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    Pinky Filters — Saltwater Aquarium

    Understanding Aquarium Filtration: Different Types of Filters to Consider

    Understanding Aquarium Filtration: Different Types of Filters to Consider

    Understanding Aquarium Filtration

    Setting up a proper filtration system is one of the most vital steps of maintaining a healthy aquarium. That being said, filtration can be a bit more complex than you might realize at first glance. In this post, we are going to discuss the most common forms of filtration (and what you should use in your tank!).

    Different Types of Aquarium Filters

     Mechanical Filtration

    Different Types of Aquarium FiltersWhen you think of an aquarium “filter”, you’re most likely imagining a mechanical filter. Mechanical Filtration is a simple – yet important – form of filtration that aims to capture large particles (such as uneaten food, fish waste, plant leaves, etc.) from the water column. Capturing waste before it has a change to decompose is crucial to maintaining good water quality.

     

    Mechanical filters can take a few forms. Here are a few of the most common types that you should consider when setting up a tank:

     

    • Hang on Bank Filters: HOB filters are the most common form of mechanical filtration. HOB filters sit conveniently on the back of your tank and cycle water through a chamber. This chamber contains crucial filtration media (sponges, pads, cartridges) that help remove hazardous particles from the water column. Generally, HOB filters are good for tank under 40 gallons (or maybe larger tanks that don’t house any sensitive fish).
    • Canister Filters: If you’re setting up a tank larger than 40-50 gallons, a canister filter is the way to go. Canister filters sit outside of the tank and use a pump to draw water – for this reason, they are usually much larger than HOB filters and can process much more water. In addition, canister filters generally have room for a lot of filtration media, ensuring sparkling clean water once it makes its way back to your tank.
    • Sponge Filters: Sponge filters are extremely simple – they sit inside the tank and use air flow to draw water through a sponge. Although they definitely don’t stack up against HOB and canister filters in terms of power, sponge filters are extremely useful in certain situations. For example, sponge filters are gentle enough to be used with fry or shrimp (since they won’t suck up even the smallest of creatures).

     

    Chemical Filtration

     

    Most aquarium owners usually don’t get into chemical filtration until they’re a bit more advanced. That being said, chemical filtration can be extremely useful for certain setups and scenarios (such as for those battling algae).  

     

    But how does chemical filtration work?

     

    Chemical filtration works by absorbing harmful compounds from the water column at a microscopic level. PhosBan, for example, helps removes phosphates (for those that don’t know, phosphate is basically algae fuel). Other, more advanced, chemical filtration medias such as Chemi Pure Elite and All-In-One Biopellets help remove nitrites and nitrates along with phosphates.

     

    Chemical filtration medias such as those discussed above can vary in ease of use. Chemi Pure, for example, comes pre-packed in bags that can be conveniently placed within your HOB or canister filter. Biopellets and GFO, on the other hand, often require reactors to be used effectively.

     

    Biological Filtration

     

    Biological filtration is arguably the most important form of filtration for any fish tank – in fact, none of us would be able to keep an aquarium without it. In short, “biological filtration” refers to the beneficial bacteria within your tank that convert harmful compounds (ammonia & nitrite) into less harmful compounds, such as nitrate. Without these beneficial bacteria, ammonia would build to deadly levels in a matter of days.

     

    So, what can you do to encourage strong growth of beneficial bacteria?

     

    First of all, giving your tank enough time to cycle in an absolute must. During this time, beneficial bacteria levels build up within your substrate, rockwork, and filter media. Adding fish to your aquarium too soon in the cycling process (before the beneficial bacteria are strong enough to convert ammonia to nitrate) usually doesn’t end to well.

     

    Another important step in maintaining strong beneficial bacteria levels in your tank is cleaning your filter media properly. When cleaning out your mechanical filter, it may be tempting to rinse the entire pad/sponge under a faucet – this is not the correct way to do it. Tap water usually has trace levels of chlorine that will kill off your beneficial bacteria. Instead, get a small bowl of water from your established tank and rise the filter media in that water. Doing this will rinse out the waste particles, but also allow the beneficial bacteria to survive within the media. 

    Reference: BuildYourAquarium.com

    Thank you to our friend Mason at www.BuildYourAquarium.com for writing this post!  

    The Easiest Way to Setup a Saltwater Aquarium: Part 3

    The Easiest Way to Setup a Saltwater Aquarium: Part 3

    The 30-Day Cycling Process

    The importance of the thirty day cycling process cannot be understated; this is a vital part of establishing the ecosystem of each individual aquarium. The exact processes which are occurring during this cycle, however, are often not well explained, or else they may be a little too well explained and no one without a degree in organic chemistry can understand a word that is being spoken.

    If you are using fish to stimulate the cycling process take a great deal of care. While on the first day there is likely to be no ammonia in the tank, by the end of the third day these levels will have reached near toxicity. It is important to carefully monitor the fish during this crucial state; it may be even better to use an artificial source of ammonia to trigger this process. This will allow you to establish the proper balance in the tank without placing your aquatic friends at risk. While ammonia levels are beginning to rise first stage bacteria are beginning to grow.

    Nitrogen Cycle

    By the fifth day these first stage bacteria will have begun to metabolize the ammonia into nitrite. This process will be well established by the end of the first week. At the end of the second week ammonia levels will be completely safe for the fish and nitrites will be at their peak. From here until approximately day 27 the second stage bacteria will be working to begin metabolizing the nitrite to nitrate. By day 30 ammonia and nitrite levels should be all but non-existent as nitrate levels reach their peak and the bacterium are well able to handle maintaining the chemical composition of the water.

    Cycling your Salt Water Aquarium

     Cycling your Salt Water AquariumThis is an example of minimizing Mother Nature's perfect filtration system in order to provide your fish with the perfect habitat. Hopefully you have chosen to artificially stimulate the cycling process so that it is well established prior to inserting your fish. If you have not it is very important that you keep a very close eye on them while the tank is undergoing its cycling process. The spikes in ammonia and nitrite levels can be severely harmful to fish if they are exposed to it for too great a period of time, and they will likely begin to show signs of distress during these periods of the cycling process. If this becomes severe their conditions can be aided by changing a portion of the water in order to dilute the concentration of these products.

    The Easiest Way to Setup a Saltwater Aquarium: Part 2

    The Easiest Way to Setup a Saltwater Aquarium: Part 2

    Establishing Live Rocks in an Aquarium

    Aquariums are beautiful particularly ones which are large enough to make the viewer feel as though they have been transported into an underwater wonderland. For many individuals, the inside of a clear glass aquarium is as close as they will ever come to the wonders of the world beneath the ocean's surface, and for that reason an aquarium which is as close to the natural habitat of its inhabitants as possible is a joy unto itself.

    Live rocks, rocks which are covered with both micro- and microorganisms which help to digest the waste produced by the fish, are a vital part of every natural ecosystem. For that reason, it makes sense that they would be an important part of an aquarium environment as well. It is not as simple as dropping a rock into an aquarium and allowing all manner of things to grow on it, however. There is a process that must be followed to ensure optimal benefits for both the large aquarium and the live rock.

    It is very simple to cure live rock before placing it in the aquarium, but this is an important step that must be taken to prevent a buildup of ammonia in the tank which could negatively affect the fish. To cure live rock first select a plastic container that is of a suitable size to hold the amount of live rock which you are working with, then fill it with saltwater. Then place a heater and water pump in the "tank" for optimal temperature and circulation. Once the water has reached the desired temperature remove the heater and pump and half of the water content, then preclean the rock in a bucket of saltwater by swishing it around to remove any lose organisms and debris and place it in the prepared water. Then reinstall the heater and pump and allow nature to do its thing!Setting Up Rocks in Saltwater Aquariums

    Setting Up Rocks in Saltwater Aquariums

    The process is done when an ammonia reading of the water in which the rock resides is at zero and it is no longer giving off an unpleasant odor. Now, it is safe to place the rock in your aquarium and allow Mother Nature's perfect filtering system to work for you.

    The Easiest Way to Setup a Saltwater Aquarium: Part 1

    The Easiest Way to Setup a Saltwater Aquarium: Part 1

    Setup a Saltwater Aquarium

    Everyone has admired the large saltwater aquariums that can be found in the offices of most dentists, physicians, cosmetologists and marine enthusiasts but have believed them to be far too much work to bring into their own homes. Fortunately, this is not the case. While the process of establishing a saltwater aquarium can be a costly one, in terms of manual labor there is a very simple method which almost guarantees success.

    Step 1: Assemble and prepare the equipment. During packaging and production, the aquarium and all of its corresponding parts have almost certainly been exposed to various pollutants, such as dust and chemicals, which will be very harmful to the fish if it is allowed free reign in the aquarium. Prior to use every piece of the aquarium should be washed with hot, fresh water and cleansed with a soft piece of cloth to prevent scratching.

    Step 2: Place all the components in the tank WITHOUT adding any of the decorative features. Then fill the tank to the fill line (which may or may not be already marked on the aquarium-2 to 3 inches from the top is generally adequate to prevent major spillover when the tank is cleaned or the fish fed) with saltwater (if you have chosen to make your own saltwater solution read below for instructions). Turn the tank on and allow it to run for 24 hours to ensure that all components are fully functional.

    **Making Your Own Saltwater**

    Making Your Own SaltwaterOcean water is the natural habitat of all saltwater marine animals and, consequently, the best water source for any saltwater aquarium. If ocean water is not available, however, and the owner of a saltwater aquarium does not wish to purchase a pre-made saltwater solution it is possible to make saltwater. It is important to use a sea salt mixture that is free of impurities rather than table salt when creating saltwater to reproduce the natural environment as accurately as possible. These mixes can be purchased from any store that specializes in the sale of tropical fish. Instant Ocean Kit

    Step 3: Landscape your aquarium. Organic substances are not only more aesthetically pleasing than their plastic counterparts, they provide a more pleasing environment for the fish as well. Keeping in mind that fish generally use what humans consider to be decorations as shelter when in the wild it is important to consider the types of fish which will be inhabiting the tank prior to choosing its decoration.  

    Step 4: Start the 30-day cycling process, during which the ammonia should be tested regularly. This can be done with or without fish in the tank.

    Following these simple steps will allow the amateur marine enthusiast to place aside their fears and enjoy the benefits of a happy, healthy aquarium in the privacy of their own home.