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