If you decided to keep fish and have an aquarium, you need to create and maintain a healthy living environment for your fish. Selecting the best aquarium filter for your tank is vitally important as this is an essential piece of equipment for your aquarium. It keeps the tank water clean by removing impurities and in turn keeps your fish healthy.
When choosing a filter there are many considerations and a lot of options. Some filters perform specific functions and may be better suited to specific conditions. There’s also a huge variation in price.
How do Fish Tank Filters Function?
Fish tank filters perform one or more functions of filtration.
The chemical filtration process involves the removal of toxins, dissolved matter, ammonia and odor from the tank water. The chemical filtration system may not always be necessary.
Mechanical filtration removes heavy waste and sediments. Biological filtration is most crucial for beneficial bacteria and to separate toxins and decay from the water.
What are the filter systems available?
Below is a summary of the various types of aquarium filter.
1. Power filters
Power filters are very effective and are commonly used external aquarium filters. They handle both mechanical as well as chemical filtration and can be coupled to a bio wheel for biological filtration. Power filters are easy to install and maintain. Pricing is mid-range, and suit a medium sized tank. To read more about the function of filters and a product review, click here.
2. Canister filters
These are powerful filters most suited to medium or large tanks. With canister filters water is forced through a filter medium. Their biological filtration capacity can be increased with a bio-wheel. They’re difficult to clean and maintain.
3. Diatomic filters
Diatomic aquarium filters clean the water by getting rid of even very small particles. They are suitable where fine particles like diatomic algae may cause a problem.
4. Fluidized bed filters
These filters are highly efficient biological filters and use sand as a medium. Fluidized Bed Filters are suitable for all aquarium sizes.
5. Sponge Filters
Sponge filters manage biological as well as mechanical filtration. They quickly clog with excess debris. They are most suitable for fish tanks with fry. A sponge quickly provides nitrifying bacteria to the tank. The biochemical sponge filters are generally used as a secondary aquarium filter to the main filter and need frequent cleaning.
6. Trickle or Wet/Dry Filters
These filters expose water to air by allowing the water to dribble over the media including strands, plastic balls, or floss. These filters clog easily. The pre-mechanical filtration can reduce this problem. Wet-dry filters are suitable for saltwater tanks as they provide all mechanical, biological and chemical filtration.
7. UGF or Under Gravel Filter
Under Gravel Filter has a plate filter, which is kept under a substrate. An air pump sucks the water through the substrate along with the particulate. These filters are cheap and easy to install. These are almost maintenance free. However they tend to easily clog and are not suitable if the aquarium has live plants.
Which Type of Aquarium Filter is The Best?
The following guidelines are useful for selecting the best aquarium filter for your needs.
- Consider the size of the fish tank as well as the number of fish. The tank filter should be able to clean the water at least 4 times in 1 hour.
- The filter should suit the type of fish you are keeping. Consider how sensitive your fish are.
- A most important consideration is that the aquarium filter should be easy for you to clean and maintain.
- Understand the functions of various types of filters and the methods of cleaning and maintaining them.
- Although external filters are expensive, they provide the best filtration. It may initially cost more, but you can save on maintenance costs in the long term.
- You may have to use a combination of different type of filters to get the best results.
- Consider your budget
When you’re ready to choose the best filter for your fish tank it will depend on your type of aquarium, the cost factor and how much maintenance you want to take on.
I’d strongly suggest you watch the following video about aquarium filters and how they work. This educational video will provide you with the information needed to make sure your fish live in the best environment possible.