Not all protein skimmers are of the same quality, they don’t all work the same way, and different models are ideal for different sizes and types of aquariums. The trick is to find the best protein skimmer available, which is exactly what we are here to help you do with our reviews and information.
Not everybody uses a protein skimmer in order to keep their fish tanks clean, but they certainly are great tools to have. (The CoralVue BH-1000 Octopus is our top pick). They are not absolutely necessary, but they do serve to clean your water and remove dissolved organic waste from the water, waste which can kill your fish. Using one of these tools helps reduce the need to change the water.
|CoralVue Octopus||up to 100 gallons||9.6/10|
|AquaMaxx HOB-1||up to 75 gallons||9.2/10|
|AquaC Remora-S||up to 75 gallons||8.7/10|
What Does A Protein Skimmer Do?
A protein skimmer is an aquarium tool which produces many air bubbles which come into contact with the aquarium water. These bubbles rise to the top and take dissolved organic compounds to the top where they are collected in a collection bin.
Dissolved compounds are dangerous when they are in the fish tank because things like ammonia and nitrates can hurt your fish severely and even kill them. In essence, these things help to clean your water. You might also find our post on cleaning a fish tank properly helpful too.
Our Top 10 Picks
- CoralVue Technology BH-1000
- Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9001
- AquaMaxx HOB-1
- Bubble Magus Curve 5
- Coral Vue Technology AC20284
- AquaC Remora-S
- Coralife Super Skimmer
- Lee's Protein Skimmer
- Best Choice Skimmer
- SC Aquariums SCA-301
Advantages Of Using One
Having a protein skimmer is essential for keeping your water clean and free of waste. These things help to remove dissolved waste from your water, thus lowering ammonia and nitrate levels, both things that can decrease water quality and even kill your fish.
The main advantage of these tools is that they reduce the need for frequent water changes, plus of course they reduce the chances that your fish will get sick due to impure water. There is also the fact that less dissolved waste in the water means that pesky algae have less food to feed off of and thus it helps to reduce algae build up in the tank. If you need some pointers on removing algae then this post will help you out.
These things also help to increase oxygenation in the water, another beneficial aspect indeed. Even better is that these things help provide for clearer water in order to let more light penetrate deeper into the water. The final benefit of protein skimmers is that they can help to stabilize pH levels in the water. For more on pH levels on how to lower then check out this article.
What We Think Is The Best Protein Skimmer
If you need a great protein skimmer to keep your water clean and free of waste, this following option definitely makes in our opinion one of the best options. You can check the current price here.
CoralVue Technology BH-1000 Octopus (up to 100 Gallons)
This is a really good protein skimmer, and in our opinion it is one of the best. It has some really neat features that make it stand out from the rest of the pack.
One of the things that we like about this protein skimmer is that it is made out of durable acrylic. It’s not just regular plastic and it’s not glass either. This makes the CoralVue Octopus very strong and durable, yet also very lightweight, both things which are very convenient when it comes to protein skimmers.
Another thing which we really like about this particular protein skimmer is that its simple design allows for easy removal of the pump for maintenance and cleaning. This thing also features a very strong pump that can handle up to a 100 gallon aquarium, which makes it ideal for even the largest of home fish tanks.
The next thing that is beneficial about this protein skimmer is that it is a hang on back model. This means that it doesn’t take up space inside of your fish tank. The pump itself can be modified to be submersed in the water if you so choose. However the big benefit of this protein skimmer being a hang on the back model is that it doesn’t send excess heat into the aquarium, thus messing with the temperature of the water.
This thing does an excellent job at removing waste and dissolved waste, thus controlling the pH level, the water hardness, and removing things like nitrates and ammonia from the water, all things which are important when it comes to maintaining the health of your fish.
The final thing that we really like about this thing is that it is fairly quiet so it won’t disturb you as you are watching TV.
- Can handle up to 100 gallons of water.
- Does a great job at removed dissolved organic compounds.
- Runs quiet for minimal disturbance.
- Does not take up space inside your aquarium.
- Does not send excess heat into the water.
- Lightweight, strong, and durable.
- Difficult to put together.
- May overflow upon startup.
Important Things To Consider When Buying A Protein Skimmer
Before you go out and spend money on any one protein skimmer, there are a few considerations you will want to keep in mind.
One of the most important considerations to make is what size of aquarium you have. Simply put, the bigger your tank is, the bigger and more efficient your protein skimmer needs to be. A really large tank needs a protein skimmer with a whole lot pumping and filtration power, while a smaller tank may not need one at all. A tank with a higher density of inhabitants, fish and plants, will require a bigger and better protein skimmer than a small tank with a lonesome goldfish inside.
Type Of Aquarium
Something to keep in mind here is the difference between saltwater and freshwater tanks. You need to make sure that the protein skimmer you get is built for the type of water in your tank. Not all skimmers will work in salt or freshwater, and if used in the wrong water can and will definitely not work properly or just break.
Usually we would not make such a big deal about brand names, but in this case, a good brand name usually means a good protein skimmer. You don’t want to skimp out here because protein skimmers can be extremely important. Coral Vue, AquaMaxx, and Bubble Magnus are just some of the best brand names out there. When it comes to protein skimmers, always do brand research and learn what their reputation is like before making a purchase.
You definitely want your protein skimmer to have a top of the line ozonizer included in it. This is the item that will end up producing fine bubbles. These bubbles help to increase oxygenation is the water, remove disease causing organisms, stabilize pH levels, and helps to make the protein skimmer more efficient in general. Always read some reviews in regards to the ozonizer of the protein skimmer in question.
9 Other Great Options To Consider - Reviewed
Of course our number one pick in our opinion is the best way to go, but you may not be a huge fan of it, in which case you can always check out these other choices, all of which will definitely do the trick and remove dissolved organic compounds from the water.
1. Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9001 (up to 37 Gallons)
Another decent option of protein skimmer to go with is the Comline Protein Skimmer and it’s thanks to its efficient nature, low energy usage, and its sleek design.
Perhaps the best part about the Comline Protein Skimmer is that it is very energy efficient, something that will help reduce your energy costs and also help save the environment too. Something else that is quite useful about this particular protein skimmer is that it is very compact in size, so it won’t take up too much room as you hang it on the back of your aquarium. This thing also includes a magnet mount for easy mounting.
This skimmer is not meant for the biggest of aquariums, but it can certainly handle fish tanks up to 37 gallons in size, making it ideal for medium and even larger aquariums too, but it does work best for smaller aquariums. Another thing that is pretty cools about this protein skimmer is that it runs fairly quietly so as to cause no distractions.
There is also the fact that this thing is more than powerful enough to remove a wide array of dissolved organic compounds from the water in order to keep your fish alive and as healthy as can be, plus the skimming consistency is absolutely top notch. Even better is the fact that the whole thing is made out of durable acrylic that is fairly strong, but not too heavy either.
- Ideal for all aquarium sizes, especially smaller ones.
- Powerful pump.
- Works very quietly.
- Top notch skimming consistency.
- Made of durable acrylic.
- Energy and cost efficient.
- Does a fantastic job of removing dissolved organic compounds.
- Magnetic mount is not all that strong.
- Function is susceptible to water level changes.
2. AquaMaxx HOB-1 Hang-On-Back Protein Skimmer (up to 75 Gallons)
Yet another reliable option is the AquaMaxx Hang On Back Protein Skimmer. It’s an ideal option for fairly large fish tanks and definitely does the trick when it comes to keeping your water clean and clear.
One of the things which we really like about this particular protein skimmer is that it includes a Sicce Syncra 1.5 pump which is incredibly powerful and has the ability to remove a whole lot of waste from your aquarium.
This thing works great for aquariums up to 75 gallons in size, making it ideal for larger home tanks. This skimmer uses a mix of air bubbles and powerful water circulation to remove a wide variety of waste from the water, all of which ends up in the convenient collection cup.
You can move the collection cup up or down to adjust for wet and dry, plus it can be easily removed to dispose of the waste without much trouble. The whole thing is very easy to set up, it’s easy to maintain, and it is very easy to clean as well.
This thing even includes a drain fitting just in case you want to set up reservoir for the skimmate. We really like this thing because it is made with high quality acrylic that is both very strong, yet light weight too, making it easy to hang off the back of the tank, plus it helps save space inside of your aquarium.
There is also the fact that this thing runs smooth and quiet for minimal disruption. This particular skimmer is more than ideal for large tanks, it does its job at removing protein and waste from the water, it’s fairly easy to mount, it’s durable, and it’s very quiet too, all things that make it a fantastic choice.
- Quiet operation.
- Space saving design.
- Very powerful pump.
- Can handle up to 75 gallons.
- Removes all kinds of waste from the water.
- Includes a drain fitting.
- Made of very strong materials.
- Simple to remove collection cup.
- Hang on bracket is not that strong.
- Excessive micro bubbles may make the water cloudy.
3. Bubble Magus Curve 5 Protein Skimmer (up to 140 Gallons)
This particular protein skimmer makes for yet another great choice and it will definitely keep your aquarium free of dissolved waste in order to keep the water as clean as can be.
One of the things that we really like about the Bubble Magus Protein Skimmer is that it is fairly small and compact. The space saving design makes it ideal for medium and even smaller aquariums. However that being said, this thing does feature an extremely powerful pump that will definitely remove any and all dissolved waste from the tank’s water.
The pump is in fact ideal for larger fish tanks as well, to be exact it can handle up to 140 gallons of water with ease. Another thing that is great bout this particular model is that the collection bin at the top can be easily removed for waste disposal, cleaning, and maintenance. Not only does this thing save space, but it is also very efficient and saves energy too, not to mention that it is very quiet for minimal disruptions.
We also like the fact that this thing is made out of very thick acrylic that is durable and will definitely last you for a very long time. This skimmer works best when it is in between 5 and 11 inches of water, making it ideal for a large variety of depths and tank sizes. This model is east install, easy to maintain, and easy to clean, not to mention that it works very well too.
- Durable acrylic design.
- Space saving compact build.
- Very powerful pump.
- Ideal for tanks up to 140 gallons.
- Works smooth and quietly.
- Easy to clean collection bin.
- Great for various sized tanks.
- Easy to maintain.
- Takes up space inside the tank.
- Bad customer support.
- Somewhat hard to get it running at first.
4. Coral Vue Technology AC20284 Octopus Needle Wheel Skimmer (up to 100 Gallons)
This is a really good option to go with in terms of protein skimmers and it is thanks to its various features that make it a very efficient model.
One of the things that we love about this protein skimmer is that it uses a very powerful pump. The pump can remove a whole lot of waste and dissolved content from the water and it can handle aquariums of up to 100 gallons in size. Of course it is also great for smaller tanks, but it is always good to know that it can work for large tanks as well.
Another thing that we really like about this particular model is that it has a gate valve which allows for easy water level adjustments. There is also the fact that this thing has a quick release neck for easy cleaning, plus the collection cup can be easily removed for quick maintenance and the removal of waste. This model works in water levels anywhere between 5.5 and 11 inches, making it a fairly versatile option indeed.
Plus we like the fact that this thing has a 4 inch cone neck to ease the transition from bubbles into the collection cup. Even better is how this thing has a space saving design which means that it takes up as little room as possible inside of your fish tank, not to mention that it saves your peace of mind thanks to the quiet nature of this thing too. To give you even more peace of mind, this model is also fairly strong thanks to the solid acrylic build.
- Very powerful pump.
- Ideal for tanks up to 100 gallons in size.
- Works in water between 5.5 and 11 inches.
- Gate valve for water level adjustment.
- Easy cleaning and maintenance.
- Removes a whole lot of waste from the water.Made of strong acrylic.
- Fairly difficult to get it running.
5. AquaC Remora-S Protein Skimmer (up to 75 Gallons)
The AquaC Protein Skimmer is definitely a good option to go with and that is thanks to the space saving design, its efficient function, and its more than durable build.
Perhaps the best part about this particular protein skimmer is that it has a high flow injector, meaning that it can handle a whole lot of water at once. Moreover, the very strong pump makes it ideal for tanks of up to 75 gallons in size. This thing works for small, medium, and fairly large aquariums too.
Another thing that is great about this model is that it has an extended collection cup and drain fitting. This means that you can connect it to a drain hose, plus the collection cup is easy to remove for quick waste disposal. There is also the fact that this model is very efficient at its job. It is very quiet and it doesn’t use too much energy either.
Another thing that we can really appreciate about this model is that it is a hang on the back model, which means that it is on the exterior of your tank so it does not take up space on the inside of your aquarium, space that your fish could be using. There is of course also the point that this thing is made of solid acrylic, making it very strong and durable indeed.
- Space saving hang on back design.
- Ideal for aquariums up to 75 gallons in size.
- Very cost and energy efficient.
- Comes with a drain attachment.
- Easy collection bin removal for waste disposal.
- Extremely strong pump included.
- Not very quiet.
- Takes a while to get it operational.
6. Coralife Super Skimmer with Pump (up to 220 Gallons)
This is definitely one of the better options out there and it’s thanks to things such as the high aspiration filter, the powerful pump, and the wide neck collection cup.
One of the things that we really like about the Coralife Super Skimmer is that it can be put either in the sump or it can be hung off the back with the brackets, something which makes this thing very versatile. This is a great feature because it helps you save a whole lot of space, not to mention that the easy to clean collection bin helps you save a whole lot of time too.
Another thing we love about this particular protein skimmer is that it has a patented needle wheel aspiration system. That is combined with dual injection inlets which maximize the amount of time in which the water is in contact with air bubbles, which helps to remove as much waste from the water as possible. Removing dissolved organic waste has never been easier than with the Coralife Super Skimmer.
Even better is how this model also contains a bubble production diffuser to minimize the amount of micro bubbles that enter the main aquarium, something which of course you don’t want. All of these functions may work overtime to keep the water in your fish tank clean, but the whole thing is very energy efficient to help you save energy and money.
What is really impressive is the fact that this thing can work for aquariums up to 220 gallons in size, making it a super strong protein skimmer indeed.
- Extremely high capacity.
- Very powerful pump.
- Minimizes micro bubbles that enter the tank.
- Maximization of water and bubble contact time.
- Durable build.
- Versatile hang on back design.
- Very energy efficient.
- May adversely affect water temperature.
- Hard to set up – bad installation directions.
- Adjustment valves are finicky.
7. Lee's Protein Skimmer Counter (up to 50 Gallons)
This is a very basic and affordable option to go with indeed, but don’t worry because it definitely does not sacrifice any quality. It is a good choice and it will definitely keep the water as clean as possible.
Something that we really like about this particular model is that it is fairly small and compact. This thing is ideal for fish tanks up to 50 gallons in size and features a fairly powerful pump that can definitely remove any and all waste from your tank. Keep in mind that this thing is ideal for smaller and medium sized tanks only, but it may not suffice for a larger tank.
Another thing that we really like is that the Lee’s Protein Skimmer includes two way plastic valves, plus a hanger too. Even better is the fact that this thing can be very easily adjusted, plus the easy to remove collection bin makes removing the waste simple and quick.
Probably the best part about this model is that it comes preassembled so there is a minimal amount of set up time required on your behalf. This protein skimmer will definitely keep your water clean and clear, plus it is quite energy efficient too.
- Fairly durable build.
- Ideal for tanks of up to 50 gallons in size.
- Includes 2 way plastic valves.
- Ideal for removing dissolved organic waste.
- Compact space saving design.
- Comes totally assembled.
- May leak slightly.
- Air pump is not included. (more on air pumps here)
8. Best Choice Tank Protein Skimmer (up to 300 Gallons)
This is a fantastic protein skimmer to go with because it is very powerful, it’s durable, it’s efficient, and it can handle some really massive fish tanks.
Perhaps the best part about the Best Choice Products Huge Aquarium Protein Skimmer is that it has a super powerful pump, a feature that makes this item ideal for medium and large size tanks of up to 300 gallons in size. The whole thing is made out of very durable materials to provide you with the longevity and value that you expect from any protein skimmer.
This thing works to produce a whole lot of micro bubbles and it helps to maximize bubble and water contact in order to remove as much waste as possible. There is also the fact that this model has a very high flow rate and can handle up to 800 gallons per hour, plus the pump head is fully submersible too.
Something else that is great about this model is that it creates minimum noise and vibration so it runs smooth and quietly. The oil and grease free motor also helps avoid tank pollution. This thing also has a precise air injection feature to adjust the amount of air intake.
We also like the fact that this protein skimmer has a detachable upper chamber for easy maintenance and quick cleaning. This model also comes fully assembled so you just have to hook it onto the tank, plug it in, and it is ready to roll.
- Ideal for large and massive aquariums.
- Air intake adjustment.
- Reduces water pollution.
- Easy maintenance and quick cleaning.
- Plug in and ready to go.
- Built of durable materials.
- Maximized water and bubble contact.
- Smooth and quiet operation.
- Neck may leak after prolonged use.
- Does not come with any instructions.
9. SC Aquariums SCA-301 Protein Skimmer (up to 65 Gallons)
This is definitely another reliable option to go with. You get a whole lot of value for the money you spend and it’s thanks to the compact nature and great function that you get with this protein skimmer.
One of the things that we like about this particular skimmer is that it helps you save quite a bit of space. Yes, it does go inside your tank and does not hang on the back, but it isn’t that big so it won’t take up too much room. Although it is quite small, it does come with a very strong pump which makes it ideal for fish tanks of up to 65 gallons in size.
That being said, this thing is technically only meant for salt water tanks. While this thing is very powerful, the air silencer that is included makes it a very quiet option so it doesn’t disturb everybody in the room. This thing also comes with a drain tube for easy maintenance, plus the collection cup can be easily removes for the simple removal of waste that has been collected.
Furthermore this protein skimmer is also ideal for various different water levels, making it ideal for a variety of tank sizes. This is an excellent skimmer in terms of its waste removing ability, its efficiency, its space saving nature, and its quiet operation. This thing is also quite easy to assemble and install, making it an easy to use option.
- Space saving design.
- Easy to maintain and install.
- Powerful pump.
- Ideal for tanks up to 65 gallons in size.
- Ideal for various water levels.
- Runs quietly.
- Comes with a drain tube.
- Makes lots of micro bubbles in the water.
- Plastic could be of better quality.
- Pump does not actually mount to the unit.
Different Types Of Protein Skimmer
There are a few different types of protein skimmer, each of which will definitely do the trick, but these different models do work in slightly different ways.
These skimmers work through an air stone located at the bottom of the skimmer which produces air bubbles in order to remove waste. The bubbles rise up vertically and get collected in the collection container. These are old school models with an air stone that needs to be replaced, however they are still used quite often and they tend to work very well.
Counter Current Skimmers
These models work by producing air bubbles, where the water and bubble mixture is then forced through a counter current of aquarium water in order to maximize water and bubble contact in order to remove as much waste as possible.
Spray Induction Skimmers
These skimmers work by forcing water through a tiny spray valve that causes the production of bubbles which remove waste from the tank.
These models function by using a venture valve to mix the air and water. This valve is located on the intake tube.
Needle Wheel Skimmers
This particular model of skimmer works with a pin needle wheel that chops at the water in order to produce the bubbles which remove waste from the water.
How To Clean A Protein Skimmer
Cleaning your protein skimmer is indeed very important. They remove lots of waste from the water and in many cases are necessary to the survival of the inhabitants of the tank. The problem is that they do get really dirty and full of the same stuff that they remove from the water. They get clogged, dirty, and ultimately ineffective at their job. Luckily for you, cleaning a protein skimmer is not all that difficult.
First of all, cleaning your protein skimmer should be done every six months at the very most, or even more often if your tank has a high density of animals and plants. When it comes to the tubing, you will need to replace it. The tubing cannot really be cleaned as it tends to degrade in quality and become inefficient at its job.After you have done that, just take apart the protein skimmer and break it down as far as you can. Soak all of the pieces in hot water for about an hour and then take a brush and scrub all parts down. Afterwards, rinse the parts off in cold water and reassemble the protein skimmer.
We hope you have found the article helpful and that you have now been able to decide on the best protein skimmer for you from our information and reviews.