Aquarium filtration systems, how do they work?

Outside power and Canister filters, which one to choose from?

Outside power vs canister filter

A canister filter is pretty much a large outside power filter. Both of them provide the three types of filtration described above. What’s the difference? One, the outside power does the minimum; the other (canister) does the job.

If you can afford an extra $50-$100 buy a canister filter. Why? When it comes to filters: bigger is better! Not only you will be able to add an extra fish or two, but once set up, your tank will be more stable and therefore capable of avoiding problems like, sudden changes in pH, or peaks in ammonia, that could led to fatal consequences. Canister filters usually have a tree year guarantee and under normal circumstances will last longer for many years. In addition they come with a much powerful pump system.

Let’s look at the facts:
A typical outside power filter looks like this:

Is just a small container where you place a bag of activated carbon and a sponge that will work as mechanical and biological filter. A canister filter in the other hand looks like this:

A large container with several inner compartments or baskets each of them dedicated to one of the filter types: mechanical, chemical and biological. This gives you more flexibility. Let’s just say that you started a new 25-35 gallon tank. Since your primary concern during the first weeks should be the establishment of healthy bacteria on your aquarium, you can replace the mechanical compartment for the first month or so, and place biological media in it, thus increasing 33% the capacity of your biological filter!!!

With the standard outside power filter you are stocked to the sponge that comes with it and that’s it, end of the story. A canister filter in comparison will offer you and average of 200% or more of biological filtration. What else do we have to say?


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