View Full Version : CadLights PLS-100 Skimmer and customer service review

10-30-2013, 07:23 AM
I think its time to review my CadLights PLS-100 purchased back in April of this year (2013)


I first saw this at my LFS and thought it looked to be a nice compact size to fit in an Aqueon Proflex Sump (Model 3)
it has a 4.75" x 4.75" foot print and stands 18.75" tall
Cost was $170ish + tax

plain box with no instructions and required only a little assembly, pretty straight forward

Setting it up wasn't too challenging but with no instructions i had to go online to find out recommended water depth which was noted on the website from 7"-10". At the time i didn't have an ATO so in order to keep the water level the same i had to construct a small platform to raise it up to be put into the second chamber of the sump (approx 4" tall) with a stable water level. In order to tune the skimmer, the body needs to be turned, which caused the base to turn as well, so out it came and suction cups were installed to secure it to the back wall of the sump.

PROs: Compact size, quiet, great skimming capacity, cleaning the collection cup is easy

CONs: Pump has stopped working 3 times, but works again after some time being unplugged (tapped, cleaned etc...) Cleaning the main body of the skimmer is nearly impossible to do as the body is glued together, having it placed in the refugium near the light causes a great deal of algae build up inside which is a bit frustrating not being able to get to it. Drain spout on the collection cup broke off very easily and needed to be re-glued (3 times now). Tuning after 2-3 months became more of a challenge each time it was cleaned. And the biggest con of all the CUSTOMER SERVICE IS HORRIBLE... OK maybe not the "worst" in the world, but pretty close, any company that lies to customers again and again is real game changer for me
The problem: the lower section of the skimmer and body connects via 2 pieces of acrylic pipe, one piece fits inside the other, and they've been ovaled. Over time, not long, the 2 pieces of pipe lose the ovaled tight fit, becoming sloppy, the body leans to one side because of the intake hose and then OVERFLOW!!!
First when i emailed them about having problems with the skimmer going out of tune in early August, i was told this was a "unique situation", they then told me to use sandpaper (had to drive to the store to buy some) and clean and sand it. This was poor advice, it just made the problem worse. Since then I've searched forums for advice, and found as far back as June they ALREADY had a fix to the problem, BUT in AUGUST i had a "unique situation?!
Then, frustrated and no longer able to use the skimmer period i emailed them again on October 3rd. It had been days already without a working skimmer, they asked for pictures and i sent them some 1/2hr later...it took 2 more emails and 5 days for them to reply. They said the part would be sent on the 8th. UMMM they didn't even ask for my address. Long story short about sending me the repair is they blatantly lied to me twice (including to the LFS whom i asked for help) saying they had sent it

Now that i have a repair (3 1/2 weeks later!) and working skimmer nearly 3 months after my first contact, this repair comes with problems of its own. Its called a "tension lock" and it is just that, too much tension and and theres too much tension on the 2 parts to tune, i now have to get my hand wet reaching into the refugium to unscrew the lock to get the skimmer out for cleaning

I normally don't complain, or like to spend an hour typing a review, but the product and service were just that bad, it had to be done as a warning to others. I personally make a lot of spending decisions in the hobby based on customer reviews and if i knew then what i know now i would have spent my money elsewhere

10-30-2013, 07:54 AM
Hey, thanks for the review. It sounds like you have a legimate issue and didn't get the appropriate or satisfactory warranty service on it.

CAD Canada
10-31-2013, 05:57 AM
Hey guys!

First post here on Canreef! Was hoping it would have been more of a pleasant 'hello' thread, but nonetheless, I'll keep the hello short and customer service my main focus here.

First off, thank you for purchasing the PLS 100, it is a great skimmer for the small footprint, and it skims great.

It looks like you are having problems with:

1) Algae in the skimmer body, and difficult to clean
2) Fragile drain spout
3) Tuning of the skimmer after cleaning
4) Body of the skimmer and base losing it's tight fit
5) Tension lock issues
6) Horrible customer service (but NOT the worst)

Okay, here we go!

1) A tube brush would do the trick, just make sure it's long enough. I think amazon sells them for 1.50$ - 10$ for a set of different sizes.This will allow you to get in between the body and the bubble plate. I guess your other option is to get an ATO and put the skimmer in the first chamber, away from your fuge light. Or you could run biopellets to remove those pesky phosphates (and nitrates).. I could shamelessly put a plug on our biopellet reactors, but that's not the purpose here... oh wait, did I just do that? Moving on..

2) I don't want to mention that this is a unique situation, but to me it does seem unique as I've done quite a few shows with all the skimmers, and the silicone tube on the drain spout is on really tight.. I have to yank on it pretty hard to get it off, but have never broken one before..

3) When you do a complete clean of the inside of the skimmer, you are essentially removing the bio-film in the skimmer body; the bio-film aids in giving that consistency in skimming. After cleaning, start by setting the water level at a lower level (below the base of the cup), and check on it once in a while. It will take a day or a few, depending on how much you cleaned the skimmer and your bio-load, for the bio-film to build back up.

4) Over time, you will notice that it is easier to turn, as it is fully broken in. We have heard feedback that as a result, the body will turn on it's own due to vibrations in the sump. That is why we have created this tension lock, which slips onto where the two "plates" meet, so a) it doesn't vibrate and lose it's setting, and b) it doesn't float off the base, if the skimmer is in a higher range of the suggested water level.

5) The pipeless skimmer design is not like any conventional skimmer with an external control, since the water level is adjusted by turning the body. As a result, you get a super small footprint skimmer with a 100G skimming capacity. The only compromise is that you will have to slip this tiny tension lock on the base and body of the skimmer. To use it to it's best, do not tighten the lock super tight, as this will offset the body of the skimmer. You only need to tighten it so that it provides enough friction for the body to not turn due to vibrations. Unfortunately though, you will need to get your hands wet every time you want to clean the skimmer. The great thing about the tension lock is that once you have it set to the proper fit, you need only to slip it on and slip it off. Maybe a pair of rubber gloves will keep your hands dry, but if you are cleaning the skimmer, I guess wet hands can't really be avoided.

6) Yes, CAD Lights is aware of the customer service gaps. As a rep, I am deeply apologetic for this. However, CAD Lights has hired myself and a few other individuals to increase the customer service from now on, so if you have any questions, please contact:


Glad to hear that our customer service is not worst, so we have a glimmer of hope! We will try our best to turn that around.

Cheers all, and look forward to helping you all out.

10-31-2013, 08:01 PM
1) A tube brush would do the trick
I have a 1/8" length of carbon fiber solid rod that i tried using to clean the lower section below the bubble plate, but the gap between the plate and inside of the body is at MOST 1/8". In a couple spots the shaft will slide through the gap and other areas are too tight for even that small of a rod (the bubble plate is off centered) let alone a tube brush. unless you can provide me a link to a brush that will be slim enough yet still have some rigidity to scrub the inside of the body? If not i will just have to soak it for a couple days to remove this build up once in a while

2) I don't want to mention that this is a unique situation
The unique situation was referring to the skimmer losing it ability to be tuned, it wasn't unique :(

3) When you do a complete clean...
I would much prefer to clean the collection cup and body once a week as usual, the idea of leaving bio film in there for weeks or months seems kinda dirty and nitrate factory'ish to me (not sure how long you would suggest). Aside from the issue of more difficulty tuning with the tension lock, it holds its setting great and takes about a minute to tune, so no worries there. Just more of a hassle than when it was new, because of the tension

Im glad to hear the company is investing time and money into customer service, hopefully this includes efficiency on warranty parts and service as well.

The guys i was in email contact with regarding the problem (in the US i'm assuming?)all seemed very nice, polite, apologetic and helpful! Its just really a shame they lied to me (several times)

Thanks for taking the time to reply and welcome to the forum :)