Nano Protein Skimmer: Why I need it?

Nano aquariums are top-rated for saltwater fish enthusiasts. Specialized products like the Nano protein skimmer are suitable for any saltwater tank. A saltwater aquarium benefits from a protein skimmer, as it doesn’t need as many water changes. 

A protein skimmer ensures lower nitrate levels, increased oxygen, and better beneficial bacteria colonies. A community tank is ideal for a protein skimmer to clean the water. Nano protein skimmers assist with maintenance on a nano tank.

Let’s find out more about nano protein skimmers.

Nano Protein Skimmer

What Is a Nano Protein Skimmer and How Does It Work?

A Nano protein skimmer is a device that clears the water of waste before the waste decomposes into nitrates and other nutrients.

Freshwater aquariums do not benefit from a protein skimmer because waste molecules do not attach to the air like waste molecules in a saltwater tank; these molecules are air-driven.

When air is introduced via the protein skimmer, wastes attach to the air bubbles, which makes the water form a thick foam that leaves the tank through the Nano protein skimmer pipe before being dumped into the waste container (collection cup).

The foam is filled with waste molecules that end up in the container. The waste adds up, so the collection cup needs to be cleaned frequently.

The waste cup is transparent, so you can see the amount of waste that builds up and know when it needs cleaning.

Types of Nano Protein Skimmers

There have been a lot of different designs over the years, but recently, almost all of the nano protein skimmers use a needle wheel/pinwheel, which has an impeller to mix air and water into a dense foam.

There are also nano protein skimmers that use an additional air pump, but they are less common on the market. All nano protein skimmers are low-powered and small in size, allowing them to fit into the sump of the nano tank easily.

The sump is the compartment space isolated behind the nano fish tank. If your tank doesn’t have a sump, it is handy to buy or make one yourself. The sump hides the equipment, and it’s a great place to install your devices needed for the saltwater fish tank, such as the aquarium heater, filter, Nano protein skimmer, and other helpful equipment without crowding your tank.

Recommended Nano Protein Skimmers

Here are some of the best nano protein skimmers you can find on the market today.

1. OASE Indoor Aquatics CrystalSkim 350 Skimmer

OASE Indoor Aquatics CrystalSkim 350 Skimmer  


Remove plant material and biofilm from your tank surface with this innovative and aesthetically pleasing protein skimmer. With an adjustable flow rate, you can set the unit to work effectively in most tanks and deliver quality service by removing even fine particles of plant matter or any floating food wastes for crystal clear water.  


  • Compact design to take up less space in your tank
  • The collection cup is integrated, reducing tubing and extra equipment
  • Easy to install and clean 
  • It comes with a three-year warranty 
  • Includes suction cups for mounting


  • For larger or planted tanks, more frequent cleaning can become a challenge

2. IOAOI Protein Skimmers for Saltwater Aquariums

IOAOI Protein Skimmers for Saltwater Aquariums  


This protein skimmer is ideal for a saltwater tank of up to 75 gallons, and it’s super easy to assemble and install. The pinwheel motor pumps water and air into the filtration chamber, turning to foam, which carries the plant material and other organic components to the collection chamber—clean, oxygenated water returns to your tank, increasing the health of your tank’s occupants. 

Place the skimmer in your sump to hide the hardware, or enjoy watching it clean your tank efficiently and naturally.  


  • Made with acrylic plastic in a clear plastic and blue trimming design
  • Includes a small but powerful pinwheel pump to power the skimmer
  • Cavity design makes more and richer foam for extra cleaning power
  • Cavity also prevents bubbles from returning to your tank
  • The electric controller has 1-10 different flow adjustments 
  • The cup is easy to clean


  • Cleaning includes also cleaning the whole cylinder, which is messy

3. AQUATICLIFE 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer

AQUATICLIFE 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer  


For a compactly designed protein skimmer that removes organic material from tank water, this model from Aquaticlife is ideal. Perfect for aquariums of 30 gallons or less, with a slim design to ensure a much smaller footprint inside your tank. 

The unit mounts with an adjustable mounting bracket, and operation is super quiet and efficient. Foam collects in an overflow cup mounted atop the skimmer. Cleaning is a simple matter of removing the collection cup and emptying it.


  • Assemble in less than five minutes
  • Suction cups or clamp mount for installation
  • Perfect skimming solution for saltwater tanks up to 30 gallons
  • Great choice for mini reef aquariums
  • Compact design measuring 11 inches x 3.5 inches x 3.875 inches


  • Maintaining constant water levels can be challenging 

4. Coralife Biocube Protein Skimmer

Coralife Biocube Protein Skimmer  


The elegant design and high functionality of the Coralife biocube protein skimmer make it one of the top choices on our list. The skimmer is slimline, so it fits neatly against the side of the tank, and it can handle tanks up to 32 gallons in size. 

With a self-priming pump, it’s super easy to set up, and the unique hanging bracket makes it a breeze to install in your tank. Secure the skimmer with the suction cup and hook the top section of the bracket over the tank rim. 

The skimming bracket is easy to clean, and with an adjustable flow, you can choose how wet you want the foam to be and how much of the dissolved particles you want it to skim. The included airline makes for a quieter operation, which is perfect for your home tank. 


  • Suitable for tanks up to 32 gallons in size
  • Adjustable airflow for different foam densities
  • The disposal cup is convenient to empty
  • Efficient hanging system for installation 


  • The length of the skimmer may not work with all tank sizes, especially if the tank has an LED light built into the lid

5. Marine Color Sunsun Aquarium Surface Protein Skimmer

Marine Color Sunsun Aquarium Surface Protein Skimmer  


Our last option is the Marine Color Sunsun surface protein skimmer. The design is quite different from other protein skimmers, and this surface skimmer works more on the same principles as a pool skimmer. 

The slotted float platform allows a variance of up to 4 centimeters for water to flow into the vortex opening. Water is then filtered through a sponge filter before being oxygenated and returned to the tank. 

There is no foam buildup or a cup to empty. Instead, to clean, remove the floating platform and use your tank cleaning pliers to pull the filter sponge up. Rinse, then replace it in the skimmer box before enjoying more surface cleaning power.  


  • A very affordable price
  • Easy to install 
  • Easy to clean 
  • Bigger surface level variance, compared to other skimmers
  • No chance of small fish swimming into the skimming chamber
  • Ideal for most size tanks
  • Flow adjustable to manage how much oxygenation happens


  • The skimmer motor is somewhat small for larger tanks

What About the Corals? Can They Suffer From Low Nutrient Levels?

Corals feed on organic nutrients, and since the protein skimmer’s purpose is to remove waste, hobbyists question if a protein skimmer that is too powerful will remove all the nutrients.

Actually, even a saltwater protein skimmer won’t achieve a substantial enough drop in the organic nutrient level of the tank to harm corals. Your saltwater aquarium will never be sterile, and, like ocean water, you won’t need to worry about the lack of nutrients for your corals.

Furthermore, you can unplug the protein skimmer when you feed the fish and corals if you want to ensure your corals get enough food.

Setup and Maintenance

Nano protein skimmers are relatively easy to set up, and every nano protein skimmer comes with a specific user guide. There are also online tutorial videos to guide you in the process. 

Protein skimmer maintenance is also easy. It primarily consists of cleaning the collection cup/waste container and making sure the device is working correctly and efficiently without any blockages that may limit the airflow that creates the organic foam.

Final Thoughts

Your nano protein skimmer needs to be suitable to the size of your tank, and by setting it up in your sump, you can remove any unsightly hardware that could obstruct your tank view. Saltwater aquariums benefit from this additional cleaning layer, and the extra oxygenation will ensure healthy fish.  

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