The skimmer is the heart of our aquariums. It’s the main filter, and good maintenance of this piece of equipment is essential. We aquarists are often on the lookout for the latest technical product, but purchasing and using a forefront model without regulation or the right maintenance is inefficient, wasteful, and potentially quite expensive. Read on to find out how to make your skimmer the most efficient that it can be, and let it work at his best. The skimmer has 4 functional parts: the contact chamber, the glass, the pump, and the air entrance.
Maintenance of the skimmer
The first thing we have to do is clean the glass. The skimmer needs to be cleaned from once a day to once a week, depending on the biological load; during normal use, the neck becomes dirty and decreases its efficiency. You need to extract the glass section and wash it and its cap under lukewarm, flowing water with a toothbrush. If you want to increase the system efficiency even more, you should do this every day. Alternatively, you can assemble a set of (automatic or semi-automatic) brushes to keep the glass clean. For example, below you can see the Autoskim by UltraReef (article). This system can largely improve the performance of the skimmer if you don’t have the time or desire to clean it every day.
Body and pump of the skimmer
The body of the skimmer needs to be cleaned once every six months, at least: algae, sponges, ascidians and others can fill and clog it, which then obstructs the creation of the bubbles. In addition to the body, the pump has to be cleaned. The impeller can get dirty, and the slots may be occluded, which means the capacity to suck water will decrease. So every six months, both pieces have to be switched off and extracted from the system. They can be put in a container with 1 part white vinegar to 10 to 20 parts freshwater. This solution will loosen and even remove the secretions, making cleaning much easier.
Cleaning the injector
The injector, which is where the air enters the pump of the skimmer, is the final piece to be cleaned. The white vinegar treatment every six months is not enough, because it will be dirty before that. You can use a flow measurement to check the rate of the incoming air regularly. If you notice less bubbles in the skimmer, you can set up an easy cleaning system, using osmosis water sucked directly by the injector. In this way, the osmosis water cleans the tube of the incoming air and melts saline and calcareous scales in it. And I can assure you that it works! This needs to be done at least once a month.
Guide for the skimmer maintenance
- Clean the glass from once a day to once a week: not more!
- Clean the body and the pump at least every six months;
- Clean the injector once a month.