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    ATI Bubble Master | The skimmer that changed the online hobby?

    Aquarist and blogger Keith Thornhill recently purchased an ATI Bubble Master 200 skimmer for his new rimless AGE build. (If you have not checked out his blog, I encourage you to do so.) When looking at his high resolution photos, I began thinking about the effect this skimmer has made. A little over 2 years […]

    Aquarist and blogger Keith Thornhill recently purchased an ATI Bubble Master 200 skimmer for his new rimless AGE build. (If you have not checked out his blog, I encourage you to do so.) When looking at his high resolution photos, I began thinking about the effect this skimmer has made. A little over 2 years ago the words “meshwheel” and “Sicce” were not common in the hobby or industry.

    Note the term “online hobby” as the hype that occurs online rarely transfers to aquarists that do not participate on the various internet forums. We often forget that there are those involved in marine aquaria that do not stay up on the latest and “greatest” skimmers.

    The BM design by ATI has seen many modifications. The Bubble Master/Twister originally utilized an odd diffuser and was powered by an Aquabee 2000/1. It was then changed for a brief period to a Hydor needlewheel and then to an Eheim meshwheel with bubble plate. Photos of the initial model tested in the U.S. by moonpod can be seen here.

    After seeing the great air-to-water ratio of a certain pump ATI finally swapped this pump in place of the Eheim, but stuck with the meshwheel impeller for +1000lph @ ~20w! It wasn’t long until aquarists found the true name of the mesh– Enkamat and the pump –Sicce PSK 2500,  both of which are now widely used.

    Since the original Sicce Bubble plate BM model, it was again revamped with a smaller footprint by removing the standpipe and opting for a built in gate valve. It also appears that the reduction to the neck has been lengthened just slightly for a smoother transition

    Older ATI BM 200

    Newer ATI BM 200

    This design is not without its share of flaws and many “Skimmer Snobs” consider it dated. One company still uses an older Bubble Master design using the less efficient Aquabee pump instead of the Sicce.

    While many people swear by mesh mods, some like myself opt not to use them. There are some problems associated with their long term use, and at the end of the day I will take reliability over lph. That said, I can still see the changes this skimmer has brought to our hobby.

    Most importantly the BM has highlighted efficiency. I still love downdraft skimmers, but 1000lph at 20w makes running that large Iwaki a sin in comparison. It has also solidified, and at times overemphasized, the use of air draw numbers on skimmers. Once this skimmer hit the market the lph/scfh debates began. However, this skimmer was also the one to highlight that a foam canon air draw is not everything.

    Whether or not Oliver @ ATI was the originator of all these ideas, the Bubble Master revealed to the hobby ways to increase skimmer performance. For the DIY crowd, the modified volutes, venturis and meshwheels are an invaluable addition to their arsenal of performance increasing modifications.

    I wonder how many skimmers utilize a Sicce or mesh impeller of sorts? To give you some production model examples take a look at the WM K1, the AquaMedic Blue, ATB and SWC.

    4 Comments

    1. tim
      December 1, 2008 at 9:42 AM | Permalink

      pf4 flatback mesh is awesome.

    2. pavlo
      December 1, 2008 at 11:45 PM | Permalink

      eric, i’m curious, do you think the sicce works better on it’s side as configured on the ati BM. or upright as with the msx?

      ps i find your sight incredible inspirational, keep up the great work and amazing design.

    3. December 2, 2008 at 9:08 AM | Permalink

      Hi Pavlo,

      Thank you for the generous compliment. I am glad you enjoy the site!

      I don’t believe there is much performance difference with the sicce when mounted vertical or horizontal. I have a feeling the side mounting had more to do with the design of the skimmer body.

      Originally a taller pump was used (e.g. Eheim) and to inject the air water mixture lower in the skimmer body, the pump would need to be mounted horizontally. This is just a hunch so take it for what it’s worth 😉

    4. skimerwhisperer
      August 11, 2009 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

      I wish we could get ahold of the original mesh ATI used…I think they use enkamat pf4a now, but they used to use a mesh that was smaller and lighter. It may have disintegrated faster, I dont know, but it was better to use than pf4a, I have been recyling the 2 layers of it I have for a couple years or so now…works much better in smaller pumps. Anybody know more about it?

    3 Trackbacks

    1. […] standard line of competitively priced cone skimmers.  What has me the most intrigued is the new Sicce based Airstar2 pump that Anton has churned out for this new […]

    2. […] of the reef mecca country Germany. This company has marketed skimmers similar in design to the ATI Bubble Master and Fauna Marine Blue, but has improved upon their previous model with a full conical body while […]

    3. […] was the first to introduce the Sicce PSK 2500 pump and meshwheel impeller to the skimmer world. Based on the initial information and stats we’ve received, ATI’s […]

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