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Product Review: AquaMaxx WS-1 Protein Skimmer

Intro and Background

Earlier this year, I started the search for the best skimmer for my all-in-one mixed reef tank.  I researched every possible skimmer that would fit in my footprint. I had a max footprint of 8″ x 4″ available to me.

I originally wanted to order a JNS WS-1, but soon found out that it was no longer being shipped to the US. After speaking with a couple different suppliers and JNS themselves, I found out that AquaMaxx (JNS’ US distributor) was planning on re-branding it to the AquaMaxx WS-1 for sale in the US. I promptly decided that it was the skimmer for me, but had to wait about 2 months for it to be released.

Fast forward to today, it has been running in my rear chamber for about 1 month now.

I am using this skimmer on my 34 gallon CAD Lights Mini-II. My current bioload consists of an O. Clownfish pair, spotted mandarin, yellowtail tamarin wrasse, and various clean up crew members.  I am planning on adding at least 2 more fish in the near future and plan to update this review sometime after to describe any changes I see from an increase in bioload.

Unboxing/Initial Impressions

Right out of the box, I could tell that this skimmer was of very high quality. It is made out of cell cast acrylic, with beautiful laser cuts. Holding it in your hand, you can just tell that it is put together well. Personally, I also feel that it is pleasing to the eye, but that is a matter of personal taste. The packaging was sufficient and there was absolutely no damage from shipping whatsoever.

Out of the box from Marine Depot

I decided to run the skimmer in a 50/50 vinegar/RODI bath for 24 hours prior to installing the skimmer to cut down on the break-in period. This is something that I usually do with any new equipment so that you can remove any residual oils from manufacturing, which is especially important in the case of a skimmer, as those oils can cause your skimmer to take much longer to break in.

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24 hour vinegar bath

Initial Installation

After the 24 hour vinegar bath and a quick rinse in RODI, I installed the skimmer in my rear chamber. It fit like a glove!

AquaMaxx WS-1 in the rear chamber
of the CAD Lights Mini-II aquarium.

Initial tuning was a breeze. As the instructions call out, I simply powered on the unit and adjusted the cup so that the bottom of the cup sat about ½” to 1″ below the water line inside of the skimmer body. Within 48 hours, I was collecting skimmate, although it was quite wet. I did not experience any microbubbles whatsoever, which is great for a nano skimmer.

The AquaMaxx WS-1 produces a nice thick foam head. The skimmer does produce a bit of noise, but it is not much more than a steady low hum from the pump. With the cup on, I cannot hear the fizzing sound inherent of a skimmer. My tank is located in my bedroom and I am a light sleeper. I can safely say that it is not enough to keep me awake at night.

Wet skimmate collected during the first week after getting the skimmer up and running.

Here is a picture of how far the cup sticks out of my rear chamber.
For reference, my tank is 16″ tall.

Thoughts and Impressions

The WS-1 skimmer has now been running for a little over 1 month. At this point, I feel like I can consider it to be fully broken in and operational. I am experiencing a much darker, nasty skimmate now and feel that the skimmer is performing very well. In addition to dark liquid, it pulls out all kinds of pieces of leftover food and other decaying matter and the smell the skimmate produces is horrid. This all means to me that it is working very well, much better than the previous nano skimmer that I was using.

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What my skimmate generally looks like after 3-4 days. 

Tuning the skimmer is a breeze. You simply move the square gasket around the cup up/down to the desired position. I recommend making very small changes and giving the skimmer a day or 2 to see how it responds. This goes for pretty much any skimmer, but I felt that it was very easily done on the WS-1. I feel this to be quite important, as one common flaw/issue with nano skimmers is tuning and adjust-ability.

Maintaining the skimmer will also be a breeze as AquaMaxx makes it very easy to disassemble and clean. The pump/bubble plate are attached to the main baffle in the skimmer body, which slides up and out when it is time to clean the inside of the skimmer.  This will allow you to very easily get inside of the skimmer to clean every inch if you so desire.

Pros, Cons and Conclusion

  • Pros of the AquaMaxx WS-1
  • Powerful and effective skimmer in a very compact footprint
  • Fairly quiet operation
  • Easy to assemble/clean/maintain
  • Quite reasonable price for what you get
  • Easy to tune/adjust
  • Aesthetically pleasing


Cons of the AquaMaxx WS-1

So far I have not found one. The only thing that I should warn you about is I have had a number of cerith snails get into the intake of the skimmer. This causes the skimmer to lose its foam head, not perform correctly, and produce microbubbles. This really is not the fault of the skimmer, but was something that I felt should be stated.

Final Thoughts

I feel that the AquaMaxx WS-1 is one of the best (if not the best) nano skimmers on the market. Granted, I have not tried all of what is available, but compared to the one I was using prior to this, I am a very happy customer. I would highly recommend this skimmer to anyone that is looking for a powerful skimmer, but only has a small footprint available to them.

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About our Guest Author

I have been in the reefing hobby for about 2 years now and it has become quite a passion for me. Coming from a technical background as an engineer, I really enjoy the technological aspect of the hobby, as well as the technicality that it requires to keep such a fragile ecosystem thriving. I also enjoy involving both of my son’s in the hobby. While my youngest at 6 months may be a little too young to understand everything, he very much loves gazing into the tank while sitting on my lap. My 5 year old, however, has become quite the fish and coral enthusiast! I look forward to many, many more enjoyable years in the hobby, with both my tanks and my kids.

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