Fish Tank Filters stand guard over the cleanliness of your aquarium! The right filter for the aquarium is half the battle! And wrong – sheer disappointment.
All about Fish Tank Filters! Types and features of filters. Filtering aquarium water has long been a necessity. The fact is that compared to natural water bodies, the density of fish landing in the aquarium is high. Every day, aquarium fish eat food, and excreta and urine, which is the breeding ground for a myriad of tiny ciliates, visible in water in the form of a whitish mist, enter the environment. An aquarium is usually not cleaned more than once a week, but at the same time, the amateur wants the water to be clear, which is not the case in most natural water bodies. Such results can be achieved by filtering the water in the aquarium.
The basic principle of operation of all filters is the same: the pump pumps water from the aquarium through a porous filter material, on which pollutants linger. But behind this generally understandable phrase there are many subtleties known not to every aquarist.
First of all, you should remember, due to what is cleaning water. People who do not have a long experience in the care of the aquarium, believe that it is the filter material that contributes to this process. This is a common misconception that newbies weekly, without noticing it, refute. As you work on the filter material accumulates dirt, which should be removed from time to time. Striving for cleanliness, aquarists – beginners wash the device in hot water, boil it and then pour it with disinfectants. As a result, the water in the domestic pond remains turbid, and conditions deteriorate in proportion to the applied labor.
The filter material actually retains all the shallow litter floating in the water column and lying on the bottom: feces, dead food organisms, fragments of dead leaves. But this is only mechanical filtration, after which the water does not look crystal clear, because the filter material does not retain particles smaller than 0.1–0.2 mm. Such may be pieces of clay that remain in the ground, despite the tricks in washing the new gravel. According to the laws of hydrodynamics, small particles will be precipitated for years even in completely calm water! How do experienced aquarists achieve such perfect transparency?
The fact is that the purity of the water both in nature and in an aquarium is provided by saprophytic microorganisms – protozoa and fungi contained in large quantities. For their nutrition, they need a fair mass of organic residues and oxygen. In nature, the largest accumulation of saprophytes is in the uppermost layer of the soil, especially in the surf zone, where the level of oxygen saturation is higher. A lot of microorganisms live on the leaf surfaces, a small part of saprophytes floats freely in the water column. In the aquarium, most of the protozoa and fungi are concentrated on the filter material. Ideal conditions have been created here: food brings flow directly to microorganisms located on the porous surface of the device. And most importantly: the pump provides a constant flow of water, carrying oxygen and carrying away carbon dioxide.
Here is the key to professional secrets: microorganisms grind up large residues, turning them into soluble, that is, invisible to the eye substances. Many of the saprophytes secrete mucus, to which the microscopic suspension adheres. Without this, no mechanical cleaning can perfectly clean the reservoir. This phenomenon is called biological filtration. Therefore, saprophytes living on the filter material should be protected. Experienced aquarists clean this device with water at room temperature only, never use disinfectants or detergents. It should be washed, crushing in hands until the flowing water is clear. As a result, a small amount of beneficial microorganisms will remain on the filter material, which in the following days will restore their quantity.
In addition to mechanical and biological, chemical filtration is also used. An example of this is activated carbon, which absorbs many substances dissolved in water (mainly large molecules): degradation products of proteins and drugs intended for fish. Activated carbon does not absorb carbon dioxide or trace elements needed by plants, if the substances are in simple compounds. If fertilizers are used in the form of organic compounds, such as chelates, then coal can reduce their concentration. Zeolites are less commonly used; ammonia is absorbed from water. Usually, activated carbon or zeolite is placed in filter cassettes after a layer of foam rubber, which provides mechanical purification of water. Such a process is more important for fish; aquatic plants themselves are excellent chemical and biological filter feeders.
The influx of oxygenated water to the filter material is no less important than timely washing. This inflow can be disrupted in two cases:
1. Due to untimely cleaning, a lot of dirt has accumulated in the filter, covering the filter material with a dense layer and reducing its throughput. Under this layer, oxygen-free microorganisms decompose organics less efficiently. Therefore, the filter material should be cleaned regularly. How often you have to do it – experience will show. As a rule, the filter has to be washed once a week, and if there are too many fish, then maybe it will have to be done twice a week. On the contrary, in a densely planted aquarium with a small number of fish, the filter will be polluted slowly – quite a few saprophytes also live on the leaves of the undergrowth.
2. Due to a power failure, the pump stopped. This situation is generally very unpleasant for all inhabitants of the aquarium. Having lost the inflow of water saturated with oxygen, microorganisms quickly die. Some aquarists believe that it’s enough to stop the pump for 15 minutes, but in two hours it will happen for sure. After that, not aerobic, but anaerobic processes begin in the filter, leading to large-scale release of carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide. Simply put, rotting begins. If, while washing the filtering material with live saprophytes, you smell the river, then the filter in a similar state exhales a stench. If the long stop of the filter remains unnoticed by you, then after turning on the pump, the entire stream of rotting dirt will rush into the aquarium, poisoning the fish. As you can see, such phenomena are fraught with a chain of unpleasant consequences. Therefore, on time, with due attention and care, clean the Fish Tank Filter, which should work around the clock. Pumps of all modern devices are silent and designed for many years of continuous operation. The decision of some aquarists to turn off the filter at night should be considered harmful and illiterate. Just at night, when the plants do not emit oxygen, the aquarium needs intensive mixing of water.
The performance of the device should correspond to the volume of the home water body, as well as the density of fish in it. Since in decorative aquariums with dense thickets mainly contain a small amount of fish, it is enough for filtration to pump 2 to 3 volumes of the aquarium per hour.
In aquarium use filters of several types, each of which has its own positive and negative sides:
Internal Fish Tank Filters are used most often. The reason for such popularity lies in the simplicity, universality of these devices and their wide choice. Manufacturers of aquarium equipment at the same time offer several hundred models differing in practicality, design and a set of additional functions. In general, all internal filters are arranged according to the same scheme: in the upper part of the device there is a centrifugal pump that pumps aquarium water through the filtering material.
The pump is made in the form of an electric motor, the fixed winding of which – the stator – is hidden in a hermetic case, and the rotating rotor is completely at one with the impeller, which provides pumping water. Depending on the size of the electric motor itself, as well as on its power and number of revolutions, the pump capacity may well vary from 100 l / h to 1,500 – 3,000 l / h.
For most models of internal filters, the housing consists of 2 halves. Bottom – removable, in the form of a hollow glass, in which the filter material is placed. In order for the water to wash it evenly, slits are made in the glass, and a lattice tube is inserted inside the device. Foam rubber should be considered the best filtering material for such a product: due to its tiny internal cavities, saprophytes can live and grow on it.
The fibrous materials used in some models are not so effective: after a while they get off and do not pass water well. For filters, you should use only waterproof foam, as the usual quickly turns into dust. If this material is torn, it can be replaced, filter glasses are sold separately. Even if you do not pick up the part for your particular filter model, it can be found from similar ones.
The internal filter is fixed on the back or side wall of the aquarium in an inconspicuous place.
The device is kept on the glass by suction cups, there are also special fasteners that allow fixing it on the upper cut of the aquarium glass, in the event that your pond is not covered with a lid.
It is allowed to lay the pump horizontally on the bottom and direct the jet upwards. This property is especially useful in paludariums and small pools where the water level is low. At the same time it is necessary to prevent sand from entering the filter.
Good internal pumps have a number of accessories, the list of which is ordered as practicality and cost increase:
1. Tube for the supply of atmospheric air. As a result, air bubbles will come out of the hole with the water. Thus the pump helps to saturate the water with oxygen. Air must be supplied to the discharge tube, in some designs it is fed into the pump chamber, but this reduces productivity.
2. The turning output tube, which allows to direct the water jet in a horizontal plane.
3. Nozzle on the output tube, which allows to direct the jet up or down. By turning the water flow downwards, you improve the blowing through of air, and by pointing upwards, create excitement on the surface of the water.
4. The flow power regulator to muffle the flow of water or, conversely, to make the pump work at full capacity.
5. A switch that allows you to direct the flow in the opposite direction.
6. Indicator of power flow, clearly showing how strong the jet or even the pump capacity in l / h.
7. Built-in heater.
The cascade filter is arranged as follows: on the outside of the wall of the aquarium a small tank is hung, which is connected to it with a water intake pipe, the pumping of water is provided by a centrifugal pump. Once in the filter tank, the water is cleaned on the filter. material, and back to the aquarium enters the form of a waterfall through a wide drainage chute. The cascade filter is also called external. The cascade filter is somewhat inferior to the internal one.
Firstly, it is mounted outside, and this is almost impossible if the aquarium is closed with a lid (in this case, it is necessary to provide a special hole in its design). It is clear that the filter attached to the outside is immediately noticeable, unless it is installed on the back wall of the reservoir.
Secondly, cascade filters are inferior in diversity to internal ones. The first ones were invented specifically for small aquariums in order not to occupy the internal volume of the reservoir with equipment. Although in fairness it should be said that there are cascade filters that pump hundreds of liters per hour.
Thirdly, water is constantly pouring from the cascade filter into the aquarium, which means that the device makes a noise. However, this property is subjective, for most people the murmur of water is a pleasure.
The advantages can also be attributed to the fact that more diverse filtering materials are usually used in cascade filters: after cleaning on foam rubber, water can be sent to a compartment with peat chips or activated carbon. However, in the aquarium with plants, activated carbon is practically not used: the plants clean the water better than the filter.
A water heater and an air diffuser can be integrated into the cascade filter.
Canister filter looks professional. It will certainly be included in the list of equipment lovers of high-tech aquarium. If you place the internal filter in a hermetic case – a canister – and connect it with a domestic pond with long inlet and outlet hoses, you will get a canister filter. It is good because it takes up little space, usually it is hidden in a stand or behind an aquarium. Performance of canister filters starts from 380 l / h. Such filters are not designed for small ponds.
Canister filters are often used to maintain cleanliness in large, planted aquariums for the reason that they do not spoil the interior with their presence. The water intake hose is hidden somewhere near the back wall, and the drain tube is also unnoticed. Since the canister filter housing is located below the water level, ensuring the tightness of the filter is a very important task. To flush the filter material, the device is disconnected from the hoses. So that at this moment no water is spilled, special locking valves are located in the places of the connectors. The capacity of the canister filter is large enough that it allows the use of various filter materials in it. As a rule, there are 2-3 sieves standing on one another with various fillings inside the filter. First, the water enters the coarse filter, consisting of small ceramic tubes, and is cleaned of coarse contaminating particles, then falls on a layer of activated carbon, where some soluble substances are absorbed from the water. The latter is a foam or fiber filter that prevents particles of coal from entering the pump impeller. The filter material washed by water on all three screens contains a large number of saprophytes.
The package of canister filters often include a perforated tube, which is worn on the output hose. It is fixed above the surface, and water is sprayed by drops, imitating rain. Such a device well saturates the environment of the domestic water body with oxygen and is an effective spawning stimulator for some fish. In an aquarium with plants, as a rule, artificial rain is not used, because carbon dioxide is quickly eroded because of it, and the effect of excess oxygen on plants is mostly negative. All canister filters are equipped with power regulators, a water heater is also integrated in some models.
Canister filters may be indispensable in a large farm amateur aquarium plants. Imagine that you have quite a lot of home water bodies installed on the racks in a separate room – the aquarium. We will not delve into the details of the equipment of such an economy, and only answer the choice of filters. Providing each of the reservoirs with a separate filter can be quite expensive, and each of the installed devices will have to be washed. However, all the aquariums located on the same level can be cleaned with one powerful canister filter – it will be enough to spread the input and output hoses to extreme reservoirs, and to connect the whole series of aquariums with pipes for water flow. This filtering scheme is not very suitable for breeding fish, because the infection from one reservoir will spread everywhere, but for aquariums with plants it is quite acceptable.
Such a device uses gravel poured to the bottom of the aquarium as a filtering material. To be more precise, special gratings are used, under which there is a small space, and gravel is poured over them. Water is pumped through by a pump that connects to the lower cavity pipe.
Bottom filter appeared in the 50s of the last century and caused many disputes among aquarists. Supporters of high-tech reservoirs, of course, are proponents of such a filter, because this cleaning model is original, but contrary to natural processes. Water passes through a layer of soil and leaves there contamination, with which saprophytic microorganisms are straightened. Naturally, such a device would not have been invented today, when there are powerful internal and canister filters. The first bottom devices were set in motion not by centrifugal pumps, but by airlifts (a stream of air bubbles from the atomizer) running inside a large-diameter tube. The performance of such filters is quite small.
Contamination with such a filtration system is delivered just where they should get into nature, into the layer of bottom gravel, where they serve as food for aquatic plants. But from a practical point of view, cleaning the internal device takes only 5 minutes, cadastral – 15 minutes. The bottom filter has to be washed, cleaning each bottom area with a special siphon.
Inside the camp of the bottom filter, in turn, there are already fierce disputes over whether to pump or pump out water from the internal cavity. Initially, when using airlift, was pumping. Dirt at the same time settled in the upper layers of the soil. Using pumps, water can be turned in the opposite direction, however, the garbage will quickly clog all the internal space under the grates. Therefore, the water is pre-filtered, fastening on the inlet tube the similarity of the internal filter. Is it worth the effort and waste of time?
The biggest problem that adherents of a natural aquarium rightly draw attention to is the flow of water that constantly passes through the ground. Such a phenomenon is unnatural for natural reservoirs. A number of plants, such as cryptocorins and nymphs, need an anaerobic substrate. For them, conditions are favorable when the roots are washed with water not saturated with oxygen. The need for echinodorus in clean, washed sand is greatly exaggerated in old publications that appeared in years when a half-centimeter layer of dirt at the bottom of the aquarium at the end of the week was not considered a sign of untidiness. As a result, plants whose roots are washed with oxygenated water form a huge root system, but the leaves become small and small.
The irrigated filter simulates the processes occurring in the surf zone, when the waves roll on the shore and the water mixes with air, being saturated with oxygen. On the shore, the wave, seeping through the layer of sand, weakens, and the water flows back into the reservoir. All this happens under the sunlight that provides heat and light. Such a natural filter, like surfs on a sandy beach, has a significant cleansing potential.
The irrigated filter operates according to the same principles. The filter itself is outside the aquarium and is connected to it by the inlet and outlet hose, like a canister filter. However, unlike the latter, there is air inside the irrigated filter. The water in this filter is sprayed over the filtering material, that is, it irrigates it, and, mixing with air, it is intensely saturated with oxygen. This leads to the fact that the oxidation processes performed by saprophytes over organic pollutants occur efficiently, the water gets rid of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide well. Therefore, such filters are used in aquariums not with plants, but with fish demanding to the purity of the water, for example, with Malachi and Tanganyika cichlids.
True, some manufacturers of irrigated filters called products that occupy an intermediate position between the filters and fountains. Imagine a paludarium with a low water level. As a rule, in such a reservoir it is difficult to create good conditions for fish, since a large mass of underwater and surface plants, as well as microorganisms living on decorations made of organic materials, are naked as an example of snags, strongly absorb oxygen, releasing carbon dioxide and other oxidation products instead. In those places where stones and snags lie on the ground, anaerobic zones appear, producing toxic hydrogen sulfide and methane. It is not possible to saturate the water with oxygen using traditional means, since there is too little water for aeration.
Then they do it in such a way: a sufficiently efficient centrifugal pump is immersed in water, and one or several flexible hoses are attached to the outlet and hidden among the decorations; among the hoses they are necessary to create several rivulets in the paludarium. Now, the flowing water will give a certain charm to the whole composition, and the reservoir will lose areas that do not receive oxygen and rot.