How Protein Skimmers Work

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How Protein Skimmers WorkProtein skimmers can be a great asset to any saltwater aquarium setup they are designed to be used in a marine environment, the protein skimmers main job is to remove organic compounds from the water.

The process is known as fractionating or protein skimming, there are several types of protein skimmers available to purchase these include counter current skimmers, co current skimmers venturi skimmers and finally ETS skimmers.

These different  types of protein skimmers mostly work in the same way they basically draw in the aquarium water through a pump system, the water then passes through the protein skimmer and the organic waste is separated from the water with tiny air bubbles.

This system is just about the same as the ones in use at water treatment plants around the world for treating waste water from your home, the bubbles in the protein skimmer are microscopic in size and are injected into the water column the process is all about the surface tension of water.

The microscopic air bubbles rise through the water column interacting with the surrounding water molecules, the rising bubbles cause any organic matter that is suspended in the water column to adhere to the air bubbles which rise to the surface where the waste is deposited into a collection cup.

There are many configurations of protein skimmers available to aquarium enthusiasts some hang on the back of your aquarium much like power filters and draw in the water then return to the aquarium these are suitable for small to medium sized aquariums

For larger aquariums canister type protein skimmers are available to purchase these units can process a larger volume of aquarium water and remove organic waste more effectively from the environment.

You may be wondering why protein skimmers are only suitable for marine environments, there is a good reason for this saltwater is more dense than freshwater the bubbles produced in saltwater are microscopic which forms a foam through the water column. 

In freshwater these bubbles tend to form as larger spheres which will not have the required surface area of many smaller bubbles this surface area is what collects the organic matter on the way to the surface of the aquarium, less dense bubbles which form in freshwater will let the organic matter fall through the gaps and back into the environment. 

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