Re:protein skimmer problem

Pete Giwojna

Dear gilraen:

I’m sorry to hear about the trouble you’ve been having with your AquaC Remora skimmer, but it’s best not to operate your protein skimmer while the aquarium is cycling.

As you know, you want a nice, strong ammonia spike when you are cycling an aquarium, followed by an equally sharp nitrite spikes in order to assure that as large a population of beneficial nitrifying bacteria (i.e., Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter spp.) as possible builds up in your biofilter. When functioning properly, protein skimmers do a wonderful job of removing dissolved organics and surface-active compounds from the aquarium water before they breakdown and enter the nitrogen cycle, which thus limits the amount of ammonia and other nitrogenous wastes that are available for fueling the growth of the beneficial bacteria in your biofilter. For this reason, it is counterproductive to operate protein skimmers (as well as ultraviolet sterilizers and/or ozonizers) while a new aquarium is in the process of cycling. So for now I would simply disconnect your AquaC Remora for the time being and not worry about it right now.

When you are ready to start up your protein skimmer again, after your new aquarium is finished cycling and the biofiltration is fully established, bear in mind that new protein skimmers of all kinds must go through a break-in period before they begin functioning with maximum efficiency. This can take as little as a few days to as long as two weeks. Also, in a newly established aquarium, there may simply not be enough dissolved organic compounds in the water to produce heavy foam. It sometimes takes anywhere from one to three months or more for a sufficient dissolved organics to build up in a new aquarium depending on bio-load, feeding/maintenance habits, other types of filtration used, etc.

Here are some additional troubleshooting tips for your AquaC Remora, gilraen:

1. Skimmer isn’t producing very much foam
A. Give the skimmer at least two full weeks of continuous operation to
reach its maximum potential. If the unit still fails to produce foam,
check the water pump for problems. A faulty or underpowered pump
will not drive the air-induction injector properly, which will lead to low
levels of foam production.
B. Check the water level inside the skimmer’s main chamber. An
incorrect water level will prevent proper foam production. Adjust the
exit valve so that the interior water level is near the top of the main
C. AquaC protein skimmers feature an intense air flow-thru rate, which
means that they are highly influenced by oils, fats, and other chemicals
dissolved in the aquarium water or air source. You will notice a drastic,
temporary reduction of foam production after fish feedings or other
events which introduce chemicals into the water. Foam production
should resume within several minutes to a few hours, depending on
the nature of the chemical disturbance. This should not be any cause
for concern since your high performance skimmer will rapidly make up
for any time lost due to the disturbance.
D. Wipe away any salt creep that might have accumulated around the
base of the foam tower. There is a very thin air gap between the foam
tower and skimmer box – if this air gap becomes clogged with salt
build-up the skimmer will stop foaming. Salt can be removed by
dribbling hot water through the gap and scraping it away with a piece
of wire or plastic.

If you are still having difficulty fine-tuning your new protein skimmer after going through the checklist, don’t hesitate to contact the manufacturer for additional suggestions.

Best wishes with all your fishes, gilraen! Here’s hoping your new aquarium completes the cycling process soon and that your new protein skimmer is functioning at maximum efficiency before you know it!

Pete Giwojna

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