All you need to know about Fish Tank Filtration in one post: I hope I’m not going to bore you to death here. But hey, it’s crucial.
Why is filtration necessary?
Quick answer: Because your tank cannot operate without a healthy bacteria colony. Your fish tank filtration system is where your bacteria colony lives. Here they thrive and work their buts off to keep your tank toxin-free and healthy.
Types of fish tank filters and how they work (but only my favorites)
There are various filters available today for us to choose from. I will touch base on the most popular choices and try to explain each of them in detail. I wouldn’t want you up all night reading endless paragraphs of technical data, only to forget it all by the morning and after 200 cups of coffee.
I just realized that I should probably do a review post of my favorite filters and guide you with your purchasing choices, as they all can and do, range in pricing as can be expected. So, I will give my personal opinion on some Fish Tank Filters that I recommend.
Hanging Power Filters – My Favorite Filter for Small and Medium Tanks
Firstly – these filters are called something else by each manufacturer and fish keeper. I will stick to “hanging power filter” to best describe them for my customers and me.
I am talking about these filters first because of one Super advantage they all have: They take up NO space in your fish tank, so naturally, your fish have more space. You might even spare enough room to add that show guppy you saw at the shop the other day.
These filters hook onto the rim of your tank and do all the hard work OUTSIDE your tank, with only the intake inside the tank.
Let me stop trying to explain – here is an image that will do all the talking for me…
Typically the top-notch models are designed to operate as quietly as possible, and I love the designers for that. These power-houses are driven by impeller pumps that suck water through the intake in your tank and force it through the filter media inside the filter.
Great thing, as you can either stick to what the manufacturer supply as filter media. However, this can become a bit expensive. It is like printers. You buy a printer for next to nothing, but the ink prices are through the ROOF. But you can use your imagination as I often try. Mix up the filtration media to your liking. As long as it fits inside the filter housing, you’re good to go.
Oi Vei – and there is another post I have to do: DIY Filter media setups. Watch this space.
See how much babbling I did on that filter type? Only because I like them so much.
Other Filter Types (Quick run down for consistency)
Under Gravel Filters (or UGF)
Under gravel filters or UGF, as many lazy tongues call them, have been around since humans started keeping fish.
These filters are installed before you add your substrate. They are powered by air pumps and also have a small footprint. Of course, they are not the best filter system. But I do include them as extra filtration.
I don’t recommend UGF’s (see, lazy tongue myself) for planted tanks, though. More about that in another post about Planted Fish Tanks.
So – these are my second favorite type of filter. They are built for larger tanks and are the BOMB in filtration. These puppies can handle enormous workloads.
The same as with hanging filters, they take no space in your tank. Maybe a more significant advantage is that they usually stand on the floor on a cabinet, with only two pipes inside your tank.
These filters are the Rolls Royce of fish tank filtration. And with that, I mean they are EXPENSIVE! Purely because of the high price tags, these are NOT listed as my favorite kind.
See, I have too many tanks to afford a canister filter for each of them. Also, you really cannot use these in smaller tanks (under 50 Gallons). They are too strong.
But hey – if you are investing hundreds or thousands of $$$’s on a proper fish tank, then you should invest in the best filter for your tank. You cannot go wrong with a canister for larger tanks. All my show tanks do use canisters.
For any tank of 100 gallons and more, you cannot use any other type of filter system. But be warned, again: canister filters are pricey. However, the value over investment is probably worth every penny.
Maintaining a canister filter is child’s play. You disconnect it from the intake and outlet tubing and clean it.
Filter media options are endless because of all the space and compartments in a canister filter. You can mix it up to find just the right formula for your tank, pocket, and needs.
That’s it, folks! I told you I’m only covering filters that I trust, love, and use personally.
Maybe I will start with my reviews post now and dig into more details of what is out there for you to choose from.
I cannot wait for your comments on this topic, so please leave your comments for me below. Let’s chat!
Jesse is the principal author of this blog. He is an avid fishkeeper with rich experience spanning several years. He is here to share his knowledge and ensure you also have a guiding compass, as he did with his father.