Aquarium protein skimmers are one of the most important devices you can use to maintain water quality in a saltwater aquarium. Protein skimming removes organic pollutants before they break down into nitrates and phosphates. The improved water quality is beneficial to fish and corals and may reduce the frequency in which water changes are necessary
Protein skimmers create tons of tiny air bubbles that attract dissolved organics inside a reaction chamber. Due to protein’s hydrophobic properties—the need to "get away" from water—a combination of bubbles and dissolved organics are repelled up a tube and then foam over into a collection cup. The end result is a very smelly, tea-to-coffee-colored liquid called skimmate.
Aquarium protein skimmers are available in a few different styles: including hang-on, in-sump and external/recirculating.
Hang-on skimmers are designed to hang on the rim of your aquarium and do not require a sump for installation. In-sump protein skimmers are designed to be placed in your sump. External/recirculating protein skimmers are designed to be placed outside of your sump, which saves sump space for other filtration equipment. Many external/recirculating skimmers can be used either in or out of the sump.
There are also many sizes of protein skimmers available to suit all aquariums large or small. We recommend purchasing the best aquarium protein skimmer possible—within your budget, of course—as higher-end units generally maintain higher water quality.
To learn more about protein skimmers and to help you in the buying process, please take a moment to read How to Select, Setup and Maintain a Protein Skimmer, The Science of Protein Skimmers and Reef Ramblings—All About Skimmers.
If you are still on the fence or have questions, such as "how to pick the best protein skimmer for your aquarium" please do not hesitate to contact us!