Fishbowl Adviser

The Best Protein Skimmers In 2022

Updated: Jun 08, 2022

BEST CHOICE

4.5/5

Coralife Super Protein Skimmer

PREMIUM PICK

4.5/5

AquaMaxx Hang-On-Back Protein Skimmer

BEST PRICE

4.5/5

Aquaticlife Mini Internal Protein Skimmer

BEST CHOICE

4.5/5

Coralife Super Protein Skimmer

PREMIUM PICK

4.5/5

AquaMaxx Hang-On-Back Protein Skimmer

BEST PRICE

4.5/5

Aquaticlife Mini Internal Protein Skimmer

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By Fishbowl Adviser

Published: 09:11 am

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A protein skimmer isn’t a requirement for success, but having this filter brings you many benefits. Simply put, a protein skimmer is a container with air and water that performs valuable functions in the tank. It removes uneaten food, fish waste, and other undesirable organic waste material that can pollute and lower the quality of your water. If you decide to get one for your aquarium, check out which are the best protein skimmers on the market right now.

Product NameBest ForRatingPrice
Coralife Super Protein SkimmerIn Sump or Hang On Back3.9Check Price on Amazon
IceCap K1-Nano Protein SkimmerIn Sump3.8Check Price on Amazon
Reef Octopus Classic 110-INT Protein SkimmerIn Sump4.7Check Price on Amazon
Bubble Magus BM-Curve 5 Protein SkimmerInternal4.6Check Price on Amazon
Macro Aqua M-50 External Protein SkimmerHang On Back3.8Check Price on Amazon
Aquaticlife Mini Internal Protein SkimmerInternal3.8Check Price on Amazon
SC Aquariums SCA-301 Protein Skimmer/4.1Check Price on Amazon
Instant Ocean SeaClone Protein SkimmerExternal Hang On or In Sump4.1Check Price on Amazon
AquaMaxx Hang-On-Back Protein SkimmerHang On Back4.4Check Price on Amazon
Simplicity 120DC Protein SkimmerIn Sump (DC)4.5Check Price on Amazon

Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

The Best Protein Skimmer

Coralife Super Protein Skimmer

KEY FEATURES:

  • Wide neck collection cup allows easy cleaning
  • Bubble/water contact time is increased by dual injection inlets
  • Bubble production diffuser prevents the flow of micro-bubbles into the main tank
  • Can be used with hang on mounting bracket or in sump

The Coralife Super Skimmer is probably the best choice on the current market. It has a high-performance foam fractionator designed with a patented needle-wheel impeller that creates a spiraling vortex of micro bubbles, and water inside the reaction chamber. Each unit is adaptable for both HOB and in-sump aquarium setup. It’s available in three sizes to accommodate your tank – 65, 125, and 220 gallon.

PROS

CONS

2. IceCap K1-Nano Protein Skimmer

IceCap K1 Nano Protein Skimmer

KEY FEATURES:

  • Suited for aquariums between 10 and 30 gallons in volume
  • It has a magnet mount for easy placement
  • The device is made out of high-quality materials
  • It has a pipeless design that saves space

This skimmer is remarkably small with an impressive performance. With IceCap K1-Nano protein skimmer, you’ll get a new level of filtration – magnet mount will allow you to place the filter on a surface up to ½ inches thick, every part is built to last, and it disassembles completely for easy and thorough cleaning.

PROS

CONS

3. Reef Octopus Classic 110-INT Protein Skimmer

Reef Octopus Classic 110-INT Protein Skimmer

KEY FEATURES:

  • Coral Vue octopus four-inch needle wheel skimmer 100gal
  • Reef octopus pinwheel/needle wheel skimmers provide you with high-performance features in an easy to use package
  • New pinwheel impellers provide up to 100% improved performance

If you’re looking for a product that you can’t go wrong with, purchasing a skimmer from the Reef Octopus brand is a terrific idea. This company has a well-deserved quality reputation, and this specific product is proof of why this brand is so reliable. Reef Octopus Classic Protein Skimmer provides you with amazing, high-performance features in an easy-to-use package. Hailea pumps provide better foam production and a four-inch cone neck eases the transition to the collection cup. The neck allows easy cleaning, while the gate valve provides effortless adjustments of water level.

PROS

CONS

4. Bubble Magus BM-Curve 5 Protein Skimmer

Bubble Magus BM-Curve 5 Protein Skimmer

KEY FEATURES:

  • Suited for aquariums up to 140 gallons
  • Maximizes skimming with its specially designed narrow neck
  • Has a needle wheel pump with a venture intake
  • Easy installation is guaranteed with a compact footprint

Bubble Magus Curve Protein Skimmer is a perfect budget-friendly option for all of those looking for a compact and efficient filter. It takes no effort to adjust it, set it up and clean it. With its wine glass body, the foam gets collected effectively, while a needle wheel pump delivers plenty of bubbles. There’s also an air silencer that guarantees quiet operation, a compact footprint for seamless installation, and a quick-release cup for easy cleaning.

PROS

CONS

5. Macro Aqua M-50 External Protein Skimmer

Macro Aqua M-50 External Protein Skimmer

KEY FEATURES:

  • High-quality filter for tanks up to 60 gallon in volume
  • Small and convenient
  • Increases water to air contact with a needle-to-wheel impeller

This skimmer simply needs to be plugged, and all the waste in your tank will be gone. It’s one of the top saltwater skimmers that don’t need to prime. It’s reliable, easy to tune and hook up, but the best part is probably the price for the quality you get. It operates best on tanks with 40 to 60 gallons, and the cleaning and maintenance is effortless. Simply remove the collector cup, and rinse off the proteins and other waste.

PROS

CONS

6. Aquaticlife Mini Internal Protein Skimmer

Aquaticlife Mini Internal Protein Skimmer

KEY FEATURES:

  • It’s very effective for removing organic compounds and other pollutants
  • It’s perfectly compact for nano tanks – it measures only 3 1/2  x 3-1/4 x 10-5/8 inches
  • It has an 8-watt needle wheel impeller pump for maximum protein collection

If you have a saltwater aquarium up to 30 gallons, Aquaticlife 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer is ideal for you. Aside from being affordable, it’s very powerful, and quiet. With its 8-watt needle-wheel impeller pump, this skimmer reaches maximum energy and air-to-water contact. The flow of the water can be adjusted with a knob. Aquaticlife 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer has a quick-lock design that allows full access for easy cleaning and maintenance. Place it conveniently with one of its mounting options and enjoy its compact size and effectiveness.

PROS

CONS

7. SC Aquariums SCA-301 Protein Skimmer

SC Aquariums SCA-301 Protein Skimmer

KEY FEATURES:

  • Designed to work for marine tanks up to 65 gallons
  • It has an air silencer
  • The perfect water level is 7’’

SCA-301 protein skimmer is a perfect choice if you’re looking for a powerful and reliable filter for an aquarium with up to 65 gallons of water in volume. It breaks in quickly and collects all the organic waste in your tank. It’s very thin, so it’s easy to position it wherever you want, without taking up too much space. It’s also recommended for first-time buyers and beginners in this hobby.

PROS

CONS

8. Instant Ocean SeaClone Protein Skimmer

Instant Ocean SeaClone Protein Skimmer

KEY FEATURES:

  • Turbo-Venturi Injector System with Maxi-Jet 1200 pump
  • It has versatile installation
  • Works with any saltwater aquarium up to 100 gallons

Instant Ocean SeaClone Protein Skimmer is another suggestion on our list that’s highly efficient in collecting organic compounds. It has a Turbo-Venturi Injector System that mixes air with filtered water in the pump Impeller chamber. That way, it creates micro-bubbles that allow skimming and gas exchange. Water and air mix in the Vortex Reaction Chamber and create a “tornado” that dissolves waste material from the tank. Everything that the Instant Ocean SeaClone Skimmer collects ends up trapped in a high-capacity collection chamber.

PROS

CONS

9. AquaMaxx Hang-On-Back Protein Skimmer

AquaMaxx Hang-On-Back Protein Skimmer

KEY FEATURES:

  • Easy to set up and maintain
  • Durable, reliable, and efficient
  • Maximizes the production of foam and protein extraction

AquaMaxx had a title for the best HOB skimmer on the market, and this innovative model is here to prove just how powerful and beneficial these skimmers are. This is a more powerful and upgraded version of AquaMaxx`s best-selling model, HOB-1. With its custom conical bubble diffusers, it helps minimize the turbulence inside the reaction chamber and helps to direct water linearly up toward the collection cup. It has enough power to pull out more waste than ever from your aquarium and collect it in the easy-to-remove collection cup. Skimmers from this brand are engineered with computer precision, and they utilize the latest technology in filtration to deliver the best performance and value for the price. 

PROS

CONS

10. Simplicity 120DC Protein Skimmer

Simplicity 120DC Protein Skimmer

KEY FEATURES:

  • It has an adjustable DC pump speed
  • Designed for tanks up to 120 gallons
  • Collection cup drain with cap
  • It has a 3-year pro-rated warranty: 100% coverage first year 50% coverage second year 25% coverage third year

If you’re looking for the best ratio of quality and value, DC Protein Skimmer should be your choice. This silent, adaptable, and affordable filter is very simple to use, while the DC pump allows you to adjust the skimmer to your needs. Simplicity uses a controllable DC pump and needle wheel that’s regarded as perhaps one of the ideal methods to shred air and water and create micro-fine bubbles. The secret behind the success of this skimmer is that it provides a long contact time between air and water. The combination of a wedge pipe indicator, bubble plate, air intake adjustment, and controllable pump allows you to get the best performance for your system.

PROS

CONS

Best Protein Skimmer Buying Guide & FAQ

Now that you’ve seen our choice for the best protein skimmers, it’s time to pick the one for you. How to know which one would be perfect for your aquarium? Take a look at the FAQ below and learn how to pick your skimmer and why you should have one.

Protein skimmer fish

What to Look For in a Protein Skimmer

This is the essential question – what you should know before you purchase a protein skimmer and how to get it right from the first time? You’ll need the right type and size that can fit your budget. First, you should look for the right skimmer for the size of your tank. This isn’t just about the number of gallons but also about the number of fish and other living beings in your aquarium that will produce organic compounds. Pay attention to the following:

  • Do not make a mistake by getting a too powerful skimmer. A filter that’s too strong isn’t equal to better performance. Having a skimmer that’s too big will actually do more damage than if you bought one that’s too small. Under-power skimmer will work decently, but it will leave a lot behind. Overpowered won’t work at all since there won’t be enough organics for it to filter. It won’t make foam – the cup will seem like it has boiling water instead.
  • Get familiar with the terms low, medium, and heavy bioload when choosing the perfect skimmer for you. This is based on how much food you put in the aquarium. A single cube is considered a low bioload, two cubes would be a medium, and if you’re using a variety of frozen foods for your pets, that would be called a heavy bioload. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines and buy the filter that fits the amount of food you’ll be giving your fish.
  • When choosing your protein skimmer, consider the other filters you have in the tank. For example, if you have filter socks, fleece roller, or some other filter that removes organic waste before it breaks down, your protein skimmer won’t have much work to do, and you’ll be just fine with a low-powered skimmer even if you have a heavy bioload. If you don’t have any additional filters and the protein skimmer has to do all the work, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. In case you’re upgrading your tank and the skimmer will be just another addition to your advanced setup, you won’t need a strong one.
  • Remember that your needs aren’t the same at the moment and a year from now. New tanks don’t require the same filtration as the established ones, so buying a skimmer without considering your future tank growth is a common mistake. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to buy a different skimmer every year – on the contrary. It just means that you have to consider the future as you’re purchasing a skimmer and to get one that has a wide performance operating range. That type will scale with your performance system by scaling the amount of air that will be ingested in the skimmer.

Types of Protein Skimmer

There are several types of protein skimmers you can find on the market.

  • Internal Protein Skimmers – Usually used in nano tanks; Their quality isn’t exactly the best unless you buy a high-quality one.
  • HOB or Hang On Back Protein Skimmers – This type works without an aquarium sump. They’re great for smaller tanks or the ones without a sump, but they’re not powerful enough for bigger tanks.
  • External Protein Skimmers – If you own a large aquarium (over 300 gallons), this is the type for you.
  • In Sump Protein Skimmers – The majority of all the best protein skimmers fall under this category. They often have a lot of features you can use to adapt your skimmer to your needs.

Benefits of Aquarium Protein Skimmers

As we already mentioned, having a protein skimmer isn’t a necessity, but it’s most definitely beneficial equipment for your tank. It helps you control the level of nitrate, removes organic waste before it breaks down, and helps you with maintaining your tank. You’ll have less odor, the water won’t change color easily, and maybe you’ll even need fewer water changes. If you wish to run a successful aquarium, this tool of filtration will be extremely beneficial and your fish and corals will be very thankful.

Saltwater fish

Best Protein Skimmers FAQ

Do you have more questions? We answered some of the most frequently asked ones that might have useful info you’re looking for. Read on to learn more about protein skimmers, their performance, and maintenance.

A: The pump in the protein skimmer is used to mix the air and water and create foam in a designated cup. That foam is made from the organic materials collected in the tank. Undesirable waste in your aquarium has an electrical charge, which means that it’s attracted to the surface of the water. Hydrophilic pollutants have a natural charge that allows them to form on a bubble, create foam, and leave the tank. Once the cup gets full (in a week or two), simply empty the cup and wash it. Remember that not every pollutant is hydrophilic, so the protein skimmer can’t do much about hydrophobic pollutants.

A: Protein skimmers are mostly used in saltwater tanks because they do not work well in freshwater ones. The reason behind it is that the freshwater lacks the capability to create the foam that makes this device efficient. However, there’s an ongoing debate that a protein skimmer is still needed if you have a big tank with a lot of live plants because of the quantity of organic waste they produce.

A: This filter removes organic waste before it manages to break down and release nitrates and other nitrogen compounds. That means that it doesn’t remove or reduce nitrates, but it helps maintain a low nitrate level by preventing the buildup.

A: The answer is yes – another important benefit of having a protein skimmer is that it reduces algae. Without the excess of organic waste decomposing in the water, there won’t be any phosphates for algae to feed on and you won’t have to deal with algae overgrowth or infestation.

A: You might hear that you should clean your skimmer every couple of months, and some state that it’s necessary to clean it every couple of weeks. So, what would be the truth? It all depends on the size of your container, but we advise cleaning your protein skimmer weekly. It’s not just the cup that gets full and needs to be emptied, but the neck of the skimmer that has to be cleaned in order for the filter to function. If the neck is dirty, it will slow down the performance of the device. You can also get a neck cleaner if you don’t want to clean the protein skimmer every week, and simply empty the cup whenever it gets full.

Also, the whole skimmer has to be cleaned at least once a year if you want the best performance. If you notice that it runs slower, it’s definitely time for a clean-up. You don’t need to disassemble the whole filter and wash each part separately. Simply put it in a five-gallon bucket that has some citric acid inside, and let it run for an hour. After that, just rinse it off and put it back in the tank.

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