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The Basics & Benefits Of Hang-On Filters

Hang-on filters are one of the most basic and inexpensive filters for the freshwater aquarium. Learn how easy hang-on filters are to use and maintain and why you may want one for your aquarium set up!

angelfish xs 7623037When it comes to selecting a filter for your freshwater aquarium, you have many options to choose from. One of the most popular types of filter, and also one of the most basic and easy to use, is the hang-on filter. These filters literally hang on the back of your aquarium and suck tank water up through an intake tube. After being filtered, the water is then returned to your tank via some kind of waterfall or return spout. Not only are hang-on filters convenient and easy to use, but they are also relatively affordable – even a large filter will cost you less than $80. Before you select a hang-on filter, however, it is wise to learn a bit more about this type of equipment so you can make an informed decision.

What to Know About Hang-on Filters

filter hang-on-back fluval-c4A hang-on filter is a type of power filter that is perfect for the aquarium hobbyist who desires a filtration system that requires little maintenance. Hang-on filters typically consist of little more than the filter body (the housing), the intake tube and the filter media cartridge. While older models may have a detachable motor, most new models have the motor incorporated so it is not necessary to remove and clean it. Depending on the size of the filter, there may be one or two return spouts that serve as the means of returning filtered water back into the tank. The filter cartridge acts as a medium for mechanical, chemical and biological filtration and some hang-on filters even come with a detachable bio-wheel for the facilitation of extra biological filtration.

The maintenance required by hang-on filters is fairly minimal compared to other types of filters. Aside from replacing the filter media once every 3 to 4 weeks, a hang-on filter should require little else. Over time, algae may build up on the intake tube and inside the filter housing, but this can easily be rinsed or scrubbed away when necessary. For filters having a bio-wheel component, the bio-wheel should never be cleaned or allowed to dry completely because the beneficial bacteria growing in the wheel could die.

Benefits of Hang-on Filters

marineland bio-wheelIn addition to being inexpensive, hang-on filters are also one of the easiest types of standard filter to use. All you need to do to set up your hang-on filter is to assemble the intake tube and filter cartridge, hang the filter on the back of the tank and plug it in. Older models should not be run dry – they should be filled with tank water before plugging them in – but many newer models state on the packaging that this step is not necessary. Not only do hang-on filters perform the function of mechanical filtration, removing solid waste particles from the water, but they also provide chemical and biological filtration. Chemical filtration involves the removal of dissolved wastes and toxins from tank water and it is generally accomplished through the use of filter media like activated carbon. Biological filtration is accomplished through the use of a bio-wheel or through beneficial bacteria forming colonies on the filter media as well as the filter itself. All three of these filtration methods are important in maintaining a healthy, fully functioning freshwater tank.

Marineland Emperor Power FiPopular Brands and Models

Marineland® is one of the biggest names in aquarium filtration and they have several lines of hang-on filters including Penguin® and Emperor®. The Emperor® line of hang-on filters provides aquarium hobbyists with all the basic filtration an aquarium needs, utilizing a two-pump system to create an efficacy unmatched by other brands. Penguin® filters have the added component of patented BIO-Wheel technology which contributes to the three-stage filtration offered by these filters – mechanical, chemical and biological. Both lines of Marineland® filters offer models in a variety of sizes to accommodate tanks as small as 5 gallons and as large as 80 gallons in capacity. Get current pricing for this top-rated filter here.

Hagen aquaclearAnother popular company known for manufacturing hang-on filters is Hagen®, the company that produces the AquaClear™ line of filters. These filters provide mechanical, chemical and biological filtration while also incorporating additional filter media like Amrid for the removal of ammonia. AquaClear™ filters utilize both foam and carbon inserts to remove solid wastes and to foster colonies of beneficial bacteria essential for maintaining the nitrogen cycle. Hagen® filters come in a variety of sizes to accommodate tanks between 20 and 110 gallons in capacity. When I started my first aquarium, I used an AquaClear™ filter and was very satisfied with the performance. Check it out here.

aqueon quietflowAqueon® is known for their QuietFlow™ line of hang-on power filters. These filters are designed to meet the needs of both aquarium fish and the aquarium hobbyist by providing quality filtration with little noise. QuietFlow™ filters utilize four stages of filtration – mechanical, chemical, biological and wet/dry filtration in order to keep tank water clean and clear. These filters enhance the water quality in your tank by increasing the oxygen content and by removing harmful toxins and dissolved wastes. QuietFlow™ hang-on filters are available in five different sizes to accommodate tanks ranging from 10 to 75 gallons.


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