Best Aquarium Protein Skimmers

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington

Keeping your aquarium water clean and clear is essential for the health and wellness of your tank inhabitants. Here are our top picks for the best aquarium protein skimmers.

If you want your home aquarium to run properly, you need to install the right filtration system. A three-stage filter is recommended because it removes both solid and liquid waste while also supporting a colony of beneficial bacteria. On top of your tank filter, you may want to consider one addition – a protein skimmer. Protein skimmers are supplemental filtration devices that help remove excess protein and organic wastes from the water column.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the subject of aquarium protein skimmers. We’ll talk about what they are, how they work, and you’ll receive our top 10 picks for the best models on the market.

The Best Aquarium Protein Skimmers

Keeping your aquarium water clean and clear is essential for the health and wellness of your tank inhabitants. On top of a three-stage filtration system, a protein skimmer can help aerate the tank while also removing organic waste products.

Here are our top picks for the best aquarium protein skimmers:

1. Reef Octopus Classic Protein Skimmer

This protein skimmer is rated for up to 250 gallons, providing powerful filtration for larger aquariums. It is made from durable cast acrylic and comes apart easily for cleaning. It has a unique wine glass-shaped body to natural stabilize and concentrate the organic foam for maximum waste removal benefits.

2. SC Aquariums 180 Gallon Protein Skimmer

Though this protein skimmer is rated for tanks up to 180 gallons, it features a compact size that fits most sump systems. It comes with an extra-large collection cup and a silencer for quiet operation. You’ll also be glad to know that the parts are laser cut to ensure seamless assembly.

3. Coral Vue Technology Needle Wheel Skimmer

If you’re looking for a high-performance protein skimmer, this model is one to consider. It is rated for up to 210 gallons and features a 6-inch needle wheel system that maximizes efficiency and performance.

4. Bubble Magus BM-Curve 5 Protein Skimmer

This protein skimmer is rated for tanks up to 140 gallons and it features a high-performance pump. This model is practical and highly efficient, made with a variety of innovative features at an affordable price. It comes with a needle wheel pump, a curved skimmer body, and an air silencer to ensure quiet operation.

5. Instant Ocean SeaClone Protein Skimmer

Available in 100-gallon and 150-gallon sizes, this protein skimmer can be used in a sump system or it can hang on the back of the aquarium. It mixes filtered water with air in the pump impeller chamber, creating a froth of tiny bubbles to maximize skimming efficiency with improved gas exchange.

6. Coralife Super Protein Skimmer with Pump

This protein skimmer comes in three sizes rated for 65 gallons, 125 gallons, and 220 gallons. It features a patented needle wheel system which creates a spiraling vortex of water to remove even the finest proteins and organic compounds.

7. AquaMaxx HOB Protein Skimmer

For easy setup and maintenance, consider this protein skimmer rated for tanks up to 60 gallons. It features a compact design and is durable, efficient, and reliable. It helps increase the bioload of your tank and is easy to set up and operate. This upgraded model offers a stronger air draw and smaller bubbles to improve performance.

8. Simplicity 240DC Protein Skimmer

Rated for tanks up to 240 gallons, this protein skimmer has a surprisingly small footprint. It features a cone-shaped design and a large collection cup with a cap. It also features an adjustable DC pump speed so you can customize it for your tank.

9. Macro Aqua M-50 Mini External Protein Skimmer

If you’re looking for a protein skimmer for a smaller tank and don’t want to spend a fortune, this mini external protein skimmer is a good choice. It features a compact design that is easy to install and operate. It also features a needle-to-wheel impeller which increases air-to-water contact for maximum waste removal.

10. Coralife Biocube Protein Skimmer

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a good aquarium protein skimmer. While the Coralife Biocube Protein Skimmer doesn’t have all the fancy bells and whistles like some of the more expensive skimmers have, it does include everything you need to keep your BioCube tank clean. This model is easy to set up, simple to clean and fits perfectly into your BioCube Aquarium. Even though it was designed for a BioCube aquarium, it also includes a hanging clip that will allow for easy positioning for any standard saltwater aquarium up to 32 gallons in size. This product has a slender design, self-priming pump and a cone shaped inner chamber that will assist in active skimming. This unit features a pump, adjustable air flow, and an easily accessible removable collection cup.

If you’ve decided that a protein skimmer could benefit your aquarium, the next step is to find the one that best fits your tank. Take what you’ve learned here about protein skimmers and how they work to pick the right one. If you’re still not sure where to look, try one of the recommended models above!

What You Should Know About Protein Skimmers

An aquarium protein skimmer is a device that injects air bubbles into the tank as a means of removing organic compounds like proteins from the water column. The air bubbles attract organic wastes in the water and travel to the collection cup where the bubbles burst, leaving behind those waste products. In this way, protein skimmers help keep your aquarium water clean and clear.

Here are some additional things to know about aquarium protein skimmers:

  • Unlike traditional filters that collect waste inside the filter, protein skimmers completely remove wastes from the water column – they won’t be released back into the tank.
  • Protein skimmers do not require the use of filter media, so they work more continuously and more efficiently than chemical filters.
  • By reducing nitrate buildup in your tank water, protein skimmers help maintain biological filtration and are particularly beneficial for reef tanks.
  • Protein skimmers promote gas exchange, increasing the oxygen levels in your tank water.
  • These devices help reduce phosphate levels in the tank which prevents cloudy tank water and keeps algae growth under control.

Now that you have a better understanding of what a protein skimmer is and what it does, you’re ready to start shopping!

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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