Aquarium filtration – Guide to filtration systems


Aquarium filtration is one of the most important things that must be considered when it comes to setting up a home aquarium for the first time. It is highly needed as it helps in the removal of many kinds of waste in the tank water which, if they accumulate, can prove toxic to the fish tank’s inhabitants. Aquarium filters reduce the chances of any sickness and medical conditions that may arise from the accumulation of these wastes. This helps not only the fish but also the owner as it lessens the need of constantly maintaining and cleaning the tank as well as in reducing and eliminating the costs that can be incurred with sick and dead fishes.

There are many different types of aquarium filtration that are used. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages which can suit the needs of any type of aquarium owner and hobbyist. They can range from affordable simple contraptions to the more costly complex mechanisms. However, in spite of their many differences, all of them serve only one purpose and that is to make the aquarium environment clean and balanced as much as possible.

The most common varieties of aquarium filtration include:

1) Simple air powered filters can be placed anywhere in the tank and contains only a basic media to filter and screen out wastes.  These filters can usually be found for under $5 and are great for tanks smaller than 5 to 10 gallons.  They usually have filter floss and some charcoal.  These provide mechanical and biological filtration meaning they trap visible sediment and the floss harbors beneficial bacteria that break down fish wastes into non-toxic components.

2) The under gravel filter is placed under the gravel and uses it as its filtration medium. An air stone draws water up a tube and through the gravel, filtering the water in the process. I have seen these filters available for tanks up to 50 gallons and they have the added benefit of having much of the apparatus hidden under the gravel.

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3) An internal power head pump filter forcibly sucks the water from the tank, filters it and returns it to the aquarium clean and free of wastes.  These filters are great for providing a nice current in the fish tank for fish that appreciate the water movement.

4) Hang-on-the-back filters (aka HOB filtration) sit on the back of an aquarium.  A small pump draws water up from the tank and passes it through various stages of mechanical and biological filtration.  They are more complex versions of the cheap air powered filters mentioned above, and most of the filter sits outside of the tank, providing more room for the fish, and a cleaner look for the aquarium.

Whatever method of aquarium filtration you decide to use is ultimately up to you.  Choose the most appealing method that fits your budget and you will be rewarded with a clean aquarium filled with healthy fish.  An aquarium filter is one of the fish tank supplies your fish cannot live without!

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