Choosing a Skimmer

fishywoo

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Found this in my searches and thought others might find it of interest.


Protein Skimmer Styles & Performance
This article is a brief introduction to the different styles of protein skimmers and what affects their performance. Topics covered below include:
Impeller Style
Contact Time
Bubble Size
Body Shape and Body Size
Water and Air Draw
Feeding

Impeller Style

Needle/Pin Wheel: This is the most commonly used impeller style for its ease of maintenance, reliability and consistent performance. This type of impeller uses many small needle or pin shaped protrusions to chop up the air into tiny bubbles and create a dense air-water mixture.

Mesh Wheel: Functions similarly to needle/pin wheel, but instead of needles it uses a fine mesh material to chop up the air into tiny bubbles. Because of its random intertwining shape, a mesh wheel will typically create a denser air-water mixture than a needle/pin wheel, but the mesh also tends to break up over time so it must be checked on a regular basis and replaced from time to time.

Grid Wheel: Combines the consistency and reliability of a needle/pin wheel with the performance of a mesh. Similar to a mesh wheel it can chop the air-water mixture more efficiently than a needle/pin wheel, but because the grid is rigid structure like a needle/pin wheels it requires less maintenance and is more reliable than a traditional mesh wheel.

Contact Time
Naturally, the more time the bubbles spend in the water column before they reach the water surface and form the foam, the more efficient the protein skimmer will be at removing waste.

Bubble Size
Assuming the volume of air is the same, the smaller the air bubbles the more surface area available and as a result the more efficient the protein skimmer will be at removing waste.

Body Shape and Body Size
The shape and size of the skimmer body play an important role in skimmer performance because they impact both the contact time air bubbles have with the water and the turbulence inside the skimmer body.

As a general rule, as long as the pump can push enough water and draw enough air to match the size of the skimmer body, a wider and taller skimmer body will generally produce a greater contact time between the air bubbles and water thereby removing more dissolved organic compounds.

The shape and size of the skimmer body in conjunction with the bubble diffuser also affect the turbulence inside the skimmer body. As a general rule, the less turbulence inside the skimmer body the better the performance.

Common Body Shapes

ASM Protein SkimmerTraditional: Feature a straight cylindrical tube for the skimmer body with short tapered section followed by another straight cylindrical tube for the skimmer neck on to which rests the collection cup. This is the most common body style for protein skimmers and generally the most economical.
Full Cone: Feature a full cone body which creates a gradual taper to the skimmer neck. The shape reduces back pressure on the pump, minimizes turbulence and increases contact time. While generally more expensive than traditional skimmer bodies, full cone skimmers are typically more efficient waste removers.

Reef Octopus Super Reef Protein SkimmerHybrid Cone: Combines a traditional body with a cone body. The bottom portion of the body is a straight cylindrical tube on to which sits a full cone to taper up to the skimmer neck. This hybrid cone typically makes the skimmer taller increasing contact time and the cone shaped top reduces turbulence. These skimmers are typically more affordable than full cone skimmers with only a limited decrease in performance.

ATI PowerCone I-Series Protein SkimmerSmooth Cone/Wine Bottle: Enhances the benefits of a full cone skimmer by creating a very smooth transition from the skimmer body to the skimmer neck. This unique shape further reduces turbulence inside the skimmer body, increases contact time and minimizes back pressure on the pump. Although generally more expensive than other skimmers, smooth cone skimmers are typically the most efficient waste removers and the most energy efficient.
Water and Air Draw
For a protein skimmer to function properly and work efficiently it must pull in enough air and water for the size aquarium it is being used on. As a basic rule of thumb, the more air draw a skimmer has the more bubbles it can produce, therefore the larger aquarium that skimmer can be used on.

As a rough rule of thumb, the air draw per hour should be at least the same and ideally greater than the total system volume. For example, if you have a 120 gallon (454 liter) aquarium you would want to use a skimmer that is pulling a minimum of 454 liters of air per hour (lph). For a well stocked reef tank, you will want generally want to use a skimmer with an air draw of 1.5 to 3 times the system volume. So for a 120 gallon (454 liter) well stocked reef tank you would want to use a skimmer that pulls 681lph (180gph) to 1,362lph (360gph) of air. Also as a rough rule of thumb, the air draw should match the water draw of the pump, if not exceed it.

Feeding
The fats and oils found in most fish foods will typically reduce the surface tension of saltwater thereby inhibiting the process of protein skimming because the foam is unable to form. This is why after feeding, a protein skimmer will typically stop producing good foam for a several hours.
 

sajjad321

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Reef Octopus Super Reef Protein SkimmerHybrid Cone: Combines a traditional body with a cone body. The bottom portion of the body is a straight cylindrical tube on to which sits a full cone to taper up to the skimmer neck. This hybrid cone typically makes the skimmer taller increasing contact time and the cone shaped top reduces turbulence. These skimmers are typically more affordable than full cone skimmers with only a limited decrease in performance.
 

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