What is a Protein Skimmer? How do I get the right one? A beginner’s guide to aquarium filtration

– Today in the five minute
salt water aquarium guide we talk about how this filter
is going to remove the need for half of your water changes by reducing all that dirty water into one little concentrated cup. That’s coming up. (exciting music) Hey, I’m Ryan, your host at BRStv, and the five minute salt
water aquarium guide. This is clear, simplified, and a direct path to setting up a first successful reef tank. It’s time to find out what
a protein skimmer does, how to pick up the right one, and then tune it for tanks like these. At it’s core, a skimmer’s just a cool tool to remove fish poop and uneaten food from the
tank with near zero effort. The skimmer works by whisking tank water and air together into a foam. The fish waste and uneaten
foods help create a stable, thick foam inside the skimmer which flows up the neck
to collect in the cup, effectively removing it from the tank. More or less everything the skimmer removes means fewer water changes and emptying this cup is just a lot easier than water changes. So while the skimmer’s what I call an optional piece of gear, you can also see why it’s one
of the most popular pieces of filtration in the tank, either as a start up or
one of the first upgrades. With our 40 gallon breeder here, I’m gonna mention three basic options with the Reef Octopus Classic
100 and 1000 skimmers, as well as the Tunze 9004 DC. By far, the Reef Octopus
options are the most popular hang-on skimmers reefers pick up. The 100 and 1000 are
pretty similar options. And at first glance, it’s probably hard to see the difference. Basically, the 100 has a pump that hangs into the
tank, and a bit cheaper. Putting the pump directly in the tank actually makes running it easier. But it’s also not the most attractive thing in the tank. In contrast to that, the classic 1000 uses a siphon design which allows the pump to be mounted externally. It only has pipes in the tank and looks cleaner, but
costs a few bucks more. So the difference in price is just a cleaner look inside the tank. But I’ll say right now, I believe these two options to be the best performing, affordable hang-on skimmers and probably why they’re the most popular in that price range. That said, for our 40 gallon breeder, even though I believe it might not be as high performance as the two reef octopuses, we went with the Tunze 904DC for these reasons. Most important is the form factor. It’s a tiny box. It looks a lot like a typical overflow and blends in with the back of the tank. You can barely see it’s in there. And the DC motor is super quiet. Second, the 9004 DC is also 100% inside the walls of the tank. Plug it in and it just works. No worries about siphon breaks. No worries about overflows on the floor. Just simple and easy. The DC pump makes it easy to ramp the pump up and down to tune the air flow to the organic load in the tank with a simple knob. We can tune in the skimmer easy. And the magnet supports make it easy to position anywhere you want in the tank. It’s also easy to remove as one piece and bring the entire thing to the sink for cleaning and maintenance. This is just one slick,
low-profile skimmer. However, any of the three options that we talked about here will work. So pick the one that speaks to you. The difference will not be dramatic in terms of success rates with your tank. With the E170, you don’t have to worry about the skimmer because it comes with one, slides into the back compartment, and once you flip up the front, you can’t even see it’s there. What you do need is an air
valve and a water level. Use the air valve to create the type of foam that you wanna make: more air being a wetter foam and less air being a drier foam. And then use the water level slide in the side of the skimmer to optimize how you collect that foam. This is a good time to remind everyone that down the road, if you wanna upgrade to a sump and pick up a high performance skimmer, you can because the E170 comes pre-plumbed at a sump down below, if you want. Kind of future proofs
the tank in some ways. Okay so the skimmers are running. They’re not gonna pull much of anything out because we don’t have any fish yet. So, it’s time. Let’s cycle the tank. I mean, the fish are coming soon. We need to make the tank safe for them. There’s some tips here which I believe will triple or quadropole the one year success rates. And it’s worth the five minutes. The entire salt water aquarium guide is always available here. But if you wanna see how we cycle a tank, this is it.

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