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Using a
Protein Skimmer in an Aquarium
This page explains that Protein Skimmers are very useful in most aquariums with salt or marine water but not useful in aquariums with freshwater. width="20"

Customer Comments

hi i was wondering if a protien skimmer would do any good in a freshwater aquarium setup? is there any benefit? because i was just given one and i have a F.W. setup can i use it or not?
Reply. Hello Eric. Thank you for your interesting question about using a Protein Skimmer in a freshwater aquarium.

Protein Skimmers are mechanical devices that are made to be used in Marine Aquariums, which contain saltwater with lots of salts. You can use a Protein Skimmer in a freshwater aquarium. A skimmer will not hurt the freshwater fish or degrade the water quality, and the freshwater will not damage the skimmer.

But a Protein Skimmer will not do much to improve the quality of the water in a freshwater aquarium. So the short answer is that if you have a freshwater aquarium you do not need a Protein Skimmer. The rest of the information on this page is about what a Protein Skimmer does.

A Protein Skimmer removes large molecules from water. Proteins are very large molecules with very large numbers of atoms. Protein Skimmers originally got that name because they were thought to skim protein molecules from the aquarium water. Actually it's now known that Protein Skimmers also remove other stuff from saltwater too.

The marine water in Marine Aquariums is quite expensive. One hundred gallons of marine water usually costs at least $20.00. Because of the high cost of marine water, it is cost effective to use a Protein Skimmer to remove the large molecules from Marine Water.

Pet Fish Talk a Podcast about keeping pet fish in aquariums, fish bowls, and ponds.  
Click here to listen to a Special Pet Fish Interview hosted by The Bailey Brothers about the proper equipment for a Saltwater Aquarium, including a Protein Skimmer.
On the other hand the freshwater in Freshwater Aquariums is much less expensive. One-hundred gallons of freshwater from your faucet probably costs you less than 20?, and so it is not cost effective to use a Protein Skimmer to remove large molecules from freshwater.

In a Freshwater Aquarium it is less expensive to use a bio-filter to digest the large molecules that are eventually broken down by beneficial bacteria and removed by partial water changes. Click here for information about filtration of aquarium water.

But in a Marine Aquarium it is less expensive to use a Protein Skimmer to remove the large molecules, before they are broken down into smaller molecules that can only be removed by partial water changes that require expensive marine water.

The best bio-filter for a freshwater aquarium is a filter with a BIO-Wheel. But BIO-Wheels are usually not used in Marine Aquariums, because the bacteria on the BIO-Wheels would quickly break down many of the large molecules, before those molecules could be removed by the Protein Skimmer. Click here to read about BIO-Wheel Filters.

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