Unboxed: Marine Sources RDC-850 Protein Skimmer

Whether or not you view them as a passing trend or a design that genuinely leads to improved skimming performance, the popularity of cone skimmers shows no sign of diminishing as times goes by. Indeed, this design currently seems favoured by the general majority of reefers and as such it’s no surprise that a plethora of new models continue to be released. What makes us so interested in the Marine Solutions range though, and in this case the RDC-850, is the attractive feature set available for such a low price. At less than £200, this unit seems set to give the market leading Bubble Magus NAC7 (which lies at the heart of numerous successful systems) a serious run for its money. But how does the RDC-850 measure up on paper?

Well, take a look at the stats for each skimmer and the thing that jumps out immediately is that the power-plant running the RDC, a Red Devil SP3 needle wheel, claims to be able to draw significantly more air than the Atman ph2500 incorporated into the Bubble Magus (700 litres versus 500 litres specifically). Furthermore, the SP3 claims to draw just 13 watts which is significantly less than the NAC7 pump. Research backs up these claims and shows the SP3 to be a well-regarded unit in its own right (for starters it is known to be an effective and far cheaper alternative to the Aquabee 2000 pump used to run Deltec’s APF600 skimmers). The other major difference between the two pumps is the inclusion of a needle wheel in the SP3 over the mesh wheel of the NAC7. Offering more uniform performance, making it less prone to wear and enhancing water flow this tips the balance firmly in favour of the SP3 in our eyes. Finally, not just energy efficient and relatively powerful, this ‘skimmer optimised’ pump is also attractive sporting a flashy ‘racing red’ finish.

Design-wise, the body of the RDC-850 is very similar to the NAC7, being built from smooth, Ozone-resistant cast acrylic. Of the two, the RDC-850 is marginally smaller in volume, offering a reduced footprint of just 24 x 17cm. This makes it a great choice for sumps where high performance is required in a limited space. Other nice design features include the twist mechanism which ensures the collection cup stays in place, and the twin pipe air intake which promises quiet-running. Simple in assembly too, the unit comes with clear instructions and we had ours built in about 10 minutes. Packaging was fine although we did have to give the unit a hoover to get some polystyrene beads out of the pump.

So in conclusion, it might not be as well-known as the NAC7 but on the face of it, the RDC-850 certainly looks like it has the edge, mainly based on the inclusion of the SP3 pump. We’ll be getting this ‘little devil’ wet in the next few weeks and reporting back on how it fares in our test system.

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