First of all, sorry for the long post, but I must give the history.
About two weeks ago I decided to take the plunge and start on a reef tank. I have not done saltwater before. I bought a 55 gallon tank, live coral substrate, a bunch of live rock, a protein skimmer, lights and assorted stuff. So far I am growing some very nice algae.
I went to a local LFS
to get some expert advice. This store specializes in saltwater, and does little else. I purchased the water from them as well as the protein skimmer. It is a Sea Clone 100.
I had some specifics I wanted, and one was to have the cabinet supporting the tank as close to the wall as possible. We decided to go with a system with a pump in a sump, the skimmer in the sump, and the skimmer pump in the tank. The LFS
guy came over to install the system, which required precise regulation of the skimmer pump and a valve in the sump. Needless to say, after my den was flooded twice, I shut it down and hung the skimmer over the back of the tank. 4AM adventures in aquaria.
Because of the hairbrained installation of the skimmer, I now had a skimmer with non-original connections. Nevertheless, I was able to hook it up after a weeks worth of trips to Lowes, and get it to work. I used 1/2 inch PVC
and a bit of hose. The pump nose that came with the skimmer is missing, as is the adjustment valve. (They are probably at the LFS
, but I'm not sure if I even want to go there to pick them up.)
To change the larger pump's plumbing, and to remove the extra (sump) tank from beneath the main tank, I had to cut into and reinstall all of the LFS
guy's work. The knucklehead had glued everything together with no way to disassemble it short of a hacksaw. Of course, more water hit the floor. I replumbed everything with several compression unions in the system to allow me to take it apart again in the future if need be. I placed the main pump in a 10 gallon plastic tote box, and deadened the sound with gravel.
In the meantime, I found a deal on some used lights, a SmartLite unit with 50/50 compact flourescents. I took apart the cabinet's canopy and rebuilt it so I could install adequate lighting. My numbers are looking good, and I appear to be on the downhill slope of establishing my biological filter.
spec grav 1.024
The main problem I am encountering right now is I cannot get the Sea Clone 100 protein skimmer to stop putting out a fine mist of micro bubbles. It has not collected anything in the twelve days it has been operating. Because of the screwed up initial installation, I do not have the original plumbing for the skimmer. It does flow well, but as far as the adjustment, it either makes a spray of bubbles, or the air is shut off to it. The air line has a gang valve on it instead of the valve that came with the skimmer. It seems to suck in gulps of air rather than sucking in a steady stream, which makes the adjustment all the more difficult.
So here are my questions:
Does this skimmer REQUIRE the specific air valve it comes with or can a gang valve be substituted as the LFS
Does a reef tank REQUIRE a protein skimmer at all?
Will the fine mist of bubbles harm coral as stated by the LFS
Finally, should I stop while I am ahead, and reconsider this entire endeavor? I have found another LFS
, but I am wondering if they would be any better. LFS
#1 has an employee who is very good at what he does, (shame he did not set up this tank.......) and is very knowlegable. LFS
#1's prices are a bit higher, but I considered that to be OK as long as I got good advice. It's not OK when you are sold incomplete equipment and bungled installations though. Later on, I think they might be the preferred place to buy fish at though, so I don't want to burn bridges.