Protein Skimmers for Saltwater Aquariums - The Spruce

An economical entry level saltwater aquarium filter, UV Sterilizer, and Skimmer
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Canister/FSB Filter Suggestion;

The simple diagram to the left is intended only as to set up a saltwater aquarium. This setup includes a Protein Skimmer and Fluidized Sand Bed Filter along with a level one UV Sterilizer for disease prevention and improving Redox Balance.



using live rock crumbles, or products such as SeaChem Matrix which is even more effective, in place of ceramic bio media, plastic bio balls, bio stars, or similar for de-nitrification as these other filter medium only provide aerobic bio filtration, thus creating high nitrates.

When live rock crumbles and/or Matrix are used this can avoid the “nitrate factory” aspect that these filters have been labeled with (often volcanic rock can be substituted, although not quite as effective, but very economical pound per pound).
The use of Purigen can further help with Nitrate & Phosphate Control. This filter can then often take the place of refugiums or similar when run with a Fluidized Sand Bed filter that is also running with nitrate removing NPX Bioplastics (see the next section for more).


Protein skimmer with aquarium pump for saltwater aquariums up to 100 gallons.
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Many marine aquarium hobbyists like to make their own equipment, even protein skimmers. For some, the DIY approach saves money, appeals to the desire to build gear, and helps develop better understanding of saltwater aquariums. The endeavor requires careful planning and execution, particularly for a protein skimmer. Air driven protein skimmers were among the first to be used on saltwater aquariums. Still in use with many skimmers today, they are an
Photo provided by FlickrDo you use a protein skimmer in your saltwater aquarium? Vote in this poll and and see how many other people use protein skimmers.
Photo provided by FlickrA quick lesson on the function and importance of biological wet dry filters and protein skimmers for a saltwater aquarium.
Photo provided by Flickr
A protein skimmer, also sometimes referred to as a foam fractionator, is a piece of aquarium equipment that is primarily used in saltwater aquariums in order to remove dissolved organic compounds (DOC) and other harmful substances that if not removed can breakdown in the aquarium or filter adding to the biological load on an aquarium. Protein skimmers remove these hydrophilic substances completely from the water using air bubbles that are collected in a collection cup. As air and water are mixed in the skimmer chamber the bubbles rise and take with them the dissolved organics that are attracted to the bubble surface. When the bubbles with the proteins, amino acids and other nasty stuff bubble up the tube into the collection cup they are completely removed from the aquarium.One of the first questions new saltwater hobbyists seem to ask is whether they really need a protein skimmer for their first setup. Especially when they start to shop for a skimmer. The short answer is NO, you don't have to run a protein skimmer on your setup. There are many hobbyists that run successful systems without them. However, these hobbyists also realize the importance of regular partial water changes for the aquarium and how important water changes are to the health and well being of the animals in their care.Unlike a mechanical filter that just traps solids but still exposes them to the aquarium as the water continues to flow over them all the while these solids are breaking down and adding to the total bio-load on a tank. Skimmers could possibly be consider one of the most significant advances for the saltwater hobbyist.Protein skimmers can be a valuable asset for your saltwater aquarium. They can help create a more stable environment for your animals and a healthier one too. If you just can't afford a decent protein skimmer you should honestly rethink the whole saltwater thing, at least for now. Especially for a beginner to the hobby our goal here is to make sure you have all the tools you need to succeed while having fun. Save up enough money until you can afford one a later date. You will be glad you did.