Fish Tank Filtration

Most starter kits come with some form of fish tank filtration device. The filter provided as part of the beginning set should be adequate to purify the water for a normally populated aquarium.

Filters are rarely able to remove all the debris that is produced.

Their function is to capture wastes that are suspended in the water. They can only do this before solids fall to the bottom and lodge there.

All Filters Face Three Basic Filtration Tasks

Any fish tank filtration must cope with the three basic types of filtration style that are required to maintain purified water:

Besides the ability to purify the system using these three aquarium filtration types, any aquarium filtration also must provide suitable currents in the water. Those currents must provide enough surface agitation to allow oxygen to enter the water and carbon dioxide to be released.

Aquarium Filtration Equipment Choices

The types of filters available to purify water have increased over time. The original aquarium filter was the inside box filter. It was driven by an air pump. These were not very efficient.

Happily the technology of filtration has evolved greatly in the past 50 years. Most filters are now (water) pump driven. There are a variety of ways these pumps are employed. Each style has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Filter configurations include:

Each style has advantages and disadvantages. Various manufacturers have offered different configurations in both the filter and the media that is used in them.

Some filters operate with cartridges that are very convenient, but need to be replaced quite regularly to remain effective.

Insert style filters often employ some reusable media which can last a longer time. This also allows these materials to become biologically active.

Evaluating a Filter

Each filter under consideration should be evaluated for:

  • The fish tank capacity they are designed to purify*
  • Their ability to perform Mechanical filtration
  • The support they provide for Biological filtration
  • The ability to perform Chemical filtration
  • The amount and versatility of the media used
  • The ability to create currents within the aquarium
  • The ability to promote both oxygen input and carbon dioxide exhaust through surface agitation


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