Fish tank filters keep the water clean for your fish in addition to helping them looking pristine. But, there’s a bigger picture. You may be wondering how exactly your fish tank filter works to maintain your tank. Just like how an air filter cleans dust and particles out of the air we breathe, a fish tank filter gets particles out of the water.
Tank filters help to clean out any type of dirt, debris, or particle floating in the water, including fish waste and any food that went uneaten. Additionally, filters work to remove dissolved waste from the water, which can cause odors and discolor the water. These things include decaying tissue and other debris. Filters also remove biological waste like unwanted contaminants such as nitrate.
The best tank filter will get all three of these types of waste.
- Solid waste is filtered through mechanical filtration (i.e., dirt)
- Dissolved waste is filtered through chemical filtration (i.e., tissue)
- Biological waste is filtered through biologic filtration (i.e., contaminants)
Types of Filters
Internal filters such as the Tetra Whisper 20-40 are made for smaller tanks and they are placed inside the tank to provide movement in the water. On the other hand, power filters use disposable cartridges and they will hang on the back side of your tank. A canister filter will do the job if you have a large tank with a lot of fish.
Wet/dry filters work to provide the ultimate biological filtration possible. It’s exposed both to air and water and provides an ideal environment for good bacteria. These install under the tank within the cabinet and will require specific tubes and sometimes specific types of tanks.
Maintaining Your Filter
Maintaining your filter is an on-going process and not something you should forget about. Maintaining your filter regularly and properly is essential to the wellbeing of your fish and everything else in your tank. You should check your water level regularly, making sure the water falls about 1” from the filter’s lip. You should also make sure your air or bubble stones aren’t placed directly under the intake of the filter, as it will cause a rattling sound and can prevent your filter from working properly.
Finally, always use gravel instead of sand. Sand will float in the water and clog up the filter, while gravel will promote the growth of good bacteria. If you’re using sand currently, it’s worth making the switch. You can even buy gravel that has been pre-seeded with good bacteria to increase your tank’s vitality.
If you do want to continue using sand, you can get a mesh net to cover the strainer so it doesn’t mess with your filter.