What Does a Protein Skimmer Do? Benefits Of Protein Skimmer

In this article today, we will talk about protein skimmer and the purpose of protein skimmer in the fish tank.
We will talk about what a protein skimmer Is? How does this work in a fish tank? What does a protein skimmer do exactly? Should you use a protein skimmer in your tank?

Imagine a chamber that vigorously mixes the air and water to create a dense foam. The cleaning action only happens with the bubbles made in that chamber. The bubbles then attract the dissolved organic compounds. At the top, thick cruddy foam is collected and then finally removed.

Now the water is clean, and the dissolved organic is removed before they have the opportunity to pollute the tank. Sounds great, right?

Yes, that’s how skimmers work in the tank. To get the answer more precise, read this complete article.

What Does a Protein Skimmer Do?

So, first of all, we know what a protein skimmer Is? By the way, this protein skimmer is an essential device for fish keepers. Protein skimmer makes fishing hobbies very easy and there are different types of protein skimmers available in the market.

By its name, we know what it does. Protein skimmer skims protein from fish tank’s water. It means that you can clean your tank easily and remove many such waste particles, which will make your aquarium very good.

It not only collects fish waste but also collects other things which we do not even see in the aquarium, like:

  1. Animal waste
  2. Skipped food
  3. Bacteria
  4. Toxins
  5. Unwanted organisms
  6. Undesirable color pigments

So now, let’s talk about where protein comes from in your tank?
The source of protein coming into our tank is fish food. The food that we give to our fishes in the tank, they eat some and leave some.

So what they do not eat is stuck somewhere in our tank-like in aquarium stones or the hiding places of fishes, and they keep breaking down lying there. Their breakdown leads to the formation of nitrate phosphate in the tank, which is not suitable for the tank and your fish.

Do You Really Need Protein Skimmer For Your Tank?

Do You Need a Protein Skimmer

See, wherever there is fish food, there will be protein.
You may have occasionally seen a film on your fish tank or at the air water interface, like a film that freezes over water. As if the oil is swimming over the water. So that is protein.

The best way to skim protein from water is using the overflow box. If you do not have an overflow box or have a canister filter, You can also use the skimmer chimney. And yes, a small thing also comes, I think, that’s Ehime Skimmer, which seems to be underwater. Whatever oil or film formed over the water is attracted by the device, and it goes over it and gets filtered. It is a kind of filtration system that every fish tank actually needs.

When the water is filtered correctly, it is beneficial that oxygen mixes well inside the water, making it very good for the fish. If there is a layer above the water, then tell me how the oxygen will be mixed.

So can we run a tank without a protein skimmer? Yes, we can run fish tanks without a protein skimmer. But before explaining this, I want to give you a small example. With which you will understand my words even better.

You guys understand that there is garbage in your house. As much as garbage is collected from home, you keep filling it in your dustbin from everywhere, and then the garbage collector comes and goes with it.

The next day you collect again. He comes, takes your garbage and goes again. So there is a stable condition at your house, that when your container is complete, the collector comes and takes that away. Your home is never messy with this. Now suppose that the garbage collector does not come for a month, then your house will be dirty. Then he comes and takes it and then makes your house as good as before. Then he again comes after a month; then after a month, your house should be clean. Makes your home very unstable. Sometimes it will smell good; sometimes, it will smell dirty. So the same thing happens inside your fish tank.

Protein skimmer skims the aquarium water 24×7. You can also run a tank without a protein skimmer, but it will be helpful to do weekly water changes. To keep protein stable in the water, you have to keep nitrate and phosphate low. Frequent water changes reduce your nitrate and phosphate in the tank. Then the level will go on raging again, and sometimes the level of nitrate and phosphate will reduce. But when protein is a skimmer, it keeps your tank stable regularly.

If you do water changes regularly, then it comes to light that salt is costly. Whenever you do weekly water changes, you need to add salt. So I recommend you invest once and take a good protein skimmer. Spending money on all these things throughout the year would be better if you get a good protein skimmer for your fish tank.

Below I will suggest to you some best protein skimmer that you can use and see for yourself.

Also give these articles a read:

  • Best in sump protein skimmer
  • Best protein skimmer for reef tank
  • Skimmer for saltwater fish tank

Is Protein Skimmer Only For Saltwater? Why Not Freshwater?

protein skimmer for saltwater and freshwater

So why don’t we use protein skimmers in Freshwater?
It’s not that we can’t do it in Freshwater. Many fishkeepers recommend that protein skimmer only be used in Saltwater, but this is not the case. If we want, we can do it in both places.
Let’s do one thing, let us first get to know about both how the protein skimmer works in Freshwater and then how in Saltwater.

How does protein skimmer work in Freshwater? Because the density of fresh water is very low. Due to the low density of water the protein skimmers, when going to skim, giant bubbles are formed in the Freshwater, due to which the protein does not go up, and the protein cannot skim properly. That’s why the protein skimmer in Freshwater doesn’t work well.

But you can also use the skim regular overflow box or skimmer chimney in Freshwater. Freshwater has a lot of skimming methods, and you don’t have to spend much money. There are many other options like hang-on-back skimmer, INT classic skimmers.

How does protein skimmer in saltwater work? The density of salt water is very high. Its salinity is some 35 ppt. Because its salt is quite Dense, it contains much Dense form in air bubbles, and they carry a large amount of protein and carry it to the protein skimmer. And thus, the protein gets skimmed perfectly.

Also give these articles a read:

  • Best saltwater protein skimmer
  • Best hob protein skimmer

Does Protein Skimmer Works In a Nano Tank?

What Does a Protein Skimmer Do In a Nano Tank

See if the fish tank is big or small; every fishkeeper will want his fish tank to be clean.

So how can we keep the fish tank clean? By the way, we have many options, but right now, we are talking about a protein skimmer. If we are talking about keeping the fish tank clean, yes, we can use skimmers even in nano tanks. Before this, let me tell you in advance that even small-size skimmers come for nano tanks. I will suggest below some skimmers for nano tanks, which will be very helpful for you.

So now, let us know how the protein skimmer works in nano tanks. It is not that in large tanks, skimmers give more benefit, and in smaller tanks, it does not. Protein skimmer works the same way in a small tank as it does in a large tank.

When you apply a protein skimmer to a nano tank, make sure that the protein skimmer is a bit powerful. Because small-size fish tanks get dirty very soon and it is essential to clean them. And also, make sure that the size of your protein skimmer for your fish tank is suitable.

Protein skimmers are challenging to find for small tanks. Many questions come to our mind that which skimmer will be best for us. To make your work easier, whenever you buy a protein skimmer for a small fish tank, be sure to pay attention to these things:

  1. Protein skimmer is the right size for your nano tank
  2. Your protein skimmer is powerful
  3. Whenever you put a protein skimmer in the aquarium, there is much space left
  4. Have skimmer base support

After all this information, you can buy a protein skimmer carefree for your small tank. Below, I have suggested some protein skimmers for you that would be perfect for your small fish tank.

Also give these articles a read:

Pros And Cons Of Using Protein Skimmer In Fish Tank

pros and cons of using protein skimmer

See the pros and cons of a protein skimmer; there is an own opinion that everyone can tell by using a skimmer in their fish tank. By the way, if my experience is seen with my skimmers, I have significantly benefited from this and some small losses that I do not regret much.

So now, let’s talk about my protein skimmer experience. From my experience, you will understand its pros and cons very well.

Maybe someone can tell you many of its pros, but seriously there is such con of protein skimmer, which is quite common that it is costly in my opinion.

Skimming the fish tank more removes some of the organic products that should remain in the fish tank. Even it also skimmed some tiny organisms that my fish like to eat. But, mainly, it seems to me that skimming or skimming is a personal choice, and that is primarily dependent on what you want to keep and how you want to keep those things.

In this article, I told you many times that you can run a tank very well even without a protein skimmer and believe me, I am telling the truth. The biggest drawback of using skimmer was that they also skimmed my plankton, and they died. The skimmer will remove micro life from your aquarium. So if you have platonic snails, fish larva, or anything else, they will most likely get skimmed out.

By this, you must have understood the cons of a protein skimmer. But these were just cons and believe me it has many advantages as well. All this, I will not be able to tell you briefly in this article. Therefore, I have covered some important points below to understand the pros and cons of protein skimmer very well.


  1. Oxygenates the tank
  2. Reduces nutrients
  3. Increases redox
  4. Easy to use
  5. Easy to clean
  6. Increases gas exchange
  7. Removes DOC
  8. Lowers bio-load
  9. Stabilizes pH
  10. Provides export for Ortho-phosphates
  11. Gives the aquarium water a sharp and crystal clear look
  12. Attracts organic waste from every region including the surface area
  13. Minimize algae by removing nutrients
  14. Promote coral growth


  1. Expensive
  2. Removes trace elements
  3. Removes beneficial plankton
  4. Can lower specific gravity

As with any piece of equipment for your aquarium, you have to weigh the benefits versus the cost and decide whether the expense is worth it to you, but in my opinion, skimmers are an invaluable resource for our aquariums. Adding a skimmer to your aquarium will give you a healthier, more beautiful aquarium, and that is what we’re after anyway. Isn’t it?

Protein Skimmer – Buying Guide

protein skimmer buying guide


So first we will talk about size. Here, I am not only talking about the size of the skimmer, but we should also look at the size of the aquarium while taking a good skimmer. If your aquarium size is large and the skimmer is small, then the skimmer will not work. If your skimmer is large and the aquarium is small, then the skimmer will still not work. Therefore, you have to pay much attention to your size.

If you believe me, I would suggest that you take the same skimmer, which is suitable for the size of your tank. There you will not have any complaints from the skimmer, and your protein skimmers will work well. Also, now you know how skimmers work according to the sizes, so it should be easy to choose the best one.


So let’s talk about space. While using the skimmer, always keep in mind that there is more space left in the aquarium, this will not cause any trouble to your fish, and your skimmer will attract many organic compounds that are waste. And as I said earlier, pay attention to the size as well; this is very important for both fish tanks. So with this, we move ahead how it should be when installing in the aquarium.


Installing is an essential thing that we should come up with well. Make sure that the protein skimmer that you have is easy to install in your fish tank. Because whenever we see the water of the aquarium getting dirty, we feel like clearing it. It should be easy to clean if the skimmer has a reaction chamber. Because you have to keep working weekly, so pay attention that you can quickly put the skimmer in the tank and easily get out after work.


Note that the skimmer pump system should be robust. Because I have seen it personally, it is quite a week and can cause trouble in the future. By lifting and using the skimmer, again and again, lowering the pump may weaken its pump system. So take care of this from the very beginning.


Make sure that the skimmer’s Bioload is large and robust. Bioload is nothing but the container cap of the skimmer body in which the entire organic molecule is collected. Because sometimes, what happens is that a large amount of garbage is removed from the water, which does not know the Bioload or container cap and then it causes overflow. Although there are many reasons for overflow, this one is the main reason.


If you spend much money only, you will get a good protein skimmer; the most significant thing is how you use it and how much you maintain it. Look at the market once before spending money. See what is trending. If your budget is reasonable, then you choose the best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of a protein skimmer?

The benefit of protein skimmer is that it helps maintain low nitrate levels in the water by setting a nitrate buildup. It also removes organic waster before it gets breakdown in the tank, and it releases nitrogen compounds. A protein skimmer in saltwater is highly beneficial in cleaning and skimming protein from the water.

Is a protein skimmer necessary?

No, a protein skimmer is not that necessary for a successful aquarium. Even without a protein skimmer, you can do Aquascaping successfully. But, having one protein skimmer can help you in keeping a clean tank enormously. It is beneficial if you have a big gallon tank. However, it is not recommended for the beginner who plans to keep easy fish and corals.

How do protein skimmers work?

The function of a protein skimmer is to mix the air particles into the water molecules to create a dense form. Cleaning action takes place when dense form turns into bubbles. The bubbles then attract the dissolved organic wastes and proteins. This waste is then collected at the top in a collection cup in the form of foam, and then it is finally removed.

Do I need a protein skimmer for freshwater?

No, In freshwater, a protein skimmer is not that necessary. The density of fresh water is very low. Due to the low density of water, giant bubbles are formed in the freshwater, due to which the protein doesn’t skim properly.

Do you need a protein skimmer for a 20 gallon tank?

Since a 20-gallon tank is big and one can find it challenging to clean, it is better to use a protein skimmer. The protein skimmer for a big tank (like a 20-gallon tank) is giant and will need a protein skimmer when cleaning or changing the water from the tank.

What is a protein skimmer for freshwater?

A protein skimmer for freshwater is just a simple water cleaning device. Since protein skimmer in freshwater is not that necessary, and it is highly recommended only in saltwater. But one can also use a protein skimmer in freshwater if the tank is enormous and the cleaning is challenging.

Does a protein skimmer remove ammonia?

Yes, a protein skimmer removes ammonia. Protein skimmer removes the protein and other organic waste from the tank before break down. If not removed and break down in the tank, this organic waste becomes harmful like ammonia and nitrates.

Does a protein skimmer oxygenate the water?

Yes, a protein skimmer does oxygenate the water. While in the skimming process, it forms a bubble inside the skimmer that attracts the organic waste from the water. The formed bubble helps to oxygenate the water, and additionally, it not only oxygenate but also cleans the water.

How do you set up a protein skimmer?

Knowing whether the protein skimmer is working makes sure your water is dirty enough to collect some of the protein or organic waste from the water. In the start, it will start forming a dense foam and will start producing bubbles. And make sure it is collecting the dirt at the top in the collection cup.

When should I turn on my protein skimmer?

The right time to turn on your protein skimmer is to look out that your tank needs a protein skimmer at the movement. Make sure the water is dirty enough, and your tank needs cleaning.

Final Words

Finally, you now know what a protein skimmer is. Which Aquarium is best for skimmers, Freshwater Or Saltwater Aquariums. This device protein skimming from the air water interface and cleans the dirty organic molecules with aquarium water. How organic waste is filtered with air bubbles and stored in a collection cup and how this device makes the fishkeeping hobby more amazing.

One small request with you guys. I’ve put so much effort into writing this blog post to provide you value. It’ll be beneficial for me if you consider sharing it on social media networks.

I hope that I have covered all of your doubts/questions about a protein skimmer in the fish tank, and now you know what does a protein skimmer do. Please don’t hesitate to ask any of your questions related to this topic. You can ask your question in the comment section below. I’ll surely answer all of your questions personally.

Happy fishkeeping!

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