from the Biofiltration link above.What does that mean for aquarium biofiltration?
Water filtration is teamwork by the members of the substrate microbial community from all domains of life. This is an important conclusion, both for freshwater and marine habitats. The different players form a food web, where most organisms cannot exist alone but are interdependent. The microbial community varies greatly depending on the availability of foods, pore sizes, and substrates. Soil biofiltration is therefore very plastic, meaning it can cope with a variety of conditions. However, one feature is common. Natural layers of biofiltration are usually undisturbed for longer periods of time (many weeks and months). In nature, no one squeezes out the debris or rinses the media on a weekly schedule. Occasionally, seasonal floods or rains may “wash” a gravel bed but regular rinsing of the filter media is not happening. The microorganisms eat the debris and the sludge is completely broken down into gases and soluble products that then escape the pore space. Soil biofilters are almost maintenance-free. The released substances are either getting into the atmosphere or are taken up by plants.
For aquarium biofiltration to be most effective, filters should be running undisturbed for as long as possible. Filter media that remain passable and have a variety of pore sizes are best. Given that we like to influence the water parameters depending on the species we keep, and thus make water soft, hard, etc, the filter media should be chemically inert, so that it does not affect the water chemistry by itself.
Author © Stephan M. Tanner, PhD