How We Rate Our Protein Skimmers

(Work in progress)

The “ratings” game.  Every manufacturer has different ratings for their products but few, if any, provide the reasoning as to how they arrived at those ratings. Euro-Reef was THE FIRST* manufacturer to publish realistic ratings for our protein skimmers and at Reef Dynamics we follow in that tradition and conviction. We offer both "Capacity" and "Ideal"" ratings for all of our products so that you can properly compare them against the other products.
All of the “Capacity” and “Ideal” ratings you see here are based upon tested factors that we have established after 25 years in the trade and 15 years making protein skimmers.There are physical design elements that are important such as reaction chamber size and shape, transition design, and neck size, but there are also measurable parameters which include air intake and water flow through rates that are a critical part of establishing the ratings for a given protein skimmer

We will use the Reef Dynamics Model INS80 as an example. Here we are taking a skimmer that is 5" in diameter and 22" tall and comparing it with protein skimmers of a similar size:  ASM G-1X, Aquamedic "Turboflotor T1000", Red Sea "Berlin X2", Kent "Nautilus", Coralife "Super Skimmer 125", Vertex "IN80", Octopus "4" Pinwheel In Sump Skimmer".

One key factor of comparison is the volume of air the skimmer pulls in. Measured in liters per hour (lph), the amount of air the skimmer takes in translates directly to surface area for collection of dissolved organic compounds (DOC’s) and therefore skimming efficiency.

Here's an example of how our product rating breaks down for the model INS80:
CAPACITY: The INS80 is rated to filter up to 250 gallons of total system water volume when compared with other like sized products on the market.

IDEAL: The INS80 is ideal for "Mixed Reef" aquarium systems with a total capacity of +/- 80 gallons with a medium/average bio-load. A "Mixed Reef" system  is typically comprised of a mixture of soft corals, hard corals and a small fish population along with a few small crustaceans etc.  These systems typically put out less DOC's that the heavier stocked "Fish Only" Systems and have less restrictive requirements on water quality than "SPS" systems.

IDEAL: The INS80 is ideal for "Fish Only" aquarium systems with a total capacity of +/- 50 gallons, especially those that do not use any live rock or sand, typically have a much higher bio-load when compared to the same sized Reef Aquarium and therefore require a far more powerful protein skimmer. The reason for this is that fish with a similar physical "biomass" to a given coral or colony of corals release substantially more waste that the coral, and this puts a greater amount of DOC's - specifically urine and fecal matter- into the water column.

IDEAL: The INS80 is ideal for  "SPS" aquarium systems with a total capacity of +/- 50 gallons with a heavy bio-load. "SPS" systems (aquaria with a focus on Small Polyped Stony corals) benefit from a high rate of organic extraction as it promotes and enhances coloration in corals by limiting the nutrients available to the symbiotic algae (Zooxanthellae) living within there tissue. In addition, a high rate of organic and particulate extraction increases the clarity of the water which in turn enhances the penetration of UV rays that stimulate the development of the corals colorful UV protective materials. Increased water clarity also optimizes the efficiency of the Zooxanthellae a thus decreases the number of the protozoa required to provide the coral with the food (glucose) it takes up in exchange for the CO2 produced by the coral through normal biological processes.

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