At the height of the beginning of the cone protein skimmer craze, the Vertex Aquaristik Alpha Cone skimmer was one of the most high profile releases in the genre. ATB definitely was the first company to introduce American reefers to cone protein skimmers but their limited distribution, low availability and relatively high cost left a gap in the U.S. aquarium market that first came to be filled by the Cone series of skimmers from Vertex.
The first Cone skimmers from Vertex Aquaristik were actually made by Royal Exclusiv and they incorporated a lot of their unique features which were novel at the time. Features like the air silencer, custom volute, adjustable air intake screw, and the now ubiquitous bubble diffuser plate are things we take fro granted now but the original Alpha Cone skimmers were really ahead of their time by bringing them all into one design.
Interestingly, the Alpha Cone skimmer was one of the first high profile protein skimmer launches that Reef Builders covered extensively and so it is with a warm and fuzzy feeling that we revisit the “new” Alpha Cone protein skimmer which is now completely made by Vertex themselves.
There isn’t much that has changed about the Vertex Alpha Cone 250 over the years, all the same features that made it a great skimmer are still there and this thing still strips proteins from the aquarium water with relentless effort and efficiency. The biggest new change about the Alpha Cone skimmer is the needle wheel pump is no longer a Red Dragon Mini but a similarly spec’d Vertex V6 pump, both of which are built with a heart made from a Laguna motor block.
We’ve been using the newer version of the Vertex Alpha cone 250 skimmer on a moderately stocked fish aquarium for almost half a year and this thing just cranks, all the time, with very little need for adjustments or maintenance. Despite this tank running at a salinity of about 1.017 S.G. which increases the bubble size and reduces skimming efficiency, this skimmer’s respectable air draw, respectable contact time and greatly reduced turbulence from the bubble plate and cone shaped body still manages to impress us with the amount of skimmate it pulls on a regular basis.
It goes without saying that this skimmer is beyond quiet when it is running but if there is one thing we would change, it’s the fitting of the neck that attaches the cup to the body. Why in the world are Vertex using a threaded attachment for an internal protein skimmer is beyond us but it makes removing the cup for cleaning and maintenance a real pain since you have to screw the cup off with about 3 rotations, instead of a simpler pressure fitting or a bayonet fitting.
The real catch to the Vertex Alpha Cone skimmer is the $1250 price tag for the 250 model. When this skimmer first came out there wasn’t much to compare it to, and even less to compete with it but the reef industry has grown tremendously since then and you can now get a whole lot of protein skimmer for $1250. That being said, if you’re sold on the theory of cone shaped protein skimming the Alpha Cone series are real workhorses and they will never fail to pull lots and lots of thick organics from your saltwater aquarium.