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Pro Clear Aquatic Impact 200 – A Performance Review


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Pro Clear Aquatic Impact 200 – A Performance Review


The following is a user’s review of Pro Clear Aquatic's Impact 200 Protein Skimmer. This review was written in the hope that it might supply a bit of first-hand knowledge and experience to fellow reefers in the pursuit of assisting them to make an informed purchasing decision. Owing to the fact that protein skimmers are notoriously difficult to compare and "test" in even the most controlled of settings, the best I can offer are my subjective opinions based upon my personal observations and experiences.


A Little Background Information

The way that protein skimmers work is actually pretty simple. “Protein skimmers ensure that the aquatic ecosystem is protected against harmful bacteria, algae-feeding nitrates and phosphates, and help to ensure the quick removal of organic wastes”. In that regard, organic matter, proteins, and even some desirable elements within the water, are attracted to the fine bubbles produced by the protein skimmer. This organic material attaches to the bubbles surface through the process of adsorption, which in turn concentrates the collected proteins into a foam that rises up within the skimmer before finally working its way up into the collection cup. The product that is collected in the cup is commonly referred to as "skimmate". The skimmate that is collected in the cup can vary from lightly colored and watery to very dark and thick in substance. Different skimming methods and designs produce different sized bubbles which in turn produce different consistencies of skimmate. The best setting for any skimmer is one that will allow the skimmer to produce copious amounts of skimmate consistently.


Protein skimmers can remove a wide range of proteins depending upon their structure, size and type. In general, larger proteins are removed more easily than smaller ones. Ultimately, the efficiency of the skimmer determines the rate and extent of the protein removed.


Determining factors:

Bubble contact time- The length of time in which a bubble generated from a skimmer spends in contact with the water, as well as the proteins contained within it. The longer the time a protein spends in contact with a bubble, the more likely it will adsorb to the surface of the bubble and be removed through foam fractionation.


Bubble size- In general, the smaller the bubble, the better its ability to skim proteins. This is due, in part, to increased bubble contact time, as smaller bubbles usually take longer to rise to the surface.


Salinity- Higher salinity can increase bubble production and therefore increase the amount of proteins removed. One reason for this is that skimming is more effective in seawater than in freshwater. Since many organic proteins are less soluble in saltwater than in fresh, they are more easily skimmed out of the water.


Skimmer size- Larger skimmers generally have longer contact times and process more water leading to more efficient skimming.



This tank has now been running for 12 months, with regular testing and measurements having taken place for the last 10 months (a 2 month break-in period was allotted to establish a base line and to allow for normal tank fluctuations, as well as to gauge for measurement stability).


For the purpose of this review I installed a Pro Clear Aquatics Impact 200 skimmer on a standard 75 gallon glass aquarium (48”X18”X21”) using the recommended Catalina Aquarium CA 2200 Aquarium Pump (Pump Output Rated @ 850 GPH).


In relation to livestock, I attempted to replicate a medium bio-load as described by Albert J. Thiel:


"Low load tanks are defined as aquariums that are visibly low in life forms, for example less than 1 small to medium fish per 10 gallons of water. A small fish is defined here as the size of e.g. a 3 stripe damsel of the size usually found in pet shops: 1 to 1.5 inches in length. Medium is defined as the size of an average sized Centropyge Angelfish, e.g. usually 2.5 to 3.0 inches in length. Alternatively, low is defined as an aquarium that has no more than 1 invertebrate, e.g. Atlantic Pink tip anemone of size normally found in pet shops, per 10 gallons of water. Medium load is defined here as the above type of fish and invertebrates per 5 gallons of water in the aquarium, or a mix of fish and invertebrates mentioned above, again per 5 gallons of water."


The test tank was stocked with 120lbs of premium Fiji live rock, a large assortment of soft corals (zoanthids, mushrooms, leathers and anthelia), LPS (frogspawn, hammer, and torch corals), several hermit crabs, a diverse mixture of snails, a pair of medium sized maroon clownfish, a bicolored blenny, four green chromis damsels, a falco hawkfish, a rusty pygmy angel, a banded serpent starfish, and a large green bubble-tipped anemone.


First Impressions

Upon first viewing the Pro Clear Aquatics Impact 200 I was immediately impressed with its size and the quality of its construction. The skimmer is constructed of high-quality acrylic and PVC and appears to be quite sound and solid in its design and structure. This is one seriously sturdy and visually impressive unit. There were no noticeable scratches on the acrylic, nor were there glue spills, acrylic burrs or rough edges.


Key Characteristics

• Manufactured by Pro Clear Aquatics

• In-sump design

• Self cleaning input valve

• Simple "plug and play" installation

• Durable acrylic construction

• Suitable for tanks up to 200 gallons


Product Details:

• Impact Skimmer 200 (7" L x 5" W x 22" H x 4.5" Diameter)

• Combines a down draft design with a Venturi; because of the air injection method, large quantities of bubbles and water are produced with a relatively small pump

• The high flow rate (400 gallons per hour) is ideal for heavily stocked aquariums and reef tanks

• Low maintenance: self cleaning input valve never needs adjusting

• Collection cup and neck are one piece. Just twist it out to clean both in one step

• Recommended pump: CA 2200

• Sizing: for aquariums up to 200 gallons


Initial Use

After assembly, and a quick check to ensure that all the fittings were tight, the water pump was plugged in and the skimmer began to fill with water. Once water was clearly visible within the skimmer’s main reaction chamber I unplugged the pump and stopped the flow of water to perform a leak check. After finding a small bead of water forming along the neck of the skimmer I double checked and retightened each of the neck screws and all was well. I then plugged the pump back in and allowed the skimmer to fill with water and flow into the sump.


Within seconds the reaction chamber was filled with tiny bubbles, so much so that I had to quickly adjust the air intake valve to lower the level of foam within the reaction chamber. After a few minutes and several small adjustments I was able to adjust the water level so that it was just below the bottom of the collection cup of the skimmer. This, of course, was done to prevented an otherwise overly wet foam from prematurely rising into the collection cup.


Overall, I found the air intake valve to be quite effective for maintaining precise control over the flow of water passing through the unit, which in turn made adjusting the height of the foam rising within the reaction chamber quite simple as well.


For the first 10-15 minutes of operation the foam forming within the skimmer seemed to rise and dissipate rapidly, but after about an hour it began to develop a consistent and stable head of foam. After 24 hours the foam was thick and dry enough that it was beginning to spill into the collection cup, there was also a pronounced accumulation of dark green “filth” forming around the top of the collection cup’s neck.


“The skimmer’s venturi assembly produces extremely fine bubbles as water from the tank is forced (along with a considerable amount of air) downward into the skimmer body and disperses the water and bubbles within the reaction chamber. The turbulent nature of this action adds greatly to both the dwell time of the micro bubbles, as well as to their ability to adsorb dissolved organic compounds as they rise to up toward the collection cup.”


Extended Use

This skimmer has now been in use for over 12 months and I have yet to discover any problems with its performance, maintenance, or design. Apart from the inevitability of emptying and cleaning the collection cup frequently, I have had no issues with it at all. The skimmer continues to consistently produce a nice dry foam which in turn facilitates a dark, thick and smelly skimmate.


Also, after a brief break-in period, I no longer had to make adjustments to the skimmer’s air intake valve to get the results I wanted. It's been a simple matter of "set it and forget it".


Just like every other skimmer I’ve ever encountered, the Impact 200 requires a certain degree of regular maintenance in order to keep it working both efficiently and effectively. The build-up of skimmate on the walls of the skimmer’s neck and collection cup can greatly reduce the skimmer’s performance. The skimmer cup should be emptied and cleaned every 2 to 4 days, or as required by the accumulation of skimmate within the collection cup and/or on the inner surfaces there-in.


Areas of Possible Concern

I have only one criticism with regard to this skimmer, that being the fact that the neck and collection cup are joined into one solid piece. Having the collection cup and neck combined was somewhat problematic given the very limited space available under my aquarium. The necessity of being able to access all of the neck screws, while making sure to allow adequate clearance for the removal of the neck/collection cup for maintenance purposes was a bit of an issue for me. This also tended to make the maintenance associated with emptying and cleaning the skimmer a bit more problematic than necessary. It’s true what they say about aquarium maintenance: “if the chore is difficult or time-consuming, it’s less likely to get done”.


With that in mind, I utilize and highly recommend using an exterior collection container to increase the skimmer’s capacity to accumulate skimmate between cleanings. This will greatly lengthen the time between required maintenance tasks, and will subsequently make those tasks less of a burden.


Over-all Score

I gave this unit a score of 9 out of 10. The build quality of this unit is impressive to say the least, and it does exactly what a skimmer is supposed to do; it skims and it skims well. It definitely holds its own from the standpoint of price, performance, reliability, and ease of use. And unlike traditional venturi skimmers, the downdraft design does not create a lot of backpressure on the pump (which in turn relates to improved efficiency).


I loved this unit, as it tended to consistently produce skimmate more effectively than any other unit I’ve worked with; and if it weren’t for that pesky neck/collection cup combination I would have easily given this unit a 10 out of 10.

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