The self-cleaning protein skimmer 150 is a newfangled foam fractionator from Smarter Reefs which takes a very different approach to automatic neck cleaning. The company is better known for their Frozen Fish Food feeding system so the new protein skimmer is a departure from their usual offering, but still exhibits some original ideas.
The self-cleaning protein skimmer 150 taps into the little used rectangular protein skimmer body shape which saves on space creating a much smaller footprint for the device to fit into smaller sumps. But the rectangular shape is necessary in order to operate the spooling of the filter fleece that hugs the walls where the skimmate builds up and collects.
The fleece and motor used works almost exactly like an automatic filter roll but there’s no float switch and instead it activates once a day to introduce clean new fleece where the skimmate tends to collect. There is no actual skimmer cup and instead the waste spills over through a wide diameter overflow pipe to direct the waste products to a secondary waste collector (which Smarter Reefs also makes).
The fleece lining the walls of the riser column will no doubt break up the bubbles faster than smooth cup walls, there are many areas where sludge can build up such as the acrylic walls perpendicular to those guiding the fleece, and there’s a reason the overflow pipe is black, so you don’t see the waste that builds up inside of it. Another aspect of Smarter Reefs design which gives us pause is that it seems quite involved to access the pump for servicing as you’ll be required to completely disassemble the self cleaning skimmer in order to clean the pump and needle wheel impeller – the most important maintenance that should be performed twice or at least once per year.
While we appreciate the creativity explored in the self cleaning skimmer it appears to prioritize its namesake feature and a rectangular footprint above everything else and there is very little description of how the device functions as an actual protein skimmer. We’ve no doubt that technically it will skim your aquarium water but for $500 (not including the $80 waste collector) it better work at least as well as many other more affordable options in the reef aquarium hobby. [Smarter Reefs]