In the wild, a fish’s environment functions without equipment for one basic reason: Mother Nature takes care of everything. At home we need to replace the natural systems that we have taken away by placing fish in captivity. After you have your aquarium tank and stand, you need some equipment to keep it running smoothly.
- Diferrent types of aquarium filtrations
- Different types of aquarium filters
- All you need to know about Heaters and Thermometers
- Aquarium water circulation
Filters play an essential role in performing mechanical, biological, and chemical functions in your aquarium, they are necessary in your aquarium equipment. Some filters cover only one function; others may do two or three.
The three main functions of a filtration system are:
- Promote the nitrogen cycle (which removes unwanted ammonia and nitrites from your system) by providing a medium for bacteria growth
- Remove debris and waste from the water
- Aerate the aquarium’s water by producing water flow and bubbles. By adding these bubbles, oxygen goes into your tank, and eventually CO2 is removed at the surface through gas exchange.
There are three types of aquarium filtration, and whatever system you decide on needs to incorporate all three of them:
Mechanical filtration removes solid wastes and debris suspended in the water by passing it over materials, such as synthetic foam or nylon fiber floss, which captures small particles.In time, this same filter can perform biological filtration when the surface area of the filter medium (the foam or floss) becomes covered with beneficial bacteria. The medium is usually contained in a small cartridge that slips inside of a power filter unit, or is added in bulk form from a bag or box, as with a corner filter.
Popular mechanical filter types include:
- Power filters
- Corner filters
Mechanical filters come in many different sizes to accommodate the many different tank sizes. When you go shopping for filters, we suggest to buy a Penguin, Ehime, or Whisper products, because in our opinion they are the best.
The main purpose of biological filtration is to provide a home for the bacteria that changes ammonia into nitrates and then nitrates.
The function of nitrifying bacteria is to convert deadly ammonia and food debris into less harmful nitrites, and then into even less harmful nitrates which can be removed with water changes. This amazing biological purifica- tion process is also known as detoxification or the nitrogen cycle.
Large filters don’t necessarily mean better biological filtration. What counts is the amount of surface area on the medium. The larger the total surface area of the medium, the more bacteria your system and fish have to use in the fight for good water quality.
Chemical filtration takes place through mediums such as activated zeolite and activated charcoal, which absorb chemicals and dissolved minerals as water passes over them. Proper chemical filtration helps keep your aquarium water clean and sparkling.
Types of Aquarium Filters
The many types of filters on the market fall into several categories as far as function and purpose are concerned. Technology is advancing and a few new systems combine the best aspects of several different filters.
An undergravel filter is one of the best systems for almost any type of aquarium setup and has been around for a long time.
An undergravel filter pulls water down through the gravel and the slots in the plates and returns it to the tank via the airlift (uplift) tubes. During this process ammonia is broken down as the water passes over a colony of beneficial bacteria living on the substrate’s surface and in the space beneath the plates.
Debris is trapped along the substrate bed, making it easy to vacuum away. Periodic vacuuming is a must with this type of system to keep the bed from becoming clogged.Undergravel filters are great for systems that do not have big rocks or decorations to block large sections of the gravel bed. Blocked plates create dead spots on the filter.
A sponge filter provides biological filtration. This type of filter is simple in design and, when attached to an air pump, draws aquarium water though a large sponge that acts as a medium for bacteria to gather on.
Sponge filters are good to use in quarantine and hospital tanks because they have no chemical filtration that can ruin the effectiveness of medications you may be using. Sponge filters are also useful in fry tanks and aquariums with small fish because they eliminate the danger of youngsters getting sucked up into standard filtration units
Corner filters function as mechanical filters but also provide biological and chemical filtration.There are corner filters today that can hang vertically and horizontally on the glass walls. The downside is that they still take up room in the tank and can only be hidden using strategic placement of plants and other aquarium decorations.
Power filters are cool because you can use them for mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. A power filter runs on electricity (with an internal motor so a pump isn’t needed) and usually hangs on the outside of the aquarium.
Power filters are box-shaped and come in a variety of sizes to meet the needs of different-sized tanks.These units usually have one or two slots on the inside of the unitthat hold removablefiber-coatedfilter pads.The inside of these pads usually contain charcoal.
A canister filter provides biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration. This type of unit is very popular with hobbyists and is often used in larger aquarium systems because they do such a wonderful job of keeping water in good condition.A canister filter contains several media compartments (baskets)that usually contain sponges/foam blocks, carbon (charcoal), and some type of ceramic medium. The aquarium water is drawn through the filter via hoses attached to a high-pressure pump.
Fluidized bed filters
Fluidized bed filters are extremely compact and use sand as a filter medium.The sand is kept wet by water flowing through it and has a huge surface area where a large colony of nitrogen cycle beneficial bacteria can grow and multiply, as mentioned earlier in this article.
This type of filter improves oxygenation because the sand is constantly tumbled in a stream of water that creates what is known as a fluidized bed. Sand grains move with the water flow to create a high-quality transfer between the water and the bacteria present.
This type of filter uses diatomaceous earth to filter aquarium water to a very clean and “polished” state. It can capture even the smallest of dirt particles.
Due to the super clean water this equipment produces, it will help to lower diseases such as fin rot, velvet, ich, and other problems caused by microorganisms. This type of filter can be hung on the tank or placed on the floor.
Read also: The Best Food for Aquarium Fish
Natural filtration with plants
Long before artificial filters appeared on the market, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, nature had its own special way of taking care of everyday cleaning.
That way is called plants. Plants act as natural filters and complement the manufactured units in your home aquarium. Freshwater plants help biological and chemical filtration in the home aquarium.
Heaters and Thermometers
If you plan to set up any type of tropical freshwater system, you need to have at least one heater as an aquarium equipment.
The three main types of heaters you can purchase at a fish shop are
- Submersible heaters
- Non-submersible heaters
- Undergravel heating cable
As their name suggests, you completely submerse these in the aquarium water. Ideally, you should place them in a diagonal line across the rear piece of glass, so that heat flows throughout the tank.
A submersible heater has a watertight glass tube containing an electrical element wound around a ceramic core.A small red or orange light lets you know whether the heater is on or off. At the top of the heater is a temperature adjustment valve you use to raise or lower the heat.
Submersible heaters usually havean internal thermometer that you can see through the glass tube. You simply rotate the adjustment valve so that the temperature line moves to the temperature you want to set for your species. Other models have temperature lines (similar to markings on a measuring cup but in degrees) built in with the control knob. The heater automatically maintains the temperature you choose.
Non-submersible heaters hang on the outside aquarium frame, with the glass tube hanging in the water. The adjustment valve sits above the water line.
This type of heater generally does not have an internal thermometer. You make adjustments in small increments by turning the valve and checking the temperature. This is the older style of heater.
Aquarium Pumps and Air Stones
One of the big advantages of having an aquarium is that it makes a bunch of cool sounds. Air bubbles produce a great tone and can be very soothing. After you get your filter system all figured out, it’s time to have a little fun and create a few cheerful bubbles.You can do this in a couple of cool ways:
- Air pumps (used to run some filters and decorations) usually have some kind of bubble or current outflow that is fun to watch.
- Airstones can create mega-bubbles, which will impress your friends and neighbors.
An air pump is kind of a jack-of-all-trades. They can power filters, airstones, and several types of plastic decorations. Air pumps are available in both vibrator and piston models.
When added to an undergravel filter, a pump drives air though the airstone in the uplift tubes via tubing. The air is then broken up into small bubbles as it passes through an airstone and up the tube.
There are two main types of air pump:
They are great for the home aquarium because they are not as expensive as piston pumps, and don’t need a whole lot of mechanical maintenance. Vibrator pumps do have one big drawback: They can bevery noisy, especially if you purchase a poor-quality model.
They are much more powerful than vibrator pumps and are often used on very large or multiple systems. The disadvantage to piston pumps is that they are hard to find, need to be oiled, and require
traps to keep oil from getting into the aquarium system.
Airstones and circulation
An airstone is a neat little tube-shaped artificial stone used to split the air supplied by the pump into small bubbles.
These bubbles help increase water oxygenation. Airstones are generally made of ceramic or perforated woodbased materials. Airstones can be short and round or tall and thin.
The tall stones tend to emit a finer stream of bubbles than the shorter ones do.
To create a big bubble stream in your aquarium, you can purchase a bubble disk. A bubble disk is a large airstone that looks like a plastic flying disc.
You simply connect the disk to an air pump with tubing and then slip it into the tank. The disk makes a large stream of bubbles, which can aid in water circulation.
Bubble disks may become clogged with algae (usually this takes quite some time), but you can clean them by rinsing them gently under clear water.
Aquarium Equipment - Tubing, Valves and Tees
Air-line tubing functions like the veins and arteries in the human body. Without your veins and arteries, your internal organs would just kind of lie there, lifeless, because they have nothing connecting them — nothing keeping the lifeblood flowing.
So it is with air-line tubing and your aquarium equipment; therefore, a supply of good air-line tubing is an absolute must.
We need to mention some of the other important elements of your aquarium
system. At first, you may think that some of this equipment is unnecessary, but
everything has its place.
Even if you don’t use everything, some of these extra gadgets are nice to have lying around just in case of an emergency. Besides, the more fish junk you have, the better you look in the eyes of other hobbyists.
Air-line tubing connects equipment such as corner filters, airstones, decorations such as divers and moving ships, and bubble disks to an air pump.
Even if you have nothing in your aquarium that runs off of tubing connected to air pumps, it is always a good thing to have on hand.
Gang valves and tees
Valves and tees help you split the air from an air pump in several directions. You use gang valves to run several pieces of equipment or decorations off of one air pump.
A valve usually hangs on the back of the tank, and is made out of plastic or brass. The air-line tubing from the pump hooks into one side, and the tubing directed toward decorations and equipment is connected to one of the multiple outlets on the valve.
You can adjust the strength of the airflow coming out of the valve for each piece of equipment simply by turning the individual shut-off nozzles.