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Aquarium water filtration

The density of fish in home aquariums is usually higher than in natural waters. The remnants of food, fish feces and other debris contribute to the appearance of a multitude of bacteria, microscopic organisms, which in water look like a whitish suspension.

Muddy water does not look very attractive and spoils even the most successful aquarium landscape. Water purity and clarity can be achieved by filtration in an aquarium.

The essence of the filter is simple: the pump pumps aquarium water into the filter, the filtering materials of which retain dirt particles. This is basically all that is known to new aquarists about filtering.

In fact, filtering has many subtleties and nuances that are not known to everyone.

First of all, you need to understand what processes are used to clean the water in your tank.


Filtering by internal pump-filter.

Beginners are sure that the purity of water directly depends on the purity of the filtering material and therefore they constantly wash, clean and disinfect the filter. As a result, the water in the pond remains as muddy.

In fact, the principle of the filter is somewhat different. Filtering materials retain only large particles of dirt: waste products – feces, dead leaves, uneaten food.

This is the mechanical part of the overall filtration process and is not in itself capable of making water transparent, since microscopic particles less than 0.1 mm do not linger on the filter.

DID YOU KNOW?
The cause, approximately 80 to 90% of all aquarium fish diseases, is physical stress. The most common source of stress is polluted water.

Filtration is the basis of an aquarium and the key to a healthy and thriving aquatic ecosystem. In short, a good filtration system will allow you to create a prosperous aquarium.

Only saprophytes, imperceptible protozoa, can provide crystal clear water. They feed on organic remains, processing them into invisible soluble substances.

In nature, saprophytes live in the surface layer of the soil, where the greatest amount of oxygen accumulates. In an aquarium, colonies of microorganisms mostly develop on filtering material, soil, a small amount can be found on the leaves of plants and freely float in water.

Ideal conditions are created in the filter for saprophytes: food in the form of various wastes along with oxygen enters filter materials, where it is utilized / neutralized.

Proper management of the nitrogen cycle is a vital element in a healthy aquarium. All decomposing organic matter produces ammonia which is extremely toxic to fish. Due to the bacterial process, this ammonia is converted to a somewhat less toxic nitrite, it in turn is oxidized, forming much less toxic nitrates.

In the natural environment, these nitrates are subsequently absorbed by plants as fertilizer, and the same thing occurs to some extent in an aquarium with live plants.


Filtering with external canister filters – various internal filtration schemes.

The aquarium is still an imperfect model of the natural world. Aquariums are usually much more densely populated with fish than in their natural habitat. This increases the amount of ammonia produced in relatively small volumes of the aquarium.

Bacteria responsible for the destruction of ammonia – Nitrifying bacteria – colonize the surfaces of any objects inside the aquarium. A biological filter is nothing more than a chemically inert porous sponge that provides a significantly increased surface area on which these bacteria can develop. It takes several weeks for the filter materials to populate with the beneficial bacteria, during which the aquarium is most vulnerable, this condition is known as the “new aquarium syndrome”, so don’t rush to run fish there.

The accumulation of toxic ammonia from decaying waste is the main cause of fish mortality in a new or overloaded aquarium. In the artificial environment of the aquarium, the nitrogen cycle is effectively completed with the start of nitrate production.

In order for the nitrate level to not rise to a harmful level, regular partial water changes are necessary to remove nitrates and add fresh water.


Filtering with air filters – bottom filter and internal.

Many saprophytes form a biofilm in which a microscopic suspension lingers and decomposes. This process is called biological filtration, and it is this process that is able to provide visually clean water.

1. A biofilm is a group of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other, also / also called mucus (although not everything described as mucus is a biofilm). The structure of a biofilm protects microorganisms from adverse conditions and keeps biomass inside, even when conditions are not optimal for its growth.

2. Aerobic bacteria are usually involved in the biofiltration process, which means that microorganisms need oxygen for their vital activity.

3. The process of “nitrification” requires oxygen (aerobic conditions), without which the biofilter can “collapse.”

Too thorough washing of the filters is a mistake of the beginning aquarists, as the beneficial bacteria die during it. To preserve microorganisms, the filter should be carefully rinsed with water at room temperature and not using chemical disinfectants.

To do this, gently squeeze the sponge with your hands under the tap until it is clean or it is better to use old water from the aquarium in a separate container for flushing the filter material, which is then drained. As a result, a certain amount of saprophytes will remain on the filter and in a few days the colony of bacteria will recover.


Filtration with internal sectional biofilter.

In addition to the above types of filtration, there is also chemical filtration. It is carried out using special fillers: Perhaps the most common is activated carbon, which can adsorb some of the harmful wastes of fish, absorb dissolved fish residues of drugs for fish and other chemicals, there are many different fillers for chemical filtration of aquarium water.


The usual set of fillers for filtering water in an aquarium: Sponge – for mechanical cleaning; Activated carbon – for chemical cleaning; Ceramic rings – for biological filtration.

Chemical fillers are laid in the filter after the material is mechanically cleaned. Fish or invertebrates need chemical cleaning rather, but the plants themselves are biological and chemical filters.

There is a rule that is recommended to follow: start filtering from larger items first. Unfortunately, to try to invent something new, some manufacturers and designers of filters recommend using the opposite: first, a fine filter is not entirely correct and dangerous, simple common sense prompts to remove large particles in the first place.

For the active filtration process to be carried out continuously, it is important to ensure a constant supply of oxygen to the filter materials. Interruptions in the supply of oxygen dissolved in water can be caused by two reasons:

1. Late cleaning of the filter material from mechanical impurities.

Excessive dirt prevents the entry of oxygen, and saprophytes begin to decompose organics less efficiently. The frequency of washing the filter depends on the population of the aquarium.

A large number of fish requires frequent washing, and a small number of inhabitants and the presence of aquarium plants reduces the strain on the filter.

2. Interruptions in the filter.

Without oxygen, the beneficial bacteria die, and prolonged pump stops lead to the complete destruction of microbial colonies. As a result, reverse processes occur in the filter, that is, dead saprophytes begin to release poisons into the water: hydrogen sulfide, methane, ammonia and carbon dioxide.

After connecting a long non-working filter, a stream of dirt with an unpleasant smell will rush into the water, poisoning the fish.


Water should flow evenly over all surfaces of the filler. We must not forget that water flows in the simplest way that it finds.

Therefore, when using fillers in bags, do not forget to distribute them evenly, so that the bags with filler tightly touch all sides of the filter chamber.

In other words, turning off the filter and untimely cleaning is fraught with negative consequences. Some fans turn off the filter and the aerator for the night, which is completely illiterate and causes permanent damage to the aquarium ecosystem.

At night, the need for oxygen in an aquarium increases significantly, as the plants do not release it in the dark, but rather absorb it.

The performance of the filtering equipment should correspond to the size of the aquarium and the number of its inhabitants. The more fish, the more powerful should be the filter and have a larger volume of filter material.

It is believed that the “power” of the filtration system should be about three times the volume of the aquarium per hour. This means that if your aquarium has a volume of one hundred liters of water, you will need a filter equipped with a pump — theoretically — capable of delivering about three hundred liters per hour.

But this is only on average, in some cases it is necessary to use filtering more restrained, while in others it is much more active.

Using a filter is more powerful than the aquarium conditions require; it negatively affects plants, for many of which a strong flow of water only hurts, and an excess of oxygen during the day will not benefit them, as the plants feed on carbon dioxide dissolved in water.


Semi-wet / dry filtration – using additional gutters and using a separate tank.

Now on sale there are a variety of aquarium filters. The range of their power and functions allows you to choose the right filter for your Aquarium and create an optimal filtration system.

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