Skimmer-less? Or + skimmer

Discussion in 'Advanced Topics' started by rlinusc, Nov 10, 2015.

  1. rlinusc

    rlinusc I contributed!
    Lifetime Member

    Mar 8, 2015
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    Hello all,

    When i first started this tank my goal was to go skimmer-less ala David Grigor and rely more on the ATS and refugium for nutrient export.

    So far my ATS (an L2 from Turbo) runs decently and i have been getting okay harvests. It is hard to see how well it is doing since my tank is still very young.

    I am also running a GFO/Carbon dual reactor. I have been running a HOB Remora Skimmer for when i add new livestock and a couple of times over the weekend. The pull has varied, with some times getting a nice dark skimmate, and other times nothing productive at all.

    Here is my question:

    I think my current ATS is not big enough to handle a skimmer-less filtration. I am trying to decide if i want to get another ATS or if i should give in and just get a skimmer.

    First off, i liked the idea of ATS- the notion of using algae as a filtration/nutrient export just appeals to me. Second, i was very wary of malfunctioning skimmers, with skimmate cups overflowing, or noise, or other issues.

    I am again left with the question of whether or not i should try and still go skimmer-less (and get another ATS) or are skimmers worth it? I know they seem ubiquitous but i am not sure why.

    To give context, my tank is mostly going with soft coral, with some LPS and maybe just maybe in the far future a piece or two of SPS which seems to be the ones that require nutrient-clear water. My understanding is that softies like having a bit more in terms of nutrients in the water.

    I know this is not a black or white answer, but i wanted to see if i was missing something to consider.
  2. bonadewski

    bonadewski Senior Member
    TCMAS Supporter

    Dec 5, 2012
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    I got back into the hobby a couple months ago and decided to go ATS. From what I have heard from Dave you need to use just ATS, no skimmer, GFO(for the most part) and no media filter or liverock in sump. I have mixed emotions so far, my parameters seem to be top notch, ammonia nitrite and nitrate all zeros but its hard to fine tune to keep it from squirting everywhere and making loud noises in sump. Also, no corals in my tank are doing well, not sure if its ATS related or because my alk and calc are too high

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  3. zoolan70

    zoolan70 I contributed!
    Lifetime Member Event Committee

    May 4, 2008
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    Hudson, WI
    I run a skimmer and an ATS. Remember, they are removing nutrients in different stages of their existence.

    ATS can be your complete solution, but you have to make it big enough to handle the food going in AND move enough water through it vs the total water volume (same as with a skimmer). Remember, you can have an ATS that is sized for 10 cubes a day, but if you only can get 10% of your tank volume through there in a day, you are only going to process 1 cube worth of nutrients. I know that is an over-simplification, but the basic concept is correct.

    I run a sump full of live rock, ATS, skimmer, and filter socks, and I still battle high PO4...
  4. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
    Lifetime Member

    Jan 8, 2007
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    Brooklyn Center
    Remind me what size tank this is on ? is it the 125g ? or something different. A 125g tank I wouldnt go any smaller than an 10X12" screen preferable lit from both sides. If screen is something less then 10X12 then that would be more of a supplmental filtration. Very unlikely that somethig smaller could be the primary filtration. Its always best to oversize rather than undersize becuase if its too large you can either reduce slot length or simply feed more ( who doesn't like fat fish ). On my 180g 10X18" does the job just fine but If need be I can increase to 10X24".

    Screen size compared to your feeding is just a guildline. Ultimately if you track nitrate and phosphate levels ( ie: see what your ATS can handle ) and adjust food accordingly. However this only works to tweak to get it just right. If you already barely feeding the tank and both nitrate and phosphate levels are rising then it's simply just not large enough.

    Ideally you should not be using any other kind of filtration ( except what biological from your LR ). Most ATS are nitrate limited so if you have any other process reducing nitrate then your likely to accumlate phosphate becuase there is just not enough nitrate. If there is NO nitrate and phosphates are rising then either too much food or may have to OCCASIONALY run GFO. If you have to run GFO I would not just through cups of GFO at it because it will strip too much. I find adding a teaspoon to your carbon and change out weekly if best way to administer as needed. If still can't keep phosphate from accumulating ( ie > .1 ppm ) and can't reduce food becuase fish health would be in jepordy then time for a larger sized one.

    On your next harvest, if you could snap a pic of it before so I can see what type of algae and amount of harvest looks like.
    #4 David Grigor, Dec 8, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2016
  5. Ben Nicholls

    Ben Nicholls TCMAS Old Timer
    Lifetime Member

    Feb 22, 2007
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    Apple Valley, MN, USA
    I also have Turbo's L2 on a 110g. Been running skimmerless since April. I am finally getting phosphate down and reducing the tank algae. Something I had a lot of difficulty with running a skimmer. I am swapping for an L4 as soon as he has one for me. While the L2 is working good it is a bit small for the feeding level of my tank.

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