Inspiring Ideas for Modern Home

8 Best HOB Protein Skimmers of 2023 Reviewed

Maintaining the water quality in your fish tank is vital for the survival of your fish friends. Now, you can make it happen with the right protein skimmer.

Cartoon freshwater fishes in tank aquarium vector illustration.

Also known as foam fractionators, these water filtration devices will ensure that the water stays clean and the fishes can live a long life. They also keep the nitrate levels in check, and you will find the water to be more clear.

Choosing a HOB or a 'hang on back' model will ensure that you utilize the least amount of space possible. We had a shortage of space inside the tank, and that's when the HOB versions came to our rescue.

But the problem is that there are multiple choices in the market, and choosing one can be quite challenging.

To save you from a stressful expedition, this comprehensive and unbiased list of 8 exceptional options has been curated. We have also included a buyer's guide to help you choose the right one for your needs.

So, without further ado, let's dive in!

Best HOB Protein Skimmers 

Corals in a Marine Aquarium.

Here is the list of the 8 best HOB protein skimmers that you can use to keep the water in your fish tank clean and healthy.

1. AquaMaxx HOB-1.5 Hang-On-Back Protein Skimmer - Best for Silent Efficiency

In the first position, we have the AquaMaxx HOB-1.5 Hang-On-Back Protein Skimmer, which is known for its brilliant performance. It will help eliminate all your algae problems inside the tank and will give you a sparkling clean aquarium to boast of.

RUIYUXIN USB AquaMaxx HOB-1.5 Hang-On-Back Protein Skimmer
  • AquaMaxx HOB-1.5 protein skimmers is easy to setup and...
  • Efficient, durable and reliable, Simple to set up and...

Why Did We Like It?

We loved the upgraded AquaMaxx Shark pump, which could draw up ample amounts of air and break it down into bubbles. This boosted the overall performance of the fish tank. Furthermore, the pump is placed inside the skimmer to save space and improve efficiency. If you are expecting the pump to be noisy, rest assured that you will have a completely silent experience.

Besides, it is very easy to set up and maintain. We found a collection cup that can be easily removed and cleaned separately.

It is also compatible with 90 gallons of water, making it fit for small to medium-sized aquariums. We were thrilled with the versatility of this option. 

Lastly, it works very quickly and takes no time to fit in. We attached the skimmer in the morning, after which we fed our fish. Immediately the skimmer started working, and a thick layer of foam formed on the top.

What Could've Been Better?

Our only problem with this product was that the manual was not very clear. We had to watch videos online to understand how to assemble the parts. The process in itself is not very difficult, but easier and more detailed instructions in the installation guide could have saved us more time.


  • AquaMaxx SHARK 1.0 pump used
  • Comes with a compact design
  • Does not make noise
  • Equipped with a drain fitting


  • Manual could be better

Dimensions: 7.5" x 3.5" x 17" | Weight: 7.8lbs | Capacity: Up to 90 Gallons | Material: Cell-Cast Acrylic

2. Coral Vue Technology BH-1000 Octopus with External Pump - Best for Tight Spaces

In the second position, we have a unit that works very well with tight spaces. The Coral Vue Technology BH-1000 Octopus with External Pump can easily fit behind the tank because of its compact nature. It will also not heat your aquarium while functioning, keeping the water temperature in control.

CoralVue Technology BH-1000 Octopus with External 1000 Pump...
  • Coral vue octopus with external 1000 pump 100gal
  • This design also allows for easy removal of the pump for...

Why Did We Like It?

This product can deal with a large capacity of 100 gallons and will work with medium to large-sized tanks very well. Also, it will hang behind the outer wall with the water pump just under the skimmer.

Another great advantage is the easy cleaning process. Most models do not allow complete dismantling, and that makes it difficult to clean some parts. But here, the body can be taken apart entirely, and can hence, be cleaned adequately.

Not only that, but the process of setting it up is also straightforward. You will be getting a booklet with the pack, which will guide you throughout. Follow it carefully, and you will be done within half an hour.

Made with high-grade acrylic, the body is sturdy and is 8 inches wide, 17 inches tall, and 3.5 inches deep.

What Could've Been Better?

We felt that the constant humming sound could be annoying if the aquarium is placed near your bed. While it skims well, the noise can be bothersome, so we suggest that you keep the tank at a distance from the sofas or beds. The best place would be to keep it in the hallway.


  • Easy to clean
  • Set-up process is easy
  • Incredibly sturdy
  • Cost-effective


  • Pump is noisy

Dimensions: 3.5" x 8" x 17"  | Weight: N/A | Capacity: 100 Gallons | Material: Acrylic

3. Coralife 05271 Super Skimmer with Pump - Best for Versatile Placement

In the 3rd position, we have the Coralife 05271 Super Skimmer, which is known for its unique patented needle wheel aspiration system. This is also popular for the different models that take care of aquariums with a capacity of 65 gallons to 220 gallons covering big and small versions.

Coralife Super Protein Super Skimmer with Energy Saving...
  • 🐠 HIGH PERFORMANCE - The Coralife Super Skimmer has a...
  • 🐠 PATENTED TECHNOLOGY - The needle-wheel system creates a...

Why Did We Like It?

You can attach the pump in two ways. Either it can be used inside the aquarium, or it can be hung with a mounting bracket supporting the frame. This means it works for all kinds of aquariums regardless of whether there is sufficient space inside or not. Our product had a capacity of working with 65 gallons of water; we were easily able to fit with our small-sized tank.

Also, this is equipped with dual injection inlets. This feature helps in increasing the contact time between the water and bubbles. The bubble production diffuser then stops the bubbles from entering your aquarium. 

We loved the amount of thought that the company has put into manufacturing this highly detailed unit. One thing about this is that if you can keep it clean, it will last for a long.

Coming to the collection cup, we were delighted to find a wide-neck one with a very simple twist feature, which enabled us to clean it easily too.

What Could've Been Better?

We found that the product was difficult to set up. The manual was not efficient, and it lacked clear instructions. You will also not find any pictures of the process. It is best to look up videos on youtube and then proceed with the assembly. This is indeed one area where the company can improve.


  • Features dual injection inlets
  • Bubble production diffuser
  • Can be fixed in two ways


  • Difficult to set up

Dimensions: 4.25" x 5.5" x 20.75" | Weight: 0.25lbs | Capacity: 65 to 220 Gallons | Material: Acrylic

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

If you are looking for a high-quality product to take care of your small fish tank, the Macro Aqua M-50 Mini Hang-on External Protein Skimmer is an incredible pick. It is perfect for tanks with a capacity of 60 gallons and will efficiently remove all the protein wastes from it.

Macro Aqua M-50 Mini Hang-on External Protein Skimmer, 60...
  • High quality protein skimmer for up to 60 gallon tank...
  • Small hang-on back skimmer; Water Flow: 238gph

Why Did We Like It?

Like most of its peers, this unit can be hung from the back of your tank and will take up very little space. It is one of the most compact models, and you would not have any problems fitting it in.

We loved the collection cup, which can be removed easily to dispose of the organic waste. It has sufficient holding capacity, and you will not have to clean it daily. Just keep a watch on this cup and clean it once the foam reaches the top.

Also, this device is equipped with a needle-to-wheel impeller, too, which increases the infusion of air and water, creating microbubbles. A bubble plate will keep these bubbles from entering the tank. 

 To top it all, it is moderately quiet and will not disturb you at all. Being the smallest skimmer in this list, if you place it correctly, it will not be noticeable at all. The guest's attention will only be drawn to your beautiful fish tank.

What Could've Been Better?

The only issue here is that there are far too many holes than we would like on the closing lid. These holes lead to a part of the foam escaping instead of moving towards the overflow tube. This should not be a big problem as most of the foam is cleared efficiently, but a lesser number of holes would have been better.


  • Easy to install and operate
  • Waste disposal is very simple
  • No priming required


  • Too many holes in the closing lid

Dimensions: 5.5" x 5.5" x 13.5" | Weight: 2.12lbs | Capacity: Up to 60 Gallons | Material: Plastic

5. Bubble Magus QQ1 Hang-On Nano Protein Skimmer

Next up is a small product that delivers just the right amount of power. The Bubble Magus QQ1 Hang-On Nano Protein Skimmer is a perfect option to choose to take care of your tank's filtration needs. It is the best fit for smaller tanks with a capacity of 25 gallons or less.

Bubble Magus QQ1 Hang-On Nano Protein Skimmer
  • Dimensions: 5.8"L x 4.4"W x 10.5"H
  • Maximum Aquarium Thickness: 12mm

Why Did We Like It?

For all those with a severe shortage of space, this product will be a great fit as it takes up only 3.5 inches behind the fish tank.

Like most of its peers, this is very easy to handle. Adjust the cup height according to your tank, and that's all the setting up that is required. You can hang it behind your tank and plug it in. It will work efficiently without making noise. We placed it in our study and were very happy with the noise-free functioning. 

Furthermore, to reduce the micro bubbles from entering the aquarium, this product has a bubble reducer. It is an essential part and prevents the mixing of proteins back into the water. But to keep the water clean, you should clear the collection cup as soon as it is full.

What Could've Been Better?

The overflow tube works well but is a little too short. This may lead to the cup overflowing at times. We would have preferred a bigger cup or a longer tube, which would have served the purpose better. But for the price it comes in, this is a great deal.


  • Adjustable body
  • Foam bubble reducer
  • Easy to assemble
  • Takes only 3.5 inches of space


  • Short over-flow tube

Dimensions: 5.8" x 4.4" x 10.5" | Weight: 3.72lbs | Capacity: Up to 25 Gallons | Material: Plastic

6. Coral Vue Technology AC20197 Octopus Hang-On Back Skimmer

Are you looking for a user-friendly product that will serve your basic needs perfectly? The CoralVue Technology AC20197 Hang-On Back Skimmer is a compact product that is made for small-sized tanks. We found it to be very efficient and easy to use.

Coral Vue Technology AC20197 Octopus Hang-On Back Skimmer...
  • Our bh-100 is our entry level hang on back skimmer design
  • The pump is mounted externally so it will sit inside the...

Why Did We Like It?

First of all, this is powered by a Hailea OTP pump, which aims for top-quality performance. It is accompanied by a gate valve, which will help you adjust the water level. If you want more water flow, just open the valve further. If you tighten the valve entrance, it will immediately decrease the flow.

Along with this, the 4-inch cone neck makes this process quicker. It enables the easy transfer of biological wastes in the form of bubbles to your collection cup. The collection cup has adequate capacity and will be able to hold a lot of foam at one time. 

Also, it is very easy to clean once the cup is full. Just take it out carefully and wash it. This should clear the water and give you a hygienic aquatic world.

Overall we were satisfied with the work and the affordable price that it comes in.

What Could've Been Better?

The device will work really well after the break-in period, but you might be facing trouble before that. We found that there was a strange sound coming from the motor which completely disappeared after 15 days. It would have been better if the break-in period was shorter.


  • 4-inch cone neck
  • Easy to clean
  • Gate valve for water level adjustment


  • Long break-in period

Dimensions: N/A | Weight: N/A | Capacity: Up to 60 Gallons | Material: Acrylic

7. Reef Octopus Classic 100-HOB Protein Skimmer

If you are looking for a skimmer that is easy to operate, the Reef Octopus Classic 100-HOB Protein Skimmer will serve you excellently. It is a hang-on product that takes up very little space and can be easily mounted to the back of the fish tank. Plug it in, and it starts skimming immediately with no break-in time required.

Reef Octopus 100 HOB w/Surface Skimmer
  • The Reef Octopus Classic 100-HOB Protein Skimmer is a...
  • To install, simply place the skimmer on the back of the...

Why Did We Like It?

Made to fit tanks with 105 gallons capacity, this unit is known for heavy-duty skimming. Our aquarium water had turned greenish, and we knew it had a lot of biological waste in it. But after letting this product work for a day, the water cleared up, and finally, the fishes are properly visible. This has also led to the fish surviving for longer.

The reason behind its brilliant functioning is a sturdy pump. It is powered by an Aquatrance pinwheel pump and has the ability to work for long hours without any hindrance. Rest assured that you will always have a clean tank. All you need to do is clean the collector cup whenever it is filled. 

Also, the maximum water flow rate is 350 l/h, and it can be adjusted according to your needs. You would just need to tighten or loosen a screw to adjust the flow.

Additionally, this unit also has a silencer that eliminates sounds and ensures quiet running.

What Could've Been Better?

We found that the product is heavier than most of its peers. It weighs 8.55 pounds, and hence, the tank has to be strong enough to handle the weight. Since you will have to hang it onto the backside, ensure that the tank is sturdy before opting for this. Also, check the size of the rim to see if it is thick enough to support this.


  • A maximum flow rate of 350 l/h
  • 8-watt pump power
  • Has silencers to eliminate sounds
  • Easy to clean


  • Weighs 8.55 pounds

Dimensions: 19.49" x 10.51" x 9.41" | Weight: 8.55lbs | Capacity: Up to 105 Gallons | Material: Acrylic

8. Coralife Biocube Protein Skimmer

Designed to fit up to 32-gallon tanks, this product is known for its extremely great filtration system. The Coralife Biocube Protein Skimmer will be a great addition to your aquarium and will come with all the needed parts in the kit. You will get a flow valve, air pump, and tubing with the pack itself.

Coralife Biocube Protein Skimmer
  • Effectively removes dissolved organics from saltwater
  • For BioCubes and standard aquariums up to 32 gallons in size

Why Did We Like It?

This is a perfect fit for BioCube aquariums of sizes 16, 29, and 32. Powered by a heavy-duty air pump, and sturdy flow valve tubing, you can expect a consistent flow of air and water to create the microbubbles. We loved how fast it started skimming without faltering at all.

Besides this, it fits in easily with your tank, and you simply have to hang it inside the back wall filtration chamber. Being lightweight and compact, it takes up less area and will not add to the overall weight of the tank. 

Also, it is known to be very durable, and we have been using it for a year without having to replace any of the parts. In case you need to replace, the parts are very easily available, and you can order them online. Just make sure that they are compatible with the product before purchasing.

What Could've Been Better?

The product worked very well, but the instructions are not sufficient. They do not help at all, and you will need additional guidance. Call up customer care to ask for assistance, or you can watch youtube tutorial videos. There are multiple ones that can help with information about how to use it.


  • Easy to clean
  • Fits most built-in filtration system
  • Efficient airflow valve


  • Instructions are not sufficient

Dimensions: 4" x 3.13" x 11.75" | Weight: 1lb | Capacity: 16 to 32 Gallons | Material: Plastic

Best HOB Protein Skimmer Comparison Table

AquaMaxx HOB7.5" x 3.5" x 17"7.8lbsUp to 90 GallonsCell-Cast Acrylic
Coral Vue Technology BH-10003.5" x 8" x 17"N/A100 GallonsAcrylic
Coralife 052714.25" x 5.5" x 20.75"0.25lbs65 to 220 GallonsAcrylic
Macro Aqua M-505.5" x 5.5" x 13.5"2.12lbsUp to 60 GallonsPlastic
Bubble Magus QQ15.8" x 4.4" x 10.5"3.72lbsUp to 25 GallonsPlastic
Coral Vue Technology AC20197N/AN/AUp to 60 GallonsAcrylic
Reef Octopus Classic 100-HOB19.49" x 10.51" x 9.41"8.55lbsUp to 105 GallonsAcrylic
Coralife Biocube Protein Skimmer4" x 3.13" x 11.75"1lbUp to 32 GallonsPlastic

Aquarium underwater cartoon set with corals stones seaweeds seashells thermometer filter packaging food for fish vector illustration

Buying Guide For The Best HOB Protein Skimmer

HOB skimmers are essential in keeping the water inside your fish tanks clean and in maintaining healthy aquatic life. They can be placed inside or may be hung on the back in case there is less space. These will assist you in chemical and biological filtration while increasing the lifespan of the fish.

Now that you have gone through the 8 top products, you will know that each one is unique in its own way. They have different capacities and come with variations.

To help you make a choice, we have detailed the critical points that need to be kept in mind. We hope this guides you toward buying the one that fits the best.

Air Bubbles

It is through air bubbles that the contamination and protein are taken out of the aquarium. Also, one should know that smaller bubbles ensure better performance. But again, on the other hand, too tiny bubbles would not be able to clean all the organic waste.

Pay attention to the type of bubbles as they will determine the overall functioning.

Bubble Reducer

While it is important to have the bubbles form by mixing air and water, it is also essential that the bubbles are prevented from entering the aquarium. This would only mean that the impurities re-enter the tank.

To prevent this, many aquariums come with a bubble reducer or a bubble eliminator plate. This is of great benefit as it acts as an extra layer of protection in keeping the water clean and free of protein. So check for this feature before purchasing.

Capacity Of The Tank

What is the size of your tank? This is a vital factor in choosing a model, as every skimmer will not work with every tank. If you have a nano-sized tank, you can choose smaller options that are fit for 25-30 gallons of water.

If you have a medium-sized tank, a skimmer with a capacity of 60-100 gallons will work well, while for larger tanks, there are options that can deal with even 220 gallons of water.


Although these devices are not extremely loud, the sound of bubbles forming may be slightly irritating if it occurs constantly. If you are going to place an aquarium in the study, you will want a silent device that would not be a source of distraction. So, pay close attention to this factor before purchasing.

Installation process

The process of installation may get complicated for some models. It is important to adjust your product carefully according to the height of the water in your tank. Also, the cup has to be attached in a way so as to collect the maximum foam without overflowing. The overflow tube also needs to be adjusted to prevent leakage of any kind.

If this is the first time that you are purchasing a skimmer, follow the instruction booklet carefully, and do not skip the steps. Also, if the booklet is not sufficient, then watch video tutorials on youtube, which will guide you further.

We even contacted customer service when we were stuck. It is always better to take help to ensure efficient performance.

Material Used

Although these skimmers are not made of very sturdy material, it is important that you draw a line somewhere. While most of them are made with plastic, check to see if they are sturdy enough. Weak plastic may cause leakage and may wear out with time.

So, make sure that you inspect the product well upon receiving it. In case you are not satisfied, ask for a replacement or turn to another product.

HOB Protein Skimmers FAQs

  • Are HOB protein skimmers energy efficient?

    Energy efficiency varies between models. Look for a skimmer with low energy consumption, as it will cost less to run and reduce its environmental impact.

  • Will adding a HOB protein skimmer to my aquarium cause any changes to the water chemistry?

    HOB skimmers primarily remove organic waste and excess nutrients, which can improve water quality and clarity. While some pH fluctuation may occur, this is generally minimal and not a cause for concern.

  • Can I use a HOB protein skimmer on a freshwater aquarium?

    HOB protein skimmers are designed for marine and reef aquariums. They are less efficient in freshwater due to lower salt concentration, so alternative filtration systems are recommended.

  • How do I install a HOB protein skimmer?

    Installation typically involves hanging the skimmer on the back of the aquarium, connecting it to the air pump, and adjusting the water and air flow rates to achieve optimal performance.

  • How long does it take for a new HOB protein skimmer to start producing skimmate?

    A new HOB protein skimmer may take a few days to a week to break in. During this time, the skimmer may not produce skimmate until it stabilizes.

  • How do I know if my HOB protein skimmer is working effectively?

    If your skimmer is working effectively, it should produce skimmate in the collection cup. Check the cup regularly for the presence of dark, foul-smelling fluid.

  • Can I over-skim my aquarium?

    Over-skimming removal of too many beneficial nutrients is unlikely, as HOB skimmers are generally less aggressive than larger, in-sump skimmers.

  • How do I adjust my HOB protein skimmer for optimal performance?

    Adjust the water and air flow rates according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. The bubbles should reach the neck of the skimmer before breaking, optimizing skimmate collection.

  • How often should I clean my HOB protein skimmer?

    To ensure peak performance, clean the collection cup at least once a week, or when it becomes full. Periodic disassembly and cleaning of the entire skimmer is also recommended.

  • Young woman touching a fish-tank behind the camera at the aquarium


    Understanding the importance of a protein skimmer is vital for maintaining a healthy and crystal-clear aquarium environment. With a plethora of products available, it can be quite overwhelming to choose the best HOB protein skimmer for your specific needs. After analyzing various products in this category, we've brought to you the top three expert recommendations based on different factors:

    For silent efficiency, the AquaMaxx HOB-1.5 Hang-On-Back Protein Skimmer is an ideal option. It excels in performance, the pump is silent, and it is easy to set up and maintain. Apart from being compatible with up to 90-gallon tanks, it is versatile and works quickly to produce a thick layer of foam for efficient waste removal.

    For those dealing with tight spaces, the Coral Vue Technology BH-1000 Octopus with External Pump is a good option. With its compact nature, it easily fits behind tanks without heating up the aquarium. The cleaning process is also easy with the entirely removable body. This excellent model works up to 100 gallons, making it suitable for medium to large-sized tanks.

    Lastly, the Coralife 05271 Super Skimmer with Pump is the right choice for versatile placement and its patented needle wheel aspiration system. It is suitable for both small and large tanks, ranging from 65 to 220 gallons. The dual injection inlets and bubble production diffuser help increase the efficiency of this unit.

    By selecting the right protein skimmer, you're taking a critical step in maintaining a healthy and spectacular aquatic experience for both you and your aquatic pets.

    Happy shopping!

    Related Articles

    13 Best Portable Fish Finders to Enjoy Today

    Best Fish Cleaning Tables Right Now

    21 Intriguingly Captivating Jellyfish Pendant Light Ideas

    Read next

    Close-up of a laser circular saw at a construction site. Products for home and garden and production. Building tool

    9 Best Dry Cut Metal Chop Saws

    Gardeners are spraying.

    10 Best Garden Sprayer of 2023 [Reviewed & Buyer’s Guide]