There are so many filters on the market today that deciding which one is best for you can be mind boggling. The best filters will perform chemical, biological, and particulate filtration. Here are some short descriptions of the most popular filter systems:

Power filters look like a black or clear box that hangs on the back of the tank. They draw water into the filter by syphoning, and perform particulate (floss mesh) and chemical (activated carbon) filtration. Some have an added feature of a sponge or “Bio Wheel” to improve biological filtration.

 

Noise Level
Filtration Quality
Maintenance
The smaller versions (125 GPH or less) operate silently. The larger ones can be too noisy to tolerate in a bedroom. Provides excellent filtration all around, and are available in various sizes. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for your aquarium size. The filter will need to be changed and the gravel will need to be vacuumed about once a month.

Under gravel filters have a grating that is placed under the gravel in your tank. An air powered siphon pulls water through the gravel, through the grating, and up the siphon. Under water filters require the use of medium or large stone gravel in order to function properly. Therefore, fine gravel or sand are not appropriate for this filter system. NOTE: This filtration system is not recommended for fishes that like to dig. African cichlids, or other species that like to dig, will compromise this type of filtration system, and it may stop functioning completely.

 

Noise Level
Filtration Quality
Maintenance
If operated with air bubbles, prepare to be annoyed. Not a good choice for a bedroom or quiet reading location. the noise level can be reduced if the bubble system is replaced by a Power Head. Chemical filtration is poor unless activated carbon modules are added. Particulate filtration is poor unless floss mesh filtration is added. The gravel will need to be vacuumed about once a month. Floss and carbon modules will need to be changed about once every two weeks.

Fluidized bed filters are great, but are for tanks that are large enough to charge people admission. These filters use pumps to move water through floss mesh, activated carbon, and a host of other filter media.

 

Noise Level
Filtration Quality
Maintenance
Can be very loud. Fluidized bed filters are one of the best. The gravel will need to be vacuumed once a month. Floss mesh, activated carbon and other filter media need to be changed every three months.

Box/Sponge filters are small electric or air powered filters that sit under the water in the corner of your tank. These filters are great for aquariums that house Discus, Angel, or other species that are sensitive to water currents.

 

Noise Level
Filtration Quality
Maintenance
About the same as under gravel filters. Works fine for smaller tanks, but expect the water to look a little murky. The filter sponge will need to be rinsed out in old tanks water once every six months (seeTank Maintenance. Carbon and floss mesh will need to be changed once a month.