Originally Posted by Chisel
I am now curious about this product as i do not run a skimmer or a sump. An all in one unit? How is the sound level of these? Pics (mounted)....reviews? Are there others like this from a different company?
Well I'm new to salt water aquariums, I've been a freshie for many years. I came across this unit for sale locally by someone who purchased it, then had to move out of the parent's house... and had to sell. (still new in box). So the price was right, I decided to give it a go and picked it up.
This is what I have to say about it, based on my little knowledge on the subject. Keep in mind it is still not installed or running.
The unit has a lot of nice features. For one, it's unobstrusive for the aquarium, especially if you're like me and don't have a hole drilled in the glass for a sump. It has the hanging surface skimmer, which includes a pump that helps get the water over the rim of the tank. So it doesn't just use gravity to syphon the water. The benefit of this, is if there is a power outage, the pump will automatically start again to get the water symphoning over the edge and into the filter/sump. It also has a nice pad-filter on it to avoid any fish or other animals from accidentally getting sucked into the sump. The other advantage of this surface skimmer is the return pipe to pump water back into the aquarium is attached to it, so it's an "all in one" unit. The return pipe hangs under the surface skimmer and has a multi-directional adjustable head so you can change the angle of the water going back into the aquarium to suit your needs. Apparently at 1000gph, it also means you no longer require a powerhead to move water around the aquarium. For me, I'll continue to use my freshwater canister filter as well, which should help get some more water moving too.
The filter itself is clearly designed for a fish only, or a FOWLR
setup. (says so right on the box too.) It contains the basic filter media (glass cylinders, bio-balls, activated carbon, etc.) However, upon reading it has been suggested to replace the media with live rock, and a few other things. The water drops through all the filter media, so it shouldn't be too loud.
The protein skimmer is a smaller unit, and contained within the filter box itself---consisting of a reaction chamber with an air-stone housed way at the bottom. The bubbles move in the opposite direction of water flow, to increase exposure time. The air-stone has a regulator valve so you can adjust the bubble amount to suit your needs. The cup at the top is removable, and has a waste-hose which can be attached to a 1 gallon container. It is apparently adequate for a 75g or smaller setup, but some have suggested something bigger for a larger aquarium, or for something with a larger bioload. I wasn't going to run a skimmer at all, so this is just a bonus for me.
The top-up tank is 4 gallons. It is a plunger style tank, similar to those found on portable humidifer units for the house. Lift out the tank, unscrew the stopper, and fill with salt water. The plunger releases more water into the tank, as the water in the tank evaporates. Since the Filter unit itself is a closed unit, the water evaporation will mainly occur at the water's surface, and the surface skimmer. For my 90 gallon aquarium, it is said the 4g to top of my aquarium should last a good month to 6 weeks at a time. Which is a nice bonus.
The hoses going to and from the aquarium are accordian style, which I'm not sure is good or not. On one hand, it allows more opporuntity for things to get lodged or stuck in there, along with more algae growth. On the other hand, it provides the shortest route possible to the filter and back up to the aquarium, but still allows you to pull out / move the filter for maintenance if required.
The quality of the unit itself it mediocre at best... the plastic is too thin for my tastes, and the hoses seem brittle to me. I'm already worried about cracking the filter unit when I'll have to do maintenance on it.
There are a total of 3 pumps. One to help the surface skimmer, which is mounted on a hanger along the water's edge. This is a wet pump. The second pump is a standard diaphram unit for making air bubbles with a standard wood airstone, for the protein skimmer. The third pump is the big sump inside the filter itself, which pumps the water back up into the aquarium. I suspect with 3 pumps going, it will be a louder than what I'm used to with my whisper quiet eheim canister filter. But time will tell.
The part I REALLY dislike about the unit is the size of it. The picture doesn't do it justice. It's much larger than it looks... well taller at least. I bought a new aquarium stand, and this thing barely fits inside. It'll make it a PITA whenever I need to clean/service the unit. The skimmer sits even higher than a unit, and requires another 4-5 inches to pull the cup out. The filter media is contained in baskets, so I'll have to wedge each basket over the top to take it out and clean it. I'm expecting to have some splashed water around unfortunately. If my stand was taller, or the unit was designed wider, but not as tall---I'd be much happier, and wouldn't be as worried about breaking this unit whenever I need to work on it, hiding way at the back of my stand nearly touching the roof.
My other gripe with this unit, is there are no shut-off valves for the hoses. If I need to remove the surface skimmer to clean it, or pull the unit itself out of the cabinet, I won't be able to once it's hooked up. Just as much as the accordian-style hoses will allow. I can already foresee this being a huge pain in the neck. I'll have to find out the size of the hoses, and see if I can rig up my oww shut off valves above the unit. What's weird is---there's a shut-off valve for the big top-up tank on the side. I'm wondering if perhaps the previous owner forgot to put these items back in the box when he gave it to me, or they just designed it to be difficult in the first place. :/