If you have a saltwater aquarium, and are not using a protein skimmer, you really should reconsider. Protein skimmers can play a large role in maintaining excellent aquarium water quality – if implemented properly.
To understand why you need a protein skimmer, it is best to take a look at what a protein skimmer will do. A protein skimmer removes organic and other waste from the aquarium water, it “skims the proteins”.
Why Do You Need a Protein Skimmer?
It can be argued that a protein skimmer may not be needed, but it really depends on personal preference and what type of aquarium is being discussed. You may not need to use a protein skimmer if you are removing wastes and nitrates from the water through other means. However, a protein skimmer gives you the ability to remove a lot of the waste quickly and efficiently. And even more importantly, this is done continuously, as a skimmer is running all the time.
The organic materials that are removed from the water by the protein skimmer would otherwise be broken down into ammonia, which is not a good thing at all.
This is why a protein skimmer can be so powerful. It will remove stuff that normally turns into problematic chemicals. It’s preventative maintenance.
A protein skimmer sits at the bottom of a very important chain that keeps a saltwater aquarium healthy. If you don’t remove the organic wastes to some extent, you are promoting ammonia, nitrates and then poor water quality with excessive algae growth and other issues.
The best protein skimmer, used in conjunction with other filtration mechanisms, can be an important cog in the wheel when promoting good water quality in your aquarium. If you are not using a protein skimmer, and are experiencing any issues we have mentioned, it is time to try to use one.
It should be noted that protein skimmers are not effective in freshwater aquariums. Only saltwater promotes the methods that are used to skim proteins from the water in these devices.
Who Uses Protein Skimmers?
To better understand the need for protein skimmers, let’s take a look at the types of aquarium owners/operators that use them.
People with Fish Only w/ Live Rock Aquariums
People with fish only aquariums can always benefit from the use of a protein skimmer. Fish generate a lot of waste that ends up in the aquarium water, contributing to bad water quality. Live rock is also very organic and has a tendency to promote extra wastes in the water at times. For this reason, it makes sense to use a protein skimmer if you have fish only with live rock.
People with Reef Aquariums
People who have corals can benefit from the use of a protein skimmer. In addition to removing organic wastes and helping to keep the water at a top quality level, a skimmer can help to remove toxins that are released by some types of corals.
In a reef only aquarium, the owner will need to pay attention to a couple things. Trace elements can be removed by a skimmer, so it’s good to add these elements to the water regularly. Also, a skimmer can remove plankton from the water. When adding plankton to your aquarium, it might be best to turn the skimmer off for a few hours.
Don’t let these potential negatives deter you if you fall into this reef-only group, however. Just use the skimmer smartly, and you will be able to reap the benefits that it has to offer.
People with Invertebrates
Many invertebrates are known to release toxins into the water, and a protein skimmer can be useful to counter this and help remove these substances. Also, some invertebrates can be intolerant of bad water quality, more so than fish. For this reason, the fact that a protein skimmer will promote good water quality should not be overlooked.
As you can see, a protein skimmer can benefit pretty much all saltwater aquarium scenarios. Anybody that needs to remove wastes and organics from their saltwater aquarium can benefit from a protein skimmer.