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Protein Skimmers: How to Stop & Prevent Skimmer Overflow

Protein Skimmers: How to Stop and Prevent Skimmer Overflow

Common Causes of a Skimmer Overflowing

There are many common compounds used in various chemicals, foods or additives that can lead to a “super-skimming” skimmer and cause it to overflow. When compounds are added to an aquarium, this can change the surface tension of the water leading to micro bubbles, clear skimmate as well as an overflowing collection cup.

Here are a few of the most notorious products that can lead to a skimmer overflowing:

  • Red slime removers
  • Un-rinsed filter socks
  • Clarifiers (especially those included with live sand)
  • Certain foods (such as Selcon)
  • Bacterial supplements
  • Dechlorinators

Pro’s Tip: We recommend turning down or turning off your skimmer prior to using any chemical, food or additive that may be known to cause problems with skimmers. If you have a Simplicity DC Controllable Skimmer or another DC controllable pump, you can simply turn down the speed of the pump without messing with any of your settings. For those of you with non-controllable pumps, you may simply have to turn it off for a bit.

How To Stop a Skimmer From Overflowing

The best practice in this situation would be to remove whatever substance is causing the problem (assuming it has done its job). The best way to do that is to skim the product out.

Video demonstration of an overflowing skimmer

If you have a DC Controllable Skimmer Pump:

First, start by slowing your skimmer pump to a setting slow enough to allow your collection cup to fill over a number of hours. After it fills up, throw out the liquid. Even though it may look clear, it will have loads of the compound making the skimmer go nuts. This is a nice benefit of having a controllable DC skimmer pump because you will more than likely not need to mess with your skimmers tuning. Therefore, you can just slow down the pump. Once you have removed 2-3 full collection cups full of water (this can take a day or even two), your skimmer should start to settle back down allowing you to increase the speed of the pump back to normal.

If you have an AC Skimmer Pump with no speed control:

If you are unable to slow down your pump, another option is to raise your skimmer.  You can use a piece of Tupperware or some other makeshift stand to raise the skimmer, thus allowing the water to exit easily.  If you are unable to raise the skimmer due to height restrictions, you will need to either detune your skimmer or turn it off for a short period of time.

As always, if you need any additional assistance, please contact us and we will be happy to help!

So what will it take for you to trust in Simplicity for your aquarium needs?


With Simplicity Protein Skimmers we promise you will get a well-built, feature-rich, high-performance skimmer that comes at a price-point that is lower than most others on the market. If you're interested in buying our products, please click here for our Store Locator. Are you a dealer? Contact us to learn more about selling our products!

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