If you have a reef tank, you likely already know the importance of a protein skimmer. These handy products help keep the water clean in a way standard filtration systems often cannot. They can help reduce algae growth within your tank, along with keeping the water quality high and keeping your reef inhabitants happy.
To help make finding the right protein skimmer easier for you, we’ve decided to review our favorite protein skimmers on the market today.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022
The 7 Best Protein Skimmers for Reef Tanks
1. Aquatic Life Protein Mini Skimmer – Best Overall
|Size:||5”L x 3”W x 3”H|
|Tank size:||30 gallons|
Our pick for the best overall protein skimmer for a reef tank is the Aquatic Life Protein Mini Skimmer. This little device is perfect for reef tanks up to 30 gallons, and it retails for a budget-friendly price. It has an ultra-quiet operation, and it can be placed within the tank itself or in the tank’s filtration compartment.
The needle-wheel impeller increases the air-to-water contact, increasing the efficiency of this product. The quick-lock design makes it easily accessed for cleaning and maintenance, and the power cord has a built-in channel that keeps it hidden from view. The adjustable bracket can be used to fit this skimmer to any standard tank, and the included suction cups can be used to attach it within your tank.
Some users of this protein skimmer report it creates lots of microbubbles, so it may be best kept in your filtration system to avoid filling the tank itself with microbubbles.
2. Eheim Aquarium Micro Surface Skimmer – Best Value
|Size:||5”L x 3.3”W x 5.4”H|
|Tank size:||92 gallons|
The Eheim Skim350 Aquarium Micro Surface Skimmer is the best protein skimmer for your reef tank for the money. This skimmer is made for tanks up to 92 gallons, and it’s easily the most budget-friendly product you’ll find for a tank this size.
It has a self-adjusting float that automatically accounts for evaporation from your tank, and it includes a replaceable pre-filter sponge that helps prevent clogs. It includes suction cups for easy and quick installation, and it runs on an 80 GPH pump with fully adjustable flow controls.
Due to its small size and weight, this skimmer can easily be bumped out of position, so it may require frequent repositioning to keep it in place.
3. Simplicity In Sump Protein Skimmer – Premium Choice
|Size:||1”L x 8.3”W x 21.3”H|
|Tank size:||320 gallons|
The Simplicity 320 DC In Sump Protein Skimmer is the premium choice for protein skimmers for your reef tank, and it does retail for a premium price.
This protein skimmer can be used for tanks up to 320 gallons if they are lightly stocked, but it can even be used for heavily stocked tanks up to 160 gallons. It comes with a 3-year warranty and high-quality customer support, just in case you run into a problem.
It features a high-efficiency cone shape that maximizes airflow through the skimmer. The needle-wheel impeller is also an important part of the efficiency of this machine. You can customize the performance of this skimmer, thanks to its adjustable DC pump, wedge pipe, and air valve.
4. Coralife Super Skimmer
|Size:||7”L x 5.6”W x 4.2”H|
|Tank size:||220 gallons|
The Coralife Super Skimmer is suitable for tanks up to 220 gallons, although it retails for a premium price. This compact protein skimmer has a wide neck collection cup for more efficient foam production and control. It can be hung on the side of your tank or used inside the sump system, depending on your preference. It’s made of durable and lightweight acrylic, and everything you need to get started is included with this skimmer. The needle-wheel design maximizes efficiency and functionality.
The setup for this skimmer may take approximately 1 hour, so make sure to be prepared to spend this time on it.
5. Danner Manufacturing Aquarium Protein Skimmer
|Size:||75”L x 8.75”W x 6.5”H|
|Tank size:||55 gallons|
The Danner Manufacturing Supreme Skilter Aquarium Protein Skimmer is a budget-friendly protein skimmer for tanks up to 55 gallons. It doesn’t just function as a protein skimmer but also as an aerating filter. It includes filter cartridges to get you started. It runs at a rate up to 250 GPH, so it can efficiently circulate and filter the water in your 55-gallon tank multiple times per hour. This skimmer and filter hybrid can be used as a primary or secondary filtration system for your tank.
Although sump systems are usually the preferred filtration for reef tanks, this skimmer and filter cannot be used within your sump.
6. Nyos Quantum Aquarium Skimmer
|Size:||4”L x 16.4”W x 26”H|
|Tank size:||1,000 gallons|
The Nyos Quantum 300 Aquarium Skimmer is a great protein skimmer for tanks up to 1,000 gallons. However, the price tag on this skimmer will set you back significantly, so it may take some major budgeting to afford this one.
The skimming pot on this skimmer has a twist-lock seal for security and easy access. It’s free of all external pumps, and it can be fully disassembled for cleaning and maintenance. It offers energy-efficient function, even for large tanks, and the settings can be adjusted to meet the needs of your tank. The operation is very quiet, making this ideal for tanks in places like bedrooms and living spaces.
7. Instant Ocean Protein Skimmer
|Size:||4”L x 20.75”W x 6.25”H|
|Tank size:||100 gallons|
The Instant Ocean Sea Clone 100 Protein Skimmer is made for tanks up to 100 gallons, and it retails for a budget-friendly price for this size tank. It has optimized skimming capabilities, ensuring maximum efficiency. All organic compounds are trapped within the collection chamber, where they remain until you empty the chamber. It can be installed by hanging on the edge of your tank or adding to your sump setup.
Multiple users of this skimmer report excessive amounts of microbubbles, so it may be best within a sump system and not the tank itself. It also has a louder operation than most comparable protein skimmers.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Find the Right Protein Skimmer for Your Reef Tank
Choosing the Right Protein Skimmer for Your Reef Tank
Protein skimmers are essential when it comes to keeping a reef tank. They help remove oils and organic compounds from your tank that a filtration system often cannot remove. It’s important to the health of your reef and the well-being of its inhabitants that you select the right product.
The main concern is to ensure you select a protein skimmer that will function appropriately within the tank size you have. A protein skimmer that is rated for a tank smaller than yours will lead to an inefficient product that is likely to cost you a decent amount of money, even for a budget-friendly pick.
You should also consider the stocking within your tank. An overstocked tank is likely to need a more powerful protein skimmer because you’ll have more stock in your tank producing waste. Otherwise, you may wear out your protein skimmer quickly or find yourself doing excessive maintenance and cleaning to keep it functioning properly.
Reading through these reviews can be a beneficial starting point to helping you choose the right protein skimmer for your reef tank. Our favorite pick is the Aquatic Life Protein Mini Skimmer, which is ideal for your small reef tank, and it retails for a budget-conscious price. For our favorite budget-friendly product, check out the Eheim Skim350 Aquarium Micro Surface Skimmer, which is ideal for tanks up to 92 gallons. For a premium-priced and premium function product, our pick is the Simplicity 320 DC In Sump Protein Skimmer.