The Vertex Omega 180i is the latest skimmer from Vertex, and was first presented at Nuremberg Interzoo.
I tested this skimmer in a 400 liter SPS and LPS tank, with nutrient levels kept as low as possible. The tank formerly was in bad shape, due to its well known dinoflagellate problems.
The first thing that caught my attention was the astonishing craft level. Nothing has been left to chance; every single detail is appealing. Now let’s take a look at its techincal characteristics:
Collection cup external diameter 18 cm
Collection cup internal diameter 11 cm
Thickness: 3 mm
Collection cup height: 14.5 cm (internal 12.2 cm)
Collection cup with lid height: 16 cm
Main body minimum diameter: 10 cm
Internal base diameter: 18 cm
Total height: 57 cm
Reaction chamber total height: 37 cm
Internal base height without changing dimensions: 20 cm
Power consumption: 28 watt
Air Draw: 1.000 – 1.300 l/h
Price: 564 euro
The Vertex Omega 180i skimmer is one of the highest-quality products I have ever seen. The raw materials are top-notch, and the different types of plastic match perfectly.
It operates just as one would expect, but it has advantage of an internal pump. It uses a highly modified Sicce PSK1000, drawing water from a 5 cm height in the sump. The water is drawn from the bottom and pushed into a half-cylinder, ending in a round diffuser plate with medium sized holes, which funnels the water into the skimmer’s main body.
The diffuser plates holes are not placed directly above the pump outflow, an act of foresight I appreciate.
The skimmer main body begins with a diameter of 18 cm at the base, which remains constant to a height of 20 cm, then it narrows to 10 cm where the collection cup is inserted, for a total volume of approximately (excluding the cup) 7.5 litres.
The cup has a diameter of 18 cm, and the internal cylinder is 11 cm. The maximum filling height is 12.5 cm, resulting in a 2-liter capacity. To fill it to that point is almost impossible, though I have managed to; generally, before getting to that height, there would be so much sediment collected that the foaming would be slowed way down and become inefficient.
The skimmer can be easily and completely disassembled, which proves the exquisite care that was taken in this project. The pump should be assembled first, followed by the double diffusion plate and the main body, all held together by the titanium screws at the base. The cup is then inserted onto the main body via a screw thread system and an o-ring, the presence of which guarantees an optimal hydraulic tightness. The system is designed to allow the insertion of the cup with minimal effort, it can be screwed in and out with finger and thumb. Try it and see for yourself!
Here you can admire the screw thread system on the skimmer main body.
Above, we can see the red o-ring on the cup base, which is leaned on the base of the main body’s upper part.
I also appreciate the immense care taken in the engineering of the pump hooking plate, upon which the skimmer main body is fixed.
The pump is placed on a softening material on the plate, the beige square in the picture below. That, together with the rubber feet below the plate, maintain a minimum noise level. Next to the beige square, there is a carving where the bulky impeller cap is laid, the design utilized every millimeter and maintains the pump at the lowest possible level in a perfect horizontal position.
Pictured below is the underside of the base, with a view of its rubber feet.
Sicce PSK 1000 Pump Equipped on the Vertex Omega 180i Skimmer
This pump, however, has been considerably modified, with a new volute and impeller.
As it has a mono-pump configuration, we don’t need to worry about the water volume entering the skimmer, and the air/water rate is already set. The suggested water level in the sump should be about 20 cm, with tolerated heights between 18 and 22 cm.
The functioning scheme is very straightforward . Air and water are drawn in and mixed at the base directly by the pump, which then moves the mixture into the contact chamber. As usual, simplicity is a quality rather than a fault. The skimmer works perfectly and its functioning is consistent.
As you can observe in the picture above, the bright red silencer is connected to the outflow and regulation pipe. The times of equipped silencers being small cylinders that have to be leaned on something are finally over.
The only way to calibrate the Vertex is to turn the external outflow pipe, which allows the user to control the outflow with three levels carved on the pipe, indicating the complete closure, opening and a middle point. It is a well devised and useful system, though the one designed by Ultra Reef, with more levels between open and closed, is more accurate. The screw can be adjusted once one finds the desired outflow, in order to avoid accidentally changing it while doing maintenance.
Installation is extremely simple as there is nothing to adjust. The skimmer is taken out of the box and put into the sump. Done. Ready. The outflow pipe fitting is set and unchangeable, as is the inflow. An issue may arise, however, from the low outflow point, for those who have the sump divided between the skimmer’s in & out.
The outflow pipe holder reminds me, with its carved printing of the word “ozone”, that the Omega 180i has been specifically designed to work with ozone: a red hose is connected to the pump, just like the one for air, as seen on the following picture.
On the right we can see the air intake, on the left the red hose for Ozone intake.
The outflow, as I mentioned earlier, is very low, making it extremely quiet.
For obtaining a wetter or drier skimming, one must adjust the outflow pipe.
The Vertex Omega 180i is ready to skim right after being inserted in the sump. Foam fills the main body, starting from the diffusing plate, and rising to the cup base. Usually, when the cup is placed upon the skimmer’s main body, the bubbles get into its neck and tend to get bigger inside it. But this foaming is remarkable, soft and soapy, made up of tiny bubbles Visually, the skimming seems to be optimal.
The sump water level is best kept around 20 cm, which keeps the water pressure and air inflow perfectly balanced, as that is how it was designed. That’s why I suggest you keep your sump water level at 20 cm, though I actually keep mine at 21-22 cm and I don’t have any issues.
The skimmer was tested in an extremely loaded tank, with values very close to zero. The aquarium is an Elos 130 custom 130x60x50h lighted by 3 Ecotech Marine Radion, two G2 and 1 G2 Pro. Water movement is provided by a VorTech MP40w and a pair of Tunze Turbelle NanoStream 6095.
To give you an idea of the Vertex Omega 180i skimming, I show you the following pictures of the foam. The first illustrates the foam right after cleaning the skimmer, the second after 3 days of skimming.
We’ve also got one picture of the skimmer without cup.
As you can see the foam is beautiful, with plenty of extremely tiny bubbles.
Here we can see the foam in the cup, and its texture after passing through the really dirty neck of the skimmer. We can see this more closely in the following picture.
To end this array of skimmer foam pictures, I give you one of the cup lid covered in dirt.
As we have seen, the foam is soft and soapy, skimming color and texture are optimal, rather wet, and it deposited a considerable layer of dirt onto the neck and cup lid. Shortly after cleaning, the foam has no issues climbing into the cup, and the bubbles being very small because of the amount of air drawn into the system.
After five months using this skimmer, I can tell you that the Vertex Omega 180i has been perfect; it hasn’t shown any leakage, and the pollutant values of the tank have improved. The water became clearer, probably because of the skimmer’s ability to remove anything from it. A truly remarkable result.
The air drawn, as we are about to see, reaches incredibly high values, unlike anything I have seen before. It’s exquisitely built and its functioning reflects that
Performances and Measurements
The manufacturer doesn’t specify the water capacity of this skimmer, but we can deduce that it is around 800 l/h, this is, unfortunately, not measurable, because the outflow is submerged. On the other hand, the air drawn in is stated to be between 1000 and 1300 l/h.
For measuring air capacity I used my classic Sander flowmeter, which measures air flow from a minimum of 100 l/h to a maximum of 1000 l/h, though the values have to be increased by 10% to adjust for leaking caused by the fluxmeter itself.
I obtained an air flow of 1045 l/h (950 measured + 10%) with the air inflow at its maximum as there are no faucets to adjust it.
The value is relatively stable even though it showed a small fluctuation between 900 and the minimum (which still needs to be increased by 10%). This is probably due to the hydraulic phenomenon know as the water hammer, which originates inside the pump.
The air inflow has been reduced,starting from the 1150 l/h obtained by calculating the mean of the minimum and maximum values stated, to the 1045 l/h measured. It is only a 9% difference, practically negligible , and it still has a very impressive measured value!
I have never encountered a skimmer with such air flow values. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to open the pump to examine the impeller, but I am sure that the pump has been notably engineered. I have seen three other skimmers working with the same pump (Elos PS2000, LGMAquari LGS850 e Ultra Reef Akula UKS 180) and they didn’t even get close to these values; in fact, they had 50% less air inflow.
The air inflow measurements were taken with a sump water level of 21 and 23 cm, without any significant difference shown at different heights, as I expected. Salinity was at 35%. We should remember that skimmers are extremely susceptible to changes in water density, with different values resulting in very different skimming performances.
The skimmer is incredibly silent, we took three measurements, all at 1 m distance from the tank (and sump) and we obtained the following results:
Acoustic pressure at 1 meter with all aquarium devices on and support doors closed: 48 dB.
Acoustic pressure at 1 meter with only return pump on and open doors: 56.4 dB.
Acoustic pressure at 1 meter with return pump and skimmer on: 57.1 dB.
The difference in the measures of acoustic pressure with the skimmer on and off is only 0.7 dB, a negligible value.
I can therefore state that the Vertex 180i is an exceptionally quiet skimmer that can be placed in the sump without worry.
The phonometer used for measuring acoustic pressure is my usual VOLTCRAFT 320 digital phonometer IEC 651, Type II, very accurate. Because of the type of noise I needed to measure, all measurements were recorded with dBA wave attenuation.
The PSK1000 pump with its original impeller draws 57 watt, but Vertex reduced it to 28 watts with a needle impeller and by mounting it on a mono-pump skimmer. This translates to 245 kwh/year, for an estimate of 66 euros if the kwh price remains the same (0.27 euros). This gives a maintenance cost of 5.5 euros per month.
There is a small fault with the skimmer, mainly caused by what is also its best quality: the amount of air drawn into the system.
What we obtain from one side we lose from the other, and the 1045 l/h air inflow measured causes the skimmer to depend greatly on the sump water level.
If the water level changes even slightly, the skimmer will be highly affected.
For this reason, Vertex offers a sump with a divider to maintain a constant water level, in which the skimmer can be placed.
It is not an insurmountable obstacle, but it can discourage those who don’t have a sump divider and/or a good system for replenishing water.
With systems like the osmocontroller Elos Digital Osmo Controller II, the water level shouldn’t be a problem; with other floating-type systems or with the Hydor smart level control, some issues can occur. If your sump water is topped up manually, I advise against using this skimmer.
The Vertex Omega 180i is a fantastic skimmer. It is perfectly built, with an incredible air inflow. It has a rather high RRP of 564 euros, which is justified by its technical characteristics and its performance.
During testing, it has been constant and efficient, with a very easy calibration system, silent, easy to open and clean, with an enormous quantity of air processed (sorry if I keep repeating this concept). The only fault is the excessive dependence on the sump water level, which needs to be constant.
The manufacturing quality and the attention to detail are of the highest standards.
I recommend the Vertex Omega 180i for 500/600 liter tanks with SPS corals and fish, while in less populated tanks, populated by fish only or soft corals, it could treat up to 1000 liters.
I thank Vertex for providing me with the skimmer to test.
[translated by Giorgia Lombardi]