Our extensive coverage of the ATI PowerCone protein skimmer has finally paid off. After introducing it and writing about the various updates it has received, ATI North America and Clear Choice Distribution have generously sent us a PowerCone 200i for a product review. And while it hasn’t been in our hands for long, we’ve got it out of the box and snapped off a few photos to share with all of you.
The PowerCone demo unit we received arrived in perfect shape. Each of the body pieces were wrapped in a clear plastic film and held in place by thick foam packing material. The accessories were neatly tucked away into a designated slot in a separate cardboard box, preventing anything that came loose during shipping from damaging the PowerCone’s acrylic body. We removed everything from the box and started the assembly process, which was pretty straightforward.
The skimmer body comes assembled as one piece, with the collection cup unattached for easy cleaning and the riser tube package in with the accessories for shipping purposes. Unlike other skimmers on the market, the collection cup on the PowerCone doesn’t screw into the body of the skimmer, nor does it use an O-ring to slide into place. Instead, the protein skimmer’s neck inserts into the collection cup and rests in a shallow groove. This will surely make it extremely convenient to remove the collection cup when the skimmer is in service, and prevents hobbyists from having to use two hands when crawling into their aquarium cabinet to retrieve it. Once the skimmer body was assembled, we move on to the pump and the other accessories.
The skimmer pump on the PowerCone is what really stands apart. It truly is a unique design, and something not seen in any other skimmer on the market from what we can tell. And this is what has intrigued us so much since the product’s announcement. Instead of using a traditional looking needlewheel impeller inside of an venturi pump, the impeller has a large multi-layered mesh wheel that has a tremendous amout of surface area. The meshwheel is very rigid, much more rigid than we anticipated actually, and is rotated along a ceramic shaft.
Feeding this meshwheel is another unique feature to the PowerCone, and that’s the venturi adapter on the intake side of the pump. Where most skimmers draw in water through the center of the venturi and air on the periphery, the PoweCone does just the opposite. Air is taken in through the center of the adapter, with holes along its edge allowing for water to be sucked in. ATI has said time and time again that this is a more effective way of doing things, and their logic makes sense. Why draw in air along the outside of a swirling vortex when you can get it right into the middle of things?
From the pump, water is injected into the skimmer through a soft plastic fitting that connects to the skimmer body. This, along with the rubber feet under the pump and body, keep vibrational noise to a minimum, allowing for the quietest skimming possible. The water enters into a bubble chamber and passes through a diffuser, which improves dwell time and reduces turbulence…all standard features on high performance skimmers these days. Water exits the skimmer via the riser tube assembly, which doesn’t actually move up and down like skimmers of the past, but uses a conveniently labeled valve to regulate the output.
To make sure the PowerCone is operating at its peak, a digital air flow meter is supplied. It connects to the intake of the pump and displays how much air the pump is drawing in. Of course, the air flow can be adjusted with the pump controller if too much or too little is coming in.
As we’ve eluded to, we’re quite excited to be reviewing the ATI PowerCone 200i and can’t wait to see how it performs. We’re putting on the aquarium soon (hopefully today) and will be updating this review as we get a feel for how it handles whatever we have to throw at it. So, stay tuned for updates in the near future.