DIY Protein Skimmer, Try This Just For Fun

If you are in the aquarium hobby then you would have definitely heard of guys building their own DIY protein skimmer. A skimmer is a tool that plays a vital role in keeping your saltwater aquarium clean. Commercial or branded skimmers in the market cost a lot and sometimes when you are at the beginning of the build it is hard on your pocket.

So, today I am discussing with you on how to build a cheap DIY protein skimmer at home.

If you are starting in the hobby then don’t worry, I am going to break down everything I know about protein skimmers.

What is a protein skimmer?

A protein skimmer is a piece of non-chemical equipment that removes compounds like food and waste from the water. If we leave these compounds in the water they would break down and spike up the nitrate level. So, skimmer helps in lowering down levels of nitrate in your aquarium.

How does protein skimmer work?

It is important for you to understand this process because at home you can replicate the same. I will not go into too much of science while explaining its working.

When we release oxygen bubbles in the water there is surface tension. This tension then gives a charge to the molecules and get attached to the bubbles. What happens next is simple the attached molecules rise up with the bubble. Skimmer works the same way but has a collection cup where the molecule is collected. Bubbles are generated in a closed tube.

Is a protein skimmer necessity?

No, they are not absolutely necessary but they can be of great help when it comes to cleaning your tank. Most of the beginners when starting do not have a skimmer.

DIY Building your Own Protein Skimmer

There is no rule that you have to follow for building your own DIY protein skimmer. You can try a different build with different materials. What I did is made the skimmer with the things which were available at home with me. I was just trying to replicate the basic air stone skimmer.

DIY Protein Skimmer

Must Read: Hands-on RS Nano-Air pump Protein Skimmers

Material you need

DIY Protein Skimmer material needed

Plastic water bottles: You need two 1 litre plastic bottles if you check your house you will find them at home. Now if you want to reduce of increase the size of the skimmer then 500 ml or 2 L bottles would do the same.

PVC pipe: PVC pipe is the body of the protein skimmer diameter of the PVC will depend on the plastic bottle you are taking. The pipe should fit tight inside the half-cut plastic bottles.

Wooden Air Stone: Wooden air stone are available in most of the pet stores and online e-markets. These wooden air stones are able to produce the smallest air bubbles if compared to other air stone.

Air pump: Air pump is required because without the bubble making machine the skimmer will not work.

Air pipe: Pipe is required for connecting the air stone to the pump.

Hanging or suction cup: These are required for making the protein skimmer sit straight. Show you creativity if you don’t have them. You just have to make the skimmer stand when it is working.

Silicone: Silicone is for you to close the gaps where the collected dirt can escape.

Building Your DIY Protein Skimmer  

Cut the first bottle from the neck area and the bottom. You will end up having a hollow tube.

Cut the second bottle from the bottom. You will end up having a cone-shaped tube with a hollow in the end.

Place the second bottle inside the first one. If you have gaps between the bottles and seems there can be a leak place the silicone to cover the gaps.

Drill the PVC pipe one at the bottom and one on the top.

From the bottom hole, air pipe will pass connecting to the air stone in site the PVC pipe.

Place the plastic bottles on the top of the PVC pipe. Here you PVC is the body and plastic bottle is the collection cup.

Put the DIY protein skimmer in the water and give it the first time to try. It will definitely work.

Now make sure that the skimmer you have built sits straight in the aquarium. Use suction cups or hangs for that.


There you have it your own skimmer. It is so much fun doing things yourself. The best part of the built is that you use most of the things that are lying around your backyard. Not comparable with commercial, high-performance skimmers which are in the market. It should be kept as a personal home project.

Earlier I told you that there is no rule of the build so below are some videos for you to get inspired in building your DIY. You can also check out ReefBuilders and WikiHow.

Here is Joey from King of DIY is explaining simple steps that you use to build a protein skimmer;

Here is Yohan building a DIY protein skimmer using Voss water bottle;

Great new learning for me in and I hope you would also try on some DIY Protein Skimmer method in your hobby.

I would love to hear about your DIY’s in the comment section. It would be a great help knowing more about what you did in your hobby.

Must Read: Journey in Saltwater Aquarium World


Like always it's my day one in the hobby. Always been a hobbyist but never knew would dive so deep in the hobby. I too started with a freshwater aquarium. When I first started saltwater aquarium it just grew on me and I knew that had to do more in this hobby. I am a Post-Grad in Business Administration have worked with Coldstar Logistics, Amazon and Jindal's before jumping completely in the ocean. Other than aquarium hobby I have my interests in travel, digital games and consumer web technology.

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