12-27-2007, 09:17 AM
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With a nice reef full of rock work, the rock becomes your bio filter. You can continue to use a canister but plan to clean it every other week unless it is huge and you may go once a month. The idea is to not allow the waste it collects to begin breaking back down. Even skimmers have their weaknesses. They remove large waste (still almost microscopic), if a canister allows waste to degrade far enough as to be let back into the system it is probably to small for the skimmer to remove it. This is the waste that feeds algae like gas to a fire. So a canister on a reef should be kept spotlessly clean and feel free to add a bit of carbon or phosban each time. Trouble is that many people would leave them on for 4-6 months, they begin polluting the tank again at that point. Inverts are very sensitive to Nitrites and ammonia, fish are not as sensitive. That is why you'll see us say that a canister is more for a fish only tank. It really is only said because people are generally lazy and forget things like proper maintenance. Or they become overwhelmed with something else and the filters suffer. There are a few people that this never happens to and if you are one of them, use your canister to your advantage. The same is true of trickle filters full of bio balls. They need to be cleaned often and folks choose not to. Many people are afraid of disrupting the bacteria balance. This was true the years before live rock. The idea is to keep your system stable with the rock so cleaning the filtration does not disrupt the entire system.
With only 2 clowns and a handful of hermits you should be fine with rock, sand, and your current Eheim. If you wish to make your system a little more deluxe you certainly could, and should, add a nice skimmer. I prefer in sump models for so many reasons. Most important is that if it ever goes wonky and gets out of adjustment, the dirty water goes back into the tank, not your floor. Do you need a trickle filter? No, just a sump and return pump to house the skimmer. The thing about a skimmer is that the waste is removed forever and cannot come into contact with the tanks water.