Aquarium without Filter

When you look at the list of items required to set up an aquarium, normally one of the items is filter. Why do we need the filter? The fish excreta is the harmful byproduct from the fish for the fish. The filter cleans the water of the tank by removing it. If so then can we setup an aquarium without filter?

Fish in Natural Habitat

Now if we look at the natural setting for the fish, what is it that cleans the water? Normally the natural habitat of the fish is river and ponds. In there is no filter. So how the water is clean and safe for the fish?

Natural Eco Balance

It is the nature where all is living in harmony. Rivers and ponds have the water flowing and it has vegetation. All these along with the fish reach an equilibrium and all thrive in this environment. This is natural Eco system in balance. The fish population is maintained in nature in balance and it helps to stop build-up of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates making the water poisonous to fish.

Applying the Nature to AquariumPlanted tank

In aquariums the same can be achieved by duplicating the same natural habitat. What I mean is that we can have the fish tank planted. These natural plants use up the excreta of the fish as fertilizers and release oxygen keeping the water aerated.

When setting up a tank without filter, we have to consider the density and type of plants. At the same time the number of fish in the tank is an important factor.

Feeding the fish

Other than that we also have to be mindful of the amount of food for the fish. If we feed them too much then the fish will excrete more and that may be too much to handle by the plants.

Oxygenate the tank

Plants in the tank provide oxygen for the fish, They do this by a process called photosynthesis, where the plants take the carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This keeps the water oxygenated for the fish. For the photosynthesis process light is necessary. There are many types of lights available in the market for the plants.

Aeration of the tank

You will notice that many aquariums out there have a bubbler in there. That is to oxygenate the tank. But when you have the planted tank it provides the oxygen in the water, eliminating the need for the bubbler.

I have written an article about plants for beginners in the aquarium. Please read it to get an idea of what plants to use in the aquarium and their lighting requirements.

Water Temperature

Other than oxygenation of water and cleaning it of fish excreta we have to make sure that the water temperature is also suitable for the fish. Depending on of where you live and the weather conditions you may or may not need the water heater. All my aquariums are in the basement where it becomes very cold. So I have to use water heater in each aquarium.

Water Change

Other than the above steps make sure that the water change is done regularly. Especially a tank without filter needs that as there may be some harmful bacteria growth which may not be taken up by the plants. This can happen with too many fish in the tank.

Take away

As we can see that to maintain an aquarium without a filter is possible. Aquariums can be setup as planted with appropriate number of fish without filter. By providing the above mentioned environment we can enjoy the aquarium and fish will be happy.

If you have any question or comment, please let me know below and will get back to you within 24 hours.

2 thoughts on “Aquarium without Filter”

  1. Thanks for the useful information. I wanted to own an aquarium for a long time, but when looking at the checklist or requirements that are needed, I just gave-up. If you are saying it is possible to have an aquarium without the filter then a new idea comes to mind, to look at your other post so that I will own my aquarium finally. If you look and think about as you are saying, that fish before the first aquarium they were living in nature without any problems about oxygen, excreta and water. Nature balance everything on its own, we need just to ensure that we get that balance correct. Thanks to you now we can. I am going to start my own aquarium.

    1. Thank you so much for your comments. Yes it is possible to have fish tank without a filter. I am in the process of finishing a post about how to set up a fish tank for the first time. Keep an eye for that as I should be able to post it today or tomorrow.


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