Getting a good filtration is a mush for any fish tank, big or small. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all protein skimmer.
This guide will help you make a decision based on the size of your fish tank. I will start with the smaller ones before moving on. You can use the table of contents to find the right skimmer for your tank.
Protein Skimmer for 10 Gallon Tank
Although it is small in size, it works brilliantly in terms of removing the unwanted materials in the water. You know this just by looking at the amount of junk in the filter bag whenever you want to clear it.
Setting it up is simple plug and play. Just make sure the skimmer can fit into your filter box and you will be good to go.
Just a note on the amount of time needed for the skimmer to break in. Usually, this will take 1 week. Hence, you might not see any skimming done within the first few days of your installation.
For the noise, I wouldn’t say this is noisy but it is definite not quiet either. If you want to remove the noise completely, you will need to modify it. Basically the noise comes from the water entering the valve so you need to close it manually via some mods made.
The only thing I would complain about is the adjustment knob. It is quite hard to turn once you have set up the skimmer in the tank. Definitely not a deal killer but something that I think should be improved in the next version.
Protein Skimmer for 55 Gallon Reef Tank
For filtering a mid size reef or fish tank that is in the 20 -65 gallon range, my recommendation is the SCA 301 mode. Compared to other more pricey brands, this model is a steal at its price. Most reviews on Amazon were very positive about this so it can considered a value for money protein skimmer.
The most important is of course the skimming. The SCA 301 only needed a day at most to break in and you can start to see the skimming in action. That is pretty powerful in my opinion. However to get the skimmer to perform at its best, you need to adjust the level through trial and error. Some of the negative reviews on Amazon were probably due to the users skipping this step and being unsatisfied with the level of skimming.
This skimmer works so very that it causes one problem: the clogging of your hose due to the amount of junk it pulls out from the water. If you don’t clean the skimmer every 2-3 days, you will find the bubbles stop coming out. So now you know why!
One minor complaint I read about this skimmer is the pump. A small handful of reviewers were mentioning that they had to replace the pump every other 6 months as it keeps breaking down. Upon investigating the extend of this complaint, it seems like it affects only a very small group, which I suspect can be a faulty batch. Most of the reviewers had no problems with it despite using the skimmer for more than 1 year.
Overall, it is a great protein skimmer that is very affordable when compared to other so called ‘branded’ skimmers in the market.
Another hob skimmer to consider for a 55 gallon fish tank is the aquamaxx hob-1. In my review of the aquamaxx skimmer, I found it to be worthy alternative to the SCA 301. It breaks in within 12 hours and starts to pick up a really nice chuck of gunk. It is more expensive but looking at the way it filters, this is the reason why.
The noise level is probably the lowest I have seen. It lets out just a very faint hum in the background so you wouldn’t probably notice it. For those looking for the quietest hob skimmer, I would recommend this.
Assembly wise, it is also quiet intuitive. If you have problems with the set up, search on youtubes for video instructions. The one that came with the product will not be much help to you.
Protip: Don’t tighten the screws too much or it might break your fish tank.
In summary there is nothing much to complaint about this model. It is just pricier but it has probably the most powerful skimming function among its class and is also the quietest.
Protein Skimmer for 125 Gallon Reef Tank
For larger fish tanks, the Bubble Magnus Curve 5 is a value for money skimmer that you should definitely consider. Everything about the product is well designed and built.
The skimming part works with only a few hours of breaking in period. That is fast! For its price, I would say it is the fastest in its price range. This is partly to its very efficient pump that works very well out of the box.
Setting it up is quite standard. Unfortunately, the lack of instructions means you are on your own. If you have problems, you need to watch some videos on Youtube instead of calling customer support. Why? Read on.
Despite the good product quality, there is one downside to buy it: the lack of customer support for US customer. This means you need to reply on third party support such as forums or youtube in case things go wrong.
Protein Skimmer Buying Guide
Here is a summary of what you should look for when buying a protein skimmer. Nothing earth shattering but it is a handy checklist to go through if you never bought one before.
- Quality of filtering: This is probably the most important criteria for any skimmer purchase. The good ones can remove so much dirt that you will to clear them every 3 days to avoid clogging the hose.
- Break in period: The smaller protein skimmers usually need a few days to work well while the larger ones need less than 24 hours.
- Ease of set up: Needless to say, get one that doesn’t require you to perform brain surgery type of work just to use it.
- Noise level: There is no one skimmer that is 100% quiet. As long as it is not so loud as to disturb your normal activities, it should be fine.
- Capacity: Different skimmers are different filtering capacity. I have recommended the best models for different ranges above to make this easier for you to choose from.
Protein skimmer vs filter
There is some confusion on whether one should get a protein skimmer or a canister filter. I will break it down clearly below so you know their differences.
- Dissolved Organic Solids (DOS): One of the big difference is that canister filter can remove the liquid DOS while a skimmer can.
Buying a good quality protein skimmer can save you lots of heart aches down the road. The good thing most of the high quality ones are not that expensive so you can pretty much afford them.