Aquarium Maintenance: Mechanical Filtration
Mechanical filtration is an essential component of a saltwater aquarium. Whether it is a filter sock, filter pad, or filter block, is up to you; but they all physically remove debris from your tank water.
There are several options when it comes to finding the right shape to fit your sump. Many all-in-one aquariums provide mechanical filtration media for you; but, you can also cut to size a filter pad of your choice.
Filter socks fit around the drain plumbing of your sump and can be held in place with a drawstring or a plastic holder. They are very efficient and can be easily cleaned in a washing machine with bleach and air dried.
Filter pads are also at the base of your plumbing and require a tray to lay on. Many wet-dry filters are designed for filter pads with a slide out tray to make access easier. There are different types of filter pads including felt, blue bonded, carbon, and nitrate, phosphate, or metal reducing pads.
The reducing pads may be useful when a problem arises but typically is not used every day. Blue bonded pads are basically disposable filter pads and felt pads can be washed like filter socks.
Black filter foam blocks are most often used in conjunction with filter socks. They are more porous than other media and can serve a dual purpose for biological filtration. These are used in sumps where the water flows under the baffle. They can be rinsed in a sink with fresh or new saltwater.
All of these filtration methods should be replaced about three times a week but it may be needed to replace more or less depending on how dirty or clean your tank is. It is easier to have a few extra on hand that way you can replace with a new one before having to wash the dirty one.
Mechanical filtration is an essential component to maintaining an aquarium, and exporting nutrients from the water before they can break down. It is one of the most inexpensive parts of aquarium filtration but it goes a long way towards keeping the water clean, keeping other equipment clean as well, but most of all it helps to keep water clear and the aquarium beautiful.