Living Sea Aquarium
811 West Devon avenue
Park Ridge, Illinois 60068
Tel:(847) 698-7258


Hours of Operation:
Mon-Thurs   11:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Fri   11:30 AM - 9:00 PM
Sat   11:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Sun   11:30 AM - 4:00 PM
Email Address

The following excerpt has been taken from the Reef Notes series of books featuring questions answered by Julian Sprung and have been printed here with his full permission. Please check back frequently as we will be adding different topics on a regular basis. All previously printed topic will be held in an archive link.

Topic: Protein Skimming
Q: I just finished reading an advertisement for "algae filters" which stated "protein skimmers damage your system!" Is this true?

A: Protein skimmers damaging the system? That is a most misleading claim. Certainly not! The protein skimmer is the single most important filter device for maintaining water quality.

That protein skimmers can and do remove plankton from water is not damanging to water quality. It is damaging to plankton, sure, but not water quality. We are not tryig to maintain plankton. We are trying to maintain a reef ecosystem. If we were trying to prevent destruction to plankton, then we had better remove all of the filter feeders too! I hope that you can appreciate the truth in this.

To add a further twist, the fact that protein skimmers remove phytoplankton means they are a sort of algal filter... By exporting skimmed phytoplankton they do what is done when the aquarist harvests algae from an algal turf filter. In addition protien skimmers remove all sorts of organic compounds that otherwise accumulate or decompose, to the detriment of water quality.

In my opinion protein skimming is by far the simplest to use and most effective means of water purification. When protein skimming is combined with the complete biological filtration found in living sand and rock substrates, one has a very good system for maintaining a reef ecosystem in closed aquariums.