Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Q&A Series #9: What makes a "good" protein skimmer?




A protein skimmer is a key component to a marine aquarium's filtration system. Throughout my years of reef keeping, I have learned that using a good quality protein skimmer can greatly improve your odds of success.

That's why today we are going to answer one of the aquarium hobby's most frequently asked questions: "What makes a good protein skimmer?"


First, it is important to understand how protein skimmers work. The skimmer pump produces air bubbles that proteins and waste attach to inside the skimmer. The air bubbles, carrying waste, rise to the top of the skimmer then spill into a collection cup.

The pump is really the heart of the protein skimmer since it is what produces those waste-carrying air bubbles.

Good protein skimmers often include needlewheel impellers inside their skimmer pumps to "chop" incoming air into even smaller bubbles. As bubbles pass through the impeller, "needles" or "pins" on the impeller shred incoming bubbles into micro bubbles. A high-quality pump with a well-designed impeller will produce more bubbles that are smaller in size, which increases the surface area inside the skimmer to remove more waste. Plus, a high-quality pump will last longer, run quieter and transfer less heat into your aquarium.


Another important feature to consider is the size of the reaction chamber. The reaction chamber is the part of the skimmer body where all the action happens. A big reaction chamber allows a larger volume of bubbles to accumulate and attract proteins. It also provides more contact time for the proteins to attach to air bubbles.

The shape of the skimmer body should not be overlooked. A smooth transition from the skimmer body to the collection cup allows the bubbles to easily rise and fall into the cup for easy removal. Cone, hybrid cone and wineglass designs offer the smoothest path for air bubbles to rise into the collection cup with the least resistance.



An easy-to-use and responsive outlet adjustment is helpful because it allows you to adjust the water level inside your skimmer. You can easily fine-tune your skimmer for steady skimmate production and to avoid overflow. Many of the newest protein skimmers to hit the market also include bubble plates which reduce turbulence and further increase contact time.

An air silencer and a collection cup with a drain fitting are also useful. They may seem like minor details but can really help keep your skimmer quiet and reduce maintenance. Performance aside, you will want to look at the quality of the materials used to build the skimmer. Higher quality materials will be more durable and resistant to damages. Cast acrylic is generally considered the best material, followed by extruded acrylic, and then plastic.

The brand of the skimmer is also important. You may find yourself needing technical or warranty support during your ownership of your protein skimmer. A reputable company with a customer support team willing to help you during set up or if something goes awry is a true test of the value of their product. AquaMaxx, Reef Octopus, Vertex, and Tunze are currently among the best in our industry.

Here at Marine Depot, we carry a lot of great skimmers… many of which we use on our own aquariums. If you have questions about any of the protein skimmers on our website, feel free to contact us—we’d love to hear from you!



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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Featured Tank: Bret's Mature 55 Gallon Mixed Reef



With all of the hard work that goes into keeping a reef tank, a certain level of appreciation is found in seeing an established aquarium filled with healthy corals and animals. All of us here at Marine Depot find great satisfaction in hearing and reading about the success of our customers so today we decided to spotlight one of our favorite tanks.

We recently visited one of our local customers, Bret, to film his mature 55 gallon reef tank that has been running for over 8 years.

One of the most impressive aspects of this aquarium were the large SPS coral colonies. The Green Millipora was one of our favorites. The color of the Strawberry Shortcake Acro was also stunning! All of the different mushroom corals in the tank are so prolific they get trimmed back almost monthly to keep them from pushing out other corals. Bret also has a pair of clownfish that were tending to a clutch of eggs which is a frequent occurrence in the aquarium.

With minimal fish and quality aquarium filtration, the system maintains a low waste level which really helps the corals to grow and thrive. Something we also noticed was how well the parameters are maintained using only supplements. The aquarium does not have a calcium reactor yet still achieves excellent growth among the stony corals.

This tank is only 55 gallons and successfully houses a variety of corals and animals which goes to show that bigger is not always better!

See for yourself exactly how Bret achieves such great success by visiting the Featured Tank section of our website for a complete breakdown of his equipment and livestock.



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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Vertex Omega Protein Skimmers: Powerful Performers with Polished Features



Vertex is known for manufacturing high-quality marine aquarium equipment that is both stylish and functional. The Vertex Omega Series line of protein skimmers are a prime example of this and we are excited to show you just how awesome these new skimmers are today.

Omega Series skimmers are available in four sizes and are suitable for aquariums ranging from 50 to 200 gallons. All models feature modified, Italian-made Sicce pump motors that are customized specifically for Vertex skimmers to increase air draw. The extra wide volute, large diameter venturi and custom pinwheel create a dense foam inside the skimmer.


All Vertex Omega skimmers have a dedicated ozone injection port along with a responsive level adjustment. These protein skimmers are designed to be used inside a sump or cabinet filter. They are constructed of cast acrylic with hot welded seams and CVC machined PVC. The smooth wine glass shape of the skimmer body helps the bubbles to easily condense and move into the collection cup for easy removal.



Vertex really put some thought into the minor details of these protein skimmers. They have rust-proof titanium screws, vibration dampening rubber feet making for quiet operation and silicone airline tubing that is resistant to cracking and will stay limber. Vertex also created a swiveling drain fitting that makes removing the collection cup easy. Omega skimmers can be completely disassembled for access to the bubble plate and easy cleaning/maintenance.



The Marine Depot staff is very excited to be able to offer these powerful performing protein skimmers to our customers. If you are looking for an in-sump protein skimmer for your reef tank, the Vertex Omega Series should definitely be on your short list.

Until next time... take care and happy reefkeeping!



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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Q&A Series #8: How do I get rid of that awful smell coming from my protein skimmer?



Welcome to another installment of Marine Depot's Q&A video series!

We all love having a piece of the ocean in our homes. However, most of us are not too fond of having our homes smell like the ocean, or worse, like the local fish store.

This brings us to today's question: "How do I get rid of that awful smell coming from my protein skimmer?"


Most saltwater aquarium owners have run into the issue of having a stinky tank at some point or another. Running activated carbon filter media in your aquarium helps remove the phenols which cause that stinky fish smell.

Unfortunately, for those of us running a protein skimmer as a part of our reef aquarium filtration system, there may still be a ton of odor coming from the concentration of organic waste inside the skimmer's collection cup. Plus, with the amount of air being pumped through your protein skimmer, it tends to radiate that stinky skimmate smell into the surrounding areas of your home.

One easy way to stop the stench is by placing a carbon filter pad on top of your protein skimmer collection cup. Rio Carbon Filter Pads work great for this quick fix. Just cut the pad to size and place it on the lid of the collection cup. As air and odor exits the collection cup, the carbon in the filter pad will absorb the smell and drastically reduce foul odor.



Since the carbon pad on your protein skimmer lid is only being used to remove odor, it will last quite a long time. On my personal system, I usually only have to replace the carbon pad every 2-3 months. A small price to pay to keep my family from complaining about my stinky fish tank.

Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel using the link below so you never miss another fun and helpful installment of our Q&A video series.

Until next time... take care and happy reefkeeping!



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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Booster Pumps: What they do and why you need one for your reverse osmosis filter system



A reverse osmosis/deionization (RO/DI) filter system is crucial to keeping a successful reef aquarium because it produces the pure water required to keep fish and corals healthy.

Adding a booster pump to your RO/DI system will help you achieve optimal production and less waste water!


Booster pumps are not only designed for areas with low water pressure, but are also great for aquarium hobbyists who simply want to get the most out of their RO/DI system. Today we are going to explain how booster pumps work and also highlight one of the newest and easiest to use models that just became available.

A booster pump, as the name implies, boosts the pressure going into your RO or RO/DI system which makes it operate more efficiently and decreases consumption of DI resin.



Booster pumps are installed inline to increase the water pressure going into the RO membrane. It will provide your RO membrane with the ideal water pressure which results in maximum water production, the highest quality filtered water and less waste water.

In fact, you can often achieve a 1:1 product-to-waste water ratio compared to the normal 4:1 ratio produced by units without a booster pump. Booster pumps can be powered manually or via switches that completely automate the use of the pump. We stock a variety of booster pumps from industry-leading RO/DI manufacturers like SpectraPure, AquaFX and AquaticLife.



One booster pump we would like to highlight is the new Smart Buddie from AquaticLife because it is one of the easiest pumps to install on an existing RO/DI system.

The Smart Buddie has clearly labeled ports that direct you where to connect existing RO lines making installation fast and simple. It features built-in high pressure and low pressure switches that turn the pump on and off automatically to ensure optimum pressure at all times, extending the life of the pump and allowing for safe operation with float valves. It also has a built-in automatic flush that automatically clears out your membrane each time the unit is activated which will drastically extend the life of your TFC membrane.



Booster pumps save you time by making water faster and will definitely save you money by reducing waste water. With the frequent flushing of your membrane, you will also save money on the cost of replacement filters.

If you are interested in getting a booster pump for your reverse osmosis filter, feel free to contact us for recommendations. Our aquarium experts are happy to suggest a booster pump that will work well for your system and fit your budget.



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