The Most Common Types of Saltwater Protein Skimmers
There are different types of skimmers that are suitable for different tanks. The most common types of skimmers are:
- Hang-on protein skimmers: Also known as HOB skimmers, these are designed to hang off the back wall or sidewall of the tank. They essentially hook onto the tank.
- External skimmers: Also known as recirculating skimmers, these are installed externally and are not submerged. A typical external skimmer has two separate pumps: one that pushes water into the skimmer and one that creates the foam. They’re similar to hang-on skimmers, but while hang-on skimmers are semi-submerged, external skimmers remain completely on the outside.
- Internal skimmers: Internal skimmers are completely submerged. A typical internal skimmer uses a single pump with a venturi fitting to combine air with water and create the necessary foam. These are the most common types of saltwater protein skimmers used in home aquariums.
Regardless of the type of skimmer used, the science is basically the same. Skimmers rely on a process called foam fractionation, whereby water mixes with air to form fine bubbles or foam. The foam attracts organic matter and pulls it from the tank and into a collection cup. The waste can then be removed.
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Frequently Asked Questions
The optimal type of skimmer will depend on the tank size, the amount of space available therein, the amount of waste produced, and your budget. Most home aquariums will use an internal skimmer, but there are exceptions to the rule.
While certain freshwater aquariums may benefit from a skimmer, these devices are generally designed for saltwater aquariums, which tend to accumulate more waste. Note also that many freshwater fish are sensitive to the turbulence generated by a skimmer.
The level of noise can vary. If you opt for a high-quality skimmer with a well-designed impeller, the level of noise should be minimal.