Automatic waste collectors for use with high capacity protein skimmers have been around for some time but like aquarium controllers, they are getting affordable enough to be considered a piece of general aquarium equipment. The Reef Octopus Automatic Waste Collector sits neatly where the price and features intersect to create a good investment.
It’s been years since we used an automatic waste collector for containing protein skimmer waste but these were always very large, five gallon models used for downdraft and beckett style protein skimmers. These early models of waste collectors were equipped solely with a mechanical shutoff float in the form of a ping pong ball to essentially shut down foam production on these large, beastly foam fractionator.
Fast forward eight to ten years and our collective manufacturing knowhow and off the shelf electronics has enabled companies like Reef Octopus to sell a well-equipped automatic skimmer waste collector for $200 in a large size, and slightly less for a smaller collection volume. Shortly before the end of last year we installed the 6″ Reef Octopus Automatic Waste Collector downstream from a high capacity RLSS R10-U needle wheel protein skimmer and we’ve been delighted with its performance over the last four months.
In addition to performing the simple function of holding excess skimmate out of the protein skimmer cup, the main feature that makes the Reef Octopus Waste Collector is a duality of shut off features which can shut down the protein skimmer if and when the container becomes full. A classic ping pong ball float can halt the flow of any further skimmate into the collector, but a needle wheel skimmer can still fill up and overflow its cup. This is where an electronic float switch can also shut down the protein skimmer pump using a remote delay switch.
We can really notice the difference in our handling of comparable protein skimmers with and without automatic waste collectors. Our fish display aquarium with an equally capable Warner Marine MF200 skimmer without a waste collector is adjusted to produce much dryer foam since it is not equipped with automatic waste collection.
Having peace of mind that your protein skimmer won’t overflow, and having all that extra volume to hold excess waste means that protein skimmer can be adjusted to produce really wet foam without worry of overproduction spilling all over the place, and the stability of that adjustment translates to more skimmate production over a long period of time. Coupled with an automatic protein skimmer neck cleaner and the Reef Octopus Waste Collector, we literally have not cleaned this particular protein skimmer cup in over three months.
What was once a menial weekly task of removing and cleaning the collection cup of the high capacity protein skimmer has turned into an afterthought. Thanks to the waste collector we now have more time to make sure the protein skimmer is well adjusted for maximum performance and most importantly, we have more time to spend observing and enjoying the beautiful and thriving corals this aquarium system supports. [Reef Octopus]
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