A biological filter or \"bio filter\" is simply a home for the beneficial bacteria that perform the nitrogen cycle. The filter provides surface area that the bacteria can live on and a recirculating water pump ensures that water is constantly flushing over the bacteria so they can obtain their necessary nutriment and oxygen.
What is biological filtration?
Biological filtration is the use of beneficial bacteria to eliminate organicwaste compounds from a body of water. It is distinguished from mechanical filtration, which is a process whereby water is strained and suspended material is physically removed from the water. The bacteria that do the work in a biological filter are part of the \"nitrogen cycle,\" a series of events that also occurs in nature.
Why is it important?
By eliminating the organic waste compounds in the water, biological filtration detoxifies the water and makes it safe for fish. Additionally, by removing the organic waste compounds, algae is controlled because those compounds are the nutriment that algae require in order to grow.
Most backyard ponds have a much higher concentration of fish than would occur in nature, and the fish are usually fed a high-protein food. These facts result in a higher concentration of organic waste, i.e., ammonia,than the naturally occurring bacteria can deal with. A bio filter houses more bacteria, hopefully enough bacteria, so that ammonia and the other nitrogen compounds are completely eliminated.
Why do ponds turn green?
Ammonia is at the root of most green water (algae) problems. As discussed below, ammonia forms naturally in the pond and is toxic to fish. Ammonia may be eliminated by the beneficial bacteria in a properly operating bio filter, but if it is not, the pond could become toxic were it not for algae. Algae is nature\'s safety net for fish. If ammonia levels rise, algae will colonize the pond and make it safe for fish by taking up the ammonia as nutriment.
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