SC Aquariums SCA-301 Protein Skimmer Review

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Saltwater tanks, when maintained properly, are extraordinarily beautiful. As you likely know, though, that beauty requires a great deal of maintenance. This is where protein skimmers come in handy.

In particular, SC Aquariums SCA-301 Protein Skimmer is one such device for amateur and expert aquarists alike. Easy assembly and simple cleaning make this protein skimmer for saltwater aquariums a good deal.

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When compared to others of its kind that cost an arm and a leg, this model is affordable without losing any functionality or quality.

Check out our SCA-301 Protein Skimmer review below!

We’ll cover all the details, good and bad, so you can decide if it’s right for you.

SC Aquariums SCA-301 Protein Skimmer: The Details

Specs

  • Weight: 25 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 7 x 4.2 x 17.5.
  • Capacity: 65 gallons.
  • Minimum and Maximum Water Level: Five-inch and seven-inch, respectively.
  • Type of Skimmer: Skimmer with an air pump to push water through the chamber.
  • Warranty: One year.

Features

Maintenance

Let’s be honest here, no one likes cleaning. Skimmate is especially smelly and unpleasant to deal with.

Thankfully, cleaning out the collection cup on the SCA-301 Skimmer is surprisingly easy. Simply pop off the lid and remove the skimmate with a paper towel.

This is a useful feature for hobbyists with multiple tanks, or those who are strapped for time.

More thorough cleaning is not quite so easy, though the skimmer does disassemble smoothly and can be maintained without too much fuss.

The Pump

Rather unusually, there is no proper fixture to keep the 28-watt pump affixed to the body of the skimmer – though there are suction cups on the bottom that will secure the pump to the floor of your tank.

The pump sits underneath the body of the skimmer, with the output jetting up into the chamber to create the microbubbles.

This little pump, too, embodies the saying ‘size doesn’t matter’, as despite being able to fit in the palm of your hand, the pump will churn through 1280 L/h. That’s a lot of power for such a small motor.

Air Silencer

An air silencer is included with the kit at no extra cost, made to reduce the amount of noise that your skimmer emits.

This is great for anyone that keeps their aquarium in a bedroom or living room.

Collection Cup

The collection cup is large enough to not be inconvenient but small enough that it will require cleaning at least once a week – preferably twice a week.

Good news is: cleaning the skimmate from the cup is super easy, and will only take a few minutes of your time.

Easy Assembly

Saltwater aquariums often require complicated machines to maintain a healthy tank, and skimmers can be one of the said machines.

best protein skimmer

Fortunately, customers do not need extensive experience with protein skimmers to assemble the 301 – which is good, considering that the user manual that comes with the 301 is barebones.

Drain Line

Connected to the collection cup is a drain line that will funnel away excess moisture and skimmate if the cup isn’t cleaned regularly.

This is useful for anyone that genuinely doesn’t have the time for skimmer cleaning (or simply doesn’t want to do it), or who wants to go on holiday trips without turning the skimmer off.

SC Aquariums SCA-301 Protein Skimmer Review

The Positives

Price

Not everyone can make it rain with cash, and thus must stay within a budget. Brand name skimmers can cost hundreds of your hard earned dollars, and top end skimmers can cost well over a thousand.

The 301 is sold for under $100, making it great for those looking to test the waters of protein skimmers while operating on a budget.

The one-year warranty is also a nice incentive to test out what affordable skimmers are like. This way, you won’t have to worry about ending up with a malfunctioning product.

For the first year of ownership, this limited warranty will cover the cost to repair or replace your skimmer due to manufacturing errors or mistakes in craftsmanship.

Built with Quality 

It’s impressive that SC Aquariums is able to keep the price of this protein skimmer so low, given its quality.

You can expect your skimmer to last (with proper care) thanks to the acrylic and materials used.

sca-301 protein skimmer review

The silencer ensures that you won’t be distracted by the noise of your skimmer and the acrylic holds up against cracks and breaks.

You can count on this to be reliable too, so you won’t come home to any unwanted surprises.

Good for Beginners

Easy assembly and simple maintenance make for a skimmer great for beginner tanks!

Newbies to protein skimmers won’t feel daunted by setting up the system, nor will they struggle with maintenance and thorough cleanings.

Though we should mention, this ease of use with this product makes life easier not just for beginners, but for aquarists of all backgrounds. So if you’re looking to make a switch, know the learning curve will be minimal.

Gentle on Tanks

Anyone with delicate flora and fauna in their aquariums can rest easy with the 301.

Though certainly powerful, this skimmer’s outflow will not disturb even the gentlest eco-systems, while still circulating clean, oxygenated water through the tank.

Plus, those with smaller tanks won’t have to sacrifice too much space for the 301, as it has a compact design and a small footprint.

Whether you are aquascaping or keeping a populated tank, this skimmer won’t take up a great deal of room and will sit unobtrusively in any aquarium.

Fast Shipping

No one likes waiting for their order to arrive. Suspense supposedly makes the ending all the sweeter, but come on. Really? We are happy to report that SC Aquariums think poorly of making their customers wait.

After confirming your order, it may as well be Superman delivering your new SCA-301 skimmer, as customers have praised how quickly their purchases arrived.

This is fantastic news for those needing a quick replacement or wanted to set up a new tank ASAP.

Place your order, confirm the shipping details, and the skimmer may be on your doorstep the next day.

Overflow Prevention

Ever want to head out of town for a week or two, but can’t find anyone willing to deal with the gunk in your skimmer so that it doesn’t overflow?

sca-301 review

Of course you have, which means you either have a wonderful friend willing to step up…or you just turned the skimmer off until you came home.

Regardless, the security of a drain line is super handy for those times when you cannot (or just really, really don’t want to) clean out the collection cup.

This set-up solves a lot of issues when it comes to typical skimmers, and we couldn’t be happier!

Customer Service 

Along with the included warranty, customers have been beyond happy with SC Aquariums’ customer service department.

They’ve proven to be helpful and attentive in assisting with issues from set-up to returns, so you shouldn’t hesitate to contact them should you be facing a problem.

When it comes to replacements, they’re as quick as their initial shipping so you’re not left without a skimmer.

The Negatives

Short Drain Line and No Collection Cup

As useful as the drain line is, the tube is rather short and will require you to get creative. Connecting extra tubing or installing a small shelf are two examples other users have come up with.

Another problem is that you don’t get a spare cup for collecting the refuse from the drain line. Again, this is something you can solve yourself with an old container.

sca-301 protein skimmer review

Overall, these aren’t huge problems, given the price of the skimmer, but are worth discussing anyway.

Sensitive to Water Adjustments 

When it comes time to change out water, add new plants or animals to the aquarium, and so forth, the 301 has issues with overflow.

It can take a little adjustment (on your part) to learn how to prevent an overflow from happening. Mostly, keeping a sharp eye on the water level in the tank and in the skimmer will be enough to stop any issues from arising.

Novice saltwater aquarists may want to look up a few how-to guides on good ol’ YouTube to be safe.

Repeated Break-Ins

Full top to bottom cleanings of the 301 will mean that the skimmer needs to be broken in again.

These subsequent break-ins should not take as long as the first (which requires two to three days), a few hours at most, but it may annoy some people.

Here’s a video showing how to clean the SCA-301 and what it looks like out of the box and set-up.

Frequent Collection Cup Cleaning Is Necessary

Even with the drain pipe as an added measure, should the collection cup not be cleaned frequently, the build-up of skimmate will cause the skimmer to not function as well as it should.

The amount of particulates that the skimmer is able to remove will lessen over time – which is why cleaning the cup twice a week is recommended.

Customer Service

We mentioned SC Aquariums’ customer service to be top-notch, but some customers weren’t so lucky.

There seems to be a clash of opinions as some customers were left stranded when it came to resolving issues.

Some found it hard to get into contact with the customer service department which can be frustrating especially when trying to use a warranty.

Overall Verdict

The SC Aquariums SCA-301 is one of the best protein skimmers available for under $100, and is the perfect starting point for amateur saltwater aquarists.

Easy to clean (and thank God, considering how frequently it needs this), easy to assemble, and easy on the eyes, this skimmer is a great addition to any tank.

Though not without its drawbacks, the 301 is a highly capable skimmer that will keep your aquarium in tip-top shape, and one that we can definitely recommend checking out.

Where to Buy the SC Aquariums SCA-301 Protein Skimmer

SC Aquariums may be well known amongst a number of aquarium owners and enthusiasts but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to find.

With limited outlets both in-store and online, chances are, you won’t be bumping into this skimmer on a casual stroll through your local shops.

For now, you can start by checking out the online retailers below.

But of course, you can also find this skimmer on Amazon.

sca-301 review


That’s it for our SCA-301 Protein Skimmer review. Have we tempted you to give it a try?

Staff Writer
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