The aquarium hobby has grown tremendously in the last few years. More and more people are looking for a way to bring a touch of nature into their homes, but with this growth comes a lot of confusion.
One area where you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed is when it comes to selecting the right fish tank filter. To help you choose wisely, we have compiled all the information that you need to know about these filters and how they work.
Aren’t All Fish Tank Filters Created Equal?
Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but fish tank filters are not created equal. Some function better than others, while some perform specific functions ideal for certain conditions.
They also differ according to price and how often they need to be maintained. I will be delving into the different choices you have regarding aquarium filters and how you can select the right filter for you.
Are Aquarium Filters That Important?
Very important. Fish tank filters are an absolute must in any aquarium. Along with fish tank heaters, aquarium filters form a system that ensures the living conditions in a tank are suitable for healthy and vibrant fish.
Selecting a fish tank filter that is right for you is more of a personal matter. While different types of filters function differently, they all perform the same functions: filtering the water of debris and externals that would reduce water quality.
How Do Fish Tank Filters Work?
Fish tank filters do one or more of the following tasks when filtering: chemical, mechanical and biological.
Chemical filtration involves the removal of toxins and dissolved matter, usually through activated carbon. The carbon filter is extremely porous and traps waste and phosphates in its pores. Other than these, it will also be able to remove odor and ammonia from the water.
While it isn’t all that important to perform chemical filtration, it can be useful, especially in a tank meant for quarantine to filter out the excess chemicals used for treatment.
Mechanical filtration is the process of removing large waste and sediments from the tank. This is the most basic filtration but is no less important.
Biological filtration is a crucial filtration task. Colonies of beneficial bacteria are used in biological filters to remove toxins and decay from the aquarium. This form of filtration is an absolute must to have a healthy and thriving tank of fish.
Choices Of Fish Tank Filters
Usually, almost all fish tank filters perform mechanical and biological filtration. You will find chemical filtration as an add-on to the more expensive range of filters.
Choosing the type of fish tank filter you need will depend on the size of the tank, the quantity of fish, how sensitive the fish are, the budget you are willing to spend on the filter, and the amount of time you have for the fish tank maintenance.
Below is a list of the different kinds of aquarium filters which are commonly sold today:
Also known as Corner Filters, a see-through box is used to hold filter floss and other media. Air is pushed through an air stone which then pumps water into the filter through the floss and filter media which performs mechanical filtration.
Over time, bacterial colony builds up on the filter media providing biological filtration. Box filters are cheap, but you should only consider them for small tanks as they are generally inefficient.
Today, most fish enthusiasts do not favor them because the box placed inside the tank tends to stand out like a sore thumb against the beautiful decoration. They require weekly cleaning but are easy to clean.
These consist of a raised plastic platform with a layer of gravel on the top. By utilizing a pump, water is sucked from under the gravel, forcing it to flow through the gravel, which performs mechanical and eventually biological filtration.
Undergravel filters usually come together with a beginner’s tank that you buy in a complete set. During the weekly cleaning session, you would have to vacuum the layer of sediments that will accumulate just above the gravel.
Reasonably efficient, these filters are usually used as a secondary filter to compliment the filtration of the primary filter. Sponge filters are cheap, but maintaining them can be messy because you’d need to remove the sponge from the tank for cleaning before replacing it again.
These are the most common filters used by most fish enthusiasts. Power filters provide a complete filtration process and are generally very efficient. Their mid-range prices, efficient filtration, and easy maintenance make this the most popular fish tank filter sold today. Just suitable for a mid-size tank.
These filters are meant for larger tanks that require powerful filters. Canister filters are expensive, but they provide the perfect filtration solution. They require very little maintenance, usually just a couple of times a year. Also, the filter is totally out of the water, so maintenance does not involve the water in the tank at all.
Think carefully about the fish tank filter you wish to buy because it should be an investment that is supposed to last you for many years. Choosing the correct fish tank filter will ensure healthy and vibrant fish and a hobby that will be satisfying.
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.