Thursday, March 28, 2013

Product Review: AquaMaxx EcoMaxx 100 (EM100) Protein Skimmer

Sometimes being an early adapter of a product can scare some people off, but not this reef nerd. "AquaMaxx has a new skimmer design with a new pump?! Count me in!"

(As you can tell by my video, it's difficult to take good images of anything in my sump. Sorry.)

A handful of my fellow reefing buddies (reef nerds) have been running the AquaMaxx AM series in sump protein skimmers, and we have a HOB-1 (hang on back) on the 28 gallon JBJ Nano Cube. I had heard great things about these AquaMaxx protein skimmers and seen great results from fellow reef nerds. When I was setting up my system and purchasing my first in-sump skimmer, I hit a snag: I only had 23" of height to work with in my tank stand. The coveted AquaMaxx skimmer I wanted would have to wait for another day.

Editorial note: I was reluctant to post my review for this skimmer as I was too excited/lazy to document the assembly and install process. The skimmer has now been in my sump for over 6 months, and I have yet to take any photos of the skimmer for my review. That said, I did imbed a quick YouTube video above so see it after it had been in my system for a month or so, and I'll update this post in the future if I take some photos.

(Follow the link to read more...)

Fast forward a year or two... While doing a great job at removing waste, my Reef Octopus skimmer was leaving me with a desire for change. First, within a handful of months, the skimmer body's acrylic had crazed. Although according to the manufacturer it was only a cosmetic issue, but it was worrisome. Second, the pump worked well but was a little noisy for my liking. Nothing too bad, but a quieter pump would be nicer. I could live with my first complaints, but the limited amount of room in the aquarium stand and my sump made it hard to do anything. Changing reactors was hard, I could barely reach the heater, pumps were lined up in the sump... It was time to look for something smaller and quieter...

In comes the AquaMaxx EcoMaxx 100 (EM100). It's small. It's not too tall. It has a solid acrylic body. It has a Sicce pump, which is quiet and efficient. It met my criteria, and the price point was within my budget.

The AquaMaxx EM100 has a small footprint. The new design has moved the pump to directly underneath the skimmer's reaction chamber. The foot print of the skimmer is only 6.3" x 8.6", and it is only 21.7" tall. The chamber diameter is 4.7" in diameter.

AquaMaxx skimmers are made with cell-cast acrylic. The superior construction and build help instill confidence that this skimmer will be around for some time. The collection cup has a locking neck to hold it in place, and features a drain fitting for draining into an exterior waste collection cup.

The new AquaMaxx EcoMaxx protein skimmers all come with Sicce pumps. Sicce pumps have proven themselves to be power and efficient, reducing energy consumption and noise. The pump has been modified to include an AquaMaxx needlewheel to provide fine air bubbles to the reaction chamber.

The EM100 has a modified Sicce 1.5 with a power consumption of 16 watt. Air intake for the pump/skimmer is 95 GPH. The skimmer sits on rubber feet that help reduce vibration, and has a fitted air silencer to reduce the suction noise many skimmers have. The added details and the quality Sicce pump make for a nearly silent skimmer. I had to look inside my tank stand after installation to ensure the skimmer was on.

The skimmer was easy to assemble and set up. Once out of the box, I gave it a quick rinse. I assembled the bubble plate, pump and body and in the sump it went. When setting up your skimmer, it is recommended to have a steady 8" water depth in your sump. If the level is lower, you may get water spray. My sump baffles are 8", so it worked perfectly. No splashing, no bubbles. There is one easy adjustment on the EcoMaxx skimmers. It has one outlet valve designed to control the water level inside the skimmer body. This will allow you to set a precise water level, controlling how wet/dry the skimmate produced will be. There are no other adjustments to be made. It's that simple.

Within 30 minutes, my skimmer was already producing skimmate. Yes, I know this isn't a sign that the skimmer is any better than an other... but it's still impressive... and this is my blog. So bam!

The AquaMaxx EM100 is a great little skimmer, rated for marine aquariums up to 120 gallons. I am using it on my 60 gallon reef system, and it has done a fantastic job removing organics in a concentrated foam. The small size of the skimmer has freed up valuable real estate in my sump for reactors and just open space to work inside the sump. I have been extremely happy with my new skimmer. For more information, check out the item's listing on Marine Depot: AquaMaxx EcoMaxx EM100 In-Sump Protein Skimmer.

Until next time...