What are protein skimmers

General, Technic

How do protein skimmers improve the filtration of your marine aquarium

Protein skimmers provide additional filtration and ensure a successful saltwater aquarium. By effectively removing protein and other organic waste, protein skimmers ensure a healthy aquarium. Protein skimmers allow the primary filtration system to function more efficiently, as well as offering many other benefits for improved water quality and clarity. You have them in different shapes and sizes. You even have a cheap and very compact version that is suitable for nano aquariums.

Active Waste Disposal

Protein skimmers remove organic waste from the water by means of foam. Waste materials adhere to the surface of the air bubbles and are expelled from the water. A mixture of air and aquarium water in the reaction chamber of the protein skimmer creates thousands of micro bubbles. As these microbubbles travel through the protein skimmer, the debris attached to the bubbles is condensed and transported into the protein skimmer’s canister. This ensures that the mechanical, chemical and biological filtration works more efficiently.

Chemical Filtration

As with protein skimmers, most chemical filter media are based on the principle of adsorption of dirt. However, as the filter surfaces fill with dirt, the effectiveness of this media decreases. This can allow harmful chemicals to re-enter the aquarium if the medium is not replaced or cleaned.

Because the adsorption occurs on the surface of each bubble, a well-maintained protein skimmer provides an almost endless supply of waste-binding surfaces. This continuous supply of air bubbles ensures efficient waste disposal without the need for replacement media. You also do not have to be afraid of rinsing out harmful substances in the aquarium, because these are collected in the protein skimmer.

Biological Filtration

Biological filtration breaks down harmful nitrogen compounds by means of aerobic bacteria. Ammonia and nitrite are converted into the less harmful substance nitrate. Although nitrate is less harmful, animals such as corals do not tolerate nitrate even in low concentrations. Many saltwater aquariums do not have the right conditions to allow efficient de-nitrification and to convert nitrate into harmless nitrogen. As a result, the nitrate level can rise to a harmful level in your aquarium.

Protein skimmers help keep nitrate levels low by lowering nitrate buildup. They remove organic waste before it has a chance to release nitrogen compounds. Using a protein skimmer is essential in a saltwater aquarium where very low nitrate levels are critical to coral health.

Other benefits of a protein skimmer

  • Reducing phosphate to prevent aggressive algae growth.
  • Removing any biological toxins released from corals, algae or invertebrates.
  • Improving gas exchange and increasing the oxygen content for your animals.
  • Helping maintain the correct pH level by preventing too much acid build-up due to too much CO2 in the aquarium.
  • Removing oily surface debris to improve the incidence of light in your aquarium.


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