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December 13, 2018 | By Eric Nadon

by Tom Sarac

When it comes to reliable marine filtration hardware, the protein skimmer is at the top of the list. In the ocean, tidal and wave action very efficiently pushes dissolved protein onto the shores. In the aquarium environment, we need to rely on a skimmer. In principle, this device works by stripping dissolved protein from saltwater due to the interaction between air and water.

Although there are a number of different types of protein skimmers today, in general the motorized unit that pulls in air via a venturi to vigorously mix it with water via a needle impeller is quite common. However, not all skimmers are created equally; the better ones deliver a consistent bubble size of about 0.5mm in diameter and incorporate design that makes them easy to adjust and maintain.

To help reduce some of the air that can enter an aquarium from a skimmer, there are various configurations of bubble traps to keep your viewing pleasure as free of micro bubbles as possible. Basically, a wall of stiff polyester and a foam block positioned such that all the skimmer output must flow through will suffice. Preferably, the skimmer and the bubble trap are out of sight within a sump where it is much simpler to create additional bubble traps, if necessary.

Protein skimmers do require some maintenance to perform the way they are expected to. The first and most important thing to maintain is water level. Even skimmers with a dedicated drive or delivery pump and mixing pump(s) for air still benefit from an optimal consistent water level. Therefore, top up your sump or aquarium regularly and maintain the optimal operational water level for your skimmer.

Remove collected waste from the cup regularly, which is suggested mainly as a preventative measure. Should you accidently overfill the sump or knock the cup off inadvertently, it will be less of an issue with little to no concentrated accumulated waste entering the tank.

Clean the skimmer neck regularly as well as this will support better performance. When adjusting your skimmer to collect a fairly dry skimmate (more sludge, less water) you will often also end up with more deposit within the neck area. You should clean this out regularly.

Remove and thoroughly clean all pumps at least twice a year. Pumps and impellers are suspect to damage and reduced lifespan if you let accumulated mineral deposits build up. An added benefit of a clean unobstructed impeller and pump volute is consistent performance. You can use a 4 to 1 solution of vinegar and water to soak the pump and impeller, and of course a handy impeller cleaning brush to scrub off deposits. Then, simply run the pump in fresh clean water before re-installing it in the skimmer.

Keeping the above in mind will help you make the most of the important water purification a protein skimmer provides.


Fluval Sea PS1 Protein Skimmer features a space-saving design and ultra silent operation that delivers the same organic removal capacity as much larger models. Key features include an easy-to-adjust skimming control mechanism and multi-venturi impeller.


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