Hot Tips: Tips from Our Readers

A selection of useful tidbits of information for the aquarist. Readers are encouraged to send their tips to
for possible publication. For submissions that are published in Advanced Aquarist, the author will receive a $25.00 gift certificate toward a purchase from one of our advertisers chosen by the recipient.

  1. Most powerhead based protein skimmers, like the Knop, CPR BakPak, and other similar devices using the Rio 600 or 800 RVT powerhead don’t give you control of bubble size, so you control your skimmate’s dryness only by adjusting water height (or in some cases not at all). Putting an airline control valve on the end of the airline input will allow you to increase the efficiency of these skimmers significantly by adjusting the bubble size. These skimmers can be further improved by replacing the Rio all together
    with a Maxijet of comparable GPH and using the Maxijet Turbo Venturi Kit (the equivalent of the RVT add-on for the Rios, available for about $4.00 over the cost of the maxijet alone). The purpose of the Turbo Venturi Kit, like the RVT plate on the Rios is to move the venturi air intake from the water outlet to the water inlet, causing the bubbles to get chopped up in the impellor for a smaller more uniform bubble size. Combining the upgrade from the Rio with RVT included with most inexpensive hang-on skimmers to the Maxijet with Turbo Venturi Kit, and adding an airline control valve to further control bubble size makes these skimmers capable of handling most skimming jobs. Tip submitted by: Rick Dickens
  2. For those aquarists using a sump with an external pump, there is a simple way to keep your return pump from “slurping” air when your sump water level gets low. If your sump is drilled and uses a bulkhead plumbed to the inlet of your return pump, check the  bulkhead and determine if it is a threaded or slip fitting. Ask your local plumbing supply house for a 90 degree “Street Elbow” either
    threaded or slip – whichever applies. This elbow will slide or screw into the inside of the bulkhead in your sump. Simply
    point the elbow down to create a “siphon” on your return pump intake. You won’t have to worry about any more slurping and you can run your sump level much lower if you desire. Tip submitted by: James Wiseman
  3. Following up on the hot tip about sump return plumbing – here is a tip to protect your pumps in the event of a sump overflow or other flood. Before drilling your sump, cut a small length of 2×4 timber and put this under your external return pump(s). Put a piece of neoprene (from a mousepad) in between the pump(s) and the wood. Put the inlet of the return up against the sump and use a permanent marker to mark the center of the pump inlet. This is the center of the hole that needs to be drilled in your sump. This simple tip will “take the guessowork” out of your sump drilling, protect your pump in a flood by elevating it off the floor, and it will also reduce noise due to pump vibration. Submitted by James Wiseman
  4. One way of removing a fish from a tank is to take a standard fish net, square wire frame type, remove the netting from the frame and replace it with a plastic fish bag, like the ones pet shops use to bag fish.The refractive index of the plastic is about that of seawater, so the fish don’t see it, whereas they see the white green or blue nets. For different size frames, just use differrent size plastic bags. This is how I used to train pet shop employees how to catch fish. Tip submitted by: Bill Wing
  5. Regardless of how much circulation you have in your reef tank, as corals grow – especially table top Acroporas (see photo) – it is important to blow the detritus out from within the inner branches. Toward this end, it is effective to use a turkey baster or other such implement. Even more effective is a hand held powerhead directed at the coral’s inner branches. If you use a powerhead, I strongly recommend that it be plugged into a GFI outlet. If your outlet isn’t a GFI outlet, you can purchase at most hardware stores a portable one. Tip submitted by: Terry Siegel
  Advanced Aquarist, Advanced Aquarist

 Advanced Aquarist

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