Originally Posted by sericinda
Bioballs came out immediately...they are nitrite traps. I am using the standard filter, no skimmer. I prefer weekly water changes to skimming on a nano-tank. I personally think skimmers pull out valuable nutrients as well as harmful and that water changes are more than sufficient to control this. I would use a skimmer on a larger tank, but I'm bypassing it on my cube.
Just for clarification, water changes and skimmers do not have the same result.
Water changes in saltwater are for a completely different reasoning than in freshwater tanks. Water changes are not meant as a method of removal, but more as a method of replenishment. I change about 7% of my water every week or so to replace lost trace elements and to stabilize my Alkalinity.
Skimming removes Dissolved Organic Compounds (DOC) from the water column. This is different from water changes as they remove the end result of these DOCs, Nitrate & Phosphate. The problem with that is once they have broken down into Nitrates and Phosphates, they have already had a detrimental effect on the system. Alkalinity is a measure of your water's ability to stabilize pH with the introduction of acids into the system. DOCs are an acidic compound, and we need to remove them before they effect Alkalinity.
If skimming is not your cup of tea, that is fine. There are ways around skimming. The first is a method that I use in conjuction with skimming, Activated Carbon. Carbon absorbs DOCs in the system naturally. Just place a bag in an area of water flow and it will absorb your DOCs. The other method I have not tried, is an algae scrubber. This idea is to actually grow hair algae in a localized chamber to have it absorb excess nutrients without spreading the algae. This is very similiar to growing macroalgae in a refugium.
Skimmers have their place in this hobby, but they aren't for everyone. I just wanted to differentiate between water changes and nutrient removal, as they are two different animals in this hobby.