Help me DIY the smallest surface skimmer possible - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-30-2011, 02:45 PM Thread Starter
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Help me DIY the smallest surface skimmer possible

My beautiful (at least to me) open-topped tank has developed a serious surface scum problem. This is the weird, semi-solid, whitish stuff that others seem to fight from time to time. The scum builds up in just hours, and when I skim it manually with a cup, it breaks up into stringy nasty bits in the cup.I hate it, and am afraid it is inhibiting gas exchange enough to cause more than just aesthetic problems.

There seem to be two schools of thought on this: (1) white scum is a symptom of bad water quality, or (2) it's a normal byproduct of happy biological activity, so agitate more or skim it.

I'd love to believe it's #1, but I'm flummoxed as to what could be the problem. This is a heavily planted 57g tank, pressurized CO2, aquasoil, eheim 2028, and a modest bioload (a half-dozen otos, 15 small rasboras, and a bunch of amanos). I don't overfeed, and I have a Koralia nano agitating the surface. Terrible scum. By contrast, my "upstairs" 20g has no scum. The 20g also gets pressurized CO2, but it uses eco-complete instead of aquasoil, and has no driftwood. (The downstairs tank has tons.)

So now I'm looking for mechanical options for getting rid of this stuff. I can't just use a surface skimmer attachment for my Eheim--the filter is plumbed through the tank bottom and I can't/won't run a tube all the way to the surface to reach a skimmer.

I'd like to create a tiny standalone skimmer that pulls water from the surface and sends it into the main water column of the tank. It doesn't need to "filter" the scum, just chop it up and send it into the water column.

Anyone have any ideas or experience with this? I've seen a description of a modified duetto, and I'm also wondering if I could hook up an off-the-shelf skimmer attachment to a small submersible powerhead. Or maybe just invert a hagen elite?

sns26

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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-30-2011, 02:59 PM
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You could use any off-the-shelf skimmer and drive it with a pump. But the skimmer itself is pretty big and then you'll also have the powerhead in the tank. I use the Tom Aquatic in my 90g and live with it's ugliness.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-30-2011, 03:01 PM
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I hooked up a surface skimmer to a powerhead for temporary skimming duty before. It works just fine, I point the powerhead output towards the canister intake to suck up some of the oily surface scum.


Here's a cell pic of my skimmer on the right side. I have it hooked up permanently now.

IMG_20111114_190446.jpg by reybie, on Flickr


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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-30-2011, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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I worked pretty hard to set this tank up with nothing coming over the tank rim--inline heater, co2 reactor, etc. all plumbed through the bottom. I only put the koralia in to deal with this scum problem. So I really want to minimize the size of any new gear I add. I'd love to find a way of inverting a small powerhead and adding a "weir" of some kind to it to force it to grab water from the surface.

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-30-2011, 04:01 PM
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I'm gonna say it: Just run a tube all the way to the surface to reach a skimmer from your intake. A clear lexan, etc, tube would be as unobtrusive as anything else you could do.
Beautiful tank, by the way.


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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-30-2011, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tzen View Post
I'm gonna say it: Just run a tube all the way to the surface to reach a skimmer from your intake. A clear lexan, etc, tube would be as unobtrusive as anything else you could do.
Okay, let's say that I'd give up and be willing to do that. What would the skimmer itself actually look like? I.e. what would I hook the clear tube to?

sns26

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-30-2011, 05:20 PM
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Without the "floating" part of the skimmer you might have problems adjusting it as your water level changes, even slightly. Most commercial skimmers have an adjustment to set the amount it takes in from the surface vs the bottom inlet. If it takes it all from the surface it might take in air at the same time.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-30-2011, 05:53 PM
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SNS are u injecting CO2?

if your surface skimmer spirals and you got too much suction though it, you will lose a LOT of co2 as its spiraling down the surface skimmer.

id say go with the attachment, as it would be the least amount of headaches for you, unless u like DIYing. :P

ive used things similar that on my other setups a while back ago, and its OK... It does the job.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-30-2011, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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SNS are u injecting CO2?
Yes, and I think I inject a lot. 4-5 bps into a rex-style reactor . My drop checkers (I use a couple) are all pale green.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naekuh View Post
id say go with the attachment, as it would be the least amount of headaches for you, unless u like DIYing.
Uh...did you look at the links in my signature? I'll DIY anything. (Unfortunately.) I'm now leaning towards a commerical float/skimmer attachment connected to a powerhead.

sns26

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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-01-2011, 12:22 AM
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ADA makes a nice surface skimmer.

Fluval Spec III Shelf!

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"C'mon, they're just plants, man, no big deal -- try some"
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-01-2011, 01:00 AM Thread Starter
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ADA makes a nice surface skimmer.
And others are already discussing it on this site. Can't believe it just came out, right in time for me to be pulling my hair out and tempted to throw some money at the problem...

sns26

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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-01-2011, 02:52 AM
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I've made a small skimmer that I haven't yet tested to run from my thru the bottom bulkheads. I made a small PVC manifold with a couple of O-rings to fit around the outlet screen. Into that I have a small hole drilled and a bit of airline tubing force fitted.

At the other end of the tubing I made a floating skimmer so I don't have to worry about water levels. It's just a small (could be smaller) pill bottle filled mostly with filter foam and a small slug of closed cell foam to provide floatation. The cap was removed and I cut slots in the top of the bottle to allow water intake with the cap on.

The tube from the manifold is inserted into the bottom of the pill bottle again with force fit.

I think it should work but kitchen remodeling has kept me from trying it out. I used a vet pill bottle which are usually green. I'm sure there are other containers that might work. This shouldn't be visible at all in my typically overgrown jungle. The scum should be drawn down into the filter.

Jim


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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-01-2011, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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I've made a small skimmer that I haven't yet tested to run from my thru the bottom bulkheads.
Post pictures! This sounds like an interesting idea.

sns26

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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-01-2011, 05:00 PM
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The white scum/skin "problem" appears quickly in my newly set up plant quarantine storage bins.

I have not installed water movement or air device. Just using some Flourish Iron, some Kent Blackwater Expert, some Kent plant nutrients and some poodle pee.

Oddly, there are a million blackish particles that precipitate out to the bottom, after a day or so, and the white scum/skin collects on top of the water.
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-01-2011, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sns26 View Post
Uh...did you look at the links in my signature? I'll DIY anything. (Unfortunately.) I'm now leaning towards a commerical float/skimmer attachment connected to a powerhead.
Oh im sorry!!

lol... DIY is the way to go, you wont hear me complain

however i think it might end up costing you more, with a lot more time committed on a DIY then a commercial for this type of application! :P
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