|There’s been much discussion as to the value of protein skimming over the past 10 – 15 years, all of which resulted in that the process is an extremely important component in what is universally considered the aquarist’s most important goal, i.e., maintaining high quality seawater! I should also add that I’ve been a major player in those ‘discussions’ along with writing about the process itself and testing some of the skimmer models available in the marketplace. And when Red Sea asked if I would be interested in testing their new C-Skim 1800 model, I of course said yes, as I’ve seen it advertised and really wondered if it was all it was said to be.|
Keep in mind that over the past couple of decades I’ve seen skimmers of all sizes, various prices, and wonderful advertising claims, some that were not anywhere near being worth their price or claimed results. And since I didn’t initiate this product test, made it clear if I found faults or inadequacies with the unit, no review would see daylight until they were corrected. With that very clear, Red Sea said, ‘check it out and tell us exactly what you think,’ as they wanted a review from a totally independent and well experienced source in the hobby, not a source tied to advertising or selling the product.
With that resolved, I decided to give the product a test that in my opinion would be more than just the standard ‘hook it up to an aquarium and wait days for a result!’ Before discussing the actual test, first a little background on the skimming process, then the unit itself.
Mother Nature uses the skimming process to care for her oceans! The foam developed by waves crashing over reef crests or seen when waves roll onto beach sands and leave foam at their high point on the sand are the end result of the protein skimming process. It’s that foaming process, i.e., a method that involves a special group of unwanted compounds called ‘surface-active’ compounds or ‘surfactants’ that tend to collect near or on the water surface because they are bipolar. Their hydrophilic or polar ends prefer to face water. Their hydrophobic or non-polar ends are attracted to air. Hence, accumulating Dissolved Organic Compounds including toxic organic substances such as terpenoids from soft corals and/or Caulerpicin from macroalgae are attracted to the water’s surface or that of the air bubble, where it can be removed/exported from the aquarium’s water via the ‘foam’ produced.
The result, especially in aquaria is much improved water quality! In fact, it’s the reason why water used in the process should come from areas near the aquarium ‘surface!’ Other benefits are also received from the skimming process, e.g., it helps to maintain reasonable pH levels, reduces nitrate accumulations, oxygenates the water, reduces excessive carbon dioxide levels helping somewhat to minimize unwanted algae, and reduces the accumulation of un-needed heavy metals. A small deficiency, such as reducing levels of some valuable trace elements, can easily be overcome with the use of trace element additives. In short, it’s the aquarist’s most valuable tool in their quest for acquiring their most important goal – excellent water quality!
Before leaving this foam aspect, every quality skimmer has a pump size recommendation for optimum performance. But location of said pump is of all importance if the product is to deliver optimum performance! All to often the manufactures recommended size pump is mounted at a far distance from the skimmer input connection, possibly with some twists and turns in the delivery piping plumbing. Additionally, some pumps are mounted a distance below the protein skimmer, forcing the pump to work against gravity to raise its water output. Either way, less than the recommended amount of water output per its rating reaches the skimmer, negatively effecting skimmer performance. Not the fault of the skimmer, but that of the person who installed the product. Therefore, take into consideration the plumbing of the unit, and if need be purchase a larger pump as its always easy to throttle back the flow if excessive with a control valve, but impossible to increase it if too little!
C-Skim 1800 Features
Height 21.25 inches (54 cm); footprint (including installed aspiration pump) 13.4 x 10 inches (33.5 x 25 cm).
The unit can either be placed in a sump or as a standalone unit outside the system where convenient.
Additional Supplied Items
Mounting Base Pad
Clear hard plastic pipe for extending flow from outflow elbow – 6 inches (15 cm)
Outflow 90? Elbow - 1.5 inches (40 mm) w/air bleed-off nipple – (fits metric or imperial sized pipes because it has a stepped insert)
Flexible plastic hose - for connecting water pump to unit inflow connection - 5/8 inch (17 mm) x 24 inches (60 cm)
2 lengths of air hose – 24 and 6 inches (60 and 15 cm)
PSK Aspiration pump w/Aerostar pinwheel impeller for injecting 200 gallons of air (800 liters) and re-circulating interior water
Required - but not supplied
Water Pump - 400 - 450 GPH/about 2000 liters
Contains a recessed viewing window (FoamView) providing a clear view of the foam rising in the neck of the skimmer. One could say the inset cuts down on the volume of liquid the cup could contain, however, would find that an inappropriate comment as aquarists realize that liquid needs to be monitored as needed per the environment of their aquarium. For those that tend to put off emptying the cup, there’s a drain connection in the lower right front corner that can flow accumulating wastes to a separate collection container that can be sized as needed. Also, the cover of the collection cup is vented to allow air from within the skimmer body to escape, insuring there will be no backpressure from the injected air and that fresh air will always be circulating within the body of the skimmer. Collection cup can be removed without shutting down the unit! (See Neck Washing below)
One of the more interesting aspects of this unit is that its body/reaction chamber is canister filter-shaped with similar side latches and made entirely from an opaque plastic material. Gone is the viewing of the air and water mixing in the reaction chamber, which I had used on some other brand skimmers as a way to judge the quantity and quality of air bubbles being introduced into their reaction chambers. Actually, when this unit was up and running it became exceptionally apparent there was an enormous amount of correctly sized bubbles, about 1 mm, as its FoamView window quickly filled with bubbles! I can honestly say there will be less maintenance time keeping its body inside areas clean, as there will not be any algae growing on these surfaces as there are sometimes with clear body skimmers! As for its side canister filter-like latches, its quite simple to pop them open and remove the upper collection cup to gain access to its interior if need be, which might be once a year to do a thorough cleaning of its interior areas.
Peripheral Flow-Closed Loop Skimming
Nice sounding words, but had to see and understand just how the interior water flow was designed! With the Collection Cup removed, I found a conical shaped deflection baffle that encompassed most of the internal circumference of the top of the base unit. Its purpose appears to be two fold - to collect the building foam on its underside and guide it upwards through a c
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Red Sea C-Skim 1800
(Posted on 2/26/14)
Comments: Arived this morning, easy set up, have a 475 g/hr pump running the skimmer and it is working excellent! Very low maintenace and I am using the cup drain to run into a 5 gallon pail so I never have to remove the cup from the skimmer for basic operation. The cup neck washer works great and cuts out on cleaning time. I love this skimmer, thanks!! Scott, Calgary, Canada
(Posted on 12/16/11)
Comments: This is a great skimmer for the money. Just for the price, compared to other skimmers to handle similar size systems, you can pay a lot more than this. I have this on my 220 gallon reef systems, loaded with fish and corals. The skim it produces is unreal! I bought a RIO 1400 pump to run it. The controls (which I love) are on the lowest setting because if I raise it up just a little bit, the skim box will fill up in 5 minutes. Maybe you could run it on a lower flow pump. The only reason I didn't give this 5 stars is because the adverstised feature that cleans the throat doesn't work as great as advertised. Even though I do it every day, it still gets filthy enough that I have to wipe it down. Also, the out flow nozzle doesn't feel like it locks into place and I would be concerned that this could come lose on its own.
(Posted on 7/25/11)
Comments: I have been in this hobby since 1969 when it all started. I have seen many skimmers come and go ,This skimmer is a work horse. I have never seen such dark urine smelling skimmate in my life. Very easy to set up and operate. The wash down keeps it skimming at peak performance. I use a power head with 400 gal capacity to supply water. I have a 20 gal long as a sump and it fits nicely in side, dont waste your money on another skimmer this one is worth every penny and is worth its weight in gold
(Posted on 9/1/10)
Comments: I have had the Red Sea C-Skim 1800 Protein Skimmer for just about a year now and I am very happy with it. It skims very effectively if you keep the unit clean. I have a 180 gallon fish only tank with a 40 gallon sump.
The only thing that I would change would be the water outlet connection. The elbow connection is not very rigid and may become loose. For this reason I would suggest placing the skimmer into your sump as I do. It is amazing how much this skimmer removes. My water is always crystal clear.
(Posted on 3/23/10)
Comments: Been using it for 2 weeks. Very good foam and performance. A bit too large; had to place it sideways on the sump. Only problem is the intake connection tubing. Had to change to rigid and change also the fitting that came with the unit since it is difficult to get it to fit well. Otherwise, I like this skimmer very much. I think it is the best one I gave had. I have a 150 Gallon reef aquarium.