The filter that you choose for your fish tank set up is a vital component to establishing an environment that you aquatic friends can thrive in. If you choose a good one, you will greatly improve your chances of avoiding one of the most common fish problems people experience when they're first starting out in the hobby â€“ cloudy fish tank water. However, that being said, there's a lot more involved in purchasing an aquarium filter than you would think!
A quality aquarium filter should be able to provide three very different types of filtration for you:
1. Biological filtration- This is your colony of beneficial bacteria â€“ don't let the word 'bacteria' scare you off! They're actually a very important part of your overall filtration system, and without them only the hardiest fish out of your tank would survive for any substantial amounts of time. As long as you offer these little guys an adequate environment you will have a very effective system for keeping the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels in check. This is an essential part of getting rid of cloudy fish tank water.
2. Chemical filtration- This refers to the filter media you insert into your system. For example, the baggy of activated carbon is one of the primary methods of chemical filtration that most beginning aquarists become acquainted with. Aside from carbon, there are also ammonia removing chips, combinations of ammo chips and carbon, and something called Nitra-zorb to name a few. Without this your water would start to get a very strong odor.
3. Mechanical filtration- This is probably one of the most basic types of filtration you can offer your fish â€“ in fact, sometimes it's the only type that a cheap filter will offer you. The sole purpose of the mechanical filtration is to sift out all the larger particles of food and debris from the water so that your tank does not become clouded with a whole bunch of free-floating particles.
Once you have succeeded in getting all three working together you have created a very formidable weapon to combat not only cloudy fish tank water, but also uneaten food, fish poop and various odd aquarium odors.
How I Pick Out a Quality Filter
When I choose a filter for my own fish tank set up I always look it over very carefully to ensure that I am actually getting all three of the above types of filtration. This involved checking to see that it has a long enough intake tube, a slot to insert various filter medias and some sort of permanent fixture that will provide a bed for my beneficial bacteria colony to start growing on.
While a quality filter is going to cost you more money upfront, you will save a lot of time, effort and frustration by dismissing the urge to buy the cheapest alternative on the shelf. In the end, you will only have to replace it anyway because it either stopped working or it just doesn't live up to your expectations. That being said, you can use the cheaper ones to supplement your primary filtration system!