How do you choose the best filter for your fish tank?
There are two main types of filters you can use on your aquarium – hang-on and canister.
No matter what type you choose, remember the all important point – NEVER REPLACE YOUR FILTER MEDIA!!
These filters come in a variety of layers, shapes and flows. Stay away from those cheaper models that have flimsy floss and a few carbon pellets in a cartridge. You will waste so much money trying to keep them from falling apart. Choose a model with a sturdy sponge that you can use for years and years. If you have a larger system, you may need more than one of these.
Many of these filters have adjustable flows. If you have fish with long, but pretty useless fins, such as bettas or fancy goldfish, turn the flow way down so they don’t get pushed around.
These filters tend to be larger and will sit underneath your aquarium. They have long tubes that suck water out of your tank and return it back. It is best to place these tubes on opposite sides of your tank to create the best water flow. Always keep your intake and return tube towards the surface of your tank! If something goes wrong and your filter malfunctions, you may drain your tank inadvertently.
Same as with the hang-on filter above, turn the flow way down for those with decorative fins!
Which is best?
It is entirely your preference. Some fish keepers like the easy access of hang-on filters, while others like the increased capacity of the canister. Both allow for customization of the layers if you desire. You can even go further with the addition of a sump if you so choose.
When choosing a size, try for one that is 1.5x to 2x your tank volume. More room for biological filtration can be an extra cushion to your maintenance routine if emergencies come up. This is not the case for betta or fancy goldfish tanks! A stronger filter will certainly push them around. They will waste away trying to swim against a current they cannot escape.
How should I clean my filter?
If you answered, “by throwing it away and putting in new material,” go read this and come back. Your filter media is where your biological filtration grows to keep your nitrogen cycle going strong. By throwing it away, you are doing your fish no favors and only giving the filter company more money.
The best way to “clean” your filter is to gently swish it around in your water change waste water. It will not smell or look “clean,” and this is okay. You want to keep those bacteria in their place, but allow for good water circulation. Resist all urges to blast it clean with hot tap water! This is the same as replacing it.