Filter Materials For Aquarium

  • Types of filtration in the aquarium
  • What are filter materials for?
  • Mechanical filtration
  • Foamex
  • Perlon wool
  • Biological filtration
  • Bio ceramic balls and ferrules
  • Aquarium Chemical Filtration
  • Activated carbon
  • Acidifying peat

If you are not very clear about what
filter materials are and what they do , you have come to the right place.

If there is an element of the aquarium that we must pay attention to continuously, it
is the filter … especially if we detect that it is not performing its function correctly. The proper functioning of the filter depends most of the times on the state of the filtering materials inside.

Aquarium filter materials have a finite shelf life.
Depending on the population of your aquarium , they should be changed every 4-6 weeks.
Tip: Don’t change all the filter materials at the same time. We would lose much of the nitrifying bacteria colony and as a consequence, we would have a small disaster going on.

Filtration in the aquarium and filter materials

Life inside the aquarium is highly dependent on the quality of the water. Among the essential elements to maintain this quality, are filters and filter materials.
Filters perform three types of filtration with water:

  • Mechanical filtration. Through the filters we eliminate a large part of the solid waste present in the water, in addition to favoring the appearance of nitrifying bacteria.
  • Biological filtration. Biological filtration favors the appearance of nitrifying bacteria.

    Bacteria are responsible for eliminating and transforming harmful substances present in the water, which originate through the decomposition of fish food and also by the fish’s own physical waste.
  • Chemical filtration. With chemical filtration we eliminate other types of waste present in the water, such as chlorine and heavy metals.

    Chemical filtration is also necessary and essential, after using medications in the aquarium, focused on eliminating any type of health problem.

    Another function of chemical filtration is to
    modify the parameters of the water, such as pH or hardness.

For each of these filtering processes, the filter needs a series of filter materials, which are the ones that will retain the different elements or substances that we want to eliminate.

Function and order of the different filter materials within the filter

For the filters to fulfill their function correctly, we must also place the filter materials in the proper order, which as you will see is totally logical:

Dirty water flow, originating from the aquarium


Mechanical filtration (first filter)
Foamex sponges, first filter material.

Its mission is to retain the thickest particles in suspension in the water: food scraps, feces …

>Mechanical filtration (second filter)

The second filter is made of
perlon or perlon wool. The objective is to retain the finest particles present in the water, which the previous filter could not retain.

>Biological filtration Biological

filters are made up
of ceramic bioballs or tubes , where the bacterial colonies are established.

These bacteria feed on debris from the aquarium, ammonia and nitrites, turning them into substances that are not harmful to fish: nitrates.

>Chemical filtration

The last filtration is chemical, which is carried out using
activated carbon or peat, among other materials.

Its function is to eliminate all kinds of odors and substances that are harmful to fish, such as chlorine, heavy metals or drug residues.

>Finally, the water will come out clean from the other end of the filter


Mechanical filtration in the aquarium

Mechanical filtration is the first acting barrier of a filter, which aims to eliminate those particles present in suspension in the water.

Among these particles we will have
food remains, feces, dust from the substrate …

Some of these elements, if they are not eliminated, will end up decomposing and affecting the quality of the water.

From time to time we have to
perform maintenance tasks, removing all the waste from the filters and also proceeding to change the filters with new ones.

This task must be done at least once a month.

And what materials are used for mechanical filtration?
, aquarium sponges or foamex and perlon wool:

Aquarium Foamex, Filter Sponge

Filters contain material that must be changed at least once a month, other elements may not need to be changed as often, such as sponges, which can last much longermaybe more than a year.
The foamex should be cleaned once a month, always using aquarium water , never from the tap.

Take a little water in a container and proceed to clean the filter … do not think about cleaning it inside the aquarium.

Perlon aquarium

Perlon is a filter material that can be used in place of or in combination with sponges.

It is a filter material with a touch similar to cotton, which
is responsible for filtering the smallest particles that pass through the sponge.

Although it can be cleaned and last longer, it should be replaced frequently.

Biological filtration

Biological filters are always placed after mechanical filters.

Its «physical» function is not to retain any type of substance present in the aquarium.

Its mission is to
promote the appearance of nitrifying bacteria and nitrobacter, responsible for eliminating ammonia and nitrites present in the water, converting them into nitrates, much less toxic for fish and beneficial for aquatic plants.
Biological filter materials are porous, so that bacteria can nest inside.

Some of the biological materials that are commonly used are:

Aquarium filter balls and aquarium joints

Its function is to maintain an active bacterial colony within the filter (biological filter).

They are made of very stable materials and rarely deteriorate, so they do not need changes on a regular basis.

Aquarium Chemical Filtration

The chemical filtration of the aquarium seeks to improve the quality of the water, affecting elements that the previous filter materials have not been able to solve.

Chemical filter materials
are mainly used for:

  • Eliminate substances that should not be present in the water, such as heavy metals, chlorine or traces of medicines.
  • Act on the parameters of the water, such as modifying its pH or the hardness of the water. Also to eliminate tannins released by the wood, if we have placed a new trunk in the aquarium.
  • Eliminate yellowing of the water (maybe due to wood) or also eliminate undesirable odors.
  • Finish with dust in suspension … that we can cause by moving the substrate.

Chemical filter materials
should always be placed last inside the filter.

There are some chemical filter materials that can be maintained continuously, such as activated carbon, but those designed to modify parameters, such as
adifying peat or absorbent resins , should be limited in use until the desired effect is achieved.

The most commonly used chemical filter materials are:

Activated carbon

Active carbon has the function of eliminating very small particles, and it is also very useful to retain the remains of medicines and chemical products that we use regularly in the aquarium.

It should be changed once a month, as it becomes saturated and loses its filtering power.

To know more, visit my special: Activated carbon

Acidifying peat

Acidifying peat basically has the function of influencing the pH of the water by lowering its levels . They add tannic and humic to the aquarium water.

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