Filtration and Aeration

Eheim Filters - Keep them running well.

Filtration - whats the big fuss? Surely, all you have to do is install your filter and off it goes? Well, in essence that is correct, but its not quite as simple as that. You shouldn't need any technical skill to operate a filter, but it well help you if you understand how the processes work.

The purpose of the filter is to remove dirty materials from the aquarium. With so much crap going through the filter, it is important to keep regular maintenance, as a neglected filter becomes a box of concentrated dirt through which all the aquarium water is continuosly passed. Also a impeller chamber can become clogged, and the fan will stop - hence no water will run. Eeek!! Don't panic just undo the cover and clean it, and it will work again smoothly.

Filters work in three ways:

  • Mechanical filtration: Removes suspended materials from the water.
  • Chemical filtration: Removes dissolved materials from the water.
  • Biological filtration: Uses beneficial bacteria to convert toxic substances into relatively harmless ones.

    Ok, three ways of filration, thats not too bad. And if you want to know a bit more in detail, read on....

    Mechanical filtration: To strain suspended dirt from the water, a reasonably tightly packed material is required. This is a man-made substance like nylon floss or synthetic foam. i would recommend you to only buy foam designed for aquariums, as others may be toxic.

    Chemical filtration: The best material to remove dissolved solids is activated carbon. It has a large surface area, which readily soaks up dissolved minerals and chemicals, such as fish pee, on its surface (that process is called adsorption - remember this word and its use, you could impress you fellow tropical chum and its good to store this info). Also carbon will adsorb useful substances, such as medications, so it must be taken out when these chemicals are in use. After a peroid of time, the carbon becomes ineffect. When this happens it must be replaced.

    In the majority of systems, more than one medium is used so that mechanical and chemical filtration can occur simultaneously.

    Biological filtration: Is the most important, because it uses the bacteria to change harmful fish waste products, ammonia and nitrite, into a less dangerous compound, nitrate. Biological filtration requires a "running in" period while the bacteria establish themselves on the filter medium. This process takes a few weeks, and requires ammonia for the bacteria to eat, which can be provided by adding one or two hardy, robust fish until the nitrite and ammonia levels are stable. Low-maintenance, in-tank, biological filtration can be used in all aquariums. For more information see the page about the Nitrogen Cycle

    Well, you might as well know about aeration and the uses of air pumps...

    Aeration: Power filters will do most of the oxygen enrichment, just as long there is sufficient agitation of the surface, and this will promote the exchange of gasses (Oxygen is absorbed, and CO2 is eliminated). With planted tanks, and there is a small fish population, even agitation is kept to the minimum, to actually keep CO2 in.

    Its best that the air stone is used for special reasons, as it isn't particularly useful. The air pump itself provides aerotion by compressed air, which is electrically driven (well I never). When choosing an airpump, it's size needn't be related to the dimensions of your tank - even the smallest model will provide enough air for a 60 cm long aquarium.

    Sorted? You know about aeration and filtration now? Good, if you still need info look around my site.

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