When checking out new gear at the reef shows and conferences, it’s very easy to become glazed over about so many very similar looking devices, especially protein skimmers. The Red Sea Reefer Skimmer is one such product that may look shiny at first, but you really have to get your hands on one to recognize how much attention to detail Red Sea has put into their Reefer Skimmer.
Sicce needle wheel, check. Conical body, is that even worth mentioning anymore? It’s got that. Pipeless skimmer design, yeah it’s got that too but here’s where the Reefer Skimmer starts pulling away from the pack. The bubble diffuser plates has very numerous and projecting outlet holes, which is pretty nice as well.
But the way the Sicce pump snaps into place and how the cord is routed is sweet and slick. The protein skimmer cup is huge, has a built in drain, a viewing window and a neck cleaner integrated into the lid. Furthermore the neck of the Reefer Skimmer cup fits into the body with a snappy compression that is oddly satisfying.
One of the details that really shows how far Red Sea has gone to make the Reefer Skimmer stand out is the use of ‘custom’ nylon screws with very low thread count. This means that it takes just a few turns to secure them, where the pump mount meets the body, where the body meets the base plate etc. and it reduces the likelihood of small particles getting caught in the threads.
The coup de gras of the Reefer Skimmer might have to be the super beefy air silencer that virtually erases the slurping noise made by the air intake of the Sicce PSK needle wheel pumps, that draw up to 900 liters of air per hour. This is perhaps one of the biggest air silencers we’ve ever seen on any needle wheel skimmer, and it’s so great we’d like to see Red Sea offer it up as an accessory sold separately so we can upgrade the silencers on other skimmers.
Even less tangible things about the Reefer Skimmer like the way the symmetrical base of the conical body can be installed in three different orientation so you can have the pump intake and outlet pointed where you want in the sump. On a spec sheet the included neck cleaner built into the cup’s lid is one of the few things that is really obviously new & improved from comparable skimmer companies, but again Red Sea didn’t phone in the design of this accessory.
The thick rubbery wiper of the neck cleaner is double sided, and definitely not simply a repurposed squeegee blade. With a huge cup, sizable, well positioned drain and especially that patented viewing window, the integrated neck cleaner means you might get away with rarely ever pulling off the cup for cleaning, if that’s your thing.
Besides the air silencer perhaps my favorite detail fo the Reefer Skimmer is how flawlessly it functions in the sump of the Red Sea Reefers series. The suggested water level indicator on the adjustment knob of the Reefer Skimmer is precisely the same as the water level inside the Reefer sump – so like Apple products it’s nice to use a family of products that are part of the same ecosystem.
If there’s just one trick we wish the Red Sea Reefer Skimmer had is a controllable DC version of the PSK – surely this option has been explored by Red Sea but it would significantly increase the price, and it’s probably an option relegated to a future date. The Reefer Skimmer is a far cry from their last original skimming design, the C-Skim, celebrated by some, and simply confusing to others.
The smallest RSK-300 is priced at $299 and it’ll run circles around comparably sized cheapo skimmer models. The $449 RSK-600 and $549 RSK-900 are significant boosts in skimming performance with a value that will be very hard to beat. With the Reefer Skimmer Red Sea secures its place as a designer and manufacturer of quality foam fractionators, and their three models have a price and feature set that makes them a compelling choice in a crowded market.