How to Set Up a Fish Tank Filter System

Aquariums might seem one of the easiest ways to keep a pet — they make great options for parents who want their children to understand what responsibility is, feeding the fish and caring for them.

But the initial setup can be a little challenging especially for first timers. And one aspect we’re going to focus on today is setting up the fish tank’s filter system.

Aquariums also require a lot of maintenance to keep your fish friends in a healthy and clean environment. This is applicable to both larger or smaller fish tanks.

Setting up the fish tank filter is not a difficult job if you know how to do it properly. A few tips and tricks will help ease your job.

Here are the most common types of fish tank filters and how to install them.

How to install air-powered fish tank filters

These are the most common type of fish tank filter. They are based on an air pump which drives the filter.

Air bubbles rise through a tube, and in exchange, the fish tank water is sucked up through the base of the filter.

Some of them are extremely simple, such as a sponge capturing debris in the water. Some air-powered fish tank filters have suction cups that allow them to be stuck to the aquarium side.

Air-powered filters need to be installed inside the aquarium (below the water level). All you need to do is to place the filter so that the air bubbles don’t get sucked back into the intake tube.

Additionally, you need to have a check valve which allows the air to go through but prevents water from going back.

If there is a power outage or the air pump stops functioning, the water can go down the airline and take the water out of the aquarium.

Check valves are unidirectional, so make sure you install it according to its instructions.

Under Gravel Filters (UGF)

These filters are also air powered. They are installed in an empty aquarium. It comes with a perforated filter which is placed in the empty aquarium.

Once placed, you cover it with gravel. The plate is connected to uplift tubes and each of the tubes have an air diffuser.

Fill the aquarium with water. The air pump is connected to each of the diffusers, which results in bubbles rising in the tubes. This pulls the water into the gravel and out of the tubes.

An extra tip would be to use a unidirectional valve (as in the previous circumstance) or place the water pump above the aquarium. This will prevent the water from flowing back.

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Have in mind that these types of filters are a bit more difficult to clean and maintain so only opt for them if you are 100% sure you can handle them.

HOB Power Filter

The hang-on-the-back filter is yet another popular type of fish tank filter. They are placed on the back rim of the fish tank, and they can come in different sizes, suitable for all types and capacities of fish tanks.

They are so diversified that they can even be used in nano fish tanks.

Despite varying sizes, their design principles are approximately the same. The HOB filter is placed entirely outside the tank, which is a good option as it leaves more space for fish and plants in the fish tank.

Their main advantage is that they use different types of materials to filter the water, such as activated carbon but also mechanical filtration. Thus, they are more efficient than our previous fish tank filters.

Water is sucked from the fish tank and sent to the filter. It goes through filter materials and then flows back into the fish tank. Makes sure you use a drip loop on the power cord.

This fish tank type might cause short circuits or even fires if the filter gets clogged, as the water will start pooling behind the filter cartridge and can cause a spill, going downwards on the power cord, all the way to the power outlet.

Additionally, you need to fill the filter with fish tank water before plugging it in the first time to prime it. Additionally, make sure that you have enough space in the back of the fish tank, as this type can be quite bulky.

Internal Filters

This type is similar to HOB, but the filter is placed entirely underwater, where the water circulates through the filter and back into the fish tank.

You can adjust the amount of bubbles according to the fish tank size through the tiny aeration valve they come with.

Wrapping Up

Getting a high-quality fish tank filter is essential, as the lack of appropriate filtration can make the water toxic for the fish living in your tank. Make sure you keep the filters clean at all times.

Each filter should be changed regularly, but too often can be as harmful as not often enough, so striking the right balance is essential. Now you know how to set up a fish tank filter system — now all that’s left is to let your fish enjoy fresh, clean water.

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