Warner Marine skimmers are a new option for aquarists looking to upgrade. While it may lack the transcendent qualities, and or reputations, of some of Europe’s heavy weights, the WM line is still very much worthy of consideration. There are many models from in sump to external to now conical designs. For this review I […]
Warner Marine skimmers are a new option for aquarists looking to upgrade. While it may lack the transcendent qualities, and or reputations, of some of Europe’s heavy weights, the WM line is still very much worthy of consideration. There are many models from in sump to external to now conical designs.
For this review I will give ratings on the following areas of the RX 150:
- Construction & Design
- User Friendliness & Maintenance
- Noise Level
I have done my best to be fair and objective in my evaluation. If you have any questions feel free to ask.
- 25″ Tall, 6″ Reaction Chamber to 3.5″ Neck
- 17″ x 8″ foot print
- Powered by Sedra 7000 (38-40w)
The RX150 unit that I tested retails for ~$540 and, per various online store listings, rated “for aquariums up to 250 gallons.” Personally I find the 250g mark highly inflated and feel this skimmer would be an ideal match for up to 75g heavily stocked SPS reef aquarium.
Construction & Design – 8.5/10
The overall construction of the unit is very high in quality. Thick cast acrylic and Sch80 fittings are used through out, while the Sedra 7000 Needlewheel pump is attached via uniseals. Although they likely reduce vibration, the uniseals feel less solid when handling and are more prone to leakage and wear overtime. We did not experience any leaks, but a solid acrylic joint is preferred.
The RX 150 is an external recirculating design that incorporates a bubble plate for turbulence reduction. Unlike many competing models that incorporate bubble plates, the RX 150 actually recirculates within the inner bubble plate chamber. By doing this, water can be fed directly into the bubble plate and not add turbulence in the larger reaction chamber. The bubble plate is semi-removable. There is a screw that allows the bubble plate to be removed for access to the inner chamber, however, it cannot be removed from the actual skimmer itself. In addition to the bubble plate, a gently sloped transition neck is used to prevent burping and turbulence.
While the recirculating design within the bubble plate is quite nice, the feed is only 1/2″. For most applications this means the skimmer cannot be fed direct from the overflow. I tried it, but the 1/2″ just restricted the flow too much. 250-300gph flow through the skimmer seemed to be ideal, making the trusted Maxi Jet MJ1200 a nice match. For some this may not matter, but the increased electric consumption of the skimmer overall is worth noting when comparing to other skimmers.
The output is 1″ Sch80, connected to the skimmer via gate valve and union. The union allows 360 degree rotation of the output for your plumbing needs and the gate valve allows precise water level adjustments. The water level height is set to a minimum by the output at 13″ high and can be raised as needed by using the gate valve to restrict the output.
The heart of any needlewheel skimmer is the pump. Unfortunately this is also the RX 150s weakest point. As many of you know, the reputation of Sedra Pumps is less than stellar. I cannot say that the pump used on my unit strayed far from the stereotype. Benefits of this pump include: low price, commonly available and moderate air draw. Cons include: loud operation, low air to water intake and comparably high electric consumption. The saving grace of the Sedra pump is the included air silencer which is effective at eliminating the loud suction sound.
If you purchase this skimmer make sure that a white washer is included on top of the NW. This was not included with our initial test unit and created serious headaches. Without this small washer the impeller rubbed on the ceramic shaft’s bushing that connects to the volute. This caused the pump to then run hot and make loud screaming sounds. Below shows the difference between a normal NW on the left, and the old NW that has been used without the washer. Note the very middle is “carved out” from the friction. We may have gotten a defective pump/nw, but with the washer the issues have gone away.
Performance – 8.5/10
This skimmer can no doubt perform. The bubble plate and neck are an effective combination that create a gentle foam head with minimal disruption. Because the turbulence is drastically reduced it literally lifts detritus and large particles out from the water column. In my experience, performance seemed best at a medium dryness skimmate. As unscientific and subjective as that is, too wet or too dry of skimmate decreased performance.
At times I did find the performance to be finicky and very dependent on input flow. If flow is too much or not enough, the Sedra’s low air-to-water intake ratio causes it to suck in its own air, limiting outside air draw and creating a “closed loop within”. Once dialed in with the MJ1200 and a ball valve the problem went away. (This issue can also be resolved by loosening the screw on the bubble plate to allow more air and water to escape.) The image below is without any feed water entering the skimmer, but visually shows the problem. For what it’s worth, I have not heard of others having this issue and on other lines such as the AR it looks to be eliminated by having the Sedra’s intake on the very bottom of the bubble plate chamber.
User Friendliness & Maintenance – 7/10
Unions are on every input and output making cleaning easy on those parts. However, removing the entire skimmer can be a chore. (It still amazes me how few external skimmers come with drains for easy maintenance.) This can be overcome by raising the skimmer above the sump by a few inches. Then by plugging the air inlet on the output with the palm of your hand a siphon will be created and drain the majority of water out of the skimmer.
The largest maintenance issue we experienced, was just when cleaning the collection cup. The much needed air silencer is attached to the collection cup via a nylon screw, adding an extra step of removing the silencer before removing the cup for cleaning. As cleaning the cup should be done every 3-5 days this becomes an annoyance, even more so if in tight quarters. An ideal placement for this would be on the output/standpipe or connected to the skimmer body so that it is out of the way and not effected by cup cleanings.
As stated earlier, the bubble plate is not completely removable. The same can be said for the inner chamber. This makes it difficult to clean this portion of the skimmer.
Noise – 5/10
Noise is inevitable. It’s the nature of the pump used. In this case the WM air silencer eliminates the air intake noise, but it cannot prevent the audible operation of the Sedra 7000. These pumps are known to be noisy, and when run external and not submersed they are even more so. Everyone has their own definition of noisy and quiet, so if you have the opportunity to see and hear one running I encourage you to do so. Noise can vary from pump to pump as well.
The Warner Marine RX 150 protein skimmer is a great addition to the hobby. There are few options when it comes to recirculating models in the sub 100g range and the RX 150 fits that niche nicely. While there are some improvements that can be made, the overall design works well. I will say, if powered by an Eheim 1250 instead of the Sedra 7000 this skimmer would be tough to beat.
I will not be giving a final rating on this skimmer, instead I have rated different aspects of its operation. The evaluation of equipment is unique to individuals and their application. Some believe performance is everything, while others appreciate a balance of features. In the end I hope this review is insightful to everyone from the name brand touters to the DIY mesh modders.