How Aquarium Filters Work – A Complete Explanation For You

Every aquarist should know that the filtration system in the fish tank keeps the water environment healthy. If you are a beginner and planning to set up an aquarium, it is enormously important to understand how aquarium filters work not to cause any danger to your fish. With that in mind, we will help learn more about these filtrations so that you can keep the water clean and your fish healthy. Let’s keep on reading!

How Aquarium Filters Work

If you are looking for the answers to the question “How aquarium filters work for beginners?”, we will clearly explain in detail for you. First, let’s look at mechanical filtration – the most basic filtration type for aquariums. 

Mechanical Filtration

Mechanical Filtration

The mechanical filtration with a sponge or, better yet, the filter floss is essential to trap big obstacles like leftover food, rotting plant bits, and fish poop. Manufacturers usually place floss first in the filter to trap those particles; then, the coarse and fine sponge layers underneath will finish the job.

With this filter system, you need to clean the mechanical filtration material regularly. The debris removal wouldn’t be productive if you let that solid debris rots inside the filter for months. Moreover, the lack of regular and proper maintenance can reduce the filter flow’s speed after a while.

To remove the dirt, you only have to gently squeeze the filter material filter in a bucket of used water from the tank every few weeks.

It would be clever to go for the tank water because the tap water can kill built-up beneficial bacteria colonies in the sponge. Besides, you should do half of the sponge in the cleaning or replacing stage and the other half after a few weeks or months.

Mechanical filtration can balance the water values and keep the aquarium healthy. More especially, the beneficial bacteria are the most important part of the filter system. Thus, it wouldn’t be a brilliant idea to depend entirely on the filter floss and sponge.

Biological Filtration

How Do Aquarium Bio Filters Work?

The aquarium filtration’s following stage seems to be more advanced. Most filters offer a chamber to contain biological filter media, which is often in plastic ball form with a high-surface-area-to-volume ratio.

Your fish produce ammonia waste, then the water with ammonia will go through the biological filter and expose to the nitrifying bacteria. This process will turn the chemical from dangerous ammonia to less poisonous nitrites, finally into pretty harmless nitrates.

The ammonia chemical can burn fish’s scales, inhibit breathing, feed all the algae, and ruin the pH level. With adequate beneficial bacteria colonies in the filter, the aquarium water would never have an extremely high ammonia content.

Most of those bacteria are especially important to your fish’s health, so they need to stay in the filter to constantly supply fresh oxy with nutrient-rich water.

A reasonable number of beneficial bacteria will accumulate gradually in the mechanical filter media (the sponge). Yet, the bacteria number is usually not enough to deal with all the ammonia inside the tank.

Therefore, you need to use biological filter material like the bio rings, which help maintain a healthy ecosystem in your tank. Moreover, these materials can support a huge number of beneficial bacteria to grow and thrive.

In canister filters, manufacturers will combine both types of filtration for a more effective filtration system. They will lay filter floss and sponge on the top of a biological filter bag.

There are lots of biological media products on the market. The similarity among them is that the cleaning isn’t necessary, and you should leave them to work alone as much as possible. If not, you will disturb the biological filter and cause more ammonia spikes.

On the other hand, the requirement when using this type of biological is to give biological filtration time to work effectively with your new tank. It takes a while for the beneficial bacteria to establish themselves in suitable quantities.

Besides, if you want to use a filter with a combination of mechanical and biological media, do some research before getting one to save much work and trouble.

Chemical Filtration

Chemical Filtration

The chemical filtration seems to be less important than the two mentioned above. It usually works with activated charcoal, which is quite vital to all the filter types.

Although activated charcoal helps remove invisible pollutants in the water (adsorption), it still takes all the important trace nutrients away at the same time.

As a result, recently aquarists don’t use this “full time” charcoal anymore. The best time to apply it would be when you need to remove medication from your aquarium.

Other chemical filtration materials are zeolite (for erasing excess ammonia) and peat moss (for lower pH). Please pay attention to the materials we mentioned, and keep in mind a sufficient and proper filtration is one of the most crucial factors for a stable aquarium.

Fluid Bed Reactors 

When it comes to fluid bed reactors, it’s a whole lot more complicated. Unless you want to do some special projects, your tanks don’t necessarily need a fluidized reactor.

Luckily, you can assume that the aquarium reactor is quite similar to the biological filter. The two devices operate in the same way; still, there is one difference. Due to the electricity flowing through the reactor, the media will constantly move around to put more oxygenation and energy into better internal processes.

Uv Light Filtration

To define proper filtration, you need to consider many factors, like fish and plant amount, weekly water changes, water volume, and above all, the quality of the filters.

UV clarifiers are the element we want to mention here. Although they are optional for smaller tanks, many aquarists and larger tanks’ professional keepers consider UV clarifiers extremely essential and superb extra addition for your aquarium filter system.

These tools shine a strong UV light into the water when it gets into the filter. The UV clarify will force all the algae particles to accumulate together; then, the filter media can catch them and break down the clump. As a result, your tank will have crystal clear water and can’t turn into the “green water” situation.

Final Thoughts

In short, the filtration system is the heart of your aquarium, and it will decide the failure or success of your journey in taking care of your fish. Hopefully, you now can understand clearly how aquarium filters work through our post.

Good luck with your aquarium hobby. Let us know your questions or other tips in the section below.

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