- The Best Protein Skimmer
- 1. Coralife Super Protein Skimmer
- 2. IceCap K1-Nano Protein Skimmer
- 3. Reef Octopus Protein Skimmer for Aquarium
- 4. Bubble Magus BM-Curve 5 Protein Skimmer
- 5. Macro Aqua Mini External Protein Skimmer
- 6. Aquatic Life Mini Internal Protein Skimmer
- 7. SC Aquariums Skimmer for Fish Tank
- 8. Hydor Internal Skimmer for Mini Aquariums
- 9. Simplicity Protein Skimmer
- 10. AquaMaxx Hang On Back Protein Skimmer
Have you ever gone to check up on your fish but fail to do so due to your tank's murky water and algae-infested glass? If so, you need to invest in a protein skimmer. As well as ensuring your fish are less susceptible to contracting diseases, the role of a protein skimmer in breaking down phosphates substantially reduces the amount of algae covering your tank. Honestly, the only guy who loses out is your saltwater algae eater!
But where to start? The bewildering world of protein skimmers awaits; and yes, each model is even more tempting than the last. But don't become overwhelmed and give up just yet. In this buying guide, we've assembled the ten best protein skimmers on the market that refuse to let dissolved organic compounds ruin the immaculate aesthetic of your fish tank. Read on below to find the model for you.
The Best Protein Skimmer
Easy cleaning thanks to twist feature
Wider neck collection cup allows for controlled foam production
Acrylic construction ensures durability
Exclusive needle wheel technology creates vortex of water, thereby attracting fine protein and organic compounds inside the reaction chamber
Energy efficient pumps improves skimmer performance without a rise of power demand
Coralife’s protein skimmer’s top feature has to be its high-functioning foam fractionation, featuring a patented needle-wheel system that engenders the spiraling vortex of water and micro bubbles that turn your fish tank into a healthy environment for your fish. No matter if your aquarium features an in-sump setup or relies on hang-on aquarium mounting, Coralife’s protein system is able to fit in any size of aquarium between 65 gallons to 220 gallons.
Maintaining this protein skimmer couldn’t be easier: the collection cup’s advantageous wide-neck design ensures efficient foam production and control is maintained at all times. Besides, keeping the skimmer clean takes no time at all thanks to the easy twist feature on the collection cup.
Made from PVC and acrylic construction
Able to operate quietly
Protein skimmer’s ability to completely come apart makes it easy to clean and maintain
Compact skimmer fits easily in the majority of tanks
IceCap’s protein skimmer is acclaimed for many reasons, yet what allows it to stand out from the crowd is its quiet operation. However, don’t jump to conclusions and simply assume that just because it’s quiet means it’s effectively useless. Quite the contrary; including a bubble dispersant chamber that features an adjustable knob in order to prevent the skimmer from overflowing, it’s a top-of-the-range model geared towards obliterating waste from your tank.
Crafted from durable PVC and acrylic, an included magnet mount renders it painless to hang an IceCap protein skimmer from surfaces up to half an inch thick. In conjunction with the easy setup, cleaning this unit is just as simple, given how easy it is to dismantle the unit. There aren’t many skimmers that succeed in both producing a carbon footprint and maintaining an impressive performance, but IceCap’s model is certainly one of them.
Hailea OPT pumps ensure superior foam production
State-of-the-art pinwheel impellers set model apart from other protein skimmers
Water level can be adjusted without any problems due to accessible gate valve
Quick-release neck facilitates easy cleaning
Designed for in-sump use only, Reef Octopus’ Needle Wheel Skimmer will tempt you from the first time you adjust the accessible gate value. Its renowned pinwheel impellers attached to the DC pump play a huge role in creating the bubbles the skimmer relies on to attract protein and therefore effectively clean the tank.
Not only is the four-inch cone-neck easy to remove for cleaning due to its quick-release neck, its superior size ensures the bubbles transition successfully into the collection cup. Paired with the hailea OPT pumps that generate exceptional foam production, there isn’t much to complain about!
Needle wheel pump with venture intake successfully generates air bubbles
Turbulence decreased in reaction table thanks to bubble plate
Compact footprint approves easy installation
Protein skimmer comes with reasonable one-year warranty on skimmer and pump motor features
Sturdy and strong, Bubble Magus’s Protein Skimmer cleans tanks containing up to 140 gallons to perfection. Setting up this skimmer is a breeze, with some customers even describing this process as fun due to the detailed diagrams the company provides – and no, this wasn’t intended as sarcasm!
Bubble Magus are so proud of their creation that they offer a one-year warranty on their skimmer and pump motor, as well as a six-month warranty on the impeller in the pump. And why wouldn’t they be? From the bubble plate that reduces turbulence in the reaction chamber to the inclusion of an air silencer to guarantee quiet operation, this protein skimmer will last you years to come.
Protein skimmer ensures exceptional water flow of 238 gallons per hour
No priming required before installation thanks to plug-and-play design
Successfully eliminates organic waste
Collection cup designed to facilitate easy removal, making waste disposal a piece of cake
Wave goodbye to organic waste smeared all over your tank permanently thanks to Macro Aqua’s commendable Protein Skimmer. Ideal for fitting in tanks up to sixty gallons or less, its plug and play design ensures the installation process will be a breeze.
Boasting an exemplary water flow of 238 gallons per hour, it’s rare to find a skimmer with its own pump at this price point. What’s more, the skimmer is wonderfully quiet, without the common wheezing and gurgling noises that frequently wail from other protein skimmers. Believe us: you’ll notice a remarkable difference when your aquarium water turns from a nasty yellowy brown to clear in a matter of weeks.
Collection cup can be set to control how high foam can rise to prevent overflow from occurring
Choose from several mounting options
Two mounting brackets go on back of the skimmer to keep it secure against the tank wall
Additional option to use two mounting brackets and suction cups together to ensure skimmer doesn’t disconnect
How could we not include an aquarium protein skimmer for under fifty dollars? The perfect model for small aquariums, Aquatic Life’s Mini Protein Skimmer packs a punch, despite its modest size. Perfect for treating small aquariums up to thirty gallons, the water flow is easily adjustable – just one turn of the knob is all it takes to stop the collection cup from overflowing.
As well as the torrent of micro-bubbles this skimmer produces in aquarium water, the pump ensures that a perfect equilibrium is maintained between air and water in the reaction chamber in order to effectively remove waste. For the price, it’s without a doubt a valuable investment.
Ideal for keeping salt water tanks up to 65 gallons clean
Comes with one-year limited warranty
Thick plastic parts ensure product longevity
Blue adjustment tube can be easily adjusted to achieve correct skimmer water level
Perfectly capable of pulling copious amounts of skimmate from any aquarium, SC Aquarium’s Protein Skimmer for saltwater tanks is seriously sturdy. Comprising of thick, plastic parts that easily pull apart and fit back together as well as a removable cup, manufacturers have tried everything and succeeded in ensuring that their sump protein skimmer works thoroughly.
Unsurprisingly, the unbelievable cleaning power their pump system offers led manufacturers to place a one-year limited warranty on their product. Regarding the optimal sump water level, delighted customers claim this skimmer performs its best at seven inches of water which can be achieved by twisting the blue adjustment tube. Then all you have to do is sit back and watch this skimmer work its magic on your aquarium water!
Patented magnet-suction cup mounting design allows for easy installation
Compact protein skimmer compatible with nano to medium reef aquariums
State-of-the-art intake design cuts down surface bio-slicks by drawing directly from the water’s surface
Venturi air pump transfers waste to the adjustable collection cup
Designed to keep mini aquariums between 25 to 30 gallons sparkling, Hydor’s nano skimmer is the mini model to beat. For starters, this stylish jet-black pump is able to mount inside an aquarium tank easily thanks to the help of its patented magnet-suction cup mounting design – indeed, the model is compact enough to blend into the background.
Satisfied customers often comment on the energy-efficient Hydor venturi air pump which produces compact bubbles to eliminate the dissolved organic compounds, thereby reducing the risk of phosphate being released into the aquarium water. The integrated surface intake design that successfully removes surface oil from the aquarium additionally works in tandem with these other commendable features – it’s a skimmer that really works.
DC pump speed is adjustable to guarantee control
Company offer three-year pro-rated warranty concerning the collection cup drain with cap
Built-in digital readout exhibiting current speed and power consumption provides easy-to-read interface
Hybrid cone design extends contact time, allowing proteins ample time to stick to the bubbles
Perfect for treating tanks up to 120 gallons, the convenience of Simplicity’s cone shape design has placed it high up on the list of in-sump models. The controllable DC pump and needle wheel work simultaneously to create compact micro-bubbles and shred air, creating a faultless protein skimmer.
A whopping three-year pro-rated warranty has been placed on the collection cup drain; featuring a cap so the murky water doesn’t spill right back into the clean tank. Not like you’ll ever need to use the warranty, that is!
Collection cup can easily be moved up or down to ensure foam level stays at an optimal level
Enlarged bubble diffuser maximizes foam production and protein extraction
Pump is internal and submerged in water, thereby making it quieter compared to external pump skimmers
Generous size of skinner allows for large volumes of water to be filtered
Lastly, AquaMaxx’s hang-on-back protein skimmer – made with a sturdy cell-cast acrylic design – offers the perfect pump power consumption and filtration rating for smaller tanks. AquaMaxx’s upgraded version of HOB-1 features an enlarged bubble diffusor and reaction chamber, leading to maximum foam production and a healthy aquarium.
Had any bad experiences with spilled waste seeping back into your tank in the past? Not to worry; the collection cup can easily be adjusted so no foam unexpectedly spills over, breaking your heart in the process. In fact, you’ll most likely forget that your skimmer is even operating away in the background – given that the internal pump is completely submerged in water, noise levels are kept to a minimum in comparison to external pump skimmers. Undoubtedly, every one of these first-rate upgrades make AquaMaxx’s HOB-1.5 one of the top protein skimmers on the market to beat.
Best Protein Skimmer Buying Guide & FAQ
What to Look For in a Protein Skimmer
- What size of protein skimmer do I require?
The size of protein skimmer you require depends on several factors. For starters, what sizes of fish do you own? The bigger the fish, the greater amount of bio load they'll produce. Even a tank filled with guppies will produce less amounts of bio load than an aquarium containing only a few predatory fish such as lionfish or puffers. If you find yourself in the latter situation, purchasing a bigger skimmer is recommended – otherwise, you'll find yourself running back and forth to empty your skimmer's collection cup.
- Does my prospective skimmer feature a controllable DC pump?
DC pumps ensure that the flow rate in your tank won't just be efficient, but can be controlled at any point. Some DC pumps even have feed modes: a feature that is very beneficial at feeding time, so your fish don't have a hard time trying to catch their food as it swirls around in the vortex created by the protein skimmer.
Types of Skimmers for Fish Tanks
- In sump
By far the most popular type of protein skimmer, an in-sump protein skimmer slides nicely into the sump system of an aquarium – a sump being the container of water that sits below an aquarium. Owning a sump system to store filters and other cumbersome equipment frees up plenty of space inside your fish tank, allowing your tank to appear less cluttered. Certainly, this type of skimmer is essential for larger tanks when small skimmers aren't sufficient for ensuring a powerful filtration process takes place.
- In tank
This self-explanatory model of skimmer is compact enough to snugly fit inside a nano tank. Although they're small, high-quality nano protein skimmers will do a fine job improving the water quality in your tank.
- HOB (Hang-On-Back)
A HOB protein skimmer is a fine addition to any tank that doesn't have the pleasure of an in-sump system. It can be mounted externally on the rim and is suitable for small aquariums that hold under 100 gallons of water.
Related Post: Automatic Fish Feeders
Benefits of Aquarium Protein Skimmers
They achieve extremely low nitrate levels: Reef aquariums in particular require extremely low nitrate levels in order to maintain coral health. Unlike freshwater aquariums, a large majority of saltwater aquariums do not possess the suitable conditions to allow for de-nitrification – the process that reduces nitrate into a harmless and gaseous form of nitrogen. If this process does not occur, nitrate levels may affect the health of the fish in a saltwater aquarium, rendering them susceptible to disease and reducing their chances of becoming pregnant.
How to Set Up a Protein Skimmer
- Make sure you have every required part: Laying out the parts in front of you, ensure nothing is broken before you begin setting up. Removing your old skimmer to discover your new model has any issues would be heartbreaking to say the least.
- Measure the water depth of your skimmer box:As the instructions for your skimmer will state what water depth your new skimmer runs best on – most often, manufacturers recommend between six to ten inches. Once poured into the skimmer protein sump, measure the depth of water again in case it requires any alteration.
- Be incredibly careful when working with electricity: In sump protein skimmers operate thanks to electrical currents. It is essential that you are aware of any water obstructions that run the risk of potentially electrocuting you before plugging in the skimmer to the power box.
- Place the skimmer cup on to your fitted protein skimmer:A stereotypical collection cup is usually very delicate. Placing it on saltwater protein skimmers after fitting curtails any risk of damage.
- Be patient and plan ahead to alleviate potential damage: What many novice aquarium lovers don't take into account is that new protein skimmers take a few days to work efficiently. Therefore, several days of slime build-up is necessary before it starts working like a charm. Leaving your skimmer wide open or slightly closed will alleviate the risk of it overflowing as it would if left closed at the moment your skimmer finally 'breaks in'. The foam line should preferably sit at the point between the body of the skimmer and the cup.
All we've got left to say is... happy protein skimming!
Related Post: Aquarium Heaters
Our Top Pick
After assessing the best protein skimmers on the market, what model would we choose as the filtration system to correct our own quality?Coralife's Super Protein Skimmer with Pump crosses the fictional finish line in first place. Its capability to remove nasty bacteria and organisms from aquarium water is unparalleled thanks to its patented needle wheel impeller that increases the number of air bubbles in the skimmer's water. Combined with the aspirating venturi and its reliability in eliminating dissolved compounds from the aquarium water, you've got yourself a reliable protein skimmer that will keep your tank clear.
Q: Can a protein skimmer be used in freshwater tanks?
Although it won't operate as efficiently in a freshwater tank, a protein skimmer can still be used in fresh water –even if they aren't recommended. As a protein skimmer works by generating air bubbles or foam for organic compounds to stick to, the difficulty in creating air bubbles in freshwater tanks will evidently affect the efficiency of this equipment. Therefore, either investing in freshwater protein skimmers or biological filters are the two principal solutions to treat freshwater tanks.
Q: Do protein skimmers remove or reduce nitrates?
Certainly, protein skimmers are extremely capable of removing organic waste materials which, in turn, substantially reduces nitrate levels. Yet they are incapable of removing or reducing nitrate levels directly. The reduction of nitrate, therefore, isn't due to protein skimmers removing nitrate directly from the water; rather, it's due to the skimmer removing waste before the waste transforms into nitrate.
Q: How often should I clean an aquarium skimmer?
As expected, there are certain parts of protein skimmer that must be cleaned every few days, whereas some sections only require a good scrub periodically. The collection cup of a protein skimmer, for example, requires a thorough clean around twice a week – and even more cleaning is recommended for tanks that produce excessive amounts of waste. You really don't want your cup to overflow! There is no sadder sight than all its collected waste overflowing straight back into your tank.
Cleaning the skimmer neck pump monthly is enough to keep most skimmers functioning well. However, just remember: the more you clean your protein skimmer, the longer your aquarium protein skimmer will last!
Q: How to quieten down a protein skimmer?
Let's face it; quiet protein skimmers are a rare breed. One consolation that aquarium enthusiasts tell themselves is that if a skimmer is quiet, then it's not working efficiently. However, there exists several 'hacks' that succeed in turning down its volume.
Place a yoga mat under the sump: Hear us out. If the cabinet holding your protein skimmer acts somewhat like an amplifier, a yoga mat combined with a piece of neoprene will work a charm.
Invest in an air silencer: An air silencer effectively muffles the noise of incoming air – and it's a sought-after item in this day and age, given that the average air flow rate of protein skimmers is rapidly increasing. It's important to note that if the air silencer on your protein skimmer isn't working, take your skimmer apart and check for salt build up that impedes noise obstruction.