5 TOP Nano Protein Skimmer Reviews: BEST Micro Skimmer For Small Tanks

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.

Best Nano Protein Skimmer

Coralife Biocube Protein Skimmer

  • For BioCubes and standard aquariums up to 32 gallons in size
  • Features a self-priming pump making setup simple
  • Effectively removes dissolved organics from saltwater
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Hydor Slim Skim Nano Protein Skimmer

  • Designed for tanks up to 35 gal
  • Magnet-Suction Cup mounting system
  • Adjustable air control and foaming level
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Tunze DOC Nano Skimmer 9004

  • Internal Protein Skimmer for 15 - 65 gallon tanks
  • Draws water from the water's surface helping to eliminate surface slick
  • Self-adjusting anti-overfoaming system
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A 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!

1. 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

2. 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

3. 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

4. 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

5. 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 longer 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 well-being 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.

  1. 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
  2. Regularly clean the intake pump by making sure it’s free of debris – this will preserve its ability to suck water.
  3. Don’t scrub the inside of the skimmer or the collection cup too often – cleaning these parts too much will may mean you need to break it in again

If you skip these tasks, you’ll end up with the collected waste overflowing back into the tank – the exact opposite of a skimmer’s purpose.

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.

For larger tanks, check out the Bubble Magus Protein Skimmer range, or alternatively, one of the AquaMaxx Protein Skimmers. It all depends on your budget, tank, and other accessories.

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