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  1. SKIMMER FAQ: Final Version
    by (JEFF PFOHL) (2 Mar 1995)

SKIMMER FAQ: Final Version

Date: 2 Mar 1995
Newsgroup: sci.aquaria,alt.aquaria,rec.aquaria


**************SUMMARY of SKIMMER FAQ***************
revised 2/27/95

What follows is a collection of threads about skimmers from the
*.aquaria groups.

Skimmer brand/model             Liked         Disliked
The Beast                         3 
Red Sea                           2 
Amiricle Hurricane 18 in.         1 
Amiricle SeaReef                  2                2
Sanders-WT350                     1 
SeaSystems 24 in.                 1 
Top Fathom                        1 
Clearly Superior                                   1
Emperor Aquatics-1B                                2
Home made                                          1
Sanders Piccolo					   1
Sanders WT 250			  1
ETS				  1
Oceanic 6		  	  1
Visijet Skimmer					   1

NOTE: these comments should be taken lightly and only used as a
minimal source of info since the opinions are based on particular
applications. They are also a summary based on someone else's views of
the threads below. While a skimmer may be liked it may not be
appropriate for your setup. Thus PLEASE read the posts that follow.



Once again I am collecting info for the revised FAQ/archive. I am
interested in all information you can provide on skimmers. Please
include dimensions, tank size, counter or co-current, air stone or
venturi (as well as brands of water and air pumps), brand name,
approximate cost and how it compares to other skimmers you are
familiar with and finally whether you would buy it again. All other
comments are of course welcome. Please post (email is ok too).

				PHONE : (904) 644-1598  work
					(904) 224-0707  home
					(904) 644-9848  fax

"You don't perform CPR on someone who is alive!"


I really like my Top Fathom a lot (except that it does not fit under
the tank but what tank does have room for a 5' skimmer underneath?)
Whether it is the best or not is a matter of opinion. I'm pleased with
it and feel I received my $$ worth. Some others seem to like DIY or
the Red Sea skimmers. There are others too. Someone on the net
recommended that I buy a TF and I'm grateful that he did. As a matter
of fact everyone I know of who owns one is pleased with its
performance. I am using an Eheim 1060 pump. It is adequate but I would
go with a LG 3 or 4 series (or the equivalent Iwaki) pump. (I'm trying
this now.) I just think this would be a better choice. TF recommends
which pumps work best on their skimmers.  Trust them as I think they
are probably right. I used the Eheim b/c I had originally planned on
using a submersible pump and it fit the bill. After realizing the size
of the skimmer and the logistics of hooking it up (due to tank
placement which I could not change) I had to use the Eheim out of
water anyways.  All are about the same price.

For the $$ probably TF is one of the best. The Red Sea is smaller in
size and probably can fit under the tank. It claims to be able to
handle big tanks but since I have never seen one I cannot support or
refute this claim. If you are rich then you can find much more
expensive skimmers (like the Marine Technical concepts $800 skimmer) I
do not know if it is that much better. I bought my TF on sale from a
place that was just opening. It cost about $275, less than TF sells
retail.  I don't recall how much they are retail. Perhaps soneone on
the net has a TF connection.  Post and ask if anyone knows of
somewhere that sells TF cheaper than TF does. You may get lucky. You
may also want to consider the new ETS skimmers for around $500. Quite
expensive IMO but if they are as good as everyone claims are they
definitely worth the money if you are serious about your reef.
Finally I would definitely go with a venturi design. Although they
normally cost more to operate due to the big water pump that is
required they are less maintence and thus more consistent in their



I used to have a SeaSystems 24" counter current air stone driven
skimmer that I truly loved!!! (I only got rid of it to buy a huge 6'
skimmer for my 75 gal) It uses a 301 PH and a  medium sized air pump
(I used one side of an old Whisper 700) It pulled out a lot of gunk
and was easy to tune AND stayed tuned properly (no constant
adjustments) It should cost you less than $100. If you have trouble
finding one the phone number is 305-941-3792 for you to call
the company directly (they only sell wholesale but will give you a
list of who carries their skimmers) 


~From: (Scott Hodges)
~Newsgroups: rec.aquaria,alt.aquaria,sci.aquaria
~Date: 17 Jan 1995 21:29:29 -0500


Nice to hear from another 'Nole.....

I have a Beast from D&D.  Not your average skimmer, but perfect for putting
under your tank.  It's about 26"x5", air driven by two limewood stones.
No cup!  Overflow goes directly into a 1 gallon jug.  Air powered by both 
sides of a Supra 4.  Water comes from about 10% of a 3-MDQ-SC. Easy to set up. 
4 years running.  Never a problem.  Has an up/down/up (co and counter current)
water flow.  Photo in TFP catolog.

Also have an Amiricle Hurricane.  Venturi driven.  Moved alot of water with 
a Hagen 802 powerhead.  Sits IN sump.  About 20" by 4".  Replaced with Beast.

Hope this helps!

Scott Hodges


John Sprague ( wrote:
: >I need to get some input on a skimmer that would support a 180 - 220 gal reef 
: >with a 50mg ozoner and a pressureized reactor.   Are store bought  skimmers 
: >signifigantly better than home made ?

: I would highly reccomend the Red Sea fish pHarm Berlin Skimmer.  It is a 
: triple pass venturi design rated to 250 gallons and is extremely efficient.  I 
: have heard of a couple of stores that use and sell only these.  It is ozone 
: safe and has a carbon air filter area built in.  It can be used inside or 
: outside your sump and totally dissasembles for cleaning.  I was unable to 
: compare with very many other skimmers when I got mine so I can't tell you how 
: it rates next to some others, but it has performed well above my expectations. 
:  I got mine for $170.

I agree. My Berlin skimmer pulls the blackest gunk out of my tank. I haven't
run the diatom filter in over a month and the water looks crystal clear. I
power mine with a Little Giant MDQ3 pump. The pump is very quiet. I can't 
hear it over the venturi from the skimmer and that noise is not loud either.

Rich Holloway


~From: (Ron Feigen)
~Subject: Re: venturi skimmers
~Date: Tue, 17 Jan 1995 16:15:09 GMT

The Red Sea skimmer is great for O3.  It has a relly cool carbon camber built
onto the collection cup.  No extra O3 kit


In article, (Scott Hodges) writes:
>jo-jo ( wrote:
>> I need to get some input on a skimmer that would support a 180 - 220 gal reef 
>> with a 50mg ozoner and a pressureized reactor.   Are store bought  skimmers 
>> signifigantly better than home made ?
>>       ,///:,    ,/                                             ,///:,    ,/
>>   o::::::;;///     o::::::::;;///   
>> >:::::::::;;\\\                                        >:::::::::;;\\\
>>       '''\\\'      \                                             '''\\\'      \
>Tough question.  I've gone through a few finicky skimmers, but finally
>went all out and bought a "Beast" from D & D Marine Enterprises.  It's a sump
>return design, using a Supra 4 air pump.  You actually use a one gallon
>jug as your overflow! It stands about 28" tall and is about 6" around
>(plus fittings), so be sure you have room.   
>I would recommend one of these to anybody.  The name is appropriate.
>D&D also has ozone kits for all teir skimmers. 
>On the homemade side, I have a few friends that tried to make them, but they
>all gave up and bought instead.  If you want a clear one, you might end up
>spending as much money on the parts (and mistakes) as you would buying.  
>I got my Beast from That Fish Place.
>Hope this helps!
>Scott Hodges


~From: davisp-at-spot.Colorado.EDU (DAVIS PATRICK W)
~Newsgroups: rec.aquaria,alt.aquaria,sci.aquaria
~Date: 18 Jan 1995 20:43:24 GMT

Good idea Jeff! Recently I have been wondering if it would be advantageous 
to upgrade my skimmer, but I have nothing to compare it to. I have a 
small red algae problem that flared up when my skimmer wasn't working 
properly for about a week. Maybe upgrading the skimmer will correct it.

I have a 70 gallon reef. The skimmer is an Amiracle Hurricane, which is a 
18" counter-current venturi rated for a 150 gallon tank. It is powered by a 
Rio 2100 (rated at ~500g/h with a 1 foot head- but I don't believe it). 
The skimmer does have to sit in the sump because there are small leaks.

How well was it made? Cheaply- like I said, it leaks slightly. It is made 
of blue acrylic, and they didn't even bother to flame polish the cuts.

How easy is it to set up? Very- if you have lots of space in your sump. I 
don't, so it is a struggle every time I need to empty the top.

How well does it keep adjusted? Pretty well. The water level is adjusted 
by the water output, so that is stable if your output is higher than your 
sump level (but not in my case at first). The bubble size is easy to 
adjust, but in my case difficult to stay stable. The venturi valve is 
connected to a rubber tubing with a screw type valve on the end of it- 
this allows air in outside of the sump. The venturi valve needs to be 
soaked about once a month in HCl. I think my problem is with the air 
screw valve, which is why I can't keep it stable for 24 hours. I will 
inadvertently drop the screw valve into the sump every time I put the top 
back on. This causes a small amount of salt water to get in it, which 
clogs it up to some degree. I think a longer rubber tube will take care 
of this.

How well does it work? It works like I think it is supposed to. When the 
tank was first set up, the cup had to be emptied once a day, now I empty 
it once a week. It pulls out a very dark smelly liquid when adjusted 
correctly. Being the only skimmer I have owned, I can't compare it to any 
other brands. My dilemma now is if I should invest in larger 5' skimmer, 
or will it not work any better?


From Fri Jan 20 15:57:55 1995
~Date: Fri, 20 Jan 1995 11:27:51 -0800
~From: Michael Brown <>

Jeff, If your putting together a list of comments on skimmers, you
might want to add a section on companies to avoid...And I have the
first entry....Clearly Superior aquarium products in Fullerton
California.  The advertised in FAMA up until Jan 1995, when their add
was pulled because of customer complaints to FAMA.  What they do is
tell you about this great skimmer they have and list off great specs
at a great price.  When the skimmer comes, it is nothing like what you
were promised.  In my case, it was about 30% shorter than promised and
missing parts.  When you return it, that's the last you ever see of
the skimmer or your money.  The only sell COD cash, so you can't go
through your credit card company.  Great scam. In personal
communications with others in this newsgroup, the money scammed totals
over $1000; only from *.aquaria over the last few months!  I can't
imagine what their total take was before FAMA pulled to plug.

While most people won't see their add anymore, I would like to warn
people who are looking through last years FAMA about this company. I'm
also concerned that FAMA,  or some other mag might start running their
adds again, allowing them to prey on a new batch of unknowing comsumers. 

Thanks for listening... Mike

Michael Brown		INTERNET:
543-5219		UUCP:	  uw-beaver!!mika
Dept of Atmospheric Sciences, AK-40
University of Washington


From Sun Jan 22 01:15:57 1995
~Date: Sat, 21 Jan 1995 17:32:42 -0500

The Beast is the best skimmer I've used.   It's pretty simple to set up.  It's 
also very well made.  The only problem I have with it is that it's a little 
difficult to breakdown to get the airstones out because everything screws 
together.  Fortunately, I only have to do this every 4 months or so.

Hope this helps.  Let me know if you want more specifics.

Scott Hodges


~Newsgroups: sci.aquaria
~Subject: Re: Hang-on-tank skimmers
~Date: Fri, 20 Jan 1995 10:27:30

In article <> (DAVE ROSSELL) writes:
>Subject: Hang-on-tank skimmers
>Date: Thu, 19 Jan 1995 18:33:00 GMT

>I've read with great interest the recent postings about these big, expensive,
>efficient sump skimmers.  I'm thinking of getting a skimmer for my 20L salts
>tank, but it has to hang on the tank.  I also (unfortunately) have a $60 price
>cap (grad student and aquarium hobbyist don't mix).  I've been looking at the
>VisiJet skimmer, the Amiricle Sea Reef and the Coralife Super Skimmer series.

>Are these inexpensive skimmers worthwhile, or should I just hold off and save
>my pennies?  Are any of them capable of handling a 55 g. tank (I hope to
>upgrade someday)?

I would add the Sanders hang in the tank to your list. I have the WT350 on my 
20 and really like it.  It is a countercurrent design (unlike Coralife).  I 
also had an Amiracle Sea Reef but it leaked and it was a pain to clean the 
cup (wingnuts).  Some one else who posts regularly likes his however.  Only 
the sea reef 22" skimmer of the ones you mention is really capable of doing 
anything for a larger tank.  I am still looking for a replacement for mine 
since countercurrent airstone driven skimmers are getting harder and harder to 
find.  Its a venturi world out there.

Mike Moore, Tempe AZ


~From: (Noel noe)
~Newsgroups: rec.aquaria,alt.aquaria,sci.aquaria
~Date: 22 Jan 1995 21:34:38 -0500


Novel Idea!  I just finished setting up an Emperor Aquatics Series 1B 
venturi protein skimmer.  The hang on the tank model.  It's being fed by
an Ehiem 1250 (externally).

This is the second one.  When I recieved the first one I sent it back
after 24 hours in operation because it leaked on to my rug.  The venturi
water inlet housing had cracked during transit.  I called the company and
sent it back.  Got in touch with "Steve", the owner of "EA". He suggested
that the setup I was using was ok.  The instructions that came with the
first skimmer suggested a pump of at least 250 gph -at- 5ft. of head.  I
figured the Ehiem 1250 would fit the bill; it's rated for 317 gph.  The
second skimmer came with a page entitled "Protein Skimmer Trouble Shooting
Guide" and lo and behold the suggestion is there that my pump is
inadequate.  It lists five pumps and mine ain't on it.  Sure do wish I had
that "Trouble Shooting Guide" before I bought the pump.


From Tue Jan 24 15:04:41 1995
~Date: Tue, 24 Jan 1995 10:00:05 -0800
~From: (Bruce Hallman)
~Subject: My contribution to the skimmer FAQ


Please accept my praise for your efforts spent on assembling a skimmer FAQ for 
the good of the group.

When I read it, I said to myself, "I wish this was summarized so I could read it 
at a glance".  I then put together a summary.  You may consider posting the 
summary at the top of the thread, and then people can have a quick overview, and 
then get a detailed look by reading on.  In a couple cases, the review was luke 
warm, and I used my judgement to call it a "liked" or "disliked" review.


Skimmer brand/model             Liked         Disliked
The Beast                         3 
Red Sea                           2 
Amiricle Hurricane 18 in.         1 
Amiricle SeaReef                  2                2
Sanders-WT350                     1 
SeaSystems 24 in.                 1 
Top Fathom                        1 
Clearly Superior                                   1
Emperor Aquatics-1B                                2
Home made                                          1
Sanders Piccolo					   1
Sanders WT 250			  1
ETS				  1
Oceanic 6		  	  1
Visijet Skimmer					   1

 '     *   . .      '           +         `  .        ) *     ' bruce hallman
 . +   .        ,    * ' .      '     . `     . *     .
. _/_/' _/_/_/  _/  _/_/  '   URL


~From: (Phil Henderson)
~Date: 24 Jan 1995 23:19:22 GMT

In article <3fv4ju$>, (Noel noe)

> Hi,
> Novel Idea!  I just finished setting up an Emperor Aquatics Series 1B 
> venturi protein skimmer.  The hang on the tank model.  It's being fed by
> an Ehiem 1250 (externally).
> This is the second one. 
> If you'd like you can e-mail me at
> Thanks :(

The complaint I heard obout the Emperor Aquatics skimmers was from a dealer
who tried one out before selling it. He sent it back to the company because
they don't have a collection cup and the gunk that normally collects at the
top of the collection tube in a normal skimmer tends to clog the drain in a
EA skimmer and they are a pain to clean. 
Phil Henderson
Brea, Ca

~From: "colin (c.w.) kemp" <>
~Subject:  Name of My skimmer 

Hi Jeff,

I just routed through my storage and found the box for my skimmer.
The name is:

        Sander Aquarientechnik
        EiwieB-Abschaumer  Ozonreaktor (Protein Skimmer)
        TYP: Piccolo

So my (probably incorrect) interpretation of this is:

        Company : Sander 
        Model   : Piccolo
        Type    : Protein Skimmer

Below is the original cocos:


Hi Jeff,

Great idea. I would like to ask that you put a little bit of
information on the affect of the diameter of the skimmer into the FAQ
if you get the chance.  There is a good article relating to this topic
in 'Aquarium Fish' January '95 issue I believe. Also can you mention 
that they are called foam fractionators in some parts of the world?

Now on to my skimmer:

        - In tank, counter-current skimmer.
        - 6" chamber, 3" Collection Cup
        - Driven solely by an air-stone, powered by a Optima Pump
          which is important since the water level in the skimmer/tank
          fluctuates affecting performance and the Optima Air flow is
        - German made, no idea of the name
        - $50CDN including two airstones and mounting bracket

         | |__________________
        |      |        |     |
        |                     |
        |        |    |       |
        |        |    |       |
        |       /      \      |  
        |      /        \     | O
              ||        ||    O
              |          |    O
              |          |    O
              |          |    O
wwwwwwwwwwwwww|wwwwwwwwww|wwwwOwwwwwwwwwwww<--- Waterline
              |          |    O 
              |          |    O
              |          |   O
              |          |  O
              |          | O
              |          |O
              |          O
              |         O|  
              |      /\O |
              |     /  \ |
              |    /   / |
                  /   /
                  \  / 

        1. Small and relatively cheap
        2. Adequate for small aquariums
        3. No leak or drainage problems since it sits in tank
        4. VERY easy to clean
        5. Easy to tune but takes about three days to get the right
           water level and air flow rate

        1. Water level of tank affects skimmer performance which
           translates into constant tuning problems        
        2. Salt-mist can spray out of the upper vent on occasion
           making a mess if left long enough (my solution was to
           run some 1/2" airline from the vent back into my hang on
           back filter.
        3. Not exteremly efficient.
        4. My royal gramma was 'investigating' the inside of the tube
           one day during maintenance unbeknownst to me. When I turned
           the air pump back on I had quite the starled fish!  Oooops!


This is a small skimmer (about as small as they come).  It was perfect
for my 20 Gallon tank but when I moved it to my 35Gallon it still
produced sludge but did not seem to have any great affect on the tank.
My one complaint is that the perfomance of the skimmer degrades as the
water level lowers an it requires more air to keep up the correct
amount of foam.  So the two solutions to this are to have an
adjustable air flow air pump, or the more obvious one which is to top
up the water level every day.  

Because of this I am currently in the process of building (DIY) a 3
foot (3" diameter) outside tank, counter current, air stone and power
head driven, skimmer. I have priced it out at around $45CDN using
acrylic tubing and silicone, and I plan on building it this weekend.

Would I buy this skimmer again? No. Although it does a fine job and
has no leakage potential since it is in tank, I would be able to build
this skimmer for about $15CDN all inclusive.  However I had to buy
this since even after reading the current FAQs I really did not
understand how protein skimmers/foam fractionators worked.

In summary, I would say that this is the skimmer for people who are
really unsure if they need a skimmer or not.  It will convince them it
was a great buy after the first week of operation.  I would however
recommend this for fish-only systems.

Colin Kemp           | "Why must hailstones always be the size of         |  something else?"  -- George Carlin

From Thu Jan 26 15:28:13 1995
To: (Jeff Pfohl)
~Date: Thu, 26 Jan 95 8:48:18 EST

I probably mentioned to you that I was pretty much sold on the Red
Sea skimmer. However, I was exchanging e-mail with Craig recently
and he mentioned a skimmer by ETS (I think, I'll check if you want)
that kicked MTC ass in a head-to-head competition!! MTC goes for $800
while ETS goes for $500. Believe it or not, I've been considering
the ETS skimmer. I have a cyanobacteria bloom -- disgusting. I
think it's precipitated by some snails dying in the tank and my not
getting them out right away. Also, I had been feeding the SUnflower
coral regularly (nauplii). I've stopped feeding the coral and the
snails have stopped dying since I removed the green brittle star.
However, the cyanobacteria is still there. You know, that brittle
star was responsible for the deaths of 7 turbo grazers! I only
caught him killing one of them but I'm convinced that he killed
the others during the night. I ought to remove his arms, one at
a time! You're probably wondering why I left him in so long. Well,
Curt Fiedler, whom I respect very much, claimed that the brittle
stars couldn't be killing the snails. He and I were probably talking
about 2 different creatures.

Brian Malloy                   Internet:
Dept. of Computer Science         Telephone:  US (803) 656-0808
Clemson University                      Fax:  US (803) 656-0145

From Fri Jan 27 14:05:10 1995
~From: Wilson Angerson <>
~Subject: Skimmer FAQ
To: (Jeff Pfohl)


Almost forgot to add my bit. I'm using a Sander WT250 (counter-current
airstone) in an 8 gal reef with a 5 gal sump. It works just fine
considering it's only got 9" depth of water to sit in, takes out quite a
lot of goo and is very easy to empty and clean. It's about the only
thing that will fit in my system, which is built into a bookshelf. I've
had no opportunity to compare it with anything else.



From Fri Jan 27 23:10:48 1995
~From: "Brian Landers" <>
~Date: Fri, 27 Jan 1995 16:46:36 -0600

I have the Amiracle Sea Reef Protein Skimmer.  It's 24" (if I remember
correctly).  It a counter-current hang on the back airstone driven skimmer.
I use a Supra 4 air pump - it's too big of a pump.  I bleed off part of the
air from the pump.  It comes with a carbon container that hangs on the
tank to run the return water through.
I don't like the plastic wing nuts and screws that hold the collection cup
on, but I don't take the skimmer apart that often.  The meeting place of
the two pieces has a salt build up on it, but it doesn't leak.
The level adjustment depends on the water level in the tank.  As long as
you keep the water level constant, adjustments don't need to be made that
often.  I have the collection cup connected to a tube that goes into a
gallon milk jug.

This is my first skimmer, so I can't give a good assessment on how well it
performs compared to anything else.

Brian Landers


~From: Steve Newell <>
~Newsgroups: alt.aquaria
~Date: Wed, 1 Feb 1995 21:13:50 -0800

Hi Dave : 
         I have 2 Oceanic #6 protein skimmers running on my 90 gallon
reef tank and they are great. The only problem I have is that one of
them plugs up periodically with salt in the venture valve but all I
do is unplug it using a piece of twisted wire like a pipe cleaner.
I've read that if you can put you're skimmers on a timer that can be
turned off and on several times per day that it will not allow the
venture valves to plug up because the water will back up into the valve
and wash away the salt build-up.I will try that when I can get back
down to the States to buy one of those air conditioner timers, because
they allow the use of three prong plugs. They are hard to find and
are very expensive here in Canada.
steve newell

"I'm here because I'm not all there!"


~Date: Thu, 26 Jan 1995 13:01:00 GMT

Here's the info I collected on inexpensive skimmers:

>I've read with great interest the recent postings about these big, expensive,
>efficient sump skimmers.  I'm thinking of getting a skimmer for my 20L salts
>tank, but it has to hang on the tank.  I also (unfortunately) have a $60 price
>cap (grad student and aquarium hobbyist don't mix).  I've been looking at the
>VisiJet skimmer, the Amiricle Sea Reef and the Coralife Super Skimmer series.
>Are these inexpensive skimmers worthwhile, or should I just hold off and save
>my pennies?  Are any of them capable of handling a 55 g. tank (I hope to
>upgrade someday)?

Let's see, $60 right?  Amiracle Sea Reef 18" hang-on protein skimmer - $40
Aquaclear 201 power head - $14
Whisper 600 (preferably 800) airpump - $20(?)
Well, this is one of the cheapest combination already.  I have the above
items but never got to use them yet.  I am using Supra 3 instead of Whisper
600.  My friend is using the above-mentioned system for his 30g reef and he
has great success with it.  Goodluck.

I ordered the amiracle protein skimmer 18" counter current skimmer on
Tuesday from Debron Aquatics for 39.99. Tell ya how it goes on my twenty
gallon reef


The Visijet skimmer is useless. The Corallife skimmer is an in the tank
skimmer. If your tank is 20 liters and not 20 gal. will take up too much
inside space.

I am using the smaller of the two Amiricle Sea Reef skimmers and it is
working very well on a 30 gal. tank. I use a Supra 2 pump and usually have
to bleed off a little air to get a nice dry foam. It may release bubbles
into your tank if you use it as a true hang on.(mine sits in a sump)  Make
sure your connections are tight, some people have complained of leakage.


Dave Rossell                               "When you lay your dreams to rest,	            you can get what's second best,
                                            but it's hard to get enough."
						-David Wilcox



~From: (Brian P. L'Ecuyer)
~Newsgroups: rec.aquaria
~Subject: Re: Red Sea Berlin Skimmer
~Date: 3 Feb 1995 17:06:27 GMT

I have been using this skimmer with an eheim 1060 for about a month.
I works great, i used the eheim because after speaking with them
they recommended it as the appropriate flow/pressure without 
having a ball valve etc... i use it external to my sump.  I recommend
it, it is well made and attractive, the only complaint i have is that
the base of the unit dosn't dissasemble but don't know if this will
matter in the end.  It haven't owned another "descent" skimmer so
i can't compare it to others but it does what it says, nice thick
effluent.			working on my MSEE/CPE

From kinneyw-at-Cyanamid.COM Tue Feb  7 01:21:18 1995
~Date: Mon, 6 Feb 95 12:35:07 EST
~From: "Bill Kinney" <kinneyw-at-Cyanamid.COM>

For what it's worth here is an outline of what the skimmer that I use on my
90gal reef tank looks like.  It is the result of 2 years of experimention. 
It is easy and cheap to build and easy to run.

I.  The skimmer
    The skimmer body is made of 4" PVC pipe.  The overall height is 65". 
Water enters through a reducing tee and leaves straight through the bottom. 
Above the inlet is a 4" straight piece of pipe connected to another tee. 
The foam takeoff is from the side of this tee.  Above the tee is a black
rubber pipe cap through which passes the air line.  The top of the skimmer
must sealed, becuase the foam is too thick to flow out the outlet by itself.
All of the air used in the skimmer exits through the foam discharge line.

II.  Water Supply
    The water is pumped from the sump (downstairs) up to the tank using a
Lifeguard QuietOne pump.  All of the water flowing back to the sump (~100
gal/hour) passes through the skimmer.  The skimmer could handle quite a bit
more water flow than this.

III.  Water Exit
    The water leaves the bottom of the skimmer through 1"ID flexable tubing.
This rises to a syphon-break made with a tee fiting.  The water enters the
bottom of the tee and exits down to the sump out the side.  The top is open
through a 6" piece of tubing to prevent syphoning.  The level of foam in the
skimmer is adjusted by raising and lowering this tee.

IV.  Air Supply
    The air is supply by 2 Supreme Dynamaster piston pumps.  The airstone is
homemade from basswood ("limewood").  The airstone is about 6" long and
1.25" square.  It is then drilled down the center with a 3/4" hole.  A 1/2"
male pipe to 1/4" tubing adapter is threaded into the hole.  Two lengths of
1/4" OD hard tubing connected by a short length of 1/4" ID flexible tubing
is used to carry the air down to the bottom of the skimmer.


~From: (Mike Priest)
~Date: Sat, 04 Feb 1995 02:11:00 -0600

David, I have the Oceanic "model 4" protein skimmer and I'm very pleased
with it.  Well worth the extra cash, in my book.


~From: (Craig Bingman)
~Subject: [M][R] Description of a Novel Skimmer Design (Long)
~Date: 20 Feb 1995 07:57:19 GMT

The ETS Foam Fractionator

I mentioned here some time ago that I had seen a foam
fractionator of a novel design, and one that caused me to
reevaluate my paradigm of what is important for a foam fractionator
to function optimally.  I typically don't initiate threads here,
but I'll break from my usual pattern of simply answering questions
with a description of this skimmer, its principles of design and
operation, and take my first cut at explaining why it achieves the
remarkable results that it does.

The design is unconventional, and it is actually derived from a
device that was supposed to strip ammonia directly from the water. 
The old timers here will remember the claims made several years ago
that trickle filters removed ammonia directly from the water by
outgassing.  This was tested, and for freshwater systems, trickle
filters just don't cut it, it takes a lot more than water gently
flowing over some DLS to cause ammonia loss to the air, especially
when the ammonia is almost 100% ammonium ions.  Ammonia
fractionation towers can be made to work, they just have to be
about 20 feet tall and have throughput like Niagara falls, and they
work best at high pH.  Gary was trying to build a home version of
an ammonia stripping tower for marine aquaria, and noticed that it
produced a lot of foam.  The notion that this side effect might be
exploited was the first step in the development of the ETS skimmer.

The unit works by a novel "downdraft" design, where the output from
a high volume, high pressure water pump over a 5+' acrylic tower
filled with bioballs.  Anyone who has stood next to a waterfall
appreciates that the water carries a substantial downdraft of air
with it, and this is how the air is introduced into the bioball
tower.  There is no venturi valve or air pump associated with it,
the water drags the air into the bioball tower.   There is
something like a high pressure water "gun" at the top of the tower,
it narrows down to maybe a quarter inch outlet in some designs. 
The water emerges from this "gun" with substantial pressure and
muzzle velocity.  When it hits the bioballs, it starts breaking up
into a mixture of water and air bubbles.  By the time the water is
a foot or so down the column, the bubbles are becoming very fine,
and this fast moving froth continues down a tortuous path through
the bioballs, mixing and remixing the water with the air, keeping
the bubbles very fine.  

The output of the bioball tower then goes into a rectangular tank,
where the process of separating air from water begins.  There are
some tricky baffles in that box that I don't fully understand, it
is a bit difficult to see exactly what is there when the skimmer is
in operation, and I've never had occasion to look at one when it
was dry.  This seems to be the subtle part of the design, in my
estimation, and I'm told that relatively small changes in the
layout of this component change the results substantially.  

In any event, the foam emerges from this chamber into the foam
riser.  It is of large diameter acrylic tubing (in the 6-8" range)
and is about 24" tall.  In all of the operational skimmers I have
seen, the foam riser has been about 3/4 full of foam, of which the
top 12 inches are very dry, thick foam.   The neck of the riser has
a substantial ID, according to Sprung and Delbeek's book,
relatively large OD tubing at this point gives the best results.  

I first saw the design at Westchester Pet center, where it was
being tested on the tropical marine fish section.  This prototype
was huge, and it had an impressive head of foam on it.  The next
time I saw it was at the same store, this time on the reef aquaria. 
Tony Vargas (co-proprietor at the time) and I were having a chat
about the skimmer, what do you make of it, that sort of thing. 
There was some sentiment that it might be a superior design, and
being my usual "self" suggested that there were few ways of
quantifying skimmer performance (there isn't a foam fractionator
equivalent of an iodine or molasses number as there is for
activated carbon.)  So I opined that the only way to straighten
this out was to run two skimmers against each other on the same
system.  If one was markedly better than the other, it would then
be apparent in the quantity and quality of skimmate from each.  It
also takes out variations in the organic load, presence of anti-
foaming surfactants (stick your hands in your aquarium and see what
happens to your skimmer) and other confounding and difficult to
control effects.

I was surprised (and pleased) that such tests were actually
conducted, and the ETS was tested against several other skimmers,
including a very upscale, well respected, professionally
constructed and designed $700 venturi unit which was previously on
top of my "if I had the money" list of skimmers.  All the skimmers
against which the ETS was run were effectively "shut down" meaning
that they were not able to make enough of a foam head to produce
skimmate.  This was a substantially more "black and white" result
than I had expected, and in my opinion the only reasonable
interpretation of this is that the dissolved organic concentration
in the water had been reduced by the ETS so far that the other
skimmers failed.  The bubbles in the units being run against the
ETS were not very persistent at the surface of the water, actually
it looked more like what I expect to see when fine air bubbles are
blown through fresh water.  However, the ETS was maintaining an
approximately 18" head of foam, and actively producing a dark,
quality skimmate.

Why does it work as well as it does?  Well, my best answer is that
it is a Brute Force design.  A phenomenal amount of air is mixed
into the water, and that mixing is done with considerable force and
violence.  This is unlike most venturi designs, where there is
substantial turbulence as the air/water mixture leaves the venturi,
but then goes into a relatively quiet fractionation column.  CC
units also tend to be quiescent.  While this should theoretically
allow concentration gradients to be set up in the skimmer, in
practice, both venturi and airstone driven CC units are limited in
the amount of air they mix with the water.  Because air only rises
so fast through the countercurrent section of the skimmer, they are
also restricted as to how much water one can put through them, and
they are also limited in the amount of shear they deliver to the
solution.  Mixing is sufficiently violent inside the bioball-filled
column of the ETS skimmer that it is plausible that proteins in the
water are being denatured and rendered into a more skimmable state. 
Other molecular aggregates may similarly be broken up and find
their way to the air/water interface.  There is simply no way that
the skimming process is diffusion limited in the ETS.  All of that
water and whatever is dissolved in it is being intimately mingled
with the air/water interfaces as the water passes through the
bioball column.

Probably the concentration gradients which are essential for foam
fractionation are set up in the foam riser.  There is about 18" 
of foam in the riser, and this prodigious column of foam is
probably protecting itself from turbulence and draining
quiescently.  When I looked at it, it seemed that turbulence was
damping out to essentially nothing before the dry foam layer was
reached.  There is a LOT of air moving though this skimmer, and
it embodies a unique mixture of brute force and grace, from the
violent mixing tube to the draining foam in the riser.

I've seen the skimmer in operation six times now, and was present
for some of the testing (not all of it.)  So I am relying on 
individuals who I feel are reputable sources for a description of
the rest of the testing, and their notes of what has happened in
their systems.

What else does it do besides act as a foam fractionator?

Well, all of the effects that I am describing below are attributes
of all foam fractionators to some extent, this design just seems to
have More of them because it is a very high throughput system.

1.  In all cases that I am aware of, there was a substantial
increase in redox potential (~50 mV) of the water.  Note that this
was observed on functioning reef aquaria that would have been 
considered well skimmed and well maintained by anyone.  Part of 
the increase in ORP is probably due to enhanced oxygen saturation, 
part of it is no doubt because this is an excellent skimmer, and 
organics are removed efficiently.

2.  Gas exchange in general seems to be improved, and this also
manifests itself in enhanced pH stability.  Large reef aquariums
with high intensity illumination and even moderate bioloads have a
tendency to be a bit "strangled" when it comes to either picking up
or losing CO2 to the atmosphere.  The higher the throughput of the
skimmer (air and water volume) the more this situation is going to
be improved.  The ETS directly helps pH stability in this way.

3.  The air flow increases the evaporation from the aquarium, and
that allows one to add more limewater.  Also, and this is very
important, since the water is in better contact with the
atmospheric reserve of CO2, one is less likely to get into the
regime where calcium and alkalinity are being lost from the system
(which can occur when the pH of the aquarium is very high, the most
dangerous time is toward the end of the photoperiod.)  For all the
aquaria running this skimmer about which I have inquired, the
alkalinity has improved.  Good gas exchange is crucial for
limewater to be effectively used as a source of calcium and
alkalinity replenishment.   By promoting excellent gas exchange and
increased evaporation the ETS promotes enhanced stability in
soluble calcium and alkalinity.

4.  Some have indicated that the concentrations of problematic
inorganics have also decreased.  An indirect mechanism is called
for to explain this, as nitrate and inorganic phosphate are not
directly skimmable.   Terry Siegel is reporting decreases in both
on his "new" system, which is a converted fish aquarium, and this
observation may be explained by a couple of effects, all of which
are indirect.  

   A.  Nitrate and inorganic phosphate are often derived from
organic precursors (nitrogen in uneaten food, organic phosphates)
and based on reasons given above, this skimmer is probably doing a
better job of intercepting organics before they are mineralized
than anything I've previously seen.  

   B.  Skimmers are pretty damned good mechanical filters, they
take a lot of particulates out of the water.  Those particulates
may be bacteria, phytoplankton, or organic debris.  All of them are
going to contain some phosphate and organic nitrogen.

   C.  Additionally, because the amount of limewater that may be
added is increased, one may get more inorganic precipitation of
phosphate, and perhaps removal of this from the system in
particulate form.  

It should be remembered that this report is from a converted fish
to reef aquarium, a lot of changes were made at the same time, the
most prominent being the replacement of a very good venturi skimmer
with the ETS, the addition of high intensity lighting (which will
tend to promote algal growth and uptake of both nitrate and
phosphate from the system) and the addition of limewater.

If anyone cares to dismiss the reduction in inorganic pollutants out
of hand because they are not directly removed by the foam fractionation
process, I invite them to disconnect their skimmer for an extended
period of time and report what happens to the concentration of inorganic
pollutants.  They will go up.  It isn't necessarily a one way street,
if you reconnect your skimmer they will probably go down to some extent,
as sources of these nutrients are intercepted before mineralization,
and nutrients incorporated from that existing soluble pool are utilized,
converted into organic form and rendered eligible for removal by a foam

5.  Most of the people who have these skimmers so far have felt
more at ease with feeding the inhabitants more than previously, so
there should be benefits to the organisms from this as well.

Again, all foam fractionators contribute to the above effects. 
This skimmer is higher performance, so it just gives more of these
benefits than is typical.

What are the other considerations related to this skimmer?  

Well, you need a competent water pump to drive any ETS, and a mail-
order little giant pump with enough "humph" to drive the smallest
will set you back another hundred dollars or so, more if you decide
to go with an Iwaki pump.  There will be some incremental heat load
on the system because of this.  It will probably be offset to some
extent by increased evaporation.  The need for a strong water pump
is shared with venturi skimmers as well, so this is hardly a unique
consideration.  You will be getting a slightly higher power bill
as well.  Again, not a unique disadvantage.

Everyone's first concern about the skimmer is "do the bioballs
cause nitrate to accumulate in the system?"  "Do they become
colonized by nitrifying bacteria?"  The flow is really
exceptionally fast and turbulent throughout the bioball section of
this skimmer, and I think the bacteria are going to need mountain
climber's gear to hang onto the bioballs.  No one has reported an
increase in nitrate concentration on any system which is running an
ETS, and I have asked very pointed questions to both system owners
and the designer on this topic.  I will pass along any reports of
problems along this line.

The skimmer apparently "glitches" in the beginning.  It doesn't do
much for a couple of days, but when it starts producing foam: 
Watch Out.  People have found a few gallons of water on their
floor.  After that, it seems quite stable.  The present version of
the skimmer will has an optional collection chamber with a floating
check valve which will block the formation of additional skimmate,
preventing overflows.  Something along these lines is a good option
for any skimmer.  For your peace of mind, your carpet, and your
marriage, it is probably a wise to get this.  Why doesn't it skim
for a day or so after it is installed?  Who knows?  Probably
because the plastic surfaces in the skimmer need to be primed with
organics before it starts to work.

Earlier designs returned a small amount of fine air bubbles to the
system, for this reason, most people are running them out of their
sumps.  This problem may have been solved, I saw prototypes.  A few
bubbles in the sump aren't a big aesthetic issue, and in any event,
there wasn't a problematic amount of air being returned.  It isn't
going to generate noticeable salt spray.

There are two possible adjustments on the skimmer, one of which is
its height relative to the sump.  The second is a water valve that
you may choose to supply yourself to control the amount of water
going through the skimmer, although most people are running the
correctly sized pumps wide open.  I don't think it is a good idea
to tee off an existing pump to feed the skimmer, and most people
don't have enough reserve pumping capacity to make that practical. 
In practice, this skimmer seems to require a dedicated, correctly 
sized pump.

All of the units I have seen so far were plumbed into the system
with flexible (large ID) tubing.  This preserves flexibility in
height adjustment, and you can keep the turns sweeping and low
resistance with flexible tubing, if you do it correctly.  As with
anything you plumb into your system, you need to do it correctly,
with an eye to reducing the possibility of various failure modes.
The unit can handle a lot of flow, indeed, up to its design limit,
the skimmer works better with increasing water flow.  You generally
don't want to lose flow or pressure before the water hits the gun
at the top of the tower.

The ETS will not fit under the cabinet of Anyone's aquarium.   And
you will probably need to feather the height of the skimmer
relative to your sump to get optimal results.  Given the amount of
time people devote to tuning their skimmers, the initial height
adjustment doesn't seem like a major drawback to this design.

I've recently spoken with Tony Vargas, who is marketing the skimmer
for Gary Loehr, the inventor.  They now seem satisfied with the
results of the testing and are now ready to distribute the product. 
The phone number for inquiries is (914) 654-8002, if he is not
there, there is a combination answering machine/fax on the line. 
There are to be exclusive licenses granted to about five stores in
five states on the east coast.   In other states, skimmers will be
mailed out directly by Tony.  Pricing and some product literature
is now available.  The "owner's manual" is being written by Terry
Siegel.  Terry is now running ETS skimmers on two of his large reef
aquaria, and is presently looking to replace his last remaining
venturi unit with a third ETS. 

Greg Schiemer was also closely involved in the testing and
evaluation of these skimmers, and his review of this product will
appear in the next issue of Aquarium Frontiers.  I have a great
respect for Greg's skills as an aquarist, having seen his aquaria
now on three occasions, it is clear that he is extraordinarily
successful with these systems.  Greg's most recent articles include
a piece on herbivorous hermit crabs and a review of calcium test
kits in Aquarium Frontiers.

The skimmer doesn't look like anything else I've seen before, and
it disrupted some of my cherished ideas of what is truly important
for foam fractionation.  However, I am only too happy to see
paradigms overturned (even when they are mine) if the result is a
superior aquarium environment.  Based on what I have seen, the ETS
skimmer is an example of such a paradigm overturning invention.

There is a patent pending on this design.  It is well constructed
from cast cell acrylic, the seams look strong, and attention has
been paid in the design to convenient maintenance (there are
flanges in the right places.)  The construction quality is on par
with the very best commercially available units (for example, the
MTC venturi skimmers) and is far, far better executed than most.

If you are considering the purchase of a quality skimmer, either
for a new system or to upgrade your existing one, I urge you to at
least investigate the ETS, and wish you and your corals only the
best fortune with whatever design you chose.

Craig Bingman


~From: (gary sanford)
~Newsgroups: alt.aquaria
~Subject: Re: Sea Tek Protein Skimmer
~Date: 26 Feb 1995 11:13:07 GMT

In <3icb13$> (Ally 
Clarke) writes: 

>Anyone out there knows where I can get hold of a Sea Tek IDL150 Protein
>Skimmer and how much they are in the US.

Best venturi skimmer on the market ,I have one and love it!
Sea Tek P.O box 811, Union,N.J. usa,07083-0194
Also,Ocean Gallery,phone#,201-783-7007
Also check FAMA.


~From: (Michael O'Brien)
~Subject: Re: Visi-Jet Protein Skimmer???
~Date: Mon, 27 Feb 1995 00:44:24 GMT

In article <3im9ls$>,  <> wrote:
>otis-to ( wrote:
>: I have seen ads recently for a self powered protein skimmer called a
>: Visi-Jet. I am setting up a 55 gallon marine tank and will be filtering
>: it with an A-Miracle 50 wet/dry system and possibly a Fluval 303. If
>: anyone can tell me anything about this skimmer, good or bad, I would
>: appreciate the information.
>: Thanks,
>: Tim

  i had a visa-jet protein skimmer, but the thing is so hard to keep 
properly tuned.  i had it on my 30 gal reef, and i believe that the
air intake eventually got clogged with calcium deposits (it doesn't work
 at all anymore...).  the unit itself is hard to clean, and maintain and
is an eye sore for the tank.  
   if you plan on having only fish, you may get by, but if you're serious
and have a faint interest in keeping a reef, invest in a real skimmer.  i got
my visa for $40, but managed to construct a real protein skimmer for about
$30 (+$20 for the air pump).  $10 more for a real skimmer is definitely 
worth it.

  my two cents...

Michael E. O'Brien 				     U of MN - Inst. of Tech.
Chemical Engineer & Computer Science Wanna Be      * User of Linux and OS/2 *


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