The achievement of a successful marine representation in a captive environment, can be accomplished by anyone regardless of their experience level or years in the hobby, if some key variables are met. Safe and conscientious aquarium practices, maintenance of stable water temperature and parameter issues, reduction of nutrients, frequent testing, carbon supplementation and efficient water flow all are necessary to your overall outcome in the marine hobby.
Taking this one step further and equipment such as lighting, calcium reactors, UV sterilizers and chillers can be necessary components to the favorable outcome we all possess. Protein skimmers(foam fractionators) are the single most important item that can be employed, however, to remove impurities, phenol oils, yellowing agents and other organic pollutants, while increasing water flow and dissolved oxygen to your water which becomes exhausted through fish respiration and livestock population mainly.
Protein skimmers act in a way similar to the waves evident at the shore. As the waves crash into the shore, they form microbubbles. Various waste material and pollutants, get drawn in from the tides and become molecularly charged as surface tension takes place causing an “opposites attract” process where these impurities attach themselves to the foam/microbubbles and eventually get transported to the shoreline and deposited there, hence cleaning the surrounding waters. Voila! Protein skimmers!!!!
Below is a list of the three top skimmers on the market in my opinion. When selecting a skimmer, you must take into consideration, price, the size of your tank, the size of your sump if the skimmer will be housed within the sump, bioload, size of skimmer(height and footprint), height of the stand and type of skimmer style.
The three brands of skimmers that I feel will get you the most bang from your buck are: Aqua C, Euro Reef, ASM(Octopus) with honorable mention going to ETSS.
Aqua C has been a mainstay in the marine hobby for many years now and have really taken the world by storm as their technological advances and research have led to a solid mechanical filtration device. Using their patented “spray injection” technique, tank water is drawn into a chamber with millions of microbubbles, where contaminants and pollutants are attached to these bubbles, eventually to be dispersed into a collection cup for removal.
Aqua C has their “Remora” line of hang on skimmers or you can chose an “Urchin” style that is comparable to the Remora only it is housed within the sump. For those with larger aquariums and sumps the Aqua C EV line is awesome! From 40 – 2000 gallons, these skimmers really produce, quietly efficiently and effectively as is evident with the gunk in the collection cup.
Euro Reef has three product lines. RC, RS and CS models contain a Euro-Loc TM zero clearance collection cup, Euro- Air TM venturi valve for maximum air intake and micro bubble support, Euro-Transition TM for the smooth flow of bubbles and reduced turbulence from chamber to skimmate cup, as well as their Euro-Wheel Impeller TM for the maximum bubble production and decreased power consumption.
ASM or Octopus skimmers use needle wheel technology that chops the air into millions of microbubbles to increase skimming ability to rid your tank of harmful contaminants and impurities. Size range is 100 to 1200 gallon tanks comfortably. ASM “G” series skimmers have incorporated the state of the art of Euro-Reef but use an extruded PVC body to cut costs and pass the savings on to the consumer. Very low clearance for the removal of their skimmate cup due to their slip fit with a standard ‘O” ring enables lesser vertical clearance under the tank for the removal of the cup for cleaning and dumping.
ETSS Skimmers are a different type of skimmer technology that employs the “downdraft” process of taking a large pump to force water down a very narrow tube at a high velocity. The skimmer includes bioballs in the tube, not for biological filtration, but for the increased amount of bubbles that are manufactured by the water flowing across the bioball medium before reaching the chamber. This form of skimmer is best suited for very large aquariums with a heavy bioload due to the expense of the unit as well as high electricity consumption, craftsmanship(price), large size(cumbersome) and difficulty of cleaning. ETSS Skimmers are rated for tanks 30 gallons to 10000 gallons. A very nice product though the initial cost and expense to consistently run the large pump, this poses a major drawback to this type of mechanical skimmer.
Skimmers are a very practical and important part of the overall success that can be afforded to anyone that enjoys the marine hobby. Though it is possible to run a marine aquarium without the aid of a skimmer successfully, the consequences can become astronomical and detrimental in short time, and I would advise against employing this scenario by anyone other that an experienced aquarists.