If you have a salt water aquarium and are new to the hobby, you might be having some sticker shock as you see just how much this hobby can hurt your wallet! It does take a lot of effort to try to duplicate the natural environment of your livestock, and anything short of a near natural environment for them will result in livestock that are not as healthy as they can be. In the marine hobby that means a lack of those beautiful, bright colors we love to see, and unfortunately it can also mean death. No one wants to go into a hobby and end up with dead or dying livestock in their tank, so it pays to do your homework and examine what you need prior to getting involved.
The purpose of this article is to talk about one piece of equipment in particular that is considered a must have in the marine aquarium hobby. I am referring to the protein skimmer. This is a piece of equipment that uses a process called foam fractionation to remove waste from your tank. Marine fish and corals are constantly producing waste, and it is that waste that creates poor water conditions and there is no way to avoid the use of equipment like a protein skimmer to remove that waste. Which is the best protein skimmer is a conversation for another day the point is, you need to have a skimmer.
What is foam fractionation? Simply put, it is the process of creating foam, or millions of tiny bubbles, to remove waste from your tank. The skimmer is made up of an air pump and a cylinder. The pump infuses air into the water that goes into the cylinder, and that creates the air bubbles. Tiny pieces of waste attach to these bubbles and take a ride to the top of the skimmer where they are deposited into the collection cup.
One common question people have has to do with the huge price differences in skimmers. There is a huge difference in a cheap skimmer and a good one, and the main difference has to do with the skimmer’s ability to produce a huge volume of tiny bubbles and remove as much waste as possible. There are skimmers that are rated for the same size tank that are miles apart in effectiveness, and the purchase of a cheap skimmer usually ends up in a failing tank. If you are going to spend money, choose the protein skimmer as the place to pick a high quality product. Something from the Reef Octopus Skimmer family is a sure thing, but there are other quality brands too. just do your homework and look up as many protein skimmer reviews as you can before making your choice.