aquarium filter Guide



An aquarium filter is the central element in fish filtration, heaters and aquarium supplies. Simply put, if you want to have any type of fish aquarium and bowl set up, you will need to buy these pet supplies. There are many ways to filter aquariums, and it is important that you know how to choose an aquarium filter. When thinking about how to buy an aquarium filter as part of your fish supplies, consider a few simple points to find the right fish tank filter for you.

>> Do you want an external or internal filtration system?

Consider the size of your fish tank when thinking about how to choose an aquarium filter because tank size is the biggest factor in determining the type of filtration system you need. Larger tanks cannot be filtered properly through internal filtration systems. Sometimes two or more internal filtration systems may be able to filter a medium sized tank. Tank water has to be filtered through four times every hour, so at a minimum, your filtration system must be able to cycle that much water every hour.

External filtration systems do not take up any room in the tank and don't block viewing space. Internal filtration systems are quiet since they run inside the water.

There are different types of aquarium filters within the broad categories of internal and external filtration. Think about the following subtypes and how they pertain to your particular needs.

Internal filtration systems

• Corner box filters are some of the best aquarium filters for small to medium sized tanks. These boxes are placed in the corners of the tank. They filter water when air is pumped from an aquarium air pump into the bottom of the box, drawing water up through the box and its filtration devices. These types of aquarium filters are simple, low maintenance and can accommodate mechanical, chemical and some biological filtration. Beneficial bacteria are often attracted to these boxes since they release large amounts of oxygen.
• Sponge filters are a type of aquarium filter where air is pumped through a sponge, drawing water toward the sponge. The sponge will come with beneficial bacteria on it, and it acts as an inorganic filter for larger dirt particles. Sponges work best in smaller tank sizes.
• Undergravel filters have the water pumped through the gravel on the bottom of the fish tank. Beneficial bacteria will reside on the bottom of the gravel, and you can also add cartridges to this filtration system to aid in cleaning the water. Undergravel filtration requires vacuum cleaning of the gravel and works well in smaller tank sizes.

External filtration systems

• Canister filters are a type of aquarium filter where water is pumped from the tank into separate canisters where it then moves through one or more filters. This method sometimes requires additional tubing and water pumps. This is a good filtration system for larger tanks, and canisters can often be customized with biological, chemical and mechanical filtration.
• Hang-on-back power filters are an aquarium power filter where water is pumped from the tank into a canister that hangs on the back of the tank. The water moves through different chambers in the canister where it is filtered and then empties through a spill away. These aquarium filter designs are customizable, and they work best when the tank also contains an air pump to circulate water.
• Wet/dry filters work by pumping water through open area chambers. Oxygen is introduced into the water in these chambers and that encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria. This aquarium filter design uses purely natural filtration methods, works as long as the pump works and doesn't require the replacement of filters. It is one of the simplest filtration systems on the market.

>> What filtration method do you want to use?

Learning the difference between biological, mechanical and chemical filters is an essential step in determining how to choose an aquarium filter. These different filters use different methods to clean water.
• Biological: These filters add oxygen to the water to induce beneficial bacteria growth. The bacteria then consume various particles as part of their normal life cycle.
• Mechanical: These filters employ grates or other filters made from synthetic materials like plastics. The filters capture particles as the water passes through them.
• Chemical: These types of aquarium filters use activated carbon or other inorganic material to filter the water.

>> Consider other filtration methods for saltwater

If you are focused on saltwater aquarium filtration, consider the Berlin Method and deep sand bed filters when thinking about how to choose aquarium filters.

The Berlin Method of filtration introduces rocks with bacteria to break down ammonia to nitrite. It also uses an air pump to induce the creation of bacteria to break down nitrates. This can be the best aquarium filter method for tanks with active flora and makes a good overall fish tank accessory.

Deep sand bed types of aquarium filter systems introduce four to six inches of sand filled with beneficial bacteria into the tank. The system includes microorganisms and wildlife -such as worms and crabs -that dig up the sand and release the bacteria. As the animals dig up the sand, they also encourage more beneficial bacteria to grow beneath the sand. This is one of the top rated aquarium filter systems for exotic saltwater aquariums.

>> Consider optional aquarium filter features

Some filters come with a built-in heater that can greatly affect what you think about how to choose an aquarium filter. This feature is convenient because it frees up the viewing and swimming space in your tank. Other aquarium filter designs that utilize air pumps will create bubbles that they release in a decorative fashion from ornamental devices. This can add a unique under-the-sea feel to your tank.

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