FAQ #30: Should I run my protein skimmer during my tank cycle, and while curing rock?

FAQ #30: Should I run my protein skimmer during my tank cycle, and while curing rock?


Today on BRStv 52 FAQ we’re taking a closer
look at skimmers and how they affect your aquariums initial cycle. Hi, I’m 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 HuggyBear’s question
“Should I run my skimmer during my tanks cycle?” To get straight to the point, I would definitely
recommend running your skimmer during your tank cycle. As organic material in your tank breaks down
into smaller particulate matter, running your protein skimmer will allow for air and water
to be mixed into a dense foam where these particles can make their way up through the
skimmer body, over the skimmer neck, and finally end up exported in the skimmer’s collection
cup. Without running your skimmer this particulate
matter would further break down into nitrate and phosphate which will fuel algae growth
and only cause you headaches in the long run. This is equally as important, if not more
important when curing dry rock in a separate system or in the new tank itself. The amount of dried organic material on certain
types of dry rock like Pukani for example, results in some pretty nasty water during
the cure – much more than your typical cycle with rock that has been pre-cured. This large amount of biomass will quickly
break down into smaller particulate like I mentioned before where it will be highly beneficial
to remove it before it has the chance to break down further. One thing to note however, is that the water
will likely be so foul that your skimmer will tend to produce so much foam for the first
few days that it may overflow the cup. You will want to make sure that you are actively
monitoring the collection cup level to prevent any nasty spills or overflows. Trust me, once you see what your skimmer removes
from the water during a rock cure you’ll be happy ran it! A couple quick things to note here, but chances
are that if you’re setting up a new tank with a brand new cycle, your skimmer is likely
brand new as well. When new, skimmers can take a while to break
in since there are oils left over from the manufacturing process, and there’s a lack
of biofilm on the surface of the acrylic. This will affect the skimmers performance,
so keep that in mind when installing a brand new skimmer on a tank during a cycle. Adjusting the foam level to be low one minute,
leaving, and coming back a few minutes later to see an overflowing cup is par for the course. Some reefers run their skimmers in a 1:1 water
to vinegar mix to help “break in” their skimmer, but I’ve found that nothing beats
patience, and running the foam level as low as possible. Lastly, you probably have other shiny new
equipment that you would love to fire up, like thousands of dollars worth of the latest
lighting gear but this is the best time to show restraint. During the cycle, there will be a lot of nutrients
available in the water and turning on your lights will only invite algae to grow like
wildfire in your tank. I’d recommend leaving the lights off until
at the very least the cycle has completed and you’ve done a large water change. If you are interested in learning more about
reef tank plumbing do yourself a favor and checkout Week X of 52 weeks of reefing – X.
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.

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