Biological Filter

Biological Filter


Your filtration system is the guts of your aquarium and what will, experts say, make the difference between success and failure. Filters trap solid wastes from your tank and convert liquid wastes to a relatively harmless form, then return the byproduct to your tank. How you treat and monitor your aquarium water is vital for the health of your fish.



Mechanical filters, which remove particulate debris from the water, need to be checked and cleaned regularly. Even though these filters trap particulate waste and make your aquarium look cleaner, the mechanical media needs to be removed and cleaned, to physically remove the waste from your aquarium.


Biological filters enable bacterial colonies to propagate and break down wastes. Biological filtration is the action of bacteria in the tank breaking down dangerous ammonia, converting them to nitrites, and then the nitrites to the less toxic nitrates. Nitrates can be harmful to many invertebrates in high concentrations. The process of biological filtration, also known as the nitrogen cycle, involves the movement of harmful wastes through the filter. Biological filters should be checked regularly to ensure particles have not escaped the mechanical filters, clogging the biological filter and decreasing efficiency.


Today, most biological filters provide a separate area or wheel for the specific task of growing the necessary bacteria to complete the nitrogen cycle. These good nitrifying bacteria will grow in other places in the aquarium and on other filter media but not with as great a number. It is hard to argue with the success of these new filters and their ease and success in providing high quality filtration. Regardless of which system you use to provide biological filtration, it is the most important part of maintaining the water quality. Remember that it takes weeks to properly grow the bacteria in a biological filter, so if you are setting up a new tank, wait several weeks between the introduction of your first fish, and the addition of subsequent fish.


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