The Usage of Powerheads in an Aquarium
Powerheads are a vital addition to aquariums for several reasons. On one hand, they cause water movement that helps to ensure that water quality is uniform. They also aid in filtration by directing water to areas inhabited by filtering bacteria, such as live rock. Without such movement, there would likely be areas of the water that were more polluted with toxic substances than others.
Powerheads also help to dissolve more oxygen in the water, which is breathed by fish and invertebrates using gills. A powerhead can greatly increase the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water by aerating the water and sending little microbubbles throughout the aquarium. As a result, increased aeration can somewhat increase the number of potential fish you can keep in the aquarium.
What is a powerhead exactly? A powerhead is simply a submerged water pump that can also accept air from the surface. Most powerheads allow the option of aeration via a hose that goes to the surface, otherwise they can pump water instead. Some powerheads also come with a built in filter that can help to increase water clarity.
Most powerheads come with a directional spout that will help you in targeting the water flow. I personally use two, with one pointing at the surface and aerating, while the other is pumping water only through my stacks of live rock. You can put as many powerheads in the aquarium as you want, although too much flow can cause stress to the fish since they will always be fighting the current.
Powerheads can also be used to clean off your live rock. Over time, detritus and other matter may accumulate in the crevices of live rock, making it inaccessible to your filtering system and animals. If you take a submerged powerhead and use it to spray the rock, you might be amazed by the large amounts of debris that will come out. By cleaning your rock regularly, you can encourage the growth of coralline algae and make the water more accessible to bacteria inside of the rock.
One other important thing to note is that you always need powerheads to encourage gas exchange. If you have no water flow, it will remain stagnant and the filtration capabilities of your tank will be greatly limited. Additionally, without water flow, the water in your tank will gradually lose dissolved oxygen content and eventually your fish and other creatures will probably die. For these reasons, powerheads are probably the most important things in your tank.
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