk out of a running 150g reef day after day
>: after day for more then a month. I found that more then a little
hard
>: to believe. It is entirely likely that one can get a lot of output
>
>Perhaps, as I'm only guessing, that the ETS had not yet brought the
>water down to its lower limit by the month's end. The claim may be
>that the skimmer's threshhold is so low that it can continue to pull
>gunk out for a month after the other skimmers decide that the water is
>already clean enough. I have no idea how much time it would take a
>skimmer to pull 100 ppm of gunk down to 10 ppm. But is it definitely
>longer than the skimmer that only pulls down to 50 ppm.
>
>What were your final observations regarding the Klaes skimmers you
>were looking at? Why have you decided to opt for the ETS over the
>Klaes?
>
>
> --
>
>
> JEFF PFOHL
> E-MAIL: PF...@NUCMAR.PHYSICS.FSU.EDU
> PHONE : (904) 644-1598 work
> (904) 224-0707 home
> (904) 644-9848 fax
>
>
>"I will shoulder more than my share of the task, whatever it may be.
>100% and then some!"
>
>
>
I have heard nothing but good about the ETS. If you have not seen it or
read about it you should check it out. It is an interesting new concept
but is is too expensive for the average hobbiest and this is the guy(or
gal) that really needs to be addressed. I have heard that Top Fathom is
working on a similar concept but will be PVC construction and should be
about 1/2 price of ETS. If this pans out it will really help the
average guy.

rsc...@ix.netcom.com

Robert Schuh

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May 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/25/95
to
In <3pua8t$s...@ra.nrl.navy.mil> t...@ohm.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
writes:
>
>
>
> Well, I am doing some serious planning about getting an ETS, so
>I re-read everything I got on the skimmer, carefully this time.
>
> The first time I read the Aquarium Frontier review, something
>jumped out and triggered my skeptic/exaggeration alert, and it's still
>there the fifth time I read the article.
>
> It is fine and dandy when they talked about side by side testing
>using a vat full of skimmate from other skimmers and got buckets worth
>of stuff coming out of the ETS (assuming they put more buckets worth
>of gunk in then they get out). Then they went on to claim they can
get
>a pint of dark smelly gunk out of a running 150g reef day after day
>after day for more then a month. I found that more then a little hard
>to believe. It is entirely likely that one can get a lot of output
> Having said that, it is entirely possible, and likely that the
>ETS is the best skimmer around, and I will still likely buy one, but
>come on, a pint of gunk every day?
>
>-Anthony

Their testing method flawed. You can not run two skimmers side by side
and expect to get proper results. You would need to run them by
themselves for a period of time and take quantitative measurements on
both,ie; redox.

rsc...@ix.netcom.com

Robert Schuh

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May 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/26/95
to
In <3q2gpj$9...@hpscit.sc.hp.com> kri...@sc.hp.com (Kristi Bittner)
writes:
>
>Robert Schuh (rsc...@ix.netcom.com) wrote:
>: In <3pua8t$s...@ra.nrl.navy.mil> t...@ohm.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
>: writes:
>
>: > ....
>: > Having said that, it is entirely possible, and likely that

the
>: >ETS is the best skimmer around, and I will still likely buy one,
but
>: >come on, a pint of gunk every day?
>: >
>: >-Anthony
>
>: Their testing method flawed. You can not run two skimmers side by
side
>: and expect to get proper results. You would need to run them by
>: themselves for a period of time and take quantitative measurements
on
>: both,ie; redox.
>
>Huh. I always thought it was a pretty cool idea to run the two
skimmers
>side by side...:-( It seems like the only way to guarantee that the
>skimmers are working with identical water/bio-load conditions. I
don't
>know the physics or chemistry of protein skimmers very well, though.
Is
>there an interaction between the two skimmers or something? Can you
>explain why running the two skimmers side by side might not be an
>accurate comparison?
>
>Kristi


It almost comes down to which unit gets the water first. Eben though
they may be side by side, one unit is inevitibly going to get the
nutrient infested water first, thus the first skimmer is going to pull
more. We set up a 120 reef in Fl with 2 Top Fathom TF200 skimmers that
are 24" tall. Thi was to fit under the stand. We originally wanted a
48" unit but decided against it for size constraints. From day one, one
skimmer always pulled much more crap than the other. They were
identical units with eaual water flow and in theory should have worked
the same. No such luck. It is kind of strange. Needless to say we went
to a 67" TF500 and hid it in the back and everything lived happily ever
after.

rsc...@ix.netcom.com

Craig Bingman

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May 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/26/95
to
In article <3pua8t$s...@ra.nrl.navy.mil>,

Anthony Tse <t...@ohm.nrl.navy.mil> wrote:
>
>
> Well, I am doing some serious planning about getting an ETS, so
>I re-read everything I got on the skimmer, carefully this time.
>
> The first time I read the Aquarium Frontier review, something
>jumped out and triggered my skeptic/exaggeration alert, and it's still
>there the fifth time I read the article.
>
> It is fine and dandy when they talked about side by side testing
>using a vat full of skimmate from other skimmers and got buckets worth
>of stuff coming out of the ETS (assuming they put more buckets worth
>of gunk in then they get out). Then they went on to claim they can get
>a pint of dark smelly gunk out of a running 150g reef day after day
>after day for more then a month. I found that more then a little hard
>to believe. It is entirely likely that one can get a lot of output
>after putting in a more efficient skimmer for the first few days,
>hell, that happen to my lowly Oceanic #4 after I cleaned its pump, but it
>should slow down after a few days when the polluten content
>of the tank is brought down to the limit of the skimmer skimming capability.
>From then on, you shouldn't get much more out then the amount of food
>you put in. So to get a pint of dark smelly gunk out, you would have
>to feed like crazy. What did they do? Put in a pound of Formula II
>everyday?

I think you are assuming that all the organic load on a reef aquarium
comes from added food. It does not. There is primary photosynthetic
production from algae and zooxanthellae in corals. The corals take those
organics and turn them into slime, etc. Microalgae grow and are swept
out of the water column. Etc.

> So if my theory (Tse
>Theory of Gunk Conservation) is correct, you will get out the same quantity
>of gunk, no matter what skimmer you use, after the tank has stablized to
>the limit of the skimmer, with the obvious difference that the stablize
>level is skimmer dependent.

There is more than one fate for organics in the aquarium. The skimmer
will get some. Heterotrophic bacteria will get some. If you have a
better skimmer, then the bacteria will probably not get as much to
eat, and more will appear in the skimmer cup. So I don't agree with the
Tse theory that all the organics come from food, nor the Tse theory
of gunk conservation. ;)

> Having said that, it is entirely possible, and likely that the
>ETS is the best skimmer around, and I will still likely buy one, but
>come on, a pint of gunk every day?

It is something like that for Greg's tank. Maybe a bit less, I really
have not sat and watched the skimmate collection vessel over several
days. He does like fish, and he does feed them. He has more fish in
his aquaria now that the ETS skimmers are running than before. They look
great.

One nice thing that has come from the ETS discussion is that people have
thought a little more about what they want their skimmers to accomplish,
how skimmers do that, and really what the heck is going on with organic
compounds in their aquaria.

Craig

Craig Bingman

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May 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/26/95
to
In article <3q111b$q...@ixnews4.ix.netcom.com>,
Robert Schuh <rsc...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:

>Their testing method flawed.

Why?

>You can not run two skimmers side by side
>and expect to get proper results.

Why?

>You would need to run them by
>themselves for a period of time and take quantitative measurements on
>both,ie; redox.

Why?

You are very good at assertion, now let's see what you have to back up
your sweeping statements.

Craig

Nigel Jolley

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May 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/26/95
to
JEFF PFOHL (pf...@nucmar.physics.fsu.edu) wrote:
: Anthony Tse (t...@ohm.nrl.navy.mil) wrote:

: : of gunk in then they get out). Then they went on to claim they can get


: : a pint of dark smelly gunk out of a running 150g reef day after day
: : after day for more then a month. I found that more then a little hard
: : to believe. It is entirely likely that one can get a lot of output

: Perhaps, as I'm only guessing, that the ETS had not yet brought the


: water down to its lower limit by the month's end. The claim may be
: that the skimmer's threshhold is so low that it can continue to pull
: gunk out for a month after the other skimmers decide that the water is
: already clean enough. I have no idea how much time it would take a
: skimmer to pull 100 ppm of gunk down to 10 ppm. But is it definitely
: longer than the skimmer that only pulls down to 50 ppm.

: What were your final observations regarding the Klaes skimmers you
: were looking at? Why have you decided to opt for the ETS over the
: Klaes?


I don't see any problem with Anthony's reasoning. If the report is
correct then the reef must have had a massive amount of waste already
in it or they must have been adding that every day to the tank.

I recon a 150g(us) tank is about 1000 pints if they got 30 pints
of dark brown skimmate out and they didn't add much food to the
tank then when they started the tank should have looked like it had
30 pints of brown goo in it. A dilution of 1/33 which sounds more
like an oil slick than a reef tank. Unless the skimmer does more than
just concentrate the organics in the tank that is.

n...@bnr.co.uk


Craig Bingman

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May 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/26/95
to
Anthony,

First, there is more than one fate for organics in the aquarium. Hetero-
trophic bacteria get some, the skimmer gets some. Putting a better skimmer
on the system may in fact pull more junk out b/c it is getting more of the
organics before the bacteria use them.

I think it is fine to be skeptical about the claims made for the skimmer.
It was some months before I was convinced about it, and this was after
seeing it working several times.

Thanks for not engaging in blanket assertions, Anthony. Many of the
assertions that I've heard have been more or less indefensible,
and people get their backs way up in the air when an attempt is
made to discuss the matter in detail.

Craig


Craig Bingman

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May 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/26/95
to
<Their testing method flawed. You can not run two skimmers side by side
and expect to get proper results. You would need to run them by

themselves for a period of time and take quantitative measurements on
both,ie; redox.>

I think you need to explain these assertions. I happen to disagree with
just about everything you said, but am willing to hear alternate points
of view.

Craig

Kristi Bittner

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May 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/26/95
to
Robert Schuh (rsc...@ix.netcom.com) wrote:
: In <3q2gpj$9...@hpscit.sc.hp.com> kri...@sc.hp.com (Kristi Bittner)

: writes:
: >
: >Robert Schuh (rsc...@ix.netcom.com) wrote:
: >: Their testing method flawed. You can not run two skimmers side by
: >: side and expect to get proper results. You would need to run them
: >: by themselves for a period of time and take quantitative
: >: measurements on both,ie; redox.
: >
: >Huh. I always thought it was a pretty cool idea to run the two

: >skimmers side by side...:-( It seems like the only way to guarantee
: >that the skimmers are working with identical water/bio-load conditions.
: >I don't know the physics or chemistry of protein skimmers very well,
:
: >though. Is there an interaction between the two skimmers or something?
: >Can you explain why running the two skimmers side by side might not be
: >an accurate comparison?
: >
: >Kristi

: It almost comes down to which unit gets the water first. Even though


: they may be side by side, one unit is inevitibly going to get the
: nutrient infested water first, thus the first skimmer is going to pull

I don't know... *seems* like we ought to be able to set them up to get
pretty similar water into their separate inputs... But another factor,
is how closely can we tune them, to their max/equivalent efficiency?

: more. We set up a 120 reef in Fl with 2 Top Fathom TF200 skimmers that


: are 24" tall. Thi was to fit under the stand. We originally wanted a
: 48" unit but decided against it for size constraints. From day one, one
: skimmer always pulled much more crap than the other. They were

OK, it's hard to argue with experience! I am surprised! Course, it
sounds like you were, too! The main question I would have is, did
each of your TF200's take their input directly(separately) from the
tank, or were they in line, one after another? I'll assume they were
NOT in line, as that would have been an obvious explanation, I think.
However, it could depend on just how and where the skimmer inlets are
placed. For example, if one is placed in a really open area of the
tank, versus one is placed next to some live rock... the water
composition may be slightly different. We know that skimmer production
can be quite sensitive to slight changes - like how quickly does the
output change after the tank has some food added?

Each test method we're talking about has an assumption... if you try to
run two skimmers side by side, we assume that we truly have very good
mixing of water in the tank (or wherever the skimmer inlets are - sump,
tank, whatever...). We have to assume such good mixing, that each
skimmer gets identical composition water. Your case also showed that
even if we have the exact same model (and sounds like they were the same
age - like new?) skimmer, even that's not enough. Perhaps there was a
slight difference in tuning - ie, are the airstones (if CC) producing the
same number and size of bubbles? Were the water flow rates the same?
How about the state of the reactor tube - how recently cleaned? and how
thoroughly? How much gunk buildup, or growth?

The side by side comparison assumes we can get the two skimmers tuned
equivalently, or that differences are not significant. I still think
that a tank over time has too many changes and cycles to like the
sequential comparison... but at least it could be plumbed *exactly* the
same. Sigh... :-)

: identical units with eaual water flow and in theory should have worked


: the same. No such luck. It is kind of strange. Needless to say we went
: to a 67" TF500 and hid it in the back and everything lived happily ever
: after.

: rsc...@ix.netcom.com

Thanks for the empirical evidence!

Kristi


Gary V. Deutschmann Sr.

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May 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/26/95
to
I guess I'm an old Sanders die-hard. But the best skimmer I have ever seen
was a Turbelle, I never owned one since the price was way out of my league,
but have seen a Turbelle connected to an aquarium to replace a Top Fathom
and the output was like there never was a protein skimmer on the tank.

I like the Sanders style and convenience, especially the commercial units,
but the home units work great and are easy to maintain. A PVC duplication
home-made is simple and works about the same.

My next skimmer will be a Top Fathom, only because of the numerous
positive comments about them, I want to try one for myself so I can make
better and more informative comparisons. By the way aquarists are talking
about them, they must have changed their original design from the first one
I saw at a pet-shop a few years back. The one I saw, I wouldn't part with
my money for, it didn't look like it was very well constructed or easy to
maintain. It may not have been a Top Fathom but touted as one by the shop.

Gary


Craig Bingman

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May 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/26/95
to
In article <3q38p9$q...@ixnews3.ix.netcom.com>,
Robert Schuh <rsc...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:

>It almost comes down to which unit gets the water first. Eben though


>they may be side by side, one unit is inevitibly going to get the
>nutrient infested water first, thus the first skimmer is going to pull

>more. We set up a 120 reef in Fl with 2 Top Fathom TF200 skimmers that
>are 24" tall. Thi was to fit under the stand. We originally wanted a
>48" unit but decided against it for size constraints. From day one, one
>skimmer always pulled much more crap than the other. They were

>identical units with eaual water flow and in theory should have worked
>the same.

Its probably equally plausible that TF has a little quality control
problem. I'm really not familiar with the adjustability allowed with
these skimmers. You can plump skimmers in series. But if they are pulling
out of about the same area in the sump (one is not feeding out of water
delepeted by organics by the other skimmer) then the skimmers are probably
seeing about the same organics.

Craig

Robert Schuh

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May 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/27/95
to
In <PATTERSO.95...@spudboy.ads.com> patt...@spudboy.ads.com
(Tim J. Patterson) writes:
>
>
> : > ....
> : > Having said that, it is entirely possible, and likely that

the
> : >ETS is the best skimmer around, and I will still likely buy one,
but
> : >come on, a pint of gunk every day?
> : >
> : >-Anthony

>
> : Their testing method flawed. You can not run two skimmers side by
side
> : and expect to get proper results. You would need to run them by
> : themselves for a period of time and take quantitative
measurements on
> : both,ie; redox.
>
> Huh. I always thought it was a pretty cool idea to run the two
skimmers
> side by side...:-( It seems like the only way to guarantee that
the
> skimmers are working with identical water/bio-load conditions. I
don't
> know the physics or chemistry of protein skimmers very well,
though. Is
> there an interaction between the two skimmers or something? Can
you
> explain why running the two skimmers side by side might not be an
> accurate comparison?
>
>I'm afraid I also don't follow why you can't run them side by side. It
>seems like the very best comparison to me. Identical water going into
>both so comparison should be legetimate.
>
>Tim
>
>
>The problem with running 2 skimmers side by side is that, even if you
make the perfect setup, one skimmer will get the water before the
other. We set up a 120 show reef system in FL. Wanted to go with a Top
Fathom TF500 which is 67" tall. For size constaints we went with 2
TF200s that are 24" each. In theory we were going for the equivalent of
48". Well, it did not pan out. They were both coming off of the same
feed but only one skimmer did well. One was getting the water, I guess,
slightly ahead of the other. We found a way to move the skimmer into
another room so we finally did add the TF500 and everything worked
great after that.

rsc...@ix.netcom.com


Robert Schuh

unread,
May 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/27/95
to
In <3q5lqo$s...@apakabar.cc.columbia.edu> cb...@konichiwa.cc.columbia.edu
You must not have had much experience with Top Fathom's products. I
know a guy that sold them for 2 years and never had even 1 problem
because of Top Fathom's quality control(That is about 700 units).
Get the correct info before you almost slander a good product in the
future!!!

rsc...@ix.netcom.com

Dustin Laurence

unread,
May 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/27/95
to
rsc...@ix.netcom.com (Robert Schuh) writes:

>>Its probably equally plausible that TF has a little quality control
>>problem.

>You must not have had much experience with Top Fathom's products. I


>know a guy that sold them for 2 years and never had even 1 problem
>because of Top Fathom's quality control(That is about 700 units).
> Get the correct info before you almost slander a good product in the
>future!!!

Robert, you have done nothing but make unsubstantiated assertions.
When your opinions have earned the respect that Craig's have earned
then maybe we'll be able to take you seriously. If you have an actual
argument to present to counter Craig's, please put it forward. If you
know the details of how the tests were done, please post them so we
can examine these unsupported claims. Craig, I, and a number of other
people here know how a controlled experiment works and are quite
capable of deciding for ourselves whether the results are meaningful
or not--for some of us, it is a professional skill. At this point,
absolutely no evidence has been put forward about the validity of
these tests, so quite frankly I simply couldn't care less what Top
Fathom says.

Experience says that the claims of the aquarium industry are virtually
worthless (with limited exceptions). We have no reason to put weight
on the tests you cite until we have details on how it was done. It
would also be nice to know that it was done by someone without an
economic stake in the outcome.

What you are doing right now is not presenting evidence but mostly
posting thinly disguised ads (which I at least do not appreciate).
Advertising copy is less useful than unsubstantiated rumor to me.

Dustin

--
Lydick number: a paltry 3, but I'm working on it.

Craig Bingman

unread,
May 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/27/95
to
In article <3q6ncf$d...@ixnews2.ix.netcom.com>,

Robert Schuh <rsc...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>In <3q5lqo$s...@apakabar.cc.columbia.edu> cb...@konichiwa.cc.columbia.edu
>(Craig Bingman) writes:

>>Its probably equally plausible that TF has a little quality control

>>problem. I'm really not familiar with the adjustability allowed with
>>these skimmers. You can plump skimmers in series. But if they are
>pulling
>>out of about the same area in the sump (one is not feeding out of
>water
>>delepeted by organics by the other skimmer) then the skimmers are
>probably
>>seeing about the same organics.

>You must not have had much experience with Top Fathom's products. I


>know a guy that sold them for 2 years and never had even 1 problem
>because of Top Fathom's quality control(That is about 700 units).
> Get the correct info before you almost slander a good product in the
>future!!!
>

>rsc...@ix.netcom.com

I didn't slander anything. I merely stated the obvious. If two
"identical" skimmers are pulling against the same water, they should
skim identically. That was not the case in the above report.

One was obviously not performing as well as the other. That doesn't
constitute slander, but you are working yourself way up on my s-list.
Congratulations.

Craig

Mark Hapner

unread,
May 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/27/95
to
So, based on the discussion so far we can assume the accuracy of this
side by side testing technique can be proven by placing two ETS
skimmers side by side and seeing if each pulls out exactly half the
effluent.

I remember an old Kirby vacuum cleaner sales trick where the salesman
vacuums a section of rug with your old cleaner and then vacuums it with
a Kirby showing how much extra a Kirby removes. Of course, he doesn't
then re-vaccuum with the old cleaner to show what was left after the
Kirby.

This side by side testing method may not be quite so conclusive as it
appears on the surface. I believe there has been a long previous
debate about the usefullness of using two skimmers and at that time
most agreed that it didn't work too well. One seemed to always pull
significantly more than the other.

If minor adjustments/setups of essentially equal skimmers can have such
a significant effect how can two different skimmers be compared
accurately?

What evidence do have Craig that this comparison mechanism is
accurate?

How about putting some crud in an empty tank. Running one skimmer
until it can't get any more out and then running the other to see if it
gets any extra?

-- Mark H


Dustin Laurence

unread,
May 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/27/95
to
m...@Eng.Sun.COM (Mark Hapner) writes:

>If minor adjustments/setups of essentially equal skimmers can have such
>a significant effect how can two different skimmers be compared
>accurately?

I agree that testing method has problems. However, putting them on
different tanks is going to have the same problems, plus more.

>What evidence do have Craig that this comparison mechanism is
>accurate?

I think the point is that if they are on two different tanks, you have
the same problem (small adjustments make large differences), plus the
additional large inaccuracies from the fact that two tanks will not
run the same.

>How about putting some crud in an empty tank. Running one skimmer
>until it can't get any more out and then running the other to see if it
>gets any extra?

Doesn't sound promising to me. How about do the side-by-side method,
with each skimmer tweaked by their most vehement advocates (so that
they are adjusted with equal zeal)? :-)

If the skimmers are close to each other in ability, then most of the
time I should be able to adjust the one that isn't working until it is
the one with most of the load. If this isn't true, then I assume that
the one pulling most of the junk is running very near peak efficiency
and tweak it a small amount. I should then be able to tweak the other
one again (the one not pulling stuff out) and make them switch roles.

If I can make them switch roles with tiny adjustments like this, the
skimmers are not measurably different from each other. If one
consistently shuts the other down, then that one is measurably better.

Actually, what about this modification to your idea: run them on bare
tanks, yes, but add a carefully measured amount of some homogenous
skimmable substance, something we can test for. Then test how low the
concentration can be brought by various tweaking and fiddling. This
suffers from the problem that the test substance (say, a known protein
Craig has a test for) probably won't greatly resemble the hetrogenous
soup in a marine aquarium, but it might actually be independently
reproducible (I'm not convinced most of these ideas are reproducible).

Steven Carey

unread,
May 28, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/28/95
to


I have been following this thread and thought that my input may help,
I run 3 red sea skimmers side by side in my sump all fed by 3 eheim 1060
pumps. After air adjustment to maximise removal i always find that
at different times different skimmers are being more efficient.
Some days skimmer "A" will remove more then next day skimmer "B" more.
Even during the day you can see this change in efficiency.

The only thing i put this down to is the small currents that must be set up
supply one pump with more protien laden water.

Hope this helps in sorting out your comparison testing.

I feel that the separate tank test would be the best, but make sure that
when the skimmer is not able to remove anymore. that it is cleaned
again and restarted to remove more before putting the other skimmer
to the test as it will be clean and remove more anyway.

The other way would be to put a known ammount of mess in a tank and run
the skimmer on this for a designated period. Clean out the tank and
test the other skimmer for the same period.

The biggest problem is then interpreting the results.
That is just not on ammount of fluid removed as this is flawed
in that more protien may have been removed with less fluid.


Regards

Steve Carey


Nigel Jolley

unread,
May 30, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/30/95
to
: You must not have had much experience with Top Fathom's products. I

: know a guy that sold them for 2 years and never had even 1 problem
: because of Top Fathom's quality control(That is about 700 units).
: Get the correct info before you almost slander a good product in the
: future!!!

: rsc...@ix.netcom.com

What a shame! You have made some valuable and interesting contributions
to this thread. I will pass over any discussion or advertising or not
for TF products. It is clear that undertaking this experiment on the
performance of skimmers is difficult and that resolution of the
difficulties would be valuable. Craigs comment that small differences
in the construction of a skimmer (i.e. quality control) is just as
valid an explanation as anything anyone else has suggested. But did
you have to take it so personally. If I spent a lot of money buying
two pumps and two skimmers set them up identically and one produced
significantly more waste than the other I would want to know why.
Wouldn't you? Where would you start looking for the differences? With
the pump manufacturer? No with the skimmer manufacturer.

Comments like your last one just make the thread deviate from addressing
the issue of comparing skimmers into one of flames and personal attack.
It serves no purpose.

With time reading *.aquaria you learn to recognise people who have a
lot to contribute to discussions. Most people send questions and have
no answers. If you loose just one of the people who have specialised
expertise then the whole group becomes much poorer. After all what
keeps people with experience reading *.aquaria and helping the masses
like me that are always asking questions. It's only a guess but I
would suggest it is the few discussions of advanced topics. If these
degenerate into slanging matches. Then is there anything left?

Be positive. If someone says something you disagree with then present
arguements and facts that they cannot refute. Otherwise you might
just as well hit the caps lock button because no one listens.

n...@bnr.co.uk

Sanjay Joshi

unread,
May 30, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/30/95
to

I have been following this thread (ofcourse ignoring the "trash"), and a
couple of things were mentioned that raised a few questions:

1) Some one mentioned that skimmers are very sensitive to adjustment. If so,
how does one know that the adjustment on thier skimmer is correct ?

2) How do you determine that the skimmer is performing efficiently ? Just by
looking at the amount of output can't realy be enough. For example, if i had a
tank that was producing x amount of removable gunk, and a skimmer that was
removing y amount (where x > y) my skimmer would ideally always be extracting
something. This could gradually lead to poor quality water even though the
skimmer was working properly. The effects would show up over a long perioed
of time.

Since everyone seem sto think the ETS skimmer is sooo good, I am thinking of
building one for myself. In reading the article in Aquarium frontiers, they
seemed to indicate that even slight deviations from thier design could lead to
poor perfromance. Anyone really belive this ?? or this is just to keep people
from building one ?? I have managed to get most of the overall dimensions
from the article, but lack a feel for what is going on inside thebox. Can any
one fill me in on this. How does the a\water exit the tube ?? There was
mention of a baffle in one of Craig's earlier post - what does that do, other
than prevent the water mixed with bubbles from gushing out the outlet. IN a
running skimmer, where is the water level in the large diamter tube.

Thanks, hope this does't denerate to trash posting :-).

sanjay joshi

============================================================
Sanjay Joshi
Associate Professor
Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering
Penn State University
Ph: 814-865-2108

David W. Webb

unread,
Jun 1, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/1/95
to
Steven Carey <Stev...@werple.mira.net.au> wrote:
>
> I have been following this thread and thought that my input may help,
> I run 3 red sea skimmers side by side in my sump all fed by 3 eheim 1060
> pumps. After air adjustment to maximise removal i always find that
> at different times different skimmers are being more efficient.
> Some days skimmer "A" will remove more then next day skimmer "B" more.
> Even during the day you can see this change in efficiency.

I'm not a marine person, but from what I've read, it looks to me like
the ETS skimmer will pretty much always outperform a column skimmer
when both are run on the same tank.

My reasoning is as follows:

Column skimmers have a limited water flow capacity: Too much flow
messes up the skimmer's ability to work.

The ETS skimmer seems to run in an extremely high-flow capacity, with
a powerful pump. It just handles a lot more water per minute than
most other skimmers are designed to.

If the previous assumptions are correct, the ETS skimmer is going to
turn over several times as much water per unit of time as the other
skimmer in the test.

Given this argument, each 'gunk' particle has X times as much
likelihood to enter the ETS skimmer vs. the conventional skimmer.

Since a properly tuned, high quality skimmer appears to get most of the
gunk in a single pass, and the ETS skimmer makes X more passes per minute
than the conventional skimmer. My guess is that the conventional
skimmer would be starved.

Note: The ETS skimmer doesn't have to be as effecient on a per pass
basis to outperform the conventional skimmer, but the
other skimmer would have to be more than X times as efficient
to outperform the ETS if the two are set up in parallel.

I hope this makes sense. This is a lay view of the situation based on
what I've read so far, so if I'm wrong in some of my assumptions, just
correct me.

-------------------------------------------------------------
David W. Webb
dw...@ti.com
Enterprise Computing Provisioning
Texas Instruments Inc.

Any correlation of my opinions and those of Texas Instruments
is purely coincidental.
-------------------------------------------------------------


Kristi Bittner

unread,
Jun 1, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/1/95
to
David W. Webb (dw...@ti.com) wrote:
: Given this argument, each 'gunk' particle has X times as much
: likelihood to enter the ETS skimmer vs. the conventional skimmer.

: Since a properly tuned, high quality skimmer appears to get most of the

: gunk in a single pass, ...

Well, I think this is just the point that is being debated... what
people used to think of, as *most* of the gunk, who knows, might only
be half the gunk in the water - we don't really have any way of
measuring how much gunk is in the water, nor of measuring how much
comes out... This discussion shows we're not even sure we can make the
quantitative comparison, of which skimmer gets more out than the
other!

: ... and the ETS skimmer makes X more passes per minute


: than the conventional skimmer. My guess is that the conventional
: skimmer would be starved.

: Note: The ETS skimmer doesn't have to be as effecient on a per pass
: basis to outperform the conventional skimmer, but the
: other skimmer would have to be more than X times as efficient
: to outperform the ETS if the two are set up in parallel.

Despite what I said above, I agree with the logic of your note.
Another way of saying this is that, at their designed flow rates, the
ETS skimmer design would have to be X times *less* efficient per pass,
to *under*perform the conventional skimmer.

A wayward question on this, though. I don't know the suggested flow
rate of the ETS... is it really that much higher than conventional
skimmers?!?

Kristi Bittner


Anthony Tse

unread,
Jun 2, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/2/95
to
In article <3qla82$b...@hpscit.sc.hp.com>,

Kristi Bittner <kri...@sc.hp.com> wrote:
>: Note: The ETS skimmer doesn't have to be as effecient on a per pass
>: basis to outperform the conventional skimmer, but the
>: other skimmer would have to be more than X times as efficient
>: to outperform the ETS if the two are set up in parallel.
>
>Despite what I said above, I agree with the logic of your note.
>Another way of saying this is that, at their designed flow rates, the
>ETS skimmer design would have to be X times *less* efficient per pass,
>to *under*perform the conventional skimmer.

I think that are at least 2 parameters in looking at a skimmer:
how fast it can remove gunk, and how low a level can it function
before it's starve.

What you said is the first part. If a skimmer starve at a relatively
high gunk level, you can turn the tank over a billion time and the
skimmer will still be starved on every pass. I always believe that
most reasonalbe skimmer in a reasonable tank set up will remove
gunk fast enough. It's the starve level I am looking to lower.


-Anthony

Craig Bingman

unread,
Jun 2, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/2/95
to
In article <3qf81h$n...@hearst.cac.psu.edu>,
Sanjay Joshi <s...@wimpy1.psu.edu> wrote:


>Since everyone seem sto think the ETS skimmer is sooo good, I am thinking of
>building one for myself. In reading the article in Aquarium frontiers, they
>seemed to indicate that even slight deviations from thier design could
>lead to poor perfromance. Anyone really belive this ?? or this is just to
>keep people from building one ??

Sanjay, my understanding is that small deviations in certain parts of the
skimmer do have a fairly big impact on performance. I doubt that the
patent holders have a problem with individuals tinkering to make their
own "downdraft" skimmers, but I do think they would take a fairly dim
view of people selling them.

Several people (even ones who have seen the skimmer, and used it) have
had difficulty replicating its performance in their own DIY versions.
They will ALL make some foam, don't get me wrong, but it is unlikely to
be capable of supporting the typical 12+ inch foam head of the commercially
available unit.

There was a gentleman on CI$ who put together his own DIY ETS, and it
coughed up a 4" foam head or so, which surprised him, since the thought
that the skimmer he was running on his aquarium was more than satisfactory.
He then went on to buy an ETS, and was planning to run it in a very biased
fashion, as a second stage skimmer, feeding mainly off the output of
his current venturi unit.

>I have managed to get most of the overall dimensions
>from the article, but lack a feel for what is going on inside thebox. Can any>one fill me in on this. How does the a\water exit the tube ??

There is a hole at the bottom of the bioball stack that opens up into the
lower chamber (I call it the baffle box, I really don't know what Gary
_et al_ call it)

>There was
>mention of a baffle in one of Craig's earlier post - what does that do, other
>than prevent the water mixed with bubbles from gushing out the outlet.

That is the main function, starting to separate the foam from the water.
The outlet tends to be close to the baffle. Dynamically, you will see
that this is important, because the region close to the baffle has a much
lower density of bubbles in it.

>IN a running skimmer, where is the water level in the large diamter tube.

Depends on the pump you have driving it. With the 800, and a 55 series
Iwaki pump, the skimmer typically holds a steady-state 12+ inch head of foam,
measured from the point where I judge the foam to change character (going
from wet, mobile foam to drying, close-packed foam.) Yeah, I can
say that 12" is conservative for that pump-skimmer combination. The
entirety of the large OD tubing will be opaque white from all the air
in it.

>Thanks, hope this does't denerate to trash posting :-).

Seems to be a major danger of that these days. You aren't a Top Fathom
distributer by any chance, are you? :) :) :)

Seriously, I don't know what has happened to the aquarium community
lately. One of the prominent aquarists on CompuServe recently was...
I believe shocked is the correct word, to find that his wife had
recieved two separate telephone death threats targeted at him if he didn't
back off from holding certain opinions on the CompuServe aquarium
forum.

I've personally received some incredibly personal and vitriolic mail
from another prominent aquarist, this time related to the ETS in
particular, where I've been informed that my integrity has been
compromised, and other personal slams. This seems to have been
prompted by my observation that everyone who has ever run a skimmer
may be a bit biased in this matter, esp. people who have just plunked
down an hefty sum for another design. The extreme personal attacks
to which I was subsequently subjected make that point in a more concise
and eloquent fashion that I could have hoped to make myself.

I think people need to chill out. Death threats and very intentional,
very pointed personal disrespect have no place in our community. When
people feel the need to hurl personal attacks rather than discuss ideas,
then it is a good idea to back off, take stock of what the hell is going
on and why you are so troubled, and try to de-escalate the discussion
back to the land of ideas rather than personalities.

Craig

Craig Bingman

unread,
Jun 3, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/3/95
to
In article <3qla82$b...@hpscit.sc.hp.com>,
Kristi Bittner <kri...@sc.hp.com> wrote:
>David W. Webb (dw...@ti.com) wrote:
>: Given this argument, each 'gunk' particle has X times as much
>: likelihood to enter the ETS skimmer vs. the conventional skimmer.

That's true. And if this was the most important metric, then you would
expect there to be a strict, linear, flow-rate dependent relationship
between the amount of quantified "gunk" that the two skimmers take out
of the water. That turns out not to be the case, at least for all of
the cases that I've seen so far.

>: Since a properly tuned, high quality skimmer appears to get most of the
>: gunk in a single pass, ...

I might have tenatively agreed with you before this particular skimmer
came out. I don't anymore. It has become fairly obvious that this
is not a zero-sum game, and if you put a more efficient skimmer on an
aquarium, you collect more total gunk than with less efficient skimmers.
There is the issue of final organic concentration, there is also a
kinetic race between bacteria and the skimmer for organics.

Whether or not the latter is really critical is open to debate. Jaubert
seems to feel that the entire organic load of a reef aquarium can be
dispatched purely with bacteria and a sand plenum arrangement. I personally
feel it is better to skim rather than to rely entirely on bacteria for
this function, but that is an opinion only.

>Well, I think this is just the point that is being debated... what
>people used to think of, as *most* of the gunk, who knows, might only
>be half the gunk in the water - we don't really have any way of
>measuring how much gunk is in the water, nor of measuring how much
>comes out... This discussion shows we're not even sure we can make the
>quantitative comparison, of which skimmer gets more out than the
>other!

I'd agree with the above if the results for the ETS were not so nearly
binary... it does its thing merrily, the other skimmers either effectively
or completely shut down against it.

>: ... and the ETS skimmer makes X more passes per minute
>: than the conventional skimmer. My guess is that the conventional
>: skimmer would be starved.

>Despite what I said above, I agree with the logic of your note.


>Another way of saying this is that, at their designed flow rates, the
>ETS skimmer design would have to be X times *less* efficient per pass,
>to *under*perform the conventional skimmer.

Well... I disagree, but I don't have anything more to add beyond what
I've said in the past about this.

>A wayward question on this, though. I don't know the suggested flow
>rate of the ETS... is it really that much higher than conventional
>skimmers?!?

800-1000 gallons per hour, rated pump capacity, with a "pressure"
type pump. The pressure rated 55 series Iwaki seems to be the
current pump of choice with the 800.

A large diameter 4' CC skimmer, ~6" diameter, starts to have problems
when put on a pump rated at over 500 gph capacity. The problem being
that the pump capacity either starts to over run the inadequately
sized outlet plumbing, and/or the flow rate is high enough that you
start to push air out the outlet... the fine bubbles can only rise at
a finite velocity, and when the water velocity through the skimmer is
close to or greater than that, you have problems. There are some cute
dynamic tricks in the ETS to let it get away with much higher flow rates
than this, in fact, you can go to higher flow rates with the 800 series
skimmer, but it starts to work too well, and you need a taller foam
riser column.

Craig

Philip R. Deitiker

unread,
Jun 5, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/5/95
to
Craig, in response to your statement

>Whether or not the latter is really critical is open to debate. Jaubert
>seems to feel that the entire organic load of a reef aquarium can be

>dispatched purely with bacteria and a sand plenum arrangement.I personally


>feel it is better to skim rather than to rely entirely on bacteria for
>this function, but that is an opinion only.

I agree with Jaebert in this regard, the only problem is that jaebert does
not provide a realistic mechanism for dispatching the phosphate generated
by this type of breakdown. According to the literature on reef ion
chemistry, trace amounts of phosphate are absorded by exposure to dead
coral particles, resulting from mechanical activity (such as wave or storm
action) and from the activity of animals such as parrotfish. Jaeberts
plenum, being diffusion rate limitied, cannot provide the calcium in
solution to compensate for this type of loss of open phosphate binding
areas. This I think is a critical problem in using Jaebert for hard coral
systems. In addition, if the phosphate is not dealt with by some mechanism,
it will eventually lead to a hair algae problem in the soft coral system.
(Indicating a need for a phosphate scavenger, biological or otherwise). I
think there are some ligistical tricks which can correct this problem;
however, without some sort of calcium supplimentation system, even the
tricks are not likely to provide enough calcium for an extensive hard coral
system.
Therefore i think your opinion is justified in this regard, but the
disadvantage of the mega (six story/eight million gallon per hour<G>)
skimmer is its ability to selectively extract useful ions from the water
(as previously discussed), and our inability to know how much has been
removed and what is the best way of replacing these ions. Maybe a better
idea would be to formulate a food which is very low in phosphate, and a
system which is very good at denitrfying, and let the bacteria take care of
the rest <VBG>.

Philip


Craig Bingman

unread,
Jun 8, 1995, 3:00:00 AM6/8/95
to
Hi, Phillip, long time no see.

I agree that there are multiple ways to skin this particular cat.

Jaubert's system has considerable promise for lightly loaded systems...
wherein the phosphate production and calcium/alkalinity demands are
minimal. However, people (myself included) have a difficult time
restraining themselves when it comes to putting stony corals in a
system, and I'm very sure that my promises that I'm not going to load
a hard coral system very heavily would not last long.

One of these days, I'll set up a 55 with a deep plenum, calcreous sand,
and keep a gorgonian/coralline algae/sponge/and a few Carribean fish
biotope aquarium. I suspect that Jaubert's system would work wonderfully
for something like that. I've always felt that 55s are just a little
too deep, but Jaubert seems to have found a way to use that extra six
to seven inches that they tack on the the bottom of a reasonably dimensioned
aquarium to make a 55. ;)

I'll keep the skimmer on the hard coral tank for a long time. They just
produce one hell of a lot of lipids, and skimmers are a very good way
for pulling that out of the water. Oh, coralline algae apparently are
loaded with sterols as well. I wonder if perhaps some of the squalene
that Wilkins finds in his skimmate is coming from the corallines.
(I was a little surprised that these algae contain the quantities of
sterols that they do, but those natural product chemists are busy grinding
up everything on the reef and looking for bioactive substances, and they
occasionally find something quite interesting, even if it isn't quite
what they are looking for.)

Craig


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