Is lifereef really the best skimmer?

Subpilot

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I just got a brand spanking first off the line Trigger Platinum Sump and have my eye seriously on that Maxspec skimmer. I am totally sold on roller mats after running a Clarisea 3000 for past year. That thing is a PITA to load and unload and I can see the lessons learned on how the Trigger Sys sump is put together and only have to change it every couple of months. Way easier to load and unload. I will never go back to filter socks again.
Seems like the Trigger Platinum and Aroaqua Duo are a pretty solid combo but guess I am the Guinea Pig . After all the whole point of the thing is for it to be attractive with functional being the necessary evil to keep it so (except to peeps on the forums).
I guess my Google search was not exhaustive enough to catch that other thread.
 
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Subpilot

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Saf1, I am going to guess that 69 Boss 302 had both serious mods and a better driver. Sayin
 

Water Dog

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My only concern with your choice of skimmer would be the very unique nature of the proprietary pump that they use on that skimmer. May want to take a look at perhaps sourcing a backup spare pump once your warranty ends. As stated earlier, skimmer manufacturers often change or update models every few years making replacement parts very hard to come by once they introduce the new model.

I guess this is one of the reasons why Lifereef skimmers have such a loyal following. Provide any pump with the proper flow rating, and it will continue to perform well without skipping a beat... 20 years later.
 

Adele

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Because it works. Sort of like asking GM why they continue to run the same tried and true v8 while Ford and others go different routes.

None of us here can speculate why people use other skimmer designs. On the other hand if you have talked to Jeff at Lifereef he will tell you why he won't change his design. In fact last year I called and asked him if I needed to buy a new skimmer of his or upgrade. He could have made a easy sale, 600 bucks. Nope - looked up my name, found it in the records, said no - design hasn't changed other than including a skimmer cup drain rather than mine being optional back in the day.

Like I said - we here can't answer the question but if you want to know how it works those of us with them can.
Yep. Jeff won’t try to upsell anything. He makes an honest product that works and stands behind his work 110%.
 

Mark Gray

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I take no offense with peeps being an advocate for whatever product, service or political viewpoint they may have as long as it is civil. I did not perceive things to have gotten beyond "enthusiastic". So anyway I just don't know why LifeReef stands alone with this design. After all we are talking about an assembly of pipe fittings not a SpaceX Falcon Motor.
Here's my 2 cents worth. I have on Lifereef skimmer. They work good easy to ser up and hardly any break in period. On the down side, they need a large pump so they use a bit of power. Do they skim better than others? I think about the same but In my Opinion it's easier to get a dry foam from say a Deltec.
 
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Scorpius

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My Deltec skimmer has a feature that shuts the air off if the skimmer overflows. Oddly enough that tube is very close to the water so I wonder if Deltec tried to kill two birds with one stone. Skimmer overflows and venturi clogging.
 

ca1ore

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I have been talking to Jeff and he is great guy. I admire his personal touch and he certainly has a very loyal following. I have not decided where to go with my next skimmer. Honestly I am between the ole workhorse LifeReef and the new Maxspec Aroaqua Duo. Could not be further apart on concept.
I’m unaware of any recent, objective tests that have been done on more recent skimmers (maybe BRS has done one), particularly in comparison with ‘older’ approaches. Thus you are at the mercy of marketing ..... and common sense. I tend to be of the opinion that modern skimmers are more energy efficient, but not necessarily better performers.
 

saf1

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I’m unaware of any recent, objective tests that have been done on more recent skimmers (maybe BRS has done one), particularly in comparison with ‘older’ approaches. Thus you are at the mercy of marketing ..... and common sense. I tend to be of the opinion that modern skimmers are more energy efficient, but not necessarily better performers.
BRS would not have included Lifereef products as they are only sold on his web site. There are no resellers I believe. He makes only what he has orders booked for.

That is an interesting thought on energy efficient. I would guess that has a lot to do with the driver / pump but I'm not really a skimmer expert if you will. So no idea really but thought it was interesting thought.
 

OLDREEFER44

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I have had Bubble King, Vertex, Reef Octopus and now Life Reef. It is by far the easiest to dial in and just let go. Also very easy to attach a CO2 scrubber. As far as energy efficiency is concerned, you have an option to use your own pump on them so should not really be an issue.
 

Silver14SS

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Has anyone saying watch out for proprietary pinwheel pumps actually had one fail? I haven’t but understand it’s a risk.

Compared to a similarly rated pinwheel skimmer, Lifereefs typically have a larger footprint, use more energy, and are louder.
 

Whipples

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To revisit the question on "why other brands aren't doing it if it works" is the battle of compromise. Some of those needlewheel designs are inherently very quiet, and a lot of people prioritize that. Approaching it from the other side the wine bottle shape uses less material and is therefore cheaper to manufacture, so are the pumps that typically get put in them. Tooling is expensive, and now they have several molds for that design so they can keep pumping them out with a color change, maybe a new valve, and call it "new and improved". Do they work? Yes, we've seen pictures of dark skimmate. Are they improved? That is a hard term to define. If you replaced that older version with its newer sibling, and got equally dark skimmate, is that really an improvement? Or did they manage to get another $300+ out of you for some new acrylic and maybe parts from another skimmer in their line?

Say you want to switch the pump out because you aren't getting the performance you were hoping for, maybe you feed heavy and run a heavy bioload and the existing pump chokes regularly or you seem to only get a light tea-colored skimmate when you want darker, or maybe you double your tank volume. Can you do that with the common design used by nearly all other manufacturers? Unlikely as they are typically some sort of proprietary design attached to bubble plates. Most folks are looking at a new skimmer at that point, for several hundred bucks at that point.

That is where Lifereef sets themselves apart. They are agnostic to pump so long as it meets certain GPH thresholds. AC or DC, whatever you want (although Jeff is adamant about AC pump designs, separate topic for another thread). They can be upgraded if you go the flange route to keep the skimmer on your system, and typically can handle any situation you put them in. They have one real adjustment which is water level in the body and once you get that level set you don't need to change it until you have a drastic change in your tank. No constant fiddling as you only have one thing to really fiddle with.

Lastly, let's look at cup design. I prioritize volume of skimmer cup and lack of maintenance in my equipment decisions. Some of these newer tapered cups give you such a small volume you are emptying it constantly. Most need to be removed to be drained (although drain ports are out there but typically are John Guest and you need to add additional valves or plumbing to use it). Most need to have the neck cleaned regularly to work well. I don't need to do any of that with my Lifereef. I use the drain port once every 7-10 days and it is empty. I maybe pull and clean the cup itself every 6 months. I once let it go nearly 8 months between neck cleanings and it still kept chugging along. That is what is important to me and the Lifereef skimmer does just that and more. Did I mention cleaning the body? Haven't done that since I put it in the tank, and it's still clean. I can disconnect the pump via union and don't need to pull the whole dang thing out just to clean a pump.

Those points might not matter to you, but they were what pushed me to a Lifereef and I won't go back. Yes it has a little more noise, but now I just run it at night when I'm not near the tank for 8 hours (I think we overskim our tanks anyway) and it just works.
 

JoshH

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Has anyone saying watch out for proprietary pinwheel pumps actually had one fail? I haven’t but understand it’s a risk.

Compared to a similarly rated pinwheel skimmer, Lifereefs typically have a larger footprint, use more energy, and are louder.
While I haven't personally had one fail, I've read a few stories of it happening and there was no replacement pump to be found which forced them to purchase a new skimmer.

To revisit the question on "why other brands aren't doing it if it works" is the battle of compromise. Some of those needlewheel designs are inherently very quiet, and a lot of people prioritize that. Approaching it from the other side the wine bottle shape uses less material and is therefore cheaper to manufacture, so are the pumps that typically get put in them. Tooling is expensive, and now they have several molds for that design so they can keep pumping them out with a color change, maybe a new valve, and call it "new and improved". Do they work? Yes, we've seen pictures of dark skimmate. Are they improved? That is a hard term to define. If you replaced that older version with its newer sibling, and got equally dark skimmate, is that really an improvement? Or did they manage to get another $300+ out of you for some new acrylic and maybe parts from another skimmer in their line?

Say you want to switch the pump out because you aren't getting the performance you were hoping for, maybe you feed heavy and run a heavy bioload and the existing pump chokes regularly or you seem to only get a light tea-colored skimmate when you want darker, or maybe you double your tank volume. Can you do that with the common design used by nearly all other manufacturers? Unlikely as they are typically some sort of proprietary design attached to bubble plates. Most folks are looking at a new skimmer at that point, for several hundred bucks at that point.

That is where Lifereef sets themselves apart. They are agnostic to pump so long as it meets certain GPH thresholds. AC or DC, whatever you want (although Jeff is adamant about AC pump designs, separate topic for another thread). They can be upgraded if you go the flange route to keep the skimmer on your system, and typically can handle any situation you put them in. They have one real adjustment which is water level in the body and once you get that level set you don't need to change it until you have a drastic change in your tank. No constant fiddling as you only have one thing to really fiddle with.

Lastly, let's look at cup design. I prioritize volume of skimmer cup and lack of maintenance in my equipment decisions. Some of these newer tapered cups give you such a small volume you are emptying it constantly. Most need to be removed to be drained (although drain ports are out there but typically are John Guest and you need to add additional valves or plumbing to use it). Most need to have the neck cleaned regularly to work well. I don't need to do any of that with my Lifereef. I use the drain port once every 7-10 days and it is empty. I maybe pull and clean the cup itself every 6 months. I once let it go nearly 8 months between neck cleanings and it still kept chugging along. That is what is important to me and the Lifereef skimmer does just that and more. Did I mention cleaning the body? Haven't done that since I put it in the tank, and it's still clean. I can disconnect the pump via union and don't need to pull the whole dang thing out just to clean a pump.

Those points might not matter to you, but they were what pushed me to a Lifereef and I won't go back. Yes it has a little more noise, but now I just run it at night when I'm not near the tank for 8 hours (I think we overskim our tanks anyway) and it just works.
Fantastic write up and nailed all the major benefits about them. On the noise issue, I had mine in my living room in an open cabinet and it wasn't any louder than anything else in the cabinet. I guess it all depends on where it is and your threshold for noise.
 

Water Dog

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Has anyone saying watch out for proprietary pinwheel pumps actually had one fail? I haven’t but understand it’s a risk.

Compared to a similarly rated pinwheel skimmer, Lifereefs typically have a larger footprint, use more energy, and are louder.

Yes, my RLSS r5i DC skimmer. I was able to find a Waveline 4000 pump on eBay, but no replacement impeller. :(

As far as energy efficiency on pumps to run Lifereef skinners, look at the Sicce ADV series of AC pumps. A perfect pairing for the SVS-24 is the Sicce ADV 7.0 rated at 55 watts and 1900 gph. After head pressure loss through the venturi, it actually draws around 35 watts.

I run an ADV 5.5 in my tank. It’s rated at 1400 gph at 50 watts. Apex says it’s drawing a mere 30 watts.

So if you look hard enough, performance and energy efficiency can be done! :)
 

Water Dog

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Also, if you’re so inclined, verify your energy draw with a kill-a-watt or Apex power monitoring, because you can’t always trust a manufacturer’s power rating claims... just sayin’. ;)

 

TaylorPilot

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Has anyone saying watch out for proprietary pinwheel pumps actually had one fail? I haven’t but understand it’s a risk.

Compared to a similarly rated pinwheel skimmer, Lifereefs typically have a larger footprint, use more energy, and are louder.
I have 4 needle wheel skimmers in a box. All with a broken pump. 2 skimz (first one replaced by BRS under warranty) a Sicce PSK that came with an I-TECH 200 (shows my age) and a Vertex Alpha. The bodies are just acrylic tubing...anyone can make one of those. The key is the pump. I have never had a needle wheel last more than a few years. I don't have a tank now, but when I set another one up, it will NOT have a needle wheel on it. I do have a Panworld that I bought in Highschool (I am 38) that I still use today to run a Tradewind chiller to cool my CO2 laser, and a mag 12 that is equally as old that still works like the day I bought it. As far as AC vs DC, unless you are running a closed loop, AC pumps are the way to go.
 

Water Dog

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Oh yeah, I forgot to add, I still have an old Reef Dynamics INS 80 skimmer. It’s is an older but tried and true design, identical to the venerable Euroreef RS80 skimmer. The original G500 pump on that lasted a little over 2 years. I replaced it with a Sedra 3500, that lasted another couple of years. Should I spend the $125 and grab a PSK600 needlewheel pump to keep it on hand as a backup? :D. Anyway, both my needlewheel pumps for this skimmer had relatively short lives.

I will qualify all of this by saying I had to sell my beloved Lifereef SVS2-24 because of sump space constraints with my current tank. I currently run a Deltec SCA1351 and am very happy with its performance. I did have to replace the needlewheel impeller on it last month though. :(
 

OCDean

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I run an ADV 5.5 in my tank. It’s rated at 1400 gph at 50 watts. Apex says it’s drawing a mere 30 watts.

So if you look hard enough, performance and energy efficiency can be done! :)
The interesting thing to me about energy efficiency in this hobby, is that my aquarium uses about half the power as my plasma TV. And it's also highly probable that simply having the oven on for an hour to cook something probably uses a couple of weeks worth of aquarium energy if I had to guess.

I was surprised to see how little energy my entire setup was actually using according to my apex. At max right now its only 300watts, which I'm guessing is quite a bit less than running other major appliances in our home.

Maybe there are better ways to save energy like running the air conditioner less in the summer, or turning a tv off when not in use.

Off topic, so back on track - using a Sicce Syncra 4.0 (AC) for my SVS3-24 which hums along at about 57watts (rated for 85w). Using a Sicce SDC 6.0 (DC) return pump which sips about 37w at 86%.
 
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