Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Product Review: Innovative Marine Ghost Protein Skimmer (FullSize), Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of my Ghost Skimmer review. Miss the first two installments? Check out Part 1 and Part 2!

I have been testing this skimmer for about a month now and I have a pretty good understanding of how everything works so let's get to it!

I tested the skimmer in a 10 gallon tank for a few weeks which you can see in Part 2. I moved the skimmer over to a 5 gallon bucket so I could raise the water levels. I continued to pour skimmate from my display tank into the bucket so I'd have something to skim out which proved to be a pretty good controlled testing environment.

Water level raised to the highest point using the black tubing corner as a marker.
The skimmer still worked well for a wet skim, but the cup would need to be raised
otherwise it would fill up too quickly.
We all have to understand that this skimmer is designed specifically for the Innovative Marine Fusion aquariums. Some adjustments can be made to use it on the Innovative Marine NUVO tanks and even other aquariums. In order to use this skimmer in a NUVO aquarium, you will need to raise the skimmer with a magnet cleaning mount such as a Mag-Float or build some sort of platform stand. You can see the example shown by the manufacturer on the Innovative Marine Facebook Page.

Top down view of the skimmate I've collected.
I have tested this skimmer at various water heights starting from 6 to 12 inches since typical in-sump skimmers have a water depth requirement of 6-10 inches. Unfortunately, this skimmer does not work with a lower water level. In my tests, the Fullsize Ghost Skimmer will need at least 11.50 inches for optimal performance. I raised the water to 12.25 inches and it still skimmed like a champ, but you'll need to raise the cup unless you want a wet skim.  Innovative Marine has provided a useful water line diagram that you can see here.

Innovative Marine's optimal water level is about 11.42 inches to be exact according to
their diagram, but this is the water level that I preferred to get a good skim with the cup pushed all the way down.

The skimmer adapts pretty well to slowly decreasing water levels as what you would get from everyday evaporation. I let the water level drop a 1/4 to 1/2 an inch and it still produced good skimmate. The skimmer itself is very easy to adjust as all you have to do is raise the cup for a drier skim or lower for a more wet skim. The DeskTop and MidSize Ghost Skimmers come with an adjustable air valve and I kind of wanted to see this on the FullSize version as well. The capability of controlling the air intake can sometimes be useful when treating with medication or even a red slime remover to prevent the skimmer cup from overflowing too quickly. At least it will be easy to add one with some tubing and a valve, if necessary.

This is how far the skimmer cup sits in the body of the skimmer. The very bottom of the skimmer cup (when the cup is pushed all the way down) is the optimal water level according to Innovative Marine, but I prefer it a little higher as shown in the picture above.

My final thoughts: I think one of the biggest advantages for this skimmer is the simplistic design which makes cleaning and maintenance easy to do which we often overlook. Let's face it, if it's not easy, then we're probably not going to take it apart to clean. Most other skimmers have multiple screws and components just to get access to the pump, but this Ghost skimmer only has the bubble plate holding the pump, and you don't have to twist or unscrew the skimmer cup, just lift to empty!

They even included a convenient drain fitting which has two purposes.  You can use it to dump the skimmate into an external container or allowing water to pour back to the aquarium should the skimmer cup overflow. The drain fitting is even ergonomically placed higher in the cup allowing it to maximize the amount of skimmate that can be collected before needing to empty it.

The Ghost skimmer performed well by pulling out all the stinky skimmate that I poured in from my display tank. I was hoping the pump would quiet down over the next couple weeks which it never did, but it could just be the metal impeller shaft from my pre-production model. The higher water level requirement is another bummer for sumps with a set baffle height, but then again it is understandable as this skimmer is designed for the Innovative Marine Fusion aquariums. An included magnet would have been a nice touch for non-Fusion tanks, but it would have increased the cost of the skimmer.

Overall, it was a good performing skimmer as you see from the skimmate collected in these photos, and I thoroughly enjoyed testing it. I hope you all learned something from my 3-part review. Come back soon for more exciting reviews at our Marine Depot's Blog!

The cup sits approximately 3.25 inches into the body. I typically skim a little more wet than most hobbyists so I prefer submerging the skimmer a little deeper than the recommended 11.42 inches water depth.