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Aquatic Philosopher
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15,434 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, I think it is about time to have my own "thread" in the skimmer forum. I will discuss various skimmer topics as well as provide advice and suggestions for anyone who wants to ask. Hopefully this will be helpful :beer:

My first topic will be up shortly... A Top 10 list :)
 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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15,434 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Top 10 Skimmer Pumps All-time

***2011 Edition***
This is now a historical post... I keep it on here because; why not?
However, skimmer tech changes so post on this thread if you want up-to-date information.


Ok, I know I might catch a lot of flack for this but I was cleaning my skimmer pump in vinegar, I was thinking "what is the best skimmer pump" ... and that lead me to thinking up this list. But in the end, I did not want to do the best because that is tough without a long scientific process so I did a Top 10. I also thought a Top 10 skimmer list but that was just to large of a project... to many good skimmers... so I did pumps because a lot of great skimmers used the same pump. I know I am likely going to miss one or a dozen since this list was just off the top of my head. People may complain about the ordering (I might not blame them ... but I thought a nice discussion about it would be healthy. I was not going strictly on performance, although that is one element of my rankings. I also considered reputation, pervasiveness, reliability, innovation, value, operating efficiency, impact, and the skimmers associated with it. Sorry, air driven skimmers (and pumps) were not included.

10. Octopus/Ocean Runner (and all copies). I am always puzzled about how much this pump design has been altered and/or copied. The Octopus pump was instrumental in making needlewheel (and later pinwheel) skimmers more affordable. The Ocean Runner needlewheel was a decent pump but it was associated with the turboflotor for its success and failure.

9. Reeflo Orca modded skimmers pumps (Snapper or Dart). Often an overlooked skimmer pump(s) but it really brought in the SCFH. It was truly in the SCFH race, but the application limitations (needing a feed pump and external only design) has kept it on large tanks or those with a lot of space.

8. Iwaki. This is for all you downdraft folks, I feel this is one of the better pumps out there for this type of skimmer (some downdraft folks might have a better pump in mind due to experience but this would be my choice). Still, it is 8th because it is awesome powerful and awesomely kilowatt hungry (compared to pinwheel skimmer pumps, but now bad compared to other downdraft pump).

7. AquaBee. Certain Deltec, DAS, and H&S owners will definitely tell you these are very good pumps but surprisingly they are the "cheaper" option for some of the more expensive brands. However, the pumps do have their foibles (did you really have to include the "flap" in the design?) and that is why they found a niche as the less expensive pump for expensive skimmers.

6. Sicce PSK-2500. Love it and hate it... this was one of the first affordable skimmer to enter the SCFH race and was a favorite for modders. They could be meshed to pull impressive air numbers at a relatively low wattage. On the other hand, these pumps were only as good as their maker's skill. Not really a plug-and-play skimmer, it was more of a plug-tap-blow-wiggle-tinker-play-repeat. It became a headache for those who needed a cheap reliable skimmers with lots of air. If it started (correctly) every time like some other pumps, it would probably be #1.
***I thought of including all Sicce skimmer pumps and ranking them higher but I want to see how the PSK1000 does over time before assessing it***

5. Sedra. ASM, WarnerMarine, Euroreef, and a few others made this pump a great skimmer pump. It was both affordable without sacrificing too much on the quality end. One of the first pumps modified with a pinwheel, it was efficient, stable, and produced a decent air/water mixture. While the "air-draw arms race" made this skimmer pump obsolete. Still is remains in use and it rocks.

4. MagDrive/Maxijet (tie). Ok, a few people are wondering why these pumps are doing on the list, and even more so as why are they #4:eek:. But if I was to guess the two most used skimmer pumps are all time... it is likely the Maxijet followed closely by the MagDrive (and likely the RedSea Berlin pump after that). Think about all the SeaClones, AquaC, CPR, downdrafts powered by the MagDrives and Recirc skimmers fed by maxijets. Are these the best skimmer pumps: NO! But they are Top 10 for sheer number in use over such a long time (This is not a 10 Best otherwise they would be on the 10 worst).

3. Red Dragon/Laguna based pumps. This is the "king" of skimmer pumps. There are very few if any that are better than this pump (Red Dragon) and all other high-output skimmers are compared. If there is a benchmark for skimmer pump excellence, then this is it. Although, one would think for nearly a grand for some versions of the pump they should be perfect (and #1) but the Laguna based pumps (Red Dragon included) has had issues with corrosion of various components. In addition, the introduction of similar less-expensive pumps should have a made folks drop the price. So because of corrosion and high price, these pumps are third in my book.

2. Bubble Blaster. OK, I know I might be biased (you could switch the BB and the Red Dragon pump if you wish) but I really do think these are the best pumps... very few pumps can match its performance and those do not come close in their price. The first pump solely designed to be a skimmer pump . It is odd that there has been so much attention to modifying water pumps that it took this long for someone to design a pump exclusively for skimmer use. The air-draw for the wattage used is excellent and for all thing things the Sicce PSK 2500 got wrong, the Bubble Blaster got right. Unlike the Sicce it was plug and play while still be an affordable option for big air-draw.

1. Eheim. Perhaps the best pump (not just skimmer pump) of all time. It has become a causality of the air-draw arms race since it uses a tad bit more energy while producing a little less air-draw, I still consider this the most consistent skimmer pump. It does not matter about the back pressure, water level, or ozone... it just skims. Nearly all of the great venturi/aspirated skimmers have used the Eheim and even some smaller downdraft skimmers. Many skimmer pumps can put out bigger numbers that the Eheim but none have been as solid over such a long time.

So that is my Top 10 and folks can flame away... but what is important message is that the skimmer is only as good as the pump. So, skimmers with great pumps will likely be great skimmers and vice versa.

Cheers:beer:
 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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15,434 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Skimmer Talk #1

Ok, I am condensing a few of my skimmer discussions into this one thread. So the next few posts are old ones but I think they are good!

OK, tonight's write up is about skimmers and small tanks. Small thanks will be anything under 50 gallons. Generally, I say tanks in this size range to not really "need" a skimmer as water-changes can suffice with nutrient export. With larger tanks, the amount of water-changes needed to keep nutrients low increases dramatically as well as the bio-load that we, as hobbyist, normally keep. Skimmers reduce and export nutrients thus allowing the need for water-changes (serving as a nutrient exporter) to become less frequent. For example, a 5 gallon water-change (WC) is a 50% WC for a 10g, 25% for a 20g, and 10% for a 50g (simple math really). As a result, there is the potential for 50%, 25%, and 10% reduction of the organics in the water column to be removed (if one is using quality RODI and good salt). Still water-changes need to be more frequent with skimmerless tanks, such as every week or every other week. Now, if it was a 200g skimmerless tank (although there are tanks that are intentionally dirty), a hobbiest would need remove 50 gallons to equal the same percentage as a 5 gallon change on a 20g. A bag of salt a week can become quite expensive, and that is why skimmers help.

Now I have three tanks that are under 50 gallons, one 30g system (frag) and two 10g systems. Only the 30g system has a skimmer. My viewpoint is that tanks with less than 20g of total volume do not need skimmers at all and skimmers are not particularly effective in such small volumes. Skimmers need a certain level of organics in the tank to remain productive. If it is an effective skimmer, then it will skimming if there are too few organics (imagine that)! If it is a lousy skimmer, it will not really do much other than bubble a bit and suck energy (and not make skimmate). Skimmers are optional for tanks between 20 and 50 gallons. If the tank is designed to be a little bit dirty (such as certain softy tanks), then skimmer are not needed, but if the tank is a mixed reef or concentrating on stony corals, then skimmers can be beneficial.

The best part of small tanks and skimmers is that some cheap skimmers can be effective, but not all are. A lot of skimmer vastly overstates their abilities to keep a tank clean. For example, a Seaclone 100 claims it can handle a 100g tank but this claim is kind of like a Kia Rio claiming a 0 to 60mph time of less than a second... it could only do it with a rocket slapped to the roof and it really is not recommended. Rockets on skimmers is not suggested either. Sure a Seaclone 100 could be clamped on to a 100g tank, but it will not make a significant impact on removing the organics effectively. However, it might be more effective on a smaller tank (say 20g... but don't go out and buy that Seaclone just yet). Slightly more expensive skimmers do better (especially if the tank is more than 30g), but a hobbyist does not have to drop down Bubble King stacks of bill to have good skimmate production. So if you are going to go with a skimmer on your 20-50 gallon skimmer, here are some quick reviews and comments.

Now the best endorsement of a skimmer is something that is used and liked over a long period of time. My Euroreef RS 80 is such a skimmer... and if you have read this whole thread, you will know it is what is on my 30g tank. I have had it since 2006 and it has been a workhorse. While it is rated for about 80 gallons (which is actually accurate) it works best for SPS tanks of about 50g or less. (RS 80 below)

Still the RS 80 needs a sump or it will take up about 30% of the space in a 20g. The down side of being a fan of this skimmer is that they can be difficult to find. Euroreef has all but disappeared from the US market. Used ones are available in some places but there are other similar skimmers that can fill in the same role (with less flair). A skimmer such as the Vertex IN80 (below), often called a Euroreef clone, is a good second option as are the Octopus 110 and other skimmers with 4 to 5.9 skimmer bodies (diameter). In this price range expect to spend between $160 to $210.



I like the new 2010 models of the reef Octo NWB models. They have lowered the inner reducer tube to utilize more of the body space, included a large cone transition, and removed the sump eating base plate reducing their footprint dimensions by an inch all around! I really like Coralvue because their product is in constant evolution towards the better IMO. I believe these are going to edge out (or dominate) the vertex regular model skimmers (non-alpha of course). Still the Vertex are good skimmers (see below)



Now, a sump on a system less than 50 gallons is much rarer than sumpless setups. So if you are one without a sump don't fret, there are skimmers that help! Options like Eshopps hang on the back (HOB), Tunze, Octopus HOB and if you are willing to spend the cash, Deltec will take it. There are other companies that are bringing new skimmers to the market with cones hang-ons with sicce or bubbleblaster pumps but these skimmers might be a bit much to slap on the size of a tank. Drilling and using a sump skimmer is much more effective and versatile. Personally, the Tunze Nano DOC (Below) is my favorite for small sump-less tanks, although it sits inside of the tank. This is just a personal choice and other HOB skimmers can be and are more effective. IN this price range expect to spend about $150 (except the deltec and new cone/special pump HOBs)


Now, for what may have been waiting for... cheap skimmers for small tanks. The "cheapest" skimmer is always the one that you already have. So when we were all new to the hobby, there is the skimmer we first bought and chances are it was terrible. But some of these skimmers do well in small volumes. So if you have a Prizm, Bakpak, or a SeaClone in the closet you can make them useful again. I recommend modding the SeaClone though. Even small AquaC Remoras (the Remora Pro with Mag3 pump below) can be effective on small volumes but unless you already own one, don't use it (aka don't buy one new because they are too expensive and are easily bested by cheaper skimmers).

If you don't have one of these "gems" of a skimmer (note the sarcasm), you can normally find one used for cheap/free and they can be tinkled with to do better. Still, the better skimmer in this group for small tanks (about 20g) would be the prizm... but this is only my opinion as they a "not the best" but it will skim a respectable amount. Look to pay about $80 for a new Prizm, but otherwise look to pay only about $25 to $50 (maybe $100 for Remora Pros... just because a Mag3 pump is nearly worth it) for used models for any of these skimmers. Amount higher are ripoffs. Here is my trusty prizm:


Finally, things to avoid. If you have an "All-inclusive" tank such as Biocubes, 34g ReaSea Maxs, or Solanas, do not go "skimmer happy" to find or replace a better skimmer. These were set up not to be customizable so I say to keep them "stock" and do the water change. It will be difficult to find an effective skimmer or a skimmer that is significantly more effective than the built in model. But if you are a modder, then feel free... but if you are a modder I guess you would have built you own set up? The next thing to avoid is the Current Fission (below)... the most significant waste of plastic ever!

This is closely followed behind by the skilter and the Remora (just due to inflated price). Skimmrs designed for small tanks are normally junk, so know that the rating system is misleading... and you can use that to the advantage of small tanks by picking up used cheap skimmers from frustrated hobbyist looking to upgrade to a legitimate skimmer.

In my parting remarks, remember that you can have success with any skimmer... just that the success may not be attributed to the skimmer but rather good tank husbandry. Like any skimmer, there is no "best skimmer" and that there is no "best opinion about skimmers". My opinions are just those (a hobbyist's opinion), but hopefully you will find them useful. Now go forth, research, and become a better hobbyist!
__________________
 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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15,434 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Skimmer Talk #2

Increasing your skimmer's performance in a few easy steps.


Ok, how much would you pay for a product that would drastically increase your skimmer's production? $20? $50? or $100? Well, as of right now, unless you use a puddy or other skimmer exciting agent to overflow the collection cup (and make a mess), there is not a whole lot most of us can do. Carbon dosing does make a skimmer look like it is performing better but in reality there is just more stuff in the water to pull out to creates awesome nog shots. But I am not after something that will make the skimmer "look good" (ok, I am actually), I am after something that will make my current skimmer better.

Most (if not all) of our skimmer are likely underperforming as I am typing this and everyone could make their skimmers more effective. The simple method of increasing your skimmer performance is simple... you have to keep it CLEAN! Most of us, including myself, often neglect the skimmer cleaning ritual until the very last moment... when the dark gunk is practically dripping back into the tank. Whether it is the smell, grime, or the joy of actually having a full skimmate cup, skimmers seem to stay dirty. The problem is that a dirty skimmer is a less effective skimmer. The bio-organics, film, gunk, worms, coralline, and algae that accumulate in the skimmer body often has a negative effect on the rising bubble columns. Think about it, when a skimmer is dirty, it is like a rush-hour traffic jam on the highway... it just isn't that good. I have realized that my skimmers often produce more skimmate the three days after a cleaning than days 4-7. For instance, the last week I watched my MSX will produce about 16oz of skimmate right after a cleaning (days 1-3) while it will take another 7 days to reach 32oz of skimmate. While I would not call this nice scientific/empirical evidence (I don't want to take on another experiment at the time), I will say I am pretty confident to say that for most skimmers they work better when in a clean condition.

Now, when I say "clean" there are several levels of "clean"... and I don't consider just a clean neck to mean a clean skimmer, but that is an important area.

When you get a new skimmer, it is best to clean it. The best method I have found is to run the skimmer in a vinegar solution (1 part vinegar, 3 parts fresh water and it will likely take a few gallons total) for a few hours. This cleans up most manufacturing reside left over when the skimmer was made. This cleaning action will also reduce the "break-in" time for the new skimmer. Still, when you are running it in the vinegar solution, either submerse the skimmer cup or have the skimmer overflowing in the cup. Either way, you want the vinegar solution to touch every part of that skimmer that will be skimming. Also, this is a good time to check the skimmer for any defects (such as excessive glue in the pump area). For those of you who already have a skimmer running, remember the "new skimmer" cleaning method.

Ok, now for the "fun part"... I am going to provide a illustrated description of how I clean my skimmers. I will be cleaning my Frag skimmer, the Euroreef RS-80, and my MSX 200 with a Bubbleblaster pump in the main system. To begin, I will show you most of my tools: A 5 year old toothbrush, a fairly new babybottle brush, and a silicone spatula

I also use a turkey baster and I will show you what I clean with that later

To begin with, I normally clean my skimmers once a week, but ever few days in between I take a spatula and clean out the necks a bit. This keeps the foam flowing into the collection cup. Just make sure it is not completely gunked up when you do the in-between spatula or it better off doing a normal cleaning. For normal cleanings (at most every 7 days but the more frequent the better... as some say every 3 days is best), I don't like to have the collection cup fuller than 1/2 of the MSX. The simple o-ring neck can make the cup difficult to remove and the wrestling the cup out can lead to some messy spills if it too full. The Euroreef is a lot easier with their eurolock cup removal system. Anyway here are the skimmers before they were cleaned:


The next stage is to pour the skimmate into a proper receptacle


Next I use the toothbrush to clean out the skimmer cups. The bottle brush works well too but I find that it sometimes flicks pieces of gunk... the toothbrush is just easier.



After cleaning the cups out, don't forget to clean the sink. It keeps the spouse/significant other happy.


After I clean the cups, I clean the skimmer body. Normally, this is just the upper half where coralline, algae, and other gunk accumulate. For the big skimmer I used the spatula, for the Euroreef I used the bottle brush because the thinner neck is difficult to reach every spot
The MSX

The Euroreef



The last step is to replace the collection cup. At this time I use RODI water and flush it down the air line. This cleans out any saltcreep that accumulates in the air line. Doing this every week ensures that salt will not restrict airflow into the pump. I use the baster for the ER and I will use a pitcher filled with water for the MSX


Finally, every six months I do the "new skimmer cleaning". Coralline, tube worms, and other calcium based stuff seem to collect in the skimmer and a vinegar bath does wonders, it like getting a new skimmer without paying for it. This also cleans out the pump possibly extending the life of it. So if you want to increase the performance of your skimmer, just keep it clean.
 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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15,434 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Skimmer Talk #3

<hr style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: rgb(0, 0, 0);" size="1"> Getting a good skimmer at a good price.

I have been seeing this problem more and more frequently lately: "Hi, I need a skimmer for less than ($60, $80, $100, $130) for my XX or XXX gallon tank, and I was wondering if skimmer X (new at $79.99, $99.95, $109.99) works well? Thanks in advance" Now, I know what people are looking at. They see cheap but well marketed skimmers with overrated capacity (they make adequate nano skimmers at best). They think, hey, I think I found the answer
, but if (and I mean 'if') they ask for other opinions, they are frustrated with other peoples quick dismissal of their great deal
or
. I say there are some 'ok' skimmers out there in the sub $150 range, but it seems to me that one does not really get to a solid base model skimmer until approaching at least the $200 dollar mark, and that price does not guarantee good performance. Normally $500 dollars is where there is some guarantee that a skimmer will skim... but they are not always the most effective (many sub $500 skimmer will outperform $500+ skimmers). Still, the price for good quality skimmers has come down (Thank you China?) in the last 5-8 years, but some folks, especially newbies, do not want to plop down cold hard cash for the most important piece of equipment, in my opinion, for medium and large tanks. So if you are one of the folks who cannot go out and buy "the right skimmer" right now and are trying to decided if it is best to order that cheaper skimmer, this is what you do.

You get what you pay for a lot in the hobby and that is no exception with skimmers. Yes, there are good less expensive skimmers but no real good cheap skimmer. If you decided to get the cheap skimmer, you will only put yourself further behind. You will likely have less money and the same problem of not having a skimmer. So you might be asking "What is the point? Should I just go skimmerless?" and the answer to that is "YES!" Think about it, a cheap skimmer isn't really skimming anything so the only nutrient exporter is the good old water change. I find it funny that many people think that they have to buy items, equipment, supplements, dosings, and junk to make their tanks look good, but the truth is that water changes do the most good (adding elements while removing waste... it is a twofer!) , are inexpensive, not that easy to screw up, and do not require expertise in chemistry to execute. Instead of putting all of the money into a cheap useless skimmer, save it and do regular water changes (averaging 10% once a week) until you can afford the right skimmer. I if you have less than 50 gallons, the skimmer is really optional. Now, I know there is someone thinking "So, why buy a skimmer at all?" This is simple, skimmers are LONG TERM INVESTMENTS. Despite the miracle of the water change, they add up over time (years), and can be expensive for large tanks. Buying a cheap skimmer is a knee-jerk reaction and short-term thinking. It is based solely on the immediate cash in one's pocket rather than a long term plan for a tank and that is always the most expensive way to reef. A quality skimmer reduces organics so that water changes are more effective. I will explain. A lot of times, people are told that skimmers are used to do less water changes and I am sure I have even said this in the past, but I have come to the realization that this is (slightly) misleading. A skimmer should not make water changes/weekly maintenance less frequent, but rather that the amount of water needed to change is (should be) less than that of the skimmerless tank in order to achieve the same amount of organics in the tank over the same time. Ok, I know this might sound confusing
but I will try and explain. Let say there are 100 "baddies" (baddies are organic wastes in various forms) in a tank. A 10% water change removes 10 "baddies", a 20% water change remove 20 baddies. Now let us suppose a good skimmer removes 12 baddies a week (a cheap skimmer is lucky to do 1 or 2). You might say that skimmer is better than doing a 10% water change, and well, maybe, but I maintain that a water change is always best (remember is replaces elements too). Ok, now that there is a skimmer removing 12 baddies, how much water is need to make a 20% effective water change? Well an easy, but incorrect guess would be 8 gallons, but there are only 88 baddies and that would be a baddie reduction of 8 percent of 88 baddies leaving 81 baddies (yes close but slightly off, fractions and percentages make easy seeming calculations awkward so keep in mind that when doing tank calculations). Still, a good skimmer makes smaller water change volumes as effective as a nutrient exporter as larger water changes. Still, the best benefits are when there are regular large water changes while using a good skimmer. So remember, when looking at a skimmer as a tool, don't look at it as something that reduces the need for regular maintenance, but rather as something to make regular maintenance more effective.

Over the long term, a skimmer will make regular maintenance more effective and cheaper because it takes less water volume (aka salt, RODI, ect) to be effective. But still, how does that solve the problem of limited funds and a skimmer need. The trick is not to spend money on a cheap skimmer and then spend money for an appropriate (and often a more expensive) skimmer. But, if you are in dire need of a skimmer there might be some help. While one saves their money for an appropriate skimmer, I say the best place to get a skimmer would be from a local reef or aquarium club
. If you can find someone to load you a skimmer, this is best until you can afford something new. I have loaned skimmers out before, but I don't like it when folks use them for several year
. Please don't borrow a skimmer more than 2 (maybe 3) months, if that. Local clubs might even have several skimmers for sale as most experience reefers have upgraded and changed set ups over the years and some closets become museums of the hobby. You might be able to find and buy a appropriate skimmer for less. Finally, there are good deals on ebay and craiglist but I recommend against them for most folks. Why? Because, unless you know what you are buying (and most people on the hunt for a cheap skimmer often do not), then it is often not a good deal (parts missing, dying pumps, overpriced used equipment). Sometimes I look at some of the "for sale" posts on these websites and noticed the equipment was the "cheap" equipment with folks getting out of the hobby due to frustration. Go figure.

Ok, when setting up a tank, the cost of a good skimmer should be included in the planning/purchasing process. Unfortunately it is easy for folks to jump in to a tank , fish, rocks, and all the pretty stuff and forget about the seemingly expensive but unseemingly useful equipment. However, if you are one that is short on cash but need a skimmer, there are options. First, check with local clubs to buy a good skimmer for less or borrow a skimmer temporarily. If that fails, just be patient. Water changes will keep you in the game(or hobby) until the funds are available to go serious skimmer shopping. Water changes work and are easy, they buy you time. When going budget skimmer shopping you need to double your research.
Don't look just the price or the consumer reviews at the retailer's website. You need to find what the experienced hobbyist are using and recommending (best if what they are using is a few year old because you should be able to find a used skimmer then). Ask them how many skimmers they owned, which ones they liked, which ones they didn't like, what features were good ideas and such. After all of that, then look for a specific and recommended skimmer for a lower price. And if you don't believe me about waiting, I have at least 3 or 4 "cheap" skimmer that I have wasted my money on before getting it right!
 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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15,434 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Skimmer Talk #4

Q&A

Ok, I posted a long response on another thread and after reading it, it sounded like a decent skimmer talk response to I am copying it here for all to see. Thanks to those TRT members who prompted this response!

Q1: How does a skimmer work and what does it do:
A1: Skimmers remove dissolved organic compounds (DOC) and very little of that is actual protein. Some studies suggest that as little as 2% is protein. Now, the DOCs are hydrophilic, meaning their molecular structure bonds with polarized water molecules via hydrogen bonding. During the skimmer reaction, the DOC form/accumulate on the edge of the air/water surface thus lots of small water bubbles in the skimmer make it a perfect place. Please not that not all hydrophilic molecules and most hydrophobic do not interact with the skimmer... soaps and oils will actually prevent the skimmer from working properly (why a skimmer need to have a break in period and why feeding kills the foam head). Now, because air is forced into the skimmer body, it must exit somewhere... and since it is less dense than water, it normally exits from the highest point if possible... the skimmer neck and cup. The air forces any DOC/water at the top of the skimmer through the neck and into the cup... and that is how waste is removed by skimming. The less waste in the tank the better! (this is the short version).

Q2: is it better to have a sump and a hang on? How to sumps help?
A2:The better route is normally to set up a sump with a internal (or even external) skimmer, fuge, return section. Hang-on skimmer in the sump normally does not provide any extra benefit so insumps are still better. Sumps have a lot of benefits as they are places to store equipment, add extra water volume, mix any additives or add RO water, "purgatory" for any aggressive fish, reverse lighting spots with a fuge, and etc as sumps are the swiss army knife of the reef system.

Q3: Are insump skimmers always better than HOB skimmers? What are the reasons?
A 3: Yes, it might be accurate to say that there are HOB skimmers that are better than some in-sump skimmers, but that is the exception. Skimmers come down to two basic components in my view point... the pump and the reaction chamber body. In-sump skimmers normally have HOB skimmers beat in both areas for some simple logical reasons. 1- HOB skimmers normally have to be thin. No one really wants a giant skimmer body hanging off the back of the tank and most people who want a HOB skimmer already have a tank set up and that tank is normally fairly flush against a wall. Unfortunately many HOB buyers are "retrofitting" an existing setup rather than building and planning a new one. Keeping a skimmer thin to "fit" between a wall and a hard, wet space keeps the reaction chamber (where the water interacts with the air) small. In sump skimmers are normally wider, instead of 3 inches like many HOB skimmers, the smaller insump skimmers are 4-6 inches with 8 to 12 inch skimmers being fairly common. When it comes to the reaction chamber, there is no replacement for displacement! 2- HOB skimmer bodies normally cost more... and the market demands a lower price... the solution: use a cheap pump. Lets face it, most HOB skimmers have more acrylic welds than any other piece of tank equipment. They are made from several pieces, welded and baffled with tubes feeding and returning water with (normally) square cups that must fit perfectly-enough. Look at them and then try and make one, they are complex! Now the Insump skimmers are more simple... a tube (not four flat pieces welded... except for a few models) capped at the bottom, 2 holes drilled/uniseals/unions (one intake and one return), and a cup sitting flush with a O-ring. Very simple and much less welding. Well all that welding cost money with labor, so the less you have to do the better. Unfortunately, because HOB are "retrofit" skimmers folks buying them tend to be on the less "experienced" side of things and are not "acclimated" to high reef costs. When I started out, $100 bucks is a lot of money for bubbles. Now, I will shell out $500 no problem for the nicer stuff, I am just used to paying more for things I know work. So, many folks are less willing to pay for a skimmer and require a HOB. It is the decaf coffee issue. (For those who do not know, coffee manufacturers use lower quality beans to keep cost down since decaffeinating coffee is costly and (most) consumers refuse to buy decaf that is more expensive than regular. So if you want good decaf, expect to pay a few bucks more than regular at the market... this is what I do. As a result, lower quality beans make up for the cost of the decaf process.) The same thing is going on with HOB skimmers. To cut costs, HOB skimmers normally have cheaper pumps. So HOB skimmers have less reaction chambers volume and weak pumps... result is a weaker skimmer at the same or even higher price. Now this is the norm and there are exceptions and such, but don't expect to be able to get the same cost/benefit from a HOB skimmer as an insump skimmer. Don't believe me? Here is an example. Same (great) pump for the HOB and insump, there is a $50 price difference.
HOB:http://www.reefspecialty.com/Protein...duct_info.html

Insump: http://www.reefspecialty.com/Protein...duct_info.html

Hope this helps!
__________________
 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ok, new word out from the Royal Exclusiv folks... after giving them a 3rd place ranking on my skimmer pump Top 10, they are releasing a new Red Dragon Pump!!! (Skimmer geeks rejoice!) The RD3 or "Speedy" pump is really sweet looking. ReefBuilders has a nice write up about it posted today. Still, it will be over $800 for the pump... is it worth it? I can't wait to see the skimmer oriented version of it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
No problem, glad to help! (Welcome to TRT by the way)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Cool... I have been out of town recently (conferences... woot) but I will be getting back into my normal routine so I will see how my skimmer did without me and the Mrs feeding the tank. I will snap some pics of "performance" hopefully.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Post conference photo of the skimmer... and my wife overfeeding :lol:

Nice nog... with a little vodka fuel
 

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I have a 10 nano reef. Would you say that I dont need a skimmer even if I want to keep
sps corals? Currently I do 2-3g w/c's a week. I have been looking at the aquamaxx hob-1. I dont want to spend 200 bucks and find out later that it really isn't nessary.
Thanks.
David
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I worked it out a year or two ago and it would take about 38 years for a skimmer to repay for itself in water changes (10% w/ skimmer vs 20% w/o skimmer) I think I had the skimmer cost at either $100 or $150 and the new salt water at 50 cents per gallon.

IMO, just go skimmerless and put the $200 into a Ca reactor fund (even for a 10g... ca reactors make a big difference for SPS) :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
OK, I have been away (conference and a "gift from the Mrs"...

My MSX200 with a Bubble Blaster pump (would be rated for a 300g if it was sold online) is now on a bigger tank. It will not be "starved" on a 65g... it now has a 120g w/ a 40g Breeder sump to skim. If you thought my nog (skimmer cup waste) pics were nasty... I just doubled my system volume!!!

here it is (coral placement still in progress)




 

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buddy of mine gave me his old 40 gallon setup. it included a skimmer.. Aquarium Systems maker of Instant Ocean! total junk. my old octo has pulled out 3 cups to its one so far. in fact i unplugged it because all it did was recirulate water in my sump lol.

speaking of recirculating: Don't forget the recirculating skimmers (i may have missed it if you did). im looking into octopus's newer line of recircs. seems if you plumb it to your overflow then to your sump, you are one less pump in need. although it does have the recirc. pumps that run.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Recirc skimmers are often very efficient, but I have mixed feelings about recircs. Mostly I do not always think their higher price provides any additional performance in a well designed sump. In addition, external recircs can cause a crash when plumbed externally and combined with a ATO device (the skimmer overflows, draining a tank and then the ATO pumps fresh water into the tank lowing the salinity). Some ATO have a check on how long the pump will run (and shuts it off after a few minutes) but small tanks might still be affected. I find that pump fed recirs often do better than overflow fed pumps. Often overflows are either force too much flow through the recirc's body or the flow rate is inconstant when split off. Still, recircs offer more air per pass for the fed water.
 

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Hello Doc
I have a 75 gal bought used with fish & LR already run in. My DAS BX-1 Skimmer (previously used on a 190gal FO) had no pump. I bought an Eheim Compact Plus needle wheel version. In your picture and others I see a milky fluid in the chamber. I have small bubbles, but not to the tiny size you show. I have never adjusted a skimmer before, but if I open or close the air valve I still cannot get them smaller. I am getting a small amount of skimmate in the cup, but i don't think it is enough.

Please advise some of the "art" of adjusting and tweaking a skimmer. Also, is this more likely to be a pump issue or a skimmer issue?

Thanks- Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
How new is the pump? Sometimes it takes a while for manufacturing residue to wear off, causing less performance (often bubble size/density issues).

You air feed line should be wide open. Any restriction hurts skimmer performance so if there is an valve, I would just remove it (because even the valves are restrictive when open). The Ehiem might push more water (and less air) depending on the volute design. If you want to pull more air (and get more milky foam in the skimmer body) you reduce the diameter of the water feed area while keeping the airline unrestricted. This should pull more air instead of water. I do not think the Ehiem has a reducer sold with it so that might be needed. Do you have a pic? I might be able to see the problem more clearly
 
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