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Old 03-16-2010, 03:03 PM   #1
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Question Getting conflicting advice, need some clarity re: filtration

Hey folks. The gf and I have a 28 gallon reef tank that we've had up and going for almost 2 months now. I'm sorry in advance if the questions I'm about to ask have been asked over and over again, but we're getting conflicting advice from a lot of people,and we thought we'd come to the experts.

Right now, we have about 25lbs of live rock and are using live sand with about 2" of bottom coverage. We have 2 skunk shrimp, 7 or 8 snails, 7 or 8 small hermit crabs, a Midas Goby and a small Sailfin tang. Additionally, we have a few Branching Frog Spawn Coral clusters. For lighting, we're using a 96 watt ballast with 12,000k and Actinic HO T6 bulbs with the moon LEDs that stay on all the time.

Our tank is in almost perfect condition. We do our water changes religiously, and feed everyone according to a schedule. The lights are on a timer as well. The only thing that has come up during some recent water changes were elevated alkalinity and calcium levels.

The question is this- we are using a Bio Wheel for filtration with an air stone inserted into the top, and aside form the live rock, that's it. We've been told this is enough, but we've also been told that we're crazy for not running some form of skimmer. We've been told by our LFS to get a Skilter. Other friends of ours, along with a seeming majority of the internet have said that Skilters are garbage and to get a Bak Pak2. Others have said to run a sump.

Our tank is running fine, everyone is alive and eating and seemingly happy, and that leaves my gf and I clueless. Why do we need new filtration if everything seems to be working just fine? Yes we're new to this, but we just want to have everything perfect on our tank because we get a lot of pleasure out of this hobby (as do our cats). We're willing to spend whatever it takes within reason to get whatever we need, if we even need anything in addition to what we already have.

And lastly, I'd like to apologize in advance if we're taking a couple more swings at your dead horse, but we're really looking for some sound advice.

Thanks folks!
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Old 03-16-2010, 03:24 PM   #2
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Welcome to AA!!

I'm by no means an expert at saltwater tanks, but have gained quite a bit of knowledge from the experts on here. From what I've understood, with smaller tanks, you don't necessarily need a skimmer. Weekly water changes will be enough to remove excess nutrients in the tank. I've never personally heard of the Skilter (sp?) skimmer, but have heard of Bak Pak2. From reading up on the Bak Pak, I've heard it is a pretty good skimmer to buy. Me personally, I bought a Octopus skimmer off ebay for pretty cheap that is working well. I've recently upgraded to a 125 gallon, so I thought it would be necessary for my tank. With the 28 gallon I feel you'd be ok without it for a while, but its ultimately up to you if you want to buy one. Either way g'luck with the tank

ps You've prolly heard it before, but that sailfin tang is goin to need a bigger tank in the future
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Old 03-16-2010, 03:28 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply! Yes, we know he'll need a bigger tank, and we plan on getting a newer, bigger tank in the near future anyways with him in mind. Basically, everything we currently have in the little tank will be going into the larger tank, and the little tank will house a lionfish afterward (maybe)

As far as water changes, we change 5 gallons out of the 28 gallons every month, as directed by our LFS's (we split our business between 2 of them)
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Old 03-16-2010, 03:52 PM   #4
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I'll go ahead and tell you that most of the guys here will tell you to step up the water changes to once a week. Doing a 10 or 15% change once a week takes the place of the skimmer. Also it will replenish other nutrients for corals.
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Old 03-16-2010, 04:01 PM   #5
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But if we get a skimmer will we still have to do the changes so frequently? Also, we bought supplemental nutrients for the corals.
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Old 03-16-2010, 05:47 PM   #6
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Corals shouldn't need supplemental feeding. They should get everything from photosynthesis and the water coloum. Eg catching little pieces of mysis or brine when you feed your fish.
And that Sailfin is probably too big now for your tank. They need a minimum 6ft tank for swimming room even when little.
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Old 03-16-2010, 08:21 PM   #7
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The water change does more than just remove trash. It also replaces nutrients to the tank. I believe if you do not have too many corals, the water change should replace anything the corals need. Once you get a bunch of corals, then you should supplement. Test the water for everything you supplement so you don't waste it. Besides, a skimmer small enough for that tank size is useless from what I've been told. And a normal hob skimmer would eat up the whole back of the tank.
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Old 03-16-2010, 08:51 PM   #8
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Yeah skimmers for tanks as small as yours accomplish nothing that regular PWC's can't.
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Old 03-16-2010, 08:56 PM   #9
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Pwc`s accomplish two things. 1) they replenish trace elements that are used up during coral and fish processes. 2) They help to dilute excessive nutrients that cause nuisance algea in the tank. Dont be one of those that say I`m not going to do PWC`s and just add trace elements to the tank. In the long run you`ll be sorry. JMO
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Old 03-16-2010, 08:58 PM   #10
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Yeah. Search the site for Floyd's 135G Fix it thread. The guy there never did PWC's and its a shocker.

Search 135G and Floyd.
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Old 03-16-2010, 09:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by melosu58 View Post
Pwc`s accomplish two things. 1) they replenish trace elements that are used up during coral and fish processes. 2) They help to dilute excessive nutrients that cause nuisance algea in the tank. Dont be one of those that say I`m not going to do PWC`s and just add trace elements to the tank. In the long run you`ll be sorry. JMO
I'm sorry if my posts have misled, but we do do regular water changes. We don't, however, do them once a week as up until today we've been under the impression that once a month was sufficient, although we have done them more frequently. To date, in the 2 months we've had the tank, we've done 3 water changes, so please don't get the impression that we're not doing that. We completely understand the importance of the practice.

However, my original question still stands- do we need a skimmer or not with a once a month water change schedule? And if so, is a Skilter the way to go or something else? We understand that we have a non-standard tank size, but so far what we have now is working just fine. And yes we now realize that the Sailfin is too big for the tank, but our LFS said it's fine for the next few months until we get a larger tank and he's doing quite well. Please keep in mind that he is maybe 1.5" long at most, so he's still a baby.

Thanks again for the replies folks, and thank you for the information. We just need a little useful guidance here.
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Old 03-16-2010, 10:21 PM   #12
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I too like the BakPak skimmer for that small tank. I've had a Skilter before and there's no comparison. CPR Bak-Pak Protein Skimmer

I think you'll more easily maintain that beautiful water with a skimmer removing dissolved organics and stuff. That's the mechanical side of the filtration. Then, the natural filtration will happen with the rock and the creatures on it you can't see. I think both skimmer and rock will work well for you with reef too.

Heck, even add 50% more rock if you can.
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Old 03-16-2010, 10:21 PM   #13
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I would do just the PWC's in the tank you have now and save your money for a top of the line skimmer for your larger tank.
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Old 03-16-2010, 10:46 PM   #14
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For that size tank you donr need a skimmer just do frequent PWC`s and it will be just as good.
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Old 03-16-2010, 11:05 PM   #15
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What size tank you movin up to? I think that skimmer can go up to 90g. I have run a much larger tank without a skimmer and just water changes too. Maybe its my imagination, but I think both is gooder. When I see the dirty gunk coming out of a skimmer, I'm feeling pretty good about using one.

But I agree. Skimmer not required.
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Old 03-17-2010, 02:38 AM   #16
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Gooder???
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Old 03-17-2010, 09:04 AM   #17
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It all depends on what you want to do. If you want to stick with monthly changes, then I'd definitely say you need a Bak Pak skimmer, skilters don't work very well. If your willing to step up the water changes to once a week, then you can get away without getting the skimmer
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Old 03-17-2010, 09:10 AM   #18
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Thank you all very much for taking the time to help us out. Your answers have been very helpful.

We're going to go ahead and get the Bak Pak, and step up our water changes to twice a month now, or every other weekend, and from what we've gathered that should be sufficient.

We still have a few more things to work out like a current dead zone on one side of the tank, and suspected un-even heating, but beyond that we're pretty good to go.

Although we did lose our Blenny this morning, which was most definitely a bummer. This leads me to a related question- if one fish dies, but the rest of the stock is fine, is that indicative of a bad specimen or a larger problem? It seems like all of the fish we get from one particular store don't survive for very long, but the other animals and corals have all survived just fine. We're thinking the stock at the store might be questionable, but because we're still new to this we're just not sure.
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Old 03-17-2010, 10:46 AM   #19
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Could be the store uses a crappy distributor. Or the store doesn't take very good care of what they get. One of my friends got a yellow tang that was maybe an inch and a half long, but was so underfed that it wasn't fatter than 3 sheets of paper. Worked out good though, he got the fish for 3 bucks amd nirsed it back to health. That was 4 years ago and now he has a 7 inch long prize winning hog of a tang.

Anywho, If you are going to get a skimmer, like everyone said, get one to handle the larger tank you plan on getting.
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Old 03-17-2010, 05:31 PM   #20
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Sorry Mitch, i meant more gooder.
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