As DC pump manufacturers continue to ditch wired for wireless control it makes sense that we’re seeing the technology spread into protein skimmers via the pinwheel pumps that power them and Aqua Excel’s latest range of DC skimmers features exactly that. The new DF-N range comprises six models with cone diameters from 130-300mm/5-12”. All feature an adapted, double reaction chamber and bubble diffuser plate, clear volute for pinwheel impeller observation, and standard, twist, water level height adjustment via an attached pipe.
Unlike previous AE ranges, however, the combined silencer/air adjuster has been built into the lid of the collection cup and the DF-N DC pump features Wi-Fi control. The models are rated for aquaria from 500-4000 liters/132-1056 gallon volume and the new jazzy orange and blue accent colors will help this skimmer blend in with a range of pumps, sumps, pipework, and reactors that already feature in the marketplace.
The Aqua Excel DF-N is by no means the first Wi-Fi, app-controlled protein skimmer and although its other features are neat they are virtually standard, and necessary for any protein skimmer if it wants to compete for potential buyers in 2022.
But the knock-out punch that this feature-rich Chinese-made package includes is the price. The AF-DF13N is on sale online for just $172 dollars, with the 12” wide AE-DF30N selling for just $492 dollars. Do a like-for-like comparison of other (very popular) skimmers and the Aqua Excel comes in at less than half the retail price of most of them and on paper, has more features too.
Everyone has cone skimmers, some have evolved bubble diffusers and some also have DC pumps. It’s becoming more and more commonplace to see innovative integrated air silencers, and some even have wireless pump technology to boot. But none except the DF-N bundle all those features together for that super low price point. And its killer combination of looks, features, and price make the DF-N a triple threat.
Quality and performance
The quoted tank volumes are of course made up. We’ve been involved in reef equipment R&D, you can place a 100 gallon-rated skimmer into a 1000 gallon system and a 1000 gallon rated skimmer in a 100-gallon system, and they both work. Skimmer model selection is all about load and if they can keep up with the fish and the food that you put in each day, and the cup fills at a timely rate, it doesn’t matter what’s stated on the packaging.
And for the Aqua Excel DF-N we haven’t yet got to test actual air intake versus other models, or indeed used the app that first drew our attention to this skimmer in the first place. The one-piece molded, mass-produced collection cup on the smaller models is clearly a cost-saving exercise and if you like to compare the weight and thickness of plastic these may feel lighter than more premium-priced competitors.
There’s no mention of sine wave technology for quieter running, we can find no visuals of the app or an Aqua Excel app yet in the App Store. But in a world where the cost of everything is going up, the very many features that this skimmer packs in, and for that super low price, shows just what is possible, and we’re sure that we’ll see other brands (especially other Chinese protein skimmer brands,) packing in more features, and more Wi-Fi, in the future.