The principle behind mechanical filtration is simple. The idea is to physically remove particles, and waste matter from the aquarium water. Many times a fine medium such as cotton, dacron, and other synthetic materials are used to trap detritus, dead plant matter, and other debris.
Mechanical filters need to be removed, cleaned, and replaced on a regular basis. Otherwise, waste products will accumulate, and decompose, continuing to lower the livability of the aquarium environment. This puts major stress on the fish and other inhabitants of the aquarium. One of the secrets to successful aquarium care in all applications is to maintain the mechanical filters. Replacing this media will help ensure the long term success of the tank.
Proper flow rates through mechanical media is key to the proper filtration of the total aquarium water body. Flow that is too slow, or too fast will impede the filtering capacity. Most filters flow rates are set at the manufacturer, but many times unchanged filters will lead to diminished flow, and ultimately stagnant water.
Mechanical media can be used in most all filtration devices, making this the most versatile type of filter available. Virtually all filters can hold a form of mechanical medium, so we will not list all of the filters available. However we will name off a few, and these include:
Internal Filter-These run within the aquarium, and are either powered by an air pump, or small water pump. Internal filters are simple in design, and easy to operate. They work very well in smaller aquaria applications, and are a great way to supplement large aquarium applications.
Power Filter-Also commonly used as chemical/biological filtering devices. These self enclosed units are quiet, energy efficient, and easy to maintain.
Canister Filter-Most are run by their own pump, and have large filtering capacity. Lots of mechanical medium can fit into many of the different canisters available.
Wet/Dry Filter-Some of these units have multiple mechanical filtering compartments for using multiple filtrant media. Often, pre-filter devices mechanically filter the water before passing it on to the other chambers in this filter.