Protein skimmers have the reputation of being an important part of the filtration for a marine aquarium. A system can run without one, but alternative methods of performing the same function has to be employed. They are a very simple piece of equipment that brings aquarium water into contact with tiny air bubbles, which dissolved organic molecules will attach to, the bubbles then rise to the top of the chamber, form a foam, which is then collected and removed from the system. The material collected is called the skimate.
Types of Skimmers
There is a multitude of different types of protein skimmers available, each one using a different method of introducing the air into the water and creating smaller bubbles. There is no best type, as each of them have their own advantages and disadvantages, making them more appropriate for a particular situation.
Also commonly called Needle Wheel.
Predominantely known as a "Beckett" protein skimmer, which is based on a brand name of a foam jet, or pond foaming nozzle.
High Speed Aeration
Based on the principle of air being drawn into the water by a jet or stream hitting the water/air interface.
- Mazzei® Injectors - a type of venturi
- What is a Protein Skimmer? And How Does It Work? - Simplified Reef Keeping
- Skimmer Basics 101: Understanding Your Skimmer - Reefkeeping Magazine
- What is Skimming? - Reefkeeping Magazine
- Protein Skimmer Impressions - WetWebMedia
- Protein Skimmers: A Myriad of Choices - WetWebMedia
- The Best of Skimmer FAQs - WetWebMedia
- Down the Drain: Exports from Reef Aquaria - Reefkeeping Magazine
- To Skim or Not to Skim: That is the Question by Scott Dyer and J. Charles Delbeek - Aquarium Fish Magazine
- Protein Skimmers - How About A Little Bubbly?
- 2.2 Protein Skimmers - ReefKeepers FAQ
- Protein Skimmers: Types and Selection
- Protein Skimmers - Part 1: What Is Protein Skimming, and How Does It Work? - Salt Aquarium About.com
- Bacterial Counts in Reef Aquarium Water: Baseline Values and Modulation by Carbon Dosing, Protein Skimming, and Granular Activated Carbon Filtration by Ken Feldman, Allison Place, Sanjay Joshi and Gary White - Advanced Aquarist's Online Magazine
- Wet or Dry Skimmer Foam? - Reefs.org
- Georgia Aquarium: Video of Protein Skimmer in Action - How Stuff Works
- 3.0 Protein Skimmers - Tom Sasala's DIY
- wikipedia:Protein skimmer
Do I need a skimmer?
A skimmer is a recommended piece of equipment for beginners. The reason for this is that a skimmer provides a good method of export of dissolved organic carbon DOC. This affords any system a level of stability, which is most desirable, and harder to achieve when new to the hobby or have a new tank.
Some move onto skimmerless systems later but a good understanding of reef keeping is recommended before attempting this. The system becomes far more open to crashes from spawning events, disasters involving anemones or cucumbers and other similar events where skimmers are very useful in reverting the system back to a semi stable state.
What is a protein skimmer?
Also known as a foam fractionator, a protein skimmer is a chamber in which aquarium water is brought into contact with a mass of tiny air bubbles. Many dissolved organic molecules are surface active, and are attracted to the air bubbles and rise with them to the top of the chamber where they gather as a foam and can be collected and removed from the water.
How are the bubbles generated?
- Airpump and limewood airstone.
Limewood provides a much finer bubble size than ceramic airstones typically used in aquaria
- Water pump forced through a venturi valve.
Where water passing a constriction in pipe diameter produces a reduction in pressure allowing air to be sucked into the water the water stream where it is then broken by turbulence into small bubbles
- Aspirated water pump
Where an air inlet is inserted to the intake side of a water pump. Air is drawn into the water stream by means of the venturi principle, and broken into small bubbles by the pump impeller. Some pumps working on this principle utilise a needle wheel impeller, said to assist in bubble size reduction.
- Foam Jet
Also operating on the principal of a venturi valve, foam jets are nozzles designed for producing a foaming stream of water for use in pond water features or fountains, the most well known brand being the Beckett nozzle. Adopted by aquarists, these devices have given birth to a whole new breed of skimmers, often referred to as Beckett skimmers.
What is a good skimmer?
Here is a list of reputable brands that you may want to consider: