nano reef tank with best nano skimmer

Best Nano Skimmer for Aquariums: 2022 Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Are you in the market for a nano skimmer for your aquarium? If so, you’re in luck! In this buyer’s guide, we’ll walk you through some of the best nano skimmers on the market. If you want a shortcut to our favorite nano skimmer, check out the Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9001. We’ll also provide some tips on what to consider when making your purchase. So if you’re ready to find the perfect nano skimmer, keep reading!

Best Nano Skimmer Options:

What is the Best Nano Skimmer?

The best nano skimmer is the one that fits your aquarium and doesn’t break the bank. There are a variety of styles and brands of protein skimmers available at different price points (see our list below) but our absolute favorite is the Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9001.

The Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9001 from Tunze is a favorite among nano reef tank owners. It is manufactured by a highly reputable brand, one of the smallest options on the list, and does an excellent job at skimming your water due to its updated technology. It is rated for aquariums up to 37 gallons.

What is a Nano Skimmer?

A protein skimmer is a device used to remove dissolved organic waste pollutants from your aquarium. Whether you have a tropical fish tank or a saltwater reef, all fish and invertebrate foods add organic substances to the water as they break down. If these organics remain in your tank, they will eventually decompose and be recycled into nitrate, ammonia, and other harmful substances.

Skimmers remove organic substances before they have a chance to decompose, helping your water parameters stay a lot more stable.

Nano skimmers are for nano tanks, one of the hottest trends in aquariums right now. Nano tanks are typically under 10 gallons, though definitions vary and range up to 40 gallons. Nano tanks are popular because they take up minimal space, make keeping a tank significantly cheaper and more manageable, and add beauty to your home’s decor.

Because they’re designed for nano tanks, nano skimmers are often smaller, quieter, and almost unnoticeable.

What Does a Protein Skimmer Do?

Nano protein skimmers remove organic waste by releasing microbubbles into your tank, which the organic waste will stick to. The bubbles then float to the surface, carrying the waste, and the skimmer removes the top layer of scum from the collection area.

Each nano skimmer varies slightly in how it functions, but this is the basic idea. Understanding this is important for picking the best nano protein skimmers and deciding which is the perfect fit for your tank.

Best Nano Skimmer Options

ESHOPPS Nano Skimmer 

The Eshopps Nano Protein Skimmer is an excellent nano protein skimmer option. This is a pretty small skimmer – 5 by 2 by 4 inches so you can be adapt it easily to your tank set-up. It can be placed in your sump or in the tank itself.

This skimmer is rated for tanks in the 10-35 gallon range. This model has great reviews, with users raving about their clean water, quiet operation, and reliable use over time.

This nano skimmer is also energy efficient so you don’t have to worry about your electricity bill spiking once you start running this piece of equipment 24/7.


  • Adjustable height with magnetic mount
  • SICCE Needle wheel pump with 3 year warranty


  • Because of its size, can easily fit into most tight spaces
  • Strong magnet
  • Affordable


  • Won’t fit every tank on the market

Mame Nano Skimmer

This Mame Nano Skimmer is small with a beautiful, clean, minimalist design. If you’re looking to maximize space in your tank, this skimmer could be the best choice for you.

The body of this skimmer is super slender. You will barely notice it. Its total footprint is 3.9 by 3.9 by 11.4 inches so think long and skinny with this one.

The simple glass body on this skimmer blends in well. The manufacturer has clearly paid attention to design down to the clear clip used for mounting, so it blends in nicely with your tank.

Like most other options on this list, the Mame nano skimmer creates air bubbles in the glass body which brings unwanted waste to the top. From there, the unwanted waste bubbles are moved into the collection container.

This skimmer is small and quiet. But just because you barely notice it, don’t believe that it’s not working! We found this nano skimmer to do an excellent job at keeping your tank water clean.

One important thing to note is that you’ll need to purchase an air pump if get this skimmer. Make sure you purchase a quiet air pump or else you will ruin the quiet operation of this model.


  • 3.9 by 3.9 by 11.4 inches profile


  • Slender profile
  • Great cleaning power


  • Requires purchasing an air pump
  • Can be expensive because of air pump purchase

Aquamaxx Ws-1 In-sump Protein Skimmer

AquaMaxx is a long-trusted manufacturer in the aquarium trade. The Aquamaxx nano skimmer is basically a smaller version of some of their larger offerings.

This option is one of the best on this list In terms of cleaning efficiency. It can handle tanks up to 65-gallons, which should absolutely be no problem with your nano tank. Because the AquaMaxx can handle larger tanks, and comes from a reliable manufacturer, it will last you a long time.

One important thing to know about this nano skimmer is that it needs to be housed in a sump. For a good chunk of nano tank owners, this makes this option a no-go since there are often no sumps on nano tanks. People like nano tanks because they’re small so adding on a sump often defeats the purpose.

However, if you have a slightly larger nano tank with a sump, this is definitely a good, highly-efficient option.


  • Rated for tanks up to 65 gallons


  • Excellent cleaning efficiency
  • Reputable brand


  • Requires sump

AQUATICLIFE 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer/Filter for Saltwater Aquariums

The Aquatic Life 115 nano skimmer is another great, straightforward option. It mounts inside the aquarium so it doesn’t require a sump, increasing the bulk of the nano tank significantly.

It’s small enough to fit in most rear overflow and internal filter compartments. It measures 3″ x 3-1/4″ x 10-5/8″ and is rated for saltwater aquariums up to 30 gallons. The light and compact design makes it ideal for placing inside your aquarium or sump. It includes a mounting bracket and suction cups for easy installation.

This Nano Skimmer has a high-performance, self-contained design that is powered by an 8-watt needle-wheel impeller pump. This pump maximizes air-to-water contact, making its ability to remove organic waste highly efficient.


  • Measures 3″ x 3-1/4″ x 10-5/8″
  • 8-watt needle-wheel impeller pump


  • Compact size is ideal for mini-reef aquariums
  • Affordable


  • Some users report durability issues
  • Suction cups not as strong as we’d like

Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9001

The Comline DOC Protein Skimmer 9001 from Tunze is an excellent option and a favorite among nano reef tank owners. This product comes from a highly reputable brand in the reef-keeping industry.

This is one of the smallest protein skimmers on the market, yet it still packs a powerful cleaning punch. It is also very easy to set up and run, meaning you’re not going to spend all of your time trying to figure out how to work this piece of equipment.

It is rated for aquariums up to 37 gallons. This unit uses flash-skimming technology, which is a modern way of skimming that creates a massive amount of bubbles while operating with minimal noise production. It has patented anti-over foaming technology so that the waste doesn’t accidentally flow back into your tank.


  • Two-year warranty
  • High air output and low energy consumption (4W)


  • Quiet operation
  • Good skimming efficiency


  • Air adjustment to prevent microbubbles – can be tedious

IceCap K1-Nano Protein Skimmer

The IceCap K1 Nano is a compact nano skimmer for aquariums ranging from 10 to 30 gallons. It has a compact footprint that allows it to easily fit in tight compartments. It comes with a strong magnet mount that allows for flexible placement on surfaces up to 1/2″ thick. It is also easy to clean, breaking down into its component parts quite readily. All components are marine tank safe

The pipeless design creates easy fine-tuning opportunities, trouble-free underwater outflow, and quiet operation.


  • Rated for aquariums 10-30 gallons
  • Pipeless design


  • Easy to clean
  • Quiet operation


  • Some users report bad customer service experiences

Are Nano Protein Skimmers Worth it?

In the world of aquariums, bigger is usually easier. This can be counterintuitive to new aquarists as a bigger tank seems like a more significant investment in time and resources. However, it is also inherently more stable, as there is more water to essentially dilute the concentration of any harmful water parameters such as ammonia or nitrates.

With this logic behind us, the most difficult aquarium to maintain is, without a doubt, the nano reef aquarium. These aquariums are typically less than 30 gallons (sometimes as small as 5-10 gallons), have all the complexities of a larger reef aquarium, and are subject to water quality that can rapidly change and reach critical conditions. Because of these challenges, a nano protein skimmer is a useful tool in maintaining consistency in your tank. Through the process of foam fractionation, they remove contaminants and organic compounds that will break down and release ammonia.

We consider protein skimmers as essential to saltwater tanks as things like RO DI systems, the right coral food, biopellet reactors, wave makers, and the right reef salt.

What Happens if I Skip the Skimmer?

If you forgo purchasing a protein skimmer, you will need to make changes to your aquarium maintenance. First, plan on doing water changes weekly. In a nano reef aquarium without a skimmer, change 10-20 percent of the water weekly.

Additionally, if you’re operating without a protein skimmer, your margin for error will be pretty small. You’re going to need to check water parameters more frequently. For example, if you’ve overfed your tank, water chemistry can change a lot faster so pay close attention to any changes that you see. We’d also recommend thinking about additional options for your tank like filter floss.

How To Maintain A Nano Skimmer

Protein skimmers get pretty dirty. They’re incredibly important to the overall functioning of your tank so make sure to give it the proper attention to keep it operating well.

Depending on the size of your tank and the bioload of your aquatic critters, we recommend cleaning the collection cup three times a week. If your water is extremely clean, you might be able to get away with it once or twice a week. If your tank is super stocked, daily cleaning might be needed.

Skimmate, the term for the dissolved organics that accumulate in the collection cup, also known as the nasty stuff, is typically easy to clean and can be removed with a simple rinse and wipe down with a clean pad.

The body of the skimmer can grow coralline algae over time. This is definitely more difficult to clean. We recommend cleaning the body of the skimmer about twice a year.

To clean the body of the skimmer, drain all of the water, remove it from the sump or tank, and let it soak in a bucket with a vinegar solution. We recommend one part white vinegar to 10-20 parts of water. After letting it soak, the algae should be much easier to wipe away.

Why are Protein Skimmers so Expensive?

Protein skimmers are expensive because they’re in high demand by aquarists and are a piece of equipment that runs 24/7 in your tank so the construction, design, and materials have to be reliable. The pump is typically the most expensive component. Pumps are expensive and often have to be modified to work for aquarium skimmers. If you’re handy, you can likely craft a homemade protein skimmer on your own but if you don’t know what you’re doing, we recommend purchasing a protein skimmer designed by professionals.


The best nano protein skimmers are designed to be small and powerful. They can help you maintain your tank’s ecosystem by removing pesky organic compounds and waste that would otherwise decompose into harmful compounds in your water. If you’re looking for a protein, we recommend choosing one that is researched in this guide. Let us know if there are any other questions we should answer about nano skimmers before deciding which option is right for you.

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