Best Protein Skimmers of 2021 for Your Aquarium

Best Protein Skimmers for Aquariums
By Garrison Hickles Updated

Despite the fact that aquariums are mostly kept for aesthetic purposes, they are quite different from the accessories you keep in your showpiece for display. You are dealing with live animals in an aquarium. So, quite naturally, it is supposed to get dirty due to the fish wastes, leftover foods, and other debris that accumulate over time.

Now, it is not possible to manually clean them 24*7. Many think installing a biological filter will get the job done. But, unfortunately, that is not enough. Thus, millions of fishkeepers around the globe take the help of protein skimmers. But, with so many options available in the market, which one is the best buy for you? We are going to look into the answer for that today.

However, before we do so, you need to understand the importance of a protein skimmer and the things you need to consider before buying one.

What is a Protein Skimmer?

A protein skimmer is a device that is used in removing organic compounds from your aquarium. It uses an air-driven system for removing organic compounds from your aquarium in the form of dense foams. In other words, it creates tiny bubbles in a reaction chamber.

The organic wastes of your tank adhere to the air bubble. Through the chemical process of absorption, these bubbles push the wastes to the reaction chamber. After that, they are expelled into the collection cup.

Benefits of Keeping a Protein Skimmer in Your Aquarium

A protein skimmer helps you out in the following ways:

  • It helps in lengthening the time between water changes. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about frequently changing the water of your fish tank.
  • The organic particles and compounds that get accumulated over time can cause the growth of disease-causing microorganisms in your aquarium. A protein skimmer can help avoid the situation by not allowing these organic compounds in getting accumulated.
  • Organic compounds can distort the growth of corals by absorbing light waves that the corals need. Protein skimmers remove these organic compounds, thereby ensuring the corals get the light they need for healthy growth.
  • They help in eliminating nitrates that can eventually lead to algae growth.
  • It removes dirt from the tank water, thereby making sure it doesn’t get cloudy.
  • Organic compounds can cause the pH level of the tank water to fluctuate, endangering the lives of the aquatic pets and plants. Protein skimmers help avoid this situation.
  • It helps maintain the overall quality of the tank water.

Let us now shift gear to look into the factors you need to consider before buying a protein skimmer for your aquarium.

Things to Keep in Mind before Buying a Protein Skimmer for Your Aquarium

Before you make your purchase, please be sure to keep the following things in mind:

Skimmer Body Shape                                        

This is the most important aspect that you should determine your purchase. Protein skimmers are available in the market in various shapes and forms. Make sure to buy one that has a smooth path from its body to its collection cup. This enables the bubble to rise quickly and fall into the cup for easy removal. We recommend you to go for cone, hybrid cone, or wine glass-shaped protein skimmers for your aquarium.


Pumps help in producing the waste-carrying bubbles in an aquarium. A good pump will not only transfer less heat into your aquarium but will also run quietly and last long. Experts suggest that the best protein skimmers come with a needle wheel impeller since they help in breaking the air into small bubbles. The better the pump, the more bubbles it will create.

Outlet Adjustment

It is always better if the protein skimmer allows you to adjust the water level inside your skimmer since you will be able to customize the production of skimmate as well as avoid situations of overflow. Although this is not mandatory, try and look for a skimmer that features this customizable option.

Reaction Chamber

Reaction chambers are sometimes regarded as the backbone of a protein skimmer. You need to ensure that the reaction chamber of your protein skimmer is efficient. The larger the reaction chamber is, the more bubble it will produce, which, in turn, will increase the contact time and attract more proteins. This ultimately will help in removing mores wastes from your aquarium.

Build Quality

The outer body of a protein skimmer is as important as its inner mechanisms. What good it will of be if it breaks down easily from the outside? Therefore, make sure the protein skimmer you buy is built of strong materials. Usually, cast acrylic is considered to be the best option followed by extruded acrylic and plastic.

Apart from these, you should also look for a collection cup drain, a bubble plate and a silencer in your protein skimmer if possible.

Time now to find out the best ones available for your fish tank!

5 Best Protein Skimmers You Need to Buy Now

We spoke to hundreds of fishkeeping enthusiasts and based on their answers and our market analysis, we came up with the following products to put on our list of the best protein skimmers for your aquarium:

Reef Octopus Classic 150 Space Saver NWB150SSS

Starting our list is the sleek and compact Reef Octopus Classic 150 Space Saver NWB150SSS. Measuring at just 7.3”*9.4”, it is ideal for any aquarium that is under the capacity of 100 gallons. It doesn’t take too much space in your aquarium, and thus it won’t become an obstacle or hindrance to your aquatic pets. It is extremely durable and is built from high-quality acrylic material.

One of the best aspects of this protein skimmer is the fact that you can completely disassemble it in order to clean it. It doesn’t require any feed pump since it is built for in-sump use only.

It comes in a cone body alongside a bubble diffusing chamber. These two features are responsible for us to see less foam.

The presence of Aquatrance 200 pump pinwheel and vented wedge valve output ensures that you don’t have to incur the noise that usually generated by a protein skimmer. The wedge valve has great control over its operation and funnels the clean water out under the waterline, thereby ensuring no noise is created. It is highly efficient at eliminating waste materials by producing a mix of air and water through its pinwheel.


  • Highly efficient
  • Easy to clean
  • Produces a lot of skimmate
  • Strong acrylic built
  • Small in size
  • Removable Turbulence Reducing Bubble Plate


  • Absence of a variable speed motor

Bubble Magus BM-Curve 5 Protein Skimmer

Another protein skimmer that is slowly gaining favours among aquarists is the Bubble Magus BM-Curve 5 Protein Skimmer. Recommended for 65-gallon tanks, it measures 7.2”7.0*18.5”. Yes, it may not be the most compact skimmer that you can buy, but its footprint is small enough to not obstruct the aesthetics of your aquarium.

It features a narrow neck design which not only increases its skimming power but also ensures that there whenever bubbles rise up, there are fewer tensions on the way. By using just 8 watts, it is able to reduce turbulence in the tank water. It also comes with a strong and quiet needle wheel.

Besides, it also features a skimmer body and a quick-release collections cup, which makes it easy to disassemble it for cleaning. On top of that, it is extremely easy to set this protein skimmer since the air venturi comes pre-assembled. All you need to do is to set the water flow by using the red knob that is located on the top of the hard plastic tube.

On the downside, it does have a break-in period of 2-3 days, which is why you need to place it above the recommended water level.


  • Less power usage
  • Quiet pump
  • Small footprint
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to disassemble
  • Produces fine bubbles
  • Durable


  • Overflow issues
  • Requires regular cleaning for removing skimmate

Simplicity 240DC Protein Skimmer

Staying true to its brand, the Simplicity 240DC Protein Skimmers proves why sometimes simplicity is the best style and why one doesn’t need fancy designs to get the job done. It features a highly effective needle wheel and a controllable DC pump that helps in shredding air and water to produce fine bubbles.

It is also known for providing a longer contact time between the water and air compared to other protein skimmers available in the market. This elevates its performance level to a whole other degree. Moreover, you also get a bubble plate, wedge pipe indicator and an air-intake adjuster with it. The collections cup comes with an in-built cup drain.

Coming to its best part, it allows you to personalize the speed of the pump and even turn it off on a temporary basis. You will also be able to read the speed of the machine and how much power it is consuming through its in-built digital readout display.  

It is also very easy to maintain since it features a thumbscrew assembly. Its acrylic body makes it durable too. However, the adjustments are a bit finicky to be considered strong. So, be careful while handling it.


  • Easy maintenance
  • Highly durable
  • Powerful DC pump
  • Digital readout display
  • Controllable pump speed


  • Finicky adjustments
  • Takes around five days to break-in

IceCap K1-Nano Protein Skimmer

Nest up on our list of the best protein skimmers for your aquarium is the IceCap k1-Nano Protein Skimmer. To start with, it comes in a compact design measuring 2.7*3.2”. As a result, you don’t have to worry about your protein skimmer taking a lot of footprint in your fish tank.

However, as small as it may be, don’t be fooled into thinking that its effectiveness would be low. This protein skimmer is one of the most promising ones in the market right now due to its impressive performance.

Made of acrylic, its turbulent-reducing body produces the fine bubbles and takes care of the organic wastes in your fish tank, right from small debris to leftover foods and fish wastes.

It is also very convenient to maintain this product since it is easy to disassemble. One thing that you must know about it is that this product needs to be stalled in-sump instead of the tank.

We recommend this skimmer for marine aquariums that have a capacity of 10-30 gallons. It also comes with a magnet mount, thereby allowing you to place it on any surface that is up to ½” thick. It is also very long-lasting.


  • Compact
  • Magnet mount for consistency
  • Easy to setup
  • Easy to maintain
  • Considerably quiet


  • Requires frequent cleaning since the collection cup is small
  • Loose fit on the top cap

Happybuy Protein Filter Internal Needle Wheel Protein Skimme

Last but certainly not least on our list of the best protein skimmers of 2020 comes the Happybuy Protein Filter Internal Needle Wheel Protein Skimmer. Featuring an air-injection, this protein skimmer sets itself apart from the others when it comes to delivery of performance.

Running at just 7.8 Watts of power and maximum air intake of 180l/h, it comes with the Red Devil SP1 pump.  It also adds a dash of colour (with its red-white design) which gives it a distinct look from the other protein skimmers in the market. Now, whether if you prefer your protein skimmer to add to the beauty of the tank or you want it to be more unnoticeable and camouflage in nature, that totally depends on your personal preference. But, we do like its distinct design.

It also saves a lot of space, since it measures only 5.5”*3.9”. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about the protein skimmer cluttering the beauty of your fish tank. 

Since it comes in a standard cone shape, its chamber enables the bubbles to be smoother and the entire apparatus to be more stable. Its acrylic body is another of the many features that make it a worthy buy.  

Moreover, the dual-hole muffler features allow for it to function quietly, thereby ensuring it neither disturbs your aquatic pets nor you. It is recommended for saltwater tanks with a capacity of 13-66 gallons.


  • Dual-hole muffler design reduces noise
  • Small footprint
  • Durable
  • Colourful design


  • Only suited for saltwater tanks


A protein skimmer is a security blanket for the biological filter of your aquarium. So, be sure to invest in a good one because ultimately it is going to be beneficial for your aquatic pets and plants. Follow our buying guidelines and get the protein skimmer that you consider would best suit your aquarium.

But before we wrap up, remember to replace your protein skimmer when it stops producing skimmate. Also, be sure to clean the protein skimmer from time to time. It will add longevity to the lifespan of your protein skimmer, and in turn, to your biological filter and aquarium, at large.

Other Related Articles

Fishkeeping enthusiasts, be sure to check our other buying guides of important aquarium necessities. Here are glimpses of some of them: