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Are you in the market for a new nano protein skimmer? Or maybe you’re just curious about what the best nano protein skimmers are on the market right now. In either case, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’ll be taking a look at seven of the best nano protein skimmers currently available, based on 2023 reviews. So whether you’re looking for something affordable or high-end, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get started!
How I Selected These Nano Skimmers (My Criteria Selection)
Choosing from the large list of options these days, it can be overwhelming to determine which is the best nano protein skimmer for you. I’m here to help and have a fairly comprehensive selection criteria that is as follows:
- Brand name
Nano Protein skimmers should last a long time. For large skimmers, this comes down to the pump quality and the durability of the protein skimmer body and neck to take wear and tear over time. For nano protein skimmers, the main focus is on the pump. Because of where these skimmers go, there is less of a risk of damage since they aren’t going to move anywhere. You don’t have to worry about elbowing a protein skimmer neck while in your sump with a tiny protein skimmer. The pump needs to reliable and last the test of time.
I try to avoid any cheap made Chinese brand sellers. Sure, the prices are great and some of them are pretty decent. But most of those models that are decent are establish brand names now like Bubble Magus. I’m talking about the generic skimmers you find on marketplaces like Amazon.
I stick to major brand names to this like. Brands like Tunze, Aquamaxx, and CoralVue have been involved in the saltwater hobby for a long time and have constantly produced winning products. If I’m going to list a small brand or a up and comer, they better offer something unique that the major brands don’t have.
These are called nano protein skimmers for a reason. They are supposed to be the smallest footprint possible so they can be installed internally while not being a major eyesore. Others are designed to be installed inside all-in-one systems and nano reef tanks. They need to have a slim profile to fit in these chambers. If they can’t fit in most systems, they don’t make the list!
The Nano Protein Skimmer Candidates
Nano protein skimmers are becoming more popular as more hobbyists try to keep smaller reef tanks. There are more models being released each year. However, the same name brands show up time and time again in this size. Below is a list of the nano skimmers I’ve reviewed.
In a hurry? I recommend the Tunze Comline DOC 9001!
|Tunze Comline DOC 9001||Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon|
|Innovative Marine BioSkim NANO||Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon|
|Aquatic Life 115 Mini||Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon|
|IceCap K1 Nano||Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon|
|Aquamaxx HOB 1.5||Buy On Amazon|
|Reef Glass Nano||Buy On EBay|
|Aquamaxx NF-1 Nano||Buy On Amazon|
The 7 Best (2023 Reviews)
I narrowed down the list to 7, now let’s see why each protein skimmer made the cut!
1. Tunze Comline DOC 9001
Best Nano Protein Skimmer
With Tunze's legendary reliability and its small footprint. This is the protein skimmer to buy for small aquariums
Tunze has developed the perfect nano protein skimmer that has remained unchanged for many years. It is built with the same reliability in mind. These protein skimmers are known for lasting and performing reliability, similar to the Tunze auto top off unit and wavemakers. This protein skimmer will run for many years with few issues.
The Tunze 9001 is designed for nano tanks 37 gallons in size. It is designed to be “idiot proof”. You just install it in the corner of your tank or in an all in one chamber and forget about it (except when you need to empty out the skimmate chamber.
They can be finnicky with aquarium water levels, but it’s easy to adjust with their magnetic mounts. It has been used by many nano aquarium owners over the years to the point where it has become the go to for protein skimmers. This is the best nano protein skimmer you can buy on the list if it’s within your budget.
Pros and Cons
- Tunze reliability
- High quality
- Compact size
2. Innovative Marine BioSkim
The BioSkim is a DC powered nano skimmer that works in nearly every all in one tank
What a tiny protein skimmer that is DC powered? Look no further with the Innovation Marine BioSkim DC Skimmer. This DC powered skimmer is energy efficient and designed with all in one tanks in mind. With only a 4″ wide footprint, it can fit in virtually all all in one tanks. They are designed for saltwater aquariums up to 34 gallons.
It is the successor to Innovative’s ghost skimmer line. The Ghost wasn’t the great protein skimmer and Innovative have learned their lesson. This protein skimmer is a lot more functional than the Ghost. It produces a lot more foam the ghost with this new design.
It’s cheaper than the Tunze. It’s a great option if the Tunze is out of your budget. If this one is out of your budget, I got another cheaper option below.
Pros and Cons
- Innovative brand name
- High quality
- Fits in IM tanks
- Small collection cup
3. Aquatic Life 115 Mini Internal
The Aquatic Life Mini Skimmer offers a competent pump driven protein skimmer at a budget conscious price. Small enough to fit in most nano tanks and all in one aquariums
The Aquatic Life Mini Skimmer is a well priced nano skimmer. It not only is the cheapest skimmer on this list, but also one of the smallest. With a 3 and 1/4 inch footprint, it can fit in virtually any all in one chamber. It’s also small enough to install internally where it would be a big eyesore.
It’s size comes with a price. This is one of the lower bubble producing protein skimmers on this list, but still will still do a good job in a small tank. If you are on a budget, but want a protein skimmer, the 115 mini internal protein skimmer is great to add to your nano reef tank!
Pros and Cons
- Small size
- Not the best skimmer
- Small collection cup
4. IceCap K1
A budget offering from CoralVue. Smaller sizes work great for nano reef tanks
The K-1 Nano by IceCap is a powerful nano protein skimmer for its size. With a 2.7 x 3.2 inch footprint, it can fit even in small all in one aquariums like the Nuvo 10 and Pro Fusion 20s. The unit is powered by IceCap’s DCair 200 protein skimmer pump. These are considered the lower end pumps with the K2 pumps being considered the higher end models.
However, there are no K2 nano skimmers available. Even with this pump, the skimmate produced is pretty good. It’s also built like a in sump skimmer with an adjustable dial and bubble cage design.
It’s slightly cheaper than the Tunze Comline, but doesn’t have the reliability history that the Tunze has. It’s a great option if you want to spend a little less but also want a powerful nano protein skimmer.
Pros and Cons
- Great quality
- Small size
- Built like a sump skimmer
- Cheap pump
5. AquaMaxx HOB 1.5 Hang On Back
Best HOB Skimmer
Combines a needle wheel style skimmer in an HOB design
Are you looking for the most powerful skimmer you can put in your nano reef tank? If so, the Aquamaxx HOB 1.5 is the skimmer to purchase. This beast is armed with a modified SICCE pump and is built to handle saltwater aquariums up to 90 gallons. You can’t get larger than this unless your nano tank somehow has a sump to put a larger skimmer inside it.
So how do you place a large protein skimmer like this in an all-in-one tank? All you do is place the intake and return in one section and the return in another. The protein skimmer will also need to hang on the back of the all-in-one saltwater aquarium, which will take away from that flushed look that these systems can provide.
While it won’t look the prettiest hanging in your tank ,this is the most powerful protein skimmer you can buy at this size. If powerful filtration is your sole focus, get this protein skimmer.
Pros and Cons
- Powerful skimmer
- SICCE pump
- Solid design
- Hangs on back
6. Reef Glass
The Smallest Skimmer
Compact size yet effective, The Reef Glass Nano is ideal for Nano Reef Tanks
Do you have a small nano tank? Maybe even a pico tank (10 gallons and under) and what to drop a skimmer in? If so, the ReefGlass is the smallest nano protein skimmer you can purchase in the hobby. It’s small, but mighty. It is the only woodstone powered skimmer I’ll recommended to readers.
This isn’t your ordinary woodstone skimmer. This is built with Pyrex glass and it doesn’t need an unsightly side drain like those cheaper protein skimmers. It’s all made in the USA! It is designed to mount inside rimless or rimmed tanks, but it is so small it will fit in any all in one protein skimmer chamber out there. ReefGlass claims it can work with aquariums up to 30 gallons, but I’m inclined to say that this skimmer is best at the 20 gallons and under size. All you need is an aquarium air pump to get this working.
It’s small and on the expensive side (more so when you add in the pump cost), but it’s size allows you to place it anywhere in a saltwater tank.
Pros and Cons
- Tiny skimmer
- Great design
- Made in the USA
- Air driven
7. Aquamaxx NF-1
The Aquamaxx NF-1 Nano offers a compact size skimmer that is powered by a modified SICCE pump
I love the Aquamaxx HOB 1.5, but most reefs don’t want to put a giant skimmer on the back of their tank. Aquamaxx had a WS-1 skimmer, but even that was too big for most all in one tanks. I was very pleased to see that they have been listening to their customers with the introduction of the NF-1 Nano.
This little skimmer is powered by the same modified SICCE pumps that all other Aquamaxx skimmers use. This skimmer will outperform many other nano protein skimmers on the market. It is a little bit wider at 4″ in footprint, but should fit in most all-in-one aquariums.
It does have one issue where the intake will get clogged with salt creep. This means you have to clean more often than others. It’s also on the pricier side being slightly more than the IceCap skimmer. If you want a SICCE powered nano skimmer, this is a solid choice.
Pros and Cons
- Small footprint
- SICCE pump
- Built like in sump skimmer
- Intake clogs easily
Popular Types to Avoid
So I mentioned several great picks and the best nano protien skimmer to buy. Let’s talk about ones to avoid. I made this list below because it’s really easy to select a skimmer at this size that will not work well. 2 of those I’ve had personal experience with and the others I’ve heard so much about through forums and other hobbyists that I wouldn’t recommend it over the ones that made this best of list. Let’s discuss each one below:
1. Fluval SP
The Fluval SP skimmer is a very popular choice due to the popularity of the Fluval EVO XIII. While popular, it’s not the best nano skimmer to buy. It’s major issue is micro bubbles. Hobbyists over the years have suggested that these micro bubbles can be an annoyance to fish, and irriate corals and inverts. It’s best to avoid bubbles all together in a reef tank. For this main reason, I don’t recommend the SP.
The instant ocean Seaclone was a classic skimmer recommendation when you would go to a local chain pet store because it was one of the few they sold at the stone. It’s has an overrated aquarium capacity on the box and it functions off an old school venturi pump. It is not a very effective skimmer for the price. You way better skimmers from the list above vs the Seaclone. The Tunze Comline is actually cheaper than it!
3. Airstone (Air Wood Stone) Skimmers
Airstone protein skimmers are another common find at local chain pet stores. They used to be more popular years ago before the explosion of pump driven nano protein skimmers. These airstones (AKA wood stone) skimmers are some of the least reliable protein skimmers you can buy. The airstone would produce less bubbles all the time and the skimmate production wasn’t that great. Most of these models are bulky and require to be placed in the tank. They won’t fit in all in one tanks.
For this reason, I don’t recommend them. They are cheap, but the price usually isn’t worth it. The only airstone driven skimmer I would recommend would be the ReefGlass skimmer.
What is this?
A nano protein skimmer is a skimmer that is designed to be used for aquariums that are 40 gallons or smaller. Many traditional nano protein skimmers are actually designed to be used for larger tanks or aquarium sumps. Nano skimmers are designed to have small footprints or slim designs so they can be installed internally or inside an all in one tank chamber
How To Install
Nano protein skimmers have different installation instructions then tradition protein skimmers. They are usually placed in an all-in-one chamber and will need to adjusted to accommodate the aquarium water level they are placed in. It’s also not a skimmer where you can see the neck to see the bubble production.
I’m providing a video for a visual. Check out this video from TUNZE that shows how to assemble and disassemble their nano protein skimmer
Should I Run Skimmers On A Nano Tank?
Should you run a protein skimmer on a small tank – I would if it’s within your budget. It never hurts to add additional filtration. It would also help with handling higher stocking levels, especially if you purchase a high-quality one.
What Is The Smallest One?
The smallest nano protein skimmer you can purchase is the Reef Glass Nano. It is made of Pyrex glass and built in the USA. It is the smallest and thinnest nano protein skimmer you can buy.
Do You Need These For A Nano Tank?
No. You don’t need a protein skimmer for a nano tank. Many successful nano reef tanks run successfully without them. A protein skimmer is an added filtration system, which works with heavier bioloads. You can offset a protein will a smaller bioload or with more frequent aquarium water changes.
Do I Need A Sump?
No. You do not need a sump for a protein skimmer. Many of the protein sumps in this list can function without a protein. Also, hang-on-back protein skimmers are great if you don’t have a sump and don’t have the chambers from an all-in-one tank. You can also place a large hang-on back filter inside one of the all-in-one chambers.
Does A Nano Reef Need One of These?
No. Many nano reefs do fine without needing a protein skimmer. It’s a completely optional piece of equipment. Most aquarium owners purchase them because they want extra filtration due to desiring a heavily stocked saltwater aquarium
So, what’s the best nano protein skimmer for your reef tank? It really depends on your specific needs and preferences. We hope that this article has helped you better understand the different types of skimmers available and how to choose the right one for your tank. Leave a comment below and let us know which type of skimmer you decided on or if you have any questions about choosing or using a nano protein skimmer.
Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping – both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.