Filtration Media: How Does It Work

Filtration Media for Aquarium

Filters are essential for the health of your aquarium. They keep the nitrogen cycle going and assist keep your tank residents healthy. Filter media is anything put in a filter that alters the quality of water streaming through it. With the range of medias readily available, particular types can be opted to develop the optimal environment in your aquarium.

Filtration Media Types

The three types of filter media are:

  1. Mechanical
  2. Biological
  3. Chemical

All three types are advised, however a fish tank needs to have biological and mechanical filters at minimum. Elements of these media types can be included in the same filter. The three types of purification make use of 3 various types of media to perform their functions. This short article will help you weave through the labyrinth of terms and differences between the media that filters use.

1. Mechanical media

The components of mechanical media are inert – this suggests they will not do anything to interfere with your water chemistry. This media mechanically or physically stress solids from water going through it, which is essential for the effectiveness of your biological media Mechanical filtering eliminates unattractive particles consisting of fish excrement, sludge, leftover food, or dust. To avoid accumulation, the filter media must be cleaned up regularly. Replacement is only needed when the media can no longer launch all the dirt that it holds.

Mechanical media is readily available in many different porosities, which limit the size of the particulate they can extract. The bigger the pores in the mechanical media, the bigger the particulate matter must be in order for the filter to extract it. Coarse media is easier to clean up and reuse than finer media. The pores in the finest mechanical media strain out particles as small as one micron, which is 1/90 the diameter of a human hair! The finest media will clarify the tank, however will clog really quickly, and might not be recyclable.

Filter Media Type Grade Type Usage
Ehfimech or
Fluval prefilter media
Very coarse Catches large debris so that small media does not need to be cleaned as often.
Ehfifix, Blue Bonded
filter pads, foam blocks
Coarse to medium Cleans most visible debris.
Filter floss
and Ehfisynth
Fine Filters out fine particles providing crystal clear water.
Micron filter pads or filters utilizing diatomaceous earth Extra fine Removes extra small particulate, even parasites and bacteria.

2. Biological media

Biological media is anything inert that supplies housing for beneficial bacteria that break down liquified solids to a less toxic form. This is a media that should not be replaced unless it has actually become too clogged to operate.

To comprehend this media, first we should understand what the bacteria used for biological purification need to thrive:

  • Environment above 55°F
  • Ammonia or nitrite as food source
  • Oxygen

Bacteria extract food and oxygen from the water passing over them. When particle matter gets into the media, reducing water flow, it “starves” that area of oxygen and food, causing bacteria because area to pass away. This is why mechanical media ought to be positioned before biological media.

When the bio load boosts, the abundance of ammonia and nitrite causes the bacteria to replicate. Bacteria that take in ammonia recreate quickly, till the ammonia level drops to no. In some cases they over-produce and cause a “bacteria bloom” that looks just like smoke in the aquarium. As soon as the right amount of bacteria have actually grown to overcome the ammonia spike, the excess bacteria starve and pass away, and the “smoke” vanishes. It is simple to see why aquarists demand a minimum of biological and mechanical media for purification. They work in harmony and aid keep a healthy, balanced, and reputable ecosystem.

In an established tank, a bacteria blossom is less likely to occur and any ammonia spikes might be gone in 24 hours – frequently before you even have time to test for it. In new tanks, the time the ammonia takes to be transformed by bacteria depends upon the amount of fish load and bacteria you start with.

As the ammonia-eating bacteria consume ammonia, they give off nitrite. Other bacteria consume the nitrite for energy. These bacteria are slower to recreate, and choose environments in which the ammonia levels are absolutely no.

A good source of bacteria is either a scoop of surface area gravel or some bio media from the filter of a recognized healthy aquarium, as long as the aquarium has actually not been treated with medications or other chemicals. Another option is a bacteria additive.

As soon as the bacteria have become developed in the biological media, they are difficult to ruin, except by over-cleaning, utilizing chlorinated water, or utilizing particular medications.

A variety of media is readily available for bacteria housing. Little biological media are very porous and boast incredible area. They can accommodate a great deal of bacteria in a small space. They also can get clogged quickly, and lose their efficiency rapidly if insufficient mechanical filtering is used. Smaller sized media last 2-4 years, and are an exceptional option if you have a little tank. Plastic media do not have the comprehensive surface area, but they are unlikely to block and never ever require replacing.

3. Chemical media

Chemical media is not used as often as biological or mechanical media, but can be effective for an assortment of filtering purposes. This media is readily available in a range of products that can remove one impurity or numerous.

The chemical technique of filtration gets rid of dissolved particulates from the aquarium by means of triggered carbons, resins, and other adsorbents. Chemical purification media assists to keep water quality as undesirable liquified matter follows it. The two most popular forms of chemical media are triggered carbon and resins. Protein foam skimming or oxidation with ozone are two other types of chemical filtering.

Activated carbon

Carbon is filled with microscopic pores that permit specific natural or inorganic products to adhere to them. Brand-new carbon works more effectively than older carbon. When all of the pores are filled, the carbon is not reliable and the filter starts to act as a biological filter.

Carbon eliminates many harmful aspects from your aquarium, such as: copper, chlorine, liquified proteins, and carbohydrates. It also eliminates sulfa drugs and antibiotics, so it should be gotten rid of when the fish tank is being treated, then replaced when treatment is finished to get rid of any remaining medications. Activated carbon can make your aquarium look so clear by getting rid of discolorants that you will question whether water is still in it.

Ion exchange resins

Resins are less used than carbon, but are becoming more common. These work by bring in a particular molecule to abide by them. Some draw in ammonia or nitrate, and some remove dissolved organics. Ion exchange resins are likewise used in some carbon mixes like Chemi-Pure and Bio Chem Zorb. The resins typically strengthen the filtering ability of the carbon, along with aid biological activity by removing toxins prior to they go into the nitrogen cycle. Used effectively, chemical filtering can be one of the most beneficial tools of the aquarist.

Bottom line

When developing your aquarium, give careful factor to consider to the types of filters and filter media you will use. Your choices can make the distinction between a healthy ecosystem or one in which the residents need to have a hard time day-to-day to survive.

Also read: Saltwater or Reef Aquarium Refugiums: Pros and Cons

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