- Manufacturer - Lee's Aquarium & Pet Products
- Intended Use -To help prevent toxic tank syndrome by removing proteins and other organics before they turn into nitrogen compounds or other toxins that may be harmful to aquarium inhabitants.
- Review By -Debbie & Stan Hauter
09/2001 - On recommendation by another saltwater aquarists on Moloka'i where we live, we purchased the medium sized Lee's Counter Current Protein Skimmer (Cat. No. 17105) to try it out. This skimmer comes in three sizes; small for up to 30 gallon, medium for up to 60 gallon, and large for up to 90 gallon tanks. It is constructed of hard acrylic parts and comes with everything to install it; suction cups, on tank hanger, air hoses, one 2" limewood air diffuser (air stone), and adjustable air valves. We needed an air pump to run it, so we purchased an Otto Model SA-3500. Because this particular skimmer model is designed to function at optimal operation with the Lee's 2" Limewood Air Diffuser, and it is recommended to change it every 3-6 weeks or as needed when air bubble size exceeds 1.0 mm, we also purchased a two pack of these (Cat. No. 12550) for later use. We had plenty of air hose at home, so we did not need to purchase any. However, you may have to get some extra air hose material, depending on where you place the air pump for hooking it up to the skimmer.
Anyway, we installed this simple, straightforward little skimmer in our 55g semi-reef tank (one 15 inch Snowflake Eel, some Left-Handed Hermits and assorted Snails, two colonies of Zoanthid, a mated pair of Coral Banded Shrimps, some non-living corals and live rock), and it seems to be working pretty good. It was easy to install, taking all of about 5 minutes. However, the tricky part of getting this skimmer to work properly is:
- Adjusting the stream of bubbles that rise up the "return tube" between 1/2 to 1/4 inches apart.
- Getting the correct volume of air going through the wooden air diffuser set just right, in coordination to the "return tube" bubble spacing.
- Keeping the aquarium water level at the skimmer "water level guide line", due to tank water evaporation. (Guess its time to add a DIY auto water top-off set up.)
This skimmer is not very expensive or fancy, and far from being one that is state-of-the-art. However, for all intents and purposes it does seem to be doing the job, and we are happy with it so far. As time progresses we will keep you updated as to its use, functionality and operation.
UPDATE: 10/15/01 - All was running fine, but then the collection cup began filling with too much liquid (water), and we had to empty it every few hours. No matter what adjustments we made to the air hose valves, this did not correct the problem. We determined that the limewood air stone needed to be replaced. When the air stone gets worn out it begins to produce larger bubbles, rather than the very fine ones that make the skimmer skim properly. We saved the old removed air stone, boiled it in water, thoroughly dried it out, and have it stored for reuse. We know that with the blue type air stones if you dry them out you can reuse them, so we are going to try this out with the limewood air stone when it's time for a change again, to see if this works. Upon changing the air stone we moved the unit to the back corner of the aquarium and cleaned the contact chamber, as it was coated with a film of brown diatom and some green algae. After restarting the skimmer we found that while readjusting the two air valves, the return tube bubbles we being blocked, flowing sporadically when adjusted as to fast, too slow, or not at all. We disconnected the downward flow air hose and found that the tiny hole of the plastic connector that allows air to flow down into the return tube were being obstructed by a build up of salt crystals. We cleaned it out with a toothpick and restarted the unit again. Much better, but the bubbles in the return tube still were rising sporadically. We then removed the return tube, which has a very small diameter, so needed to find something that would fit inside to clean the green algae film off the inside of the tube. Using the handle of a wooden kitchen spoon, which fit into the tube perfectly, we scraped and cleaned the tube out and put it back together. This did the trick, and after a few days of getting the air valves adjusted just right, the skimmer began to collect very dark green to black gunk in the cup again and has been working fine ever since. The Bottom Line: Change the air stone and clean ALL parts of the unit regularly when needed.
UPDATE: 10/25/02 - It has been over a year now since we bought our Lee's Skimmer. Aside from having to re-adjust the air input and uptake flows after regular cleaning of the unit, and cleaning or replacing the lime wood air stone when needed, it is still working just fine.