Benefits of having a protein skimmer for your saltwater aquarium

Healthy, clean air is important to every animal on Earth, the same goes for clean water for marine animals.  If you own an aquarium full of fish, you need to constantly filter and treat the water to keep foreign contaminates and toxic compounds from polluting their habitat and getting into their lungs.  Nitrogen is a common byproduct of all marine aquariums.

On their own, the nitrates are of an insignificant quantity and will not harm most fish, sharks, or crustations.  There are some exceptions, though, and if you plan on having live coral growing in your tank, you must invest in a better filtration system if you want them to stay healthy and live longer.

Protein Skimmers

The name sort of hints at the job of the filtration system.  Protein skimmers will be found in most saltwater aquariums with large carnivorous marine life, plants, urchins, invertebrates, and anything else that will constantly be producing byproducts of waste and remnants of food.  Only the very small and relatively uneventful aquarium setups would be able to get away without a protein skimmer and not see a dramatic decline in marine health/lifespan.

Protein skimmers suck up these particles of dead skin, food scraps, and waste, as well as the nitrates in the environment, which contribute to algae, bacteria, and overall loss water clarity.  This makes your job a lot easier when you go in to do regular tank cleanings.

How they Work

There is no special disinfectant or chemical reaction needed for protein skimmers.  All that it does is produce air bubbles in a compartment, which are constantly pulling organic particles through the current it creates.  As the material floats up to the top, it is trapped in a special collection cup, which can be emptied without disturbing your fish.

The process of aerating by the protein skimmer that is used to draw and trap organic waste is also beneficial in keeping oxygen levels high in the aquarium through the added volume of surface to air contact with the water.  Keeping CO2 levels low improves the pH levels, which is crucial when owning exotic and fragile species of marine life.

Don’t Skimp on the Skimmer 

You want to buy a protein skimmer that is well made and will need little maintenance to last you a long time.  Part of the reason why you want the skimmer in the first place is to reduce the amount of hands-on cleaning that you must do to keep your fish happy and healthy.  This means you’ll need to scout out the best skimmer for your budget and for your particular aquarium size.

There are a few basic types of protein skimmers on the market, try to check them out in-person to see which one is right for you.  There are protein skimmers that operate completely inside the tank; “sump” skimmers that offer more control, but at a premium price; finally, skimmers that hang off to the side of the tanks, which are the cheapest and most no-frills model.