Is a protein skimmer necessary

ieatfalalfel

Wonderpus
Registered
#1
I just bought a 56 gallon tank and I am wondering if I really need a protein skimmer. Why is my skimmerless freshwater tank super healthy without a skimmer? I know that skimmers don't work for freshwater, so why do I need need one for my new cuttlefish tank? If a skimmer is a must, do I need one of those $200+ ones like aqua c remora or can i go with the "up to 75 gallon" $30 skimmers by Lee's pet products at my LFS?
 

djkaty

Vampyroteuthis
Registered
#4
I guess that's because not many people keep them. I don't know anything about cuttlefish but octopuses produce a lot of waste compared to their mass, and compared to the same mass of fish, so it is essential for an octopus. I have seen some texts saying the skimmer should be rated 50% higher than the tank volume, others recommending as much as 3 times the tank volume for an octopus.

The book "Cephalopods: Octopuses and Cuttlefishes for the Home Aquarium" (which you should buy) says this (page 57-58):

"Many an octopus and cuttlefish owes its life to a protein skimmer. This piece of equipment really is a life saver. It is adept at removing not only proteins and other organics from the water on a daily basis but also ink in emergencies. If an octopus or cuttlefish inks within the aquarium, the resulting pollution can be so bad that it is literally impossible to see into the tank. ... ... In the meantime the protein skimmer will work to remove the ink ... ... For this reason the protein skimmer is not an item of equipment that you should leave off your shopping list or skimp on. The bigger the better, and because of the amount of waste produced by the cephalopod, its messy feeding habits, and the odd inking session, a skimmer is worth its weight in gold! Aim for a skimmer rated for an aquarium about 50 percent larger than yours. They can be expensive, but the first time your caphalopod's life is saved by a protein skimmer you will be glad you spent the money."

I don't know about cuttlefishes, but FWIW it is better to buy a protein skimmer for an octopus tank that goes in the sump, otherwise the octopus will play with it and it won't work properly if you get one that goes in the tank.
 

cuttlegirl

Colossal Squid
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Registered
#5
There is a thread here somewhere about protein skimmers. I had a protein skimmer rated 150 gallons for a 55 gallon tank that housed three cuttles. Protein skimmers take waste out of the water that other types of filtration do not remove from the water.
 

ieatfalalfel

Wonderpus
Registered
#6
djkaty;162291 said:
The book "Cephalopods: Octopuses and Cuttlefishes for the Home Aquarium" (which you should buy) says this (page 57-58):


I don't know about cuttlefishes, but FWIW it is better to buy a protein skimmer for an octopus tank that goes in the sump, otherwise the octopus will play with it and it won't work properly if you get one that goes in the tank.
I am not going to has a sump, so I will try to decorate so cuttles won't be near skimmer most of the time.
I also really want that book, christmas insn't too far away!
 

djkaty

Vampyroteuthis
Registered
#7
Honestly, if you have to wait until Christmas to be able to afford the book, you should probably give up now. I'm not meaning to sound like a b*tch but the cost of setting up for a cephalopod is going to be an order of magnitude higher than the basic education provided by the book, which is stuff you should read about before buying anything ideally. Literature is going to be one of your smallest expenses.
 

djkaty

Vampyroteuthis
Registered
#10
ieatfalalfel;162358 said:
I just really hate spending money, I could buy the book anytime I want to. I know how expensive a cuttlefish tank will be.
A small investment in education is one worth making I think, might save you from making much more costly mistakes later.
 

SabrinaR

Larger Pacific Striped Octopus
Registered
#12
My personal opinion is that we should do everything we can to insure a healthy and long lived life for our aquatic friends. For me, that included going by the others recommendations of getting an EXTRA LARGE protein skimmer. I have only heard of one person not using a skimmer and I ALWAYS worry for them and their octo. You should be able to find a great skimmer for sale on craigslist or ebay.

If you have ever heard the maxim an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure... in this case it is totally true.

Octos live such a short life and you can actually shorten it further and not realize it. Temperature, salinity, oxygenation, all of these things play a role in how long the octopus/cuttles live.

We all feel you on the expense of set up but, it is much better to spend now and have everything you need then to cut corners now and scramble later.

Good luck.
 

Thales

Colossal Squid
Staff member
Moderator
#13
ieatfalalfel;162358 said:
I just really hate spending money, I could buy the book anytime I want to. I know how expensive a cuttlefish tank will be.
Buying the book now will save you money and animals in the future. In fact, I suggest you set up a saltwater tank and go with a few easier to keep animals for 6 months or so to develop your saltwater thumb. :D
 

Joe-Ceph

Haliphron Atlanticus
Supporter
#14
There are ways to compensate for not having a protein skimmer, but they are a pain in the butt, and so you'll tend to not do them, which would hurt your water quality, and maybe your cephs. I'll explain the trade-offs as I see them:

A protein skimmer removes dissolved organic compounds (DOC) from the water before they have a chance to enter the nitrogen cycle and be broken down by denitrifying bacteria into, ultimately, nitrate. so, if you don't have a protein skimmer, the results will be:
1) Your colony of denitrifying bacteria will increase because of the abundance of "food", but only if you have enough live rock (or bio balls, or whatever) to provide space for them to live on. So you might need to buy more live rock than you wold otherwise need ($$)
2) Your denitrifying bacteria will produce more nitrate than they would if you had a skimmer removing their "food". You will need to do water changes more often than you otherwise would, to remove the nitrate. How much more often? Maybe as much as twice as often (SWAG). If you don't do more water changes, your animals will suffer.
3) All that extra bacterial activity will cause your PH to drop, so you'll need to add "Marine buffer" or something like that to compensate. Your PH will probably fluctuate more than it would otherwise, which might stress some animals if the swings are too wide.

You can limp along without a skimmer, doing frequent large water changes, while watching CraigsList or Ebay, looking for a deal on a used skimmer, which can easily be 50% to 80% cheaper than buying a new skimmer. Do your homework first so you know which ones are right for your system. I would look for one that is "rated" for a tank three times as large as the one I have. Most manufacturers exaggerate their ratings, and octopus tanks produce more waste than reef tanks of the same size.
 

ieatfalalfel

Wonderpus
Registered
#16
Yay! I got my skimmer in!

The Aqua C Remora just came in the mail! I got this one because of how many people said it works great and worship it:notworth::heart:! The substrate in my tank (aragonite) is settling. Do I need to wait for this before I turn on the filters and skimmer? Also, I am on vacation and found this great man made cement rock in a lake while on a boat:boat:. Can I sanitize this and then use less live rock?
 

snowmaker

Vampyroteuthis
Registered
#18
Great - I was going to suggest a Remora. I have used one for 4 years on a 40b and still works like a champ. You should occasionally clean the jet with the supplied brush, esp. if you notice a slight sound difference or it is not pulling much gunk out.
 

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