Aquarium water treatment equipment
This equipment is used to pump air through the water of the aquarium to ensure its circulation and enhance gas exchange on its surface. Contrary to popular belief, air bubbles have only very little direct effect on the content of dissolved oxygen in aquarium water.
As the stream of air bubbles rises to the surface through the water column, it carries with it water. This phenomenon is known as the “airlift principle”.
It not only provides for the circulation of water, but also drives the water in some types of filters, thus facilitating the circulation of water.
1. Motor coil 2. Electromagnet 3. Rotary lever 4. Diaphragm 5. Air chamber 6. Air regulator 7. Single / double / quadruple air duct 8. Cord
Air pumps (Compressors) – devices that work with the help of electrical energy. Usually they are driven by the vibration of the rubber diaphragm inside the pump and creating airflow.
They are also called vibratory. In addition, piston pumps are commercially available.
Pumps of both types must not be immersed in water. Air pumps are very diverse in their performance.
It is important to choose a pump that meets the needs of the inhabitants of the aquarium in the air. For the main aeration in a small aquarium, a small cheap pump is quite suitable; however, a large and powerful model is needed to service the whole farm.
If necessary, one sufficiently powerful air pump can serve several aquariums. The air pump should be purchased, even if it is not urgently needed.
Anyway, a source of air is likely to be required sooner or later — for example, to remove Artemia nauplius, for additional urgent aeration, or to ensure the operation of a small air-lift filter in a quarantine aquarium.
Air duct is a narrow plastic or silicone hoses of a certain thickness, used to supply air from the pump to the aquarium.
Check valves installed in the air duct between the pump and water. They protect the pump from the ingress of water, which can rise through the tube if the supply of electricity to the pump is interrupted.
Connecting valves are used to divide the air flow and direct it into several sleeves, as well as to regulate the air supply in each sleeve.
Tees designed to create a network of air ducts, which may be needed when servicing several aquariums with one pump.
Clamps most often used in combination with tees, forming a regulating device. They can also be used to reduce the air supply to a specific air duct.
However, increased back pressure can cause the pump diaphragm to rupture. Therefore, if the pump pumps more air than is required, it is better to divide the air flow into separate hoses and release excess air into the atmosphere using a connecting valve or a set of tees and clamps.
Sprayers work under water, dividing the air flow through the air line from the pump into thousands of tiny air bubbles. They can be made of wood, plastic, porous rubber, abrasive stone, ceramic or composite.
In addition to the above devices, there are many more “toys” that work with the help of air flow. These are opening and closing sinks, divers, floating up and down, etc. Some of them can cause fright in fish, so they should be avoided.
Although they also contribute to the aeration of water, they still do not carry any useful function that is not available for use with conventional sprays.
Other aquarium equipment
Ion exchange column. In such devices, ion exchange resins are used, which chemically change some parameters of water.
They are usually used to condition tap water before it is added to an aquarium. Ion exchange can be used to soften or desalinate water or to remove nitrates.
Different types of processing require different resins and different ion-exchange devices (for example, water can be processed twice to get rid of hardness and nitrates). An ion exchange device is only needed by an aquarist if tap water really requires such pretreatment.
If repeated treatment is necessary (for example, to reduce hardness and remove nitrates), then the best option is reverse osmosis (see below).
Ozonator It is used to kill pathogens in aquarium water, usually in seawater aquariums.
Freshwater aquariums are rarely used.
Installation of reverse osmosis. The process of reverse osmosis removes all impurities from the water, leaving almost pure H2O.
Reverse osmosis is used primarily for the demineralization of tap water, so that you can put fish that require salt-free water into it, as well as to remove nitrates and other pollutants. These devices are expensive, and they are worth buying only if tap water really requires such treatment.
Ultraviolet sterilizer. Used to destroy free-living pathogens in the water.
Usually used in saltwater aquariums. For home freshwater aquariums, as a rule, not needed.
Aquarium water filtration
The filters operate using either electric pumps or air flow using the airlift principle (see above). Filters of the second type are much cheaper.
Most newcomers who have recently become fascinated with hobbies such as aquarism tend to overvalue the amount of filtration required to maintain good water quality. However, veterans, who began to engage in aquarism even in those times when only a few could afford to buy an electric filter, know that the simplest filtration, which works thanks to the air, is quite capable of biologically treating a very large amount of waste.
The only task that such systems can sometimes not cope with is the mechanical collection of all solid waste and the maintenance of water transparency.
The main parameters of the filter are the volume of the filtering medium and capacity (the rate at which water is pumped through the filter). Electric filters typically have a fixed capacity, for example 300 liters per hour (l / h).
It is very important to choose a filter suitable for your aquarium in terms of parameters such as the size of the aquarium (the amount of water to be filtered), the load (the amount of waste treated) and the nature of the water movement preferred by the inhabitants of the aquarium. Immediately make a reservation that the power and size of the filter are not convincing evidence of the universality of its work for all types of aquariums.
Excessive volume of filtering medium, of course, does not hurt, but too high speed of the flow of water can cause considerable discomfort and stress in fish. If the rate of flow of water is too high, it will be difficult for them to swim against the current.
Small fish, especially fry, can be sucked into the filter and they will die. A filter with a capacity of 300 l / h in two hours will completely pass through all the water in a 600-liter aquarium, but in a 50-liter aquarium it will take only ten minutes.
From the point of view of fish, this is about the same thing as living in a washing machine.
On the other hand, an insufficient rate of flow of water through the filter can cause the water to become turbid, and an insufficient volume of filtering medium will cause the filter to quickly become clogged, and it will be necessary to clean it too often. A decrease in the biological effectiveness of a filter can be the result of the death of a colony of bacteria living in it.
A clear advantage has a filter with adjustable flow rate of water. All airflow activated filters can be adjusted by changing the air supply.
Some (but not all) electrical filters have a flow rate regulator. They are more flexible and can be used in different aquariums for different types of fish – depending on how the aquarist’s interests develop or change.
Below are the types of filters that are most often found in the trade network:
External filter (waterfall) It is a plastic box, sometimes consisting of several sections. It is placed on the outside of the aquarium.
Such a filter may be driven by a centrifugal pump or air flow. In Europe, it is no longer popular, but it is often used in the United States, where very sophisticated electrical models of such a filter are on sale. Water can be fed into the filter from the aquarium, and then, after passing through the filter materials, to flow back into the aquarium.
Another option is that water is pumped out of the aquarium using a pump, and then it flows back through a drain located above the water level.
Air lift filter. It is a small plastic container, usually in the shape of a cube, a triangular pyramid, or a vertical cylinder. In any case, it works on the principle of airlift.
Water usually enters the filter through a perforated cover, then passes from the top down through the filter material, and then rises along the airlift and goes outside. More recently, these filters were very popular. At that time, the only alternative was primitive, often leaking external boxes or expensive electrical external filters (canisters).
But now they are mostly supplanted by other types of filters. Air-lift filters can still be used in small aquariums or to provide additional or short-term chemical filtration.
External filter canister most often occurs in the form of a vertical cylindrical container (sometimes it has the shape of a rectangular box) for the filtering medium. Above is an electric pump.
Water flows from the aquarium through flexible plastic hoses, and is pumped back again after passing through filter materials. Sometimes a flute tube is attached to the outlet – a rigid plastic tube with holes dissecting the water returning to the aquarium.
It can be placed both above the water surface and in the water. Such filters of different volume and performance are commercially available (the latter can be adjusted in most models).
Usually canister filters are not suitable for small aquariums.
Internal filter-the cup is a plastic bottle with perforated side walls or slots for water inlet. It contains filter media (usually one or more sponge cartridges).
Above the balloon is an electric pump. All this device is immersed in water.
Filters of various sizes are available, some of which have performance regulators. Such a filter should not be used in spawning aquariums, because it may well suck fry.
Circulator. This is a separate electric centrifugal pump, designed so that it can be connected to the filtering system, mainly to the bottom filter, which is under a layer of gravel. Some types of such pumps allow you to adjust the flow rate of water.
Most of them are too powerful, so they should not be used in small aquariums.
Froth column. The operation of this device is based on an air cleaning process.
At the same time, proteins and other pollutants are captured by air bubbles and transferred to the upper part of the device, where they accumulate in the form of foam in a removable bowl. Best of all the column works in salt water.
Freshwater models are inefficient and do not bring any real benefit.
Sponge filter is one of the very first and primitive designs of air-lift filters. Nevertheless, they are still popular and are most widely used in spawning.
This filter consists of a perforated plastic tube on which one or more sponge cartridges are attached. Air passes through the tube and carries water with it. Water containing waste passes through a sponge filter and flows into the tube.
Many aquarists constantly make the sponge filter work somewhere in the corner of the common aquarium, thereby maintaining the biological maturity of the sponge, so that later, when necessary, use the filter in a quarantine or spawning aquarium.
Jet filter It consists of one or more perforated trays with filtering material placed one above the other above the aquarium. Water, returning from the external filter canister, is sprayed (usually with the help of a “flute” divider) and gets on the filtering material in the upper tray.
It then flows in streams through it, flows down onto the trays lying below and eventually ends up in the aquarium. The advantage of this type of filter is a good saturation of water with oxygen, leading to optimal biological processes. Even using only one tray creates a good way of spraying water returning from an external filter, and reducing turbulence in the aquarium.
In addition, it is an excellent technique for ensuring a high oxygen content in water.
Bottom filter (false bottom). This is a bottom filter consisting of a perforated plastic plate, which is placed on the bottom of the aquarium under the ground. The filter plate is connected to one or more lifting tubes that rise above the ground layer.
They usually end on or near the surface of the water. The soil in this case acts as a filtering medium (filtering layer).
For optimum efficiency, the filter layer should have a thickness of 6.0-7.5 cm and a grain size of 4-5 mm. Such filters can operate on the principle of direct flow or reverse flow.
In the first case, water flows down through the layer of gravel, and then rises up through the lifting tube. In the second case, water is pumped down the tube, and then it rises, passing through a layer of substrate.
Direct flow is driven by air flow or a “head”, and sometimes with the help of an external filter, the output tube of which is inserted into the bottom tube of the bottom filter. The forward flow is driven by a “head” operating in the reverse mode (not all models can do this) or by an external filter, the output tube of which is inserted into the bottom filter tube of the bottom filter.
The advantage of conventional flow is that the “inlet” is the entire surface of the soil, so that all solid particles are captured during the filtration process. However, in the end, this leads to substrate contamination with neutral residues (and not hazardous waste, as many aquarists believe).
Through return flow, driven by a canister pump, solid particles are mechanically drawn into the external filter, and the substrate acts primarily as a biological filter. Although, in all likelihood, the process of biological filtration occurs mainly in the canister, where the waste is split.
As for the reverse, it is difficult to find any potential advantage of it.
It is impossible to start the bottom filter with very fast flow of water, as it usually leads to the absorption of particles through the filtering layer and ascent upwards through the lifting tubes (in the case of a normal flow) or leaching from the soil (in the case of a reverse flow).
Filter materials in the aquarium
Unless the manufacturer’s instructions state otherwise, the substances listed below can be used in any type of container filter, and the filter material does not need to be of any particular type or form (for example, a cartridge).
Calcium carbonate. Used in the form of coral sand, coral chips (crushed corals) or limestone rubble as a chemical that increases water hardness and increases or buffers the pH. It can also act as a mechanical and biological filter.
This filtering agent should be rinsed with water before use and thus cleaned of dust. It can be periodically washed and used again.
Activated carbon. It is used as a means of removing some medicines from water (especially organic dyes such as methylene blue) and dissolved heavy metals.
Contrary to popular belief, it does not remove the products of the nitrogen cycle – ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. It can also act as a filtering material for mechanical and biological cleaning.
Coal works by adsorption – pollutants are collected on its surface. The amount of substance that it can adsorb is limited, so it needs to be replaced regularly.
Activated carbon is charcoal that has undergone a special treatment in order to increase its porosity (and consequently, a large surface area), and thus its ability to adsorb. Before use, the coal should be rinsed in water to remove dust.
Ceramics. Many ceramic products, especially hollow tubes, can serve as filtering material for coarse filtration.
They act as a mechanical and biological filter medium and are commonly used in the first section of multisectional filters, since they are not so easily clogged and freely allow the flow of water. They can be washed and reused.
Synthetic threads. Nowadays nylon yarn is often considered an old-fashioned tool, but it is still an inexpensive and very effective filtering material that allows mechanical and biological filtration.
It can be repeatedly washed and reused.
Sponge. Another cheap and very effective mechanical and biological filter material.
Usually sold in the form of cartridges attached to certain filters. The sponge can be washed and reused many times, but in the end it loses its elasticity and needs to be replaced.
It is very important to use only a special sponge for filters – its other types may be toxic to fish.
Gravel. Aquarium gravel of any type (but not sand that is too easily clogged), should be washed before use, can be used for mechanical and biological filtration. It can also act as a chemically active filter medium, unless it is special gravel that is inert to water and does not increase the hardness of the water.
It can be washed and reused indefinitely.
Peat. Usually used as a chemical medium to lower the pH.
It can also act mechanically and biologically. It gives water the color of tea (seemingly quite natural to many fish originating from reservoirs with acidic water). Peat should be used only in a nylon bag (a nylon stocking is ideal for this), since otherwise it will most likely penetrate the aquarium water.
Before using the bag of peat should be rinsed in water to wash off the dust. You can buy a special peat for aquariums, but a completely acceptable alternative is garden peat with no additives, and it is also much cheaper. (If this raw material (as well as many other gardening orientations) was treated with special means (fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, inhibitors, etc.), such savings can lead to big troubles. – Approx. Consultant.)
Sintered glass. This is a glass that has undergone a special treatment, as a result of which it becomes extremely porous.
This results in a very large surface area on which colonies of bacteria settle. Thus a very effective biological environment is obtained.
If it is used for mechanical filtration, it quickly becomes clogged. Therefore, even before the water reaches the glass, it must pass, for example, through a layer of sponge to remove from it the bulk of the mechanical suspension. Sintered glass is an expensive material, but because of its high biological efficiency, a relatively small amount is equivalent to a much larger number of filaments, sponges, ceramics, gravel, etc.
Zeolite is a naturally occurring ion exchange resin that neutralizes ammonia and is used primarily as a chemical filter material. It can also act mechanically and biologically. Zeolite has a limited service life, but it can be restored by soaking for 24 hours in a strong brine.
Rinse with fresh water before reuse. Zeolite should not be used as a daily biological filter filler – otherwise, when it is fully developed, an ammonia crisis will occur in the aquarium.
It helps to deal with temporary problems associated with ammonia, for example in hospital aquariums, where medicine is used that is harmful to biological filters, as well as in containers for transporting fish, so that the fish during long trips do not get poisoned by their own waste.
A luminaire with one or more fluorescent lamps, each of which requires control gear, is the most common type of aquarium lighting. Some units control two lamps. Lamps are usually installed in the cap along the length of the aquarium.
Usually they are 15 cm shorter than the length of the aquarium.
Only dedicated gear systems specifically designed for the aquarium should be used, since their design involves working in high humidity conditions. However, they should in no case be in contact with the aquarium water.
These are, for example, plastic moisture-proof cuffs at the ends of the electrical wires entering the lamp, protecting the wires from condensing moisture. These cuffs are of different diameters, which should be considered when buying fluorescent lamps.
There is a special kind of special fluorescent lamps (usually expensive) that provide luminescence in different regions of the spectrum, intended for different purposes. However, generally speaking, a cheap fluorescent lamp from a hardware store is also a great fit.
Mercury lamps are also commercially available, but for their use it is necessary that the aquarium be without a cap. More often they are used for lighting sea-water aquariums or large open aquariums.
Mercury lamps can illuminate individual parts of the aquarium, leaving other areas in the shade – this is a natural effect.
Tests for aquarium water
Tests can be purchased at pet stores. With their help, you can control various aspects of the chemical composition and quality of water. Commercially available tests of different companies, sometimes they use different methods of testing.
These kits usually consist of one or more bottles of liquid chemical reagents and a measuring container where a sample of water is poured for testing. The reagent (or reagents) is added to the water sample in accordance with the instructions. To obtain reliable results, these instructions must be followed exactly.
In some test kits, reagents are used in the form of powder, tablets or indicator paper, immersed in a sample of water. In most cases, the reference color table is attached to the set.
From the table take data for the color that best matches the color of the sample or indicator paper.
Some tests have greater accuracy, others less. In some sets, color shades may be difficult to distinguish.
Avoid sets, in the color tables which all shades are very similar to each other. Some kits have a very limited shelf life – especially nitrate detection kits.
If one of these sets shows a zero value (theoretically impossible, if there are living beings in the water), then it may be suspected that it is already ineffective.
Warning: some of the chemicals used in the tests are poisonous to fish, other animals, and people.
Tests are available to measure the following substances in aquarium water:
Ammonia, Copper, Nitrates, Iron, Carbon Dioxide, Chlorine, Nitrites.
In addition, there are tests to measure water hardness and pH. It is imperative to have tests for measuring the content of ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and pH values, and for some fish – also a set for measuring water hardness.
The rest of the tests are needed only if you suspect that the corresponding problem has occurred.
Additional aquarium equipment
Wipers (magnetic and conventional scrapers, brushes) are used to clean the sight glass from algae. Metal blade scrapers can scratch the acrylic, cut the silicone sealant, sticking together the walls of aquariums made of silicate glass.
Therefore, it is better to either not use them at all or use them with the utmost care.
Buckets necessary for different purposes. Standard plastic buckets are not made from food grade plastic, but they can be used to remove dirty water. For water poured into the aquarium, it is better to use enamelled buckets, large boxes for storing food, containers for ice cream, etc.
Siphon for cleaning gravel. Used as a “vacuum cleaner” for the ground.
Well removes detritus. It is also useful for over-silted soil drainage.
However, it should not be used for this purpose during a regular weekly care of the aquarium, as this will cause too much impact on the population of beneficial microorganisms living in the soil and the biofilter.
Quarantine aquarium. This is a small additional aquarium used when one or more fish must be kept in isolation – for example, during treatment, quarantine or spawning. If necessary, it can be installed on any flat surface capable of supporting its weight.
It does not need a special stand. However, it must have a cover or cover glass, as well as its own system of heating and aeration of water. A filter may also be required – it depends on the circumstances at the time.
Usually used sponge filter.
Nets For catching fish, two nets are needed so that you can use the “double reach” technique. Harassing a fish with a single net can be stressful.
Too small nets are useless – even for catching small fish. The minimum reasonable size of the net is 10×15 cm. Obviously, larger fish need larger nets.
In most cases, nets are made of nylon mesh. For fish, sticking out spikes, at the sight of danger (for example, for catfish), special nets are required from dense fabric, because in ordinary nets they can get confused.
Check the texture of the net – rough material can damage the skin of fish.
Silicone sealant has many applications – for repair, sealing, etc. In addition, it allows you to make any equipment yourself. Use only sealants specifically designed for aquariums.
Building silicone sealants may contain toxic fungicide and dyes.
Hose Used to drain water from the aquarium during a partial water change. To do this, you can use any hose made of flexible plastic (diameter approximately 1.00-1.25 cm).
Partition for aquarium It is used to divide the aquarium into separate parts – for example, to isolate bully fishes from each other, to ensure peace and tranquility of diseased fish or solitude for spawning fish. A septum is usually a temporary measure applied in anticipation of a more permanent solution to this problem.
You can buy ready-made partitions or use sheets of glass or transparent plastic of suitable sizes. You can cut plastic trays designed to collect condensate and make excellent partitions.
Water Treatment Products include a number of items – for example, dechlorinators, means for removing copper and other neutralizers of toxic substances; mineral salts, means for regulating pH; fertilizers for plants; tonicity, etc. Some of them are really useful and necessary, others can be replaced by mechanical treatment or the use of natural methods. It is very important to understand that the possibility of chemical treatment of water does not mean at all that it is really necessary in any case (if ever it is necessary!).
Too many aquarists believe (or convince them) that their fish will not be able to survive or stay healthy without using these types of water treatment. However, we must remember that the fish lived and multiplied in aquariums long before the majority of these substances were invented. Yes, and in the wild, they are also fine without them.
If you expose fish to a mixture of chemicals, it can be extremely harmful for them. If, however, water treatment is needed, select the desired chemicals made by the same manufacturer.
As a rule, they are designed so that their combined use is safe (unless otherwise indicated in the instructions). Using products from different manufacturers can lead to undesirable chemical reactions and poisoning of fish.
It is advisable to have a certain number of spare parts in case the equipment breaks down at the wrong time:
* Separate heater or thermostat.
* Compressor membrane.
* Air duct and valves.
* Other parts requiring regular replacement.
* Parts that are difficult to get – for example, special light bulbs or fluorescent lamps.
* Silicone sealant required for repair or temporary waterproofing