MSX and Reef Octopus Protein Skimmers, Budget Friendly Performers

Marine Solutions Protein Skimmer

Marine Solutions Protein Skimmer

With all of the new high-dollar protein skimmers coming from Bubble King, ATB, and others, one might assume that you would have to spend a $1000 or more in order to achieve a similar level of performance. But that’s not quite the case. The Reef Octopus skimmers, MSX skimmers and SWC skimmers, all coming from Marine Solutions, are an impressive line of protein skimmers that might possibly work just as well as the higher end skimmers, but remain several hundreds of dollars cheaper than the higher end models.

Several years ago, Reef Octopus was making in-sump and external protein skimmers

Marine Solutions Recirculating Protein Skimmer

Marine Solutions Recirculating Protein Skimmer

that used their OTP pumps. Needless to say, these skimmers were cheap, but lacked performance. Companies like Euro-Reef, Deltec, and H&K, and a handful of others were using better pumps, mainly the Aquabee or Eheim pumps, and performed quite a bit better than the Reef Octopus/MSX skimmers. But people were happy with them overall due to their super cheap prices.

The playing fields became somewhat leveled about two years ago when Reef Octopus/MSX introduced their Reef Octopus Extreme protein skimmers and their MSX clones. These skimmers had new features like bubble plates and better pumps…most notably the Sicce pumps. These skimmers came with two versions of their impeller…a pinwheel and a meshwheel, but due to starting issues, many hobbyists stuck with the pinwheel. Then, another breakthrough occurred when people starting using the ATB Purple Pinwheel on their Sicce pumps. Hobbyists were starting to see higher

ATB Purple Pinwheel

ATB Purple Pinwheel

air intake numbers and better performance form their skimmers.

The Reef Octopus Extreme/MSX line of skimmers, in my opinion, was just a stepping stone to their latest protein skimmer releases. For example, the current line of MSX skimmers still uses the Sicce pump. However, they introduced an alteration to their MSX300 (the MSX300A) skimmer by replacing the two Sicce pumps with one Laguna Askoll 1500. This upgrade increased the air intake tremendously. The Sicce pump can draw 20-45 SCFH per pump at around 30 watts per pump. The Askoll pump on the other hand draws up to 60 SCFH, but the power draw is 58 watts. So why is this pump important? Well, the Laguna Askoll pumps are the most preferred pump for protein skimmers currently on the market. Both ATB and Bubble King use these pumps on their high end skimmers, and with good reason. The Laguna pump, although expensive, draws in more air than other pumps in use. Another step that MSX took was the use of a

Laguna Askoll Skimmer Pump

Laguna Askoll Skimmer Pump

bubble plate, similar to those found in higher end skimmers. For years, the bubble plate was absent in almost every skimmer design. But a few years ago these plates started becoming popular. The goal of the plate is to decrease turbulence in the skimmer, thereby making skimmate production easier. These two upgrades (the pump and bubble plate) would also make their way into other MSX/Reef Octopus skimmer lines.

For many, many years cylinder-shaped skimmers dominated the market.

MSX Cone Skimmer

MSX Cone Skimmer

However, this all changed with the introduction of the cone-shaped protein skimmer. ATB is currently the mostly recognized cone skimmer manufacturer, but they certainly aren’t the only ones. In response to the growing fad, Marine Solutions Inc. added their products to the list with their MSX1S and MSX2S. Both of these skimmers use the Sicce pumps as well, but the MSX1A skimmer took on the ever popular Askoll pump. The cone shape can also be seen in other Octopus skimmers such as the Super Reef Octopus, see below.

At this point I wish the list would end here…but it doesn’t. Reef Octopus has two more lines of protein skimmers, the Hurricone and the Super Reef Octopus. A short time

Hurricone Cat 3 Protein Skimmer

Hurricone Cat 3 Protein Skimmer

back the Reef Octopus Hurricone skimmer was released. This skimmer was sort of a Reeflo skimmer look-a-like. It was very similarly shaped, but differed in the fact that some of the models are meant to be in-sump and the pumps used are not Reeflo pumps. The Hurricone skimmer currently comes in four flavors…the CAT-1 Internal, CAT-2 Internal, CAT-2 External, and the CAT-3 External…and all use Askoll pumps. The Super Reef Octopus sort of reminds me of the Bubble King skimmers, though it’s somewhat of a stretch. Unlike other models, the Super Reef Octopus uses an

Super Reef Octopus Cone Skimmer

Super Reef Octopus Cone Skimmer

Askoll look-alike made by Honya, but they call it the Bubble Blaster. The pumps on the lower end of this skimmer line can pull up to 50 SCFH while the more high dollar ones can pull up to 90!

So, next time you think you need that high dollar piece of equipment, be sure to look at other manufacturers as well, since a lot of the same technology is probably being used.

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