All about Bio Wheel Hob Filters


bio wheel filters
I wanted to add my thoughts about why a Bio Wheel Filter excells at Biological Filtration, better then other types of filters (size for size and purely from a biological stand point, not comparing it as a complete filtration solution). Let me explain:

First, remember that I am only talking about Biological Filtration here as there are two other parts of filtration namely Mechanical Filtration (the removal of solid wastes) and Chemical Filtration (the removal if impurities or chemical compounds).

The secret of Biological Filtration is the growth of necessary (good) bacteria to complete the nitrogen cycle. This is best accomplished and achieved by having a suitable medium for the good bacteria to grow on (such as the rotating wheel) as it dips into and out of the water (a.k.a. wet/dry) which introduces plenty of fresh oxygen so vital to the process. These good nitrifying bacteria will grow in other places in the aquarium (under water on the gravel / substrate etc.) and on other filter medias too (in canister filters for instance) but not with as great a number. That is because your gravel and canister filter is limited to the amount of free oxygen that can be carried in the water itself (H2o remember?). So, you will need a great surface area in your canister filter to achieve or come close to what even a small Bio Wheel can provide.

Now the good news is that Canister filters tend to use specially shaped medias that have a great amount of surface area for the good bacteria to grow but still that growth and exchange is limited by the small amount of oxygen that is present in the water itself. Bio-Wheel filters, on the other hand, give you big bang for the buck (biologically) however they are often rather limited on the mechanical side of filtration, usually offering a small pad or sponge to collect dirt and debris which need to be cleaned or replaced very often.

There are even hybrid filters on the market today that offer better air exchange. These are typically called "wet/dry filter" (a.k.a. trickle filter) which uses gravity to siphon water from the tank thru a hang on prefilter. It then directs tank water through a suspended biological filter media which is open to constant air contact (dry filter). They may also contain a submerged mechanical or biological filter (wet filter) and usually have extra space to add various chemical medias if needed. A pump then delivers the filtered water back to the aquarium. Since the biological media is in constant contact with free air, it does not consume oxygen needed for the biological process from the aquarium water, allowing a higher level to be available for your fish.

There are a few filters on the market too which are less expensive than the above referenced "wet / dry" type but which combine the benefits of bio-wheel with the dirt holding capacity of a canister filter.

Pluses and Minuses:
Bio Wheel Filters are usually made (flow sized)for smaller aquariums as a solo stand-alone filter, usually not much more than a 55 gallon tank. There are some exceptions such as sump type bio wheel units and all inclusive hoods with multiple bio-wheels built in which can handle larger aquariums.

Canister Filters are generally made for higher flows as required by larger aquariums (and almost a requirement for keeping Oscars). In general, a Bio Wheel filter (or even two of them) will not suffice for an Oscar tank alone. But if you can supplement your canister filtration with a Bio Wheel too, that is better yet.

With Oscar Fish, you really need more filtration rather than what might normally be enough for a typical community type of aquarium. These fish are really messy and you need to do regular water changes and provide generous amounts of filtration too. Plan to provide 5-6 times your aquariums capacity in GPH (Gallons per hour) of the filter's pump. Example: for a 55 Gallon aquarium, look to provide a flow through the filter of approximately 250-300 GPH as a bare minimum.
You can have more than one filter running and that is often the best solution.(Oscars don't mind good water flow and movement and you can't over filter your aquarium.) Consider running a separate secondary Bio-Wheel filter (I really like them) in addition to a nice canister filter. NOTE:If you can only afford ONE filter for your Oscar aquarium, my recommendation would definitely be a "canister" filter just based upon its higher flow and dirt holding capabilities. Then (If possible) add a bio-wheel for increased secondary Biological benefits.

Don't forget to also get yourself a gravel vac or water "Python" as they are called to vacuum your tank bottom as you do water changes. So much debris and fish waste accumulate down there that never makes it into your filters and needs to be removed manually each week or water change.

Lastly, remember you don't always need to use Chemical filtration in your filters. (Loose Carbon or Carbon pads). These should not be used routinely and only installed to remove a dangerous substance once detected. Important to remember that you need to remove and discard them after a week or two as otherwise, they can and will begin to leach the toxins they collected right back into your aquarium water. I hope this is helpful to some of you who are starting out with your Tropical Fish.

NEVER EVER WASH YOUR BIOLOGICAL MEDIA AND DO NOT REPLACE IT LEST YOU START THE TANK CYCLE ALL OVER AGAIN. If it begins to dry out (as you work on your filter) the "good" bacteria will die so don't let that happen. "Float" your bio-wheel right in the aquarium as you work on the rest of the filter etc. Only if a bio-wheel stops spinning completely should you then lightly rinse it off quickly in a bucket of used tank water. Never use TAP water which will kill the good bacteria. Loose bio-medias found in Canister Filters can be lightly rinsed off on occasion (quickly swished) in a used bucket of tank water, but only to remove large chunks of debris trapped among it. In the case of biological filter media,"dirty looking" is good!
Bio Wheels are a patented product of Marineland and I believe only available in the US marketplace from a variety of Pet Store and Tropical Fish suppliers.

"You can help to improve the rate of survival by keeping the tank water clean with regular fresh water changes or using biological filters. The disease were said to be a cause from poor water quality with secondary bacterial/viral infections.

Article by Ken (Joliet Jake)
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