Best Protein Skimmers: Our Top Picks

Best of Protein Skimmers
Best of Protein Skimmers

Ask any reefer the one aquarium accessory that they cannot live without. I’m willing to bet most would say their protein skimmers. Behind every great reef aquarium is a workhorse of a skimmer. Hobbyists rely heavily upon their skimmers and that has forced manufacturers to push the limits of innovation in order to offer units that are more durable, powerful, reliable, and controllable. While this constant innovation has brought a plethora of options to the market, it also has become increasingly difficult for hobbyists to find an option that perfectly suits their needs. Our goal at Marine Depot is to provide aquarium keepers with the products and information needed to create the tank of their dreams. Within this article, we will discuss some of the best protein skimmers for many unique varieties of saltwater aquariums.   

As the hobby continues to expand, more and more aquarists are creating unique systems and the demand for skimmers that can operate in these settings are at an all time high. Therefore, we have decided to break down our best protein skimmers to cover multiple categories. This includes protein skimmers that need to operate in tight spaces, offer a budget friendly price, or are able to handle a large private aquarium. Additionally, We will discuss options for the reefers who like to have a controllable skimmer or, one that hangs on the back of an aquarium. Keep in mind however, that there will be many skimmers that we won’t mention that may be a great fit for your needs. If you are looking for a specific recommendation or if you have any questions, please reach out to our customer care team.   

Summary:

Our Choice for the Tight Spaces: Reef Glass Nano Protein Skimmer: “The skimmer is also made of high grade pyrex glass that will withstand the corrosive properties of salt water.”

The Ideal series on a Budget: AquaMaxx FC Series In-Sump Protein Skimmers: “With four different sizes, hobbyists can have an absolute workhorse of a skimmer for aquariums up to 400 gallons.”

The Best Option for Your Private Aquarium: NYOS Quantum 300 Protein Skimmer: “With the power, build quality, and elite design, this skimmer can tackle aquariums up to 1,000 gallons.”

For the Reefers Who Like to be in Control: AquaMaxx ConeS DCQ Series Protein Skimmers: “With the touch of a button, these skimmers can be dialed in to the perfect degree based on your preferences for your aquarium”

For the Hang-On-Back Crowd: AquaMaxx HOB 1.5 Protein Skimmer: “The adjustable skimmer cup, modified Sicce pump, and slim profile culminate in a well built and reasonably priced skimmer.”

Our Choice for the Tight Spaces: Reef Glass Nano Protein Skimmer
Reef Glass Nano Skimmer
Reef Glass Nano Skimmer

The nano aquarium trend is exploding and reef aquariums are continuing to shrink. This has made tracking down equipment capable of operating on these small systems increasingly difficult. Luckily, the Reef Glass nano skimmer has emerged as an excellent option for even the smallest aquariums. With a diameter of 1.25 inches, this unit can operate on aquariums all the way up to 30 gallons. The skimmer would need to be paired with an air pump and collection cup in order to effectively remove and store skimmate. This also means that no additional heat will be added to a small system which will already be prone to heat sensitivity. This is due to the fact that the skimmer operates through an airstone pushing proteins to the surface and ultimately the collection cup. The back-of tank mount also guides the airline tubing through the back of the skimmer so as to keep the unit low profile and less of an eye-soar. The skimmer is made of high grade pyrex glass that will withstand the corrosive properties of salt water. For each of these reasons the Reef Glass tops our list as the best protein skimmer for a nano aquarium. 

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The Ideal Pick on a Budget: AquaMaxx FC Series In-Sump Protein Skimmers
AquaMaxx FC-120 Protein Skimmer
AquaMaxx FC-120 Protein Skimmer

AquaMaxx has continued to offer top quality products at budget friendly prices and the AquaMaxx FC Series is no exception. With four different sizes, hobbyists can have a powerful and effective skimmer for aquariums up to 400 gallons. While these skimmers are definitely budget friendly, the quality of these units have not been compromised. Each size comes with a finely tuned Italian made and modified Sicce pump. Another excellent feature of these skimmers is their slim profiles which will fit snugly into even the most tight sumps. An adjustable air silencer allows for the skimmer to be properly dialed in to allow for the amount of nutrient export you are looking for. Additionally, the warranty for AquaMaxx skimmers is handled directly through Marine Depot, so we can easily walk you through any troubleshooting you may need. Each of these features culminate in what we consider to be the best protein skimmer series on a budget. 

The Best Option for Your Private AquariumNYOS Quantum 300 Protein Skimmer 
NYOS Quantum 300 Protein Skimmer
NYOS Quantum 300 Protein Skimmer

For the reefers with the largest of aquariums, don’t worry, we have a protein skimmer for you too. The NYOS Quantum 300 is the beast you need to tackle even the largest tanks with the heaviest bioloads. With the power, build quality, and elite design, this skimmer can handle aquariums up to 1,000 gallons. Along with this high grade performance, the skimmer is also very energy efficient which is a great perk for something with such power. The water setting pipe is capable of making large changes to the skimmers’ performance and the micro-adjustment screw can be used to dial in the exact output that you are looking for on your system. This German made product was designed to create the smallest of bubbles to force any and all proteins to the surface making the skimmer as efficient as possible while still being able to operate on some monster aquariums. Each detail has been meticulously selected to maximize the performance, durability, and reliability of this skimmer.    

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For the Reefers Who Like to be in Control: AquaMaxx ConeS DCQ Series Protein Skimmers
AquaMaxx ConeS DCQ-2 Protein Skimmer
AquaMaxx ConeS DCQ-2 Protein Skimmer

Controllable accessories have become some of the most desirable in the hobby within recent years. While LED lights and aquarium controllers get most of the shine, DC controllable protein skimmers are becoming increasingly popular. The ConeS DCQ series is the newest DC controllable entrant based off of the proven Cone skimmer model from AquaMaxx. The engine behind this skimmer is the DC controllable Italian made Shark 2000 or 3000 depending on the model selected. The most redeeming quality of these skimmers are their versatility that allow them to perform on aquariums down to 180 gallons and up to 480 gallons. With the touch of a button, these skimmers can be dialed in to the perfect degree based on your preferences for your aquarium.  For the amount of tank you can skim, the prices on this series are also an excellent value compared to some of the higher end models. Due to the controllable features of this product, it is our choice for the best protein skimmer for the hands on reefer.   

For the Hang-On-Back Crowd: AquaMaxx HOB 1.5 Protein Skimmer  
AquaMaxx HOB 1.5 Skimmer
AquaMaxx HOB 1.5 Skimmer

Saltwater aquariums that lack a sump have proposed a tough situation for reefers in need of a protein skimmer. Luckily the AquaMaxx HOB 1.5 Hang-On-Back is the perfect option for aquariums without a sump up to 75 gallons. The adjustable skimmer cup, modified Sicce pump, and slim profile culminate in a well built and reasonably priced skimmer that can perform on the growing presence of nano aquariums. This 1.5 model offers the same reliability of the previous 1.0 iteration with improvements that make the skimmer perform on larger aquariums with heavier bioloads. A one year manufacturer warranty is also a great benefit for this skimmer. This product can also be paired with the AquaMaxx Bubble Stopper which will cut down on any microbubbles entering your display from the skimmer. With all of these benefits, the AquaMaxx HOB 1.5 is our choice for the best protein skimmer in the hang-on-back category. 

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Final Thoughts:

We hope this discussion has provided some clarity and intriguing options for aquariums in need of a protein skimmer. Many of these units come in different sizes that can increase the effectiveness of the skimmer on your particular system. Protein skimmers will continue to be an essential tool for aquarists to maximize the performance and appearance of their tanks. Each of these choices are capable of bringing your aquarium to the next level and solidifying them as an important part of your system. If any of our customers are seeking assistance on selecting a skimmer for their needs, our customer care team would be happy to guide you. We look forward to continuing to offer hobbyists the recommendations, support, and inspiration they need to achieve their aquarium goals.

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