Do I need a filter for my fish tank

3 Reasons Why You Need a Filter for Your Fish

If you have a fish tank, then the answer to “Do I need a filter for my fish tank?” is probably yes! But this is not the complete answer you are looking for as this arises more questions like what kind of aquarium filters there are? Do they all do the same thing? Do they improve oxygen levels in water or not? so to answer all these questions and more, we will dispel some myths about aquarium filters and whether or not your fish can survive without one. if you’re interested in more myth-breaking content, subscribe to our RSS feed.

Purpose of an Aquarium Filter

The purpose of a filter is to remove the impurities from aquarium water, which can include excessive waste and harmful chemicals. However, this is not the only purpose of installing a filter in your fish tank. Followings are a few of many purposes that fishkeepers suggest using a filter in a fish tank.

  1. Removing debris from the aquarium
  2. Preventing algae growth by removing excess nutrients in the water
  3. Dissolving and neutralizing toxic materials that may have been introduced to the tank via accidental overfeeding or contaminated live plants.

Types of filtration

There are three types of filtration that most people don’t know of, these are biological, chemical, mechanical typically working in conjunction with one another to provide an overall clean environment for your aquatic life.

Aquarium filtration Media
Picture Credit : Fish Laboratory

Biological Filtration

Biological filtration is a process where beneficial bacteria convert ammonia waste into nitrate compounds which can be removed harmlessly through regular filter media changes without adding any chemicals to your tanks’ water chemistry. Most commonly known as the nitrogen cycle, Biological filtration serves the purpose of helping to reduce the tank’s bio load, improving water quality, and reducing the frequency of filter cleaning.

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Nitrogen Cycle-  Biological Filtration
Picture Credit :

Chemical Filtration

In addition to biological filtration is chemical filtration which filters out suspended particles in your aquariums’ water column that are not removed by mechanical means. Chemical filtration removes many dissolved impurities such as chlorine and heavy metals for example copper, lead zinc, and mercury. Chemical filtration can be accomplished using a variety of methods such as activated carbon or zeolite for general purposes while others like ozone or potassium permanganate offer higher levels of purification capabilities.

Mechanical Filtration

The mechanical filter in a fish tank removes large particles like leaves, debris, and uneaten food through a medium like foam or polyester floss. It also helps to maintain water quality by providing oxygenation which is important for healthy aquatic life. it removes large solid particulates from the tanks’ gravel bedding surface on a regular basis without adding any chemicals into the system. These types of filters require either an under gravel filter plate with powerheads or an external canister filter. These filters also require regular cleaning as filtering too much debris can result in clogged filters meaning unfiltered water in the fish tank. 

Filtration is necessary for any aquarium system to be successful and maintain the health of aquatic life while providing a pleasing visual appeal therefore we recommend using one. 

Using a filter to oxygenate the fish tank.

Filters do not provide enough oxygen for all levels of your aquarium’s water column. There are some areas where they can’t reach at all or not efficiently: on the bottom substrate surface, under decor items that hide them, and near the glass walls because it needs more pressure to push through this area. This means you may need an outside power-head air pump with tubing so there is continuous aeration throughout your entire system as well as filtration media in these difficult-to-reach areas. 

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Can Fish Survive Without a Filter?

Many people believe that fish can survive without a filter. The truth is, they cannot. Fish need water to live which means the tank needs filtration and oxygenation and without it, the fish will die very quickly. However, if you have a planted aquarium with few certain fish, they might survive even without the fish tank filter as long as there is an air pump and you follow the care guide to keep one.

However, few of these produce a lot of waste and can increase the workload of cleaning the fish tank. Therefore we do suggest having a filter in your fish tank. Do not forget that most filters are designed for aquariums up to 100 gallons in size. which means they may be too small for larger aquariums. The best way to find out what type of filter would work best is by checking your local pet store as well as researching online before making any purchases.


In most scenarios, you would need a filter if you’re trying to keep a healthy aquatic environment for your fish. Having a planted aquarium may reduce the need of having a filter. But it would still require an exhaustive amount of care. That is why its preferable to install one keeping your fish requirements in mind. To support us in bring more content to help your break myths around fishkeeping, subscribe to our RSS feed.

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