What Does a Filter Do For a Fish Tank?

what does a filter do for a fish tank

Are you thinking of getting a few pairs of fish and a large tank? That’s a great idea! Of course, you want to become the proud owner of a mesmerizing aquarium, but what if you don’t have the essentials? Don’t worry — you’ve come to the right place. First things first, keeping a fish tank is a big responsibility.

You’ll have to look after every need of your fish — from their food to their environment. The maintenance of their surroundings is in your control, and you must know all the dos and don’ts related to this.

For instance, you may be thinking about if you really need a filter for your fish tank. Why don’t you just take the fish out and change the water? You can, but why bother when you can have a fish tank filter? But what does a filter do for a fish tank? Let’s take a look.

Why Do I Need a Fish Tank Filter?

Fundamentally, fish tank filters do the same for fish as what trees do for humans — provide clean air to breathe. The thing is, your aquarium water is continuously being contaminated by excess food, fish waste, decaying organic matter, debris, and free-floating particles.

Still not convinced that you need a filter? Check out the following beneficial functions of a fish tank filter.

  • A fish tank filter allows biological filtration to take place in your aquarium
  • It helps in the removal of toxins such as ammonia and nitrates, whose excessive concentration in the water can cause ammonia poisoning
  • It prevents the formation of cloudy aquarium water by removing decaying food, floating particulates, and other harmful organic matter in the water
  • It provides a safe environment where it eliminates the growth of harmful bacteria but at the same time also allows space for the growth of beneficial bacteria
  • By creating surface agitation, the filter assists in oxygenating the water

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Types of Filtration Method for Your Fish Tank

Even though the simple answer to whether you need a fish tank filter is yes, the choice also depends on the type of aquarium you have. Using a fish tank filter is the easiest way to provide biological filtration for the aquarium. The following are the ways these filters help clean the water.

Biological Filtration

As already discussed, no matter what type of aquarium you have, some sort of biological filtration system is necessary. Defined in the simplest of words, biological filtration helps reduce toxins in the water. So, what’s the science behind it?

Actually, your fish constantly excrete waste into the water. This, combined with debris, decaying organic matter, and excess food makes the water so toxic that it can even kill the fish. This is where biological filtration comes to the rescue as it coverts the toxins into nitrate, and then it becomes harmless.

However, you cannot let this nitrate be in the water for too long, and you should clean the water every now and then.

Mechanical Filtration

Unlike biological filtration, mechanical filtration is not “necessary” for all aquariums, but it is the best way of maintaining water clarity. A mechanical filter works by pushing the water through a filter media that acts as a strainer to catch free-floating particulates.

You can also call this process particulate filtration. This type of filtration will trap the excess food particles and debris before they decompose into ammonia. The quality of mechanical filtration depends on three factors:

The fineness of the filter media

Mechanical filters have several layers of media starting from coarser media and moving up to a finer one for best results

Passage of water

The water must pass through the media in adequate amounts. If it moves too slowly, then it will allow the debris to settle in the water. But if it goes too fast, the filter might not be able to collect all the waste

Cleanliness of the filter

Fish tank filters also need maintenance because choked or damaged filter media won’t be able to perform its function efficiently.

Chemical Filtration

This type of filtration will solve all the “chemical” problems present in the aquarium water. In other words, chemical filtration can remove heavy metals, ammonia, specific toxins, and other dissolved organics through processes like ion-exchange resins.

These filters are provided with activated carbon or chemical resins that extract toxins from the water until they become saturated. Chemical filtration will also remove any medication after it has served its purpose and will also purify the source water before it goes into the tank.

Final Thoughts

Now you know what a filter does for a fish tank so you can ensure that your little finned friends stay happy and healthy at all times.

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