Automatic Neck Cleaners

This is a blatant attempt to dissuade you from using an automatic neck cleaner (ANC) on your skimmer, since they are incompatible with the StinkSink. Ok, with that out of the way, let’s talk about skimmer ANCs. 

But seriously - an ANC is a good skimmer accessory to extend your maintenance interval, if you are frequently away from the tank, or if you suffer from L.A.R.S. However, unless you clean them in the same way you would clean your cup and skimmer neck anyway, they create the same problem they are trying to solve. Here’s why. 

The logic behind an ANC is to wipe accumulated skimmate from the inside surfaces of the skimmer riser neck, so that the accumulated solids and lipids do not interfere with the foam head as it rises in the skimmer neck. Those solids and lipids can pop air bubbles as they rise in the neck, so keeping the neck clean is definitely useful. However, if the ANC itself is not cleaned regularly, the same solids and lipids accumulate on the ANC paddle, wiper, and skimmer lid like they would on the skimmer neck it is cleaning - and the foam has to pass through and over the ANC, as it is a large obstruction in the skimmer neck.

Now, an ANC might still be useful for you, and with it you can still produce adequate skimmate for your nutrient export requirements. But, there is no denying that any obstruction, even a clean one, inside the riser neck of a skimmer interferes with and detracts from how skimmer foam rises. Will keeping the skimmer neck wiped clean with an ANC outweigh having a large, dirty obstruction in the cleaner neck? That is a good question. 

The more important question is, if you need to clean your ANC regularly anyway to prevent it from interfering with foam production, which you certainly do, why not just clean the skimmer cup and neck with the same frequency as you would the ANC and remove the obstruction in your skimmer neck altogether? 

A simple weekly empty and rinse of your skimmer cup and riser neck is what we suggest for optimal skimmer performance. This regular, quick clean can often prevent the need for the kind of periodic deep cleaning of the cup and neck that we hate doing. And doing so prevents the need for an ANC, keeping the riser clear of any obstructions that degrade skimmer performance. 

Photo courtesy of Reef Central's jason2459