HOME


Saltwater Aquarium Filter

What is a Saltwater Aquarium Filter?

A Saltwater aquarium filter is any mechanical, biological or chemical procedure that artificially removes the excess of impurities found in the intensely compact marine ecosystem of saltwater aquariums. Filters come in many shapes and sizes, from home made, to store bought, and the designs are as varied as the needs of the independent aquarist. Mechanical filters for saltwater aquariums are those which usually come first and require most maintenance as they tend to get dirty on a regular basis. Biological filtration systems are more advanced and ecologically sound than mechanical filters as they tend to recreate the conditions of natural filtration found in the sea. Chemical filters, are usually the last system to be used in the process of saltwater aquarium purification as it is the finest filtration process, working on a molecular level.

Marine aquarist enthusiast, have an old tradition of doing things themselves, as it was not always so easy to find filters in the local pet shop. Home made mechanical and biological filters hidden underneath the aquarium stand or even as an attraction are the most common combination of filters found in saltwater aquariums. But store bought filters that hang on the top (HOT), or hang on the back (HOB), are also frequently seen in these home setups. The most important systems however in saltwater ecosystems, have a primary and secondary filtration system. Primary is usually some kind of mechanical while secondary is usually a biological filtration system. Some sump filters (isolated home made filters) use a combination of filtration systems that disqualify mechanical filtration completely in favor of multiple biological filtration systems.

Mechanical filters are the most important systems in a saltwater aquarium as they reduce the amount of large organic materials, before they have been broken down. Saltwater aquarist use first and foremost the protein skimmer as it uses the natural foaming nature of tides to clean highly polluted saltwater. Foams, sponges, canister filters, box filters and such are all, used as well, like screens that easily remove the larger particles from the water. But must be cleaned regularly (sometimes daily) unlike the protein skimmer which only requires an occasional cleaning and air stone replacement. Pumps and tubing however are the most important items to be kept clean in mechanical filtration systems for the saltwater aquarium, as they usually need to be very powerful, and get clogged easily.

Biological filters get the most out of the whole ecosystems setup, as they maintain chemical balances and levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide with little need of fine tuning or maintenance. Live rock, live sand and underwater gravel filters are the most common as they tend to be closest to nature’s natural way of doing things. Aquarists that are really into filtration tend to use fluidised bed filters when they can, as a third or fourth stage in filtration, because the constant movement of sand particles against each other work as one of the most efficient saltwater biofilters. Trickle (wet/dry) filters, are great for oxidization of saltwater, as they are almost maintenance free and are in constant contact with flowing air, these usually find themselves in the sump category. Rotating drum filters are wonderful additions to a waterfall, or any current near the surface of the tank, as they rotate constantly, offering high oxygenation and excellent biological filtration.

Chemical filters are still in an area dominated by active carbon. But some specific resins and other chemicals can be used in direct treatment of disease and algae bloom. Basically active carbon offers a place for unwanted molecules to take up root and not return to the ecosystem. Mostly active carbon is necessary when higher levels of ammonia tend to threaten the delicate balance between decomposers, plants and other marine organisms.

As there are many different types of filters that can be used in saltwater aquariums, the most important ones are those that take care to maintain the delicate balance of nitrites, nitrates, ammonia, oxygen and CO2, for that aquarium setup. Mechanical filters do the work of separating the larger debris from the water, usually as a primary stage of filtration. Biological filters are more common, and usually tend to follow a more ecologically developed strategy for refining organic breakdown material in the aquarium, is a secondary stage of filtration. Chemical filtration is the finest process and relies on at least a primary filtration system, as it works on already well refined pollutants, usually on a molecular level.

This page: Saltwater Aquarium Filter




Similar Articles


Posted in Filters on August 23, 2005.

Saltwater Aquarium Lighting | Home | Saltwater Aquarium Supplies