06-03-2008, 07:17 PM
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I have not used the unit at home, but at home use is not necessary to judge a skimmer. I have seen the unit running on aquariums no less than several dozen times. Its popularity is due to its low price and great marketing.
The primary drawback is simply the design of the unit. It is a simple venturi driven countercurrent skimmer, with a below average almost surface skimming add-on. This is one of the oldest skimming designs, and the simple construction of the unit makes it easy to make and affordable to mass produce.
The performance is limited by the low quality of the surface skimmer, the limited contact time of bubbles to water, the restricted output of the collection cup, the poor design of the collection cup as a whole (including placement and size), and the limit of the venturi.
However, any counter current skimmer with sufficient contact height, a maxi jet venturi, and any type of surface skimming is going to be capable of handling a 29 to 38 gallon aquarium successfully and a 55 gallon aquarium with proper "handling".
With a little bit of experience it becomes easy to rate a protein skimmer, especially when you have the benefit of seeing them in action.