simple guide to aquarium filtration filtration methods

simple guide to aquarium filtration

plax cascade canister aquarium filter simple guide to aquarium filtration

To have poison free aquarium water, filtration process is a
very important to aquarist.

Since most aquarists are aware of the fact that their aquarium water
accumulates harmful substances, which poison their fishes.

To prevent this from happening there is need for filtration here’s the simple guide to aquarium filtration thus, for our purpose I would define filtration as the removal of unwanted substances from water.

To have poison free aquarium water, the filtration process is a
very important to aquarist.

Since most aquarists are aware of the fact that their aquarium water
accumulates harmful substances, which poison their fishes.

To prevent this from happening there is need for filtration
thus, for our purpose I would define filtration as the removal
of unwanted substances from water.

Most aquarist uses three types: Biological, mechanical, and
chemical amongst which the biological is the most important.

Biological filtration is also referred to as undergravel filtration,
because the major equipment used (a flat plate of perforated
plastic) is placed under the gravel bed hence it is invisible.

Unless you are properly equipped, you can’t see the process
happening and cannot measure its effect.

Yet this process is the major difference between success and failure,
and the aquarist who does not take the time to understand it
workings is doomed to watch an endless procession of dying fishes
passing through his tank.

Biological filtration is solely the work of bacteria attached to the
surfaces of the gravel, the grave and the under grave filter together
constitute the filter bed.

Bacteria normally reach the filter bed through the food you give the fishes.

The waste product of the fishes, the air, and even through your hands as you works in the tank.

As the water ages, their numbers increase until the gravel is loaded with millions of them.

It is only then that the aquarium can function very well, because
the wastes of the fishes and unwanted substances mainly ammonia
are immediately broken down by those bacteria into harmless
substances while at the same time the filtration action drags organic
matter downwards into the spaces between the gravel’s where the
roots of plants can then extract essential growth substances hence
the undergravel filter promotes healthy plants growth.

Mechanical filtration is the physical removal of debris, waste
products, uneaten food, dead fish or plants.

They use a filter medium such as foam, filter wool or sand/gravel
to trap particles which are removed by later cleaning of the medium.

Chemical filtration changes the composition of some substances in the aquarium.

Ammonia absorbers, such as Ammogon tm help prevent problems
when water aging is done chemically (treatment with chloramines releases free ammonia).

Other “chemical” filtration includes ion exchangers which reduce either carbonate or sulphur hardness.

simple guide to aquarium filtration An effective aquarium filtration system not only removes waste products from the water by physical or chemical means, but also mirrors the process of biological filtration—the nitrogen
cycle—that occurs in the wild. Filtration goes hand in hand
with aeration, in which water is circulated so that it can absorb
oxygen from the air and lose unwanted carbon dioxide.

In the confines of an aquarium, thewaste produced by the fish can
quicklybuild up to harmful levels without aneffective filtration system.

Filtration involves passing the water in the aquarium through one
or several filtration media, which purify the water by biological,
chemical, or mechanical means (see box, below).

There are two basic methods of driving water through the media:
using an electric pump, or using an airlift system, in which air
bubbled into the tank through an airstone draws water up an airlift tube.


  • Add zeolite sachets to remove ammonia from the water, and a
    starter seed culture of bacteria for the biological filter.
  • Be careful not to overfeed the fish and burden the filter with decomposing food.
  • Test the water quality regularly to check the filter’s efficiency;
    frequent partial water changes will ease the pressure on the filtration system.
plax cascade canister aquarium filter simple guide to aquarium filtration
plax cascade canister aquarium filter simple guide to aquarium filtration filtration methods

The most common type of system for freshwater aquariums—
the undergravel filter—is a simple airlift system.

A perforated corrugated or ridged plate is placed on the base of the
tank, and then covered by a substrate of gravel.

The plate allows water to flow under the gravel, while the gravel
particles— which should be at least 1⁄8 in (3 mm) in diameter to
ensure good water movement—form the biological filter medium.

Power filters use an electric pump to drive water through the filtration media.

There are two basic types: internal power filters, which sit inside
the tank, and external filters, which are housed outside the
aquarium and are generally used for larger aquariums.

A range of different media are available for power filters: biological
media, such as foam sponge and ceramic granules; mechanical
media, such as filter wool; and chemical filtration media, such as carbon.

The most efficient filters use layers of different media in combination. It is often

possible to add extra materials—for example, peat or
coral sand—to this type of filter to alter the water chemistry.

Efficient aeration is vital for the maintenance of a healthy
tank, providing a source of oxygen not only for the fish, but
also for the beneficial bacteria within the biological filter.

Using an air pump to pump air through an airstone can help to
aerate the tank: the bubbles produced cause surface ripples that
increase the area exposed to the air where oxygen exchange can take place.

But, if there is enough surface movement generated by the
outflow of the filtration system, an extra air pump may not be needed.

external filter system

External power filters work on the same principle as other systems:
water is pumped out of the aquarium and passes through the filter
unit, which contains one or several types of media, before being returned to the tank.

simple guide to aquarium filtration power head filter

A powerhead, shown above, is a pump that can be added
to the airlift tube of an under gravel filter to draw water more strongly through the system.

Installing a powerhead also improves the aeration provided by an
under gravel filter.

simple guide to aquarium filtration
airlift pump filter

What are the 3 types of filtration?

There are three types of filtration that are necessary for the health of any aquarium:

  1. Mechanical.
  2. Chemical.
  3. Biological.

What are the best filters for fish tanks?

  • Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter. …
  • Fluval External Fish Tank Filter. …
  • Marineland Magniflow Canister. …
  • EHEIM Classic External Canister Fish Tank Filter Media. …
  • Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Cascade® 1000. …
  • AquaClear Power Filter – 110 V. …
  • Fluval Fx6 Aquarium Canister Filter.

Can I use 2 filters in my aquarium?

However, if you were to use these same two aquarium filters on a 180 gallon fish tank, you should be able to provide enough biological filtration for that 180 gallon aquarium. The filtration capacity increases with multiple filters, but only if the water volume also increases

How does filter work in aquarium?

The purpose of the filter on your aquarium is to remove excess food, decaying organic matter, free-floating particulate, dangerous chemicals, and the fish’s waste products from the water. The fish excrete waste constantly as they swim around in the water.

Is chemical filtration necessary?

A healthy tank DOES NOT require the use of chemical filters as activated carbon. One point about filtration cannot me made enough. ALL FISH TANKS MUST HAVE BIOLOGICAL FILTRATION. Although chemical filtration can remove ammonia under limited circumstances, they are NOT a general solution.

How is filtration useful?

Filtration, the process in which solid particles in a liquid or gaseous fluid are removed by the use of a filter medium that permits the fluid to pass through but retains the solid particles. … In some processes used in the production of chemicals, both the fluid filtrate and the solid filter cake are recovered.

Why do we use filtration?

Filtration is extremely important to keep things like water, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals clean, pure and free of contaminants. If it wasn’t for filtration, we might not have safe drinking water, because it plays a crucial role in eliminating sediment, sand, gravel, carbon and other suspended particles. Safety.

Does a fish tank filter always need to be on?

An aquarium filter should filter all the water in the tank through it at least three times per hour. If it does not, it is too small. … You cannot over-filter, but you can definitely under-filter, and the results can be harmful to your fish.

Which filter is best for planted aquarium?

Some Of The Best Filters For A Planted Tank
Fluval C4 Power Filter. The Fluval C4 Power Filter is an HOB filter that will work well on planted tanks up to 50 gallons in size. …
Eheim Classic Canister Filter. …
AquaClear Power Filter. …
Hydor Professional External Canister Filter. …
Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter.

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How often should you change fish tank filter?
The cartridge should be changed at least once a month. Or when you see a noticeable decrease in water flow.

Do aquarium filters need to be on all the time?
An aquarium filter should filter all the water in the tank through it at least three times per hour. If it does not, it is too small. … You cannot over-filter, but you can definitely under-filter, and the results can be harmful to your fish.

Why is my fish tank filter not pumping water? How do I fix it?

If there are no bubbles, the filter may not be working. Therefore, repair or replace the filter. The most likely cause is that the air pipes of the filter are disconnected or blocked or the air pump has broken down (See Q1). … If the filter and pump is working and the tank is still cloudy, then the water is contaminated.

What are the pros and cons of undergravel aquarium filters?

Power filters easily clip onto the back of your aquarium, whereas undergravel filters require you to take out

And Undergravel Filter Downsides:

1.UGFs are Hard to Maintain, Especially Long-Term

‘They’re like sweeping your dog/cat poo under the rug’, bad visual, but accurate to some extent. Unless you’re careful about regularly vacuuming your substrate, moving the decor about, and the occasional complete or nearly complete tear down, ‘gunk’ (a polite term) does tend to accumulate in the gravel and particularly under the plates of UG filters.

In fairness, all types of filtration have their respective maintenance and up-keep issues’¦ and if folks are careful enough to not overfeed, overcrowd, ignore their regular maintenance, undergravel filters can be run safely for years and years.

2. UGFs Can’t Be Used With Diggers

Eartheating Juraparoids and many other Neotropical cichlids, ‘engineering’ gobies of many sorts in marine systems, and many other animals that burrow extensively can create ‘channeling’ problems with undergravel filters, digging out the substrate, allowing water to easily pass though their tunnels, while dropping circulation through the rest of the filter ‘bed’ (the substrate) to dangerous anaerobic levels’¦ with these choices in livestock, you’re well-advised to at least use other types of filtration IN ADDITION to your undergravel plates.

3. UGFs Can Produce Noxious Gases–Creating Dead Zones

Most everyone who’s been in the hobby long enough can relate an incident of ‘rotten egg’ smell (Hydrogen Sulfide) wipe-out in an aquarium serviced with undergravel filtration. These instances are almost all matters of inadequate maintenance, where the aquarist neglected regular maintenance, fed too much of inappropriate foods, had too much bio-load’¦ reminds me of folks getting defibrillated for myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), ‘If you would have stuck with your 12 point maintenance program we wouldn’t have to jump start you.’ Honestly, if you’re marginally diligent in gravel vacuuming/water changing, stirring your gravel’¦ and other simple aspects of proper aquarium husbandry, stinky UGF wipe-out/dead zones are highly unlikely.

4. With UGF Use Fishes Can Get Trapped Under The Plates

‘Where’d my Clown, Kuhli Loaches, Gobies, Blennies’¦. go?’ ‘Let’s see, there not carpet jerky’¦ I bet it’s that darned cat!’ There are a host of fish species (and some invertebrates) that delight in hiding out under UG filter plates’¦ the good news is that most all of them are just as facile at coming back out’¦ If you’re missing some livestock and suspect that it’s ensconced under your UGF don’t panic, don’t tear the tank apart’¦ very likely your aquatic charges will re-emerge on their own’¦ when they’re hungry.

At least with undergravel use you have less chance of your livestock ‘jumping out’ through extra and larger openings made to fit hoses and attachments, necessary with other types of filter use.

5.Undergravel Filters May Present A Problem With Plants

Many rooted plants (as opposed to floating or surface types) have difficulties with too much water circulation as produced with undergravel filter use’¦ growing slowly or not at all due to the aerobic changes that such gear induces. Is this a big problem? Not at all! Swordplants, Crypts, Vallisnerias, Sagittarias et al. can be easily ‘blind potted’ in trays, clay pots and such or an area left open (sans an undergravel plate) for their planting’¦ or a section/plate of impervious (likely plastic) sheet inserted over the undergravel plate where you want to put them. So there!


Okay, so I’m an old timer who still likes, can see applications for undergravel filters in modern aquarium keeping’¦ Though they do have their attendant downsides, given regular upkeep, a practical understanding of their potential troubles, mis-applications UGFs can be at least useful adjuncts to other types of filtration. They do work!

Further Reading:

plax cascade canister aquarium filter simple guide to aquarium filtration frequently ask questions

What are the 3 types of filtration?
The three types are mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.

What is the best filtration system for a freshwater aquarium?
Best Freshwater Aquarium Filtration Systems
Cascade 1000 Canister Filter. Cascade 1000 Canister Filter. …
Emperor 400 Pro Series Bio-wheel Power Filter. Emperor 4000 by Marineland. …
Fluval 406 External Canister Filter. Fluval 405 Canister Filter. …
Rena 721 Filstar XP2 Canister Filter. Rena 721 Filstar XP2. …
AquaClear 110 Aquarium Power Filter. AquaClear 110 Filter.

Do you need chemical filtration in aquarium?

Chemical filtration is mostly useful for dealing with short-term problems, such as removing medications after they’ve served their purpose, or purifying tap water before it goes into a tank. A healthy tank DOES NOT require the use of chemical filters as activated carbon. … ALL FISH TANKS MUST HAVE BIOLOGICAL FILTRATION

Is filter needed for aquarium?

NO, you don’t NEED a filter.
That said, in most cases, you will need to use a filter in your fish tank to provide enough biological filtration. … The filter does a few things for your tank: The filter keeps the water in your aquarium clean by removing debris and toxins like ammonia, and nitrates

What are the 3 types of filtration?

As one of the key components of an aquarium, filtration is responsible for moving and cleaning the tank water, making it safe for fish to live in. The three main types of filtration are mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.

aquarium filtration media

Filter media is anything placed in a filter that changes the quality of water flowing through it. Specific types can be used to create custom environmental conditions in your aquarium. The three main types of filter media are: Mechanical. Biological.

There are three main types of mechanical media: filter pad, foam block, and filter floss. Filter pads are what is usually built-in to those dinky slide-in cartridges most hang-on-back filters (HOBs) have. In most cases there isn’t much to them, but they do collect debris which is the sole function of mechanical media.

How often to change
The carbon needs to be changed every 3 weeks or so, depending on your stocking level. Any other filter media should only be rinsed once a month. You do that when you’re taking used water out of the tank during a water change

How to clean
To clean internal aquarium filters

Clean the media by giving it a good swish and squeeze in some old tank water. Use a small brush, sponge, or bit of filter floss to clean the impeller, the impeller housing and filter housing. Use a small brush etc. to clean out inlets and outlets

aquarium filtration systems

freshwater aquarium filtration

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types of aquarium filtration

diy aquarium filtration

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