Life Reef Skimmer -- An Honest Review

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piranhaman00

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Hello! I was struggling with nitrates in some of my heavier stocked tanks even running two large skimmers, decided I needed to try a Lifereef skimmer. The reviews around the forums are alarmingly positive with very little negative. I have been running a 24" and 30" model for about two months now and decided that there needs to be an unbiased review out there :)

Everything covered with neither be positive or negative, just the observation.

Needlewheel skimmer was RO Classic 220 INT x2 and 110 INT x1

1. Cost/Build
- The cheapest skimmer comes in at over $500 with shipping and not including a pump! Jeff (owner of Lifereef) gives discounts on including pumps which are primarily MagDrive pumps but still very costly. I decided to give it a try with the 24" model. Included is basically the skimmer body and necessary plumbing. PVC is schedule 40 with ink showing, gate valve is cheap quality but works. Skimmer body is well build acrylic that can be customized with various colors. I was honestly quite astounded at how much I paid for a "hunk of acrylic." All PVC fittings are threaded with pipe tape which I cant stand but necessary to take apart if needed.

2. Noise
- Wow! Loud compared to needlewheel skimmers. I use jebao DC pumps which are completely dead silent, the noise is from the venturi which makes a sucking noise and it pulls in air to create the foam. I talked with Jeff for quite a while and listened to him bash needle wheel skimmers and not once did he mention the noise factor.

3. Pump
- One of the major benefits is being able to use any pump to run it! The catch is the pump needs to be strong in order to pull in adequate air for the venturi to function. I am using a jebao dcp 8000 as max speed which is using 70 watts compared to the 30 watts my needlewheel used. I switched out multiple pumps to find the one that worked the best for me. Very awesome feature.

4. Smell
- Something I was not aware of with switching to lifereef is skimmer smell. The Venturi is connected to the collection cup, this muffles the noise and also pulls the moist air from there. This should completely eliminate a clogged venturi but also eliminates the smell! This is a HUGE benefit of this skimmer for me. I was setting carbon pads on top of my needle wheels to keep smell down and that wasnt helping much. I can take a huge wiff right outside cup and not smell anything. It is awesome!

5. Maintenance
- I needed to clean needlewheel skimmer at least weekly for it to work properly. Not just the cup but the neck as well, once covered in grime the foam didnt rise as well. The Lifereef does not need to be cleaned. The power and bubble sizes allow the dirtied neck to not halt performance.

6. Performance.
- The best part! Without a doubt the Lifereef is better that my previous skimmers at removing skimmate. I can visibly see the different size bubbles that are injected from the venturi. This allows for different size proteins to be attached as well as the bubbles fighting for the surface. Needlewheel have all same size bubbles which causes performance issues when not cleaned.

- After getting nitrates down with W/C, the new skimmer is keeping the nitrates in line. Pulling gunk from tank very well. I only empty the cup through the drain, no neck cleaning, no smell its really great! These things really do work very well.



Conclusion:

Basically I agree that LifeReef skimmers are awesome. However there are some caveats that were not mentioned to me or found in reading about these skimmers. I was also frusterated about the ultimate claims that Venturi >> Needlewheel. I think both skimmers have a place in this hobby depending on tank size and personal needs. Hopefully this helps someone determine what they need. Pics of the skimmate!

IMG_2945.jpg IMG_2948.jpg
 
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Water Dog

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Nice review... I think that’s the appeal of these skimmers and why they have such a loyal following. They are solid, no frills, low maintenance workhorses that just plain work... and work well they do!
 
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piranhaman00

piranhaman00

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I've always used a LifeReef. With my new build it just wouldn't fit. Wish they could make something smaller with the Venturi.

Reef Breeders is making a new skimmer and I gave some input on making a venturi model ;)
 

SteveMM62Reef

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I did a modification on my Life Reef Skimmer, drilled a 3/16” hole in the lid. Super Glued Lee’s 3/16” Ridged Air Line in the hole. I modified and sealed an old Air Pump. I pull outside, filtered air in and pump it into the skimmer cup, to keep my pH up. Recently I Super Sized everything, and added another Modified air pump.
 

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fishybizzness

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Just keeps chugging along! Hard to argue with these results!
 

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Mike S

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I’ve been running g one for a little over a month and it works great. Very little tinkering needed to keep it skimming.
 

Devaji

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See jeffs using fancy colored acrylic and new venturis. Mines got the 12" black venturi. Lol. They really are great.skimmers. get a blueline hd pump. Lol.
D

I’ve been running g one for a little over a month and it works great. Very little tinkering needed to keep it skimming.

guys hows the noise compared to needle wheel skimmers? I have been looking at these for a few years.

might upgrade the skimmer in my rs650P for a life reef and was thinking of using a DC pump, but if there pretty loud I might have to scratch that idea.
 
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piranhaman00

piranhaman00

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guys hows the noise compared to needle wheel skimmers? I have been looking at these for a few years.

might upgrade the skimmer in my rs650P for a life reef and was thinking of using a DC pump, but if there pretty loud I might have to scratch that idea.

The Venturi action of pulling in air is much louder than needle wheel skimmers, I’m not sure where all the silent reviews come from
 

Devaji

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The Venturi action of pulling in air is much louder than needle wheel skimmers, I’m not sure where all the silent reviews come from

hmmm yeah that might be a no go for me. I am using a reef octo 150 classic with AC pump you can hear it through the stand but not to bad it do able.

did you ever figure out what pump to use?
 

DaneGer21

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I sold my life reef after a few years. To power hungry and to loud. Yeah maybe it would have been the last skimmer to buy, but a new quiet skimmer that’s way more efficient was well worth the switch.
 
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fishybizzness

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I run my 24 off of a sicce pump. It draws about 32 watts according to my apex. It's a great skimmer imho. This is on my 120 with a fairly small bioload of 5 fish and some inverts.
 

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fishybizzness

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Sicce 5.5. I had one already so I tried it and it works great. Maybe in the future when I add more fish I'll try the sicce 7.0 but for now what I have is doing a great job.
 

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Mike S

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I’ll check mine but I’m either running and Jebao DCP 10000 or 8000 on my 24 inch model. It’s not dead quiet but I wouldn’t say it’s loud. The Venturi is silenced pretty well by connecting it to the collection cup with the tubing. It noisy when disconnected though. My aluminum stand is completely open and I can barely hear it across the room. I wouldn’t think that you could here it at all in an enclosed stand.

Overall I love the skimmer. Very easy to dial in. I can’t say that about any needle wheel skimmer that I’ve had in the past,
 
BRS
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