I Shall Not Admit Defeat While I Have Access to Power Tools

Okay, the skimmer crisis is over, or at least has been averted thanks to Mister Dremmel.

TOP: Skimmer out of tank.  BOTTOM: Skimmer as it should be placed in tank, except for the freakin' wall in the way.

TOP: Skimmer out of tank. BOTTOM: Skimmer as it should be placed in tank, except for the freakin' wall in the way.

The problem was apparently one of poor product description – the footprint of the skimmer was 4″ by 8″, as promised, but the intake nozzle on the pump (B, in image) and the overhang on the pipes (C, in image) pulled the length to just a hair over 6.5 inches.  Neither the pump nor the pipes could be removed without damaging the skimmer, and as the pipe was bonded to the acrylic casing and the pump bolted to the base, neither could be moved.  I have a bone to pick with the skimmer manufacturer since it seems misleading to tell consumers that a product takes up this much space when in fact it takes up that much, even though they were technically correct when they described the size of the base.  One might liken this to purchasing a car and learning the hard way that the muffler makes it impossible to get the car in the garage.

So I got to thinking – if the skimmer couldn’t be altered, what about the sump?  Last Friday, I moved the contents of the refugium to a bucket, drained the water from the sump, and dremmeled the everloving crap out of the wall between the skimmer chamber and the refugium.   I took a good 3″ by 4″ chunk out of the acrylic so the pipe would fit.  I’d like to say this was a well-reasoned plan and I knew that if this didn’t work I could always go back, redrain the sump, and bond a new piece of acrylic over the hole, but I’m pretty sure the lizard brain had taken over by that point and I was making angry grunting noises as a substitute for human speech.

Problem solved!  Solved in the most half-assed way possible, but still solved!

Problem solved! Solved in the most half-assed way possible, but still solved!

But, lo and behold, it actually did work.  The missing piece of the wall provided an opening wide enough for the pipe and, with the skimmer tilted about 10 degrees to the right, the pump was able to draw water.   The output (the clean water) drains right back into the refugium and it is such a low level that I’m not concerned that the little copepods will be blown away or sucked through the hole in the wall into the skimmer chamber.   Since Friday, the skimmer has bubbled merrily and is just now beginning to produce some skimmate – skimmers tend to take several days before they start working properly, and the break-in period for this skimmer seems to be nearly over.  I’m not sure if running a skimmer on an angle is bad for the equipment or reduces the quality of the skimmate, but since the skimmer’s job is to make bubbles that go up regardless of how the equipment is positioned, I can’t see how.

Color-coordinating my fish?  God, I'm such a girl.

Color-coordinating my fish? God, I'm such a girl.

After the skimmer has been running about a week or so, I can begin adding other fish.  I’ve done some research on the aquacultured dottybacks and there are two species that if you add to the tank when they are very young, they will form mated pairs.  The Fridmani and the Indigo dottybacks are both very attractive and I’ve placed an order at my favorite LFS for two aquacultured juveniles of the same species.  It’s kind of luck of the draw as to which species will come in, but as they are both very pretty I’m not fretting.

And I’m really warming to the idea of having a Lemonpeel Angelfish.  If the Fridmani come in first, I’ll probably go with a lemonpeel because the purple and the yellow would be an amazing contrast.  And the little blue flecks on the lemonpeel will match Slime-atron…

If I start redecorating my house around a fish tank, I want you guys to stop me.

~ by KBSpangler on June 2, 2009.

3 Responses to “I Shall Not Admit Defeat While I Have Access to Power Tools”

  1. Let me first say, NICE SUMP/REFUGIUM!!! The second thing I have to say is, WHAT DID YOU DO TO THAT PRETTY SUMP REFUGIUM!!! 🙂

    I do not think your skimmer is going to work optimally when tilted. I’ve never seen anyone do that before, but it cannot be good for performance.

    There are other skimmers that WILL fit into this chamber. Off hand I can think of three: ASM Mini, Tunze 9005 (or 9010), H&S 90-F1000. The H&S skimmer (9.25″x5.25″) with a min water depth of 5 inches would be my preference and you should be able to find for $180-$200 used, or a new one (with the newly improved impeller) for $280. I know this is all water-under-the-bridge, but it is imperative to distrust manufacturer specs and get an owner or dealer to actually measure the space requirements of a skimmer before purchase.

    Also, did you say your return pump is 1290gph? The sump is only rated for 800gph, correct? Perhaps your head pressure throttles your pump back to 800+/- gph, but your fuge shouldn’t really receive more than 3-5x your tank volume per hour; in your case: 200-300 gph. You may want to find a smaller (and more efficient) pump.

    Can you elevate the skimmer slightly on a stand (but still maintain minimum operating water depth) and rotate the skimmer pump 90 degrees to point it downward? Would that give you the extra wiggle room? I would rather you do this than have a tilted skimmer…

    HTH & Good Luck

    • Oh, the refugium is just fine. Keep in mind that the skimmer is already elevated so the water level reaches midway up the chamber and the angle is very slight, so there’s not much difference in placement than it would be if it was sitting flat. And no, I’m pretty sure the pump can’t be twisted on the base because of placement of stationary pipes, but I’ll admit I didn’t dick around with breaking the bolts that hold it to the base.

      My pump is appropriate – the model number is the Eheim 1260, which pulls 635gph instead of 1260gph, and there’s a reduction valve on the plumbing to control flow.

      Out of curiosity, why would a skimmer on an angle not work effectively? The only reason I could think of is putting it on an angle gives it a smaller surface area to reduce bubbles, but mine is skimming dry and is pulling a thick, disgusting brown-black skimmate.

      • No worries, sounds like it is working. Maybe your onto something. 🙂

        In my limited experience, tilting a skimmer causes bubbles to shoot up along one side of the reaction chamber, increasing turbulence and disturbing the progression of bubbles as they reach the neck. Perhaps this is of no real concern, especially if you are already happy with the production.

        Happy reefing!

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