How To Filter Out Your Fish Tank

By Wendy Napier

It must make any aquarium enthusiast cringe, having to feed his fish every day in the same water that they swim in, breathe in and release their bodily wastes in. If it were not for reasons of yuckiness that that such a situation could not be allowed, it would certainly be objectionable for the way this would poison the water and make it incapable of sustaining aquatic life. How do you treat your fish to a better life then? If the fish lived in a natural water body, a pond or stream, there would be enough clean water in the system that all the bodily waste would not make a difference; in a closed water body like an aquarium, it comes down to the owner of the aquarium to do something to constantly clean and freshen the water the fish live in, to give them a reasonable standard of living. Aquarium filters are the answer; though there are so many, they can hardly be called one answer.

The empathetic aquarium owner must worry most about the health implications of having his fish swimming around in a weak solution of their own bodily waste. What must all the bacteria and other pathogens in the water do to the fish? Do their eyes sting; do they breathe with difficulty in such a toxic water cocktail? Biological aquarium filters are the solution to such concerns. A biological filter is a unit that encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria inside it. These bacteria subsist on the bodily waste of fish; and they break down the poisonous ammonia in the waste into nitrogen compounds, nitrites and nitrates and these are a great way to take the sting out of the problem.

Under-gravel filters are a great example of biological aquarium filters; they're not marketed as effectively these days, owing to the fact that they are simple to build, and offer no opportunity for a killer markup, but are very effective. The idea is that the filter is placed under the bed of the aquarium; water is drawn through the gravel over the bed; the gravel filters out a large part of the suspended debris, and the bacteria that live in the gravel take care of the ammonia. The water is drawn down and sent back up after purification by message of an air stone or a powerhead.

One of the best options that modern aquarium filter technology provides is the canister filter. Canister aquarium filters force the water in an aquarium through a variety of filters and cycle the entire contents of an aquarium every hour. The result is a visibly bright and clean and aquarium that manages to be free of most kinds of impurities. A minor drawback to this type of aquarium filter is the way it keeps drawing all the water through its system constantly; this action creates quite a strong current in the tank that can be annoying to some fish.

One of the most satisfying kinds of aquarium filter to use is the sump variety. Basically a sump aquarium filter is a large aquarium-like tank by itself, used exclusively for water purification in the main tank. The sump is sectioned off into three or four areas, each one installed with a different kind of water purification system. These aquarium filters are mostly the domain of experienced do-it-yourselfers; you could have a sump with a compartment for beneficial plants, one for gravel and charcoal purification, and so on. It is easy to be bitten by the purification bug and let it run away with you though. The final test of how successful your attempts are, rests in the health of your fish population. If your veterinarian certifies them to be as healthy as can be, there's no reason why you should not congratulate yourself on a job well done. - 32185

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