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  1. [M] Home-brew Protein Skimmer Possible?
    by laurence/cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence) (6 Feb 1993)
  2. [M] Home-brew Protein Skimmer Possible?
    by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) (6 Feb 93)
  3. [M] Home-brew Protein Skimmer Possible?
    by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse) (Wed, 3 Feb 1993)

[M] Home-brew Protein Skimmer Possible?

by laurence/cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence)
Date: 6 Feb 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

srrapp-at-bb1t.monsanto.com writes:

>In article <1kmvjiINN934-at-gap.caltech.edu>, I said:

>> The reasons for doing water
>> changes vary, but many would say that if you are doing them to keep the
>> levels of nitrate in a reef tank low, you are not running the reef
>> properly.  There are reefs that run at zero water changes with no
>> nitrate buildup.
 
>Dustin,  I have had quite a bit of experience with reef tank however in my
>experience I have had to do regular water changes, sometimes large (40%) to
>keep nitrates down. I routinely use 2 pounds of cured live rock/gallon, decent
>salt, protein skimmer, very little substrate and decent lighting.  However I do
>like to use typical reef fish such as small tangs, clowns etc.  Could you
>expound on the conditions and equipment used on reef tanks that you are
>familiar with that have no nitrate and in which water changes are not made?
>Thanks,  Steve

I don't know if I can _expound_, but I'll try.  :)  Of course, you
realize that I'll step on toes no matter what I say.

I made that statement more on the basis of my reading than on personal
experience, because (1) I know very few other reefkeepers personally,
and (2) my current reef is a sort of beta-test model for me to work how
the final design will be.  The current tank won't run at zero nitrates
(though it doesn't do too badly), but I have high hopes for the real
thing.  (Whenever I have the time and money to finish it.  Sigh.)  I was
trying to take the part of the dispassionate observer rather than take
a position of my own, so don't read more into my words that I actually
said.

Anyway, I've seen a number of claims of zero-nitrate tanks in the past.
Based on this (and _strictly_ from my fallible memory), I've come to a
number of conclusions which I'll mention for what their worth.

(1)  I think that tanks that run without nitrate accumulation are more
often "Berlin" style reefs without trickle filters than the more usual
style.  However, I think this is a tendancy, not a rule.  FWIW, my
final reef will not have a trickle filter.

(2)  It goes beyond gadgetry.  As I said, I've seen these claims for
systems with and without trickle filters, etc.  Just having the "right"
setup does not appear to be enough.  The other factors could be a
combination of

    (a) Overall loading of the tank and particularly the fish load.
        Some netters (Hi Anthony) don't believe that there should be
        any fish.

    (b) Having herbivorous fish (tangs, blennies) rather than more
        omnivorous or carnivorous fish.

    (c) The _quality_ as well as quantity of live rock used.  I've
        noticed several people on the net express this opinion as well.

    (d) The skill and talent of the aquarist.  All that TLC by an old
        hand ought to make a difference.

(3)  Synergy of all of the above.  I'd guess that I've seen all of the
above rules broken by somebody who still claimed to have zero nitrates,
but probably not many at once.  Which prompts me to add:

    (e) Black Magic/Favor of the Gods: Some of us are especially
        blessed, some are cursed.   :)

(4)  Nitrate-eating gadgets probably only keep the nitrates at zero if
everything else is close.  The people I've known personally who used
bacterial denitrification couldn't get to zero as far as I know, and
I think that the X-nitrate type products are even less effective.  I
think that you only see big improvements with these kinds of gadgets
if your system would do pretty well without them.  For example, I've
used de*nitrate (similar to X-nitrate) for a while on my current reef,
and I still eventually begin to see a very slow accumulation of nitrates.

Perhaps you could brute-force your way to zero with an enormous,
constantly twiddled denitrator, but at this point I suspect that these
things are best used to finesse the last little bit, if at all.

(5)  Apparently algal filters can have this capability, based on Adey &
Loveland's claims in _Dynamic Aquaria_.  Note that I suspect other
problems with their methods, and am not recommending them, but apparently
their methods work for nitrate control.  They generally claimed to have
nitrate levels about two orders of magnitude less than the minimum level
that one can measure with the kits we use, and changed about 5% per month.
I believe that they recommended water changes only to prevent the
composition of the salt from drifting.

That's what I think, but I'm pretty sure that I could name several people
on the net who are more qualified than I to discuss this.  All I know is
that it appears to be possible by more than one set of gadgets, and I
don't believe in dogmatic statements anymore.  But I do believe in having
as many factors in my favor as possible.

-- 
Dustin                         "I contradict myself?  Very well, I contradict
                           myself.  I am vast; I contain multitudes."

laurence-at-alice.caltech.edu


[M] Home-brew Protein Skimmer Possible?

by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
Date: 6 Feb 93
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <1kvbhaINN4a1-at-gap.caltech.edu> laurence-at-cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence) writes:
>srrapp-at-bb1t.monsanto.com writes:
>
>(1)  I think that tanks that run without nitrate accumulation are more
>often "Berlin" style reefs without trickle filters than the more usual
>style.  However, I think this is a tendancy, not a rule.  FWIW, my
>final reef will not have a trickle filter.

   Actually, I do have a trickle filter in my 75g.  The reason the TF
is there is because I didn't know better when I started the tank, and
I am too lazy to do something about now.  The 29g has no TF, and I don't
think the skimmer is doing much either, it used to suck out quit a bit
of gunk when the tank is new, but not anymore.

>    (a) Overall loading of the tank and particularly the fish load.
>        Some netters (Hi Anthony) don't believe that there should be
>        any fish.
>
>    (b) Having herbivorous fish (tangs, blennies) rather than more
>        omnivorous or carnivorous fish.

   I have fish in both my tanks.  But IDEALLY, if you are after
healthy coral and nothing else, then no fish is probably best.
If you don't stick with a or b, and don't use a algae scrubber,
then the chances are, you can't keep nitrate below .25ppm w/o
some water change.  This is assuming an "average" tank with
"average" load.  If you have 200 lbs of LR in a 100g tank and
only a couple of fish and a couple of corals, then you can probably
go w/o doing any water change.  The other thing is, if your fish load is
low enough, and your small critter population is high enough s.t. you
don't have to feed your fish, then you'll be in good shape.  That's
the case with my 29.  My 29 has nitrate < .25 ppm, and I haven't
done a water for a while.   I am too chicken to go without water change
in my 75.:xG8k|u_

>    (c) The _quality_ as well as quantity of live rock used.  I've
>        noticed several people on the net express this opinion as well.

    Don't know how much that affect nitrate level, but it sure as hell
affect micro algae level.  I made that mistake with my 29g.  It was
a month of hell fighting algae.

>    (d) The skill and talent of the aquarist.  All that TLC by an old
>        hand ought to make a difference.

   Yes, that's why a bunch of my stuff died when I was out of town for
6 weeks.  The professional tank sitter was fairly talented, but you
need to spend a lot of time observing the behavior of the inverts so
you can look for signs.  My 75g was also HEAVELY populated.  If a
piece of coral get bump by a snail and move a 1/4", that's enough
for it's neighbor to kill it.  I am the only one who know my tank
well enough to know when to nudge a piece back into its spot.
Showing up 15 minutes a day to add chemical, feed the fish, and
water change every week don't cut it.

>(3)  Synergy of all of the above.  I'd guess that I've seen all of the
>above rules broken by somebody who still claimed to have zero nitrates,
>but probably not many at once.  Which prompts me to add:

   We also need a universal definition of zero nitrate.  Some may
consider anything less then 1ppm zero.  I don't

>(4)  Nitrate-eating gadgets probably only keep the nitrates at zero if
>everything else is close.  The people I've known personally who used
>bacterial denitrification couldn't get to zero as far as I know, and
>I think that the X-nitrate type products are even less effective.  I
>think that you only see big improvements with these kinds of gadgets
>if your system would do pretty well without them.  For example, I've
>used de*nitrate (similar to X-nitrate) for a while on my current reef,
>and I still eventually begin to see a very slow accumulation of nitrates.

   Don't have personal experience with any of them, but I agree with
you.

>(5)  Apparently algal filters can have this capability, based on Adey &
>Loveland's claims in _Dynamic Aquaria_.  Note that I suspect other
>problems with their methods, and am not recommending them, but apparently
>their methods work for nitrate control.  They generally claimed to have
>nitrate levels about two orders of magnitude less than the minimum level
>that one can measure with the kits we use, and changed about 5% per month.
>I believe that they recommended water changes only to prevent the
>composition of the salt from drifting.

   I've heard similar result form others.  But I still think algae
filter cause far more trouble then the little good they do.  If your
tank need an algae filter, algae will grow in your tank, remove them,
free algae filter.  If you have a healthy tank w/o algae, just seems
fool hardy to spend extra money to grow them.

-Anthony


[M] Home-brew Protein Skimmer Possible?

by tse/ra.nrl.navy.mil (Anthony Tse)
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria,alt.aquaria

In article <1kmvjiINN934-at-gap.caltech.edu> laurence-at-cco.caltech.edu (Dustin Lee Laurence) writes:
>The reasons for doing water
>changes vary, but many would say that if you are doing them to keep the
>levels of nitrate in a reef tank low, you are not running the reef
>properly.  There are reefs that run at zero water changes with no
>nitrate buildup.

    Nitrate level in a reef also depends on bio-load.  I have one tank
that I don't do water change, and one tank that I do 15% water change
every week.  The one I don't do water change has lower nitrate level
(and no, the nitrate is not coming from my makeup water).  The one I
don't do water change is a typical reef tank, the one I do do water change
is a reef tank with a unGodly bio-load.

-Anthony


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