Protein Skimmer for Marine Tank: Different Types & Technologies Explained

All protein skimmers function according to the same overarching principle, which is to remove proteins from the water. But there are a variety of approaches that may be used to accomplish this.

The fundamental idea is to send teeny-tiny bubbles of air into the water, which then pushes the organic molecules to the top, where they may be collected by pushing them into a collecting cup (foamy!). We are going to investigate the many approaches that may be used to accomplish this goal.

The Different Types & Technologies of Protein Skimmers

These two categories, co-current and counter-current, are large enough to include the vast majority of the many kinds of protein skimmers that are commercially available.

What’s the difference between the two?

  • The air flow in skimmers with co-current designs is introduced at the bottom of the skimming unit and flows upwards with the water current. To keep it simple, the air and the water are moving in the same general direction.
  • The air is forced to flow in the opposite direction of the water in a counter-current design, which introduces the air flow against the water flow. Because of this, the air bubbles are able to move against the flow of the water for a little amount of time before following along with the flow of the water. In theory, this enables the air bubbles to have greater contact time inside the water. There are others who believe that this factor contributes to the increased efficiency of counter-current systems.

Now that we’ve reviewed the two primary categories, let’s examine the many kinds of technologies that fall under each of these groups.

1. Venturi Protein Skimmers (co-current)

A venturi pump is used in this well-liked method of protein skimming, which results in the addition of air to the liquid being skimmed. The water travels via the venturi pump, air is injected, and the resulting mixture of water and air travels into the main chamber of the skimmer. The foam then pours into the collecting cup from that location forward.

2. Air Stone Protein Skimmers (co-current)

This form of protein skimmer is the most fundamental, and despite the fact that it is capable of functioning, it is possible that it will not be as efficient as more recent technologies for the removal of protein. The microbubbles are supposed to be produced by using an air stone, and then the water flow is supposed to be directed through these produced microbubbles. It’s not a complicated idea at all.

3. Aspirating Protein Skimmers (counter-current)

This method incorporates pin-wheels or mesh-wheels, which function similarly to an impeller, in order to combine air and water; however, the impeller itself does the actual mixing. In most cases, the mixture is pushed downward into the body of the skimmer, after which the bubbles (and foam) rise to the top of the device and pour into the collecting cup.

These sorts of skimmers are rather common, and they may be purchased in sizes that are suitable for aquariums of a more compact nature. This sort of protein skimmer is manufactured by a wide variety of various companies.

4. Downdraft Protein Skimmers (counter-current)

A circulation of water is sent down into tubes or chambers that hold bio balls or other plastic media by some kinds of skimmers. The air and water are successfully mixed at this point, and the resulting foam is forced into a collecting cup.

5. Beckett Protein Skimmers (counter-current)

Beckett skimmers provide a function that is quite similar to that of downdraft skimmers; however, they do not make use of plastic material in order to combine the air and the water. The air bubbles are produced with the assistance of a foam nozzle, and the stream is then pushed downward into the skimmer chamber.

6. Spray Induction (counter-current)

AquaC has the patent for this technique, hence it can only be found in skimmers manufactured by them. This operates in a manner similar to that of the downdraft and Beckett skimmers. A spray nozzle is fastened in place above the water levels, the water/air mixture is forced downward via the skimmer body, and foam is collected in a cup that is located at the top of the device.


Are you starting to feel dizzy yet? If this is the case, it is helpful to picture the process as follows: each of these technologies is intended to combine air and water to produce foam, which then rises and flows into a collecting cup. It’s possible that different sorts of skimmers do this in somewhat different ways, but ultimately, that’s what it boils down to.

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