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Simplicity 120 vs Bubble Magus Curve 5 (Part 1): Specs & Features

Simplicity 120 vs Bubble Magus Curve 5 (Part 1): Specs and Features

Oftentimes it is difficult to determine which brand of equipment to buy when starting or upgrading a reef aquarium. In this article, we compare our Simplicity 120DC Skimmer against one of the more popular skimmers on the market, the Bubble Magus Curve 5 Skimmer. Both skimmers have well deserved reputations for quality and value. In many ways they are similar products, however there are some key differences to highlight.

We reviewed the following aspects for comparison purposes: skimmer size, body shape, collection cup, build material, pumps, capacity, ease of assembly, warranty and cost.


 

1. Size

Skimmers - Compared (Side by Side)

There are 3 important components of the size of a skimmer:

  1. The footprint which impacts the physical space needed to fit the skimmer.
  2. The body diameter which impacts the skimmers performance. 
  3. The height which impacts the skimmers performance. Height can also play a role on where a skimmer will fit especially if space inside the stand is more limited.

Footprint

The footprint is the physical space required in your sump for the skimmer to sit. It is typically a measurement of the maximum length (from left to right) and width (from front to back) of the skimmer.

  • Simplicity 120DC: 6.7” x 6.3”
  • Bubble Magus Curve 5: 7.3” x 7.1”

Body Diameter

The body diameter is one of the most impactful aspects of the rating of a skimmer. As a general rule, the larger the body diameter of the skimmer, the larger the tank a skimmer can handle. This is because a larger body diameter increases the amount of space for water and air to mix and also reduces water turbulence. As a result, the air bubbles stay in contact longer with the water which improves skimming and waste removal.

  • Simplicity 120DC: 4.75”
  • Bubble Magus Curve 5: 4.75″

Height

Similar to body diameter, increasing skimmer height also increases the contact time between the air bubbles and the water. As such a taller skimmer is generally more efficient than a shorter skimmer. The trade off is that as a skimmer gets taller it becomes more difficult to fit inside the stand.

  • Simplicity 120DC: 18.7”
  • Bubble Magus Curve 5: 18.5”
Simplicity 120DCBubble Magus Curve 5
Footprint6.7” x 6.3”7.3” x 7.1”
Body Diameter4.75″4.75″
Height18.7″18.5″

Advantage: Toss Up

The Simplicity 120DC Skimmer has a slightly smaller overall footprint. However, the Bubble Magus Curve 5 includes 2 outlets. (The user covers the outlet they are not using.) The first outlet is at 90 degrees to the pump input just like the Simplicity skimmer. However, it also includes a second output at 180 degrees to the pump input. This additional outlet allows the skimmers to fit better in a really thin sump compartment. At essentially the same body diameter and height, there are not any other discernible differences between the 2 models.

2. Body Shape / Style

Skimmers - Compared (Bottom)

This refers to the overall shape of the skimmer. When skimmers were first designed they always had straight walls on the sides since it was easy to manufacture. Later it was discovered that having sloped sides, improved contact time and helped more bubbles reach the collection cup without breaking.

The most common styles available today are:

  • Straight: No curve
  • Full Cone: Curved / angled from top to bottom
  • Hybrid: Straight at the bottom and curved / angled towards the top

The styles used by these two skimmers are:

Simplicity 120DCBubble Magus Curve 5
Body StyleHybrid DesignFull Cone Design

Advantage: Toss Up

While both a hybrid and full cone design are superior to a straight design, there is not a significant advantage between one or the other.

 

3. Collection Cup

Skimmers - Compared (top)

To compare the 2 different collections cups, we reviewed the following:

  1. Connection: How the collection cup connects to the skimmer body
  2. Capacity: How much skimmate the collection cup will hold
  3. Built-In Drain: Does the collection cup include a built-in drain. If yes, how does the drain work.

Connection

There are many ways to connect the collection cup to the skimmer. They include bayonet twist lock, press fit, screw on, union, stacked and others. The bayonet twist lock and press fit are the most common. There are 2 primary items to consider regarding the connection of the collection cup; (1) is it secure and (2) is it easy to remove. You don’t want it tipping over if bumped, yet you want to be able to easily remove it for cleaning.

Capacity

Skimmer cup capacity is only important in regards to maintenance, not performance. The larger the cup capacity, the less often it needs to be emptied. This can be beneficial in certain situations, however regular cleaning of the neck of the collection cup is still needed to keep the skimmer working well.

Drain

A handy feature on many skimmers is a drain in the bottom of the collection cup that allows you to drain skimmate between cleanings.  

Simplicity 120DCBubble Magus Curve 5
ConnectionBayonet Twist Lock:
Slight turn to remove
Press Fit:
O-ring seals to make it tight
Capacity1-1/4 Cups2+ Cups
Drain½” included with drain plug½” included with tubing plug

Advantage: Simplicity 120DC

The Simplicity 120DC skimmer features a twist-lock bayonet style collection cup that is both secure while still being easy to remove with just a slight turn. The drain plug allows the drain not to be used without any tubing connected. In contrast, the tubing plug for the Bubble Magus Curve 5 always has to be connected.

4. Material

For material, it is important to consider both the type as well as the thickness in this instance.

Type

A few brands of skimmer use a fair amount of PVC however most are made primarily of acrylic.  Acrylic is great because it is clear and economical, however PVC is generally more durable.

Thickness

The thicker the material, the stronger it is and the more durable the skimmer body and collection cup.

Simplicity 120DCBubble Magus Curve 5
TypePrimarily acrylicPrimarily acrylic
Thickness3mm3mm

Advantage: Toss Up

Both the Simplicity and Bubble Magus skimmers use acrylic for everything except the wedge pipe and venturi. The one difference is the Simplicity has a PVC water discharge while the Bubble Magus has acrylic. Both skimmers are solidly built with 3mm thick material.

5. Pump

Pump Comparison

We compared the following 4 properties of each skimmer’s pump:

  1. Type: AC vs DC
  2. Control
  3. Air Intake
  4. Energy Consumption

Type: AC vs DC

In direct current (DC), the electric current only flows in one direction. On the other hand, in alternating current (AC), the electric current alternates directions. In practical terms, the chance of electrical shock from a DC pump is significantly lower than an AC pump.

Control

Unlike standard AC pumps, DC pumps are fully controllable. This feature is very helpful as it allows the pump to be slowed down when adding medications and/or foods to your tank that can make a skimmer go crazy and overskim. This allows you to leave the skimmer tuned, while not over skimming. With a skimmer using an AC pump, the skimmer generally needs to be turned off if adding any foods or medications that will make the skimmer overskim.

Air Intake

More air intake generally means better skimming.

Energy Consumption

Generally the more power a pump draws, the more water it moves and the more energy it consumes.

Simplicity 120DCBubble Magus Curve 5
TypeDirect current (DC);
lower chance of electrical shock
Alternating current (AC);
higher chance of electrical shock
ControlFully controllableNo control
Air Intakeup to 541 liters / hour300 liters / hour
Energy Consumption12 Watts at full power8 Watts 
Air-to-Electricity Ratio45.0 liters/watt37.5 liters/watt

Advantage: Simplicity 120DC

Even though it uses a touch more energy, the ability to control the pump on the Simplicity 120DC Skimmer makes the skimmer easier to use. The DC current of the Simplicity 120DC is also safer than the AC current used on the Bubble Magus Curve 5.

6. Stated Capacity

It is always difficult to know just how much cleaning power a particular skimmer has. Capacity ratings often need to be taken with a grain of salt since manufacturers want to make it appear suitable for the largest tank possible. Below are the stated guidelines for these 2 skimmers:

Simplicity 120DCBubble Magus Curve 5
Stated Capacity120 gallons with a light bioload: 60 gallons with a heavy bioloadup to 140 gallons

Advantage: Toss Up

Given their similar sizes and styles, these 2 skimmers can handle similar sized tanks.

7. Ease of Assembly

Assembly Comparison

Assembly is important not only during initial installation, but also when doing routine maintenance on the pump or cleaning the skimmer body.

Simplicity 120DCBubble Magus Curve 5
AssemblyBase is held in place by 4 plastic screws. Other assembly features are similar.Base is held in place by 4 locking clips. Other assembly features are similar.

Advantage: Bubble Magus Curve 5

Assembly of both skimmers is similar. While both skimmers are relatively easy to set-up, the innovative locking clips on the Bubble Magus Curve 5 make removing and reinstalling the base plate faster and easier.

8. Warranty

Not only is the length of the warranty important but also how easy it is to exercise the warranty.  Before purchasing your skimmer, try reaching out to the manufacturer to see if you are able to get anyone or if your request falls onto dead ears. The stated product warranty is one thing, however knowing someone will be there to help in your time of need is another.

Simplicity 120DCBubble Magus Curve 5
Warranty3 year pro-rated warranty; Lifetime US based support2 year on the pump motor and controller; 1 year on impeller

Advantage: Simplicity 120DC

Includes a longer manufacturers warranty with lifetime US based support.

9. Cost

The price is obviously a concern when choosing a skimmer.  Picking one within your reef budget only makes sense.

Simplicity 120DCBubble Magus Curve 5
MSRP$199.95$209

Advantage: Toss Up

The skimmers offer similar features and are similarly priced.

Skimmers - Compared (Side by Side)

And there you have it!  While this is our own honest and professional assessment of these two products, we’re curious to hear what our readers think.  Please feel free to drop us a line and let us know your own experience using these products.

Next up, we will compare the operation of the two skimmers… How easy are they to tune? How loud do they run? How much waste do they remove? Check back later for more!

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