To find the volume of an aquarium in gallons multiply the length times the height times the width in inches and divide by 231.  You should also subtract the glass thickness and consider that the water will not be full to the top.


Every aquarium needs filtration, that is if you wanna keep anything alive in it.  There are three types of filtration we must employ to keep fish healthy.  It is important to keep the three types of filtration separate so that you can clean or remove one without disturbing the others.  We must also keep in mind that your aquarium is a closed system.  That is everything you put in stays in until it is removed.  It may get changed around a bit (processed) but unless you do a partial water change or physically remove it, it stays in there.  If it weren’t for biological filtration keeping aquariums would be very difficult.  Although biological filtration makes it possible for us to keep the type of aquariums we do it is something we should use as little as possible.  Biological filtration does have its downside.  The bacteria in our filters use oxygen to process waste, this can limit the oxygen available to the fish.  With filters that are outside the aquarium this is normally not a concern because the water is oxygenated as it pours back into the aquarium.  The internal filters like an under gravel filter get their oxygen from the aquarium water reducing the oxygen available to the fish.  The biological process also gives off organic acid.  This acid lowers the pH of the water.  The majority of fish available prefer a neutral (7) pH, at a lower pH fish will become sick and even die.  There are several other problems associated with a low and even a high pH.  A pH test kit is an essential inexpensive tool for keeping a healthy aquarium.

v    Particulate
v    Chemical
v    Biological

  Particulate filtration is anything that catches particles from the water.  The particulate filter should be the first filter water goes through.  There are many different styles of particulate filters on the market, the most popular are the power filters and the canister filters.  A power filter normally hangs on the back of the tank, pumps aquarium water through its filters and spills water back into the aquarium.  The models that go under the aquarium are called canister filters.  As the particle filter catches fish waste and uneaten food it is important to rinse it off in tap water once a week.  Leaving the filters in place for more than a few days without rinsing allows bacteria to colonize the filter and process the waste.  One of the most important features of a particulate filter is the ease in which it can be cleaned.  If you have to do it once a week you don’t want it to be difficult.  I prefer the hang on power filters because the filter pads just lift out without having to turn the filtration off.  Particulate filters can be rinsed and reused for several months.

  Chemical filtration is a filter that absorbs something from the water.  Chemical filtration should be the second filter that water passes through.   The most common chemical filter is activated carbon (charcoal).  There are several other chemical filters available to remove specific ions from the water.  Normally chemical filters are very specific in what they remove i.e. phosphate, silicate, medications, copper and other metals.  Activated carbon is the best chemical filter for general purposes.  It will remove most of the things that irritate fish, discolor the water and cause odors.  Chemical filters should not be left in the water for more than a week between rinsing to avoid biological filtration.  Chemical filters should be replaced once a month.  Activated carbon must be removed before using any medication because it will absorb it.

  Biological filters process organics, fish waste and uneaten food into less harmful products (nitrate).  The biological filter should be the last filter water passes through before returning to the aquarium.  Beneficial bacteria live on every surface in your aquarium but are most effective in areas that have a brisk flow of water across them with high dissolved oxygen.  A filter medium that is designed to be a biological filter has a large surface area but is not porous enough to catch particulate material.  Bacteria colonize the filter media very slowly.  Each time you add a new fish to the aquarium or over feed your bacteria must multiply to deal with the extra waste.  This can take several days to two weeks.  When an aquarium is new it can take over one month for the bacteria colonies to reach sufficient numbers.


  So what is the perfect filter?  Chose one that hangs on the back and is easy to clean.  It should run the water through the particulate filter first then the chemical filter and last through the biological media before pouring into the aquarium.  The Marineland Emperor power filters are my preference.