When fish live in the wild, they are exposed to the same toxins they are when they live in aquariums. The difference is that fish in the wild experience natural cycles that keep their rivers and ponds clean. Unfortunately, a fish does not come with this natural cycle nor are they capable of producing such a cycle. Instead, you as the caregiver must provide this cycle for your fish inside of your aquarium. There are many different types of freshwater aquarium filters and each one has a unique role to play in keeping your aquarium and fish healthy.
Before you can choose the correct filter for your aquarium, you must understand there are three basic types of filters-biological, chemical and mechanical.
The biological filtration is by far the most significant filtration system your aquarium will rely on. If you are familiar with the nitrogen cycle, then you are aware of the good bacteria, nitrobacter, which serves to destroy the harmful chemicals like ammonia and nitrites in your aquarium.
If you do not have enough nitrobacter in your tank, your fish will be exposed to harmful levels of ammonia and nitrite. Fortunately, this is where biological filters enter the aquarium. You need a biological filtration system in place to prevent potential disease and death in your fish.
Chemical filtration plays another vital role in keeping your tank healthy. Just like the biological filtration system, the chemical filtration system works to keep harmful chemicals from injuring your fish. If you overcrowd your aquarium during the cycling phase, you can use zeolites to destroy excess ammonia levels if they are threatening the well being of your fish.
Although it may need frequent replacements, activated carbon can also be helpful to your tank. Activated carbon works by soaking up chemicals and minerals that are in your water. The added benefit of using activated carbon is that it will make your water clarity improve. Clean water looks even clearer with activated carbon.
Mechanical filtration is a process similar to training the water. Mechanical filtration systems pull the water from the tank through a sponge, paper filter, or 'filter floss'. The water flows through the filter easily while the particles including waste and unheaten food do not. Any particles that would pollute your aquarium are now trapped within this filter. Even while trapped, the particles can still decide and pollute your system so regular filter maintenance is important. How often you need to perform maintenance depends on several factors including how dirty your tank is, how often you feed your fish and how many fish live in the aquarium.
You will need all three of these types of filters or one filter that does the job of all three to keep your aquarium and its inmates healthy and happy.