You can’t just have an aquarium without a filter. Ammonia and nitrites will take over your tank and kill all your fish. Filter’s are an important part of the aquarium. They deal with water clarity, harmful chemicals, and so on. Filters have filter media which is what’s inside them. Filter media helps clean aquarium water in three types of filtration: biological, mechanical, and chemical. Media bags specifically designed for filter media hold it.
Something you Need to Know About Aquariums: Filtration
Biological filtration is the beneficial bacteria in your tank. It breaks down harmful ammonia and nitrite to nitrate. Learn more about water chemistry here. To grow beneficial bacteria, you have to cycle your tank which you can learn here. Filter media that can grow more this bacteria is bio balls, ceramic bio rings, and so on. These should be replaced every year or two. Don’t clean this media with tap water because chlorine can kill beneficial bacteria.
Mechanical filtration gets rid of debris and waste that might pollute the water and make it dirty. Sponges are used for this type of filtration since it does a good job of catching any solid waste. Sponges should be cleaned every two weeks to a month when they get dirty. If the sponge gets really dirty, replace it.
Chemical filtration gets rid of organic pollutants and chemicals in your tank. Organic pollutants such as protein and acids becomes filtered through. Chemicals such as medicines(after medicating your fish, the left over medicine should be removed) gets filtered. This filtration also helps keep the water clear for us. A popular filter media for chemical filtration is activated carbon. I don’t recommend it because you have to rinse and clean it before using it and has to be replaced every month. Carbon doesn’t do much either. I recommend Seachem Purigen because it does more work than carbon including and lasts longer.
You also have to choose which kind of filter you want. There’s a lot of types of filters but here’s the best ones: HOB filter, canister filter, and wet dry filter/sump:
HOB filters hang on to the side of your aquarium. They have an intake tube that intakes the water. The water comes out of the top of the filter. HOB filters are better for aquariums 75 gallons and below. Remember to read the gph(gallons per hour of filtration) to know if the filter is right for you. The gph should be six to ten times the amount of gallons of water in your aquarium. I recommend HOB filters for tropical community tanks and planted tanks. The best brand of HOB is Aquaclear because of their filter media space: Pic of Aquaclear HOB below:
Canister filters are like a box with a filter inside. Two tubes come in and out of it. One is intake and one is outtake. These filters are better than HOB filters because of the extra space for filter media and power. These can go with any type of fish tank whether if its a tropical community or African cichlid tank. The bad thing about these filters is they can be pretty pricey.Two Canister Filters to help with filteration
Wet dry filters or sumps can either be bought or DIY(do it yourself). I recommend building one yourself because its cheaper and more customizable than buying one. See my other articles for instructions on how to build one. This filter is basically another tank smaller than your aquarium where water goes into through a tube. The water travels kind of like a canal, overflowing and emptying until it exits the filter. Big amounts of filter media can be put into these. Pumps pump water in and out. These filters work with any aquarium type. See the diagram below to understand the process: