An aquarium with a well-adjusted protein skimmer is sure to reward you with better water conditions and healthier inhabitants.
A a protein skimmer, also known as a "foam fractionator," can help you maintain water quality in marine aquariums and reduce the need for water changes. Unlike a mechanical filter, a skimmer removes proteins and other contaminants from the water column before they have a chance to break down into more harmful elements such as ammonia and nitrite. A protein skimmer also increases the amount of oxygen in the water, reduces phosphate to help prevent algae buildup, and is particularly effective at removing toxins released from corals or invertebrates.
Organic substances adhere to the bubbles which are then "skimmed" into a collection cup. The most efficient units create smaller bubbles and maintain water levels in the exchange chamber for a longer duration to optimize the process.
Units are designed to fit directly in your filter’s sump, adjacent to your filter, hung on the back of your aquarium, or installed directly inside your aquarium. With on-going technical innovations, there is now a sump-less model that can stand alone below the aquarium (shown below). The best choice for your setup will depend on your aquarium size, filter type, and available space.
How to Optimize Your Skimmer
Changes due to variables such as feeding, use of supplements, salinity, and bio-load require that you clean the unit regularly and make flow adjustments as needed to maintain peak efficiency: