Cone Skimmers-Fad or Function

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Articles and How To's' started by mikejrice, Mar 1, 2010.

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  1. mikejrice

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    Cone Skimmers-Fad or Function
    By Michael Rice
    Elite Reef

    Protein skimmers have seen few revolutionary design changes over the years as far as body design until the recent advent of the conical body skimmer. Naturally there are plenty of people with claims against the validity of this new design’s superiority to the classic cylindrical skimmer design. Many claims have been made that cone skimmers are simply what is new and interesting, but the fact behind them is that they are a very well thought out design aimed at reducing performance robbing turbulence and increasing reaction time. Comparison between similarly sized skimmers with comparable pumps clearly shows an advantage to a conical design.

    Skimmer turbulence and reaction time:

    Skimmers work to remove dissolved organics by allowing them to attach to the bubbles while they are in the skimmer body. In a marine aquarium there are many types of dissolved organic wastes all bearing different properties of attraction to the air within the bubbles. Many dissolved organics have a very strong attraction to air and attach strongly and easily to the bubbles, but many others have a much weaker attraction to air and thus need more time to attach and can be detached easier. For a skimmer to efficiently remove organics with weaker attractions to air, it must be properly tuned to minimize turbulence and maximize reaction time.
    Turbulence robs efficiency by breaking the bond between organics and bubbles due to a chaotic reaction chamber. A less turbulent, more efficient design allows more organics to stay attached long enough to be removed from the water column.
    Due to this weak attraction, it also takes longer for some organics to attach. This means more reaction time is needed for them to attach and be removed from the water column.

    Cone vs. Cylinder:

    For many people the decision between cone and cylinder skimmers is simply preference, but the fact of the matter is simply; cone skimmers both reduce turbulence and increase reaction time. Forcing the bubbles to pack into a constricted area is a simple way of accomplishing this, because as they are forced through a smaller space they move in a more linear, less turbulent fashion, and because all the bubbles must pass through the same constricted area they also get more exposure time while they wait to reach the top.

    Which is right for you?

    It’s a fact that there are plenty of very well designed, well made cylindrical skimmers on the market that can do an excellent job of removing waste from your aquarium, but there is no denying the design breakthroughs pushing cone skimmers ahead in the marine aquarium market. Deciding between cones and cylinders may be an alluring first step to choosing a skimmer, but always remember the effects of this design aspect are small as compared to quality, size, pump type and air draw of a skimmer.