Top [2023] 15 Best Protein Skimmers For Your Aquariums & Sumps

Top [2023] 15 Best Protein Skimmers For Your Aquariums & Sumps

Seeking the ideal protein skimmer for your reef aquarium? This guide navigates your options to streamline your search and discover the perfect fit for your saltwater tank. We have selected the best protein skimmers and reviewed them here for you.

Protein skimmers, crucial for a saltwater aquarium, are spotlighted here as the essential workhorse and heart of the system, ensuring optimal reef life support.

Comparison Table – Best Protein Skimmers

CustomSiteStripe ImageTitleReviewBuy
Top PerformanceBubble Magus BM-Curve 5 Protein Skimmer4.5/5.0Check Price
cheapestCoralife Super Protein Skimmer With Pump4.3/5.0Check Price

Skimmers have been around for a long time and have been implemented in large tanks, public aquariums, aquaculture schools and fish stores. I’ll explain in more detail how skimmers work, what types of protein skimmers are available, and see a list of the best protein skimmers on the market today.

Your tank is likely to get dirty over time from the type of food you feed your fish or from debris that can build up over time.

To help get rid of such extra dissolved organic compounds and harmful substances, get the best protein skimmer available. This product helps to reduce the number of impurities that enter the aquarium in the biological filter.

You will need a protein skimmer for your nanocube or any other type of aquarium you have. Below are some of the benefits you can expect from protein skimmers.


What is a Protein Skimmer?

A protein skimmer is a filter unit that removes proteins and other organic compounds. It works on the basis of a chemical process to remove waste from the water column.

Debris and dissolved organic compounds will stick to the surface of the air bubbles produced by the protein skimmer and literally thousands of bubbles produced by the skimmer will pull them out of the aquarium water.

The dirt from these bubbles goes into a collection cup where the aquarium holder can remove it. This residue that is produced is called skimmate.

In addition to aquarium use, protein skimmers are used in commercial applications such as municipal water treatment plants. They have been around for many years and are a proven filtration technology.


Benefits of Using Protein Skimmer in Aquarium

  1. The idea is to purify the water by removing all dissolved organic compounds. This ensures that you get an oxygen-filled environment, which is important for the fish to survive in the water.
  2. The skimmer helps remove nitrates and other materials that can easily cause further degradation and lead to the growth and spread of algae. The worst part is that algae can be difficult to control if not treated early enough – all the more reason to look into protein skimmers today.
  3. The build-up of dirt in the aquarium water often leads to problems, such as cloudy water that does not let light through. This obviously has consequences for the marine life in the aquarium. With the skimmer it is now possible to purify cloudy water and restore it to its original state.
  4. Dissolved organic components in the system can cause unstable pH values. These pH levels may not be beneficial to fish and other marine life. It’s time you changed all that by using protein skimmers. They will easily bring a stable pH level into the aquarium.
  5. The use of a skimmer will always result in an overall improvement in the health of the animals in the aquarium. Be sure to replace it when the skimmers appear to have stopped producing skimmate.


Top 15 Best Protein Skimmers for Aquariums & Sumps


Best Protein Skimmers Reviews


1. Reef Octopus Classic 110-INT Needle Wheel Protein Skimmer for Aquarium

best protein skimmers reviews

This should be what you think about the next time you go to buy a great protein skimmer. The model comes with a great wheel design, which is important for bubble generation.

The bubbles generated are important to dissolve organic waste in the aquarium water. You can use this model for multiple aquariums as long as they have a maximum capacity of about 100 liters.

All users agree that the performance of this product is quite impressive. It is also effective on so many levels that you are sure to fall in love.

The design of the products makes them quite easy to use. You do not have to refer to the manual every time you use the model.


  • It can be used in large capacity aquariums.
  • it is easy to operate
  • Pin wheel drives deliver impressive performance
  • It is easy to clean


  • The pump is loud
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2. Bubble Magus BM-Curve 5 Protein Skimmer

best protein skimmers review

The manufacturer had to do something that could compete with its competitors in terms of features. This is a great product for cleaning your aquarium water. It may not be quite compact, but it is well designed to fit in tight spaces. You do not need to move your aquarium to use this product.

The needle wheel design is quite amazing as you can experience fine bubbles being generated faster and faster. This design has led so many people to give it high marks online.

The installation process is quite easy, even for someone who hasn’t built one before. It takes about 15 minutes to assemble the different parts. These parts are also easy to disassemble during cleaning. Parts are generally well built to make this model last longer than others.


  • The parts are very durable.
  • It is easy to disassemble for maintenance.
  • The needle wheel design produces many fine bubbles.
  • It is easy to configure


  • Needs to be cleaned regularly to remove skimming.
  • You can have overflow problems
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3. Coralife Super Protein Skimmer with Pump

best protein skimmers for saltwater tank

If you have an aquarium, you probably have a skimmer in the house. It has become an essential part of ensuring that your aquarium water is properly maintained.

Most people would choose this model as it is known to have the level of performance that many people want today. Due to its exceptional performance, it can easily remove organic compounds that may be dissolved in the aquarium water.

The model comes with a high-quality foam fractionator. This means you don’t have to worry about bubble production anymore. These bubbles are important to the filtration process so that dissolved organic compounds can be easily removed.

This impressive design is crucial in helping you save energy every time you use the model. This means you no longer have to worry about a significant increase in your energy bill at home.

How about the installation process?

That’s a common question any beginner skimmer would want to know. The best thing about this model is that it is very easy to configure. With clear, illustrated instructions, you should be done with the installation process in no time.

Filtration capacity is another thing about this model that you will enjoy. It is designed to handle different sizes of aquariums, from 65 liters to 220 liters. It should be easy for you to find aquariums that work with this skimmer.


  • Impressive and strong needle wheel drive
  • Easy to set up
  • Great capacity
  • Impressive bubble production


  • Customer service can be improved
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4. Simplicity 240DC Protein Skimmer

With a simple and effective installation, the Simplicity 240DC Protein Skimmer is something you can really enjoy. It uses a needle wheel and an adjustable DC pump. This is considered one of the best methods as it grinds the water and air to create finer bubbles.

These skimmers also give you the key to success. The protein skimmer ensures a longer contact time between air and water. This way you get the best performance thanks to the unique system.

It has an air inlet regulator, a wedge tube gauge and a bubble plate. The adjustable pump is of course also included.

The DC pump is quite powerful and efficient and comes with the needle wheel drive. Your collection cup locks in place and has a built-in cup drain. You can also adjust the speed of the pump or turn it off temporarily.

Your controller also comes with a built-in digital display. Displays the current power consumption and speed of the machine.

As if that were not enough, maintenance is simple and straightforward. It has a set of thumb screws, which makes cleaning easy. The body of the skimmer is made of cast acrylic, so it is also more durable.


  • Built-in collection tray with drain
  • Easy maintenance
  • Hybrid cone design to improve contact time.
  • Custom controls allow the skimmer to be selected for best performance


  • The installation takes a maximum of five days
  • Delicate settings; be careful when touching
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5. Happybuy Protein Filter Internal Needle Wheel Protein Skimmer

If you’re looking for something a little different, the Happybuy Protein Skimmer gets the job done effectively. You get an air injection system that delivers high performance.

This product is equipped with the Red Devil SP1 pump. It allows a power of 7.8 W and a maximum air intake of 180 l / h. Naturally, this brand uses white and red pipe fittings to distinguish it from the others.

The space-saving design is ideal and can be used in areas with smaller sinks. Its footprint itself is 5.5 inches by 3.9 inches.

In addition, the standard cone chamber ensures that the bubbles are softer and the whole device more stable. If that’s not enough, use cast acrylic for the body. This is more durable and also looks very fashionable.

There are also noise canceling features thanks to the dual silencer function. You don’t hear the skimmer running, which is great for bedrooms and other quiet areas.

This skimmer is also designed to work with tanks between 50 and 250 liters. Therefore, different people can find an application for this product. As such, it is ideal for marine aquariums.


  • Simple assembly; no addresses required
  • Use quality materials.
  • Ideal for small sump pumps
  • Two hole exhaust design for quieter operation


  • For use in saltwater aquariums only
  • Not quiet but because of the amount of bubbles – reasonable sound
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6. IceCap K1-Nano Protein Skimmer

If you’re interested in impressive performance, the IceCap K1-Nano Protein Skimmer is ideal.

It has a remarkably small footprint of just 2.75 by 3.2 inches. The turbulence-reducing body is made of acrylic and PVC to help prevent excess air bubbles.

You can also completely disassemble the product for easy maintenance and cleaning. It is of course designed to be installed in the crankcase and not the tank. This may seem strange, but most protein skimmers use this setup.

The product is ideal for marine aquariums from 10 to 30 liters in size. It’s also quite compact, which is perfect if you don’t have a lot of space.

Other skimmers on the market present different challenges. However, this one is designed to outperform others that have failed.

For example, the magnetic mount makes it easy to attach this product to surfaces up to 1/2 inch thick. The product is also designed to last. Plus, the components are safe for marine life so you don’t have to worry about the fish or plants in the tank.


  • Works almost immediately after proper installation
  • Quiet; some noise but not much
  • Easy to place and install.
  • Magnetic holder, ideal for consistency


  • A tighter fit is needed on the top cap
  • Fairly small canister; cleaned more often
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7. Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9001

This model can be a great option for those looking for a great protein skimmer that can still help them clean their tank. The model is designed to be very durable so that you can use it for a long time.

How about the installation process?

Everyone who is going to assemble the product at home wants to know; You will be happy to know that this model is quite easy to set up and get started. The controls are well positioned to make it easier for the user to clean the aquarium water.

Buying this model would be the best decision you have ever made to keep your tank in top condition.

In addition, the model is energy efficient, so you can use it more often without having to worry about increasing your energy bill. This was a huge draw for the model and something that many people love.


  • This model is easy to operate.
  • It is energy efficient
  • It has a compact design to fit into the aquarium easily.
  • Cleaning is easy compared to other models.
  • It has a robust construction


  • It tends to produce tons of micro bubbles.
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8. SCA-302 180 Gallon Protein Skimmer

It is a new model and it comes with a number of features that make it better than previous models. The manufacturer has included all the novelties that many people have always wanted in a protein skimmer.

Due to its compact design, it is suitable for multiple applications for different aquariums. The oversized canister and silencer is a highlight with this model.

The model comes with a powerful Atman 2000 pump that delivers a large amount of bubbles needed to dissolve organic matter in the aquarium water. The overall performance of the model is excellent when compared to other models in the same category.

Since it works in large aquariums, it is without a doubt the best protein skimmer for the price. The manufacturer has rated it best for seawater aquariums up to 180 liters. If you have an aquarium close at hand, this product makes it much easier to keep the water clean.


  • It has an incredible amount of cleaning power, enough to support even large capacity aquariums.
  • It has a strong pump to produce the best bubbles.
  • It is easy to operate thanks to its simple operation.
  • It has a perfect assembly process.


  • The pump often breaks down after a few months of use.
  • Micro bubbles make it look cloudy and need to be cleaned regularly.
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9. Nyos Quantum Excellent Quality Protein Skimmer

The Nyos Quantum is in my mind the pinnacle of AC powered protein skimmers. This skimmer is made in Germany and designed for extreme performance. The Germany-made pump is designed to provide power and silence and provide one of the quietest protein skimmers on the market. The skimmer is expertly crafted and designed to last as long as your tank.

It’s built to be disassembled, so cleaning and maintenance are a breeze with this skimmer. They also break very quickly, almost without a break in time! They come equipped with a larger reaction chamber than most on this list. This is the best built needle wheel skimmer I’ve come across. It removes nutrients from your aquarium water like crazy.

Quality comes at a price. This is one of the most expensive protein skimmers on the market, but you definitely get what you pay for. If you are looking for very clean aquarium water, this is the skimmer to buy!


  • Skimmer made in Germany
  • Incredible, expertly crafted performance
  • Easy to disassemble for cleaning


  • Expensive!
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10. Aquamxx HOB 1.5 – The Best Hang on Back Protein Skimmer on the Market

The Aquamaxx HOB Protein Skimmer has been the best hanging skimmer on the market for years. This new 1.5 makeover boosts skimming power to the pinnacle of what HOB skimmers are capable of.

Armed with a “Shark” pump called Sicce, this skimmer has all the power a crankcase skimmer can deliver, but with the ability to be placed in the back of an aquarium. It is even compact enough to fit into larger all-in-one aquariums such as the Innovative Marine 40.

The main complaint with this unit is the footprint in the tank. It takes away the aesthetics when using a countertop, and the price is on par with many sump skimmers. It is without a doubt the choice of HOB skimmers! You don’t have to search or find anything else.


  • Powerful skimmer – the best protein skimmer to hang on your back
  • Italian pump built to last
  • Compact enough to work in larger all-in-one systems


  • Hanging at the back takes up space in the aquarium
  • price
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11. Red Sea Reef Skimmer “ Skimmer with A Swabbie Feature!

best protein skimmers reviewed in detail

The Red Sea Protein Skimmer has one feature that stands out among all the skimmers mentioned in this article. A slotted spoon is built into the canister. A slotted spoon cleans the inside of the neck of your canister and allows the slotted spoon to operate at maximum efficiency.

In general, a battery-operated cotton swab can be very expensive to place in a skimmer and is not available with all makes and models. This skimmer is built-in only. It is a mechanical dial that allows you to clean the neck, but this feature alone is very important if you want to run your skimmer at full capacity. It’s even more difficult if you don’t clean your collection glass often and choose to drain the glass into a bucket or bin before throwing it away.

This protein skimmer has high quality adjustable knobs and its reference Sicce PSK pump. It’s in the most expensive size of the skimmers on this list, but that swabbie is very big in my mind and worth the extra money, especially if you don’t want to empty your skimmer collection cup that often.


  • Skimmer Swabbie!
  • High-quality rotary knob for easy adjustments
  • Sicce pump


  • price
  • Strong
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12. Reef Octopus Essence “ High End Protein Skimmer with Convenient Features

The Reef Octopus Essence Series Protein Skimmer takes what we love about the classic series and adds a host of hobby-friendly maintenance features.

The skimmer bowl has a user-friendly rotate and lift function and there is a detachable mute collar that makes the skimmer super quiet. There are quick release tabs very similar to the bubble magus features that provide easy access to the skimmer housing for cleaning. They are designed to take up a small footprint so you can place them in tight spaces and the watch faces have a nice extra touch of a watch face.

This is a skimmer for those who want simplicity. However, it comes at a price, as they are more expensive than the classic Reef Octopus series of skimmers. Overall, this is a great product launch from Reef Octopus.


  • Respected name and quality of Reef Octopus
  • It has a number of fan-friendly convenience features.
  • 2 year guarantee


  • Price: more expensive than the classic line
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13. Reef Octopus Regal “ High End DC Protein Skimmers with Serious Reefkeepers

best protein skimmers - Reef Octopus

The Reef Octopus Regal Protein Skimmer is a high-end DC powered skimmer. This is Reef Octopus’ top of the line skimmer series and it doesn’t stop to bring the best of the best current skimmer technology has to offer. At the heart of the system is the premium Reef Octopus VarioS DC pump, considered one of the best aquarium return pumps in the industry.

This skimmer has the same high-quality construction that you would expect from any Reef Octopus skimmer. The DC pump offers better control, performance and energy efficiency that take it to another level compared to traditional AC options.

It’s a high-quality protein skimmer, so it comes at a premium price. Again with Reef Octopus, you get what you pay for. There are also the Regal INT protein skimmer models for those who have extra space in their well.


  • DC powered protein skimmer – greater manageability
  • Very powerful and efficient
  • Very high quality DC pump built to last


  • Price: The most expensive protein skimmer on this list
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14. Coral Vue Technology AC20287 Octopus Needle Wheel Skimmer

best protein skimmers for coral reef tank

The Octopus AC20287 Needle Wheel Skimmer is a great protein skimmer from Coral Vue Technology. It is highly rated and has rave reviews.

There are some great features that you get with this model that really speed it up.

The needle wheel impeller is an important feature, hence the name of this skimmer. Move the flow of the sensor to create a flow of micro bubbles that maximizes the amount of organic matter extracted from the water column. While this is the premise of all protein skimmers, the amount of bubbles produced is the only thing.

The 10 cm tapered neck makes it easier for bubbles to transition to the canister, giving you a better collection rate. The canister has a quick-release closure for easy cleaning. The gate valve is very handy and allows for much easier adjustments of the water level.

Collector Skimmer

This model is a collector skimmer and works great for any tank of 210 liters or less. If you don’t have a catch pan, a COOKING PLATE skimmer or external skimmer should be the way you turn.

The setup and installation is really easy and simple which is a huge mark on the plus column. Some skimmers are very complicated, but the ease of use is extremely good with this model. Do not give up ease of use in the future. Having a skimmer that is easy to operate will save you untold hassle!

The footprint is approximately 12 ” x 12 ” so be sure to check the space in your sump to make sure this skimmer will fit.

The only downside is that Coral Vue Technology’s Octopus AC20287 Needle Wheel Skimmer is a bit noisy when in use. While it won’t be a huge hassle and is certainly no reason not to buy this product, it does mean that it may not be suitable for quiet environments such as a bedroom.


  • Needle wheel drive
  • Simple installation and ease of use
  • Tapered neck


  • Noise level
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15. Tunze 9410.000 DOC Protein Skimmer

best protein skimmers Tunze

The Tunze 9410,000 DOC Protein Skimmer is suitable for use in SPS (Small Polyp Stony) reef tanks up to 80 gallons and fish-only saltwater tanks up to 265 gallons.

So, if you have a fish only tank this protein skimmer is probably powerful enough as it can handle very large tanks, but if you have a reef tank make sure it can handle it.

This device is made of high-quality materials that will not break down over time and will last with you and your tank for a long time. It is a skimmer in the crankcase, so make sure you have the necessary space to place it in the crankcase. The product measures 9.8 by 7 by 16.3 inches, which is by no means huge, so you should have the space available to install it in the crankcase without any hassle.

An important advantage of this protein skimmer over other models is the use of electricity. It only has a power consumption of 15W. For the skimming performance you get, it is on par with larger skimmers that can use twice the power. You will quickly see how much money you save, as costs can add up quickly, especially with larger tanks.

Overall, the Tunze 9410,000 DOC is a great protein skimmer that is well worth the price and has a removable after-filter and a large, easily removable collection cup. Cleaning and maintenance are also very easy. Some users have noted that the operating noise is a bit loud, so bedroom use may not be recommended.


  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Low energy consumption
  • Large skimming capacity


  • Slightly noisy operation
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What is the Best Protein Skimmer?

In order for a model to be considered one of the best, it must meet several criteria. It is important that the model delivers excellent performance at all times. Reliability is especially important when it comes to choosing the right model, and the Reef Octopus Classic 110-INT Needle Wheel Protein Skimmer is the best.

It comes with a lot of features that will make you like it even more. It always delivers the best performance every time you use it.


Types of protein skimmers

Air-powered counter-flow skimmers

Many consider this type of skimmer to be the most efficient way to filter the water in their aquarium. While they are most effective, you will find that they require regular cleaning and maintenance, which is why they are expensive to run. These skimmers use wooden diffusers and powerful large air pumps to produce the bubbles.

Another advantage of this type of skimmer is that it is designed to produce excellent foam volume generation. You also get consistent quality and volume of bubbles every time you use it.

Since you are using the air stones, you may need to replace them over time. Depending on the amount of organic cargo to be filtered, you may need to replace the air stones every two months. You should also check the air pump diaphragms and replace them if they are weakened. Since this model will always give the best results, it’s no wonder more people would love to have one for their tank.

Venturi Skimmers

This is another type of skimmer that uses a venturi injector to create air bubbles. In terms of size, you will find it shorter than air-powered skimmers. This man also needs a stronger pump to power his hazard valve. One of the reasons more people are choosing this model is the number of bubbles it can produce. The venturi injector can produce a large number of bubbles to effectively clean the aquarium water.

It is always important to combine this type of skimmer with a powerful pump. It will easily kill fine bubbles that are important for dissolving organic matter easily. Most skimmers of this type have a spray head design to increase the amount of air that mixes with the water.

The installation process for these models is designed to be as simple as possible. With this type of skimmer you should be ready in no time. Most even have illustrations that should make the installation steps perfectly clear. The high-performance pumps typically supplied with these models are so good that they require sporadic maintenance.

Downdraft Skimmers

This type of skimmer is designed to be different from the others. It works with a water jet that is sprayed on the column at high speed with bio balls. Once the bubbles have passed through the column of bio balls, they will enter the collection tray. This will help deflect them upward to help lather the skimmer’s neck.

This type of model has a long water path due to the column of biofalls that must be integrated into the model. The long path of the water increases the response time, so in order for the model to work properly you should consider purchasing a very powerful pump. This is why you will find that this model is larger than other types of skimmers.

Suction impeller skimmer

You could say this is a different style when it comes to cheap aeration systems. It is designed to easily direct air to the pump impeller that creates the bubbles. The impeller comes with a special needle wheel that cuts air bubbles to make them finer. With fine bubbles it should be easier to dissolve the organic compounds in the water.

You will find this type of skimmer is easier to use as they work with low power pumps that still generate a lot of bubbles, although sometimes people are concerned about the durability of specialized impellers. The best part is that this type of model is inexpensive and will perform relatively well for a long time to come.


Final Thoughts – Best Protein Skimmers

At this point you have a clear understanding of what a protein skimmer is, what the best models are and how to choose one. If you haven’t decided yet, the Reef Octopus Classic 110-INT Needle Wheel Protein Skimmer seems to have more features than you could use.

The model is newer which means it has all the new features to improve performance compared to previous models. It should be the best protein skimmer for hobbyists, or even professionals, with large aquariums. You can always choose another model that you think will give you the best performance.


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