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Many people believe maintaining an aquarium involves a monthly ritual of entirely emptying and cleaning the tank and decorations. But nothing could be further from correct. What most don't realize is that, by doing so, they would be regularly upsetting a desirable biological balance that the fish rely on for their health and well-being...

There are three types of water filtration in an aquarium system: 1) mechanical, 2) chemical, and 3) biological; and they may be used singly, or, more typically, in combination.

Mechanical filtration consists of physically removing solid waste and debris from the system through the use of fiber floss, foam or other similar media to physically trap particles for removal. Even the aquarium gravel itself can be used as a mechanical filter-- more on that later.

Chemical filtration consists of using carbon, resins or other like media to bind waste products at a molecular level. While many believe that charcoal or activated carbon are primarily responsible for filtering aquarium water, they, and other chemical media, are mainly ancillary in nature, providing primarily the function of clarifying cloudy or discolored water-- things that the other two types of filtration cannot do in all cases.

Under biological filtration, naturally occuring bacteria colonize the surfaces and pores of all the other types of media. The gravel on the aquarium bottom can even be utilized as a host for these important bacteria-- again, more on that later. Of the three types, biological filtration is by far the most attractive, because it is both efficient and cost effective.
...continue reading "Basics of Aquarium Filtration"