- BUILD AN EXCELLENT SKIMMER: THE Compact SUPER
US Version Updated 03/05/99
- By Fabrice
POIRAUD-LAMBERT, Translated by
- The original plans of this skimmer designed by Claude HUG were
published in AQUARAMA N°150. The objective of this
article is to specify certain details of the building of this
skimmer, which were left with the imagination of the readers in
Claude HUG's original article. Possibilities of variation or
optimization were also added there.
Super Skimmer is an injection skimmer. Its effectiveness is such
as it neutralizes two TUNZE 230 or one TUNZE 240, although the
comparison between the two systems is not done on an equitable basis
because the technique of foaming differs between Super Skimmer (which
foams all that is in water) and the TUNZE skimmers who are contact
skimmers (who thus protect more the plankton for example). The
air-water exchange in the Compact Super Skimmer is rather powerful so
that you could note an increase in your pH of 0,2 pH, because of the
dispersion of CO2 contained in water (Ludovic MICHALON, Pers. Com.).
- To build Compact Super Skimmer, it is necessary for you to
gather the necessary hardware, which will cost you approximately
1000 FF ($200) with the cup but without the Pump. The manufacture
of the skimmer takes 2 hours except drying time. It should be
noted that certain retailers manufacture this skimmer in France
now, and propose it at very interesting prices.
- Nomenclature of the parts:
- A- 31 cm of transparent PVC tube, 110 mm diameter (4 bars
pressure rating is enough)
- B- 8,6 cm of transparent PVC tube, 110 mm diameter (4 bars
pressure rating is enough)
- C- 1 pressure PVC sleeve, diameter 110 mm
- D- 1 pressure PVC sleeve, diameter 32 mm
- E- 1 pressure PVC "L", diameter 32 mm
- F- 1 pressure PVC tubes, diameter 32 mm, 80 mm length
- G- 1 pressure PVC tubes, diameter 32 mm, 70 mm length
- H- 1 Plexiglas (Acrylic) sheet, 110 mm by 110 mm, 5 to 6 mm
- I- 1 Plexiglas (Acrylic) sheet, 120 mm by 120 mm, 5 to 6 mm
- J- 1 EHEIM venturi (air injector), in 16/22 (reference 565)
- K- 1EHEIM 1060 pump
- L- 50 cm of 16/22 tubing (soft), out of silicone if possible
- M- 1 trepan saw, diameter 32 and 50
- N- PVC glue, silicone glue and hard plastics glue if you build
- R- a PVC tube, diameter 32 mm, 30 cm length
Some fundamental elements:
- You can decide to buy a ready-made cup, a TUNZE 230 cup for
example, but it will cost you approximately 400 FF ($80). Prefer
transparent PVC tubes in 4 bars, because they are less expensive,
and the 110-mm diameter in 4 bars lets a TUNZE cup fit without
breaking its centering pins.
- Preparation of the works: Ensure that you have all the
elements at your disposal, and cut out the tubes at the right
- Building the skimmer's body:
- 1- Take the 32 cm long A tube, determine the most regular
extremity and make it the base of the skimmer. You will have to
glue it on the I sheet at the end of the manufacture. At the
bottom of this cylinder, drill a hole with the 32-mm trepan saw,
its center 20-mm from the bottom.
- 2- if you do not wish to machine the C sleeve, you can make a
square cut, with a hacksaw, of 40 mm by 40 mm, in the bottom of
the sleeve. You can make this cut wherever you want, but do it
before gluing the sleeve to the A tube. It will be on the other
hand less aesthetic and less solid. Paste the top of the A tube
with PVC glue and insert it fully in the C sleeve (which have also
been pasted with glue). If you chose to make the square cut in the
sleeve, it must now be at the top of the A tube.
- 3- leave this to dry for a few minutes, while we will deal
with other things.
- 4- Take the 8.6 cm long B tube and drill a 6 mm hole
(designated  in the drawing) 10 mm away from the end of what
will be top of the skimmer.
- 5- we will cut a disc out of the 110 by 110-mm Plexiglas sheet
(H). Define the center of the plate by lightly tracing the two
diagonals with a cutter or a felt pen. The dimensions of the plate
will allow us to limit the work to be done. With a compass, or by
coating with ink the base's interior of tube B, make a circular
mark on sheet H. If you do it well, you just have to cut the
angles with a hacksaw. Keep these angles once cut, we will use
them to build the cup.
- 6- Once the disc is cut (108 to 110 mm diameter, it must fit
inside the 110 mm C sleeve), correct its periphery with a file and
with sandpaper. You can also use a cutter's blade to regularize
the angles. Firmly maintain the disc on a rather thick wood board,
and bore a 500-mm hole with a trepan saw in its center. Polish the
opening with sandpaper in order to limit later clogging and to
facilitate its cleaning.
- Top view of the drilled disc and tubes
- 7- you can, if you wish, glue the disc obtained in 6- under
tube B with PVC glue, but this is not compulsory. To allow an easy
dismantlement, you can also polish the lower part of tube B, which
will have to go in the C sleeve. This will make the insertion
- 8- The C sleeve and the A tube must now be well glued. We can
now take care of them. 20 mm above the bottom of sleeve C, do a
mark that will be the center of a 32-mm hole. If you did the
square cut in the C sleeve, make this mark in the center of the
hole left. Drill the 32-mm hole with the trepan saw, towards the
tube's axis. If you try to incline the trepan saw, and if you
don't have the professional monoblock model, your blade will
dislocate from its base and you will most probably mess your hole,
especially if you drill through the C sleeve. Once the hole
drilled, correct the drilling's axis with a cylindrical rotating
file (or a manual file, if you are patient!) so that the F 32 mm
tube fits as tangentially as possible to tube A, with a 32 degrees
angle from horizontal (see picture).
- 9- Glue the F tube through the new hole with PVC glue. Leave
enough length externally to fix the D 32-mm sleeve on it. Maintain
the F tube in the correct position with the help of masking tape
while the glue dries. Don't hesitate to apply several layers of
PVC glue to obtain a solid and leak-free fit.
- 10- Take the 32-mm diameter G tube and cut one end with a 45
- 11- Using PVC glue, glue the E 32 mm "L" to the intact end of
tube G, in a way so that the open end of the "L" is towards the
ceiling and the slanted end we just cut is towards the floor (see
drawing). Glue this set in the hole at the bottom of tube A. The
slanted end of tube G must arrive at the center of tube A.
Maintain in this position using masking tape. To help you, you can
fit tube R inside the E "L" and maintain it vertical. This will
avoid a bad positioning while the glue dries.
- 12- Glue the front of the venturi (output side) to the 32mm
sleeve (d). The venturi's axle must be in line with the sleeve's
axle. Leave this to dry. To avoid a dislocation of the venturi's
parts once under pressure, while leaving the possibility of
maintenance, put two drops of PVC glue at the junction of the
venturi's two parts.
- 13- Once all the glue is dry on every parts, glue the
skimmer's body to the acrylic plates (I) that will be used a the
base support, then insert the acrylic disk and the B tube in the
top of the C sleeve. Place, without gluing it, the D sleeve with
the venturi on the external par of the F tube.
- The water level in the skimmer's body must reach at about 7cm
under the top of tube B, or if you prefer about 1.5 cm below disk
H. To achieve this, you can adjust your sump water level, or you
can modify the length of the R tube, which will allow you to
artificially raise the internal water level. This system offers
the advantage of making the skimmer insensible to your sump's
water level fluctuations. You can play with this tube's length in
order to optimize the setting depending on the produced skimmate.
We are a good number of persons to think that the more injected
air, the better. That is why we do not put any air valve before
the venturi, bet we modify the length of the R tube.
- That's it! The skimmer is finished! You're just left with
connecting the Eheim 1060 pump to the venturi with a 16/22 hose,
fixing (if you like) a small air valve on one of the venturi's air
input, and to place a cup on the top of the Compact Super Skimmer.
- The skimmer once finished.
- Building the cup:
- If you prefer to build a cup instead of buying the Tunze
model, go there:
Mode d'emploi de
fabrication des coupelles en Kit de Plastique Sélection
- Optimization ideas:
- In later versions conceived by Claude HUG, the Supper Skimmer
makes use of electronic pumps like the Tunze Turbelle 4000 or 7000
directly fixed to the venturi, and a second air intake on the
venturi. Ludovic MICHALON tested it and I followed in his
footsteps: just drill a 4mm hole beside the existing air intake,
it will multiply by a factor of 5 (more or less!) the skimmate
production... The addition of water rate in the skimmer implies
some modifications (column's size) in order to accept additional
bubbles. Some have even used 50-mm wide intakes and output tubes!
MARS is building and testing the Super Skimmer+, for tanks of at
least 500 l, always with the same philosophy of cost control,
simplicity, efficiency and economy. We hope to propose (we have no
other goal but to help you!) a skimmer able to really cope with a
1000 to 3000 l tank for less than $500, including pumps and cup.
Results in April or may if everything goes well!
Super Skimmer setup:
- The Super Skimmer is very easy to setup: give it a maximum of
air (no hose connected to the venturi, additional 4 mm hole, but
not more, otherwise you will experience performance losses). The
only modify the length of the R output tube, i.e. a longer tube
gives a higher water level, which results in a clear, yellow,
watery and abundant skimmate; a shorter tube gives a lower water
level, which results in a dark, dry and scarce skimmate.
Apparently, the best efficiency is achieved when the skimmate is
relatively liquid and light brown. A darker color doesn't allow
eliminating as well.
- To make it easier to set this length, you should just cut the
R tube too short, then to adjust a 32 mm sleeve to it, without
gluing, and the to add varying lengths of 32 mm tubes to obtain
the good quality/quantity of skimmate. You can modify the depth of
insertion of those small tubes in the sleeve to make fine
adjustments. With only 3 small tubes, each with a 1-cm difference
with the other, I can face any needs.
Super Skimmer maintenance:
Like any device, the Super Skimmer needs maintenance, even more if
you're approaching its limit (600 l).
- Cup: empty and clean it at least twice a week (valid for any
- Venturi: it will get dirty at the air intakes level (diminishing
the bubbles' quality), and can get clogged where water circulates and
where air and water mix. Salt accumulations can also form and
diminish skimmate production. Clean it as often as possible, minimum
every three months, and if possible every month
- Hose between the pump and the venturi: it will get dirty, slightly
diminishing the water's rate. Clean it as often as possible, minimum
every three months, and if possible every month
- Pump: the water intake and the rotor get dirty in the long run,
diminishing injection performance. Clean it as often as possible,
minimum every three months, and if possible every month
- Body: algae and sponges can attach to it and slow the water's
rotation. Eye-ball check
If you note the skimmate production is not as good as it used to
be your skimmer is probably dirty. Don't wait; clean it, algae
problems are lurking! By personal experience, I noticed that by
cleaning the injection group (pump, hose and venturi), I'm gaining 40
to 50 % of additional skimmate (without modifying the settings), with
only a month since last time I cleaned. The skimmer's cleanliness is
of course more or less critical depending on the tank's volume and
population. On my well populated (60 coral species, 80% of those
stony, 15 fish) and well-fed tank, I estimate I have a 5 to 10 %
power margin. That's enough to prevent and correct things when the
skimmer is clean, but not enough to allow me to forget monthly
cleanings if I don't want any problem every six months...
Have a good DIY, and let's thank Claude HUG for his wonderful
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