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.