Aquarium filtration is responsible for cleaning the fish tank water, moving the water to prevent pockets of stagnation, and improving water quality to provide a safe environment for your fish. The three main types of filtration are:
- Mechanical filtration that physically strains out debris from the water like a coffee filter
- Biological filtration that grows beneficial bacteria to help consume toxic waste compounds coming from your fish’s waste
- Chemical filtration that removes fish medications, tannins, and other impurities from the water.
Certain kinds of fish tank filters (such as hang-on-back filters, canister filters, and aquarium sumps) allow you to customize which types of filtration you want to use. To remove floating particles and cloudy water from your aquarium, focus on mechanical filter media such as coarse sponge pads and fine poly pads. The foam materials contain pores of different sizes that trap fish waste, excess food, and other bits of debris in the water column. The coarse sponge pad is reusable and can be cleaned by squeezing it in old aquarium water to remove any trapped debris.
To increase your biological filtration, add bio rings and other bio media to your customizable aquarium filter. The best bio filter media contains lots of tiny holes and crevices for beneficial bacteria to grow on and consume nitrogen waste chemicals. We recommend placing the sponge filter media in the filter media basket such that the water flows through it first so that it can remove the debris from the water before reaching the bio media.
Chemical media is responsible for chemically removing impurities from the water. All-purpose chemical filter media includes activated carbon (which is placed inside aquarium filter media bags), carbon-infused media pads
, and special resins like Seachem Purigen
. Companies also make specialized filter pads to remove specific compounds like ammonia or phosphate.