Aquarium Filters. Which is right for me?
Aquarium filters are an important element to consider if you are to be successful in keeping healthy and happy fish. Although your water may look crystal clear, there are many invisible nasties that can creep up and decimate your tank.
These days there are plenty of filtration options each with their own benefits. This guide will help you find a filter that is right for your aquarium.
The aquarium industry widely use sponge filters as a cheap and effective filtration method.
An air pump powers a sponge filter.
It works by pumping air into the center of the sponge to pull water through the filter media.
Particles and debris are mechanically filtered when water flow through the sponge.
Also, beneficial bacteria will live in a sponge filter and provide biological filtration.
- Great for housing bacteria
- Adds extra oxygen to the tank
- Provides surface area for fish to graze on
- Many different sizes and coarseness
- Provides gentle flow
- Breaks water tension
- Easy to clean
- Requires an air pump
- The filter is usually visible in the tank
- Susceptible to clogging especially with finer sponges
- Requires frequent cleaning
- Needs to be replaced after about 6-12 months
- Some noise is created by the air bubbles
Hang on back filter
Hang on back filters (‘HOBs”) are very popular with new aquarium hobbyists. They are easy to set up, provide good filtration and give easy access to clean or replace filter media.
Exactly as the name suggest, a hang on back filter hangs on the back of your fish tank. A water pump pulls water through filter media within its compartment before gently cascading it back into the tank. It provides customisable mechanical and biological filtration.
- Easy to set up
- Little to no noise
- Easily accessible filter media
- Does not take up space in the aquarium
- Reasonably priced
- Provides flow to the tank
- May suck up small fish if not covered
- Requires space behind the aquarium
- Regular maintenance required
- Flow reduces as filter cartridges get dirty
- Filter cartridges require frequent replacement
Internal Filters come in many shapes and sizes. They are used by hobbyists as a quiet and powerful form of compact filtration.
An internal filter neatly operates under water whilst attached to the inside of the tank.
It works by pumping water through filter media within the filter and back into the tank. These pumps are usually high powered and provide a lot of circulation to the tank.
- Easy to set up
- Provide lot of water flow
- Some makes and models allow for interchangeable filter media
- May provide oxygen to the tank
- Must be removed from the tank for cleaning
- Limited space for filter media
- Require frequent maintenance
- Not as efficient with larger or messier fish
- Some consider them to be ugly
- Current can be to powerful sometimes – This is a case by case situation
External filters or canister filters are the go to filtration method for hobbyists with larger tanks. This is due to their high filtration capacity and less frequent maintenance.
An external filter sits outside of the aquarium and operates using a water pump to push water through an inlet and outlet pipe. Water is pumped into the unit and pushed through filter media before returning to the tank.
UV Sterilsation lights (an advanced filtration method) are sometimes included in external filters.
Most provide enough space to allow for combined mechanical, biological and chemical filtration.
- More expensive than other forms of filtration
- Can be tricky to prime the water pump
- Can be bulky
- Inlet and outlet pipe require cleaning
- Some can be hard to open
- Can be heavy to move during cleaning routines
Bioscape Tropic Canister Filter 2200lph with UV 9w offers mechanical, chemical and biological filtration. For tanks up 700L
In store, we recommend different types of aquarium filters to different people.
We will nearly always suggest an internal or HOB filter to the first time aquarium buyer. They are easier to maintain and never to expensive.
Secondarily, we always suggest sponge filters to someone looking for a fish breeding setup, a secondary filter or the most budget friendly option. These will get beneficial bacteria up and running very quickly in aquariums!
Lastly, for the customer wanting a beautiful display tank, maybe setup in the heart of their home, we suggest an external filter. These allow for the best aquarium filtration and greatest aesthetic pleasure.