With the ever-increasing volume of equipment we pack into our aquarium stands and sumps—media reactors, UV sterilizers, refugiums, calcium reactors and dosing pumps, to name a few—finding enough space for a quality protein skimmer is becoming tougher and tougher.

Most protein skimmers have fairly large footprints since space is required for the pump, the reaction chamber and the outlet pipe.

CAD Lights has discovered an ingenious way of minimizing the footprint by incorporating the pump into the base of the skimmer and doing away with the outlet pipe altogether. This latest version of the Gen3 PLS-100 skimmer can handle aquariums from 70 to 120 gallons and has an unbelievably small footprint of just 5” x 5”.

While other protein skimmers require bulky outlet pipes and valves to adjust the water level inside the skimmer, the CAD Lights Pipeless Protein Skimmer utilizes two sets of ports near the base of the skimmer for adjustment.

By aligning the two sets of ports, the water level drops. Offsetting the ports allows you to raise the water level inside the skimmer. The drawback of the design is that adjusting the skimmer requires getting your hands wet since you have to physically grab the base and body of the skimmer and rotate to adjust.

However, I feel the benefit of a compact footprint outweighs this minor drawback.

Several upgrades on the Gen3 PSL-100 skimmer makes it better-performing and more user-friendly than ever before.

The first notable upgrade is the new 2-point Tension Clamps that fasten the upper skimmer body to the base. This prevents the skimmer body from separating from the base in applications where the skimmer is set in a deep water level or when there is high buoyancy.

The second upgrade worth noting are the Tension Clamp Locks that allow you to adjust the tension of the adjustment mechanism to ‘lock’ the setting once the desired water level is set.

The third upgrade I'd like to highlight is the the larger reaction chamber. A bigger reaction chamber means more contact time for the air bubbles, which improves performance.

Additional features on the PLS-100 skimmer include a needlewheel impeller to create very small air bubbles, a bubble plate to minimize turbulence inside the reaction chamber, an air silencer to muffle intake noise, a 100% cell-cast acrylic form factor for maximum durability and an easy-to-remove collection cup for easy cleaning.

The skimmer is almost completely put together right out of the box. The only assembly required is attaching the air silencer, tubing and venturi volute.

The CAD Lights Pipeless PLS-100 has all the right features for a very good-performing skimmer.  In addition to the many great features, it also has a very reasonable price of $174.99. Those shopping for a compact skimmer that performs well have an attractive new option that may fit the bill perfectly!