Aquarium Filters and Their Purpose



All fish tanks, big or small, require aquarium filters to keep the fish tank running pristine.  Aquarium filters provide many benefits to the tank, the most important of which is improving the water quality.

Besides the biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration, a quality filtration system also provides water circulation and aeration.

Mechanical Filtration

Mechanical filtration is perhaps the most obvious effect of all of the good aquarium filters.  This type of filtration is achieved by a few different methods that physically block or trap the fish wastes and other materials in the water column.  Blockage is provided by such items as filter floss or sponge-like materials.  Some filter systems come with multi-step mechanical filtration that traps consecutively smaller and smaller particles.  Mechanical filtration is responsible for removal of most of the visible debris in an aquarium and is the first step to keeping water in the
fish tank sparkling.

Biological Filtration

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Biological filtration is the most important aspect of any filter.  All fish produce wastes, some of which is present in the form of ammonia.  Filter media has a large amount of microscopic surface area for bacteria to grow on.  Many different types of bacteria in aquarium filters are beneficial to the biological filtration system.  These bacteria convert the toxic ammonia to nitrite which is less toxic.  Other species of bacteria are able to convert nitrite to nitrate.  This nitrate is considerably less toxic to the fish in the aquarium, but can become harmful if it builds up to levels which are too high.  As you see, biological filtration is what keeps your aquarium fish healthy and safe from harmful fish wastes.

Chemical Filtration

Chemical filtration is not always utilized by aquarium filters.  One of the most common types of chemical filtration used is a simple carbon filter.  Activated carbon is able to trap many different types of dissolved chemicals and wastes that are responsible for the bad smells or odors of aquariums that are not properly maintained on a regular basis.  Charcoal can also help remove aquarium medications once they are no longer needed!

Now you know the basic types of filtration provided by even the most simple of aquarium filters.  Mechanical filtration removes visible wastes; biological filtration helps break down toxic fish wastes; chemical filtration removes dissolved chemicals responsible for odors.  Buy the best filtration you can afford to provide a health environment for your fish!

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