I've been running the ATI disposable carbon dioxide scrubber since the 21st June 2017 during which time I've used up 3 units. The first one lasted for 12 weeks and 2 days which I thought was a decent amount of time for the cost. The tank pH was higher and more stable so I decided the experiment was worth continuing. An additional 2 units were purchased, the second unit lasted for 13 weeks and 3 days, still good, but the third unit exhausted in just 2 weeks! So what had changed (assuming the unit was not faulty somehow)? Well the skimmer was replaced, the windows in the house were closed because it was extremely cold outside and there were a few more people visiting due to it being Christmas. Aside from the lack of fresh air and more CO2 being breathed out the new skimmer pump is clearly pulling a lot more air than the old one and you can see that from the amount of bubbles being produced in the skimmer body.
So what to do? A two week run time for the disposable unit is no longer cost effective for me but I do like the higher pH levels that the scrubber produces (and so apparently do my corals if you take the increase in Alk/Ca usage into consideration). In the end I decided to scrap the disposable idea and try a refillable unit instead. The 4l refillable unit that ATI produces is just too large to fit inside my cabinet so I decided to give the Fauna Marin Skim Breeze a whirl instead. This unit holds 1l much like the ATI disposable version but can be refilled with fresh media when the old stuff is exhausted. It comes complete with 1l media to begin with and when that is used up I intend to refill it with a medical grade CO2 absorber called Spherasorb. I'll see how that pans out and report back later on.
I fully expected an item of equipment would fail at some point, I just never expected it to happen quite so soon. My Deltec skimmer stopped working last Wednesday after 1 year, 1 month and 15 days of use. I have to admit that I'm disappointed that the pump failed after what seems like a relatively short space of time. As soon as I realised there was a problem I called D&D aquarium solution direct for assistance. They were extremely helpful and diagnosed that a new stator/controller was required and promised to ship one out as soon as possible. Which is really excellent service, thank you so much Tony!
To my ears the Deltec skimmer makes very little noise when working but when it was off I really did notice a difference, the room seemed a lot quieter. In addition to the noise the tank pH dropped quite considerably, below 8 on the first night and every night the skimmer was off which it hasn't done for a long, long time. I didn't realise a skimmer had that much impact on tank pH to be honest. I decided to run an airline into the sump to aid water movement and oxygenation but I really don't think it made a blind bit of difference, it certainly made me feel better though.
If there is one thing I really hate about reef-keeping it's equipment failure, it's something I cannot control. My tank may be small but the welfare of my livestock is very important to me and when things go wrong I worry. When the replacement parts had not arrived after two days I started to think about alternative skimmer options. It was now Friday and most likely the postman would not deliver on the weekend so I was looking at the following week before the tank would be skimmed again. If I had a spare skimmer pump ready to go then there'd have been no worries but I hadn't had the foresight to be that prepared. I do have a spare return pump sat in the cupboard but sadly no skimmer pump. After much thought I decided to purchase another skimmer, am I crazy? Well yes but everyone knows that already.
I ordered an Ultra-reef Akula 160 skimmer which my husband kindly picked up from the shop on the way home from work for me. First impressions, this skimmer is built like a tank! It's extremely robust and heavy, it feels like a really solid bit of kit in fact the Deltec seems a bit flimsy in comparison. However unlike the Deltec it doesn't come with a UK plug, grrr! So a bit of rewiring was required before use. It's a little bit wider at the base than the Deltec so required a shuffle round of other equipment to squeeze it into the sump. I did fear a one point that I might have to cut down one of the Siporax baskets to accommodate it but fortunately it was not required in the end. The unit is quiet running but it does produce a little more noise in the form of "bubble hissing'.
Overnight a lovely thick foam formed in the skimmer body but it had not reached the top of the cup and overflowed as I hadn't managed to dial the water level in properly before I went to bed. Hopefully it will settle fully in the next couple of days and pull out some really stinky brown waste. The signs are very promising and there's certainly excellent bubble production by the Sicce pump.
And here we are 3 days later it's pulling out some brown liquid and the pH of the tank has risen back up to normal again (8.2-8.3ish) so I can relax once more. The Deltec pump parts have also arrived and it's all ready to go again, I think I am going to keep it as a spare in the event of an issue with the Ultra-reef. Well you just never know....
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!