Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
How To FILTER YOUR AQUARIUM: 3 Ways to Filter Your Fish Tank

How To FILTER YOUR AQUARIUM: 3 Ways to Filter Your Fish Tank


(rousing upbeat music) – What’s up, fish tank people? Dustin’s Fish Tanks bringing
it to you, on a Sunday, baby. How’s everybody doing? I
hope you’re doing well. In today’s video, we’re gonna talk about
aquarium filtration. I’m gonna talk about mechanical
filtration in your aquarium, I’m gonna talk more heavily
on biological filtration. We’re gonna skip chemical filtration. I’m gonna show you a couple examples of a couple of different types of filters for the plain-Jane common-man Aquarius. And I’m also gonna show you one, two, three amazing fish rooms and how they filter and do water
changes in their aquariums. Okay, well first I wanted
to find some of the things that an aquarium filter does. First and foremost, an aquarium filter will actually remove particulates from the actual aquarium that you have and house is it in the
back in the mechanical and other parts of the back
part of the filtration. Beyond that, an aquarium filter will also do a nice job of stirring up
your aquarium, if you will. You want enough water flow that it’s able to move particles around and not have any dead
spots in your aquarium. And just as an aside, those
of you struggling with algae, sometimes, in addition to too much light and too much excess nutrients, the lack of water flow is a problem and can cause algae in your aquarium. Everything can sit in one spot. Sometimes you see this with
anubias, anubias grows slowly. It grows slowly, there’s
not enough water flow, the algae will grow on top of the anubias. Let’s stick here with
water flow for a second, let’s talk about gas exchange. Let’s go roll over to
the trustee whiteboard and do a little diagram
how this is gonna go. And one of the big benefits
that I think is often overlooked with most filtration, and that is removal of
debris and surface skim on the top of your water. And I learned this from my guy, Brian. The first thing that this does for you is it helps with gas exchange. You want as much gas exchange, gas surface turbulation
leaving your water. What else does having turbulence at the surface of your water do? I will tell you, and it
involves something right here. It involves lighting. This, folks, is your
purple 20-gallon-high. You have a not-so-great
light on top of it. If you have cloudy or not-so-clear water ’cause of poor filtration, your light can only get a little bit down, leaving our beloved plants down here. Those are what your plants look like. Our beloved plants down below,
deprived and lacking light. Conversely, if you have a
good well-filtered aquarium, the light can get all the
way down to our plants. You see, good gas exchange at
the surface of your aquarium not only helps with good gas exchange, but it also helps the light penetrate deeper to the
bottom of your aquarium. We’ve talked about mechanical filtration. Now it’s time to talk
about an overlooked thing, let’s talk about biological filtration. I wanna show the stages of this. This is the mechanical-stage
filter pad for an AquaClear. I think this is a 110. It’s the big brother of this AquaClear little guy right here. These come with a pouch like this. You put this at the bottom. So, the mechanical filtration
starts at the bottom. Obviously, the sponge is
significantly smaller for this one. But, that one only goes so far, you have to have what filters do. And this is the part where
the rubber meets the road, this separates the rookies from the pros, it’s when you get involved
in the biological filtration. You’ve seen bio-balls, you’ve seen the little ceramic balls
that come with your filter. This is the part that takes time. We shift from more of like a air-filter-in-a-car-type mentality to a mother-nature, flow-type mentality where we’re actually
using beneficial bacteria to filter in our aquariums. Let me explain. So I was trying to think of myself, what’s a unique way I can emphasize the importance of beneficial
bacteria in your filter. And I figured I would start by saying, everybody realizes that
when you’re a beginner you add fish too quickly,
you kill fish quickly because there’s not
enough beneficial bacteria in both your filter and in your substrate. We’re gonna talk about
that more in a minute. But I’m like, how can I
highlight this for people and show them the importance
of a biological filter? This, folks, is the biggest and best way I can show that to you. This is a six-foot-tall cylinder
at the Newport Aquarium. This is the bio chamber
for the Mekong tank. Think about this for a second. I ripped that tank down to its bare bones, scraped the bottom clean, added dirt, did the whole aquascape. Now, they were able to add
fish very quickly to it because this giant tower had
15-year-old bacteria in it. I’m gonna say that again. 15-year-old beneficial bacteria
in a huge bacteria chamber. They were easily able to add both fish, and of course we added
plants, back to that, because the bio load was
huge and established. Let me go on. You’ve heard about people who hardly do any water changes in their aquarium. Folks, straight up, I think
those type of people are crazy. But, maybe they are on to something. You’ve seen the old man that hardly ever does water changes in his thing. What’s going on with that? Maybe, just maybe, those
aquariums are entirely balanced. I’ve been to fish rooms, I’m
gonna show you in a second where their aquariums
are entirely balanced. And their beneficial bacteria
load, more importantly, is completely balanced. So, maybe they don’t
have to do as much work with the water changes
because they have enough of the nitrosomonas and
nitrosospira bacteria available in their aquarium,
keeping everything balanced. Let’s stick with bacteria
here for a second. I wanna talk about bacteria. Yes, bacteria lives in your filter. This is a 20-high, say you’re filtering it with a little AquaClear
hang-on-back filter or whatever. Now notice, the filter
itself is about this big, but look at all of this
surface area down here. Look at the size difference
between this right here and your little bit of
a filter right here. It’s my wonderful handwriting. Your filter right here. The size, I don’t care
if you have an oversized. Let’s say you have two of ’em. You still have much more surface area down here with the beneficial bacteria. I talk about it on webinars,
I’m talking about it again. The substrate is the most overlooked part of your planted aquarium. The substrate is where your
beneficial bacteria lives. Up here, yes, you’re gonna have some of it going on in your filters. But down here is where it really happens. And I wanna show you a clip for my man, Mr. Greg Sage out in Colorado. He runs his tanks basically bare bottom, with the exception, in
each one of his aquariums he has about a handful of gravel. Why does he run just a handful of gravel? Because he needs just a handful of gravel in the bottom of all of his aquariums to keep everything balanced, because the beneficial
bacteria lives on that gravel. Just as a quick aside, before I show you some of my favorite fish
rooms and how they filter it, I’m gonna break it to you like this. In my humble opinion, if
you’re trying to run a filter on anything, call it below
a 40 gallon, 50 gallon, a little hang-on-back is
gonna be the best way to go. Anything 40, 55, 75, 90,
125, I like the FX4s, FX6s, the big canister filters. There’s been tons of videos on those. You can click the links
around here and see me putting an FX4 on an old 75 gallon. The canister filter’s gonna
give you more surface area and more rippling water current. One thing I wanna point out,
I’m gonna show this more later, if you’re looking for surface
area, you cannot go wrong. They’re ugly as heck, but they’re great when it comes to the
biological filtration. Look out for the sponge filters. The sponge filters do a lotta good. And with that said, I wanna show you what some of the masters’
fish rooms I’ve seen and how they filter their tanks. One of the first fish rooms
in the filtration involved that I wanna talk about is
my man, Mr. Chuck Bremmer. He is part of the wonderful
and super-strong MASI club out in St. Louis, Missouri, along with Gary Don’t Carry Lang. I’ve been to Chuck Bremmer’s house. Every single one of his
aquariums has an air stone in it, several of them have a
giant sponge filter in there for that beneficial bacteria to live on. Chuck also does about 20% water per week. He runs sponges with are stones
in every single one of them. And, in a lot of his aquariums, he has fast-growing plants
because plants eat the nitrate, the end product of
ammonia; nitrite, nitrate. Chuck Bremmer stuff,
click links around here to check out the full
length of that video. – [Chuck] I wanna take the
water that’s at the bottom. Which is, if there’s dirt
that falls to the bottom, that’s where ammonia is gonna be produced. I wanna move that water up here and give it a chance for
ammonia to escape into the air. That’s the first line
of defense, let it gas. And ammonia moves into
the air very readily, so that will help. Then, my second line of defense is I have a lot of sponge filters in most of my tanks.
– I’ve seen that. – [Chuck] And that’s
essentially a miniature version of the mat and filter, as an example. It acts as bacterial bed. These have not been changed in a year, in most cases.
– Nice. – [Chuck] And so, it’s
pulling the water through, with some detritus, out of the dirt, I mean out of the water. And it traps it in there and then the bacteria break it down. And then they will break
it down into nitrite and then nitrate, which is in the water. – The next two fish rooms
I’m gonna talk about were out in Colorado. One exist still today, one is sadly gone. It’s my man, Mr. Bob Grower
I was out there visiting back when he lived in Colorado. Love you, Bob. Gotta come
see you down in Florida. My man, Bob had an
amazing cichlid fish room. I was too obnoxious in the video, so I’m trying to break it down
a little more simple for you. All he used sponge filters and air stones. And he used a system
designed by Mr. Greg Sage, which is actually an overflow system. To do water changes, my man, all he has to do is turn a lever. He turns that lever, the water runs all the way down into a drain. It’s a drain-and-fill system. And then to fill it, he reconnects a pipe and that pipe runs back up. And as it fills, it fills this tank. When that tank’s full, it goes on to the next one and the
next one and the next one. We actually duplicated that, with a slight modification,
in Greenhouse 1.0. And in a bit I’ll show you
what I got going on in 2.0 with an even better modification of that. – [Bob] My good friend,
Greg Sage, he’s great. Loves a lot of valves
and a master with PVC. We came in and we did
half of this fish room. And how it’s set up is, they’re set up at different levels to drain, again, depending on the
fish, how much water I wanna drain out of there.
– That’s awesome. – So, what happens is, we set up the attachments
that go right to my sink, and this way it can drain right out and I can fill it right in. And when it’s not up it goes away so that the floor is unencumbered. I really like it. It’s easy, I can turn around,
I can open the valves, and I know I’m not gonna be
able to drain it too long. – [Dustin] That’s awesome. Yeah, so it’s a walk away kind of thing. You can get away from it, you
can make it easy on yourself. And then, last but certainly not least, I wanna talk about my man, Jesse who runs the Rocky Mountain
Cichlid Association. They were kind enough to have me out there to speak a while back. Folks, it’s all about
water changes with my man. He runs giant sponges in all of his tanks. He’s got the big beneficial
bacteria in there. But then he’s got standing pipes. And he has remote control! Remote control water changes built with a very super tech system. I’ll show you some of the
highlights of it here. But totally love it. (equipment buzzing) – [Jesse] Irrigation controller. You buy these at any irrigation– – [Dustin] How much
was that, do you think? – [Jesse] It was probably 140 bucks. And it has capacity for 18 zones. I’m only running 12 right now, but in the future if I wanna add. And it comes with this wireless remote. – [Dustin] Nice. I like it. – So it comes three zones per setup. So you can see, one zone, two, tree. So I’ve gone three, six, nine, 12.
– Wow. – [Jesse] Okay, so each one of my tanks is labeled a different number. So if we go to tank number 11 here, it’s a 125 with a wild colony
of some Aussie frontosa. I’ll go, just for grins, I’ll
do a two-minute water change on.
– You just pushed the two? – Pushed the two, then I go on to 11. And almost like magic.
(device beeping) (water splashing)
– Wow. What’d you do to fill it, just pressed 11? – [Jesse] Yes. – [Dustin] And that’s filling number 11. – Ha! Wow.
– So that one will run– – [Dustin] And that’s already going through a de-chlored system. – Yep.
– We’re already at temp ’cause you got your mixing valve. – [Jesse] Yep. – [Dustin] Wow. I like it. While you’re sitting here hanging out and pushing two buttons.
– Exactly. – [Dustin] That’s pretty slick, man. Folks, do me a favor. Drop me a comment on your
favorite type of filter for your favorite type of tank. Everybody, make it an awesome week. And tank on. Later.

44 comments on “How To FILTER YOUR AQUARIUM: 3 Ways to Filter Your Fish Tank

  1. What’s the BEST Aquarium Filter in your opinion? (Depends on the setup right? )?What aquarium filtration system/setup do you use?

  2. Primarily Aquaclear 70's + airstones. Simple, & enjoy stuffing the A.Q's with various media. Tank ON! Hope Greenhouse 2.0 is rocking!

  3. Im so proud of your mega white board is that just a wall that you painted with the fancy paint?
    Mega white board for mega dreams brother

  4. Great info, with some really cool ideas. On another note, I saw a really neat fan you could use to cool the greenhouse. It's a Wilton Atomizing Fan. It's a giant fan that uses water vapor to help cool the air. Just food for thought. Thanks for another informative vid!

  5. G’day g’day that last water change set up is next level unreal. I don’t have a favourite pump and I use them all

  6. I use a lot of sponge filters and some aquaclears on larger tanks along with some plants. Ido water water changes everyday the old fashion way. Only 25 tanks and retired so have the time if not the money.🌴😎

  7. Good video mate I agree with you about gravel substrate because I had a massive ammonia spike with a bare bottom tank.. I requested some help in a fish community page on Facebook first line of defence was stop doing water changes and add gravel within three days off adding gravel my ammonia came down my tanks are full established now running smoothly but my debate here is your going to run into a argument here with people who say don't add gravel watch out for bacterial problems with fish, the gravel is a breeding nest for bad water qaulity and parasites.. Then you will run into people like me and you who's favour a substrate gravel bottom. This argument mainly arises in the koi hobby then tropical but it's food for thought and don't forget to sub

  8. Hey Dustin! My madagascar lace leaf plants leaves are super skinny is that normal when first growing in your tank?

  9. First time I have seen your any of your videos in about 3-4 months. BIG change! I like it, great job D. Keep going!

  10. Definitely a cannister: flow and circulation and storage for your media nicely out of site in the cabinet below, and a air stone always.
    Do we all know that an air stone is the perfect cooler to a certain moment!! Cooler air being pushed in and a lot of surphase broken by bubbles ( like we are sweating). Don't forget the Siphon squad: the more you siphon away ( debris and faul water) the less filtration you need. Always do your waterchanges( nature does) whiteboywhiteboardwednesday should return D. You can go without waterchanges and even without filtration but then again you could never wash yourself and wait for the bacteria to clean you up,you will live but hopefully not next door. Siphon On

  11. Hey Dunston. I've been running a balanced 260ltr tank fr 17 years. Very heavy on plants and only do a water change once or twice a year at most. I do clean the mechanical filter section when I am free.

  12. Great vid and thanks for showing the other methods. I use a sponge filter and plenum system in my show/shrimp breeding tank and some DIY mechanical filters made from empty Coke bottles with lava rock and fiberfill. I intend to get mechanical filters later. I do water changes once a week.

  13. You need a Dustin’s fish tanks, rice paddy hat to wear in your greenhouse. And of course it needs a stampede string

  14. I used to use filters. Now I just use powerhead, an air stone, and water changes. There is plenty of surface area on a substrate bed, you just need circulation. Filters do help with polishing water but weekly water changes clean out the detritus.

  15. Greg sage is awesome. Saved my fish room . When I couldn’t find the meds at the time to do so . If you need info Greg is a book 📖 great video dirty d’s 👍

  16. I try to make things as maintenance free as possible

    (sorry about the long post)

    I have been using canister filters but I have too many power cuts, so I have been replacing my canister filters with above tank filter boxes. my filter boxes are relatively shallow and open topped so a 6 hour power cut is not going to kill the aerobic bacteria.

    My most recent canister replacement is a kitty litter tray with a short overflow/standpipe in the centre to maintain water level, it is on a 260 litre with a thin layer of coarse sand and fully submerged waterlilies (fully leafed up, no stems) the lilies are tied into a seed raising tray that was filled with sand (now half full, thanks goldfish), a feeble fluorescent lamp and more goldies than it should have. I have a 800 L/H pump feeding the tray, the tray fits the contents of the filter that was on the tank and some extra media out of a sump of another tank. water is clear and healthy parameters

    I have recently set up an air powered corner filter in a planted pleco tank. I used under gravel filter plate to make a box (plate bottom and 2 sides), used the bubble stand pipes, with their directional outlets as designed and filled the box I had produced with filter media. I positioned the stand pipes so their outlets flowed directly into the tank, not over the filter media. The plate allows large amounts of water flow freely through the media

    My next filter box is for a 280L with 9 large goldfish, under gravel filter (2sq ft), almost 2 inches of mixed river stones and no plants (the fish don't respect them) the filter box will have above water plants when set up (not my tank, but in my house will move out soon I hope)

    I avoid manual water changes as much as possible, the tanks that can be plumbed are, and have continuous water in and out flow (around 5% to 8% per day) currently around 300 litres a week. all my other tanks MIGHT get a 20% to 30% change every month.
    All my tanks have air stones.
    I am on town supply water and do not dechlorinate, most of the water I use goes through an open topped drum with filter media before it gets to the tanks

  17. I pretty much do the LRB method on my tanks, tons of plants, very little filtration, and water changes. And I love it, works so well for me!!

  18. Dustin never do water changes I keep caridina shrimp and nano fish 1: 20g tall 1: 10g tank all the tanks cycled for at least 2 weeks with sponge filters that were in previous tanks all the tanks have planted substrate and are planted from heavily to medium planted tanks and the shrimp are breeding and living nicely molting on the regular which goes to show water changes are not really needed in my conditions all the tanks are over filtered also nice educational video love how you went into all the types of filtrations and filters

  19. Trying the no filter, no airstone, no fertilizer, no water changes, no fish… no success.
    Plants are sickly and there's lots of algae.

  20. I use bio rings and sponges in a HOB and sponge filters in all my tanks as well. And honestly man I gave credit to another you tuber for giving me the water set up idea and it was actually you so thank you for that video in the past!!! I have a picture of the setup and going to add a mixing valve in my Instagram

  21. No matter how old you get Dustin, your voice always has moments that sounds like you’re going through puberty still. ;).

  22. 6:30 the surface area argument presented here is complete bogus, porous materials used in filters represent a huge amount of surface area with all the holes and pockets. The vast majority of your bacteria are in your filter. You yourself even described how this is true with your statements earlier in the video talking about that aquarium scape. And I (loosely) quote "scrubbed the bottom of the tank…replaced all the substrate and scape…were able to stock fish instantly because bacteria housed in the filter".

  23. For 50 years I have used an undergravel unit with a small Surface skimmer for my planted tank with no problems.

  24. I have managed to get to that point with my 40 gallon. No water changes. I run an HOB with ceramic, sponge, and polyfil for media. Also have a 15g sponge filter on the opposite side.

  25. Love that your maturity has made you so much calmer and easier to watch/listen too. One of THE best aquarium teachers on YouTube

  26. I run sponge filters on all my tanks and only change 1/3 water once a month. I'm working on the plumbing system to do auto water changes due to my back issues. Great video as always.. I love to see how others do things and learn something from each one.

  27. The information on air stones is right on time I was just thinking if that would be a good idea to add to my tank. I have an aqua clear filter and a double sponge filter and lots of plants so the air stone is all that I’m missing. ♥️

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