Nano Protein Skimmer Review: Which Is Best?

What is the best nano protein skimmer?


If you have or are setting up a small saltwater aquarium, a nano protein skimmer will help you to keep the water clean and free from toxins and keep your water well oxygenated. They are not totally necessary, as water weekly changes will have the same effect. However, if you want to save time, this is an easy way to do it!


In this article, we’re reviewing the 5 best nano protein skimmers to help you find the right one for your tank.

5 Best Nano Protein Skimmers

nano protein skimmer for saltwater tankA protein skimmer is a fascinating piece of technology that replicates the ocean’s natural filtration action right in your home aquarium. Let’s explain how.


In the ocean, waves crash into the shore and stir up the water. This produces a lot of microbubbles that create foam and attract organics to be deposited onshore. If you’ve ever noticed how dirty that foamy froth produced by waves on the beach looks up close and wondered why, well now you know. A protein skimmer pulls the same nasty stuff out of your tank.



Protein skimmers work by generating thousands upon thousands of tiny bubbles into a water column. These bubbles create a foam that attracts and dissolves protein organic waste. As the bubbles rise up and out of the water, the ones with waste overflow into a collection cup for easy removal.


Nano skimmers are simply those which are used for smaller reef tanks like the Coralife Biocube. Let’s take a look at the options!


Tunze Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9001


nano protein skimmer


First up is the Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9001 from Tunze, a highly trusted brand in the reef keeping industry. It may be a relatively new release on the market, but it certainly delivers an impressive performance.


Size-wise, this is one of the smallest models out there, but it doesn’t stop it from doing a proper job.


As a simple plug-and-play device, this skimmer is very easy to set up and run. It’s also well suited for nano aquariums up to a capacity of 37 gallons. The Comline DOC 9001 operates via flash-skimming technology, producing a huge amount of bubbles while being extremely quiet.


Additionally, the anti-over foaming patented technology ensures that none of the collected waste will go back into the water column.



  • Quite compact
  • Short break-in period
  • Anti-over foaming feature


  • The skimmer won’t work properly unless the water line is correct


Tunze Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9004


small protein skimmer


Another relatable option is the Tunze Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9004. This is the more powerful version of the Comline DOC 9001, offering an even more compact design than the previous one.


This model is rated for nano tanks of capacity between 20 gallons (for heavy bioload) and 65 gallons (for light bioload).


Like the Tunze 9001, the Comline DOC 9004 adopts a flash-skimming technique that operates quietly and efficiently. Thanks to the suction feature, it also performs well when it comes to removing the top-layer film that annoys a lot of reef tank owners.


The Comline DOC 9001 is a highly sophisticated and ultra-functional unit that produces foam more than any other model on the list, so it’s an excellent all-in-one package.



  • Highly efficient foam production
  • Removes surface bacterial film
  • Easy to clean


  • Expensive


Hydor Slim Skim Nano Internal Protein Skimmer


best nano skimmers

The Hydor Slim Skim Nano Internal Protein Skimmer had made quite an impression since its release.


It’s available in two sizes: one rated for aquariums up to 35 gallons and the other rated for tanks up to 65 gallons. Both models use only 4 and 6.5 watts of energy respectively, so none of them will heat up your tank.


The Slim Skim protein skimmer is designed to offer a small footprint, so you won’t have to worry too much about how much space it’ll occupy. You can place this skimmer inside the aquarium or in any back filtration compartment.


The Slim Skin is made of high-quality materials. It also comes with an adjustable collection cup so you can have it run according to the tank’s requirements.



  • Adjustable foaming level
  • Sleek design
  • Energy-efficient


  • Can be noisy


AquaMaxx WS-1 Nano Skimmer


best nano protein skimmer


The AquaMaxx WS-1 protein skimmer is the in-sump version of the highly-rated AquaMaxx HOB-1 protein skimmer. It’s built extremely well and rated up to 65 gallons.


The WS-1 has a slim, lightweight design that you can place in a nano aquarium, an all-in-one style aquarium, or any other small saltwater aquarium.


To efficiently remove organic waste from aquarium water, the WS-1 creates a strong mix of small air bubbles and turbulent water movement, forcing protein, dirt, and other materials into the collection cup for easy cleaning.


The newly added conical diffusers help minimize the turbulence in the reaction chamber for a more stable flow and an overall improved performance.


Like the HOB-1 and HOB-1.5, the WS-1 is computer designed and made of polished cell-cast acrylic. It’s also super easy to set up and maintain – a “plug-and-play” model we could say.


The WS-1 utilizes Shark 1.0 pump and AquaMaxx needle wheel impeller for vigorous waste removal and significant energy-saving.



  • Ready to use right out of the box
  • Very quiet
  • Low maintenance


  • Suitable for aquariums with sumps only


Aquatic Life Protein Mini Skimmer


protein skimmers for nano tanks

Last but not least, the Aquatic Life Protein Mini Skimmer is a fabulous choice for mini reef aquarium owners given how tricky it can be to find a skimmer that’s efficient but still not too large.


The Protein Mini Skimmer is equipped with a powerful needle wheel impeller to maximize the contact between air and water for optimum performance.


This compact unit goes right inside your tank, which helps it operate quietly without disturbing anyone. It’s technically rated for aquariums rated up to 30 gallons, but it works best in tanks between 10 and 20 gallons.


The Aquatic Life Protein Mini Skimmer does take a bit long to break-in (a week or so), but it’s a much more affordable option that many users are willing to accept the wait.



  • Budget-friendly
  • Adjustable brackets
  • Great for beginners


  • Inconsistent skim pulling


Should You Buy a Small Skimmer?



A question that often pops up regarding nano protein skimmers is whether or not they’re really necessary.


Well, let’s start by saying that you can get by without a protein skinner if you’re only planning to keep corals. But even then, it’ll be much tougher to maintain your aquarium running smoothly without a skimmer.


Yes, protein skimmers don’t come cheap. However, you’ll end up spending more on live rock/water changes by not owning a skimmer. Nano protein skimmers can clean your tank in a way that no filter media can.


Advantages of buying a nano skimmer:

  • Decreased algae growth – if you’re an aquarist, then you know how much of a hassle algae in aquariums can be. Protein skimmers remove organic waste which is algae’s food, effectively inhibiting algae growth.
  • Lower levels of dissolved organics – dissolved organics could cause many problems in aquariums including high phosphate levels, algae growth, and poor light penetration. Protein skimmers eliminate dissolved organics that otherwise pass through mechanical filtration.
  • Higher levels of dissolved oxygen – more oxygen means a healthier environment for your fish and corals.
  • Improved light penetration – although many coral owners overlook light penetration, it’s a critical factor to the overall wellbeing of your aquarium inhabitants. Skimmers remove all the waste that otherwise floats around in your tank and blocks light from reaching your fish and corals.
  • Better water clarity – once again, protein skimmers remove particles from the water that other filtration methods simply can’t eliminate. This gives you clearer water than ever before.


How to Maintain a Nano Skimmer



One particularly great advantage of the small size of nano protein skimmers is that they usually require very little maintenance. That being said, here are a couple of tips you should follow to make sure your skimmer runs smoothly for as long as possible:

  • Clean out the collection cup every day. This is super important because nano protein skimmers typically have small collection cups, so they need to be emptied rather frequently.


If you skip this task, you’ll end up with the collected waste overflowing back into the tank. This is the exact opposite of a skimmer’s purpose.

  • Regularly clean the intake pump by making sure it’s free of debris. This will preserve its ability to suck water.
  • Don’t scrub the inside of the skimmer or the collection cup too often. Cleaning these parts too much will cause your protein skimmer to have to “break-in” again.


Nano Skimmer Review


Choosing the right protein skimmer for your nano aquarium can be tricky, which is why we included only the best nano protein skimmers so you can land a great deal no matter what.


That being said, we recommend the Tunze Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9001 as the winner thanks to its efficient foam production, short break-in time, and anti-over foaming feature.

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