What are ‘skimmers’ and why do you need one?


 All tanks should have a 'Saltwater Aquarium Skimmer'

   A ' protein skimmer' is exactly what it sounds like, a device that skims muck off the top of the water once its been foamed up.


   This is a critical piece of aquarium equipment usually used in saltwater setups. This device removes dissolved organics and micro buildup in the water column. Other types of mechanical filtration aren't effective especially with bigger tanks.

   If adjusted properly, a skimmer will literally bubble the water up the center into the collection bowl. This bowl can fill up rather quick and needs constant maintenance. The device essentially mixes air and water to create bubbles with rise and create a foam which carries uneaten food, nitrates, ammonia, proteins and other microscopic toxic things in the water.

   Protein skimmers are a great way to remove organics and extra food in the aquarium. Compared to other types of filtration, the skimmer literally gets rid of the compounds instead of absorbing them.

So, a simple list of Protein Skimmer benefits would be:

  • Help to maintain a steady pH by removing the waste that breaks down into phosphates and nitrates.
  • Clearer water and healthier fish especially coral.
  • The skimmer also adds oxygen to the water by agitating it.
  • Keeps algae and other micro organisms from getting out of control.

How many types of protein skimmers are there?

 This can get pretty crazy. Technically there are more than 5 types of skimmers. Different styles include 'aspirating', 'downdraft', 'venturi', 'Beckett' and 'Spray Induction'. Each type is slightly different but overall does the same thing which is bubble and clean the water in a way that is far beyond most other mechanical filtration. To read more about the specific types of fishtank skimmers, check out the wiki page here it talks a lot about the details..

  Our Sacramento area aquarium & fishtank cleaning and maintenance service includes full empty and adjustment of the protein skimmer on your tank. We can also add a skimmer to your new setup or help with advice regarding next steps for your setup. We clean and maintain your protein skimmer so it lasts much longer.

Skimmers can cost a little bit but the long term gain is much more worth it, your fish will thank you!

fishtank protein skimmer example

Buying a new Skimmer for your saltwater aquarium:

Skimmers come in many different sizes and styles, but when YOU are shopping for a new one, consider a few of these buying tips:

  • How tall/wide is the skimmer? How much room do you have under your tank now?
  • How easy is it to clean? Does the collection bowl have a drain plug on it? This will make your life much easier!
  • How can you take it apart? A good thing to know before it gets dirty and slime covered.


Here's a link some reviews & videos on some popular skimmers from 2016..

2 thoughts on “What are ‘skimmers’ and why do you need one?”

  1. Oh these skimmers were so badass before,
    someone even posted one for sale recently on our local fish forum and it’s still working good. 🙂

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