Our first sneak preview on the chopping block this morning is the new Orphek Helix protein skimmer. Approximately two years in the making, this skimmer puts a new spin on the art of bubble making, quite literally. While many of the features on the Helix are already standard issue in this crowded segment of the hobby, Orphek strove to do something better. Through the help of their unique bubble plate, which has an extra pair of ported chambers, the bubbles will not only drift upwards toward the collection cup, but the entire water column will rotate. In addition to that, they have big plans for the controllable DC pump.
The two radially ported chambers sit on top of the bubble chamber, but do not cover the entire thing. Bubbles can still escape the bubble trap as they would in any other protein skimmer, but the ported chambers push water in a rotating horizontal direction out of curved ports. This imparts a rotational spin to the water flow, which slows the vertical movement of the bubbles. This improves contact time that the bubbles have with the water, improving the skimmer’s efficiency. It also allows the Helix to stay small, even for larger aquariums.
As for the controllable pump, Orphek is using the same DC3000 controllable Waveline pump that other manufacturers have started using as well. Besides the pump housing and the controller box being colored to match their product line, there’s really not a whole lot to discuss regarding its current rendition. It’s what the future holds that we’re really excited about. According to Ofir, owner of Orphek, the skimmer pump will eventually be wirelessly controllable. He told us that the pump could eventually be controlled by the same tablet and wireless technology that will control their Orphek Atlantik V2 light fixture. You’ll literally be able to control your protein skimmer from your smartphone or tablet.
Regarding the body, the Helix skimmer can be completely disassembled, with the entire bottom being removable. This allows hobbyists to access all of the parts for cleaning. The collection cup, which is removable all the way down to the neck, is secured to the skimmer body with tight fitting O-rings and can be easily removed for cleaning and skimmate disposal. In terms of available models, the Helix protein skimmer will come in a variety of sizes, though Orphek didn’t give us their target range. We also didn’t discuss pricing, as the crew was still in the middle of booth building.
Ophek’s take on the protein skimmer is bold, and we like bold especially when it comes to getting into a specific segment of the hobby for the first time. Orphek has been building LED fixtures for years, but this is their first foray into the skimmer world.