How To Set Up A Protein Skimmer Setup? [Instructions and Steps]

How To Set Up A Protein Skimmer Setup? [Instructions and Steps]


Providing a hygienic environment to your fish is necessary for a healthy and happy fish. In this case, you may want a protein skimmer to remove any unwanted material or particles from your aquarium.

They came up in different sizes and shapes depending on the type of aquarium. You can select the one according to your needs.

“Your Aquarium Guide” is providing you steps to set up a protein skimmer in your aquarium. Before we start to discuss the steps to install protein skimmer in your aquarium.

Let’s take a look at the purpose and working of a protein skimmer.

What is a protein skimmer and how does it work?

You often have seen some devices attached to aquariums, sometimes small and sometimes with bulky machinery.

Well, these devices are protein skimmers. The main purpose of a protein skimmer is to remove organic materials from the water and provide clean and suitable water.

These organic materials are formed due to the waste and remaining of food. These materials can be harmful to your fish pet if not removed.


The protein skimmer working principle is simple as of other filtration devices. The main parts of protein skimmer include a motor or a pump, a cup, hoses, and a protein skimmer.

Intake hose suck-in the water with the help of the pump. Then, protein skimmer removes the unwanted particle from water.

The unwanted particles get stored in the cup, usually at the top of the protein skimmer in the form of foamy material. The cleaned water is then pumped out from another hose to the aquarium.

Types of Protein Skimmer Setups

Types of Protein Skimmer Setups

As mentioned above, the sizes and styles of protein skimmers vary with manufacturer companies and your requirements.

In the United States, there are some common types of skimmers available depending on their setup styles. The following are the four types of protein skimmers available in the market.

  • In-tank protein skimmer
  • Hang on back protein skimmer
  • In-sump protein skimmer
  • External protein skimmer

1) In-Tank protein skimmers

In-tank protein skimmers are the simplest protein skimmers that are designed usually for small-sized aquariums. These protein skimmers are set up directly at the bottom of the aquarium.

The top feature of this aquarium is that they don’t need any setup procedure to follow. All you need is to put that protein skimmer in the aquarium and plug in the power supply.

2) HOB protein skimmers

HOB or Hang on Back Protein skimmers is the perfect choice for you if you have a nano aquarium. As its name, hang it on the back wall of the aquarium.

It contains a small pump to form bubbles inside it to remove particles. Just follow the instructions in the installation manual properly.

One important thing is to select the protein skimmer that fits on the back wall of your aquarium. Hang on back protein skimmer will work properly if it is installed properly.

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3) In sump protein skimmers

If you have a bulky aquarium with a sump, in this case, you can use an In-sump protein skimmer. These protein skimmers are specially constructed for the aquariums that contain a sump box with them.

This box is connected to the main aquarium to install any machinery in the aquarium. The advantage of using this setup is that the attractiveness of the main aquarium remains intact.

Most of the manufacturing companies provide In-sump protein skimmer in a single piece or with few accessories to assemble. Just simply fix it to the bottom of the sump and plug in the power supply.

4) External protein skimmers

As their name show, external protein skimmers setup work from outside the aquarium. The water from the aquarium come directly to the protein skimmers and get filtered.

Then, the water moves back to the aquarium. Usually, External protein skimmer setup is used for the large size aquariums.

Protein Skimmer Installation Steps

Protein Skimmer Installation Steps

There are no hard and fast rules to install a protein skimmer. However, there are some basic steps that you can follow to install the protein skimmer.

1) Select a suitable protein skimmer

First, you have to choose the type of protein skimmer setup. Choose the one that is suitable for the capacity of the water tank that you have.

If you have a small aquarium, you can choose In-tank or hang on back protein skimmer. For the large-sized aquariums, In-sump or external protein skimmer is the best choice.

For better results, the capacity of the protein skimmer should be greater than the capacity of your aquarium.

2) Unbox the protein skimmer

It is important to assure that the whole setup is in the right condition before installation. Unbox the protein skimmer carefully and check the parts of the skimmers.

Check whether all parts are there as mentioned in the manual. Any broken or missing part can cause malfunctioning in the protein skimmer.

3) Clean the accessories

The accessories might contain some particles due to which your protein skimmer may not work well. It is a good practice to clean all accessories before assembling them.

Don’t use any chemical or acidic solution to clean it. Just wash it with the warm water and dry it properly.

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4) Assemble the accessories

Before setting up the protein skimmer in the fish tank, it must be in one complete piece. Assemble the parts by using the instruction book. Different setups have different ways of assembling depending on the product.

This part is optional for some users because most of the manufacturing companies in the United States produce protein skimmers in a single piece. In this case, you don’t need to do anything.

5) Install the protein skimmer

After assembling the protein skimmer, install the protein skimmer in your aquarium. The installation of a protein skimmer is quite easy.

All you need is to fix the protein skimmer properly and at the proper water level. Some protein skimmers use suction cups to fix it on the surface of the aquarium.

Use the instruction book to identify the water level that is appropriate for your protein skimmer.

6) Check the working

Now, connect the power supply and check if the pump and other parts are working. Protein skimmer takes a specific period to show desired results. Wait for 4 to 5 days and verify the results.


protein skimmer setup

  • Clean the waste collection cup every week.
  • For maintaining the performance, clean all the parts with warm water every 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Don’t put anything in front of the intake and out-throw tube.
  • Adjust the protein skimmer if needed after installation and wait for a specific period to see results.


Frequently Asked Questions - external protein skimmer setup

1) What does a protein skimmer do?

Protein skimmer removes any organic particles formed in the water due to the waste and uneaten food. Other advantages of using protein skimmer include a decreased level of nitrate and phosphate in the aquarium.

2) Is it necessary to have a protein skimmer?

Having a protein skimmer is a good practice but it is not necessary to have one in your aquarium.


conclusion - how to setup a protein skimmer setup

By following the above steps, you can easily set up a protein skimmer in your aquarium.

The experts of “Your Aquarium Guide” have provided you some useful tips that would help to run the protein skimmer at the best performance rate.

If you still have some questions, you can ask us in the comments.

Best Protein Skimmers

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