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Top Five Beginner Skimmers

Updated 2023

Let’s simplify the topic of protein skimmers for beginners:

What is a protein skimmer? A protein skimmer removes proteins and other organic compounds from the water by creating bubbles. These bubbles trap the proteins and carry them to a collection cup, where they are removed from the system.

Do you need a protein skimmer? It depends on your tank setup and stocking level. For lightly stocked tanks, a protein skimmer may not be necessary. However, for more heavily stocked tanks or those with specific filtration needs, a skimmer can be beneficial.

Choosing the right size skimmer: Consider the size of your tank and the available space in your sump or filtration chamber. Most skimmers are rated for specific tank sizes, but you can also opt for a larger skimmer if it fits your setup.

Placement options: Protein skimmers are commonly placed in a sump, but there are also hang-on-back (HOB) options available, which can be used on various tank types.

In conclusion, protein skimmers offer an effective way to remove fine particles and organic compounds from your aquarium. Assess your tank’s needs and available space to determine if a protein skimmer is the right choice for you.



The AquaMaxx HOB-5 Hang-On-Back Protein Skimmer is a highly recommended product for aquarium enthusiasts. Its efficient and reliable performance allows for the quick removal of impurities from the water, promoting a healthier environment for fish and corals. With easy setup and maintenance, along with its durable construction and thoughtful design, this protein skimmer is a worthwhile investment. Say goodbye to ineffective skimming and excessive air bubbles – the AquaMaxx HOB-5 is the solution you’ve been looking for. (85 words)

  • Easy to set up and maintain. Just adjust the foam level to wet or dry by moving the collection cup up or down.
  • Efficient, durable, and reliable. Made with cell-cast acrylic construction.
  • Fits aquarium rims up to 3/4″ thick and has a filtration rating of up to 90 gallons (light bioload) or 60 gallons (heavy bioload).
  • Some users experienced flooding of their tank with air bubbles during operation.
  • The design of the skimmer’s sliding plastic plate allows bubbles to leak into the return reservoir, causing potential issues.
  • The product does not come with a foam piece to catch bubbles, which some users found inconvenient.

The Reef Octopus Classic 110-INT Protein Skimmer has exceeded expectations with its superior construction and ease of maintenance. This high-performing skimmer effectively removes waste, improving the overall health of the aquarium. Its outstanding performance makes it a reliable and efficient solution for aquarium filtration needs. With its durable build and reliable operation, the Reef Octopus Classic 110-INT is highly recommended for any aquarium enthusiast. (70 words)

  • High performance: The Reef Octopus Classic 110-INT Needle Wheel Protein Skimmer is designed to provide high performance in an easy-to-use package. It has a 4-inch needle wheel skimmer and can handle up to 100 gallons of water, making it suitable for a variety of aquarium setups.
  • Improved performance: With new pinwheel impellers, this skimmer can provide up to 100% improved performance compared to previous models. This means it can effectively remove waste and debris from your aquarium, keeping the water clean and clear.
  • Easy to use: The Reef Octopus skimmer is easy to assemble and tune. It comes with a gate valve that allows you to adjust the air and flow mixture for optimal performance. Additionally, it has a detachable skimmer cup for easy cleaning and maintenance.
  • Size limitation: While the Reef Octopus Classic 110-INT Needle Wheel Protein Skimmer is suitable for aquariums up to 100 gallons, it may not be ideal for larger setups. If you have a larger aquarium or a heavy bio load, you may need to consider a larger skimmer for more effective waste removal.
  • Potential noise: Some users have reported that the skimmer can become noisy over time. While it is initially silent, it may develop noise issues with prolonged use. This could be a concern for those who prefer a quiet aquarium environment.
  • Missing parts: There have been a few complaints about missing parts in the product packaging. While this may be an isolated incident, it is important to ensure that all necessary parts are included before assembling the skimmer.

The Simplicity 120DC Protein Skimmer is a top-notch product that delivers outstanding performance. Its adjustable DC pump speed and cone shape design make it suitable for tanks up to 120 gallons. This skimmer efficiently removes skimate from the water while operating quietly. The impressive build quality and excellent customer service provided by Simplicity further enhance its value. Despite a small issue with the collection cup size, the Simplicity 120DC Protein Skimmer is a reliable choice for any reef keeper. (81 words)

  • Adjustable DC pump speed – The Simplicity 120DC Protein Skimmer has an adjustable DC pump speed, allowing you to customize and optimize the skimming process for your specific tank needs.
  • For tanks up to 120 gallons – This skimmer is designed for tanks up to 120 gallons, making it suitable for a wide range of aquarium sizes.
  • Cone shape design – The cone shape design of the skimmer enhances its efficiency by maximizing contact between the water and the skimmer, resulting in better skimmate production.
  • Collection cup size – Some users have reported that the collection cup on the 120DC fills up quickly, requiring frequent emptying. However, it does have a drain with a cap for easy removal of skimmate.
  • Complicated tuning – The DC pump and controller system may be more complicated to tune compared to traditional AC skimmers. Some users have experienced difficulties in finding the optimal settings for their specific tank.
  • Quality control issues – A few users have reported quality control issues with the pump and controller, such as inconsistent pump speeds and faulty controllers. These issues may require troubleshooting and replacement parts.

The Reef Octopus Classic 150INT Protein Skimmer is highly recommended for its exceptional performance and ease of maintenance. This skimmer effectively removes organic waste, keeping aquarium water clean and clear. Although the customer service experience may have been disappointing, the skimmer itself has proven to be reliable and efficient. For tanks of about 150 gallons, the Reef Octopus Classic 150INT is a great option for those in need of a high-quality protein skimmer. (76 words)

  • In-sump protein skimmer for aquariums up to 150 gallons
  • Aquatrance 2000 Pinwheel Pump – offers super efficiency and the very best in performance
  • Bubble Diffusing Chamber and Full Cone Body that naturally reduce and stabilize the foam production; This means less turbulence in the neck area and more contact time for organics to rise and collect
  • Small Footprint: 12.4″ x 8.7″; Body Diameter: 6″; Height: 22″
  • The original pump may have durability issues
  • Poor customer service from CoralVue, the company selling the skimmer

The Simplicity 240DC Protein Skimmer offers outstanding performance and ease of use. Its well-made construction, simple assembly, and quick break-in period are definite highlights. The adjustable DC pump speed, proven design, and large collection cup with a drain add to its functionality and convenience. This skimmer effectively removes excess dissolved organics from the water, helping maintain excellent water quality in tanks. With its reasonable price point, the Simplicity 240DC Protein Skimmer is highly recommended for both experienced aquarium owners and beginners. (89 words)

  • Easy to set up and install, only taking about 15 minutes.
  • Has a small footprint, making it suitable for tanks with limited space.
  • Operates quietly, ensuring it doesn’t disrupt the environment of the aquarium.
  • No cons mentioned by users in the provided text.
  • Q1: Is the skimmer easy to clean?
  • A1: Yes, the collection cup is easy to remove for cleaning, and the skimmer disassembles easily for complete cleaning once a month.