5 Things You Need To Know About Freshwater Aquarium Filters 13

Share This On

Freshwater Aquarium Filter

Setting up a freshwater fish tank is a fun and relaxing hobby. Once the tank is set up and ready to go, it is fairly easy to maintain and can provide hours of enjoyment, as well as beauty to your home.



However, when setting up the aquarium, there are some very important factors, such as choosing the correct freshwater aquarium filters. A good aquarium filter will maintain several things in your tank, such as keeping the water clean, aerated, and circulated, which is essential to the health of your freshwater fish.

Before setting up your tank, there are five things you need to know about aquarium filtration systems.

1. Functions of an Aquarium Filter

It’s always good to start from the very basics. What does your aquarium filter actually do? How does it help in maintaining the natural environment in your freshwater tank?

Well, basically your filter needs to handle three things: biological, mechanical, and chemical.

Biological – Fish produce ammonia from their gills as they breathe, as well as being release as their waste breaks down.This ammonia needs to be removed from the tank through the filtration system since it is toxic to fish.

Mechanical – The mechanical  process will remove debris and waste from the water as it circulates it. This not only helps keep the tank cleaner and promotes good health in fish, but it also helps keep the water aerated.

Chemical – Water carries a lot of chemicals that can harm fish, such as copper, chlorine, dissolved proteins, even dissolved medications and dyes are left in our tap water. The last task of aquatic filtration systems is to remove all the harmful chemicals.

2. Types Of Aquarium Filters

Now that you have general understanding of what an aquarium filter does. It’s easier to decide on the type of aquarium filter you’ll need.

There are many different types of filters, among the common ones are:-

Power filters – Aquarium power filters comes in a variety of price ranges. They are easy to use and cover all three of the basic tank needs. They generally include a bio-wheel or replaceable filter to give additional biological support to the tank.

Canister filters – These filters are excellent for larger tanks. While a little more difficult to maintain, they provide excellent water filtration.

Undergravel filters – These filters are placed under a layer of gravel at the bottom of the tank. These freshwater aquarium filters rely on an air pump or powerhead to work. They are generally work well as biological filters, although many models include replaceable filters at the end of the tube for chemical or mechanical filtration

For a list of the best filters for your aquarium filters, read here: 5 Best Freshwater Aquarium Filters

3. Setting Up Your Aquarium Filter

One of the most commonly overlooked step in setting up your freshwater aquarium filter is to properly prime the pump. This ensures that your filter performs at its most optimum level. Not to mention making it last longer.

When setting up your freshwater aquarium filter, be sure to follow these 3 basic steps:-

Setting up the filter – follow the instructions included with your filter as to the correct placement of the filter system. Whether the filter needs to be placed under the gravel, or attached to the back of the tank, correctly place all of the components.

Cleaning the filtration system first – it is important to rinse all of the filter parts that are washable in clean water before submerging it in the water.

Priming the pump – running a filter without water will burn out the motor, so it is important to ensure that the pump is primed. Some freshwater aquarium filters come with a priming button. If not, be sure to follow the instructions included with the filter. It generally involves filling the pump with water before turning on, whether that involves applying suction to the tubes or dumping water into the filter tank.

4. The Fish-Filter Ratio

Maintaining a clean healthy tank has much to do with not only the size of the tank, but also the filtration system. If the tank is overstocked then the filter system will be unable to keep the water fresh, clean, and healthy.

The general guide line is one fish per gallon of water for a basic tank. Overcrowding will not only cause your tank to be dirty, but often times will cause loss of fish.

 5. Regular Filter Changes

A regular schedule of changing the replaceable filters in your filtration system is important. The replaceable filter should be changed at least once a month, depending on the type of filter, the number of fish, and the size of the tank.While larger tanks with fewer fish may not need changed as often, it is important to maintain the correct balance in the tank.

Testing the water using a test kit that checks the ammonia and nitrate in the water can be used to make sure the chemical levels are adequate. Both should be at or close to zero. If not, the filters should be replaced.

A healthy, well maintained tank can take six weeks or more to set up. However, once set up, the tank is easy to maintain with regular filter changes, tank cleaning, and proper feeding of the fish. Freshwater aquarium filters are easy to use and help you keep your tank healthy and clean for you to enjoy for years.

About Dennis Hanson

Dennis is an experienced aquarist with many years of knowledge and experience in keeping successful tanks. He also has no relations to the pop group Hanson.

13 thoughts on “5 Things You Need To Know About Freshwater Aquarium Filters

  1. Reply Jackie Jan 22,2014 9:21 pm

    I’ve some questions, hope u can help?
    I inherited a large tank 1 year ago…i’m not sure if its 200 or 250L and I have lots of platys (adults and babies), tetras and 3 mollies and 2 sucker fish (they are grey with a little blacl grey stripes and dash of orange and they suck on the glass and swim weirdly…these are my favourite fish, but i don’t know their name). I used to have 12 of the grey striped tetras, but they are losing weight and some (but not all), look even one third of the size that they were when I bought them 5 months ago. I regularly check the water at the fish shop and its perfect. I manually feed.

    Over Christmas and with work travel I left them all to be fed by the electronic feeder. I moved house then 2 weeks ago and had to move the tank. It seems to me that 1 of my sucker fish and maybe 1 or 2 of my tetras have disappeared. I thought they might be hiding or that id find a carcas but no. They have simply vanished. The rest seem to be doing great and settling in to the new location since the move.

    But I’m worried about the 1 remaining sucker fish – he is constantly swimming wildly and even jumping up out of the water underneath where the food dispenser was…so wildly that he makes a big splash (he is tiny)….is he looking for his friend? Could his friend have been eaten by the other fish? He is completely manic, but there does not seem to be any fighting that I can see and yet the 2nd sucker fish is gone.

    Any ideas on whats going on, or what to do?

    • Reply Dennis H. Feb 15,2014 2:03 pm

      Hey Jackie,

      I can´t answer correctly about your sucker fish, If you say he swims weirdly they could be Upside down catfish, but I couldn’t be sure without a better description. They also could be Clown loach or Kuhli loach. If they are Kuhli and you have substrate they love to dig and hide under the gravel. If they are Clown loach they love to be in groups, but it´s strange that he is trying to jump.

      Catfish usually aren’t social(Corydoras, Farlowellas and Otonciclus preffer being in groups, the exception), I don´t think that he is looking for his friend. If the desappeared sucker fish is tiny I won´t doubt that the other fish ate him after he died, sadly it could happen.

      If you give me more details about the “sucker fish” I´ll identify the species and answer accurately.

      Best Wishes!

  2. Reply jack May 13,2015 6:30 pm

    i have a tank in the tank i have a pair of gold fish simple gold . but i have an problem that my 1 gold fish change his color from Gold to white i’m worry from that please give some suggestion

  3. Reply Brenda Jul 16,2015 2:54 pm

    I have a 40 gallon tank it has 2 Cory cats a frog and a louch what else can I put in the tank

  4. Reply Drea Jul 18,2015 11:38 am

    I have a wisper Tetra filter. Is that one OK?

    • Reply Ginger Aug 19,2015 2:25 am

      I do NOT reccomend them due to experience. I have a goldfish in a somewhat small tank and it does not, IN ONE BIT, keep the water clean in any way, shape or form. I think Aquaclear Filters are good though.

  5. Reply Elouise Sep 19,2015 10:59 pm

    I disagree with changing your filter. If you are using a chemical filter (like carbon), then you’ll need to replace that monthly. But mechanical and biological filters don’t need to be replaced until they are physically falling apart. Your filter media is where beneficial nitrifying bacteria lives (this converts ammonia and nitrite, which are harmful to fish, into nitrates, which are easily removed with weekly water changes). Every time you replace your filter media, you are destroying bacterial colonies that are important to the health of your tank. Instead of replacing your filter media, just give it a swish in a bucket of tank water after a water change. This will keep your filter from clogging without removing those beneficial bacterias.

  6. Reply Leslie Oct 16,2015 3:14 am

    I have a 30 gallon tank. The water is low and the pump/filter sounds like a water fall. Is this over working the pump? Is this hard on the pump? Is this using a lot of electricity ?

  7. Reply Zach Nov 29,2015 2:29 pm

    This is very helpful information for me. What are your thoughts on internal filters?

  8. Reply Darden Gilbert Apr 10,2016 7:06 pm

    I have a 10 Gal tank with male and female; 2 mollies, 2 tetras, and 2 platies. Last Thursday morning when I came to feed them, there were aprox 30+ babies. I wasn’t sure if they were from hatched Tetra eggs or the Mollie. The female Tetra isn’t as round as she was that’s why I suspect her. I have sufficient planted media that could have hidden her eggs. I am considering changing to a 40 Gal tank as shortly my existing tank will be very overcrowded. The female Platy is getting pretty round and I suspect soon there will be more babies produced.
    I don’t know exactly what to do about overcrowding. My home is very small so having anything larger than 40 gal is out of the question. Trying to catch them is quite stressful to the fish and myself. I’m 78, a widow but enjoy pets.

  9. Reply Kat Oct 8,2016 4:20 pm

    Dennis h said jackies sucker fish could b a clown loach??? I’ve had 3 clown loach now for 6 months and I haven’t seen em once sucking on the glass… Does anyone else’s clown loach suck on the glass lol

  10. Reply Cortney Lord Oct 9,2016 8:06 pm

    Hello, My name is Cortney and I am having an awful time getting my tank clear! I have done several water changes and the only chemical i have been using is the Seachem prime! It was clear at one time but when I was on vacation my son didn’t bother to tell me the water level was really low and the filters were not working. Thank god I didn’t lose my fish! What can I do to get crystal clear water?

  11. Reply Gerry Mar 11,2018 5:46 pm

    It takes 6 weeks for a filter pad to cycle. You want us to replace them every 4 week. ????

Leave a Reply




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.