Fish Tank Filter, How To Choose The Right One

There are so many types of fish tank filters today, it’s no wonder people are overwhelmed when setting up their fish tank for the very first time. In this article, I’ll share some tips on what to consider when choosing your very own fish tank filter.

But first, let’s introduce some basic information on fish tank filters. Below are the three categories of fish tank filters with a brief description of each:

Mechanical
The most basic of all. These are usually in the form of sponges, pads or foams, or any material that is used to trap debris from the fish tank water. Maintenance of these is key since any particle that gets trapped in the mechanical media will begin to break down and form ammonia thus leading to fish health problems.

Chemical
Although complex sounding, chemical fish tank filter mediums are easy once you get the hang of it. These are used in treating a variety of different problems associated with fish tank water. Chemical media filter is usually placed right after the mechanical medium and the most common type is activated carbon. Activated carbon has the special ability to adsorb dissolved organics and chemicals in the water, it also reduces odor and water coloration. Aside from activated carbon, there are dozens of other chemicals used for emergencies or for removing and treating special cases.

Biological
Once installed and running this biological fish tank filter is a breeding ground for different types of bacteria. But don’t worry these aren’t bacteria that are meant to harm your fish, on the contrary, these bacteria break down the poisonous waste products (ammonia) your fish produce into less harmful nitrates, and gets broken down even further into even less harmful nitrates.

Now going back to the topic at hand, quite frankly there are only three major things to consider when it comes to choosing your fish tank filters:

1. The size of your fish tank
2. How much time you have for maintenance
3. and of course your fishes

The first is obvious. You don’t want to get the most expensive and most powerful top of the line filtration system for a teeny-weeny fish tank you have back at home. And you definitely don’t want to get a cheap underpowered filter system, go home, install it, and after a few days have all your beloved fish die from water pollution as well. Fortunately, this is the easy part. Almost all filter systems have specifications telling you the appropriate tank size it is to be used on. So don’t worry much about this part.

The second, how much time you have for maintenance is worth mentioning because different filter systems have different maintenance requirements. Some are very high maintenance while some are very low maintenance. Understanding how to maintain and when to maintain your filters is crucial not only to the lifespan of the filter itself but also, of course, your fish population.

Lastly, what you also need to think through or really consider are your fishes. Are they freshwater or salt-water fishes, how big or small are they, how big can they grow, how many will you have, how will water movement or circulation caused by the filter system affect them, how do they breed, will you have actual living plants?

I hope this article hasn’t discouraged you from enjoying this wonderful and very fulfilling hobby. The aim of this article is simply to inform and educate first time owners (or wanna-be owners or even existing Fish Tank, that it is essential to learn the ins and outs of your fish tank filter system. This may seem like commonsense but from my experience, there are a lot of fish tank owners that have little to no clue on what type of filter system they have, let alone how to maintain it. And they wonder why their fishes keep dying.

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