The next big thing to look at on a tank set up is your filter. You can have the perfect tank with excellent biodiversity but if you have a bad filter then the water will get dangerous to your fish and not clean anything. Which can be very expensive. There are many different types of filters, canister, diatom, trickle, internal, and external. For the person just starting out simple is best, start with an external canister filter, they are simple and cheap and easy to maintain.
Many things that you put in a tank will also help with the filter process, thus the point of this blog. But the marine museum is a small environment with a high concentration of animals compared to the natural world, and therefore will need a little outside help to maintain.
The basic function of a filter is to remove debris from the tank, but also important is the chemical filter and the maintenance of the nitrogen cycle. That will come in a later post. Now is about the filter.
First is the mechanical filter, this is the process of removing debris from the tank environment. This covers everything from uneaten food to plant debris, fish waste, and many more things that can break float around the tank or contaminate the water. This is usually done by passing the water through a sieve, something that traps debris in the meshwork while allowing the water to pass through. This also means that the mesh work will need to be removed from the filter system and periodically cleaned or replaced. If this gets too blocked with debris then it will affect the effectiveness and efficiently of the filter.
The second is the chemical filter; this is the process for removing the dissolved debris out of the tank. This is done two ways; one is with plants, which helps remove certain chemicals and nitrates from the environment in order to grow. The second is with carbon filter in the canister. The carbon absorbs nitrogen gas along with other chemical reactions because the carbon is extremely porous; 1 gram has a surface area of 500 meters squared. This carbon pad must be changed at regular intervals to avoid rereleasing the absorbed materials in large and harmful doses if it gets saturated.
Plants also act as good filters so having many of them in a tank is a good thing. Not only to the turn carbon dioxide into oxygen but they also help with the nitrogen cycle by removing nitrates from the tank to help them grow. Driftwood, live rocks, and the type of gravel you have all have an effect on the tank as they allow beneficial bacteria to grow.