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Aquarium Filtration

Cardinal Tetras Fish like clean water. Admittedly many can survive quite dirty conditions, for example goldfish can tolerate mucky unfiltered fishponds for years, but the fact is they would be happier in cleaner water! Dirty water increases the likelihood of disease and for long term health and happiness your tank or pond should have a filter. Most tropical and all marine species are nowhere near as tough as goldfish, and if you do not keep the water clean they will die

The purpose of filtration is to degrade biological waste (fish waste, uneaten food, decaying plant matter), chemical polutants (chemicals introduced with tapwater, houshold cleaning and smoking), and mechanical filtration to keep the water looking clean.

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Biological waste: this is the most important part of filtration. Bacteria is used to convert toxic chemicals into safer ones, and ultimately into plant fertilizer. This is exactly the same way that rivers, lakes, seas and oceans keep themselves clean. The bacteria (known as nitrifying bacteria) lives within the filter, but takes several weeks to become established. Bacteria can be added, or will appear naturally but as it takes so long, your aquarium should be set up for several weeks before reaching its final stocking density.

The process in which bacteria converts Ammonia (fish waste) into Nitrates (plant food) is called the nitrogen cycle, and although the chemistry may appear complicated, it is essential that fishkeepers understand the basic principles.

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Chemical polutants: the best way to remove chemical pollutants (rather than biological) in an aquarium is by the addition of activated carbon. Carbon acts as a sponge that soaks up all the dangerous chemicals. It is not essential to use carbon; if you are cautious and treat the water going into your aquarium correctly there will be no chemicals to remove, however many aquarists use it just in case! Carbon can be added to canister and box filters.

Mechanical filtration: filter floss is cheap and effective. Larger particles in the water are filtered out keeping the water clear, clean and looking its best. Filter floss can be added to canister and box filters.

Types of filter
  • Sponge filter
  • Box filter
  • Undergravel filter
  • Internal power filter
  • External power filter
  • Wet / dry filter

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Fishkeeping Facts and Tips

Cichlids? There are estimated to be over 2000 different Cichlid species in the wild, of all sizes, shapes and colours. Many require very specialist conditions such as those coming from the sandy/rocky waters of Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika. Others, such as the Apistogramma dwarf cichlids from the Amazon basin require softer water and a well-planted tank. In general cichlids do not make good community fish as they can get quite aggressive, especially when spawning - but a specialist cichlid tank is certainly a sight to behold, and can be very rewarding for the more experienced aquarist

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