The growing popularity of small aquariums has been great for the fish-keeping hobby. Nano aquariums are more economical, use less power, and take up less space than their larger counterparts. Their small size also means they are generally less expensive to fill with our favorite fish, plants, and corals. Of course, the smaller volume of water also presents some difficulties, especially for people who may not be as familiar with keeping an aquarium. The biggest issue seen with smaller aquariums is difficulty maintaining optimal water quality. The small volume of Nano tanks means that waste builds up more quickly. Luckily, there are many filtration medias available to help control this.
Oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams are filtered naturally by numerous species of bacteria. These bacteria consume ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, facilitating the nitrogen cycle. This cycle also occurs naturally in aquariums and can be encouraged or enhanced. For these bacteria, often referred to as beneficial bacteria, to successfully colonize an aquarium, they must have a suitable surface to grow upon. Any surface will grow some bacteria but some are superior to others. To enhance biological filtration, or to otherwise produce larger numbers of bacteria to consume more waste, the key is to have a large amount of surface area available.
Granular activated carbon (GAC) has probably been the most common aquarium filtration media for decades. GAC is a very aggressive media and will quickly remove impurities from aquarium water, keeping aquariums clean and clear. With that said, most available carbons are very indiscriminant of what they remove. Most are highly microporous and can rapidly deplete important trace elements and other useful molecules. While they will also remove the bulky organic molecules aquarists are concerned with, they generally exhaust quickly. Unlike these carbons, Seachem’s MatrixCarbon has a balanced structure of micro and macro pores. This means that it removes more organic molecule and has less impact on trace elements. This carbon also has a unique spherical shape, which allows water to flow more evenly through it, meaning there is more water in contact with the filtering surface. These two features allow MatrixCarbon to be more effective for a longer period of time than other competing carbons. Perfect for the Nano aquarium, MatrixCarbon is available along with media bags to bag your own media to fit the size of your aquarium.
Another great filtration media for Nano aquariums ( or any aquarium for that matter), is Seachem’s Purigen. Purigen is a synthetic resin that actively scavenges nitrogenous organic molecules that, if not removed, are later converted into harmful compounds such as ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Unlike carbon, Purigen will not remove trace elements and other important nutrients. It will, however, polish water to an unparalleled clarity by removing color bodies such as tannins. Another great feature of Purigen is that, once exhausted, it can be regenerated easily using household bleach, making Purigen a very economical media.
Phosphate control can be another challenge in Nano aquariums. Again, these small aquariums often allow such compounds to build up more quickly and nuisance algae can be a result of this. Seachem’s PhosGuard is an easy way to help control not only phosphates but also silicates. For the Nano reefer, PhosGuard is a great way to prevent the buildup of such elements and will help ensure algae does not become a problem. PhosGuard actively removes phosphate and silicate and will not release these back into the system. It is also part of Seachem’s Seagel mix. Seagel is a 50/50 blend of MatrixCarbon and PhosGuard. Seagel is a great space saving media for small filters and is a great way to prevent or remedy existing algae problems by removing key nutrients used by algae.
In short, while water quality can be troublesome in small aquariums, using Seachem filtration media will help prevent the buildup of harmful compounds and unwanted algae growth. Coupled with a good maintenance routine, these medias can ensure the success and enjoyment of any aquarium. Keeping Nano tanks can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. The beauty of a small reef or planted aquarium often rivals that of larger systems but without the expense and, even more, without taking up half a room. If you are anything like us at Seachem, this means you have space for more aquariums!
Learn more about biological media here.
This is a guest post by:
Seachem Laboratories, Inc.
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