Best hob protein skimmer for fish tankHaving the best HOB protein skimmer for your aquarium is essential in maintaining the water quality of your fish tank.

HOB protein skimmer is a water filtration device that creates a foam made of tiny bubbles on the water’s surface.

These tiny bubbles attract the unwanted particles in water and trap them in the foam. This dirty foam is then removed, making the water clean.

Comparison Chart

Product Installation Capacity Ideal for
Coralife Super Protein Skimmer with Pump

Both internal and external 65 Gallons  Saltwater and reef aquarium
Macro Aqua M-50 Mini Skimmer

External hang on back 60 Gallons Reef tank
Bubble Magus QQ1 Hang-On Nano Protein Skimmer

External 25 Gallons Freshwater and saltwater
AQUATICLIFE 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer

Internal 30 Gallon Saltwater

Review of the Best HOB Protein Skimmers

1. Coralife Super Protein Skimmer with Pump


  • Low power consuming pump
  • Patented needle wheel aspiration system
  • Dual injection inlets
  • Dual setup compatibility
  • User manual for troubleshooting


  • Slightly expensive

Coralife Super Protein Skimmer is one of the best protein skimmers available on the market. This compact-sized skimmer is designed to remove all the dissolved organic compounds from your aquarium water and is compatible with both in-sump and hang-on setups.

This skimmer has a very efficient and robust foam maker that uses a patented wheel impeller to maximize its efficiency. The needle wheel aspiration system helps create a whirlpool of water and microbubbles inside the reaction chamber. These bubbles attract all the fine proteins and undesirable compounds, and they get collected in the collection cups.

Since the collection cup is designed with a wide neck, the protein quickly gets collected in it. Additionally, the collection cup comes with an easy twist feature. So removing the cup for cleaning is a piece of cake.

During the skimming process, there is a big chance for microbubbles to mix into the aquarium. What’s good about this HOB skimmer is that it has a bubble production diffuser that helps prevent the flow of microbubbles into the aquarium. Additionally, there are dual injection inlets present that increase the bubble/water contact time.

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The Super Protein Skimmer precedes Coraline’s reputation for making the best-in-class aquarium products. It has a superior build quality and comes in three different sizes to cater to tanks from 20 gallons to 220 gallons.

2. Macro Aqua M-50 Mini Hang-on External Protein Skimmer


  • High-quality protein skimmer
  • Incredibly Compact
  • No priming required
  • Needle-to-wheel impeller system
  • Plug and play setup


  • It takes time to break-in

Macro Aqua M-50 Mini Protein Skimmer is another excellent option to consider if you are looking for a powerful external protein skimmer for your fish tank. This small-sized hang-on back skimmer works best with small and medius sized than that have a maximum capacity of 60 gallons.

It is equipped with a needle-to-wheel impeller that mixes water and air to create microbubbles that are then pumped into the tank. As these bubbles rise, they stick to the organic waste, which is then collected in the collection cup.

You can remove the collection cup to dispose of the wastes collected in it, making the cleaning process simple. Also, this skimmer is equipped with a bubble plate that stops the bubbles from reentering the aquarium tank. This protein skimmer has a water flow of 238 gallons per hour which means it can completely filter a 60-gallon aquarium in about 20 minutes.

What we really like about this skimmer is that it’s very easy to install. It comes with just a plug-and-play feature does not require any priming before using it. Additionally, you don’t have to keep it attached to your tank at all times. You can simply remove it after your cleaning session and store reinstall it the next time in less than a minute.

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If the foul odors, discoloration, and protein waste bother your tank, then it is time to get your hands on Macro Aqua M-50 Protein Skimmer. It easily removes all the protein wastes from your aquarium water at a fraction of the cost of a regular skimmer.

3. Bubble Magus QQ1 Hang-On Nano Protein Skimmer


  • It comes in a plug-and-play feature
  • It can be fixed on tank glass with 12mm
  • Includes Rock SP600 Pump
  • Relatively quiet operation


  • The overflow tube is very short

Bubble Magus QQ1 is designed to support protein skimming tanks up to 30 gallons. It has a dedicated 8.5-watt needle wheel pump that effectively draws the incoming air and mixes it with water to create a frothy mixture.

The sponge that covers the air tube breaks down the air into tiny bubbles. As they move, these tiny bubbles form a foam by capturing all the unwanted protein in the water. Then they rise into the skimmer cup. When you notice the collection cup is full up to the brim, you can remove it for cleaning.

Due to its small size, you can take the entire device to the sink for cleaning. Another great feature worth mentioning is its extremely silent operation. It has an air silencer and a primary diffuser plate that boosts the overall performance while suppressing any noise.

It is very easy to operate. All you have to do is hang it on your aquarium’s wall and turn it on. It requires some simple adjustments to make it work best, and it also needs a day or two to start performing at its peak efficiency. This is just to break in the sponge that induces bubbles and the wheel pump that creates the foam.

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Bubble Magus is an excellent hang on back protein skimmer that is best suited for aquariums smaller than 30 gallons. It is efficient, easy to install, and affordable. What we like most about it is its silent operation that neither disturbs you nor your fish.

4. AQUATICLIFE 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer for Saltwater Aquariums


  • Plastic 3.4 oz collection cup
  • It has a quick-lock design for easy cleaning
  • Adjustable bracket to fix on the tank’s wall
  • Mounting bracket and suction cups included
  • Built-in channel conceals grounded power cord


  • Break-in time is high

AQUATICLIFE 115 is one of the best hang on protein skimmers for saltwater aquariums and works best with small to mid-sized tanks. This internal skimmer is powered by an 8-watt needle-wheel impeller pump which creates the air and water mixture.

The most highlighted feature of this skimmer is its speed. It collects the maximum amount of protein in the shortest time compared to other skimmers in the market. Cleaning your fish tank is no longer a full-time job because this skimmer has a quick lock design that promotes proper maintenance and easy cleaning. All you have to do is attach it to your aquarium, and it will leave your aquarium water crystal clear in no time.

Mounting this internal skimmer into your aquarium is easy. It comes with suction cups that easily stick to your aquarium’s wall. They create a very strong grip that keeps it in place even if there are heavy vibrations being caused by other equipment. Not only that, it has an adjustable bracket that fits any standard aquarium frame.

It is designed to work perfectly with both freshwater and saltwater tanks with less than 30 gallons of capacity. Don’t panic if you see any microbubbles soon after installing the skimmer. This is because this skimmer takes a considerable time to break in. Once it starts functioning, you will notice a substantial decrease in the bubbles level.

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AQUATICLIFE 115 Protein Skimmer stands superior to its competitors with its high performance. It can quickly remove the organic waste and other pollutants that can harm your fish without screaming. It has a small form factor which makes it ideal for small to mid-size aquariums.

Complete Buying Guide for the Best HOB Protein Skimmer

There are many brands in the market offering different models of hang-on back protein skimmers. Even though they give you a lot of options to consider, having too many choices makes finding the right ones difficult. Before you invest in a HOB protein skimmer, read this guide to help narrow down your search.

We have created a list of the things you should be checking to make the right buying decision.

1. What is the size of the air bubbles it generates.

The tiny air bubbles are the crucial element that attracts the protein waste and helps remove it as a rule of thumb—the smaller the bubbles, the better the performance. So ensure that the bubbles generated by the reactor are very small.

But, too tiny bubbles aren’t efficient in cleaning the organic waste. So you must pay attention to the air bubbles’ size as they influence the functioning. Ideally, bubbles of the size of 1mm to 3mm are the most effective.

2. It should have proper divisions between different compartments.

The skimmer that you choose should be structured in a way that does not allow the dirty bubbles to enter the tank. This is because they will carry the impurities back into the tank with them.

To prevent this, most skimmers come equipped with a bubble eliminator plate or bubble reducers to add an extra layer of protection. This is an important feature that most skimmers miss out on, so make sure to check for this when buying.

3. Make sure they don’t scream.

Generally, HOB skimmers have a very small motor that does not generate enough noise to disturb you. However, some skimmers have a faulty structure that obstructs that air tube and ends up creating a very annoying sound when the bubbles pop out.

If you have placed your tank in a quiet ambiance, then this sound might be disturbing, especially if you have set up an automatic timer to clean the skimmer at night. So make sure to choose a silent HOB skimmer. In our tests, we have found the Bubble Magus QQ1 to be the most silent product.

4. Type of Material Used

The type of material used determines how long a hang-on protein skimmer will work for and also its efficiency. Though most of them are made of plastic material, it is important to check whether it is sturdy enough. Skimmers made of weak plastic tend to wear out within a few months and cause leaks.

The most common points of weaknesses are the sponge and the hooks that are used to hang the skimmers. Some cheap hang-on protein skimmers are equipped with a delicate sponge that dissolves in water and compromises the entire operation. And if the hooks crack or break, installing the skimmers, you won’t be able to use them.

So to avoid such a situation, make sure that you buy a HOB skimmer from a reputable brand, even if it costs you a few extra dollars.

What Exactly Is a Protein Skimmer and How Does It Work?

Protein skimmers are also known as foam fractionators. These are mechanical devices that can easily remove organic waste materials from aquarium water. Thus, they maintain clear crystal water and improve the overall quality of the aquarium’s environment.

They might look complicated, but protein skimmers are simple machines. They consist of a reactor that mixes air particles with water to create foam. This foam is made up of tiny air bubbles which capture the organic wastes present in the water. When all the debris gets drawn out with bubbles, it is trapped in the foam.

This waste foam, also called skimmate, gets pushed to the skimmer’s neck and is collected in the collection cup. Then you can simply remove the cup and discard the waste.

Why Is a Protein Skimmer Necessary for Your Aquarium?

An aquarium tank requires multiple components to help the fishes and other creatures survive and thrive. Among them, filtration is one of the most aspects that directly affect your fish’s lifespan.

If left as is, the water becomes polluted with ammonia and other harmful particles that can have a significant impact on your fish’s health and lifespan. Therefore it is necessary to use a hang-on back skimmer to filter out the biological wastes to clean up the water and make it healthy for the fishes to thrive in.

Apart from regular fish tanks, these HOB skimmers are also ideal for reef aquariums. In natural conditions, reefs get flushed repeatedly with millions of gallons of seawater, which regularly clean them and prevent any kind of dirt to build up.

But since closed aquatic systems do not have the same water current, more substances start accumulating on your reef. This can create a toxic environment for your reefs and other living creatures. Using a HOB protein skimmer, you can avoid such a situation and get sparkling clear water without and yellow tint.

Why Are HOB Skimmers Important?

A hang-on-back skimmer has an important component that you must not overlook while setting up your tank to promote a healthy ecosystem. Though it has a significant share in keeping your water clean, it has other advantages also.

– It works fine without a sump.

A regular skimmer needs the support of the sump system to get fixed in the tank. On the other hand, HOB skimmers work flawlessly even in the absence of a sump system. This is because the HOB skimmer, as its name suggests, is hung on the back of your fish tank and does not require any additional modifications or complex sump setup to work.

– It doesn’t decrease the aesthetic value of your tank.

Since the HOB skimmers are compact, they can be either hung internally or externally. So they don’t mess with the aesthetics of your aquarium. The external protein skimmer can be fixed on the back of the tank and disappear from the background. Additionally, you can remove them whenever you want and only re-attach them when you need them.

– They are ideal for smaller aquariums.

If your aquarium size is under 80 gallons, then hang-on back skimmers are perfect for cleaning your tank. This is because they are designed to work silently and are also very power effective compared to regular skimmers. Moreover, they are very compact and lightweight, which allows them to be simply hung on the aquarium’s walls themselves.

– They are easy to install.

The HOB protein skimmers installation is super easy and demands less maintenance. All you have to do is assemble the device and hang it internally or externally based on your convenience. They do not require you to make any modifications with your tank or any special stand or holders to hold them in place.


Hob protein skimmersProtein Skimmers are an essential component to maintain a healthy ecosystem for your aquarium and promote their lifespan. However, finding the right one can be challenging.

After reviewing some of the best-rated HOB skimmers, we can confidently say that the Coralife Super Protein Skimmer beats the competition.

This high-performance skimmer can be fixed internally or hung externally. Though it is a bit pricey, it comes with unique features that can keep your aquarium water crystal clear.

5/5 - (16 votes)


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