Silly question but I want to ask the experts!

  • #1
What is the difference between having a filter or an air pump with the little stone things? We are still so new to all of this that I'm not quite sure. My dad is the expert on fish tanks in the family but he passed away last November so I don't really have anyone to ask and trying to read up on it gets so confusing!!
  • #2
A filter removes waste from the water, an air stone just causes the water to circulate.
  • #3
A filter removes waste from the water, an air stone just causes the water to circulate.

That about covers it.
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
ok so even if you were to have the air still need a filter right? Sorry...just trying to learn all this good stuff and give the fish the best environment I can
  • #5
Filters, as pointed out by Dino, filter the water, there are three stages of Filtration, and the following might help you:

Air stones just put bubbles into the water. When the bubbles pop at the surface, they help to create surface agitation (movement), which promotes what is called gas exchange. It allows the carbon dioxide to be exchanged for oxygen.

The confusion can come when the concept of sponge/air filters is introduced. These are a combination of an air-pump being used to help filter the water.
  • #6
Correct. You can have a filter without air stones, though. They are used mainly to break surface tension to oxygenate the water in spots the filter doesn't reach, and for decoration.
  • #7
Depending on your stocking levels, yes. I generally run most of my tanks without filters, but heavily planted and VERY low stocking. Most people do not stock like I do, but I have many tanks.
For most situations, a filter is a must.
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Trying to understand this and honestly I don't know why I can't pick it all up...I'm not an idiot lolll So a filter cleans the water and the air stones just move the water around and cause oxygen.....but doesn't a filter do the same thing....moving the water around?
  • #9
Don't panic, take your time, it's ok to be confused (we all were at some point)

Without getting into technical jargon, many aquarists run air stones for the visual effect, not realising the benefit of them. Have a read of my post above, and have a look at the link. That should help explain what a filter does.

And yes, filters do move the water around. IMO, air stones primarily aide gas exchange through surface agitation.
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
Trying to read your post about 3 stages and I guess I'm just a hands on person because I'm just not getting it. Since I have you here.....a question about the filter. We have a 10 gal going right now and I have been taking the filter bag out and taking the filter itself out and cleaning it with water and wiping the slimy stuff that the bacteria I'm cleaning off...should I be letting that stay there? I have been rinsing out the bag too....its a little thing that slides in with I guess carbon in it? Looks like charcoal. Thanks for all your help...I will get this, I will!!! I just want to get it before we set up the 55 gal tank
  • #11
Hello and welcome to FishLore!

You've come to the right place, and you are asking the right questions. Read up on the nitrogen cycle <--- click on the link. I know when I started out, I had to read about the cycle several times to understand it! Plus I asked lots of questions.

Also, I would strongly recommend that you get a liquid test kit, such as the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. The cost for this kit ranges from $34 in chain stores to as low as $16.99 plus shipping atpetmountain. The reason many of us recommend a liquid test kit is because the test "strips" don't provide as accurate a reading.

Next, you are correct in being cautious about rinsing/cleaning your filter media. Generally, you NEVER have to clean your filter media. Most of the beneficial bacteria live in the filter media, so you don't want to kill it off. If you do need to rinse your filter media, rinse it in TANK water, NEVER tap water (the chlorine will kill the bacteria).

The other recommendation I would make is that you purchase a water conditioner called Prime, manufactured by Seachem. I see from your profile that you have a water conditioner by Tetra. I'm unfamiliar with that product, but I can tell you that Prime is the best. I've used it. Also, I have heard good things about Amquel+.

What kind of fish do you plan on putting in your ten gallon? Are you going to do a fishless cycle to get your tank ready? Let us know! We are glad to help you.
  • #12
Welcome to FishLore! You're getting some excellent answers and there's not much I can add. I just wanted to say welcome
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Well we have a 10 gal already set up and cycled. We have gotten a 55 gal and I'm trying to figure out the best filtration system for it and we got a little sidetracked on the bacteria. There is just so much to learn and I'm confused about a lot of it but I want to make sure I'm doing it all right before we go forward with setting up the 55 gal. Thanks for the info!
  • #14
With a 55 gal you can go either route with a Hang on Back filtration unit (AKA HOB) or a canister unit.

Either way your bacteria will naturally grow over time. You can jump start it with supplements but lets leave that alone for now.

So here we go (puts on science hat) *Warning Science Content to follow!*

Ok so the basics we need are some clean water, some heat, an ammonia source, and alkalinity (aka KH)

Keep your initial temps up to about 80 and this will progress a bit faster.

Add ammonia to the water, this can be from fish waste or other sources like fish food, or other fish less cycling methods

Ammonia is converted to Nitrite (NO2) via an oxygen uptake. (remember all those science classes you said you'd never need.....well....your teacher was right lol

NO2 converts also via oxygen uptake to Nitrate (NO3)

This is known as the nitrogen cycle. We need to keep the nitrates to a minimum in aquariums as they can be harmful as well to our fish, this is usually done either via water changes or by adding many plants to a tank. Both methods will work well. Keep the nitrates around 20 and you will have a healthy happy enjoyable aquarium.
  • #15
I know there are filters run by air pumps. but i'm not sure if it does its job though.
Fall River
  • #16
Sponge filters (run by air) provide a good home for beneficial bacteria. However, they are not particularly good at removing debris from the water, also not very good at circulation. They are cheap to set up and operate, and very easy to maintain. Good for lightly stocked, smaller tanks (have one in heavily planted, lightly stocked 20 tall).

Larger and more heavily stocked tanks usually require some type of mechanical filtration as well as bio filtration. Either hang-on-back (HOB), or canister.
  • #17
Honeyooo: Yes. The 'slimy stuff' you refer to, is most likely the bacteria (beneficial bacteria) that assist your aquatic environment.

Piranha3: I would just add that Ammonia decomposes into Nitrite (both are toxic to fish, even at very small concentrations), which in hand is turned into Nitrate; this is not as toxic as the other two and is tolerated by fish in concentrations until 50 ppm (parts per milion) - should ideally be below 20 ppm.
So, when cycling a tank and its filter, we need to measure nitrite. It will increase as more ammonia is decomposed by bacteria; it will decrease as nitrite-decomposing bacterias settle in.

Honeyooo: If you cycle an aquarium with ammonia, add a drop of this per gallon every other day, with the plants in and the filter on (and no fish!). After a week start measuring nitriteconcentration. Slowly decrease amount of ammonia added so that zero ammonia added coincides with zero-reading in nitrite. When you can add some drops of ammonia and not have any nitrite the following day (>24h later) - you are ready! Normally takes at least three weeks time... Change all the water and gradually add fish.

If you didn't wash out 'the slimy stuff', use it to cycle the tank - it will be much quicker if the bacteria are already there!

Bubbles are nice, but if you have a good filter, the air pump is just for show.
Keep it for the fortunate event of having a spawn - then an airstone is the very best for stirring the water.

Don't be shy to ask. The forum is the place to Q&A.

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