Reef Octopus Diablo DC internal skimmer – DSC-200INT
My Gran always insists that I save the wrapping paper for re-use. On this particular occasion no amount of tape, glue or imagination would be able to stitch together the remains of this packaging. With the ferocity of a wild animal and the delight of a child on their birthday, I disembowelled that package revealing the glistening new Skimmer that lay inside.
Once heart rate had returned to normal and the packaging murder scene cleaned up, I could take a proper look at the Skimmer and see if it did in fact live up to the Manufacturers promises.
Facts, Figures and Promises
Pump: 24volt Diablo 5500s
Max power consumption: 50 watt
Six speed control on pump
Air draw: 2100 ltr/hr
Size: 400 x 265 x 595 mm
RATING: 1500 ltr
Approx price: R6725
How impressive does it look
The Skimmer was neatly presented and nestled very snuggly in its polystyrene packaging. I was very impressed by the build quality, the body is made of thick acrylic and all the joins look most professional. The pump attaches perfectly to the skimmer body. The pipes for air intake and overflow fitted in a manner that would have pleased even Goldilocks. I was slightly surprised by this as a previous Reef Octo pump I had took a bit of ingenuity and a handful of cable ties to connect to the skimmer. Once assembled (a task I completed without reading the instruction manual) I took a step back to behold the acrylic masterpiece which lay before me. With its shocking red accents and oversized collection cup, I almost overlooked the little black and red pump that promised to slurp an unheard of amount of air without draining my electricity bill.
And that’s when I got nervous. The main reason I purchased this particular skimmer was for its DC pump. Granted the pump did feel heavy and was undoubtedly well built, other than its hefty venturi it looked a bit small. Guess the only way to alleviate my growing apprehension was to plug it in.
In Sump Testing
New skimmer called for a new sump. I’d heard that cone style skimmers can be very particular about their depth, so as per Manufacturers instruction I ensured that the Skimmer rested in around 15-16cm of water. The little kid in me reappeared as I turned on the Skimmer. There was no sudden rush of water or bubbles, nor was there the sound of the impellor clicking into action. Instead I was greeted by a throng of green lights on the controller and a quiet hum as the pump powered up. The slow start of the DC pump was, and still is impressive. A simple push of a button on the controller lets you vary how much water/air you want to feed your skimmer. Running on full power still didn’t result in raucous pump noise. Any concerns I had about the pump quickly vanished as the Skimmer body filled with a thick opaque mass of tiny bubbles. The silencer was also doing its job very well and didn’t give me that annoying whine my previous skimmer produced. The exact amount of air being devoured by the Skimmer remains questionable, but if I had to quantify it based on the measuring equipment at hand ... I’d have to say it’s a lot. A LOT. In capitals is probably a better representation of the amount of air this brute engulfs. Another nifty feature on the controller is the 'Feed" button. Press this and the pump turns off for 10 minutes. Theory behind this is so that the Skimmer doesnt remove all the food before the tnak mates get a chance at it first.
After a few hours of playing with the controller it was time to attempt dialling in the skimmer with the gate valve. I’d been warned about the sensitivity of this so was surprised when I managed to achieve a stable head of bubbles with relatively little effort. Confident with the Skimmers ability, it was time to hand it over to my fish to test.
The Skimmer is installed in my roughly 500 ltr SPS tank. I don’t have the highest bioload with only four fish in the display tank and a damsel banished to its own compartment in the sump. What I lack in fish I make up for in feeding. My fish eat well. My corals eat well. I think they eat a more balanced and varied diet than me, hence the need for the somewhat over rated Skimmer. Besides the feeding thing, I need a bigger skimmer for a looming tank upgrade.
Testing in a tank-less sump was totally different to the real life application of a reef tank. It did take me a while to find the Skimmer’s sweet spot. The controllability of the pump is one of the reasons I bought it. That controllability also makes setting it in a bit more than an evening affair. Turn up pump, adjust gate valve. Adjust gate valve, adjust gate valve, turn down pump, adjust gate valve, flood floor, turn off pump, mop floor. Repeat. I don’t put all the blame on the Skimmer, the tank was recently moved and I’m impatient. After roughly a week of evenings I got it right, good stable head accompanied by dark brown, foul smelling skimmate. I thought my ‘dog’ could clear a room! Tuning it to skim dry produced a thick sludge like I’d never before encountered. Slight adjustment and the Skimmer churned out a slightly less viscous, though no less pungent effluent. Best part of it is that I am only running the pump on half its capacity. Does that mean I can add more fish, get a bigger tank, or both?
Why you should buy this Skimmer
Low power consumption
24v DC current is much safer than 220v AC
Excellent build quality
Powerful and compact pump
Skims really really well
Large collection cup (close to 2ltr and comes with drain hole)
Replacement pumps readily available
Wide neck makes cleaning the inside of the skimmer body a breeze
Why you might hesitate before buying a DC Skimmer
You’ll probably need a new sump. Its affinity for shallower water means it may not work in the usual three compartment sump.
Can take a while to dial it in
There is no denying I am pleased with my purchase. More importantly, my inmates seem to like it too. In the roughly nine months of owning the skimmer I haven’t encountered any problems. Pump is still as strong and silent as the day I switched it on. No matter how much food I throw at the tank, the skimmer keeps on going.
If you are looking for a new skimmer or changing to DC to save on electricity then I would without the slightest hesitation recommend this one. Reef Octopus may not be the most prestigious brand but this Skimmer, with its sleek design and outstanding performance undoubtedly place it amongst the top skimmers I have seen. Certainly the best I’ve owned. Good luck to my next skimmer.