- Dissolved organics in the reef tank
- How Do Protein Skimmers Operate?
- A List of Best HOB Protein Skimmers
- Quick Compare of Best HOB Protein Skimmers
To make sure your marine tank is safe and healthy for your fish, you should install certain filtration devices. These devices will eliminate organic waste and other harmful contaminants from your aquarium.
Gradually, the dissolution of the organic compounds in the water makes it challenging to clean the tank water. If you leave the tank dirty for too long, it might result in some serious issues for your aquarium fish.
That’s the reason why you need to install an effective HOB protein skimmer. The following article will introduce the most rated options for your consideration.
Now let’s start!
Dissolved organics in the reef tank
A natural reef is constantly flushed-clean with tons of seawater. Reef aquariums are enclosed aquatic systems, which means some substances will collect in the water.
All aquarium life generates dissolved organic compounds (DOC) into the environment. Algae have oils that come out of living cells and when the algae die. Soft and corals take off their mucus coating on a periodical basis. Marine fish always create a new mucoprotein slime coat to replace what is removed. Invertebrates produce dissolved and solid waste. Even bacteria also build up the organic load in the tank.
In the oceans, these natural wastes will be eliminated and recycled. Not so much in our tanks.
The dissolved organics probably accumulate in the tank water, releasing a yellow tint that consumes blue light energy.
Blue light is substantial for photosynthesis in many reef corals.
Dissolved and solid particulate organic compounds are food for heterotrophic bacteria. While these bacteria are necessary for your reef tank’s ecosystem, having too many is not a good idea.
Providing the bacteria with plenty of food (organics) might cause the population to bloom to unnaturally high levels. This will break the natural microbe balance in the reef aquarium.
Aquatic research showed that excessive organics stimulate detrimental pathogenic bacteria in tanks. Several organic substances can decompose and be turned into nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, and algae-boosting phosphate.
A good protein skimmer will get rid of these organics from the water before they can lead to serious issues in your tank.
How Do Protein Skimmers Operate?
Aquarium protein skimmers are built around a unique separation process known as foam fractionation.
The technique was born to dispose of surface-active (foam-forming) substances from a liquid by physically eliminating them like foam. By disturbing the liquid, the surface-active substances generate a foamy mass that can be skimmed from the liquid.
Similarly, aquarium protein skimmers use this process on a smaller scale.
If the water is constantly agitated, the dissolved organic carbon in the tank water will foam up.
Protein skimmers work by forming an increasing column of air bubbles inside the skimmer body. When the air bubbles increase, the dissolved compounds adhere to the bubble surface and are brought to the top of the skimmer.
As the bubbles explode, the DOC is given off as foam. However, as the skimming process is constant, the foam keeps building up inside the skimmer. Gradually, the foam rises and is held in the collection cup. The dissolved compounds are now eliminated from the water.
Nevertheless, not every contaminant is surface-active. A protein skimmer can only clear out substances that foam up. Nitrite and ammonia are inorganic substances that don’t foam and cannot be eliminated by a protein skimmer.
The aim of skimming is to eradicate these organics before they can be decomposed and become nitrates and other harmful contaminants. Protein skimmers indirectly mitigate nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, and algae-stimulating phosphate and enhance water quality by removing organic contaminants from your tank water.
A List of Best HOB Protein Skimmers
CPA Aquatics is a long-establish aquarium equipment company. It was among the pioneered manufacturers to design and produce a HOB protein skimmer.
The CPR Bak-Pak 2 is a second-generation HOB protein skimmer unit, covering protein skimming and biological filtration in a single model. Water is pumped from the tank into the skimming chamber.
Meanwhile, the water runs downward in the skimming chamber, the venture system lets air enter at the bottom. This can help extend contact time with the air bubbles and makes the protein skimmer work effectively.
It is possible for you to adjust the smoke-colored skimmer collection cup height. That enables you to slide it up or down based on how wet the foam is. Several aquarists find this method to be a simpler adjustment process than regulating water valves and pump flow rate.
The water goes out of the skimmer and flows via a second chamber that contains CPR’s Bio-Bale biological filtration media before returning to the tank.
This HOB protein skimmer is designed with an easy-to-clean intake system and an encased outflow tube. The new outflow tube generates less salt spray and helps to remove fine bubbles from entering the fish tank.
- High-grade craftmanship
- Low defect rate
- High durability
- Plug and play simplicity
- Quite noisy
Ideal for tanks up to 75 gallons, this decent and quiet protein skimmer is packed with a responsive collection cup and a robust submersible pump.
The design is so compact, so it can be used on nano tanks or any other kind of small tank.
The manufacturer has left no stone unturned with the unit. This HOB protein skimmer comes with computer-precision engineering, and they capitalize on the latest and best filtration technology to ensure the job is implemented precisely to your expectation.
It is simple to use the model. You just need to slide the collection cup up or down, based on how you want to decide the foam level (wet or dry). Plus, you can easily remove the collection cup.
The most notable feature is the drain fitting that is provided in the package, which enables you to build a separate reservoir for skimmate, if necessary.
- Easy to use
- Compact design
- Deliver excellent performance
- Even suitable for nano aquariums
- Users cannot adjust the water flow.
This is a robust HOB protein skimmer coming from the Coralife brand. It is available in three different types. These types are differentiated depending on the amount of water they can handle, ranging from 65 to 220 gallons of water.
These HOB protein skimmers have a collection cup with a wide neck, which helps in cleaning the device.
The unit comes equipped with a needle wheel impeller in the pump that can generate the best vortex effect. The aspirating venturi will inject micro-bubbles that increase, dragging dissolved compounds with them to the collection cup.
The Super skimmer design includes angled dual injection outlets which prolong contact time inside the reaction chamber. Users can flexibly adjust the water height and foam production by using the water-level dial.
There is also a bubble production diffuser that can prevent the flow of micro-bubbles back into the fish tank.
- Dual injection inlets increase water contact time
- Take 36 hours to break in and begin extracting proteins
- Simple to assemble
- The skimmer can overflow if the water level is not kept properly.
- The skimmer can vibrate and cause some noise.
Constructed with a unique, external fitting design, the BH-1000 model is perfect for those with limited space between the back of their aquarium and the wall.
This HOB protein skimmer is hung on to the aquarium externally, from the skimmer’s bottom and the pump is placed externally. That can reduce the amount of heat being transferred to the water.
Some larger HOB protein skimmers tend to overheat and cause a fluctuation in the tank temperature. That can negatively impact the safety of the whole reef. Therefore, eliminating that issue will be good news for every hobbyist.
Moreover, the unit is adjustable to meet your flow rate requirements and runs quietly in the background while delivering incredible cleaning performance.
- Powerful performance
- Quiet operation without any annoying noise
- Easy to adjust and move around
- The setup guide is not clear for users to understand.
The Reef Octopus line of protein skimmers from CoralVue is trusted by reef enthusiasts all over the world.
CoralVue took their skimmer know-how and designed a strong HOB protein skimmer for aquarists who cannot get a sump or stand-alone skimmer.
In the Reef Octopus design, the water pump is placed under the skimmer, outside of the tank. This design requires less space in the tank as there is no bulky water pump mounting on the tank.
Rather than transferring pump heat to the tank, the Reef Octopus external pump design lets heat transfer to the air. That will help decrease the possibility of overheating in the fish tank and make it simpler to control the water temperature.
This protein skimmer is recommended for aquariums up to 130 gallons (light bio-load) but is usually used on tanks up to 75 gallons.
- Low profile design
- Provide an Aquatrance 1000s water pump
- External water pump for heat transfer
- Reduce noise with an air silencer
- Create a good quantity of skimmate
- The installation instructions should be clearer.
- Users must pay attention to proper O-ring seating to prevent leaks.
The Bubble Magus QQ1 protein skimmer wears the look of a small hang-on back power filter but is created strictly for protein skimming on nano reef tanks.
Suitable for reef tanks up to 25 gallons, this tiny skimmer hangs on the side or back of the tank, like a power filter.
A Rock SP600 water pump with a unique needle wheel impeller draws the tank water in and infuses it with small air bubbles.
The agitated water builds up a protein froth that increases in the skimmer cup. You can modify the skimmate by lowering or raising the height of the collection cup. The plastic thumbscrew holds the cup at a proper height. You just need to remove the cup from the main skimmer body to clean it.
What’s more, this HOB protein skimmer comes with an air silencer to lower noise and a basic bubble diffuser plate to improve performance.
- Simple to install
- Affordable price
- Quiet operation
- The whole unit can be carried to the sink for cleaning.
- The plastic material might crack if the thumbscrew is over-tightened.
- Quite bulky
- Not work with AIO filters
If you’re looking for a small HOB protein skimmer, the Macro M-50 unit is worth considering.
This little sucker is made for use in tanks up to 60 gallons in size, with a water flow of 238 GPH, making it a robust device for your saltwater tank.
The protein skimmer ultimately gets rid of organic compounds from the tank water, thereby making it clean and safe for your inhabitants’ healthy living and growth.
It consists of a needle-t0-wheel impeller, which helps increase the contact time between water and air.
If you want to dive into utilizing this unit instantly, there’s no need for primming before installation. It will remove that nasty organic waste released by fish and overfeeding.
- Easy to install and use
- Quiet operation
- Possible to remove the collection cup for cleaning
- Take up much space
The Eshopps PSK 75H is a small HOB protein skimmer that can be used in saltwater tanks of up to 75 gallons.
Its cylindrical body is only 3 inches in diameter. It is constructed from acrylic materials, with a footprint of 7 x 6 inches. Hence, it is easy to handle the skimmer, particularly when there is not enough room for maneuverability.
The manufacturer produces a high-grade Italian water pump by Sicce. The water pump leverages a needle-wheel impeller and venturi system to inject tiny bubbles into the aquarium water.
The water pump is placed under the model, outside the tank. This enables the protein skimmer to take less space and aids in lowering the heat to the water. Besides, the collection cup has a respectable size and can be separated for maintenance and cleaning.
- Excellent performance
- Simple installation
- Quiet operation
- Some customers reported getting a defective water pump.
Quick Compare of Best HOB Protein Skimmers
|1||CPR Bak-Pak 2 Protein Skimmer||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|2||Aquamaxx HOB-1 Hang On Back Skimmer||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|3||Coralife Super Skimmer with Pump|
|Buy on Amazon!|
|4||Coralvue Technology BH-1000 Octopus||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|5||CoralVue Reef Octopus Classic 100 HOB||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|6||Bubble Magus QQ1 Hang-On Nano||$||Buy on Amazon!|
|7||Macro Aqua M-50 Hang-on External Protein Skimmer||$||Buy on Amazon!|
|8||Eshopps PSK-75H||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
That’s all about the 8 best HOB protein skimmers from which you can choose. One of the crucial observations we want to tell you is that you should ensure any fittings are hand-tightened before filling the skimmer with water.
The plastic fitting might become loose during delivery, so remember to check before putting the protein skimmer in operation. You only have to hand-tighten, don’t use a wrench. If you find a drip, disassemble the device and ensure the O-ring is seated appropriately.
Moreover, bear in mind that new protein skimmers do not instantly create foam and skimmate. The plastic material needs to produce a thin coating of “slime”; thus, the foam does not break down itself on the way up to the collection cup. Normally, the skimmer needs several days to “break in” and begin making foam.