Here is the mandatory intro:
A protein skimmer is a key piece of equipment for keeping the water in your nano aquarium clean and for removing waste from the system.
Below is a review of several skimmers and key items to consider when selecting the Best Nano Protein Skimmer for your system.
The Best Nano Protein Skimmers
1. Tunze USA 9004 DOC
Tunze is a brand that is well-known by reef keeping hobbyists for producing great skimmers. This model is a more powerful version of Tunze’s 9001, but it is still a compact and quiet skimmer. It is an in-tank skimmer that is rated for tanks from 15 gallons (for heavy bioload) and 65 gallons (for light bioload). The 9004 DOC utilizes Tunze’s Flash-Skimming technique and is good for removing the layer of film that can build up on the top of the tank. Available on Amazon.com.
- Removes the film layer that can be hard to get off the top of the tank
- Produces more skim that many other protein skimmers, making it more effective at cleaning
- Easy to take apart and clean
- There have been some reports of bubbles leaking out of the skimmer
- It produces a lot of micro bubbles during the initial break-in period
2. Comline DOC 9001
The Comline DOC 9001 is also produced by Tunze. It is a compact skimmer that is rated for tanks between 5 and 37 gallons yet is powerful enough for high-stocked nano tanks and all-in-one tanks. The DOC 9001 features Tunze’s patented anti-overfoaming chamber that prevents dissolved organics from returning from the skimmer back to your tank. It also utilizes Tunze’s Flash-Skimming technique that produces a large quantity of bubbles. The skimmer comes with a magnetic holder for glass up to 3/8” thick and silicone buffers to keep from transferring vibrations to the tank. Find it on Amazon.com.
- Small, quiet, and compact; energy efficient
- Starts producing skim quicker than many other skimmers; short break-in period
- Anti-overfoaming feature keeps dissolved organics out of the tank
- It produces a lot of micro bubbles duduringnitial break-in period
- Water line needs to be kept at a precise level or the skimmer won’t function correctly
3. Eshopps Nano Skimmer
The Eshopps Nano Skimmer is built for tanks up to 35 gallons and its small size makes it a great choice for all-in-one tanks. It is designed to fit into the back filter chamber on most All-In-One reef systems but can also be installed in any sump. The Eshopps Nano features a Sicce pump, which is a higher quality than the pump found in most skimmers. It has a removable collection cup for easy cleaning and is made of a high-quality acrylic material. Available on Amazon.com.
- Compact size; fits in the back filter chamber of most all-in-one systems
- High-quality construction; thick acrylic material
- Easy to clean
- Not as quiet as many other nano skimmers
- Water line needs to be kept at a precise level for the skimmer to function properly
- Can be more difficult to set up than some of the other skimmers
4. Bubble Magus QQ1
Bubble Magus is another well-known brand in the skimmer market. The QQ1 is a small, affordable skimmer that is rated for tanks up to 25 gallons. It hangs on the side of the tank so doesn’t take up valuable aquarium space. It features a needle wheel Rock SP600 pump that delivers a fair amount power, an easy to adjust body, and a foam bubble reducer on the outlet. The QQ1 is an affordable option but doesn’t pull as much skim as other skimmers on the market. Available on Amazon.com.
- Compact design, doesn’t take up tank space
- Easy to setup, just hang on the tank and turn it on
- One of the least expensive skimmers
- Not a good surface skimmer
- Limited power, produces good skim but not the optimal dark brown color
- Only suitable for tanks less than 12mm thick
5. Aquatic Life 115 Mini Internal
This skimmer is not the most powerful, but it is extremely affordable and is ideal for mini-reef systems. It is rated for tanks up to 30 gallons but works best on tanks between 10 and 20 gallons. The 115 Mini features a compact design and a needle-wheel impeller that increases air-to-water contact. It can be mounted inside the tank using either the included mounting brackets or included suction cups. The break-in period is about one week, but the skimmer seems to function well after than time. Find it on Amazon.com.
- Small and compact
- Very affordable, great as a starter skimmer
- Quiet operation
- Sensitive to changes in water level, needs stable level to function properly
- Some reports that it stops pulling skim sporadically
- Produces a lot of micro bubbles during the first few days
6. Hydor Slim Skim Nano Internal Skimmer
The Hydor Slim Skim is available in two sizes: one for tanks up to 35 gallons and one for tanks up to 65 gallons. The smaller model uses only 4 watts and the larger model only uses 6.5 watts, so you don’t have to worry about it heating up your aquarium. It has an adjustable collection cup that makes it easy to adjust the skimmer based on demand. Available on Amazon.com.
- Easy to set up and clean, sleek design that doesn’t detract from tank
- The body is made of high-quality materials, solid
- Effective at eliminating the film on the top of the water
- Quite a number of reports that the pump has failed after six months of use
- Some have reported that the skimmer is loud, others say it is quiet
- Doesn’t seem to pull as much skim as it should
7. Mame Skimmer III
This in-tank skimmer is made in Japan and was designed to be unobtrusive in your tank. It is an ultra-thin glass tube that mounts to the inside of the tank with a clear plastic clip, or it can be placed inside an all-in-one filter. It fits tanks up to about 30 gallons. The skimmer is powered by an air pump and uses a limewood air stone to create microbubbles inside the glass tube. The bubbles froth the skim to the top of the tube where air pressure then forces the skim through an airline tube to the external collection chamber. Available on Amazon.com.
- Ultra-slim and space saving
- High quality materials, easy to setup and run
- Exterior skim collection chamber makes it easy to clean
- It does not come with an air pump
- Limewood airstone needs to be replaced monthly
- Some reports that an air pump can be noisy
8. AZOO Nano Surface Skimmer 250
The AZOO Surface Skimmer 250 works on tanks up to 66 gallons and is suitable for nano planted and reef aquariums. The volume of the water outlet can be adjusted for the size of the tank. It has a special air buoy that is designed to automatically adjust the height of the water level, making it effective at controlling surface film as the water level changes. It works well as the main filter for a small plant tank or the secondary filter for a small reef tank. The skimmer has a security flap on the inflow gate to prevent small fish or shrimp from being pulled into the skimmer. Find it on Amazon.com.
- Transparent design makes it easy to tell when filter sponges need cleaning or replacement
- Easy to install and maintain
- Security inlet flap to protect small fish and shrimp
- Some users reported the floating buoy stopped working after a few weeks
- The color is white which may not fit with most other equipment that is black
- Some reports of flimsy construction
9. Macro Aqua M-50 Mini Hang-On Protein Skimmer
The Macro Aqua M-50 is suitable for tanks up to 60 gallons. It has a compact size that hangs on the back of the tank with a mounting bracket. The skimmer is easy to install and doesn’t require priming, just plug it in and it is ready to use. Its needle-wheel impeller increases air to water contact and the foam diffuser minimizes the bubbles flowing into the aquarium. Available on Amazon.com.
- Easy to install and operate, no priming required
- Compact design so it doesn’t take up space
- Does a good job of cleaning the water in the aquarium
- Needs to be cleaned out often
- Some users report the unit is loud, but seems to quiet down after a few weeks of use
10. Coralife BioCube
Coralife is one of the leading manufacturers of aquarium products. The BioCube Protein Skimmer is not the best skimmer on the market, but it is a great option for younger aquarium owners or those setting up their first saltwater tank. It is extremely affordable and comes will all needed equipment, making it easy to install. The skimmer fits into the built-in filtration system on the BioCube Aquarium or can be installed on the back of any tank. Availabe on Amazon.com.
- Easy to install and clean
- All accessories are included – heavy duty air pump, air flow valve, and tubing
- Compact design, fits nicely in on any tank or BioCube Aquarium
- Some reports that the included air pump is not high quality and is noisy
- The water level needs to be kept precise or the skimmer doesn’t function properly
- Can take up to a week of adjusting to get the skimmer working correctly
Here on some things to consider when choosing the Best Nano Protein Skimmer:
What are protein skimmers?
Protein Skimmers are devices used in saltwater aquariums to remove organic waste (proteins) such as fish excrement, undigested food, and matter from dead creatures. If left in the tank, the proteins will break down and cause spikes in ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.
How does a protein skimmer work?
Protein skimmers produce thousands of tiny bubbles and inject them into the water. The organic proteins bind to the bubbles and overflow into the skimmer’s collection container.
What is the dark foam that the protein skimmer removes?
The dark foam is the organic proteins before they have had a chance to break down. This foam is also called skim.
What are the benefits of installing a protein skimmer?
Protein skimmers keep the aquarium water clean and clear, reduce algae, and help keep your fish and coral healthy by removing parasites and bacteria.
What are the drawbacks of a protein skimmer?
A protein skimmer does require some maintenance, but they are not difficult to clean. A protein skimmer can also remove helpful compounds from the water such as iodine and salt, as well as plankton.
How do you set up a protein skimmer?
Purchase a skimmer that has a capacity slightly greater than your tank. Skimmers are usually easy to set up, just make sure that all hoses are connected correctly to avoid water leaks. You also need to ensure that the skimmer is set at the proper water depth. Your skimmer should come with instructions for proper assembly and function.
When should I buy a protein skimmer?
A protein skimmer is usually not necessary for beginners who plan to keep easy fish and soft corals. If you have LPS and SPS corals and want a pristine tank, a good protein skimmer is a worthwhile investment.
What is a hang-on back protein skimmer?
A hang-on back skimmer hangs on the back of the tank and pulls water from the aquarium into the skimmer. They are a good choice if you don’t have a sump or don’t have room inside your tank. They aren’t as powerful as in-sump skimmers and don’t usually perform as well, and they are often more expensive.
What is an in-tank protein skimmer?
In-tank skimmers are among the most affordable but generally aren’t as powerful or effective as in-sump skimmers. They can be a great choice if you don’t have a sump or are on a tight budget. The downside to an in-tank skimmer is that they take up space in your tank.
What is an in-sump protein skimmer?
In-sump skimmers are considered the most powerful and effective at removing waste. They also offer the widest range of options. The best models are capable of processing hundreds of gallons of water per hour and removing tons of waste. Prices range from very cheap to very pricy, but it is better to spend a little more for a quality skimmer.
What is a co-current skimmer?
A co-current skimmer uses an air stone at the bottom of the skimmer chamber to produce bubbles. They are good skimmers, but the air stones have to be replaced regularly.
What is a counter current skimmer?
A counter current skimmer forces the air/water mixture through a counter-current of aquarium water in the body of the skimmer. This method produces a longer contact time for the bubbles to attract the organics.
What is a venturi skimmer?
A venturi skimmer uses a venturi valve to mix air in with the water. These valves are usually located on the intake tube coming into the skimmer.
What is a needle wheel skimmer?
A needle wheel skimmer uses a spoked wheel that spins and chops up the incoming water to produce fine bubbles. Some wheel skimmers use a mesh wheel that functions in the same way.
What is spray induction?
With a spray induction skimmer, the aquarium water is forced through a spray nozzle as it comes into the skimmer creating many tiny bubbles.
What is Downdraft and Beckett?
A Downdraft and Beckett skimmer uses proprietary parts to mix air and water to create the bubbles. Some of the larger protein skimmers are Downdraft and Beckett models.
Why isn’t my skimmer collecting any sludge?
Most protein skimmers, especially nano skimmers, have a break-in period before they start collecting skim. Let your skimmer run for a few days before you check for any problems.
What maintenance is required for a protein skimmer?
Nano protein skimmers usually have small collection cups that need to be emptied regularly to prevent the skim from overflowing back into your tank. You also need to check the intake hose occasionally to ensure there is no debris stuck in the hose and it is able to pull water. You don’t need to scrub the inside of the collection cups too often and can just rinse it with a cup of tank water.
What is the difference between wet and dry skimming?
In wet skimming, the collection cup is lower in the water and the air flow is increased. It is faster than dry skimming but the skim is less concentrated. It collects skim faster so requires more maintenance. It can also affect the salinity of your water. In dry skimming, the collection cup is raised higher and the skim is more concentrated.
Is a protein skimmer useful for a freshwater tank?
Protein skimmers are designed for use with saltwater tanks. They generally require a specific gravity or salinity level to work properly. Freshwater tanks use a reverse osmosis system for cleaning.