Re:Skimmer bubbles

Pete Giwojna

Dear Mylon:

It sounds like you did a fine job of setting up your new seahorse tank! I really like the 30-gallon extra high tanks, which are 24 inches tall — that was a nice recommendation from your LFS. That should make a fine home for a pair or two of seahorses. And you have plenty of live rock to provide stability and the biological filtration (both nitrification and denitrification). Nitrates shouldn’t be a problem in your new setup and the black sand really looks great with macroalgae and colorful seahorses.

Just remember that it’s very important to feed your seahorses properly in a tank with lots of live rock like yours, Mylon. Whether it is a SHOWLR tank, a modified minireef, a seagrass system or a mangrove biotype, a well-designed seahorse setup is an elaborate environment. A certain level of complexity is necessary in order to assure that our seahorses behave naturally (Topps, 1999) and to provide our ponies with plenty of hitching posts and shelter, and enough sight barriers to assure them a little privacy when they feel the need to be alone. Their homemade habitat may thus take the form of a labyrinth of live rock, an intricate arrangement of corals and gorgonians, a well-planted bed of seagrass or macroalgae, or a full-fledged reef face. When feeding seahorses in such intricate surroundings, the worst thing you can do is to scatter a handful of frozen Mysis throughout the tank to be dispersed by the currents and hope that the hungry horses can track it all down. Inevitably some of the frozen food will be swept away and lodge in isolated nooks and crannies where the seahorses cannot get it. There it will begin to decompose and impair your water quality, which is why ammonia spikes are common after a heavy feeding. Or it may be wafted out into the open again later on and eaten after it has gone bad. Either outcome can lead to dire problems.

The best way to prevent such problems is to target feed your seahorses or train them to eat from a feeding station, as described above, which are feeding techniques that are quite rewarding and entertaining for both the hobbyist and his charges. Let me know if you can use some tips explaining how to target feed seahorses or teach them to use a feeding station, Mylon.

That’s a pretty common problem with Seaclone protein skimmers, especially when they are first installed a new aquarium. They are prone to releasing clouds of microbubbles into the aquarium unless they are adjusted just right, and they can be tricky to tweak and fine-tune. The bubbles that the skimmer releases into the main tank are not directly harmful to seahorses, but they can be problematic under certain circumstances if they lead to gas supersaturation — one of the primary factors that can trigger gas bubble syndrome in seahorses. So to be on the safe side, Mylon, you’ll want to eliminate the excess bubbles from the skimmer that are escaping into the main tank.

The first thing I would do is to try carefully adjusting your Seaclone skimmer so that the escaping microbubbles are eliminated. If that doesn’t do the trick, you may need to rig up some sort of bubble trap to prevent them from being released into the tank. If you read through the following FAQs on the Seaclone Protein Skimmer from Bob Fenner’s site, you’ll get a pretty good idea of how to proceed:

For example, here is how one hobbyist recommends tuning the Seaclone when it’s installed on a new aquarium:

<Open quote>
I don’t really have a question for you guys this time but instead am offering some helpful advice. I see a lot of posts all over the Internet from people who cannot get there Sea Clone protein skimmer to skim properly. Well, I was shown a method over this last weekend that worked so great that I had to share the info. So here goes, first, ignore the instruction that come with the skimmer pertaining to adjusting the air valve. Instead, remove the air valve completely, let the skimmer run for at least 30 seconds with full air flow, minimum water flow (about 50gph). Then slowly screw the air valve back into place until first
resistance is felt. From here on its a matter of making 1/4 turns at a time, pausing for a moment to let the skimmer adjust. When you first start to
notice micro-bubbles entering the tank stop the 1/4 turns and make fine, minuscule adjustments. It take some practice to get it working just right but I tried his out on my new 55 gallon Reef tank, added 4 inch sand bed, 60 – 70 lbs L/R, water, let sit for a week, then added the Sea Clone and within 24 hours I already had 1/2 the collection cup full of nasty, stinky, green sludge. I tried once before to get a sea clone 100 to work and finally returned it back to the store, frustrated as all get at, but after having someone come over and show me how to set it up, I’ve been nothing but impressed.
Hope this helps many of you out!
<Close quote>

Best of luck with your new seahorse setup, Mylon!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

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