Types of Filter Materia for Aquariums

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Types of Filter Materia for Aquariums

There are many different types of filter media available for your aquarium. Each type is designed for a specific purpose and works differently from the other.

A common multi-media filter uses sand and carbon as its base and then adds in resin or GFO for the chemical reduction. Putting fine mechanical media after the coarse carbon and chemical medias prevents those medias from being clogged with particulate waste.


A mechanical filter is comprised of sponges, foam pads, and filter floss that physically strain out debris from your fish tank. They work by trapping particles in pores that are much smaller than the contaminant and then throwing the contaminant off course through a process called inertial impaction. This causes the contaminant to deviate from the fluid’s streamlines and fall into a pocket within the pore.

Using a mechanical filter in conjunction with a good biological filter and excellent aeration can help your fish tank to become self-cleaning. However, it is important to remember that every filter system requires maintenance. Regular cleaning of your mechanical filters will prevent waste build-up and a corresponding rise in ammonia or nitrites.

Sponge and foam pad filters are graded by their pores per inch (PPI). A coarse sponge with a high PPI can be used to block larger pieces of fish waste like feces and dead leaves. A fine foam or poly pad with a lower PPI can catch the tiny bits of flotsam and jetsam that tend to float around in your aquarium.

For an even finer level of mechanical filtration, try a micron pore foam or membrane filter. These filters have a very narrow pore structure range and are used in pharmaceutical, food, and microelectronics applications. These are the most precise of all mechanical filtration media.


A chemical filter changes the chemistry of water by adding or subtracting certain contaminants. The most common examples are carbon filters and ion exchange resins. Carbon removes odors and color from the tank, while ion exchange resins reduce phosphate and heavy metals that build up in mature aquarium systems. Some aquarists also use it to help prevent cyanobacteria growth and yellowing.

KDF media (copper and zinc) is a relatively new type of water filter that works well as a prefilter for carbon. It reduces the levels of dissolved copper and zinc in water and it also helps to manage scale, bacteria, algae, and some toxins, especially chloramines. It performs a similar function to carbon/GAC but is cheaper to operate and lasts longer than the average carbon. It also works well when placed upstream of a carbon/GAC filter because it extends the life of the carbon and also performs much better at higher temperatures than carbon.

Other chemical filtration media includes diatomaceous Filter Materia earth (DE), which can be used to remove phosphates, heavy metals, and toxins, as well as zeolite, which can assist with removing nitrates and other dissolved organic waste compounds. There are also various resins that can be mixed with carbon or GFO to act as an all-in-one solution. These are commonly known as AIO (All-in-one) media and are very popular among aquarists.


Biological filters use the natural ability of micro-organisms to decompose pollutants (Chen & Hoff, 2009). The pollution molecules are either absorbed on the surface of the biofilter medium particles or enter the moist surface layer of these particles where they get degraded into carbon dioxide, biomass, water and inorganic salts. The sorption process is controlled by the microbial community present on the filter material and the surface properties of the microbial cells (Chen & Hoff, 2009).

The biofilter material used is usually compost, tree bark or peat. These materials have a high surface area, geomembrane supplier are stable and resistant to acidification. They can be supplemented with other filling materials, such as aerated or expanded materials for better performance.

It is important to understand the differences between different types of filling materials to choose the best one for your application. The main criteria is the surface area and resistance to acidification and air resistance.

It is also important to know that the capacity of a biological filter depends on the nutrient balance and maintenance tasks. The biofilter must be fed with ammonia at a steady rate to keep the beneficial bacteria reproducing. One billion of these microorganisms will become two billion in two weeks, four billion in eight weeks, and eighty billion in twenty-four weeks. If the ammonia feed stops cold at the end of cycling, these bacteria will start to die and the filter capacity will decline.


In the world of eco-conscious plastic alternatives, spunbond fabrics shine as a cutting-edge iteration in textile innovation. This process utilizes a thermoplastic polymer resin known as Polypropylene to spin and disperse fibers into web-like formations. PP spunbond nonwoven fabrics offer a variety of advantages, including a durable construction and resilience against staining and wear.

These qualities make PP spunbond nonwoven fabric an excellent choice for filtering applications. The high-loft design of this fabric allows it to capture larger particles on the surface while retaining smaller particulate deep within the web. It also provides a smooth surface for easier cleaning and can be coated with a variety of additives to meet specific application needs.

A metallized coating, for example, helps reduce static between cartridge filters and powder inside the collector. This helps keep the dust from clinging to the filters, allowing them to perform better and maintain their shape longer. The aluminized coating also adds strength to the filter media, preventing it from collapsing during use.

Other options include polyester spunbond, which can be incorporated with melt blown fibers to provide a stronger product. This type of fabric is ideal for liquid and air filtration because it can be made with either a point bonded or flat bond version. It is able to withstand high temperatures and resists shedding.

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