If you’re looking to keep a saltwater aquarium, you should certainly think about investing in a protein skimmer. Saltwater aquariums require efficient biological filtration in order to thrive, but protein skimming is also pivotal. Although many aquarium filters will claim to tackle protein skimming as well as other functions, few are particularly effective at it. If you don’t have a dedicated protein skimmer, you will almost certainly notice the presence of dissolved organic matter, unsightly oils and other issues. Protein skimmers come in various designs, but all work in much the same way.
Protein Skimmers Explained
Almost every protein skimmer make use of air bubbles within their housing which effectively removes waste products from aquarium water. These bubbles are tiny in size, with many of them invisible to the naked eye. However, while these bubbles start small, they grow in size, collecting waste product material on their external films as they increase in size. When these bubbles eventually burst, the accumulated debris is deposited into a designated collector.
A good protein skimmer device will ensure that your aquarium water is exposed to a particularly high concentrated of air bubbles. They are used mainly with saltwater setups with denser water, but they can also be utilised effectively in freshwater conditions. Most protein simmers will include an air injection element, which usually takes the form of a standard air pump or venturi intake. In addition to an air injection element, a protein skimmer includes a contact chamber, as well as a collection cup where accumulated debris is stored for easy removal and disposal.
Main Benefits of a Protein Skimmer
Although aquarium filtration systems do a good job at removing larger particles and pollutants from fish tank water, a protein skimmer can help you pre-empt many of the consequences of waste build-up in your aquarium. The protein-skimming process is very effective at keeping on top of polluting organic matter before bacteria can take hold and begin breaking it down into more dangerous chemicals. If your tank setup is prone to problems with high nitrate and phosphate levels, introducing a protein skimmer will take away some of your worries.
Ultimately, a protein skimmer will remove problematic matter from your tank water before natural processes can get involved and break it down into chemicals. Although it is easy to limit food and animal waste in a smaller tank, it is nigh on impossible in a large aquarium or outdoor pond. A protein skimmer can work in tandem with an efficient filtration system, overcoming the problems associated with uneaten food and excessive urine and faecal waste.
If you’re a fledgling aquarist with a modest tank, a protein skimmer is probably a luxury you can do without. However, if you are looking to upgrade to a larger tank and increase your fish and plant population, a protein skimmer will make aquarium maintenance easier. If you are thinking of introducing fish that will require a protein-rich diet, a protein skimmer will be able to keep on top of any uneaten food debris. You may also need to purchase a protein skimmer if you are putting together a reef aquarium, as these environments require incredibly low nitrate levels in order for coral species to thrive.