FAQ #24: Is having a protein skimmer that’s rated larger than your tank advantageous?

FAQ #24: Is having a protein skimmer that’s rated larger than your tank advantageous?


Today on the 52 FAQ – Is your skimmer performing
at it’s peak? Hi, im RT your host of BRSTV’s 52 FAQ where
we answer all kinds of reefing questions from our popular series 52 weeks of reefing. Today, we’re answering James Edward’s
question “Is there any advantage to having a skimmer that has far more gallon range to
the actual gallons you have in your tank?” Good question James! Honestly however, I usually only use the manufacturer
gallon rating as a rough guideline. When choosing the right skimmer for your setup,
you will want to choose its size based on the amount of food you feed your aquarium. If you feed your tank heavily, then choosing
a skimmer that is considered oversized for your tank will offer the most performance. On the flip side of that, if you tend to be
a light feeder, then choosing an oversized skimmer will usually result in less than desirable
results. In a given water volume there may not be enough
dissolved organic compounds, proteins, or waste in the tank to maintain a stable foam
head inside of the larger skimmer body and will have trouble pushing any foam produced
up through the neck. Generally this shows itself as the foam surging
– periods of foam production followed by the skimmer hardly producing any, resulting
in less than desirable performance, inefficiency, lack of skimmate production, and difficulty
to tune the skimmer. The larger the skimmer the larger the pump,
which increases turnover through the skimmer. The body is also larger, which results in
more foam production, capability to push more foam through the neck, and a greater filtration
capacity. I would say in most cases, reefers tend to
be heavier feeders due to a large amount of fish, and choose a skimmer that has a higher
rating than their system volume, not only with their current capacity in mind, but also
the future of their tank. A larger skimmer means you don’t need to
worry when your plans change and you add more fish than you originally planned for, added
more water volume to the system, or are even upgrading to a new tank entirely. A couple quick tips, if you are someone that
would rather have a more user friendly skimmer setup that is simpler to tune, easier to achieve
foam production, then you might want to consider using a skimmer that is considered undersized. Not only will the neck of the skimmer likely
be smaller and easier for foam to condense and spill over into the collection cup, but
it will require less adjustment as the concentration of proteins in the smaller skimmer body produce
a more consistent head of foam. Granted, you are sacrificing a bit of performance,
for ease of use. Additionally, one of the warnings I see quite
a bit when planning to overskim your tank is the potential to skim out trace elements
from the water column when using too large of a skimmer. However, skimmers remove dissolved waste from
the tank before it has the chance to break down into ammonia and nitrate, and while skimming
wet may remove some water from the aquarium and along with it some trace elements, the
overall effect on them is likely pretty small. In my experience, the benefits more than outweigh
any potential issues. If you are interested in learning more about
protein skimmers in the reef aquarium, do yourself a favor and checkout Week 17 of 52
weeks of reefing – Protein Skimmers – Selecting and tuning the best. Don’t forget answering your questions is what
the 52 FAQ is all about on so ask us something you want to know in the comments area below. See you soon with the next 52 FAQ.