Protein Skimmers in the Aquarium - An Overview

Protein Skimmers are devices used in marine aquariums to remove unwanted proteins floating in the water. Proteins can originate from decomposing organic matter such as fish waste and plant detritus.

Protein Skimmers work by creating a large air/water interface by using a large amount of bubbles which are allowed to pass through a water column. The water bubbles rise to the surface along with the proteins which are attracted to the bubbles. In addition to proteins, these skimmers also remove fatty substances, carbohydrates, bacteria, etc

The result is a foamy layer of liquid in the skimmer. This foamy layer gets thicker as more and more proteins rise to the surface. This Foamy layer is then removed.

Proteins Skimmers are used in marine aquariums where periodic water changes are not possible. They reduce the load on the main filtration systems.

Protein Skimmers cannot be used in freshwater aquariums as the density of freshwater is lesser than the saltwater of marine tanks. Thus, the fine bubbles which can be created in the marine aquariums for higher air/water interface cannot be created in the freshwater aquarium.

Protein Skimmers can be used in freshwater aquariums which are overstocked. However, these are extremely rare.