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  1. #1
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    The Skimmer Part 3

    THE SKIMMER part 3
    Setup & operation
    OK, you read part 1 and 2 and now have a better idea of how a skimmer works and what types are available. The next stumbling block involving skimmers is setup and operation. This part of skimmer use generates the most confusion for many people. I will try to remove some of that confusion in this last part about skimmers.

    This is basic and general information!!!
    I suggest that you refer to the manufactures manual
    for exact setup details relating to your skimmer!!!
    Setup:
    Setup will of course depend on what type of skimmer you have and how much space you have set aside for it. If you have the submersed type it is best operated in the sump for these reasons. 1- You donít want to be looking at it in your aquarium. 2 - You donít want the skimmer exhausting air bubbles into the aquarium. 3 - When placed in the sump you have the opportunity to get rid of the exhausted bubbles. 4 - The unit will be close to the water supply pump if that pump is a submersed type and if a pump is required. Most submersed skimmers that require a pump make use of submersed pumps.
    If you have the in-line type it can be setup anywhere you want but close to the sump is the most sensible location for these reasons. 1- You donít want the water supply pump to have to deliver the water to the skimmer across long distances. 2 - You want the skimmers exhaust to be directed into the sumps equipment bay. 3 - You donít want to create back pressure in the skimmer by needing long water exhaust hoses. Depending on the type of skimmer you have you will have by now decided or know where it will be placed.
    Next is hooking up the related equipment that makes the skimmer work. If you are using a submersed basic air driven type you need only hook up an air pump to the air block in the skimmer and turn on the air pump. Have a high quality air flow control valve in place between the air pump and the air block. Be sure the air pump is ABOVE the skimmers highest water line or use a one way valve on that air supply line.
    If you are using the submersed reverse flow, pump driven type you need to hook up the air supply pump to the air block and the water supply pump to the water input barb on the skimmers body. Have a high quality air flow control valve in place between the air pump and the air block. A high quality water flow control valve placed between the water supply pump and the skimmer is a good idea. Be sure the water supply pump is in the equipment part of the sump where it can not run dry.
    If your using one of the in-line skimmers you need only hook up the water or water / air supply pump to the skimmers input barb. Direct the skimmers water exhaust back into the sump. If a venturi Injector is required it must also be installed. It goes between the water pumps output barb and the skimmers input barb. It should be placed as close to the skimmers body as possible. The venturi Injector should have a high quality air flow control valve placed somewhere on its air supply line. These types of skimmers can be supplied their water by in line or submersed pumps. The chosen pump should be able to deliver HIGH flow rates. A high quality water flow control valve placed between the water supply pump and the skimmer is a good idea.
    Thatís pretty much it for basic set.

    Operation:
    Operation onto it self is pretty straight forward. You need only turn on the related equipment. That would be the air and or water pumps. I would however suggest that when you fire up the pumps for the first time you have them adjusted somewhat lower then their full output capacity. This will prevent over filling of the skimmer and having a minor flood before you have a chance to make the adjustments.

    Adjustment:
    Now the fun begins. Before we start here I will tell you up front that the smaller the skimmer is the more adjustment and more re-adjustment it will need. The smaller skimmers are all too often overpowered by the water and or air pumps used with them. This is the case whether the pumps come with the skimmer or are purchased separately. The issue with the smaller skimmers is the height of the tube where the air and water mix. The small skimmers are usually so short that there is little room for adjustment error. Too much water or air and the skimmer will soon be overflowing ether water or very wet foam into the cup. The cup will fill very quickly and overflow. The only way to run these small basic skimmers is to bit the bullet and accept the fact that low water and air flow rates is all they can manage.
    The larger or more importantly the taller the skimmer is the bigger the margin is for adjustment error without overflowing the unit. Depending on the size of the skimmer and its supply pumps overflows are not as big an issue as is under powering the unit. Under powering a large skimmer will result in very dirty water at the top of the skimmer but no or very little foam being pushed into the cup. As long as that dirty water is still in contact with the aquariums water bio matter will be exhausted back into the aquarium supply water.
    The other issue that will play a roll in adjustment is the amount of bio matter in the water being skimmed. This is something that will change from hour to hour and from day to day. It is the only uncontrollable factor to be dealt with when making adjustments to the supply pumps. This changing bio matter load is why you skimmer will sometimes be running fine and then without obvious reason start over or under producing foam. However the longer a skimmer is in operation the more stable and consistent its foam creation will become. For any skimmer the first week is a time of chronic adjustments. This is because the skimmer will have to remove any and all excess accumulated bio matter from the water before the setup becomes somewhat stable.
    When making the adjustments the intended idea is to have the air bubbles accumulate as close to the underside of the restriction at the cup as possible WHILE at the same time moving a good quantity of water through the unit. Think about that all important contact time here!! You want the water to be in contact with the air long enough to have its carried bio matter bond to the bubbles, but also want a reasonable flow rate of water through the unit. It is for sure a balancing act.
    Most will, as I do, suggest that you start by setting the air at least 3/4s full and make final adjustments at the water pump. If the result is too slow a flow rate through the skimmer you would then turn down the air supply which will increase water flow before you even turn up the pump. Some would be surprised to see a skimmer over flow when they turn down the air?? This is because the amount of air in the skimmer also affects flow rates of the water pump even if the pump is not adjusted. Turning down the air supply will automatically increase the water supply!!!
    Getting this water flow to air content adjustment just right is what is meant by dialling in the skimmer. It involves making fine adjustment to the air and or water supply until the skimmers tube is full of very fine bubbles but those bubbles DO NOT enter the restriction at the top of the tube until they are visibly dirty.
    As a last note it is very important to make all your adjustments in VERY small increments and make only ONE adjustment at a time. Always allow at least a Ĺ an hour for any adjustment to take effect on the skimmers performance before making further adjustments.

    Quick basic trouble shooting based on there being enough bio matter in the water for a skimmer to function

    Q - Even with the air at full flow the skimmer will not fill with bubbles.
    A - Too much water. Reduce the water supply rate.

    Q - The foam in the cup is too wet with the skimmer full of air.
    A - Too much air. Reduce the of air supply rate.

    Q - The foam in the cup is too wet with the skimmer not full of air.
    A Ė Too much water. Reduce the water supply rate.

    Q Ė No foam entering the cup with the skimmer full of air.
    A Ė Not enough water. Increase the water supply rate.

    Q Ė No foam entering the cup with the skimmer not full of air.
    A Ė Not enough air. Increase air supply rate.

    This is the end of posts relating to the skimmer. I hope it has been helpful.
    Rob

  2. #2
    Senior Member pwall's Avatar
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    Nov 2004
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    Excellent info on 'skimmers'.
    Regards,
    Patrick.
    Ottawa (Orleans), Ontario
    Yahoo IM: pwallnfld

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    590
    Yep I think I will try to reduse some air going in my skimmer tonight and see if I can create some drier foam. Good tips on tuning skimmers. Thanks.

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