Choosing an Aquarium Filter
Do you wish that your fish tank’s appearance was as pristine and clean as when you first envisioned it in your living room? As they say, “if wishes were fishes we would all die of mercury poisoning.” The good news is that you don’t need to rely on hopes and wishes to achieve this goal but you do need to arm yourself with information and realistic expectations.
When deciding on an aquarium filtration system, you need to keep the following considerations in mind: size of the tank, type and size of the fish living in the aquarium, and what level of time commitment you can put into maintaining the system.
Ideally, a filter will completely clean the water four times within an hour and, as such, the size of the tank needs to be taken into consideration. This is known as the filter flow rate. For instance, if a unit designed to filter ten gallons is placed in a fifty gallon tank, the filter will need to work much harder to process the waste material and can lead to damage to the filter or unhealthy conditions for the tank’s aquatic denizens.
At the end of the day, fish poop and some fish do so more than others. If you have stocked your tank with goldfish or cichlids, then you are aware of this fact of nature and will need to factor in the number of creatures you have living in the tank to your calculations.
In general there are three types of filters including: the under gravel filter system, power filter, or canister system. Each has their advantages and disadvantages.
Undergravel Filter System (UGF):
As one might expect from the name, this system is designed to clean the gravel of dirt and waste products. The two factors to keep in mind about this system are - it is not a complete filtration system and it comes with a fairly demanding maintenance schedule. It is often necessary to completely remove the lighting and glass lids to accomplish your task and the process will invariably disrupt any decorations that adorn the tank. When buying this type of filter, ask the salesperson about recommended maintenance of the unit.
These typically hang on the side of the tank and require less maintenance than other types of filters. The advantages of these units are that they work all day and draw very little electricity. Maintenance involves changing the pad out in a simple operation that takes less than five minutes. The frequency of this will have more to do with the number of fish you have and the amount of waste they produce. Periodically, you will need to augment this practice with a more thorough cleaning of the entire unit.
Canister systems are more complex than power filters but with the advantage that they can process much more waste due to having more carbon media thus leading to a longer span between cleanings. Maintenance is still required, however, and demands that the unit be taken apart and thus dealing with hoses, valves, the pump, and other parts of the filter.