Why Protein Skimmers Are Important for a Tank

One of the chief concerns in maintaining an aquarium is water purification. Unless you want to change the water of your aquarium frequently, one of the best tools that you have for keeping the water clean is a protein skimmer. This device helps remove organic wastes from the water before they become harmful substances like ammonia and nitrates.

The idea behind the protein skimmer is simple. It cleans the water through the injection of air bubbles. The air bubbles that pass through the water absorb organic waste and come up as foam on the surface. This foam can then be collected and removed from the water supply. The result is cleaner water for your aquarium.

There are different methods with, which you can clean the water through air bubbles. But whatever the method, there are three main qualities that you should look for in a protein skimmer. These are the amount of the air bubbles, the size of the bubbles, and the length of time the bubbles come in contact with the water, or dwell time. When you speak of air bubble amount, more is better. More air bubbles mean there are more bubbles to clean the water with. As for the size, they should be small so they can filter the water thoroughly. The recommended bubble size is from 0.5 to 1 mm. For the dwell time, the longer the bubbles have contact with the water, the more the bubbles can filter and absorb organic waste.

As mentioned, there are several methods in having the air bubbles clean the tank’s water supply. There are three main methods or protein skimmer types that you can choose from. These are counter current, venturi, and turbo protein skimmers.

Counter current skimmers work by forcing air bubbles through water flowing in the opposite direction. Air bubbles are created through an air pump, while the water is forced through by a water pump. The contact between the air bubbles and water induces the filtration process. These types are usually in-tank, so they can obstruct your view of the aquarium and take up some space.

Venturi protein skimmers depend on water pressure and a venturi tube for filtration. Water is pressurized and then shot into a venturi tube. The venturi tube is narrow at one point of the tube, and has an air intake tube near the constriction point. As pressurized water is forced through, this creates a difference in pressure, which sucks in air from the intake tube and creates the air bubbles. The water flows through a reservoir, which increases contact or dwell between the air bubbles and the water for better water purification. The advantage to this type is that you only need a water pump, and that it has more dwell time, which makes for more effective water treatment.

Turbo protein skimmers, also called needle wheel skimmers, work by combining air and water then forcing them through a blade to create air bubbles. The water and air mixture are forced through the blade, then through a reservoir by a water pump. As the water is forced up through a tube, it creates more contact between the water and air bubbles for better water purification.

Your first consideration is the placement. Some types are placed inside the tank, while others can be placed on the rim of the tank. Some also require separate air and water pumps, while some can be integrated into your current filtration system.

Another consideration is price. Of course, the more expensive ones are more effective. It would depend on how much you’re willing to shell out for a protein skimmer. You do need to remember that having a good protein skimmer ensures that water purity in your aquarium, which means fewer water changes and a healthier environment for your fish.

Guss Fitzgerald is an expert author and aquarist. He has gained a great understanding of aquarium protein skimmers and other aquarium products from his several years of experience owning aquarium fish. To learn more about proper aquarium maintenance consider visiting MarineDepot.com.