What Is a Nano Protein Skimmer and How It Works

A protein skimmer works as a magnet for small particles of organic waste, which is usually accumulated on the water surface, forming a thin film. A skimmer looks like a glass tube, which is submerged in the water. Air passes through the tube under pressure and forms myriads of tiny bubbles. The bubbles rush to the water surface together with the waste that gets stick to them. After that, the waste gets into a special collection cup placed above the water. As a result, the waste is physically removed from the aquarium. Simultaneously, the skimmer mixes up and aerates the water, improving its quality.

The Best Nano Protein Skimmers: a Comparative Chart

Best Choice
Tunze USA 9004.000 Doc Skimmer review
Tunze USA 9004.000 Doc Skimmer
  • Type: In-tank
  • Aquarium size, gallons: 15-65
  • Dimensions, inches: 4.3 x 3.5 x 12
  • Weight, lbs.: 3

Check Price
Also great
Hang-on Protein Nano Skimmer by Eshopps review
Hang-on Protein Nano Skimmer by Eshopps
  • Type: Hang-on
  • Aquarium size, gallons: 10-35
  • Dimensions, inches: 5 x 2.01 x 4.02
  • Weight, lbs.: 1

Check Price
Also great
Aquatic Life 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer review
Aquatic Life 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer
  • Type: In-tank
  • Aquarium size, gallons: Up to 30
  • Dimensions, inches: 3.27 x 3.5 x 10.63
  • Weight, lbs.: 1.5

Check Price
Also great
IceCap K2-50 Protein Skimmer review
IceCap K2-50 Protein Skimmer
  • Type: In-sump
  • Aquarium size, gallons: 40-80
  • Dimensions, inches: 4.7 x 2.8 x 5.1
  • Weight, lbs.: 5.3 Oz

Check Price
Also great
Hydor USA SlimSkim Internal Skimmer for Mini Aquariums and Mini Reefs review
Hydor USA SlimSkim Internal Skimmer for Mini Aquariums and Mini Reefs
  • Type: In-tank
  • Aquarium size, gallons: Up to 3
  • Dimensions, inches: 3.2 x 3.2 x 12
  • Weight, lbs.: 2.2

Check Price

Top-5 Nano Protein Skimmers 2020: Our Choice

The specifications of a protein skimmer should correlate with the size of the aquarium. Thus, owners of small fish tanks need to choose small skimmers. We’ve prepared a list of great Nano protein skimmers that are worthy of consideration.

Tunze USA 9004.000 Doc Skimmer

Tunze USA 9004.000 Doc Skimmer

This small and quiet skimmer effectively removes a thin film from the water surface and produces thousands of tiny (up to 0.3 mm) bubbles. It can be used in combination with an air filter or as a standalone option. The device is easy to install and comes with magnetic holders.

What we think

The skimmer does its job well but it needs regular cleaning, as the hose tends to become crusted with salt from inside. The magnet holders are strong enough. Keep in mind, also, that in very small tanks, the skimmer can occupy too much space.


  • small and quiet;
  • effectively removes the surface film;
  • easy to install;
  • strong magnet holders.


  • needs regular cleaning;
  • not for very small tanks.
Hang-on Protein Nano Skimmer by Eshopps

Hang-on Protein Nano Skimmer by Eshopps

This hang-on skimmer is designed specially for small fish tanks of 10-35 gallons. It proudly made in the USA, which means it complies with modern safety and quality standards. An adjustable magnet mount is included.

What we think

The skimmer does its job well. It is compact and lightweight; the magnet mount is strong and easy to adjust. However, it needs to be adjusted thoroughly with regard to the water level. Otherwise, it will create excessive bubbling.


  • compact and lightweight;
  • quiet operation;
  • easy to mount and adjust;
  • effectively removes organic waste.


  • needs regular adjusting;
  • there are complaints about leaks.
Aquatic Life 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer

Aquatic Life 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer

If you are looking for a budget-friendly solution, then the Aquatic Life 115 mini protein skimmer is just what you need. Thanks to its small size, it is perfect for mini-reef tanks. The device is powered by a needle-wheel impeller, which increases the effectiveness of water aeration.

What we think

All in all, this option by Aquatic Life is great value for money. It fits in most small and medium-sized tanks and does its job pretty well. Some customers complain about excessive microbubbles; however, this is a typical issue for all new skimmers. Over time, bubbling reduces. Also, it tends to be a little louder than its counterparts, so, if you are annoyed with it, you should think of a damper.


  • good price/quality ratio;
  • effective and easy to use;
  • small and compact;
  • fits in mini-reef tanks perfectly.


  • a bit too loud;
  • can produce excessive foam when new.
IceCap K2-50 Protein Skimmer

IceCap K2-50 Protein Skimmer

IceCap offers a medium-priced in-sump aquarium skimmer for small tanks. Thanks to a small footprint, it fits in most aquariums easily. It is quiet, easy to adjust, and requires minimal maintenance.

What we think

The skimmer is effective and does its job on a decent level. It is not completely noiseless, though the noise level is moderate. On the minus side, the acrylic body seems thin and flimsy. Also, the kit contains no instruction, so you may need to Google for the information on its installation.


  • very small and compact;
  • reliable and effective;
  • small footprint;
  • easy to adjust.


  • the acrylic parts are thin and flimsy;
  • relatively noisy.
Hydor USA SlimSkim Internal Skimmer for Mini Aquariums

Hydor USA SlimSkim Internal Skimmer for Mini Aquariums

Hydor SlimSkim is remarkable for low energy consumption and compact size. It makes the device a great option for Nano reef aquariums. It allows to adjust both air flow and foam level, which adds flexibility. Like all Hydor products, it is covered by a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.

What we think

This is definitely a very good skimmer for the money. It is so easy  to use, and the mounting system is included. Some customers complain about vague instructions and noisiness.


  • small and easy to use;
  • fully adjustable;
  • energy-saving and affordable;
  • a 2-year warranty.


  • the instruction is not very detailed;
  • can be noisy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Finding the best protein skimmer is important. However, it is equally important to use it in the right way. Make sure you’ve studied the manual and checked the answers for frequently asked questions.

Q: How to Set up a Nano Protein Skimmer?

A: Use the instruction to assemble a protein skimmer correctly. Then try to plug it in for a second just to make sure it works. Depending on the type of your device, mount in on the tank’s wall or inside the sump.

Q: How to Tune a Nano Protein Skimmer?

A: Depending on the model of a skimmer, you may need to adjust either the airflow (if possible) or the water level in your tank. If a skimmer produces too much foam, try to place it a bit lower in the water or reduce the airflow.

Q: How to Clean a Nano Protein Skimmer?

A: The collection cup needs to be cleaned regularly – in Nano skimmers it usually gets full of skim every day or every other day. Just switch off the skimmer temporarily, detach the cup, remove the dirt collected, and wash the cup in clean water. Then attach it to the skimmer and switch it on. At least twice a year, it is necessary to disassemble the skimmer and wash all its parts in hot soapy water.

Q: When to Add a Nano Protein Skimmer?

A: A protein is not a mandatory piece of equipment for a fish tank. If you have a freshwater aquarium, you can do without it. However, it is strongly recommended to use protein skimmers in saltwater tanks. Marine fish are much more sensitive to the quality of water: they just can’t survive if the water contains many impurities.


Verdict and Recommendations

The skimmers reviewed are effective and reliable devices that easily fit in most small and Nano fish tanks. Our top choice in this category is Aquatic Life 115 Mini. It effectively purifies marine water and provides good aeration, thanks to its improved impeller. With that being said, it comes at a very attractive price, which makes it one of the best Nano protein skimmer options to consider.

Did the article help you?
Voted: 618
Aubree Rose
If you still have questions after reading the article, do not hesitate to ask questions.
Ask Question
Rate article
Tips, FAQs & Pet Products

Product reviews

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x