15 Best Protein Skimmers for Aquariums & Sump (Reviewed 2021)

Updated on January 13, 2021 by

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What are the benefits of using a protein skimmer?

A successful saltwater aquarium comes with plenty of high-tech accessories, accompanied by some plumbing as well. Such a tank includes a heater to warm up the water and keep it at constant temperatures, a filter to clean up any harmful debris, and lighting equipment to facilitate corals growth.

But depending on the tank’s bio-load, an extra filtration aid might be a necessity. For that, we review below some of the best protein skimmers currently available on the market, which should help you out while looking for the most suitable skimmer for your reef.

To narrow down and ease your search, we listed below our top 3 winners for the best in-sump protein skimmer, best nano protein skimmer, and also our top pick for the best HOB protein skimmer.

Best IN-SUMP Skimmer
Reef Octopus Classic 150INT Protein Skimmer
Reef Octopus Classic 150INT Protein Skimmer
9.9

For Tanks: Up to 210 Gallons
Footprint: 12.4″ x 8.7″
Total Height: 22″

Best NANO Skimmer
IceCap K1-Nano Protein Skimmer
IceCap K1-Nano Protein Skimmer
9.6

For Tanks: Up to 30 Gallons
Footprint: 2.7″ x 3.2″
Total Height: 13″

Best HOB Skimmer
Reef Octopus Classic 100-HOB Protein Skimmer
Reef Octopus Classic 100-HOB Protein Skimmer
9.4

For Tanks: Up to 105 Gallons
Footprint: 8″ x 3.25″
Total Height: 17″

Protein skimmers are meant to aid your existing saltwater aquarium filtration. Their main purpose is to remove uneaten foods and fish waste before these start breaking down into smaller molecules and spread out in the entire aquarium ecosystem, generating unwanted and harmful substances like Nitrates (NO3).

Saltwater skimmers have the capacity to produce massive amounts of tiny bubbles, that facilitate a large surface area, meant to attract all the harmful molecules mentioned above.

A reef tank protein skimmer will concentrate and collect all this dissolved muck in its cup, and therefore it’s necessary to keep an eye on your skimmer every day as the cup should not overflow, releasing all the collected stuff, called skimmate.

Let’s dive a little bit into the scientific facts of how do protein skimmers actually work. The protein skimmers are specially designed and equipped with a reaction chamber that facilitates the creation of fine bubbles, a vital step in the whole process played by the skimmer.

When the organic waste molecules reach the air bubbles of the skimmer’s reaction chamber, the chemical process called absorption begins. At this stage, the skimmer’s air bubbles will propel the waste matter at the chamber’s surface, right before getting into the collection cup.

Depending on the type and brand of the protein skimmer, the number and size of the bubbles can vary, determining how efficient and quick is the entire operation.

Best Aquarium Protein Skimmers in 2021 Compared

ImageProductFeaturesCheck Price
Powerful Skimmer
Coralife Energy Super Skimmer
Coralife Energy Super Skimmer
9.9
Check On Amazon
Modern Skimmer
Reef Octopus Classic 150 INT Skimmer
Reef Octopus Classic 150 INT Skimmer
9.8
Check On AmazonCheck MarineDepot
Quality Skimmer
Reef Octopus Classic 110 INT Skimmer
Reef Octopus Classic 110 INT Skimmer
9.8
Check On AmazonCheck MarineDepot
Best Tech Skimmer
Red Sea Reefer 600 Skimmer
Red Sea Reefer 600 Skimmer
9.7
Check On AmazonCheck MarineDepot
Quiet Skimmer
Bubble Magus Protein Skimmer
Bubble Magus Protein Skimmer
9.6
Check On AmazonCheck MarineDepot
Best HOB Skimmer
CoralVue BH-1000 Octopus Skimmer
CoralVue BH-1000 Octopus Skimmer
9.5
Check On Amazon
Control Pump Skimmer
Simplicity 240DC Skimmer
Simplicity 240DC Skimmer
9.4
Check On Amazon
Best Internal Skimmer
Marine Color RDC 150 Skimmer
Marine Color RDC 150 Skimmer
9.4
Check On Amazon
Effective Skimmer
Reef Octopus Classic 100-HOB Skimmer
Reef Octopus Classic 100-HOB Skimmer
9.2
Check On Amazon
Best Deal Skimmer
SCA Protein Skimmer Newest
SCA Protein Skimmer Newest
9.1
Check On Amazon
Best Reef Skimmer
Comline DOC Protein Skimmer
Comline DOC Protein Skimmer
8.8
Check On Amazon
Mini HOB Skimmer
Macro Aqua M-50 Skimmer
Macro Aqua M-50 Skimmer
8.6
Check On Amazon
Lightweight Skimmer
IceCap K1-Nano Protein Skimmer
IceCap K1-Nano Protein Skimmer
8.4
Check On AmazonCheck MarineDepot
Quiet Internal Skimmer
Marine Color RDC 250 Skimmer
Marine Color RDC 250 Skimmer
8.1
Check On Amazon
Small Foorprint Skimmer
Reef Octopus Classic 110 Skimmer
Reef Octopus Classic 110 Skimmer
7.8
Check On AmazonCheck MarineDepot

1. Coralife Super – Powerful & Varied Protein Skimmers

Our Top Pick
Coralife Energy Savers Skimmers - Powerful & Varied Protein Skimmers

The Coralife protein skimmers are one of the best and most effective additions to any saltwater or reef aquarium filtration.

Their patented needle wheel system produces a spiraling vortex of water aiming to remove any fine proteins and organic compounds that form in the aquarium saltwater.

We found Coralife as highly effective protein skimmers at removing dissolved organic compounds from saltwater aquariums of up to 220 gallons capacity. They feature a wide neck collection cup with an easy twist that helps tremendously for effortless cleaning.

You’ll be thrilled to find there are 3 Coralife protein skimmers available covering a wide variety of saltwater aquariums:
Coralife Super Skimmer with Pump 65 gallon – protein skimmer for saltwater aquariums up to 65 gallons.
Coralife Super Skimmer with Pump 125 gallon – protein skimmer for saltwater aquariums up to 125 gallons.
Coralife Super Skimmer with Pump 220 gallon – protein skimmer for saltwater aquariums up to 220 gallons.

Only suitable for saltwater aquariums, the Coralife protein skimmers come equipped with a bubble production diffuser to prevent the flow of micro-bubbles into your reef tank. This can be extremely handy especially if you’re going on a holiday and leave your tank in the care of a less experienced friend.

All the Coralife skimmers can be used in the sump or hung on the tank using the mounting bracket. Their dual injection inlets are an improvement to increase the bubble – water contact time. Such an extended water contact time is vital for the overall effectiveness of the protein skimmer.

If you decide to go with Coralife skimmers for marine tanks, you surely won’t be disappointed as these are by far some of the best protein skimmers out there.

PROs
  • 3 great protein skimmers for marine tanks of up to 65 / 125 and 220 gallons
  • Patented needle wheel aspiration system
  • Can be used in sump or with hang on mounting bracket
  • Wide neck collection cup with easy twist feature for effortless cleaning
CONs
  • The installation guide could be better
  • More frequent maintenance after one year of operation

2. Reef Octopus 150-INT – High-end Protein Skimmer

Up to 150 Gallons
Reef Octopus Classic 150INT - High-end Protein Skimmer

Truly a masterpiece high-end in-sump protein skimmer for marine aquariums up to 150 gallons.

Equipped with an Aquatrance 2000 Pinwheel Pump it provides super efficiency and it’s simply the very best protein skimmer in performance.

We took our time testing the Reef Octopus skimmers and compared them to other protein skimmers at the same price range, and we were extremely happy to observe how the bubble diffusing chamber and the full cone body naturally reduce and stabilize the foam production in no time.

This means the turbulence in the neck area is greatly diminished and the contact time for organics to rise and collect is increased. As such, you’ll be surprised to see how fast the Reef Octopus skimmers will start foaming.

It’s also equipped with a turbulence-reducing bubble plate and breaks in no time, while its footprint is rather small: 12.4″ x 8.7″, body diameter: 6″, and height: 22″. We mentioned this as we know how crucial is the space in the sump. As such, if you’re looking among the best protein skimmers with a smaller footprint, this is overall a sturdy and quality skimmer.

PROs
  • Made of high-quality cast acrylic
  • Features an easy to adjust gate valve
  • Easy cup removal with a quick release neck
  • Equipped with cup drain, bubble diffuser
  • Equipped with air shredding Aquatrance pinwheel pump and air silencer
CONs
  • An amazing protein skimmer – can’t mention any cons

3. Reef Octopus 110-INT – Fast Foaming Protein Skimmer

Up to 100 Gallons
Reef Octopus Classic 110-INT - Fast Foaming Protein Skimmer

The Reef Octopus protein skimmers have a well known great reputation and reviews like this don’t make much sense.

Installing this protein skimmer it’s super easy, in just 3 steps, simply a plug and play protein skimmer, that’ll facilitate an easy installtion.

Just like his bigger brother mentioned before, this Octopus reef protein skimmer starts producing tons of foam right out of the box. It is so much easier to empty its cup compared to other skimmers, having an “O” ring all you have to do is to pull the cup off and have it cleaned.

Being also very quiet, along with minimal and easy maintenance we strongly recommend this skimmer for medium sized reef tanks.

PROs
  • Plug and play protein skimmer
  • Strongly recommended by plenty of reefers
  • Can be used on reef tanks up to 100 gallons
  • Very easy to clean and maintain
CONs
  • Can’t say any – perhaps a bit pricey but worth every penny

4. Red Sea Reefer 600 – Best Tech Protein Skimmer

Large Tanks Skimmer
Red Sea Reefer 600 - Best Tech Protein Skimmer

Not the cheapest, but not the most expensive saltwater aquarium protein skimmer either. What’s certain though is that it will operate tirelessly to ensure top-notch water quality.

However one thing is certain – manufactured by one of the most well-known saltwater tanks and accessories, the Red Sea Reefer 600 protein skimmer is a high-tech top-notch protein skimmer.

We recommend the high-performance Red Sea Reefer 600 Protein Skimmer for its top-tech parts. As one of our best protein skimmers reviewed, it comes with a combination of a PSK pump with a proportionally sized venturi, bubble diffusor, and reaction body that maximizes air-water contact time for steady waste removal from your saltwater tank.

The Red Sea Reefer Skimmers are really quiet thanks to rubber connectors which dampen the vibrations as well as a robust air silencer. It’s equipped with a foam view window, built-in neck cleaner, and an extra-long valved waste tube.

Aquarium capacity indications: for SPS, 160 gallons; for mixed reef, 320 gallons; and for fish-only tanks it can successfully manage up to 500 gallons.

PROs
  • Comes with a Sicce PSK 1000 Pump
  • Silent and equipped with high tech features
  • Built-in manual neck cleaner
  • Compact and small footprint (base is movable)
CONs
  • Perhaps a little bit expensive, but definitely worth it

5. Bubble Magus Curve 7 – Best Quiet Protein Skimmer

Compact Design
Bubble Magus Curve Protein Skimmer - Best Quiet Protein Skimmer

The Bubble Magus BM-Curve 7 Protein Skimmer comes with a top-notch compact design that’s highly effective, making it a protein skimmer that can be easily fit into tight spots in your reef tank stand.

To be more specific, with a minimum of 11 x 10-inch section in the sump, the Bubble Magus BM-Curve 7 protein skimmer will fit perfectly, having sufficient space to be moved for let’s say a brief maintenance or cleaning session.

You’ll love to find the length and the width of the Bubble Magus Curve 7 protein skimmer are 235mm per 200mm. When installed, we recommend you to make sure that the pump inlet is not too close to the filtration sump.

Bubble Magus Curve 7 protein skimmer features:

We picked the Bubble Magus among our best protein skimmers article for they are practical and very efficient. These protein skimmers for saltwater tanks provide innovative features along with durable and reliable pumps at an affordable price, making them top protein skimmers for the money.

The Curve 7 protein skimmer has all the outstanding features to be a great skimmer, with numerous positive reviews from lots of customers.

These features include a needle wheel pump with a venturi intake that produces just the right amount and size of air bubbles, a bubble plate to reduce the turbulence in the reaction chamber, an innovative `curve` skimmer body that allows the foam to rise to the collection cup smoothly, an air silencer to ensure quiet operation, a quick-release collection cup and skimmer body for easy cleaning, a collection cup drain to reduce maintenance frequency, and lastly, a lightweight and compact build that facilitate an effortless installation.

The protective film from the top of the lid should be removed. It will be blocking all the vent holes unless removed!

Once the film is removed, the pump will be able to generate the volume of bubbles and foam expected. This Bubble Magus protein skimmer works perfectly for a 100-gallon reef tank with a 20-gallon sump.

PROs
  • Powerful and quiet protein skimmer
  • Easy to handle and install
  • Fair priced and good quality build
  • Maintenance is quick and easy
  • The needle wheel produces lots of fine bubbles
CONs
  • Could be that it needs frequent maintenance sessions

6. CoralVue BH-1000 Octopus – Best HOB Protein Skimmers Variety

Up to 100 Gallons
CoralVue BH-1000 Octopus - Best HOB Protein Skimmers Variety

A HOB protein skimmer with a nice design, the CoralVue BH-1000 Octopus is easy to install. This design also facilitates the easy removal of the pump during cleaning and maintenance sessions of your HOB protein skimmer.

The BH-1000 Octopus hang on back protein skimmer when installed, it hangs 16 inches down from the top of the aquarium – as this is one of the main concern people have when thinking to purchase a new HOB protein skimmer.

There could be one major downside about the BH-1000 Octopus HOB protein skimmer: that you didn’t get it sooner!

Plenty of saltwater aquarium enthusiasts we’ve talked to, simply love this best HOB protein skimmer. Its most advantageous thing about it, is that you can completely disassemble it during maintenance and cleaning sessions. Next to that, you will be thrilled about its great looks. The cost is undoubtedly amazing and it’s built is incredibly sturdy.

It is a very quiet protein skimmer and so many aquarists that are in the hobby for decades, claim that the BH-1000 is by far the best HOB protein skimmer ever purchased.

PROs
  • Comes partially assembled with clear instructions
  • Compact design looking great as a HOB protein skimmer
  • Very quiet operation and easily adjustable
  • Comes at an unbeatable price
CONs
  • The intake sits way to low in the water – the manufacturer suggests cutting 1 to 2 inches off

7. Simplicity 240DC – Easiest to Clean Protein Skimmer

Up to 240 Gallons
Simplicity 240DC Protein Skimmer - Easiest to Clean Protein Skimmer

Owing it to its name and not only, the Simplicity protein skimmers are simple, effective, and way too affordable. However, being relatively newer compared to similar products from other brands, they are not so renowned.

Its needle wheel impeller slices up the air producing tones of fine microbubbles. These bubbles effectively attract proteins, removing food, detritus, and other waste particles from your saltwater aquarium.

For those of you on the lookout for one of the best protein skimmers, the Simplicity 240DC candidates in our tops as one of the easiest to clean skimmers. Maintenance of protein skimmers can be a bit daunting and even gross for some, but you can relax with this unit. It has a relatively larger footprint than other best protein skimmers in this article, but that facilitates easier and straightforward maintenance.

With a powerful and efficient DC pump, the Simplicity 240 DC protein skimmer is rated to 240 gallons in a fish only tank. You can easily adjust the DC pump’s speed and even turn it off temporarily using the feed mode.

PROs
  • The skimmer impressed numerous saltwater enthusiasts
  • Very fast break-in skimmer
  • Best DC skimmer for the money
  • It comes well packaged and the assembly is straight forward
  • The pump is small, powerful, and quiet
CONs
  • A little bit expensive

8. Marine RDC 150 – Best Hang on Internal Protein Skimmer

Up to 40 Gallons
Marine Color RDC 150 - Best Hang on Internal Protein Skimmer

A hang on internal protein skimmer that’s basically killing it and also comes with a fashionable design: built with high quality red and white pipe fittings.

The skimmer collects bubbles in a smooth and stable way thanks to the complete standard cone reaction chamber design.

We’ve noticed a growing trend among aquarists to get started with their first nano reef tank. As such, a hang on internal protein skimmer becomes a must-have for a clean and healthy reef that’ll amaze everybody. For that, we selected the Marine RDC 150 among this best protein skimmers list, so you can easily find a skimmer suitable for up to 40-gallon reef tanks.

The Marine Color RDS 150 protein skimmer is entirely made of cast acrylic materials, making it not just lightweight but also one of the most durable protein skimmers on the market.

PROs
  • Performant protein skimmer build with high-quality material
  • High-efficiency pin wheel pump
  • Very good looking design
  • Especially suitable for using in small footprint sumps
CONs
  • A faulty set-up can overflow the tank, spilling water

9. Reef Octopus 100 – Silent HOB Protein Skimmer

Up to 105 Gallons
Reef Octopus Classic 100 - Silent HOB Protein Skimmer

If you have only 4 inches of space between the back of your saltwater tank and the wall itself, and planning to get one of the best HOB protein skimmers, then the Reef Octopus Classic 100 awaits you. 

The Reef Octopus Classic 100 HOB Protein Skimmer is definitely a favorite among hang-on back skimmer fans. It’s capable of filtering aquariums up to 105 gallons and comes with an extremely easy to install and operate design with the pump mounted inside the tank.

To install the Reef Octopus 100, place the skimmer on the back of the reef tank, mount the pump in place, adjust the intake strainer, and the unit will be ready to skim. As one of the best protein skimmers, the Reef Octopus 100 is for reefers that don’t fancy the idea of a bulky sump, and as such, they decide to go for a hang on back protein skimmer.

The Reef Octopus Classic 100 HOB is made of high-quality acrylic. It features a highly-efficient Aquatrance pinwheel pump, which generates an ideal mix of water and air for optimal waste removal.

PROs
  • Ideal footprint to fit within 4″ between the tank and wall
  • It has a large and adjustable collection cup
  • Very silent HOB protein skimmer
  • Easy set-up without a chance to damage it
  • Very easy to clean
CONs
  • The collection box could have been better designed

10. SCA 180 Gallon Skimmer – Cheap Protein Skimmer

Good Deal
SCA Protein Skimmer - Best Protein Skimmer for the Price

Looking at other reviews from existing customers, we can assure you that the SCA-302 protein skimmer will bring a lot of joy and benefits to your saltwater tank.

It is undoubtedly one of the best protein skimmers for the price.

Although the model comes with a powerful Atman 2000 pump that delivers a large amount of bubbles that are highly beneficial for dissolving the organic matter in the saltwater tank, we actually found it not that powerful for 180-gallon reefs, but more suitable for 120-gallon max.

It is a protein skimmer that you’ll have to clean weekly because it builds up a nice thick dark sludge, but it surely keeps the nitrates at zero and phosphates in check. A protein skimmer that comes with an attractive price tag, operates effectively, and in short, it won’t disappoint.

If you’ve never used a protein skimmer and just getting started with a reef, you should definitely consider the SCA 180 model as one of the best protein skimmers for beginners. You’ll find it easy to install and clean, while its price tag isn’t something to scare you of.

PROs
  • Impressive and fast cleaning power
  • Equipped with a strong pump producing lots of bubbles
  • Easy installation process
  • Protein skimmer that will be able to fit most sumps
CONs
  • Larger footprint compared to other
    protein skimmers
  • Cup size could be a little bit bigger

11. Comline DOC 9001 – Best Protein Skimmer for Nano Reefs

Nano Reef Skimmer
Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9001 - Best Protein Skimmer for Nano Reefs

The newest and most compact protein skimmer from Tunze, it’s the 9001, that measures only 4.3 x 2.5 x 8.5 inch, making it an ideal protein skimmer for nano reef aquariums up to 37 gallons (15 gallons for high nutrient or dedicated SPS tanks).

When delivered, the package includes a needle wheel pump and magnet holder for up to 3/8″ glass or acrylic.

We recommend the Tunze protein skimmer 9001 for its nice and compact design, with a low profile, which makes it also suitable for a sump where you could fit it in about 7″ of water.

The Comline DOC is undoubtedly one of the best protein skimmers, performing well enough in producing skimmate. One thing you’ll have to do is just some fine tuning by adjusting the airflow and by moving the skimmer up and down according to the waterline.

PROs
  • Easy to install and have it operating
  • A highly energy-efficient protein skimmer
  • Compact design to fit easily around the tank
  • Easier maintenance compared to its predecessors
  • Sturdy and durable build
CONs
  • Might be a little bit too wide for some reef nano tanks

12. Macro M-50 Mini External – Best Mini HOB Protein Skimmer

Up to 60 Gallons
Macro Aqua M-50 Mini Hang-on - Best Mini HOB Protein Skimmer

Depending on your stocking, the Aqua M-50 mini HOB protein skimmer is a high-quality unit for reef tanks up to 60 gallons.

It is one of the smallest hang on back protein skimmers, with quite an impressive water flow of 238 GPH, despite its small size.

Small but powerful HOB mini protein skimmer that effectively removes organic waste from your saltwater aquarium and its maintenance comes with absolutely no headaches. What’s necessary is to remove the collection cup to dispose of the collected tank waste.

No priming required:

The M-50 operates easily, as there’s absolutely no need to prime (just plug-and-play). The collection cup can be removed easily to dispose of waste. This beautiful nano skimmer will surely please your nano reef tank.

PROs
  • No prime needed
  • Easy to handle HOB protein skimmer
  • Equipped with an integrated pump
  • Mini HOB protein skimmer designed for reef nano tanks
CONs
  • The bubbling and water return can be a little bit noisy

13. IceCap K1-Nano – High-Performance Protein Skimmer

Up to 30 Gallons
IceCap K1-Nano Protein Skimmer - High-Performance Protein Skimmer

The IceCap K1 Nano protein skimmer is remarkably compact providing a new level of refined filtration for marine aquariums ranging from 10 to 30 gallons (depending on the stocking).

The included magnet mount permits an easy placement on surfaces up to 0.5 inches in thickness.

It is made of robust PVC and high-quality acrylic materials and all individual components are marine safe and refined in every aspect to provide the latest improvements in foam fractionation.

Furthermore, in our carefully selected list of the best protein skimmers, we’ve got the IceCao K1, which is one of the smallest protein skimmers you can find. Don’t misjudge it, though by its size – you’ll be amazed by the great job it does, collected waste from the tank in no time.

Having a compact footprint makes it the ideal protein skimmer for tight compartment applications. The entire skimmer can be completely disassembled for easy maintenance and cleaning sessions.

PROs
  • Works in no time after installation
  • The magnet mount comes very handy
  • Distinctive turbulence reducing body
  • Solid PVC & acrylic construction
  • Efficient & quiet operation
  • Disassembles completely for easy cleaning
CONs
  • In sump installation only

14. Marine Color RDC 250 – Small Footprint Internal Protein Skimmer

Up to 70 Gallons
Marine Color RDC 250

The Marine Color protein skimmers are highly efficient with an internal needle wheel. They are durable protein skimmers, made of high-quality cast acrylic.

If you are into reef ranks protein skimmers with the best design, then look no more.

All Marine Color protein skimmers are built with high quality red and white pipe fittings.

Saving area footprint design is especially a great fit for use in smaller reef tanks. The Marine Color RDC 250 internal protein skimmers are equipped with the red devil SP1 pump, providing 7.8W of power and maximum air intake of 180l/h. Now, that’s some serious power for an internal skimmer.

If you’re considering one of the best protein skimmers also by their looks, then the Marine Color RDC 250 will certainly stand out from the crowd. Its design is absolutely fashionable with top quality and good looking red and white pipe fittings.

It features a unique dual hole muffler design that greatly reduces noise, and makes the protein skimmer more silent while operating.

PROs
  • Easy to install with no extra instructions needed
  • Made of high-quality materials
  • Fits perfectly in small footprint sumps
  • Dual hole muffler design facilitates quieter operation
CONs
  • There have been negative reports regarding its durability

15. Reef Octopus Classic 110 – Durable Protein Skimmer

Up to 110 Gallons
Reef Octopus Classic 110 - Small footprint protein skimmer

If innovative and affordable filtration is what you’re seeking, then the Reef Octopus Classic 110 might be your best choice for a protein skimmer.

With its sleek and compact build, the Reef Octopus Classic 110 in-sump protein skimmer supplies powerful filtration for marine aquariums up to 100 gallons and easily fits in most space-limited applications.

Although a classic protein skimmer that doesn’t come with the most attractive price, this is certainly a unit to consider. For years it has been skimming lots of reef tanks around the world. With solid construction and amazing efficiency, within hours you’ll notice skimmate accumulating in the cup.

It can be completely disassembled during maintenance and cleaning sessions. It is equipped with an Aquatrance pinwheel skimmer pump, that creates an ideal mix of water and air for optimum waste removal.

It is extremely easy to control the skimmer with its rather unique vented wedge valve output, designed for precision control and quiet operation. For the price, this is an overall amazing product, worthy of its place in our best protein skimmers reviewed.

PROs
  • Very economic design space-wise
  • Top-notch efficiency
  • Virtually silent with rubber feet on the bottom
  • Well worth the price
  • With a lid on your sump, adjustments to the skimmer will be minimal
CONs
  • In terms of water sensitivity, it is recommended to have a lid on your tank for this skimmer

What to consider when looking for the best protein skimmer?

Several decisive factors should influence your final decision before purchasing the best protein skimmers to suit your reef tank needs.

What kind of aquarium and its inhabitants

An important aspect here is that most protein skimmers manufacturers rate their products, saying, for instance: “ideal protein skimmer for tanks up to 120 gallons” – please keep in mind that the “120 gallons” guidance might be for fish-only tanks. Meaning the more corals, fish, and bio-load you have, the smaller the tank should be.

What is the installation process for a protein skimmer?

There is no absolute difficulty installing a skimmer, but some of the best protein skimmers out there might not come with the clearest instructions. Carefully check yourself and document before making a choice. For instance, we’ve seen skimmers with a cup lid that’s very difficult to notice, and if you don’t remove that lid, the skimmer’s performance will be greatly diminished.

Reading through our reviews above should already give you some idea which is the easiest to install protein skimmer that will do very well with your overall setup.

What protein skimmer brand to choose?

Some of the brands listed above have a very well built reputation over the years, delivering outstanding protein skimmers. To name a couple, we could mention the Reef Octopus protein skimmers or the Red Sea Reefer protein skimmers.

Other brands, although it might seem like they are a bit behind and struggling to catch up, can still surprise you with innovative technologies used in their protein skimmers.

Is it difficult to maintain a protein skimmer?

Maintaining the tank itself and the adjacent accessories is part of our hobby as aquarium enthusiasts. However, maintaining a protein skimmer should be a quick and easy job. Therefore, making sure to pick the easiest to maintain protein skimmer should be at the top of your criteria when choosing the best protein skimmers for your marine tank.

For instance, modern best protein skimmers are equipped with a built-in drain, making it much easier for you to drain the skimmer during maintenance sessions.

Allocated budget for a protein skimmer

Budget can always be a tricky and decisive factor when choosing the best protein skimmers for your tank but should not be a the top of the list. First, the saltwater aquarium’s actual needs should determine how powerful and efficient the protein skimmer needs to be. After determining this, it might be better to wait a little more and save up for the best protein skimmer instead of just rushing and getting one that won’t do the best job.

To conclude

Technology has changed now, and people love to have their fish tanks equipped and set up in different styles, displaying all sorts of accessories. Always choose the top of the line protein skimmer that is powerful and efficient enough for your corals and fish to really thrive. All the models discussed among our best protein skimmers are designed with high-quality components offering the best performance.

Before buying, you can always research furthermore to get more details on the brands and the specific products themselves. As per our reviews, we find the Reef Octopus Classic 150-INT Protein Skimmer to be the best aquarium protein skimmer.

It is simply a powerful, efficient, durable, and easy to maintain protein skimmer. Even on a tight budget, such a protein skimmer is an excellent choice for any saltwater aquarium.

Frequently asked questions

How does a protein skimmer work?

The best protein skimmers are specially designed and equipped with a reaction chamber that facilitates fine bubbles, a vital step in the whole process played by the skimmer.

When the organic waste molecules reach the air bubbles of the skimmer’s reaction chamber, the chemical process called absorption begins. At this stage, the skimmer’s air bubbles will propel the waste matter at the chamber’s surface, right before getting into the collection cup.

Depending on the type and brand of the protein skimmer, the number and size of the bubbles can vary, determining how efficient and quick is the entire operation.

What’s the best way to clean a protein skimmer?

Once every few months, a protein skimmer should be completely disassembled and cleaned. It could be that the air tubing needs to be replaced, depending on the skimmer. A brush can be helpful while cleaning your protein skimmer to remove any collected organic matter. After that, wash thoroughly every component of the protein skimmer.

Are protein skimmers also used in freshwater aquariums?

Usually, protein skimmers are not used in freshwater tanks and that’s because they won’t skim very effectively on freshwater. So, there’s just no need for a protein skimmer in freshwater. A protein skimmer is a vital accessory in reef tanks where very low nitrates levels are crucial for coral health.

Why is my protein skimmer not foaming?

Fortunately, this is no reason to panic, as in most cases, the protein skimmer is still in its break-in phase (especially if it’s a new one). It could also be that the skimmer is too big for the tank’s bioload, and some adjustments might be needed. The last reason might be that the skimmer is broken and needs to be replaced.

How deep does the water have to be in the protein skimmer’s sump?

The water in the protein skimmer’s sump must cover the pump, but it can’t be higher then the valve.

Why is the protein skimmer’s cup overflowing?

It could be that the protein skimmer needs some adjustments, which can be found in its manual, depending on the brand. For example, the collection cup’s height could be increased so that excess water can easily drain away.

How to quiet down a loud protein skimmer?

Usually, the cause of a loud protein skimmer might be its pump. The pump should be checked to make sure that the exact cause. Otherwise, also placing the skimmer on rubber mats can reduce its vibrations.

What is the right sump for my protein skimmer?

When buying a sump, you have to make sure it actually matches the dimensions of the skimmers itself. In most cases, clear indications are accompanying the sumps.

What types of protein skimmers are available?

The following types of protein skimmers are currently available on the market:

Hang on back protein skimmers – such protein skimmers can be easily hung on the aquarium itself.

Internal protein skimmers – are protein skimmers installed inside the tank itself, with the downside is that they take a precious room in the tank.

In sump protein skimmers – the sump is actually a container where the water is circulated and cleaned at the same time.

External protein skimmers – these work like the sump protein skimmers, specially designed to be placed outside the tank feeding the cleaned water back to the tank sump.