DIY Protein Skimmer

This DIY project is entirely realised, written, photo and video documented by Dale - All rights reserved © Do not copy without a written permission, please.


Here's a quick run through of a little skimmer I'm building for my temperate SW system. Apart from the needle wheel pump it cost about $75 to build and is comparable to a $1700 unit. Here are the two main tools I'll use (always wear proper eye protection): A "Dremel" type rotary tool with a cut off disc and a barrel sanding attachment to work the water bottle and a compound mitre saw for cutting PVC piping
I begin by marking and cutting a 5G. water bottle.
This shot shows how I've cut at a spot that leaves an extended flange on the bottle
Here's a shot of the Sedra 9000 needle wheel pump (off of the $1700 skimmer). I will be using the pump in a recirculating mode on the skimmer. It came with 1/2 of the unions glued in place and I couldn't find a reasonably priced replacement.
So I cut the collars off. Notice the 1/2" PVC pipe that fits snugly inside the pump lines.
I lined the intake and outlet of the pump up against the water bottle, marked, and then cut out holes for the bulkheads. I cut the rough holes with the cut off disc and smoothed things out with the sanding barrel.
Here are the installed bulkheads for the pump

and the pump assembly. Basically there are PVC reducers, pipes and 3/4" unions. At this point all the piping is dry fitted, not glued. Only after I'm satisfied with the final product will I will glue it all together. Next I installed a bulkhead and fittings for the skimmer returnline (water out of skimmer).
And a bulkhead and fittings for the skimmer feed line (water into skimmer).
This is a view looking down at the guts of the skimmer. On the left there are the recirculating pumps feed and return bulkheads (the elbow at the bottom directs the return flow in a circular pattern). On the right is the skimmer feed and return bulkheads (again, the elbow directs the feed flow in a circular pattern).
These next three shots show how the lid goes back on:
First I cut a little off the top to make it thinner than the base flange
It sits in place nicely
I am sealing it with silicone. I'm doing this in case I need to adjust something. Once I'm satisfied with the skimmers performance I can seal it permanently with marine Goop

Here is the skimmer return assembly. The gate valve allows me to adjust the water level in the skimmer. I also cut the lip off the neck of the bottle so that 1 1/2" PVC would fit. The PVC is also secured for now with silicone.
The skimmer is fed with a small pump I had kicking around. I don't want too much flow through the skimmer so that the bubbles have more time to react with the organic matter.
And here's the skimming unit in a 50G. sump.
I have allowed the silicone to cure, filled my sump partially with saltwater and am now ready to take her out for sea trials. I add some delicious skimmate from my coralife 125 superskimmer to the sump and mix it all around. This is about three days of dry skimmings worth.
Somethings happening!!!
This is what I have after 1 hour. It is a dark, dry skimmate.

After a bit I dumped the skimmate back into the sump and adjusted the gate valve to allow for a more wettish skimming flow. This is after 1 hour of wet skimming.

Project realised, written, photo and video documented by Dale -

The DIY protein skimmer video click here, please!

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