View Full Version : Starting up a SW tank and protien skimmer question

02-17-2012, 11:47 PM
I'm within a month of starting my SW tank. Of course, it will be running for several months with just the sand and rocks to get everything cycled. My question is, during that time, should I have a skimmer running, or can I wait till I start adding fish before getting a skimmer up and going?

02-18-2012, 02:16 AM
You can wait. I'd run it a few days before you add livestock.

It really doesn't have to run for months as long as you can find someone near you to sell you a few lbs of LR and LS. Should get you up and running in a few weeks.

02-19-2012, 10:16 AM
You can start adding fish once the Ammonia and nitrites start going down. If its going to be "fish only" you probably don't even need a skimmer. The skimmer is only really needed to keep the water clean for corals and other sensitive invertebrates. I also wouldn't recommend running a skimmer while the tank is cycling because it will slow the growth of your bacterial community. You need leftover nutrients to feed the bacteria and the skimmer will remove a good portion of them before the bacteria can consume them.

03-10-2012, 12:12 AM
I disagree with Wildisme and h2so4hurts. The protein skimmer needs to break-in too for the same reasons the tank and other equipment do. A thin coating of bacteria needs to be everywhere water is. When something is introduced into the system, bacteria bloom because there is room for colonization. There is also dust and oil from the factory and from hands that the bacteria eat. During the initial bloom, there is a spike of ammonia which is followed by a die-back of bacteria to a sustainable colonization. Without breaking-in the skimmer, you will prolong the nitrogen cycle.

03-11-2012, 01:01 PM
Powers, explain the science of the "break in" period to me... Break in is a myth. The skimmer removes nutrients and restricts the growth of the bacterial community. It's much better to establish a strong bacterial community, add fish, and THEN turn on the skimmer to catch any nutrients the bacteria miss. Your bacteria are much more important and are much more efficient than a protein skimmer.

03-13-2012, 01:54 AM
Powers is correct and in correct.

Yes, a skimmer does have a break in period. Essentially it does it's job as soon as u turn it on. The break in is simply a time period where the bubbles do not foam as well until the oils, chemicals, film or anything else inside the skimmer is removed or coated over with a thin slime coat. These oils etc are things that were left behind during the manufactures process.

However, this only takes 48-72 hrs on avg. So we are back to what I said. You can run the tank skimmer less until a few days before you add stock. Many FOWLRs can be ran without a skimmer in the system. Like I said this is more a concern to corals.

Also like H2SO said, as soon as your cycle is done you can add stock. Ammonia spikes and lowers, Nitrite spikes then both go to 0. At this time it is safe to add stock. Remember not to add too many at once.

You may also want to look into a UV Sterilizer, GFO Reactor, or fuge with macro algae to eat up all the nitrates and phosphates. This will help eliminate any algae blooms like Hair algae, or bacterial blooms like Cyano or Dino.

03-13-2012, 09:37 PM
However, this only takes 48-72 hrs on avg. So we are back to what I said. You can run the tank skimmer less until a few days before you add stock.

Exactly. And this happens throughout the day too. Watch your skimmer about 20 minutes after you feed. There's a huge difference in bubble production. The "break in" that most people on reefcentral talk about is the time period it takes for the crap that gets in the skimmer cup to turn black. For whatever reason, people believe that the black color = more nasty crap coming out, but it doesn't. The crap you pull out the first day is the same that you pull out after a month, the difference is that now your skimmer cup is colonized by other bacteria that break down the crap to change it from a light brown to a black. Bleach your skimmer cup and see what your goop looks like after. It'll be brown again for a couple of weeks. This is why "break in" is a myth.

03-14-2012, 09:34 AM
essentially what you should be doing is have several pieces of live rock, a good cup full of live sand all to seed the tank, throw in a piece of raw shrimp and walk away for a week...turn on your skimmer...remove what is left from the shrimp and then the next day start testing your levels. The thing you REALLY need to understand with marine keeping is that it shouldn't be rushed unless you are a gazillionair and can keep buying new stock to replace the dead. Get quality equipment from the start, take your time, and do your research. All the corals and fish are alive, so when you screw up, you kill it. Just my 2 cents...and I run 3 marine systems