Is lifereef really the best skimmer?

ChrisQ0904

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I am going absolutely crazy trying to purchase a new skimmer for my new 180g build. A buddy of mine told me about lifereef and was wondering if they are really that much better than skimmers like RO, vertex, aquamaxx, skimz, etc...

If they are then what exactly makes them that much better/worth the money?

I have a 12x12 area for my skimmer if that helps.
 

Water Dog

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Lifereef skimmers have a loyal following because it is a proven design that has been unchanged for decades. You can use any pump (you're not tied to a proprietary pump) you want, AC or DC, as long as it provides enough flow for your particular skimmer size. Your skimmer will not become obsolete if your pump goes out. Their is only a single gate valve adjustment, so dialing in the skimmer is quite straightforward, as opposed to the many finicky pinwheel skimmers out there.

Whether it's the best will always be up for debate as many people are very brand loyal. But Lifereef skimmer owners IMO enjoy the consistency of performance and the set and forget nature along with top notch customer service from Jeff of Lifereef.
 

mcarroll

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@ChrisQ0904:

There's a lot of mythology around skimming.

I like a skimmer that's easy to clean. Since that's the main thing you do with it (clean it) that ought to be important. ;)

The skimming part is basic to me....like a car being able to go down the road. They all do that. ;)

The question is do you need/want a Ford or a Ferrari when you do it? Both have their dedicated fans. And yet some people walk. :D

If the Lifereef is appealing to you, you should get it. I can't think of any reasons not to, even though I don't run one. :)

That said, "best" is a silly term IMO....."best" how? You should answer that question yourself since others might answer differently.

Are there any features that are important to you? Price? Height? Footprint? Specific features? Most gimmicks? Etc.
 
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ChrisQ0904

ChrisQ0904

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@ChrisQ0904:

There's a lot of mythology around skimming.

I like a skimmer that's easy to clean. Since that's the main thing you do with it (clean it) that ought to be important. ;)

The skimming part is basic to me....like a car being able to go down the road. They all do that. ;)

The question is do you need/want a Ford or a Ferrari when you do it? Both have their dedicated fans. And yet some people walk. :D

If the Lifereef is appealing to you, you should get it. I can't think of any reasons not to, even though I don't run one. :)

That said, "best" is a silly term IMO....."best" how? You should answer that question yourself since others might answer differently.

Are there any features that are important to you? Price? Height? Footprint? Specific features? Most gimmicks? Etc.
Lifereef skimmers have a loyal following because it is a proven design that has been unchanged for decades. You can use any pump (you're not tied to a proprietary pump) you want, AC or DC, as long as it provides enough flow for your particular skimmer size. Your skimmer will not become obsolete if your pump goes out. Their is only a single gate valve adjustment, so dialing in the skimmer is quite straightforward, as opposed to the many finicky pinwheel skimmers out there.

Whether it's the best will always be up for debate as many people are very brand loyal. But Lifereef skimmer owners IMO enjoy the consistency of performance and the set and forget nature along with top notch customer service from Jeff of Lifereef.
Thank you both for the replies, I guess I overshot a little with using "best". I understand where you both are coming from I guess you can say I just wanted to know if they are worth the money. I just feel they are not mentioned too often but those that actually have them swear by them and that has to be for a reason (I think I only found one bad review).

I was originally looking at RO and Aquamaxx skimmers around $400 then I looked up life reef and saw they were in the same ballpark assuming I can use the vs3-24 for my 180. Im also not looking yo spend 1k + on a skimmer like BK or RE, thats just not for me and honestly where I thought lifereef was goinf to be peices. My biggest concern is my 12x12 skimmer area but seems like that will not be a problem if I get the life reef. I also really like the fact that it seems like I can keep the skimmer with future upgrades/downgrades if needed.

Not sure if any of what I said above makes sense but you guys have made me look at the situation in a different perspective and I think I know what I'm going to do. Just have to email a gentleman that seems to be very great to work with just to confirm a few things before I place an order.
 
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ChrisQ0904

ChrisQ0904

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For your 180 gallon tank, I would go SVS3-30 and run it with a Fluval SP4.
I don't have enough height for 30"
Keep in mind the true footprint as well as the costs of Lifereef is the skimmer + the pump.
I can fit a pump outside of the 12x12. The skimmer section is 9" tall and only the top 1" is what makes it 12x12 but under that part I have 12x18 available
 
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ChrisQ0904

ChrisQ0904

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How much are you off? Jeff will custom make a cup that would fit your height constraints.
The total height inside my stand is 30". I sent him an email with as much description about the space I'm working with and hopefully will hear from him in a day or so.
 

mcarroll

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@ChrisQ0904

Sounds like you've picked a direction. :)

A couple of things....both good:

A) This would have been called a "high flow skimmer" once upon a time, putting it roughly in a class with old ETSS and current AquaC and MRC skimmers (among many others). These are notoriously hard for some folks to get dialed in. If you're patient, it'll happen – this is not a weakness of the skimmer. :) Post a question or PM me anytime for tips!!! In general, tune the skimmer based on what happens in the skimmer cup – not based on how the skimmer is bubbling at the time you're doing your tuning. :)

B) One of the single best features of a skimmer like this is the ability to use any pump that has about the right flow capability – even one you may already have. :) In reality this means you have every kind of pump there is to choose from at your disposal....submersible, external, high end, low end, you name it! Power savings on a pump can be hard to justify on a cost basis if you aren't in a tropical area or where tank-cooling is otherwise a concern. (I see you there in FL!!) If you're in a cooler climate, then using an efficient skimmer pump is very likely to just make your heaters run more. (Ask me, I'll tell ya! :p)
 
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ChrisQ0904

ChrisQ0904

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@ChrisQ0904

Sounds like you've picked a direction. :)

A couple of things....both good:

A) This would have been called a "high flow skimmer" once upon a time, putting it roughly in a class with old ETSS and current AquaC and MRC skimmers (among many others). These are notoriously hard for some folks to get dialed in. If you're patient, it'll happen – this is not a weakness of the skimmer. :) Post a question or PM me anytime for tips!!! In general, tune the skimmer based on what happens in the skimmer cup – not based on how the skimmer is bubbling at the time you're doing your tuning. :)

B) One of the single best features of a skimmer like this is the ability to use any pump that has about the right flow capability – even one you may already have. :) In reality this means you have every kind of pump there is to choose from at your disposal....submersible, external, high end, low end, you name it! Power savings on a pump can be hard to justify on a cost basis if you aren't in a tropical area or where tank-cooling is otherwise a concern. (I see you there in FL!!) If you're in a cooler climate, then using an efficient skimmer pump is very likely to just make your heaters run more. (Ask me, I'll tell ya! :p)
Thank you for the offer, I may take you up on it since this is a whole new thing for me. Might be a couple weeks before the tank even gets wet, just finished the plumbing today.

Heating might be an issue but I'll check before I put fish or corals in the tank. Not only do I live in FL but I plan to run MH/T5 retro. I'm going to have 2x 250w and 4x 48" T5 and maybe some led for pop. Tank is 60x30x24.

 

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Actually, IMO, it's one of the easiest skimmers to dial in. It's not a Beckett injector, it's a Venturi injector, which draws moist air from the collection cup, so it never gets clogged (unlike Beckett injectors). Keep it at the proper depth, 8-10" and dial it in via the output gate valve and that's it... like I said, set and forget.
 

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Not only do I live in FL but I plan to run MH/T5 retro. I'm going to have 2x 250w and 4x 48" T5 and maybe some led for pop. Tank is 60x30x24.
@bwmalloy do you have any thoughts (now or later)? Not sure where in FL we are yet on this one. Miami? :)

Lemme say I'm a halide fan and I have nothing against T5's. It doesn't take any time on a google images search or R2R thread-search to find examples of awesome tanks lit by each kind as well as combo's.

That said, if you'll have to use a chiller, I would really, really consider going 100% LED on lighting. The cost numbers are already heavily in favor of LED's, but if you tack on chiller expenses the costs are a little c r a z y.

You can buy or build an LED system that will give you the same spread, punch, sparkle, pow, bam, shimmer, thwack and pop as the hybrid you're planning ;) ....but more importantly perhaps, it will keep you from running a chiller...at least very much.

If any of that seems to make sense for your situation and you're interested in some other hypothetical ideas for lighting, can you tell me what budget you had in mind for your lighting system?

Just for perspective, have you had any reef lights in the past that you've loved or hated? Or other peoples tanks you could link to that you love or hate their light?
 
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ChrisQ0904

ChrisQ0904

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@bwmalloy do you have any thoughts (now or later)? Not sure where in FL we are yet on this one. Miami? :)

Lemme say I'm a halide fan and I have nothing against T5's. It doesn't take any time on a google images search or R2R thread-search to find examples of awesome tanks lit by each kind as well as combo's.

That said, if you'll have to use a chiller, I would really, really consider going 100% LED on lighting. The cost numbers are already heavily in favor of LED's, but if you tack on chiller expenses the costs are a little c r a z y.

You can buy or build an LED system that will give you the same spread, punch, sparkle, pow, bam, shimmer, thwack and pop as the hybrid you're planning ;) ....but more importantly perhaps, it will keep you from running a chiller...at least very much.

If any of that seems to make sense for your situation and you're interested in some other hypothetical ideas for lighting, can you tell me what budget you had in mind for your lighting system?

Just for perspective, have you had any reef lights in the past that you've loved or hated? Or other peoples tanks you could link to that you love or hate their light?
I'm in Fort Lauderdale, so about 30-60min from Miami. I have used LEDs in the past and had no luck with it. I'm currently running t5 on my 75g and love them. The MH will only be 3hrs or so, so hopefully things don't get too crazy with heat. If it gets to the point of needing a skimmer I'll switch to t5/led.
 
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Chiller – I got you. :) :) Like I said, I'm not in denial of the tech aspect.....T5 and halide are both great. :) LED's are too though....even if you didn't have luck the first go-around. I also did not have luck with LED's the first time around when I switched from halides. :)

If you like T5's, then I'd suggest skipping the LED spotlights altogether if you decide to try LED again.

Instead go with LED strips. A dual-set of Orbit Marine Pro's would give you a really similar light field to a T5 setup, for example. Two of these strips should do it, but if you want a brighter tank you can add another one or two without being crazy. ;) More = better coverage with any fixture. Price is pretty good in either config by comparison with lots of other setups. That's just one exampe too. GHL and others make great LED strips.
 

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My understanding is that any quality skimmer should work well, and that Lifereef certainly makes a quality product. Per http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2010/1/aafeature, a skimmer will remove 20-35% of dissolved organics with different skimmer types all being roughly equally effective they did point out that Royal Exclusiv and Bubble King may have been incrementally better).
 

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I run a lifereef 30" in my display externally. I bought it because people on that huge thread over at the other site claimed they did not have to clean the neck/cup for months and the skimmer just kepted on skimming. I was sold on that point alone and had to see it for myself.

Fast forward six months (how long I've been running mine). I ran an Aquamaxx and moved over to the lifereef because of the above reasons and never looked back. I actually kept my aquamaxx for a few months in case I changed my mind. Does it skim better than an aquamaxx??? I think I can safely say the skimming is way more consistent. I did not have to fuss with the water height and the turning of the knobs on the lifereef once I had everything set and tuned. With the aquamaxx, even a water change would cause me to spin the knob to get it going....

Is the rumor true?? Can a lifereef run without cleaning the neck and cup? A big yes.. no swabbie, no tricks. I run it slightly wet and the thing can go at least a month without me having to clean the cup or neck. The only reason why I do clean it is because it starts looking really nasty and I like to show it off when reefer friends come over :)

One other advantage which has not been mentioned yet. If I go from my 90 gallon to say a 300.. I just add an extension for 50 bucks and another 100 for a pump and I'm good to go. The entire thing is modular, just pick the one with the extendable body for not much more money.
 

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i keep my lifereef in the garage as my back up skimmer. i used to run the 30" model on a 40 breeder and would pull out what looks like oil into the collection cup lol. it was next to the tank on the table so i didn't have any stand height issues. fast forward to sump'd tanks and i had to get a needle-wheel skimmer as the height would hit the bottom of the tank. i've since chopped it a few inches and reglued it as well as made it into a recirculating model, but never really bothered to change back to it. it works and works well, i just like the smaller foot print of the RO i'm running at the moment. but i keep the lifereef as my back up.
 
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