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Best Protein Skimmers for Aquariums: Our Top Picks 2024

To remove that organic matter from your aquarium, what you need is a protein skimmer, and this is what we are here to help you find today. Let’s get right to it and take a look at the top five best protein skimmers for aquariums that the market has to offer. 

Best Protein Skimmers for Aquariums

Top 5 Best Aquarium Protein Skimmers: Reviews

These are all of the best protein skimmers for aquariums that your money can buy. 

1. Black Hole Protein Skimmer: Our Top Pick

Black Hole Skimmers: Aquarium Surface Skimmer with Pump
  • Innovative and customizable aquarium surface skimmer rapidly removes surface debris, biofilm, and...
  • Increases oxygen in the water by removing surface film and other floating debris. Also aerates the...

Here we have a very simple and affordable protein skimmer for aquariums. This particular unit comes with a very large filter chamber that can be used with many different types of filter media, including activated carbon, filter floss, pads, sponges, and various all-in-one filter solutions. 

It comes with the BHS 160 power head, which it needs to be mounted to, which in itself can be placed on the wall of an aquarium.

This customizable aquarium surface skimmer is able to easily remove contaminants, biofilm, and surface debris from the water. It also comes complete with a fish guard to prevent any fish from being sucked into the unit.

It also features a 2 meter long power cord, which should be more than enough to get to any power source. We also like how it is designed to be fairly tall yet compact, so it shouldn’t take up too much space inside of an aquarium, although it does of course need a bit of real estate. The fact that it comes complete with a three-year warranty is quite simply astounding.

Pros

  • Superior durability
  • Doesn’t take up too much space
  • Decent price
  • Effective removal of organic matter
  • Customizable chamber

Cons

  • Can be loud

If you want a simple and effective protein skimmer for your aquarium, then this is quite likely the best option out there.


2. CHERLAM Aquarium Surface Protein Skimmer

Sale
CHERLAM Aquarium Surface Protein Skimmer,3W Fish Tank Protein Skimmer,3 in 1...
  • Strong Function-Protein on the water surface of the fish tank caused by external factors will hinder...
  • Intimate Design - The floating table of the protein skimmer adopts a lifting design, which can...

This is effectively one of the most affordable protein skimmers for aquariums that your money can buy. It costs only $15 plus tax, and features a very simple operation. 

It easily attaches to the inside of any aquarium with a simple mounting mechanism, plus it doesn’t take up much space at all. It’s actually designed to be extremely compact, so it should be fine even for smaller aquariums.

What many people might appreciate is that it features a small spray head at the top which helps to deliver oxygenated water back into the tank. The unit itself is a three in one skimmer, and it is able to remove a variety of impurities from the water. This includes oil films, organic matter, and other impurities that you don’t want in the tank.

It’s also designed in such a way so that it should still continue operating even if there is a drop in the water level in the aquarium. What you might also like is that the flow or output can also be adjusted, although based on its size, you can rest assured that it is designed only for smaller aquariums.

Pros

  • Ideal for small tanks
  • Easy to control
  • Simple mounting
  • 3 in 1 functionality

Cons

  • Somewhat limited durability

If it’s affordability that you’re going for, then this is a perfectly fine protein skimmer to consider.


3. Coralife Super Protein Super Skimmer

Sale
Coralife Aquarium Fish Tank Marine Salt Water Super Protein Skimmer with Pump,...
  • 🐠 HIGH PERFORMANCE - The Coralife Super Skimmer has a high-performance foam fractionator designed...
  • 🐠 PATENTED TECHNOLOGY - The needle-wheel system creates a spiraling vortex of water and micro...

Here we have a moderately priced yet high end protein skimmer that features fantastic functionality. There are several models available, including a 65 gallon, 125 gallon, and 220 gallon unit. It should therefore be able to service relatively large aquariums.

What really stands out about this model is that it features a high performance foam fractionator combined with a patented needle wheel impeller, as well as an aspirating venturi, which combined are very effective at removing a variety of dissolved organic debris from the water.

That needle impeller helps to create a vortex of water and micro bubbles inside of the reaction chamber that attract organic compounds and proteins, at which point they are deposited into the collection cup, which is very easy to clean. All in all, this might just be one of the most effective models at this price point. Let’s not forget that it is also designed to be durable and long lasting.

Pros

  • High end functionality
  • Decent price, all things considered
  • Easy to clean
  • Simple mounting
  • Very durable

Cons

  • Takes up a good bit of space

If you’re looking for a middle of the line unit that works very well, yet doesn’t cost too much money, then this is a fantastic option to keep in mind.


4. Bubble Magus BM-Curve 5 Protein Skimmer

Sale
Bubble Magus BM-Curve 5 Protein Skimmer
  • High performance pump included
  • Tanks up to 140 gallons

Here we have a very high end protein skimmer designed for aquariums up to 140 gallons in size, so it should be able to handle even the largest of home aquariums. What we need to say here is that although this model is very expensive, it is also designed with superior components.

Every component on the inside of this unit is designed to last for a very long time, and we think that you should get at least several years out of it. It is also designed to be very easy to mount in your aquarium, and it even comes with a very long power cord to make things much easier for you.

You might also appreciate how the input and output are adjustable, so you can increase or decrease the amount of output it produces. What’s pretty cool is that you can also adjust the size of the air bubbles to increase or decrease the amount of turbulence in the reaction chamber.

What it really comes down to is that the vast majority of organic debris will be removed from the water, not to mention that this protein skimmer is also designed to be extremely quiet. Although it is designed for big tanks, it does have a relatively small footprint, so it shouldn’t take up too much space.

Pros

  • Superior functionality
  •  Doesn’t take up too much space
  • Great durability
  • High-end design
  • Easy mounting

Cons

  • High cost

If you don’t mind the relatively high price tag, then the Bubble Magus is certainly worth considering.


5. Reef Octopus Classic 110-INT Needle Wheel Protein Skimmer

Reef Octopus Classic 110-INT Needle Wheel Protein Skimmer for Aquarium
  • Coral vue octopus 4-inch needle wheel skimmer 100gal
  • Reef octopus pinwheel/needle wheel skimmers provide you with a high performance features in an easy...

If you’re looking for the best of the best, then this protein skimmer is certainly something worth considering, although it will cost you a good deal of money. That said, you get what you pay for, and what you get here is amazing quality.

This unit comes complete with a needle wheel system that helps to create a lot of turbulence in the reaction chamber, as well as air bubbles, therefore attracting a lot of debris and organic matter. You can fine tune the amount and size of bubbles produced as well, therefore allowing you to attract more or less of that organic debris.

There is a four inch cone neck that helps to transition the bubbles into the collection cup, therefore allowing for very efficient collection, as well as easy cleaning. That quick release neck definitely makes life a lot easier in terms of cleanup and emptying.

This unit also comes with a gate valve that allows you to adjust the water level very easily. Something that you do, however, need to keep in mind is that this model is designed to be used only in sums, and not in actual aquariums. Therefore, you have to have a sump to use this protein skimmer.

Pros

  • Amazing performance
  • Very durable
  • High-quality components
  •  Easy to adjust
  • Quiet
  • Simple mounting

Cons

  • Price

If you want what is truly the best of the best, and you don’t mind the huge price tag, then this is absolutely the best protein skimmer for any aquarium.


Protein Skimmers for Aquariums Buyers Guide: What to Look Out For

Before you go out and buy any protein skimmer for your aquarium, there are a few important factors to keep in mind.

Size

Just remember that there are different sizes of protein skimmers, each of which is ideal for a different size of fish tank. Make sure that you get one that can handle the amount of water you have in your aquarium.

Type

There are two main types of protein skimmers, smaller ones that can be placed right inside of aquariums and larger ones that require their own sump. Therefore, if you only have an aquarium without a sump, this is something you’ll need to take into account.

The Technology

Some of these units come complete with large needle wheel impellers that are able to produce a lot of turbulence inside of the reaction chamber.

Furthermore, besides that needle wheel, another great feature is the ability to adjust the size and amount of bubbles produced, and as this directly affects the amount of organic debris that can be collected. The more adjustable the protein skimmer in question is, the better it will function.

detail of an aquarium filter output of a tropical freshwater aquarium with blurred background

Durability

These pieces of hardware do have moving components, and they need to last for a very long time, so you need to get something that is designed to be durable. For this reason, we recommend investing a little bit of extra money into something that you know won’t break as soon as you unbox it.