Simplicity 120 vs Reef Octopus Essence S-130 (Part 1): An Out-of-the-Box Comparison

Simplicity 120 vs Reef Octopus Essence S-130 (Part 1): An Out-of-the-Box Comparison

In today’s article, we’ll be comparing the Simplicity 120 vs Reef Octopus Essence S-130. How do these two skimmers stack up against one another? While both are well-built and provide dependable performance, there are some key differences to point out.

The following aspects have been reviewed 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)

The footprint, body diameter and height play an important role in where the skimmer will fit and how well it performs.


The footprint is the maximum length (from left to right) and full width of the skimmer (from front to back). This measurement tells us how much physical space is needed in the sump for the skimmer to fit.

Body Diameter

Body diameter plays a significant role in determining how large of a tank a skimmer can handle. The larger the skimmer body’s diameter, the more room for water and air to mix. The larger diameter body also reduces water turbulence. This allows the air bubbles to stay in contact with the water longer and improve waste removal.


Taller skimmers are generally more efficient than shorter ones. This is because the additional height improves the contact time between the air bubbles and water. The drawback to a taller skimmer is that the more height it has, the harder it will be to fit inside the stand.

Simplicity 120DCReef Octopus Essence S-130
Footprint6.7” x 6.3”8.2″ x 6.8″
Body Diameter4.75″6.0″

Advantage: Toss Up

The Simplicity 120DC Skimmer has a smaller overall footprint allowing it to fit into smaller spaces. However, the larger body diameter and additional height of the Reef Octopus Essence S-130 provides improved contact time between air and water.

2. Body Shape / Style

Skimmer Comparison: Body Shape & Style

The original skimmers had straight walls on the sides since that was the easiest to manufacture. However, most skimmers nowadays have sloped sides as it improves contact time and helps more bubbles reach the collection cup without breaking. So what are the key differences in body shape and style between the Simplicity 120 vs Reef Octopus Essence S-130?

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
Simplicity 120DCReef Octopus Essence S-130
Body StyleHybrid DesignWine-shaped Cone Design

Advantage: Toss Up

While not identical, the shape of each skimmer is similar. As a result, there is not a significant advantage between one or the other.


3. Collection Cup

Skimmers - Compared (top)

To compare the two different collections cups, we reviewed the following three areas:

  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 so, how does the drain work?


The most common connection types are bayonet twist lock and press fit. Other styles include a screw-on, union, and stacked. In our opinion, there are two critical components of the connection of the collection cup. The first is how secure it is, as you don’t want it falling off if it gets bumped. Second, is it easy to remove for emptying, cleaning and maintenance.


If you are producing a lot of waste, a larger cup is helpful as it needs to be emptied less often, reducing maintenance. The regular cleaning of the collection cup’s neck is still essential to keep the skimmer working efficiently.


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 120DCReef Octopus Essence S-130
ConnectionBayonet Twist Lock:
Slight turn to remove
Bayonet Twist Lock:
Slight turn to remove
Capacity1 1/4 Cups3+ Cups
Drain½” included with drain plug½” included with drain plug

Advantage: Reef Octopus Essence S-130

While both skimmers feature a twist-lock bayonet-style collection cup and a built-in drain plug, the larger capacity of the Reef Octopus Essence S-130 is beneficial for tanks that produce a lot of waste.

4. Material

Both the material type as well as the material thickness impact build quality.


Most skimmers today are made primarily of acrylic because it is both transparent and economical. PVC is also used and is generally more durable.


The thicker the material, the stronger and more durable the skimmer will be.

Simplicity 120DCReef Octopus Essence S-130
TypePrimarily acrylicPrimarily acrylic

Advantage: Toss Up

While the Simplicity 120DC uses thicker material and a more durable PVC wedge pipe and water discharge, both skimmers are well built and should provide years of reliable service.

5. Pump

Pump Comparison

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

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

Type: AC vs. DC

In alternating current (AC), the electric current alternates directions. In direct current (DC), the electric current only flows in one direction. Most small household appliances, such as a vacuum or a coffee maker, are AC. DC pumps are generally more energy-efficient, and the chance of electrical shock from a DC pump is significantly lower than an AC pump.


With an AC pump, the water flows at one speed. With a DC pump, the water flow can be raised or lowered with the touch of a button allowing the pump to be easily turned down when adding medications or foods to your tank that can make a skimmer go crazy and overskim. Since an AC pump cannot be turned down, it generally needs to be turned off when adding any foods, medications, or other additives that can cause the skimmer to overskim.

Air Intake

More air intake generally means better skimming.

Energy Consumption

Less energy translates to a lower energy bill.

Simplicity 120DCReef Octopus Essence S-130
TypeDirect current (DC);
lower chance of electrical shock
Alternating current (AC);
higher chance of electrical shock
ControlFully controllableNo control
Air Intakeup to 541 liters / hour480 liters / hour
Energy Consumption12 Watts at full power11 Watts
Air-to-Electricity Ratio45.0 liters/watt43.6 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 more user friendly. DC is also safer than the AC used on the Reef Octopus Essence S-130.

6. Stated Capacity

It is always challenging 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 two skimmers:

Simplicity 120DCReef Octopus Essence S-130
Stated Capacity120 gallons with a light bioload: 60 gallons with a heavy bioload160 gallons with a light bioload, 75 gallons with a heavy bioload

Advantage: Reef Octopus Essence S-130

With a larger body diameter and height, the Reef Octopus Essence S-130 can handle a slightly larger tank than the Simplicity 120DC.

7. Ease of Assembly

Assembly Comparison

Assembly is important during initial installation and arguably even more important during regular maintenance when the pump needs to be removed for inspection and cleaning.

Simplicity 120DCReef Octopus Essence S-130
AssemblyBase is held in place by
4 plastic screws. Other assembly features are similar.
Base is held in place by 4 fasteners. Other assembly features are similar.

Advantage: Reef Octopus Essence S-130

Both skimmers are easy to set-up, however, the four fasteners at the base of Reef Octopus Essence S-130 allow for quick and easy disassembly and re-assembly of the skimmer.

8. Warranty

How long a warranty lasts, what it covers and how much support you will receive are essential things to know. Before purchasing, try contacting each manufacturer to see if you can get in touch with anyone (or if your request falls onto dead ears).

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

Advantage: Simplicity 120DC

Includes a longer manufacturer’s warranty with lifetime US-based support.

9. Cost

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

Simplicity 120DCBubble Magus Curve 5

Advantage: Simplicity 120DC

Although the Reef Octopus Essence S-130 has a larger capacity, the price of the Simplicity 120DC makes it a better overall value.

Skimmers - Compared (Side by Side)

That should cover our comparison of the Simplicity 120 vs Reef Octopus Essence S-130. Please bear in mind that this is our own honest and professional assessment of these two products. Having said that, we’d love to hear what our readers think about these products.  Please let us know your experience.

In our next article, we will compare the operation of these two skimmers.  Please check back soon for part two.

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