7 Best Nano Protein Skimmers for Reef Tanks

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Are you asking yourself if you need a protein skimmer for your tank?

It is probably advisable that you get one because it will make sure that your water is completely clean for your fish; a protein skimmer will clean the components from your water that the aquarium filter does not get rid of tannins, dissolved organic components and other similar chemical components.

A good protein skimmer can make a big difference when it comes to water quality.

It might be beneficial to spend a little bit more if you want a top-quality performance from your filtering system, and a good protein skimmer can provide a great quality of filtration and much fewer chemicals.

If you want to keep your fish happy, then a good protein skimmer can go a long way. If you are just setting up your nano saltwater aquarium, please take a look to my list of best fish for nano reef tanks.

Let me take a look at some of the best protein skimmers for nano reef tanks. Hopefully, you will be able to choose the right protein skimmer for your reef tank to make the most out of your filtration system.

1. Bubble Magus QQ1 Hang-On Nano Protein Skimmer

This protein skimmer is one of the best choices on the list. It comes in sizes of 5.8 inches in length, 4.4 inches in width and 10.5 inches in height. The maximum recommended size for this tank is 25 gallons, and the maximum aquarium thickness is 12mm.

This protein skimmer includes a needle-wheel pump SP600, and the whole package is a great one because it offers everything you need to set up the protein skimmer quickly and easily and use it straight away. So we have already established that this protein skimmer is more suitable for smaller aquariums.

While the protein skimmer is silent, it will still make more noise than the filtration, so be prepared for that. All in all, the Bubble Magus QQ1 is a great choice and you should consider it for your protein skimmer.


2. Aquatic Life 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer

The Aquatic Life 115 mini protein skimmer is a great choice if you are looking for a protein skimmer for smaller aquariums. Make sure that you measure the measurements of your reef tank and see if your tank is the right size for this skimmer. Generally, this skimmer will be appropriate for most of the reef tanks with a size of up to 30 gallons.

The skimmer measures 3.5 inches in width, 3.5 inches in depth and around 10 inches in height. Make sure that those measurements will fit your tank. It has a proven 8W needle-wheel impeller that will increase air-to-water contacts and make sure, that the water is cleaned and refreshed properly. This will allow the increased flow of oxygen into the water.

This protein skimmer is light, small and low-profile, and it will fit in almost any nano reef tank. It features a quick-lock design that will let you set it up quickly, and the cables will be concealed. All in all, a whole package you should consider for nano tanks.


3. Tunze USA 9004.000 Doc Skimmer

This protein skimmer surely falls into the category of high-quality skimmers. It offers premium performance and very effective water purification. It is very easy to set up and it cleans the water quickly, and you can easily set it up using the manual instructions that come with the package included.

The Tunze skimmer is a bit more powerful than the Aquatic Life 115 Mini, as it is more appropriate for larger tanks, and it can do the job for reef tanks with the sizes of up to 65 gallons. It features the Tunze Flash Skimming principle, which makes sure that the whole process of purifying the water and cleaning it is a very fast and efficient one.

The foamer produces a large volume of smaller, finer air bubbles with diameters between 0.1 to 0.3 mm. This makes sure that the water is cleaned quickly and silently. You can expect a lot with the Tunze protein skimmer, and you certainly cannot go wrong with it.


4. Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9001

Comline DOC Protein skimmer 9001 is a product by the Comline company, which is actually a sub-brand of the Tunze company, and it is a compact protein skimmer that is more appropriate for powerful cleaning for smaller tanks. You can use it for aquariums of up to 37 gallons, but if you want a more powerful performance, then it would be better to use it for a tank of 15 gallons.

The dimensions of the product are 4.3 inches in length, 2.5 inches in width and 8.5 inches in height. It includes a needle wheel pump that cleans the water efficiently and a magnet holder for glass for up to 3/8 inches.

If you want a good protein skimmer for a smaller tank, then this would be a good choice, and you can expect good performance for the price.


5. Hydor USA SlimSkim Internal Skimmer

The Hydor SlimSkim skimmer is a skimmer that is specifically designed for reef tanks of sizes of 25 to 35 gallons. It is a mid-sized protein skimmer, and there is a lot to like about this product. It is also appropriate for smaller tanks, making it a good, versatile option.

This is, for one, a very efficient protein skimmer, as it will use only up to 4 watts of energy, which is much less than some other protein skimmers and will conserve some of the energy that you are not willing to spend on an already high power-consuming system.

The whole skimmer is designed in such a way, that it will first draw water from the water surface, where there can be some nasty material and even invisible material mounting. From cleaning the surface, it will move deeper down, and you can expect a wholesome performance.

It has adjustable air control, which will let you customize and set it at the level that you want it. The skimmer also has a patented magnet-suction cup mounting system, making it easy to set up.


6. Macro Aqua M-50 Mini

This protein skimmer is a good fit for nano tanks, but it is not limited to just smaller tanks; so it can be a good protein skimmer for tanks of up to 60 gallons. It is a high-quality protein skimmer that is easy to use, easy to set up and very efficient. It produces a water flow of 238GPH. The design is quite simplistic – it features a collection cup that fills up as the skimmer works on cleaning the water, which you can simply empty and let it refill again.

You do not need to do any priming before you install this skimmer. This is why it is a great choice for those who need a “plug-and-play” protein skimmer. You can choose this one if you have a small reef tank, and you want a good device that will simply make your water much cleaner and it is also easy to use and set up.


7. Coralife Biocube Protein Skimmer

Last but not least, we have the Coralife Biocube protein skimmer. This one is also easy to clean and set up, similar to some other protein skimmers on this list. This is great because you can use it and integrate it easily into the filtration system you already have in place.

It removes harmful organic elements from the water, it is simple to use and easy to clean, and it features a collection cup which you can empty once it is full and simply reinstall it for another use. It has a hanging clip which lets you place it very easily onto the tank.

The size of this skimmer is 8.2 inches in length, 7.6 inches in width and 2.4 inches in height. All in all, it is perfect complementation to your filtration system and it will ensure an even higher quality of water and a better cleaning process.


Why Use a Protein Skimmer?

Using a protein skimmer is not a necessity when you start a new tank, but is a big advantage to any reef tank, as it will significantly improve the water quality and it will get rid of some of the unwanted chemicals, which will help keep the fish happier and healthier in a long run.

So what do protein skimmers actually do? They maintain a healthy aquarium environment by getting rid of the proteins and other organic waste materials in the water.

The chemical and organic waste in the water usually collects on the water surface, and the protein skimmer works in a way that it sucks these chemical bubbles from the surface into the skimmer, and cleanses it and releases the bubbles back into the water that is completely free of these unwanted chemicals.

In the protein skimmer itself, there will be a mixture of air and aquarium water where there will be thousands of protein-skimming micro-bubbles created by the skimmer in a chemical process. These bubbles are transported through the skimmer, and from these bubbles, the waste that is collected on the bubbles then stays in the skimmer and is transported into the collection cup.

This whole system does not work independently, but it rather works in connection with the filtration system that is already in place, to ensure that the mechanical, biological and chemical filtering is much more effective. So for these reasons, it is advisable to have a protein skimmer in your tank.

How to Maintain a Protein Skimmer?

Any protein skimmer, no matter the price tag, will wear out and get dirty eventually, due to the waste-collecting in it. But to slow down that process and make sure that the protein skimmer is working to its full potential, you will need to make some maintenance checks daily and once or twice a week. Let us take a look at what maintenance a protein skimmer demands.

Ideally, you want to do some maintenance on a daily basis, but if you do not have time to do that, then try to do it every few days to ensure the top performance of the skimmer. Firstly, you will need to empty the collection cup quite regularly, preferably on a daily basis, which will ensure the best possible performance.

To keep peak performance, you might need to check sump water level daily. The pressure changes that come from different water levels can actually affect the performance of the skimmer by quite a bit, so make sure that the water level is even most of the time. Also, daily check the bubble column and make changes accordingly. The level of bubbles and water in the bubble column should be just above the top of the collection cup.

On a weekly basis, you should aim to clean the collection cup and the neck of the skimmer. This should be done weekly, but once or twice in three months you should aim to thoroughly clean the whole filter – this would mean disassembling it and cleaning the entire skimmer pump.

Also clean the skimmer body while you are at it, the venturi (where the airline tube connects to the pump), the airline tube and the wedge pipe.

Performing these maintenance checks will help you keep the skimmer running at full steam.

Do You Really Need a Protein Skimmer?

To answer it quickly, you do not need it urgently to run a nano reef tank. But it is advisable to have it because it gets rid of some of the chemicals and stuff that simple filtration does not. Also, it will keep the quality water at a very high level.

You can determine if you need a protein skimmer by doing a couple of checks and ask yourself a few things. If there is a lot of waste-producing in your water, then a protein skimmer would be good to have. Dirt and the unwanted chemicals will surely gather over time, with waste from the fish, the food and simple water chemistry.

It increases oxygen levels massively, and it will keep the nitrate levels at a minimum. These two factors will massively increase the water quality and will make sure that the fish in your tank is happy and healthy, but will also make sure that the fish will live longer.

A good protein skimmer will make your life much easier. You will not need to do as much maintenance as you would without it, because it will keep some of the nasty stuff out and improve the water quality. Less waste and more oxygen in the water is surely going to help your fish.

It really depends on your situation and personal preferences, and if you are willing to spend some extra money for a good protein skimmer. The general consensus seems to be that a protein skimmer is not necessarily needed but is a very welcome addition and it would make your life much easier as a tank owner – especially if you are a beginner.


Protein skimmers can be quite an important part of your reef tank setup. If you are looking to buy one, but you have no idea which one to choose, hopefully, you will have gained some insight after reading this article and it will make your choice much easier.

A good protein skimmer can make a massive difference in your tank – it can improve water quality, it gets rid of waste and harmful chemicals, and it provides much more oxygen in your tank. For these reasons, it might be a good idea to get a good protein skimmer to keep the water clean and free of waste and chemicals.

To conclude, a protein skimmer cleans the water by sucking bubbles and aquarium water into it, and purifying it and producing clean bubbles filled with fresh oxygen. There are plenty of good protein skimmers out there, so choose wisely.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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