Why did YOU choose a needle wheel skimmer?

Discussion in 'General Equipment, Hardware, Filtration' started by d2mini, May 16, 2018 at 11:42 AM.

  1. d2mini

    d2mini Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor

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    Was having this conversation with someone recently and I'd like to know your own personal feelings on the matter. If you know me and have been around my build threads you know I have a preference for using LifeReef skimmers which are venturi based. My own personal experience of using needle wheel skimmers vs LifeReef skimmers (my only experience with venturi based skimmers) is that the LR skimmers have been much easier to set up, are more consistent, much less finicky to changes in water chemistry, still produce nasty nasty skimmate, can run in a variety of water heights, and no proprietary pump or needle wheel to wear out/break. I like that I can use my choice of pump and get a replacement anywhere/anytime. You can also use ozone with them if you wish, and the cup recirculates unused ozone through the skimmer, no need for carbon. No maintenance required other than cleaning the cup and wiping the neck since this brand in particular sucks humid air from the cup into the venturi so no salt buildup to contend with. And finally, I haven't done this myself, but since the body is straight (not cone shaped) with a flanged top, they can be extended if you upgrade tanks, rather than having to purchase a whole new skimmer.

    A couple advantages I can see to more modern needle wheel skimmers is they are smaller and more power efficient. So a tiny sump or when every kilowatt counts might be situations better suited to this option. No venturi to clog, but as stated this is a nil point with the brand i'm using. Price is also an advantage in many cases.

    So I'm just curious... especially to those who are NEW to the hobby... what made you choose a needle wheel? This is not a "which type of skimmer is better" thread. I just want to hone in on why YOU made the choice you did, that's all. Needle wheels dominate the hobby now and I'm curious why that is. Would really appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

    Recommendation from your LFS or fellow reefers?
    Sump size? Power requirements?
    Didn't know any other option existed?
    Were told they perform better?
    Venturi is "old skool"?
    Tried both and prefer the needle wheel? For what reason(s)?

    Thanks! :)
     
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  2. Greybeard

    Greybeard Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    My first skimmer ran on a wooden airstone :)

    I had a becket injector powered Precision Marine Bullet skimmer back in the day. Great skimmer. Huge, noisy, needed a 1800 GPH pump, but it worked very, very well.

    Today, my needle wheel powered Vertex 180i produces skimate as well or better than the Bullet ever did, and does so without sounding like a small aircraft were taking off in my living room, and without taking up 3 square feet of valuable real estate.

    I have not tried a lifereef skimmer. They may be all you claim... but quality needle wheel skimmers function very well these days, and have a huge advantage in popularity and number of companies producing them. The market isn't always overcome by a superior product. Quantity has a quality all it's own. Betamax was a better technology, Apple had a better platform. Sometimes, it just doesn't matter.
     
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  3. TaylorPilot

    TaylorPilot Valuable Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    I have a box full of broken needlewheel pumps...my next system will be venturi based...i also refuse to buy a dc pump in their current state. I have 3 broken ones, but my 15 year old pan world still running like a champ....
     
  4. mrpizzaface

    mrpizzaface Active Member R2R Supporter

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    I am getting prepared for build this fall. I have had a really hard time deciding between venturi and needlewheel. In fact I still haven't decided. I bought a 30" MTC MVX skimmer that I plan to run with a Fluval SP6, and I also picked up a ATB 1050 skimmer for a great deal and planned to try both units once the system is up a running. Recently I found a great deal on craigslist for a 24" Lifereef, and may throw that into the mix as well.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018 at 12:54 PM
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  5. chipmunkofdoom2

    chipmunkofdoom2 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor

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    My general preference for skimmers is venturi-based. For the large systems in my exhibit at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, that's all we use. We have 8'-9' tall skimmers with probably 2' diameter bodies. They have a venturi before the skimmer and a valve to control how much water goes in and out. Dead simple and exceptionally efficient.

    I chose needle wheel for my home setup because they're much cheaper and smaller. I really wish there was a cheaper venturi skimmer out there because I would have made it work with regards to space. There's something I just can't stomach about spending $500+ for an acrylic tube with a venturi valve.

    It's worth noting that I can't justify the $500+ price tag that usually comes with high-end needle wheel skimmers either. My skimmer is a SCA-301 and works very well, and that's totally ignoring the $99 price point.
     
  6. d2mini

    d2mini Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor

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    Those skimmers are amazing to see in person. :)
    Is there even another option for systems of that size?
     
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  7. chipmunkofdoom2

    chipmunkofdoom2 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor

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    They're quite impressive. I'm 6'4" and they tower over me by a great margin. The simplicity is really attractive too. They're a thin plastic molded into a cylinder with inputs and outlets plumbed in. There's a neck where skimmate collects and a drain pipe that leads right to the drain. We put a venturi on the input side and some valves to control flow, but that's about it.

    I don't think there's any other good option. Our main touchpool is about 3,700 gallons and contains around 10 skates and rays at any given time, as well as half a dozen or so horseshoe crabs, 10 - 15 whelks and moon snails. Our jellyfish touchpool is just under 1,000 gallons and gets fed brine shrimp and other smaller particulate food several times a day. While the jellies themselves don't produce a ton of waste, all the broadcast feeding makes the water filthy.
     
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  8. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    @chipmunkofdoom2 you have to get with an AquaC EV series. Plenty to be found used, but the company apparently sold out to Cobalt Aquatics so look for more new ones to become available. Loved my EV90....still have it, but it was replaced with a Needlewheel.

    For me the switch was about simple curiosity about the type of skimmer and the potential power savings....Tunze still seems to be one of the best AND lack gimmicks, so that's how I wound up with that particular model. The pump taking <15 watts vs the 40-90 watts I'd been throwing at my AquaC seemed like "a lot". I ended up having to add 200 watts of heaters to the system. :D

    Lesson: Unless you are spending money to cool your tank, you're not going to make a real dent in your budget by selecting a more efficient pump. You're going to activate your heaters more, or (like me) exceed their capacity. The bottom line is that it takes xxx amount of power to keep yyy gallons of water at 79ºF in a room that is 72ºF. That power/heat will be donated from every power device you use on that tank. :)

    That said, the Tunze isn't still on-duty because of "all the money I'm saving". :D

    It's still on duty because it's just as easy to clean and does just as good a job as the AquaC, but it's also more compact and has a nice mesh post-filter that I use when I want to run activated carbon. Handy!! The only thing it's missing vs the AquaC is the cup with a drain fitting, but I've adapted to life without. :p
     
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  9. BigJohnny

    BigJohnny Valuable Member

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    I'd say 95% of people choose needlewheel because that is only what 95% of the retailers carry. I wasn't even aware lifereef was different in that way lol. Sounds cool though, especially the consistency/not influenced as much by water chemistry part, although I don't get how that's possible, can you explain?
     
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  10. JoshH

    JoshH Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I didn't, I chose Lifereef And haven't given a needle wheel another look;) ;Hilarious;Hilarious;Hilarious
     
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  11. Bob Stohrer

    Bob Stohrer Active Member

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    Did my research and chose Lifereef. Happy I did.
     
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  12. GoVols

    GoVols "VFL" R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award MTRCMember Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Never knew :confused: about the LifeReef skimmers until this thread and learn something everyday.

    Been running an BK Mini 160 for years and it has been solid as an rock.

    If the BK ever dies ;Dead, I'll look ;Wideyed into the LifeReef as an option.
     
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  13. AdamNC

    AdamNC Lawnmower Blenny says nom nom R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    Colbalt bought out AquaC?
     
  14. JoshH

    JoshH Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Probably the only needle wheel I'd consider, BK definitely has the build quality and those Red dragon Pumps are work horses.
     
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  15. Waboss

    Waboss Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I had a LR skimmer and loved it. I switch to a Deltec needle wheel specifically due to space restraints in my sump. I've had several different NW skimmers and most of them were pretty much unimpressive. I've been quite happy with the Deltec though as it's been about as simple as the LR was to "set and forget"...which really surprised me (except for having to clean the air intake from salt build up). BUT if I had to pick my favorite, it would be a venturi based skimmer like the LR.
     
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  16. jessezm

    jessezm Member

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    Needle wheel or venturi/beckett injector, isn't the point just mixing air and water to make tiny bubbles that will attract and discharge proteins? My thinking with needle wheel skimmers was around the efficiency of the pumps and their ability to churn water and draw in air. It seemed like with a venturi skimmer it took a lot more energy to produce the same effect. I did have an Aqua C 90 a long time ago, and honestly, I could never get it to work that well. Then I got a cheap ASM skimmer with an OR 3500 pump and it did wonders. Now, that was a long time ago, and I've never had a lifereef skimmer, but I have a reef octo 250 regal now and it seems to do pretty well. But I actually never really thought about it in terms of the need to warm the water - I am so used to having to cool it instead. With LEDs these days, maybe a less efficient skimmer pump might be the way to go?

    Ultimately for me at the moment the decision comes down to, Use what ya got, or what you got a good deal on that works...
     
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  17. Mortie31

    Mortie31 Active Member UK Reef Club Member

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    Needle wheel skimmers are pretty much all that’s for sale... I couldn’t even name a Venturi brand for sale in the UK, but I’m going to google it now out of interest...
     
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  18. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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  19. mcarroll

    mcarroll Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    (Yes that's old-fashioned website naming....they been around!)
     
  20. revhtree

    revhtree Owner Administrator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I like this thread!
     
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