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    Hands on with the Aqua Driver Skim Clean

    Aqua Driver’s Skim Clean self cleaning head device is applauded by some and lauded by others, yet very few have actually used the German crafted cleaner. I’ll be the first to admit this product is not for everyone… and yes it does cost as much as a new high end skimmer ($750 to $900+ depending on size). […]

    Aqua Driver’s Skim Clean self cleaning head device is applauded by some and lauded by others, yet very few have actually used the German crafted cleaner. I’ll be the first to admit this product is not for everyone… and yes it does cost as much as a new high end skimmer ($750 to $900+ depending on size). However, there are examples where this skimmer neck cleaning device can be quite helpful and those that own them claim to love them. Without any hands on experience with this type of self cleaning head design we had to try it for ourselves. 

    SkimClean SCH

    For those unfamiliar with the device, the Skim Clean is a modernized version of the wet neck and self cleaning head designs that were popularized with large commercial systems in the past. With all skimmers, skimmate accumulates in the neck which can hinder performance. Cleaning this helps, but by removing the collection cup and washing with freshwater the surface tension of the water is changed and skimming is halted. The Skim Clean actually cleans the skimmer neck without removing the cup thanks to a creative self cleaning head “SCH,”  DC motor / water pump design.

    Aqua Driver SCH Skim

    The large chamber that sticks above the skimmer’s collection cup houses the guts of the SkimClean. Here is the motor that rotates the silicone squeegee that physically removes skimmate build up in the neck. This is also where a small water pump is housed–something people often forget. A small silicone tube (think air line tubing) with an intake screen is dropped into the skimmer body. This is the intake to the pump, which then pumps the saltwater through a small nozzle that rotates with the squeegee contraption. 

    In essence it is a windshield wiper and washer system fitted into a small area and connected to a 12v DC motor that rotates it 360 degrees to clean the entire cylindrical neck. Yeah, it’s a pretty cool toy that only a reef geek could love. If my description left you with more questions than answers, the video below should clarify.

     



    For our ATB External Small Cone skimmer, we picked up the Skim Clean 180 universal. There seems to be some confusion regarding the proper selection of the Universal Skim Cleans–but the sizing is quite easy. The silicone squeegee can be adjusted for a variety of neck sizes. What is crucial here is the outer diameter of the collection cup. The Skim Clean lid fits right on top. A depression in the lid prevents the Skim Clean from sliding around, this is then tightened via three nylon screws.

    SkimClean Bubble King

    The numbers in the name of the universal models references the diameter collection cup that the Skim Clean fits. E.g. the Universal 180 model fits cups 180mm in diameter. The ATB Small / 840 v1.5 collection cup is 7″ or 178mm making the 180 a near perfect fit.

    Aqua Driver Wet Neck

    As we showed you a few weeks back, Aqua Driver is currently making custom wash down Skim Cleans that have an added spray bar in the collection cup to keep it clean; like an RK2 commercial spray down system that actually works. This does not improve performance, but keeps the skimmate holding portion of the collection cup cleaner. Although I was tempted with one of these newer desings, they do require a solenoid and high pressure water source to power the cup wash down. It is also best used with systems connected to a waste collector and electronic float switch to kill the skimmer pump once the waste collector reaches a certain point–that is because the additional water adds volume to the skimmate. These will be available in the states shortly, but the come at a price. The upgraded wash down Skim Clean SCH 180 costs $970.

    Construction is top notch with a fit and polish you expect from a boutique German reef product. The CNC work is flawless, and the motor is encapsulated in the same plastic material seamlessly. The construction is as good, if not better than the high end skimmers on the market such as Bubble King and ATB.

    Mr. Carsten Prang, the designer and owner of Aqua Driver, was extremely helpful in answering our questions and we tip our hat to him. While I don’t wish to steal the thunder of the Skim Clean, some promising new Aqua Driver products are currently under development…

    Worth noting, the device needs a timer or controller to turn it on periodically. How often is a function of your skimmate and neck build up. We’ll be experimenting with this to dial it in. As for the performance of the SkimClean, I cannot yet say. More to come in the near future.

     

    15 Comments

    1. August 5, 2009 at 7:37 AM | Permalink

      If you have one of these on your skimmer, I’m pretty sure you’d have a controller already that can be connected up to sort out the on/off timings etc.

      Sounds like a great product, but as you’ve mentioned, might be out of reach for all but the most serious of aquarists.

      Dare I ask – is there a nano version? 😀

    2. Nicholas Sadaka
      August 5, 2009 at 8:08 AM | Permalink

      @Curvball-well, “out of reach to the most serious of aquarists” might be changed to “most well-to-do aquarists”, but I know what you mean.

      @Eric-in regards to your comment about cleaning the neck with freshwater, as messy as it might be, would it be more effective to clean the neck with some tankwater, or would the mess/reward not be worth it? It’s an interesting thought and one that I certainly never considered. Way out of my reach, but definitely a cool device.

    3. August 5, 2009 at 9:51 AM | Permalink

      Not saying it’s not cool, because it is and I think it would be an amazing addition to skimmers with *very large* collections. Though for the avg aquarist, at least me, it takes a min or two to clean a collection / neck using hot water with the built in FSD “Finger Swiping Device” 🙂

      Nice product, albeit quite the luxury.

    4. es
      August 5, 2009 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

      I wonder if having all that hardware in the center of the neck would affect skimming performance.

    5. cp
      August 5, 2009 at 5:59 PM | Permalink

      That’s a nice looking toy! Looking forward to your assessment and also to seeing what Aqua Driver brings in the future.

      @Nicholas, the article says it uses a small tube to feed water from the skimmer body.

    6. Jeremy Maneyapanda
      August 5, 2009 at 8:09 PM | Permalink

      HAsnt Deltec had this idea out forever? Granted this is supposedly the “universal” design, but why all the hubbub. It didnt stop the world with Deltec, so why with this brand.

      BTW, I did own a AP702 with a SCH, and it was neat, and made maintenance easy, but did not improve skimming as much as claimed.

    7. August 6, 2009 at 6:47 AM | Permalink

      @Jeremy, I think you just answered your own question 😉 This is the first time they are available for any skimmer, making the potential customer base much larger. The aqua driver design is also improved IMO.

    8. Nicholas Sadaka
      August 6, 2009 at 9:50 AM | Permalink

      @cp & Eric-I’m sorry, I mis-stated my question. My question was meant to be regarding manual, regular cleaning of the neck, would it be better to use tankwater to clean rather than bringing it to the sink and using freshwater to clean the whole thing? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to ask if the device was using tankwater. Also, would it be a good idea to do what LH refers to and to maybe daily use your finger/hand to knock out all the grime from the neck back into the skimmer body? Thanks and sorry for the confusion there-probably sounded really stupid asking if the device worked exactly how you just described…sorry!

    9. Jeremy Maneyapanda
      August 6, 2009 at 10:07 AM | Permalink

      And hasnt Jeremy discovered spellcheck yet??!! I suck.

      Anyway, I guess my point is that it didnt revolutionize the Deltec AP series to the point where they became standard issue, high demand, etc. So, why should this make a current skimmer “better”? Niftier? Yes. Less maintenance? Yes. Better? Meh…….

    10. Nick
      August 6, 2009 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

      Aquadriver>>>>deltec SCH

      The aquadriver design is much better, the deltec uses a brush that gets soo nasty it destroys the foam.

    11. August 6, 2009 at 9:35 PM | Permalink

      @Nicholas, No worries my friend.

      I don’t think it would be worth the trouble to wash the cup with saltwater. The finger idea may work, but again not worth it IMO. I like to stay away from skimmate 😉

      @Jeremy, this is a niche product within a niche industry. It’s certainly not for everyone, but it definitely has its benefits–particularly for those who travel a lot or are away from home often. It also has the gadget factor 😀

    12. Jeremy Maneyapanda
      August 7, 2009 at 8:29 PM | Permalink

      Nick- how do you figure? How does it get SO nasty to destroy the foam? As opposed to a squeegee? I never had a problem with my foam head collapsing.

      Eric- I agree- cool as heck, but I am just questioning the “improvementness” of it. That being said, if they made it in blue, Id probably own one. It would match my shoes then!! 🙂

    13. Nicholas Sadaka
      August 9, 2009 at 12:46 PM | Permalink

      Thanks Eric…seems pretty messy to me too! Thanks for the honest opinion.

    14. Anonymous
      May 6, 2010 at 7:38 PM | Permalink

      All but the SERIOUS aquarist, really? That just seems down right judgmental. I think if you have an extra $$$$ to add a toy to your tank then cool, but implying that if people don’t have one or save the money for it aren’t serious or don’t care about the animals we keep is down right absurd.

    15. sabkel281
      May 6, 2010 at 2:38 PM | Permalink

      All but the SERIOUS aquarist, really? That just seems down right judgmental. I think if you have an extra $$$$ to add a toy to your tank then cool, but implying that if people don’t have one or save the money for it aren’t serious or don’t care about the animals we keep is down right absurd.

    One Trackback

    1. […] cup and neck cleaner and comes with the MiniBot 150. It has taken some obvious cues from the AquaDriver SkimClean. The design is not as refined  and lacks the spraying ability of the Skim Clean, but […]

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