The Three Basic Types of Aquarium Filtration Systems

The three basic types of aquarium filtration systems

With all the different information on the internet, sifting through the basics of maintaining an aquarium can be difficult, especially for new aquarists. This is especially true when it comes to keeping your tank clean.

There are so many tips and tricks out there that people often forget that the best and often simplest way to keep their tanks clean is with a filtration system, which offers many benefits. Here are the three basic types of aquarium filtration systems.


Mechanical Filtration

Mechanical filtration should always be your first form of defense, as it’s the easiest and most reliable way to filter out waste, especially for a beginner. A mechanical filter can come with many different filtering mechanisms, such as sponges, foam, or a microfiber polishing cloth. If you’re not sure which filter you need, many hobbyists combine a large and fine filter as a catchall.

Biological Filtration

Biological filtration systems are rising in popularity because they’re natural and they put less stress on fish. Biological filtration occurs when water passes over the colonies of nitrifying bacteria that grow on hard, porous parts of the aquarium such as rocks and aquarium glass. As this bacteria spreads, ammonia turns to nitrite, and the nitrite then turns to nitrate—a much less harmful form of nitrite. This is where regular water changes come in; they get rid of the nitrate buildup. You can implement biological filtration by adding water circulation mechanisms to the tank, monitoring nitrate levels, and giving good bacteria space to grow.

Chemical Filtration

Biological and mechanical filtration systems are must-haves, but chemical filtration is optional. You can place different forms of media in your filter to get rid of unwanted chemicals; each medium gets rid of a different chemical, so you’ll want to identify the problem first. For example, activated carbon removes chlorine and chloramine, while oxide removes carbon.

Now that you know the three basic types of aquarium filtration systems, you can keep your tank clean and your fish healthy! Just keep in mind the needs of your fish, and you can’t go wrong.


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