With a retail price of $199 and $249 for the SWC 120 and 160 cone skimmers respectively, any prospective buyer should be skeptical of freakishly low price for a cone skimmer. The entry level cone skimmer buyer should be asking themselves “what’s the catch?” but after handling both models for the better part of yesterday we can tell you that the SWC 120 and 160 are definitely more skimmer than what we come to expect from the price. Sure the off-brand skimmer pump leaves something to be desired, the cone’s seam is not flawless and the wedge pipe flow control is not the most acute. However, the friendly price and minute footprint more than delivers on two benjamins worth of foam fractionation and the cone-scape is likely going to start looking very different once these two models start making the rounds. Follow the break for full unboxing expose with construction and design notes all along the way.
well padded shipping box absorbs shock and keeps the skimmers in place.
The SWC 160 on the left has a 9″ x 7″ base and the SWC 120 on the right has a 6″ x 7″ base. Althought the 160 is only 2.5″ taller than the 18″ 120, it probably holds about twice in volume for mixing air and water.
For the entry level price you’d think that small details would be missed but the riser tube has a well beveled edge. . .
. . . and the O-ring for the skimmer cup has a well recessed groove for easy removal of the cup.
At this angle you can see that the SWC 160 on the left is quite a bit more body than it’s little brother the SWC 120. For the price you’d think that the body is plastic but it is indeed acrylic, even if the diffuser plate/chamber is injection molded plastic.
The following sequence mostly depicts the SWC 120 who’s construction reflects that of the SWC 160 fairly well.
The in-body pump assembly is tight yet easy to get to with the removal of four thumb screws.
No wasted space here
Air flow control on the left, water level control on the right
It would have been nice to have a gate-like valve for flow control but the wedge pipe is a small compromise to make for the price
Some designs that have the diffuser plate mounted to the internal pump can be a little haphazard but this assembly was good-n-tight.
The diffuser plate has well countersunk holes for minimizing turbulence
Four noise dampening feet will reduce vibration. These soft plastic feet are not as desirable as silicone for this job but once again, a minor compromise given the price.
The Atman pump greatly resembles the Sedra 2500 and 3500 pumps found on smaller ASM skimmers.
The SWC 120 and 160 skimmers are equipped with a hybrid meshwheel that basicaly has some mesh material sandwiched between two pinwheels.
This hybrid meshwheel produces a lot of air but with such tight spacing this thing will clog up rather fast, requiring frequent cleaning
The aspirator valve is pretty standard
The SWC 120 also came with a classic needle wheel for those who would give up some air intake for less frequent maintenance of the impeller.
All the parts splayed out
FTC regulations require that we inform you that SWC Skimmers is a ReefBuilders sponsor and that we were loaned this product for review, but our opinion of a product is never affected by how we acquire them.