For instance, those filters that come in the starter kits? Worthless. Save your money and get a real filter. It might cost more initially, but I promise you that you won't be replacing it within the year - most people ended up paying more replacing their crappy filter a couple of times than they would have paid for a quality one in the first place. Here are a few of the reasons why the filters in the start up kits aren't worth your time:
- You throw the filter pad out every couple of weeks - or at least you should be - which means there is no permanent surface for bacteria to colonize on. This is pretty important, because essentially you're throwing out a large chunk of your beneficial bacteria colony every time you toss it. Depending on the size of your tank, this can mean life or death for your fish if you mess up during a water change - especially weak or sensitive ones.
- The motor often doesn't last very long, and the impeller jams really easily.
- They're loud, even if the water line is where it should be. There's one brand in particular that makes me grit my teeth every time I have to set it up (I use it as a cheap filter for my quarantine tanks), and I definitely wouldn't call the sound of water running through it relaxing.
If you've already bought a sub-par filter, don't go throwing it out! If you can't return it, just add a better filter and keep the old one as a source of supplemental filtration - more never hurts.