Many tropical fish keepers with live plants hold the view that active carbon will adsorb necessary elements from the water column such as chelated iron and copper. Active carbon will adsorb these and other non-chelated minerals and can be off-set by adding some micronutrients and chelated minerals to the water column. Other fish keepers hold the view that activated carbon will release back into the water column collected impurities using the example of a sponge soaking and then releasing liquids but this is not how activated carbon operates. Activated Carbon adsorbs pollution and can not release captured (adsorbed) materials in a home environment. The advantages of activated carbon filtration can almost be provided by regular and frequent partial water changes that dilute the contained pollutants instead of removing potential pollutants.
Bio-filtrations is the most valuable type of filtering because the bio filter actually cleans the water through bacterial processes that consume the toxic substances that naturally develop in the closed system of the home aquarium. Mechanical and chemical filtration capture and hold contaminates for removal by the fish keeper but biological filtration occurs naturally without intervention by the fish keeper. Biological filtering provides clean and less toxic water creating a thriving environment for our water critters. This process is known as nitrification which is part of the nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen cycle begins with nitrogen being removed from the air and is completed when the nitrogen is returned to the air as inert gas. In the home aquarium nitrification is the establishment of beneficial bacteria colonies.
Bacteria live everywhere in our aquariums with various species that feeds on ammonia produced by both fish metabolism and organic decomposition. Beneficial bacteria require highly oxygenated waters with nitrogen availability in ammonia and nitrite form to establish colonies. The porous filter media is the ideal environment for all bacteria to colonize, ample flow of pre-filtered water providing abundant oxygen and nutrients including un-oxidized metabolites ammonia and nitrite. Even though biological filtration is a natural process it needs to be protection from silting and suffocation caused by settling of suspended particulate accumulation.
Bacterial colony size is determined by two limiting factors the availability of in-tank production of nitrogen metabolites and highly oxygenated water in slow flow. So this process is concerned with the oxidation of nitrogenous waste produced by the normal metabolism of water critters. Fish release ammonia into the water column through their gills. This form of ammonia has the greater affinity for water of any element in the aquarium. Active transportation of this material across the gills is not necessary. Simple osmosis the diffusion from area of high concentrations, from fish’s blood, to the area of low concentration the water column is all that is needed.
Where these nitrifying colonies are established is up to you the fish keeper who created the initial filter set-up and the way the aquarium upkeep is preformed. This positive relationship with nitrifying bacteria lolls us into forgetting that bacterial colonies are not stagnant but are dynamic in the terms of population growth. Bacteria receiving nitrogen metabolic matter and oxygen will not just metabolize they will multiply. This steady state population is always changing and renewing population. Because nitrification is an acidifying process it will affect the carbonate/bicarbonate buffering of the water column and associated pH, both should be monitored.
Today the aquarium filters offers benefits unknown to earlier fish keepers yet they still need to be maintained on a regular basis. Aquarium filtration can not remove waste from the tank. Mechanical filtration will capture particulate, bio-filtration change metabolites from one dissolved toxic form to another less toxic form and chemical filtration captures and holds specific pollutants, so is out of sight out of mind? NO!!
All particulate that is captured or altered through filtering devices are still present in some form and continually in intimate contact with the water affecting water quality until we fish keepers removes the contaminates during periodic filter maintenance. Both TDS and TSS are diluted with each partial water change.
What does this mean to me and my orphaned 29 gallon aquarium it means that I will incorporate the different filtering types into three separate filtering mechanisms creating my own SLOW FLOW filtration system. I plan to establish a sand substrate that will be the bio-filter providing nitrification, air driven sponge filter for mechanical filtration and the aquarium came with aqua clear 70 hang on the top filter as chemical filtration.
Purple Possum Rides at MIDNIGHT
DISCLAIMER: I stood on the shoulders of these giants for this view of filtration.
Angels plus.angelsplus.com,Web.7 Aug.2013<Understanding Aquarium Filtration
Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine.tfhmagazine.com.Web.7 Aug 2013<Filtration | Aquarium Basics | Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine
Aquariumlife.aquariumlife.net.Web.8 Aug 2013.<Aquarium Filtration (AQUARIUM CARE ARTICLES)
Schiff, J. Steven.”Undergravel filters: Maintance and Altervatives”fishchannel.com.Web,8 Aug 2013<Undergravel Filters: Maintenance and Alternatives
Admin.How to choose aquarium filter,1 Feb 2013.petskeepersguide.com.Web. 8 Aug 2013<How to Choose an Aquarium Filter - Pets Keepers Guide
Ricketts, Robert T ”Filtration Basics: Part One, introduction, current and mechanical filtration” badmanstropicalfish.badmanstropicalfish.com. Web.8 Aug 2013<Aquarium Filtration Basics: Part 1, Introduction, Current, and Mechanical Filtration
Ricketts, Robert T ”Filtration Basics: Part two chemical filtration” badmanstropicalfish.bad,manstropicalfish.com. Web 8 Aug 2013<http://badmanstropicalfish.com/articles/article71.htm
Ricketts, Robert T ”Filtration Basics: Part three: Biological Filtration” badmanstropicalfish.badmantropicalfish.com. Web. 8 Aug 2013<http://badmanstropicalfish.com/articles/article72.htm
Ricketts, Robert T ”Filtration Basics: Part four: Getting it all together and keeping it there”.badmanstropicalfish. badmanstropicalfish.com.Web.9 Aug 2013. <http://badmanstropicalfish.com/articles/article73.htm