There are two basic types of aquarium filter media: physical and chemical. They both go by various names like cartridges, tubes, rollers, cartridges, etc. But what do all those names mean? And why is one kind better than the other? This article will discuss these questions and hopefully give you a good understanding of using aquarium filter media.
The first type of media is the physical filter. These are the most common aquarium products sold today. Aquariums that use physical filtration generally have an aquarium pump that pushes water through a filter housing. Physical filtration is usually a chain reaction: the physical filter gets the debris out of the tank, the pump cleans the debris and pumps it back into the tank, and so on.
Biological filter media, or BBMs, on the other hand, are much more advanced. They rely on some sort of biological process to keep the bacteria that live in a reef tank healthy. These biological filter media can either remove debris without using any pump or motor at all, or they can use pumps and motors to push debris through the system and then filter it out again. For this reason, they often provide more filtering capacity than physical filters can. Of course, the mechanical pumps and motors that BBMs are built around are not as easy to replace as the BBMs themselves, but sometimes they can be repaired. Mechanical filter replacement is often a lot less expensive than replacement of an entire biological filter housing.
Both physical and biological filtration methods use biological filtration. The physical type of aquarium filter media uses carbon to push nutrient-laden water through the system. The biological filtration method places a beneficial bacteria inside the carbon. The beneficial bacteria eat the algae, debris, and other things floating around in the water, which provides the vital nutrients that the fish need to survive. In doing so, the bacteria also help to break down excess waste by removing it from the fish’s body.
One of the most popular types of aquarium filtration is the canister filter roller. The canister filter roller relies on two essential parts to function well – a protein skimmer and a screen. The protein skimmer removes smaller particles, such as those large particles seen in an aquarium glass, dead algae, and other solid waste. The screen, which can be semi-opaque or opaque, traps larger particles, such as pieces of shellfish and insects. Together, these two parts work to keep the aquarium looking clean.
An alternative to the canister filter roller is the bead filter, which looks similar to the canister filter. The bead filter works with carbon or ceramic beads instead of carbon bubbles. Like the canister style, the bead filter can have the protein skimmer and the screen incorporated into one unit. However, because it doesn’t use up carbon bubbles, this type of aquarium filtration method will require more maintenance than does the other two. Also, because the beads can be made of different materials, there may be various kinds of chemicals and biological hazards when using this style of chemical filtration method.
A third option is the canister filter cleaner. Like the bead, this type of filtration method uses carbon to catch particles, but it cleans the filter by rinsing it through a water rinse. This rinse removes any protein skimmate, algae, or other debris. Because it doesn’t use up carbon bubbles, the canister filter cleaner can be used frequently without having to change the filter cartridge or cleaning solution as often as the other two styles of filtration.
Choosing the right aquarium filtration system for your saltwater aquarium filtration needs is a process that takes time and planning. There are many choices that can help you to get the best fit for your saltwater aquarium. The process of picking out the right mechanical filtration method and then making the appropriate replacement cartridges can be a lengthy one. To make things go faster, consider getting both the canister filter roller and the mechanical filtration system for one complete unit. By making sure that you get all of the supplies you need to make your saltwater aquarium filtration system work right, you will be able to enjoy the beautiful fish you can grow on your new aquarium for years to come.