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Unread 12/11/2016, 01:28 AM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 21
Alpha 200 not working properly

I have a medium-stocked mixed reef 150 gallon display tank with 30 gallon sump. I originally had a Vertex Omega 150 with the Sicce pump which worked great. I was told my omega 150 was too small and it's better to get a oversized skimmer. So I sold it and bought the Alpha 200 with the Red Dragon pump (with white volute). I feel my Alpha 200 isn't working as good as the omega 150 did because the skimmate production isn't consistent. The omega 150 produced the same color and amount of skimmate every few days (i skim dry).

Initially tried what the user manual recommended, I placed the Alpha 200 in 10 inches of water with the standpipe fully open. I tried playing with the volute 2-4 turns out from closed. Between 2-4 turns out on the volute, I experienced overflowing to surging.

Currently I am running the alpha 200 with this settings:

- 10 inch water depth
- Standpipe fully open
- Volute is 1.5 turns out

Please help as it's very frustrating as my previous skimmers (coralife and omega 150) worked very well with minimal tweaking or adjustments.

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Unread 12/11/2016, 02:19 AM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 14,173
At 1.5 turns out, you should be pretty close but every tank is different in terms of the amount of dissolved organics, salinity etc. I would lower the water level in your sump down to 9". That should help stop the overflowing. 10" is too deep IMO. The adjustable volute/nozzle should be tweaked until you get the most dense foam and as I said above, 1.5 turns out should be pretty close if not spot on. A little turn goes a long way.

That said, the Alpha 200 is terribly under rated and having owned Alpha's and helped many Alpha users here over the years, I would never suggest an Alpha 200 for a display your size. An Alpaha 170 would have been more appropriate. The Alpha's as well as the Bubble Kings should always be sized based on display volume and not system volume. Unfortunately Vertex's ratings on the Alpha skimmers are far to conservative based on my experience. While Royal Exclusiv built them under an OEM agreeement for Vertex for a number of years, they were never as stable or nearly as consistent as the Bubble Kings that are sold by Royal Exclusiv. I ended up selling my Alpha 300 for these reasons and got myself a Supermarin 250 for my system and never looked back. Despite having a 480 gallon display with a reasonably heavy load, the Alpha was never consistent for me and that is the number one complaint people have with that skimmer. The performance and consistency difference between the Alpha and the Bubble King was night and day and I am happy I made the switch.
The Alpha's need a lot of dissolved organics to maintain consistency and they are very finicky skimmers.

In your case, it's too large which is why it's not consistent. If you run it really wet, you can improve consistency but you then have to deal with the potential for overflows as you have already experienced. My best advice to you would be to lower the water level in your sump to 9" or raise the skimmer and then continue to tweak the volute a little at a time until you find a point where the skimmer is stable and the foam head is nice and thick. Then live with the inconsistency in terms of skimmate production. If tuned properly for your system, it will produce skimmate for a couple days and slow down while the dissolved organics build back up when it will produce again and repeat the cycle. This is a symptom of being oversized for the display/load. The alternative would be to sell it and get yourself a properly sized skimmer. I would suggest a Double Cone 180 which will perform infinitely more consistently and reliably on your sized system and run rings around any other internal skimmer on the market. Best of all, it's easy to tune, silent and would only draw between 18 and 22 watts when properly tuned.

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Last edited by slief; 12/11/2016 at 02:27 AM.
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