The protein skimmer is considered to be an essential piece of equipment nowadays and assists greatly in the maintenance of high quality seawater. The device removes much of the dissolved organic material (DOM) that could accumulate. Anyone who has seen the dark stinky ‘yuk’ in a protein skimmer collection cup will never be without one.
All protein skimmers work on the same principle and manufacturers do not have any secret methods. What they do have is the expertise and mechanization to mass produce. There isn’t a need to buy a commercial unit however, provided the aquarist has some confidence in his/her DIY ability, and also has access to the required materials. Most have this access nowadays, if not locally through the internet.
If the aquarist takes a little time and carefully looks at a protein skimmer in a shop or at a friend’s it will be seen that they are basically simple. Seawater is moved from the aquarium and through a bubble chamber where the DOM is removed and collected in a cup. The method of moving the seawater and creating the bubbles vary.
This is not an attempt to advise that commercial products are poor – many are very good indeed and do the job well. However, they’re not the cheapest devices on the market! A basically competent DIYer can save money and still have a skimmer that does a good job, and also have the pride of ‘I did that.’ Most aquarists go for the commercial products and fair enough, but some…well, why not?
Seeing some of the skimmer plans for the first time can be a little daunting, but they’re not as bad as they first appear. Here’s a link and there is useful information here too in addition to plans: