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The AquaC Remora – A Performance Review


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The AquaC Remora – A Performance Review

 

The following is a user’s review of the AquaC Remora 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. However, the method used to facilitate bubble production, and the movement of those bubbles within the skimmer’s reaction chamber in relation to the flow of water through the unit, are key components, regardless of size.

 

Variables

The tank utilized in this test has now been running for approximately 18 months, with regular testing and measurements having taken place for the last 16 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 measurement stability).

For the purpose of this review, I installed an AquaC Remora protein skimmer on a standard 29 gallon glass aquarium (30 x 12 x 18”) using the recommended Maxi Jet 1200 Aquarium Pump (Pump Output Rated @ 295 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 45lbs 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 medium-sized false percula clownfish, a bicolored blenny, three green chromis damsels, a banded serpent starfish, and a large green bubble coral.

 

DSCN0037.jpg

 

First Impressions

Upon first viewing the Remora I was immediately impressed by 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 AquaC

• Rated for tanks between 20-75 gallons

• Comes with a Maxi Jet 1200 pump

• Built from durable translucent gray acrylic

(the “tinted” acrylic was utilized in an effort to inhibit the growth of algae within the unit)

• EPDM o-ring for collection cup adjustment

• Convenient Hang-on Back design

• Simple "plug and play" installation

 

Product Details

 

• 19" tall x 6" wide x 2-3/4" deep

• Minimum tank opening necessary: 5-1/4" x 1-1/2"

• Minimum tank height necessary: 12-1/2"

• Minimum space behind tank necessary: 2-3/4"

• Maximum tank lip necessary: 1-3/8" wide

 

Initial Use

After assembly (and a quick washing in warm water per the units instructions) I performed a quick check to ensure that all of the fittings had been adequately tightened. The unit was then place on the test tank and the pump was plugged in to perform a brief operation and leak inspection. Once water was clearly visible within the skimmer’s main reaction chamber, and the unit’s operation observed, I unplugged the pump and stopped the flow of water to perform the leak check. After finding no problems in this regard, I then plugged the pump back in and allowed the skimmer to fill with water and rise within site of the collection cup.

 

Within seconds the reaction chamber was filled with tiny bubbles, so much so that I had to quickly adjust the height of the collection cup to lower the level of foam rising within it. The height of the collection cup is adjusted by moving the black o-ring up or down the neck of the cup. 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 collection cup adjustment method to be quite effective at maintaining precise control over the height of the foam rising within the reaction chamber. At its lowest setting, the skimmer may collect an extremely wet, light-colored froth at first. In order to collect a drier foam, it may become necessary to raise the collection cup a small amount each day until you the level which best suits your needs.

 

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 spray injection method utilized in the Remora enables huge amounts of air and water to be processed using a relatively small pump. Water is pumped through the spray injector, which has a special nozzle that fans the water out into a pressurized spray. The skimmer’s spray injector assembly produces extremely fine bubbles as water from the tank is forced 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 18 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.

 

After a brief break-in period (approximately two weeks), I no longer had to make adjustments to the height of skimmer’s collection cup 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 AquaC Remora 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. In addition to this maintenance regimen, I also removed the unit at least once every two months to thoroughly clean it out and inspect the pump for calcium and/or coralline algae accumulation. I feel that this added step has aided greatly towards maintaining consistent performance levels.

 

Areas of Possible Concern

I have only one criticism with regard to this skimmer, that being that it can be a bit loud during the break-in period. There was, in my case, a pronounced hiss in relation to action of the spray injection. The sound, however, dissipated after several weeks and was no more noticeable in terms of sound output than the majority of the other protein skimmers that I have encountered.

 

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 the majority of other hang-on back type skimmers on the market, this unit actually performs as advertised.

 

I loved this skimmer, as it tended to consistently produce skimmate more effectively than any other unit of this type that I’ve worked with. For its size, price, and purpose, I honestly don’t think there’s a better unit on the market.

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Great review. Almost exactly what I would say about the AquaC urchin. Same design. Just has a foot so the skimmer can free stand in sump.

 

Good skimmers for 20-70 gallons.

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  • 9 months later...

Thanks for the review... I wish I could say the same about mine though! :(

 

I've had mine for about three months (bought it used from a friend). I cleaned it out really well and installed it on my 30G tank with a MJ1200 pump. At first, it skimmed wet, but it skimmed a lot. Over the past two months, it's completely stopped skimming and is more/less wasting energy even running. I've tried cleaning it out, lowering the cup to the lowest setting... nothing helps.

 

On "that other site", I have heard several people complain about having the same issue. Before I go out and buy a Deltec, is there any advice you can give me? Thanks a million!

 

Edit: FWIW, I have a 30G w/ 10G sump and have two fish and lots of corals, so it should def be skimming.

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Awesome review. i agree with it 110%! i have been using the Remora and Urchin line skimmers ever since i got my 46g bowfront and i have loved them both. in the future i hope to get the EV-180 which is basically the same concept but is more capable of handling higher bioloads.

 

Thanks for the review... I wish I could say the same about mine though! :(

 

I've had mine for about three months (bought it used from a friend). I cleaned it out really well and installed it on my 30G tank with a MJ1200 pump. At first, it skimmed wet, but it skimmed a lot. Over the past two months, it's completely stopped skimming and is more/less wasting energy even running. I've tried cleaning it out, lowering the cup to the lowest setting... nothing helps.

 

On "that other site", I have heard several people complain about having the same issue. Before I go out and buy a Deltec, is there any advice you can give me? Thanks a million!

 

Edit: FWIW, I have a 30G w/ 10G sump and have two fish and lots of corals, so it should def be skimming.

clean the pump and check for a clog on the pressurized spray nozzle outlet. this is what is overlooked by many of the users of the skimmer you have to also clean the nozzle outlet.

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Great review. I have had mine for about 3 years. I just purchased a new nano version for a small system I am setting up. My old one took a month to start creating a good head of foam, but now it cranks. Over time it also becomes quieter....3 years later you can't even hear the hiss anymore. If its too noisy you can take a wet folded paper towel and place it over the injection nozzle area, this works well to decrease the sound.

 

My only issues during the first year were many many bubbles getting into the tank, eventually that settles down. My new nano has just been running about 10 days.....in the last couple it has started to produce foam nicely.

 

One mod that I did to my old one that of course voids your warranty: I drilled a small hole in the collection cup bottom and a second on the rim at the base of the neck. I sent tubing down into the collection cup through the hole that comes present in the lid, through the two holes I drilled and down into the first chamber of the unit with an airstone......I use this to pump Ozone into my system....works well and really gives you a nice head of foam.

 

Again great review.

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  • 4 weeks later...
clean the pump and check for a clog on the pressurized spray nozzle outlet. this is what is overlooked by many of the users of the skimmer you have to also clean the nozzle outlet.

 

I agree with the above...I was getting disappointed with my skimmer until I did the above. I found a small bit of cheato blocking the spray nozzel outlet (under the white plastic screw).

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I first tried the pro (mag3) and loved it! The regular one (MJ1200) was okay, but now I have the EV-240 (mag18), and it is incredible. These are really great skimmers for the price.

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I love mine, it's the pro version with the mag 3, only thing i hate is the giant mag 3 in my display, oh and the loudness, i haven't tried the paper towel fix yet.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 11 months later...

I hooked mine up 2 days ago, and foam hasn't accumulated in the collection cup yet. But I can see that it is putting a lot of bubbles in the skimmer water, so its probably just a matter of time before it starts foaming up.

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All I can tell you is that the people who are using a Remora and think it's great have obviously never used a decent needle wheel skimmer. This includes the initial review here. A 'Review' in my mind is with the context of using other pieces of equipment as a reference, which are none given. If anybody at any time wants to plop a Remora on a large tank along with decent HOB needle wheel based skimmer and put some money as to comparitive performance I'll hit the ATM today. You'll lose, and lose badly. Watery, green skimmate -vs- dark brown syrup. I'll take the later

 

Go outside, put your finger over the end of your garden hose, and spray it into a filled bucket of water. That's pretty much how a Remora works. I've owned one, my serious SPS friends have had em', and we won't go back.

 

Finicky, inconsistent, inefficient, loud, and over priced. Those of you who just bought one...well....my sympathy.

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I used to own a Remora and wasn't thrilled about that ugly pump hanging from the back of the tank. The surface skimming box was even worse, as it was gigantic and as we all know, in a Nano, real estate is precious. I opted to dish out the extra cash and went with a Deltec MCE600, which houses its Aquabee pump internally. It's like having 3x a Remora in terms of performance, and no ugly pump to ruin my display!

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I use the surface skimmer box and I can attest to ^^^^^ saying it takes up a ton of space. It really does wreck whatever plans you have for your tiny tank but I can't stand to have a powerhead just hanging out and it at least blends in with the background. As for the skimmer...well...it doesn't do anything for days at a time (collection cup is as low as possible and I've cleaned it twice...not forgotten the drain fitting white nylon screw thing) and then some days it will have about 10mL of water in it. Not really clear but only slightly brown. Sludge does build up on the inner walls though so I guess that SOMETHING is coming out of the thing...

 

-Dustin

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All I can tell you is that the people who are using a Remora and think it's great have obviously never used a decent needle wheel skimmer. This includes the initial review here. A 'Review' in my mind is with the context of using other pieces of equipment as a reference, which are none given. If anybody at any time wants to plop a Remora on a large tank along with decent HOB needle wheel based skimmer and put some money as to comparitive performance I'll hit the ATM today. You'll lose, and lose badly. Watery, green skimmate -vs- dark brown syrup. I'll take the later

 

Go outside, put your finger over the end of your garden hose, and spray it into a filled bucket of water. That's pretty much how a Remora works. I've owned one, my serious SPS friends have had em', and we won't go back.

 

Finicky, inconsistent, inefficient, loud, and over priced. Those of you who just bought one...well....my sympathy.

I disagree completely. I've pulled the worst of the worst sludge out with a Remora. Needlewheels may be better but the remora is a good skimmer.

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......I have had my remora for 4 years. I am on my second MJ1200. This baby just has always pulled some serious gunk out of my tank. All you need to do is use the brush it came with every couple of months. The chambers in mine are encrusted with life. I use the surface skimmer attachment. Just a great skimmer for the money.

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I've used one for about 4 years. Granted I haven't used any other brand so I have nothing to compare it to...but it does a great job and pulls out some disgusting looking soup! The only thing I constantly have problems with is micro bubbles. Even with the surface skimmer box and some foam I can't control the bubbles.

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All I can tell you is that the people who are using a Remora and think it's great have obviously never used a decent needle wheel skimmer. This includes the initial review here. A 'Review' in my mind is with the context of using other pieces of equipment as a reference, which are none given. If anybody at any time wants to plop a Remora on a large tank along with decent HOB needle wheel based skimmer and put some money as to comparitive performance I'll hit the ATM today. You'll lose, and lose badly. Watery, green skimmate -vs- dark brown syrup. I'll take the later

 

Go outside, put your finger over the end of your garden hose, and spray it into a filled bucket of water. That's pretty much how a Remora works. I've owned one, my serious SPS friends have had em', and we won't go back.

 

Finicky, inconsistent, inefficient, loud, and over priced. Those of you who just bought one...well....my sympathy.

 

I know this has been argued to death and all, but some people (including me) prefer to skim wet. I prefer to get a watery light tea colored skimmate than a dark brown syrup. This is really seen in the bare bottom SPS crowd.

 

Skimming wet seems to remove more particulate, and keeps the skimmer running at top efficiency. When i skim really dry (so dry you cant see through it with a flash-light) my skimmer slows down production due to the crud that accumulates in the neck. When i skim wet my skimmer keeps on chugging for extended periods of time.

 

Some people do whats called a "skimmer water change". This is where they set their skimmer very wet and remove X gallons of tank water then replace with fresh. This way you are removing slightly more concentrated proteins and filth than say just siphoning water out. Granted this makes water changes longer, but its more effective.

 

The only benefit to "dry skimming" IMO is for people with smaller tanks and worry about the salinity getting out of wack due to an ATO or manually topping off. This is because skimming wet removes more tank water than skimming dry.

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  • 1 month later...
i used a remora on my fuge for my 40b before i got my bubble-magus nac7. the remora skimmed great!

I have only had my Aquac Remoara for a short period of time but I am very impressed!! its pulled some terrible looking skimmate, however its pretty loud.. Good skimmer IMO.

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  • 2 months later...

I hate my remora. I dont think ive ever gotten good skimmate out of the damn thing despite how many ways I clean it. And I don't mean "wet skimmate" in general, I mean, little to NO skimmate, with the damn neck clogged full of things that should be in the collection cup. I added the overflow box, got poor results and the damn thing cracked, not to mention the headache it causes when it slips or tilts. They were nic eenough to send me a new one, with the bottom chamber cut off from the return so i got maximum surface skimming, but that really didnt help at all.

 

I think the quality on these units must vary extremly. I have no doubt in my mind people get superb performance with some remoras, mine however, has sucked. For a long time. Despite anything ive tried (Replacing pump, overflow box, regular cleaning, adjusting height).

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