Fish Tank Filter

The aquarium is a closed water system and biological processes taking place in it need to be regulated and constantly monitored. This requires a filter that contains filter elements in the form of sponges, coal, ceramic rings, balls, depending on the model. In the filling of the filter particles of pollution are retained and the bacteria necessary for establishing biological balance in the aquarium ecosystem settle. When choosing a filter, you must follow a simple rule: the Fish Tank Filter must have a performance of at least 2 times more than the volume of the aquarium. That is, when buying an aquarium per 100 liters, the filter should have a capacity of 200 liters / hour.

There are two types of Fish Tank Filters: internal filter and external filter. Internal filters often have a set of aeration and water adjustment functions, a sponge and coal in the filling, and are used for small models of aquariums from 20 to 300 liters, mounted on the wall of the aquarium using silicone suction cups. External Fish Tank Filters are canister shaped, used for large models of aquariums, have more complex filling (sponges, coal, ceramic rings, balls), several water purification circuits and are located in the tank of the aquarium, complete with large-size external portable hoses and accessories for their mounting and installation.

The sponge filter elements need to be mechanically cleaned of dirt, usually once every 2-3 weeks, otherwise the filter capacity for the aquarium may decrease. Coal is in a special cartridge or grid, and periodically, every 1-2 months, needs to be completely replaced. Filling in the form of ceramic rings or balls is replaced partially every six months, it is a medium for the development and reproduction of beneficial bacteria.

Filtering Methods

Fish Tank Filter

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Mechanical filtration. With this filtering method, dirt particles are retained by passing the aquarium water through the filter material. The material may be a sponge, a bundle of fishing line and the like. It keeps particles of dirt in itself, allowing the water to return to the aquarium already clean.

Biological filtration. The most important filtering process that can occur in an aquarium. This process removes toxic waste in the form of ammonia and nitrite, which appear due to the processes of decomposition and rotting of food residues, dead fish and plants. The key to using this filtering process is that the aquarium should have an established nitrogen cycle, before starting to use biological filters. Without biological filtration, whether it is a filter or a normal nitrogen cycle, it is extremely difficult to count on a beautiful aquarium with healthy plants and fish.

Chemical filtration. In this process, waste dissolved in water is removed by passing through activated carbon, which retains dissolved suspension and phosphate-like minerals. Also activated carbon can effectively remove odors and ammonia from water. By itself, chemical filtration is not required for an aquarium, but it does allow for achieving really high quality aquarium water and is very effective in combination with other filtration processes.

Thanks to the use of activated carbon, dissolved drugs will also be removed during this type of filtration. In other words, when treating an aquarium, chemical filtration should be turned off.

How filtering occurs

Fish Tank Filter

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Particles of dirt linger on the filter material – this is the mechanical phase. But then the bacteria saprophytes cover this dirt and decompose it into simple mineral substances. Ideally, water, carbon dioxide, nitrates and some others. This is a biological phase. And if it is performed in full, the water in the aquarium will be crystal clear. But this is ideally, that is, if the filter substrate is densely populated with bacteria. In fact, the filtering filler is a giant colony of microorganisms.

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But a sufficient number of microorganisms have not yet managed to settle in the new filter. If it is good to wash the filter every time, then again the necessary microorganisms in the required quantity will not be there! In this case, biological filtration of aquarium water will not be fully implemented. The aquarium water will be saturated with semi-decomposed organic matter and microorganisms will spread in huge quantities right in it, making it whitish-muddy! The filter practically does not detain bacteria and hope to filter them is useless.

Over time, the “right” bacteria will settle in the filter, when there are a lot of them, they will not allow the semi-decomposed organic matter to be released into the water and the bacteria freely floating in the water will die of starvation — the white turbidity will disappear. The water will become clear, biological balance will be established in the aquarium.

Fish Tank Filter

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It is necessary to wash a filter filler only as necessary. Those. when its overgrowing with bacterial films and silt will interfere with the pumping of water. At the same time it is absolutely impossible to use any detergents. It is best to rinse it with water downloaded from the same aquarium with its partial substitution. The purpose of this procedure is not to wash the filter to a sterile purity, but to release the pores of the filler and restore sufficiently free flow of water through the filter.

The process of establishing biological equilibrium can be accelerated many times if you put an old dirty filter from a prosperous aquarium into a new aquarium, or add a sufficient amount, approximately 10%, of old soil. There are special bacterial preparations, which also significantly accelerate this process.

And finally, let’s answer why you can not turn off the Fish Tank Filter. Yes, because in fact it is alive, and without an influx of fresh water, saturated with oxygen, it will die quickly. Instead of useful nitrifying bacteria, anaerobic microorganisms will settle in it, which will begin to secrete hydrogen sulfide and methane. If you run without washing off the filter, which has stood for several days, the fish may be poisoned.


Fish Tank Filter

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Internal filter entirely located in the aquarium. Filters of this type are among the cheapest on the market of aquarium equipment both at the acquisition price and at the cost of maintenance. It has a number of significant drawbacks: it takes place in an aquarium, it requires regular cleaning of the filtering material about once a week, which is relatively noisy at work. By the principle of operation, they are divided into airlift, in which water is generated by air bubbles from the aquarium compressor and pump pumps, in which water is forcedly forced through the filter material with the help of a built-in pump.

External filter located outside the aquarium. The principle of operation is based on the passage of a slow flow of water through several trays filled with fillers and filter material. As a rule, it is located next to the aquarium, connecting with it by the hoses of intake and water outlet. Initial models of external filters are 3-5 times more expensive than internal ones designed for the same volume of the aquarium, which is their main drawback. Also, servicing of fillers and filtering material is much more expensive, which is partially offset by the low frequency of their replacement. The advantages include quiet operation, especially models designed for a small aquarium volume (40-80 liters), rare cleaning of filter material and fillers and, as a result, the presence of biological filtration. Filters of this type are very sensitive to cleaning or replacing fillers – cleaning of the filtering material is performed only in the water drained from the aquarium, and the complete replacement of the material is carried out in stages so as not to disturb the biological balance in the aquarium. This type of filter is mainly used by experienced aquarists.

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Bottom filter is a false, hidden by a layer of soil, from under the false water with the help of a pump or airlift moves into the main volume of the aquarium. The filter material in this filter is an aquarium primer. Currently, in aquariums almost never used.


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The main parameter of the filter is the volume of pumped water. The performance of electric filters is usually fixed, for example, 300 l / h. When selecting a filter, it is necessary to take into account such parameters as: aquarium volume; load, that is, the amount of waste being treated; preferred for the "population" of the aquarium water flow. The size and power of the filter is not yet an indicator for its universal use in all types of aquariums. Of course, the excess power does not hurt, but the flow of water created by this can cause a state of discomfort and stress in aquarium fish or fry and small fish can be drawn into the filter and they will die. For example, a filter with a capacity of 300 liters per hour, in a 600 l aquarium, will run water through itself in two hours, the same filter in a 50 l aquarium will do it in 10 minutes. For fish, it’s like living in a washing machine.

On the other hand, insufficient filter power will lead to turbidity and rapid clogging of water and, therefore, the water will need to be changed several times more often. In addition, due to a decrease in the biological effectiveness of a filter, a colony of bacteria that lives in it may die. More versatile – a filter that allows you to adjust the rate of flow of water. Due to this, such filters can be used in different aquariums inhabited by fish of different species. All airflow filters are regulated by changing the air supply. Some electrically operated filters are equipped with a flow rate regulator.

DIY Fish Tank Filter

Fish Tank Filter

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Bottom filter with plastic box housing. As a filter housing, a box with a tight-fitting lid can be used. To do this, you need to find a finished box (made of plastic). You can use a trimmed plastic bottle or glue it out of plexiglass. In order to be able to observe the accumulation of dirt in the filter and timely clean the filter material from it, it is better that the body or the filter cover are made of a transparent material.

A plastic tube with a diameter of 15-20 mm and a length of 150-200 mm is tightly inserted or glued into the housing cover. Air spray should be used ceramic purchased. In the side wall of the hull, a series of holes of such a diameter are made so that snails or fry cannot get through the inside of the filter. The filter housing is filled with filter material is not too tight. It should be noted that the efficiency of the filter largely depends on the operation of the sprayer, since the smaller the size of the air bubbles, the greater their total surface that comes into contact with water, in other words, the water is much better saturated with oxygen, therefore the water flow through the filtering material increases .

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Another internal filter can be made independently. As the filter housing is used standard glass jar capacity from 0.4 to 1 liter. Its body is closed with a conventional plastic cap, in which holes are made for the entry of aquarium water, as well as an opening for the installation of the tube. A partition is made of a similar lid, filtering material is settled between the lid-partition.

Filter materials

Sponge. Inexpensive and effective material for biological and mechanical filtration of water. Available in the form of cartridges that are attached to certain types of filters. After washing, the sponge can be reused, but it loses elasticity over time. Only a special filter sponge is suitable for use in aquariums; any other type of filter sponge can be toxic to fish.

Synthetic threads. Although at present nylon yarn is considered an obsolete tool, it is still a fairly effective and inexpensive filter material that performs mechanical and biological cleaning. Synthetic threads can be reused.

Ceramics. Most of the ceramic products, in particular hollow tubes, can act as a biological and mechanical filtering medium, since they do not clog for a long time and allow water to flow well. Usually they occupy the first section of multisectional filters. After washing, they can be used again.

Activated carbon – specially processed charcoal – used to remove heavy metals dissolved in water and some types of medicines. In particular, organic dyes, for example, methylene blue. Contrary to popular belief, this material removes the products of the nitrogen cycle – ammonia, nitrites and nitrates – is impossible. Such material can be used for biological and mechanical cleaning. The principle of operation of activated carbon is based on adsorption: pollutants accumulate on its surface. Since the amount of adsorbed substances is limited, coal must be periodically replaced. Due to processing, the porosity of the coal increases, and, consequently, increases the adsorption capacity. Coal before use must be rinsed with water.

Peat It is often used as a chemical medium that lowers the acidity index. It can also act biologically and mechanically. It paints water in the color of tea, which seems natural to many fish originating from acidic waters. To avoid the penetration of peat into the water of the aquarium, it must be placed in a nylon bag before use. Before using such a bag rinsed in water, washing away the dust. A cheaper alternative to special peat for aquariums is saddle peat not treated with special means and without additives. Presence of fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, etc. in garden peat can lead to illness and death of fish.

Gravel. As a mechanical and biological filter, any type of well-washed gravel can be used, with the exception of easily clogged sand. If the gravel is not inert to water, i.e. does not increase its rigidity, it can also be used as a reactive filter. To use such a filtering material can be infinite, just wash it.