Cone Skimmers…Just a Fad?

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A lot of manufacturers are coming out with cone shaped skimmers. ATB, Vertex, Reef

Vertex Alpha Cone Skimmer

Vertex Alpha Cone Skimmer

Octopus/MSX, Warner Marine, Korallen Zucht, and many many more all have various models of cone shaped skimmers. But are these skimmers significantly better than standard shaped cylindrical skimmers?

Well, there’s no real research out there other than hobbyist experiences. However, the general consensus that I’m seeing on aquarium club forums is no, the shape of these skimmers is NOT significantly better than their cylindrical counterparts, although these skimmers do tend to perform somewhat better than most others.

So, why do these usually higher priced skimmers get such a good reputation? For starters, these skimmers use top of the line

ATB Deluxe Cone Skimmer

ATB Deluxe Cone Skimmer

skimmer pumps. A very commonly used pump is the Laguna/Askoll based needlewheel venturi pump. These pumps get different names and different impellers based on the manufacturer is using them, but they can fetch a hefty price all by themselves. I’ve seen these pumps go for several hundred dollars, which as you can imagine would add a significant amount of money to the cost of the skimmer. The importance of these pumps is they pull an astonishing amount of air and water while using very little energy. Additionally, these skimmer pumps have great impellers that chop of the water.

Another reason for inflated cone skimmer prices is the manufacturer’s name recognition.

MSX Cone Skimmer

MSX Cone Skimmer

Companies like Royal Exclusive and ATB are known for being pricey, high end skimmer manufacturers/distributors. These companies, along with others, are just more expensive overall. A lot of it has to do with the pump used, but the company name does raise the price of the skimmer some.

One other reason for the slight boost in performance from a cone skimmer might be the use of a bubble plate, or bubble diffuser. These bubble plates haven’t been in use for too long. They are a new add-on to protein skimmers that are designed to reduce turbulence within the body and neck of the skimmer. The

Korallen-zucht Cone Skimmer

Korallen-zucht Cone Skimmer

bubble plates have made their way into the cylindrical skimmers too, but not all cylindrical skimmers have them.

The final reason, and probably the most important, is the fact that these skimmers are new and are currently a fad. Aquarium keepers, especially reef keepers, have a tendency of wanting the new stuff on the market. Maybe it’s because a majority of aquarists are men, and we all know how us guys like our gadgets. And I think a lot of it has to do with looking for the cure-all to all of the filtration and nutrient problems found in aquariums. For example, some people have high nitrates and the only solution (besides doing water changes) is to throw a little (or in this case a lot) of money at the problem.

Wrapping things up, I personally think the skimmers do work better due to their shape, but do I think it’s worth the money, well, maybe. The little tech junkie in me wants a new skimmer, but the logical portion in me says “why?”. I do plan on getting a new “high-end” skimmer soon, and maybe I’ll go the cone route.

Here are some normal, cylindrical skimmers that have been on the market for years:

EuroReef Protein Skimmer

EuroReef Protein Skimmer

MSX/Octopus Extreme Protein Skimmer

MSX/Octopus Extreme Protein Skimmer

Permissions and Sources:
Marine Solutions Inc.
Aquarium Specialty
Aquarium Specialty
Aquarium Specialty
Euro-Reef
Marine Solutions Inc.

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  • Adam

    I remember when people use to laugh at the thought of a bubble plate and now they are all the rage. I really think the biggest improvement is in the pumps that these skimmers use

  • Narcis

    Completely agree with you, and there are pretigious companies that still offer like a new product cone skimmers (Interzoo 2012)…

    The reason of the cone skimmers is due to his History…

    …. 2006 CIPS (China International Pet Show) in Beijing, a Taiwanese company (Y**** T**)showed the first Cone Skimmer (cone with becket injector inside) in a very small booth. Probably a member of the German company Korallen Zuth saw the skimmer (in that moment this company was very famous for the Zeovit system), I supose that they was very fun to find a skimmer completly different to the others and difficult to copy (it’s necessary invert in a mold), a fact that confirm this is that Korallen Zucht uses a Becket injector, virtually unknown in the German market. With a different skimmer they could sell them at a great price.

    At that moment the most reputated skimmers was the Bubble King (with the innovative perforated plate) and the Korallen Zutch (with the cone), probably ATB decided to do a mix of the both to have the best of the best, after this are copy-past. Coralvue pushed Reef-Octopus to do a cone, etc…

    It’s like the tale of the”Emperor’s New Clothes”, nobody dares to say that the “Cone” adds nothing…..