10-04-2008, 08:14 PM
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The protein skimmer takes advantage of the fact that most organic waste has a polar charge, which means that organics bond to any air / water interface. In other words, the bubbles capture the organic waste and remove the waste directly from the aquarium.
It is important to note that the organic waste is not chemically altered. It does not break down into Nitrate. Additionally, the direct removal of the organics helps to stabilize the buffer system, which has a tremendous benefit on the stability of pH and alkalinity readings.
So, the air venturi that you are asking about allows you to control the amount of bubbles being sucked into the skimmer. The more bubbles you allow into the skimmer column, the higher the water level climbs in the column. I personally like my water level to be about 1'' below the "neck" leading into the collection cup. This should be sufficient to allow for the bubbles to bond into a nice thick foam. The SeaClone model is a good skimmer, but you will probably not get a real thick foam in the collection cup. It will probably be a very thick coffee color liquid, which is also fine. The thicker the better, and adjustments to the venturi over time will help.
As to the sponge, you want to clean it as often as you can possibly find time. I suggest a minimum of 2 times per week if you do not have algae problems, and 2 times per day if you do have algae problems. You want to clean the sponge at least 2 times per week to prevent it from becoming biologically active.
Sump or hang on? This is simple. If you have a sump, place the skimmer in the sump. If not, use the hang on features. A sump will allow the skimmer to function more effectively because all of the water entering the sump is from the water surface, where organics naturally are attracted.