Having a reef tank means carrying out a continuous process of maintenance. After all, you have the responsibility to take care of the lives inside your aquarium.
It is mandatory to check on all the areas to ensure their well-being. For example, the protein skimmer you have got to keep your tank clean needs tuning or adjustments to do its job right.
The adjustment of the protein skimmer mostly depends on the air the skimmer gets. If the air is too much, you will need to adjust it to an optimum level, and vice-versa. Of course, you will need to determine the condition before doing so.
I will get to the problems straight and delineate the solutions below. Keep your attention intact!
When To Tune Or Adjust A Protein Skimmer?
There are mainly two types of problems with a protein skimmer that should signal you to make adjustments.
The first one is when it runs high. That causes there to be insufficient air and higher waste levels. There will be lots of air with lower waste levels when it runs short. Both cases need tuning to bring the skimmer to a balanced position.
Once you understand what is going on with your protein skimmer, you will know what adjustments to make.
Protein Skimmer Running High
Since there are always leftover food and fish waste in the water, running the skimmer high will result in high waste levels. You will know when your test results show increased phosphate and nitrate levels.
Either of the conditions will produce brown, dirty foams rising in visible chunks and collecting tons of gunk inside the neck or cylinder of the skimmer. Most foams cannot spring up, so a little of them find their way to reach the collection pot.
How To Tune Or Adjust
You have to remove and clean the brown foams from the skimmer cylinder. That will effectively shift the molecules from the aquarium, but the foam engine will still keep running higher. You have yet to decrease the air draw.
How To Lower The Air Draw?
First, you double-check that the airline and the venture are clean and ensure that the pump is in good condition. The venturi fittings often tend to get clogged with calcium or salt. If that happens before going into the action, clean it properly using a small bottle brush.
While using AC pump-driven skimmers, you have to increase the water level to an inch at once. Then wait for several hours to let the skimmer adjust to the changes and examine it again.
Increasing the water level will reduce head pressure to raise the airflow for the pump to draw. It is particularly fruitful on lower pumps and smaller skimmers.
DC pump-driven skimmers allow you to increase the pump speed, which will magnify the airflow simultaneously.
- Increase the speed by one notch each time by implementing an electronic pump controller.
- Tune the height inside your protein skimmer as best as possible with the outlet pipe or gate valve.
- Let it rest for some hours and test performance later. Repeat the drill until there are stable foam heads.
If you reach the maximum water level and the pump speed, but your skimmer still runs high, do not worry. It simply means that the organic input requires a large-sized skimmer.
As far as phosphate and nitrate do not go beyond control, you do not need to replace your skimmer. But you know what upgrade you should make when the time comes.
A larger pump with more airflow will have a feature to tune the air input using a DC pump. Recirculation of a DC protein skimmer will generate better precision and range, trumping an internal single DC pump.
Protein Skimmer Running Low
When a skimmer runs low, it indicates three things – the skimmer is oversized, the organic amount is insufficient, and there is too much air.
The foams will be white like milk and rise considerably fast. Instead of collecting the particles, it will be like a boiling cup of water, causing the bubbles to burst instantly. You will not see the muddy buildup or foam chunks inside your skimmer cylinder.
The cup will overflow after hours of feeding the fish when the leftover food gets a chance to split in the water, instigating the fuel and keeping the popping bubbles intact. The cup fills quickly with saltwater, eventually overflowing into the sump or the floor.
How To Tune Or Adjust
It is easier to adjust a skimmer running low. The signs of this common problem involve tons of bubbles rising rapidly and bursting. So you have to minimize the airflow injected into your skimmer.
The key benefit is that it will lower the bubble rise. Then you will produce thick foam heads to generate the best waste removal or collection process.
How To Enhance The Air Draw?
The first step is the same as the previous problem. When you ensure that the venturi and the pump are ready for tuning, lower the water level so that it cannot increase the head pressure. Then proceed further to minimize the air draw.
On the airline of the venture, you can place a ball valve to choke the airflow back that is suppressed into your pump.
Here, understand that turning the air down by adopting any methods will also elevate the water flow. That means it will work only to a certain point.
When you reduce the air by 50%, it will create problems in the skimmer functions. It is pretty obvious because the unstable performance of the skimmer will be noticeable.
Lastly, the most precise method to enhance the air draw is using a controllable DC pump. It will lower the air draw and the water flow altogether. The drill is the same as the previous problem.
In any condition, when the ratio between the organic and the air is optimal, there will be a stable and sound foam head to rise gently and maintain shape.
Determining The Performance Of The Protein Skimmer
Adjusting the air amount going into your skimmer pump works the best to ensure consistent performance. But before that, you have to determine whether it is running high or low.
A skimmer forms slow and thick rising foam heads in its optimal condition. The foam heads maintain their shape and look slightly discolored.
You will also not get tons of buildups inside your skimmer neck. If you think something is wrong with its performance, follow the following steps to see its condition and take the appropriate measure.
- Water Level Of Your Sump: First, check that the skimmer complies with the advised water height. It matters because the height changes head pressure and back pressure, impacting the pump performance. The effects are drastic in cases of lower wattage pumps and smaller protein skimmers.
- Water Level Of Your Skimmer: Now, use the riser tube or gate valve to gather the foams as best as your skimmer can by the air draw. Begin with the foam head’s top around where the cup joins the body. After that, increase or decrease in little increments. Do not forget to give it some hours to adjust.
- Observation: Look for signs of your skimmer running low or high over the next couple of weeks. If you see mud, it is running high. If it resembles a boiling water pot, it is the other case.
Tuning your protein skimmer is not troublesome at all. Once you determine what is wrong, the rest is easy.
Remember to check your skimmer performance regularly, even after its successful installation. A low or high running skimmer may seem like a distant problem. But if not treated in time, it will deteriorate the water quality and affect your fish’s lives.