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Aquarium Filter Types. Which One to Choose?
November 13, 2021
The filter is the heart of the aquarium. If your choice is correct, you can prevent most of the problems related to aquarium filtration. Therefore it is crucial to have adequate knowledge to choose the best filter out of the outstanding variety. Let’s take a look at the filter types!
It is the most straightforward and most affordable filter type. You will need an air pump or a powerhead that ensures that water flows through the filter to operate it. With air pumps, the air is driven out of the pump through a hole in the sponge. Bubbles that go upwards take along the water in the sponge. The water flow through the sponge results in slow but efficient filtration. An excellent solution for small aquariums built for shrimp and juvenile fish.
Motor power types operating on powerhead can filter larger aquariums. Still, due to the fast water flow, they are more suited for mechanical filtration that complements an external filter, for example.
Internal filters are compact and relatively affordable. Several factory-made aquarium kits are delivered with this filtration system. Their advantage is the same as their disadvantage: their compactness takes up little space, but their filtration capacity is low. Therefore they need frequent cleaning. I suggest a weekly or maximum two-weekly cleaning period. It is forbidden to wash the filtering sponge and other materials under a tap because the chlorine content of the tap water kills the filter bacteria that live on the surface. The same goes for all the other materials used in filters: wash them only in the aquarium water sucked out into a container. This way, you can make sure that the filter bacteria stay alive.
Another disadvantage of the internal filters is that they are too visible and take up useful space from a beautiful plant.
Hang On Filters
Hang-on filters are a midway solution between internal and external filtration. They are an exciting choice with many advantages and some disadvantages. These filters are like small “bags” that sit on the edge of the aquarium. They take up little space as the filtering chamber is located outside the aquarium. Their advantage is that a lot more filter medium can be added to them, they are easier to clean than the internal filters, and their price is usually between the range of the internal and external filters.
Their effectiveness is close to that of the internal filters, but they have some disadvantages. These filters sometimes make a low gabbling noise. It happens, for instance, when the water level in the aquarium is lowered by some centimeters because of evaporation. It is not a big deal, some aquarists even like it, but if you are not fond of noises, take this into account.
Today's most efficient ready-made filtering system is the external one, or as some know, the canister filters. It does not need much maintenance. The principle of closed system filters is that the water of the aquarium flows through a pipe into the filter container, where it goes through several types of filtering material. Then another pipe drives it back into the aquarium. If you have chosen the correct type of external filter, it will not need to be cleaned more frequently than every 3-6 months. As filter cleaning is not much fun, this might be a comfortable solution for any aquarist. After all, we just want to take pleasure in the sight of a clean and healthy aquarium, don't we? :)
The bad news is that external filters are the most expensive ones. We still encourage you to invest in them because the price will return many times over the years.
External filters can perform three types of filtration according to the material added to them.
The main purpose of a filter is to keep the water optically clean. The water that flows through the filter removes physical contamination from the aquarium with the help of the sponge or the white filter floss. Therefore, these materials need to be cleaned regularly (thefilter floss must be replaced), and the mechanical impurities must be washed off from the sponges.
Nitrification is a word that all aquarists will learn sooner or later. It is a crucial biological process that takes place in the aquarium. Water is made alive by the millions of bacteria that are the soul and base of such biological processes. They are the good bacteria that thrive in the filter. Aquarists add filtering materials of porous surfaces to the filter to create good conditions for these living bacteria.
Chemical filtration is the third method, often used just optionally. These materials are added to the filter to remove or neutralize chemical substances. The most commonly used materials are Purigen and activated carbon, capable of neutralizing all the unwanted effects of coloring materials (like ironwood). There are many other chemical substances, too, that we will discuss later.
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