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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Price of Skimping on Protein Skimmers

By Patrick Donston

Store Owner, Absolutely Fish


If you've read some of my previous blogs, you know the importance I place on systems and husbandry practices. It's the foundation of success in the marine ornamental industry. Clients go to healthy livestock and word of mouth travels, too.

Captive marine fishes are often exposed to seawater of inferior quality and physical settings that interrupt or impair normal behavior. If the pertinent stress factors can be identified and controlled, diseases are less likely to flourish.

One valuable piece of equipment each marine system should incorporate is a protein skimmer, also known as a foam fractionator. Protein skimmers fractionate dissolved organic waste out of water. This dissolved waste is defecation emitted by the animals in your systems. Just smell the cup and you know what I'm talking about.

Dissolved organic waste, i.e., defecation, cannot be tested by any standard means available to most of us. Neither can too much bacteria or viruses, thus we have to use calculated hypotheses to evaluate in most cases.

When system water becomes saturated with too much organic waste, we may notice a cloudy appearance, excessive algae growth or fish ailments. Remember that bacteria, viruses and small protozoan feed on this matter, enabling them to propagate into large numbers. If these pathogens become too numerous, a fish’s immune system will be at risk and numerous infections could result.

Look at it this way: If parasites, bacteria and viruses thrive on dissolved waste, then it goes without saying that if you remove this waste (i.e., proteins) by efficiently skimming your water, pathogens have less chance to survive and reproduce. The fact is a bacterial-viral count is usually 50 percent to 80 percent less in a system with a protein skimmer than one without a protein skimmer. You may also deduce that well skimmed water will allow a UV sterilizer to work twice as efficiently.

A skimmer should run and always produce foam for collection. A lot of stores have skimmers, but do not have them working properly. I credit this to lack of upkeep or craftsmanship of the skimmer. The cost and size of a skimmer is reflective of maintenance ease, craftsmanship and fractionation efficiency, not the aquatic system's size. Don't skimp on this piece of equipment or your livestock may pay the price. 

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The Price of Skimping on Protein Skimmers

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Reader Comments
After working for a Nationl Aquarium and in Retail for over 12 yrs. we have proven that skimmers and/or UV Sterilizers are NOT needed(nor do they work). As a Rescue Center we cure thousands of creatures without the use of ANY chemicals. We breed endangered species, aquaculture corals and inverts. Carbon is more energy efficient, removes much more than skimmers and hundreds of our clients agree. Don't waiste your money.
Sea Save Inc., Glen Burnie, MD
Posted: 4/30/2010 8:23:19 AM
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