Best Budget Protein Skimmers of 2022
Reefing on a budget doesn't necessarily mean you have to give up reliable performance out of your equipment. It just means you need to be fastidious about the features that matter most to you. The Best Budget Skimmers were chosen based on customer reviews, product performance, and general popularity among our customers. These skimmers consistently receive the best reviews in their price class, offer the features that matter most, and don't neglect performance where it counts. We broke things down by tank size for the most part but also included a hang-on option for those who are operating without a sump.
- Nano Tanks: Reef Glass Nano Protein Skimmer
- Hang-On: AquaMaxx Bullet-1 or HOB 1.5
- Space-Saving: Bubble Magus Z Series Space Saving Skimmers
- Workhorse: AquaMaxx FC-280 or Bubble Magus Curve Series
Best Budget Nano Skimmer - Reef Glass
Reef Glass skimmers rely on one of the original skimmer technologies where an air pump is employed to create foam rather than a centrifugal water pump. In confined spaces, this can be highly effective while also being affordable. With such a simple design, using the Reef Glass Skimmer is easy. Simply dial in the airflow to ensure stable foam production and be sure the skimmer chamber is cleaned on a very regular basis (every few days) to get the best possible performance. Great for AIO tanks with built-in filtration and is suitable for saltwater aquariums up to about 30 gallons.
Best Hang-On Skimmer For Your Money - AquaMaxx Bullet-1 and HOB 1.5
AquaMaxx seems to always be represented on these lists and their Hang-On skimmer options really are second to none. Not only are they affordable, but you can also count-on very consistent performance without some of the hassles you typically see with other hang-on style skimmers. The smaller Bullet-1 is great for tanks up to about 30 gallons and is no bigger than your typical hang-on power filter. The HOB 1.5 is a bit larger and most effective on aquariums ranging from 20 - 75 gallons depending on the bioload. Both skimmers feature a quiet, Sicce brand pump hidden away inside the skimmer body so you are not forced to have a large skimmer pump taking up space inside your display.
Space Saving & Affordable - Bubble Magus Z Series Space Saving Skimmers
Bubble Magus Z Series doesn't get enough credit. Although the design is a little different, the operation and performance are no different than your typical cone or wine-glass-shaped internal protein skimmer. They are affordable, compact, and have some clever design features that help to create the tiny footprint that makes these skimmers special. The responsive belt-driven gate valve is marked with a minimum and maximum to help you keep track of the optimal settings for your tank and the collection cup even has a drain port should you wish to run a line to an external collection chamber. There are four different models that will work on tanks up to +/- 120 gallons.
Absolute Workhorse: AquaMaxx FC-280 or Bubble Magus Curve Series
For the workhorse series, we chose two skimmers that represent the best value for larger aquariums. The entire line of Bubble Magus Curve skimmers falls into this category because they are priced great and provide the same level of performance you can expect from any competing internal skimmer. The incredible FC-280 really stands out because it's powerful enough to handle tanks of 300+ gallons depending on the bioload and constructed from cast acrylic. No matter which option is right for your tank, you can expect reliable performance at a price that won't break the bank.