UFO UCO-180 protein skimmer review

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Nathan Hill takes a close-up look at this new offering for the marine aquarium from UK Reef.

Everyone’s going white in the skimmer world and the acrylic-constructed cone shaped range from UFO is another model stepping up to the plate.

The UCO-180 is rated for up to a 750 l/165 gal tank and at average stocking I can’t see why it wouldn’t cope.

The skimmer takes a little assembly, but precision cuts mean that everything slots together easily and nothing puts up a fight in the process.

The construction is intuitive enough, but instructions are supplied. I found the connection between water outlet/fine tune pipe and the 90° bend very loose, but nothing PTFE tape wouldn’t fix.

As skimmers go, this is quite a brute and sturdy enough to shrug off everyday knocks and bumps.

The pump sits internally, saving space, but if you want to get in to clean it you have to take the whole unit apart, which, for the aquarist on limited time, could be the difference between adequate maintenance and a skimmer that sits with a dirty impeller.

The impeller itself has a pinwheel design, but runs noisily compared to some skimmers I have tested.

I have only two gripes. The first is with the packaging, which in itself is great but leaves polystyrene fragments in many inner workings. It’s worth looking in the impeller on unpacking as mine was more polystyrene than pinwheel!

Also, the Venturi silencer had polystyrene fragments in both inlet and outlet, so if I sucked or blew I’d end up with pieces in the silencer itself.

Secondly, I’m still puzzling over a discrepancy between the wattage as marked on the pump (50w) and the 'working power' (25w) cited in the relevant paperwork.

Even taking in to account a throttle valve — which there isn’t — I cannot see how this could be the case.

Verdict

Either way, the UCO-180 is a hardcore skimmer that, for the price, will give many other large rivals a run for their money. There’s nothing to add. It’s simply a case of construct, place in sump, and let it foam away.

Just don’t get too lazy with that impeller cleaning though, even if it is something of a chore.

Price: £149.99 RRP

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