Protein Skimmers For Saltwater Aquariums

Last Updated on September 16, 2021 by admins

If you have saltwater fish, you will want to know the importance of protein skimmers for saltwater aquariums. Protein skimmers are an important aspect of allowing your aquarium to run properly. They allow for a healthy environment for your fish and plant life.

It can be overwhelming to try and figure out all the stuff you need for your saltwater aquarium. There are so many things you need to do in order to have just the right setup. A protein skimmer is one of the most important aspects of a saltwater aquarium setup.

What Is A Protein Skimmer?

A protein skimmer is a type of mechanical filter that works to remove organic waste from an aquarium. It removes things such as excess bacteria, toxins, waste, and leftover food. It is a vital aspect of maintaining a proper environment in the tank.

Aquarium protein skimmers break down organic compounds before they break down. This will help not only keep the water clean but also keep it clear. In addition, protein skimmers also work to reduce the chance of algae growing in your fish tank.

Protein skimmers also work to reduce nitrate buildup, which can potentially be toxic to your fish and plants. They work to keep the water safe and healthy. Without one, algae can rapidly spread and dangerous toxins can even build up.

Protein skimmers got their name as they use the polarity of the proteins to remove waste from aquariums. They contain a reaction container that forms lots of tiny bubbles. The organic matter in return sticks to the bubbles.

The bubbles are then brought up to the surface of the chamber. The collection cup then works to manually remove the containments from the water column.

Learn more about: Saltwater Aquarium Filter Setup

Types Of Protein Skimmers

There are several different protein skimmers you can choose from. Each one has its own advantages. They even come with different features to meet the needs of your tank and come in all different prices as well.


Hang on Back (HOB) protein skimmers hang on the back of aquariums. They are a great option for those who don’t have sumps. They hang just like power filters and are generally designed for aquariums under 100 gallons.


In-sump protein skimmers are designed to fit in the sump of an aquarium. They are available in many sizes and come in simple to more complex models. Depending on the size and features, you can get one for just a few dollars or several thousand.


External protein skimmers sit outside the sump of an aquarium. The sump transfers water into the external skimmer, cleans it, and then returns it back to the sump.


In-tank protein skimmers are generally designed for nano tanks. This is so they don’t take up too much space in your aquarium. Though in-tank protein skimmers are generally small, they can be very effective.

Types Of Protein Skimmers

Co-Current Vs Counter Current Skimming

Co-Current skimmers are the first type of protein skimmer invented. They use an open-ended tuber or cylinder that includes a bubble source at the base. They use the volume of the air bubble that rise in the column to bring them to the water within the chamber body.

Water is then drawn into the cylinder from below the water’s surface. Then, once the bubbles pop in the collection cup, the treated water flows back into the aquarium. Co-current protein skimmers can be sump or HOB.

Counter-current skimmers inject water at the top of the reaction tube. In this type, the bubble source, along with the isolated outlet fitting. The water passes against the rising bubbles. This then doubles the dwell time.

Venturi-Style Skimming

Venturi-style skimming is a newer type of protein skimmer. They feature a Mazzei valve but do not use airstone or limewood diffusers to create bubbles. The venturi valve delivers the water that needs to be treated and the bubbles as well.

ETS/Down-Draft Skimming

A new type of protein skimmer is the ETS (Environmental Tower Skimmer) is popular for its relatively simple design. Also known as down-draft skimming, it has the ability to filter large amounts of water.

ETS connects to a sump with a long tube with an internal baffle plate and a drain valve. Inside of the tube are bio-balls that diffuse the high-velocity water that goes through the top. As the water flows down on the bio-balls, it is smashed several times over them.

When the water arrives at the sump at its base, it is white and foamy. The baffle inside then makes dwell time. In addition, the protein-rich froth rises up into the tube with the collection cup above it.

It is most popular among those who own small tanks. However, there are smaller designs that use the same steps to allow smaller capacity systems to work as well. There are also several variations as well.

Protein Skimmers For Saltwater Aquariums

Protein skimmers are an important addition to your saltwater aquarium. They work to remove organic waste, toxins, leftover food, and harmful bacteria from the water. They are a vital addition to keeping your aquarium water clean and clear.

Organic waste sticks to tiny bubbles made by the protein skimmer. The bubbles are brought up to the surface champer where the collection cup then manually removes the containments from the water before returning the water.

There are several different types of protein skimmers. They include in-tank, in-sump, HOB, external, co-current, counter-current, venturi styling, and ETS/Down-Draft skimming. The type of tank and setup you have will allow you to find the best protein skimmer for the needs of your fish.

Each type of protein skimmer has its own advantages. They all work to effectively rid the organic waste from the water in your aquarium. They can even come with different features and are available in a wide array of budgets.

Do you have any questions on protein skimmers for saltwater aquariums? If so, please ask any questions on the types of protein skimmers and how they work in the comment section down below.

Read more about: Aquarium Sump Pump Size Calculator

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