Upon opening your brand new AquaMaxx FC or DFC protein skimmer, your first step should be to inspect the components and ensure you have all of the parts.  Skim through the user manual to familiarize yourself with the parts and nomenclature used throughout for easy reference.

Protein Skimmer Assembly

Tools Required:

  • Phillips Head Screwdriver
  • Protein Skimmer Stand (as needed)

 1. Attach The Pump

Remove the base of the skimmer from the body via the 5 black nylon screws. Just loosen and remove all five screws and detach the base gaining access to the inside of the skimmer. Slide the pump into the base plate, being careful to orient the power cord out the back and into the slot cut into the base.

2. Attach Bubble Diffuser

Unscrew the black collar on the pump outlet.  Disassemble the bubble diffuser via the black nylon screw in the center.  Attach the bottom white diffuser plate to the pump, using the black collar to hold it onto the pump outlet. Center the bubble diffuser over the white skimmer base as best you can.  Reassemble the bubble diffuser using the black nylon screw.

3. Reattach The Skimmer Body

With the power cord tucked into the slot on the skimmer base, you can reattach the skimmer body.  Be sure to align the power cord directly under the skimmer outlet.  Tighten all five of the black nylon screws, holding the body in place. 

4. Attach The Venturi and Airlines

The grey venturi will slide through the skimmer body, onto the intake of the pump.  Gentle twisting movements will make it easier to push the grey venturi into place. The white airline connections will be facing upwards. Attach the bottom of the yellow silicone tubing to the open airline nipple on the venturi.

5. Attach The Air Silencer

Up top at the skimmer neck, you will attach the air silencer using a long black nylon screw.  Be sure the white arrow on the silencer is facing outward, toward the blue indicator scale. The screw should be snug but still allow for you to twist the air silencer and adjust the air intake. Be sure the other end of the yellow tubing is attached to the bottom of the silencer. 

6. Attach The Collection Cup

The twist-lock collection cup simply twists into the collar on the skimmer neck.  Line up the fins on the collection cup to the grooves on the skimmer neck, twist it roughly 45° to lock it into place. Attach the 90° silicone elbow and drain plug to the drain port on the bottom of the cup.

Rinse and Water Depth

After the skimmer is assembled, it's a good idea to rinse it with fresh RO/DI water. This will simply rinse off any manufacturing residue that could find its way into your aquarium. Tap water works fine too, just be sure to rinse and dry thoroughly before placing it into your tank in that scenario.  

After the skimmer has been rinsed, measure the water depth inside your sump. Use a skimmer stand if necessary to ensure the skimmer is submersed into the recommended amount of water.  This is critical to the skimmer's overall operation and performance. See the product description or user manual for recommended water depth.  This will usually be somewhere between 7" - 12" of water depth and does vary per skimmer model. 

Setup and Tuning

After you set the water depth, open the skimmer's outlet gate valve at least by 50% before turning the skimmer on. This will avoid an immediate overflow in most cases. 

Plugin the water pump and proceed to adjust the foam water level inside the skimmer body.  Using the gate valve, adjust the foam water level to be just below the collection. Use the white collar on the skimmer neck for reference, the top of the foam should align close to this collar.

Air Silencer Adjustments

Next, adjust the air intake. Start with the air silencer 100% open and proceed to slowly close the air silencer by turning it in small increments every 5-10 minutes. Adjust until the foam begins to rise up, inside the skimmer neck and create a stable foam head.

  • Dry Skim: Bubbles should burst just before spilling over into the collection cup. 
  • Wet Skim: The bubbles should gently boil over into the collection cup

DC Pump Adjustments - AquaMaxx DFC

If you have the DFC model that includes the adjustable DC water pump, you can alternatively adjust the water pump flow to dial-in the skimmer performance.

The process is similar in that you adjust the gate valve to bring the foam water level up to the base of the skimmer neck.  Then make small adjustments to the pump flow every 5-10 minutes until you achieve that stable foam and type of collection you desire, either a wet or dry skim.  

The air silencer can then be used to make fine adjustments thereafter and ensure stable, constant collection.

Troubleshooting Overflow

If the skimmer overflows constantly, be sure to first double-check for the correct water depth. If that is correct, allow the skimmer 1-2 weeks to break in.  Simply open the gate valve 100% and allow the skimmer to overflow.

Run some carbon to help remove anything that might be causing the skimmer to overflow during this break-in period. These chemicals can come from a number of sources and are pretty common in new tanks; manufacturing residue from new equipment, two-part epoxy putty, new filter socks, fish foods, bacteria, and additives can all cause a skimmer to overflow. Carbon will help remove some of these chemical by-products and the skimmer should calm down thereafter.