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FAQs on Freshwater Aquarium Cartridge and Canister Filtration

Related Articles: Review of the ViaAqua Canister FilterFreshwater Filtration, Know Your Filter Media, A Concise Guide to Your Options by Neale Monks, Power Filter Impressions,  A review of some popular mechanical filtration systems by Steven Pro, Setting up a Freshwater Aquarium, Tips for Beginners

Related FAQs:  Freshwater Filtration, Biological Filtration, Establishing CyclingFW Sponge Filters, FW Hang-on Filters, Chemical Filtrants,

Do provide additional/redundant aeration if using only canister filtration.

HOB filters in 55 gallon tank off since July 13th      8/5/16
Hi,
<Jas>
I figured this might be a less conventional question.
My AquaClear 70 HOB, Cascade 150 HOB, Odyssea 130 Hang on the back Canister
Filter, and CAP-1200 Internal Filter have been off since July 13th, leaving only my other Internal Filter as the only filter running (since the HOBs were damaged in an electrical fire while the CAP-1200 got clogged up). Do you think this could cause any potential problems in regard to bacteria infections and other diseases?
<Mmm; other factors may well be important... stock/ing, foods/feeding, water changes and other maint. procedures....>
It seems now my 9 or 10 inch Tilapia has hole in the head (Hexamita) as of 7-10 days ago. Will the bacteria in the
HOB filters die off while the filters are not running.
<In time yes; die back population wise, out entirely w/o water>
How quickly will they die off?
<A pretty standard pop. curve for Monerans... quickly at first... ninety some percent w/in a day....>
The media in my AquaClear 70 in particular may have gotten a little dry (since I had to take out the motor unit a few times to take photos of it to send to the manufacturer) so some of the bacteria in there probably died.
Thanks,
Jason
<Will repopulate about as quickly. I'd add, fire up at least one, some redundant filtration/filter here. Increase maintenance otherwise. Bob Fenner>
Re: HOB filters in 55 gallon tank off since July 13th         9/14/16

I found this on a forum about canister filters turning into H2S factories:
<Mmm; not likely>
MichaelD said: ↑
<https://forums.anandtech.com/goto/post?id=31864547#post-31864547>
The Grab-a-Lot 4000-series is probably your best bet. I'd go for the ShitKeeper 243k filter, as long as you insulate it with AlgaeBuster2ke2 foam. It's sure to catch all the fish shit in your tank. You know, like if you did normal maintenance on it, like vacuuming it regularly like any labor-intensive pet requires you to do.
<Like your choice of terms!>
Just poking at you. Fish are beautiful but you've got to be on top of the tank cleaning every day. Which is why I don't have fish. I'm never home.
Sounds like you've never dabbled in the hobby at all.
A properly set up tank rarely needs "cleaning."
Water changes, definitely, I always aimed for a minimum of 25% monthly, but preferred to do at least 15-20% weekly instead. (less shock to the tank system.)
<Agreed... and urge folks to use stored, pre-treated water; not fresh tap>
Glass may need to be cleaned every few days if the tank water is out of balance and has too high of a nutrient level...(water changes, water changes, water changes) Filters need maintenance, but the frequency will depend on the filter, the filter media, and the tank load. (more fish = more filth to clean)
Undergravel filters were "the cat's meow" for many years...but not so much lately. The controversy has been going on for years...IMO, they're OK for a lightly loaded freshwater system as long as they're maintained properly, but even a well maintained UG setup will accumulate a LOT of detritus under the plate...and that can lead to problems down the road...especially if you have a power outage for more than a couple of hours.
*Of course, canister filters can also go anaerobic and wipe out your tank following an extended power outage...the small "Hang on Back" power filters are about the only filters that don't seem to become H2S factories after a power outage.*
http://www.firsttankguide.net/ugfcontroversy.php
#8
<https://forums.anandtech.com/threads/aquarium-owners-the-best-canister-filter.2172133/#post-31864600>
BoomerD <https://forums.anandtech.com/members/boomerd.190403/ >, Jun 16, 2011
<https://forums.anandtech.com/threads/aquarium-owners-the-best-canister-filter.2172133/#post-31864600>
What is this- where he talks about an extended power outage turning your filters, except for the HOBs, into H2S factories?
Could the H2S have caused my Tilapia to get hole in the head disease?
<Possibly an influence. So much so that anaerobic accumulation that hydrogen sulfide becomes evident? Lo dudo... We could try to fashion a formula of inputs, outputs here: Some major factors; the kinds, amounts and formats of foods; how they're applied; the biomass/life in the system; temp.; circulation/aeration.. WHAT and how the media is packed in the canister filter; even the make/model of the product. BUT w/in some sort of reason, the vast majority of canister filters don't "go anaerobic" and produce H2S... unless, maybe... they have a "bunch" of gunk in them and get turned off for several hours....>
Next time, if most of my filters go offline (which in my case this time was due to an electrical fire burning their power cords) I had better have some extra filters available to take their place.
<Good. Best to divert discharge water from ones that have been inadvertently off for hours, vent that water to waste for a few gallons>
Thanks,
Jason
<Thank you; Bob Fenner>

Re: Tank mates; now canister filter plumbing    9/22/13
Hello again!  Thank you for the stocking suggestions!  Would like to see if you can help with another question ...  we are now thinking of replacing that tank with a larger tank and feel we have two options: 1) purchasing a stock tank that gives some additional height or 2) having a tank custom built.  The existing tank sits on a custom made cabinet with a Marine land mgm 350 canister filter below with the hoses run between the wall and the tank into the cabinet below.
<I see this in your images>
 We are thinking that a custom built tank could be extended the complete length of the cabinet however that would leave no way to run hoses.
<Perhaps up one side? You could have the tank drilled; but I wouldn't do that/this if using a canister filter>
 We think that we can plumb the canister filter to the tank with each narrow end of the tank bottom drilled for the intake and outtake lines.  Do you have any opinions on a canister hook up to a bottom drilled tank?
<As stated: Too much likelihood of issues; catastrophe... I have such tanks and run my Eheim canisters plumbing over the top>
 Will it work or create additional problems?  I have attempted to attach two pictures to illustrate
the existing set up.
Many thanks!!
<As many welcomes. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tank mates... Not: Still canister pb     9/22/13
Is having the tank drilled a problem because of the canister type filter and pressure?
<Mmm, one element. To tell you; IF this were a "commercial" query (see WWM's Business SubWeb) I would likely suggest drilling. We did this many times... particularly for circular and polygonal tanks that were to be free-standing, with folks walking all about... as hollow through puts for running electrics up for lighting, auto feeders and such AND as through
puts for pressurized filtration et al... FOR hobbyists though, I don't advise this... Again, there's just too much risk of someone not closing/opening valves, the top of filters coming loose...>
 Have also thought of using a sump but am not sure its the best set up for a planted tank. What type of issues could result?
<... For, due to what?>
 Do you have any other suggestions of how to set up filtration for a bottom drilled tank?
<Many. Search WWM re. The tool on every page. BobF>
RE: Tank mates
Thank you for the help!
<A pleasure to serve, share. B>

Canister Filter Recommendation   1/31/13
WetWebMedia,
<Michael>
I am looking for your recommendation on a filter for my 125 gal. tank.
<The best... quietest, longest lasting, most reliable w/o a doubt is the Eheim line. Have used these for forty plus years... sold them through our retail stores, installed them in service accounts. Other major brands nowayears are better than they used to be, but none with as high a recommendation as Eheim>
This is a new setup and it will be a planted Discus tank.
I don't have any experience with canister filters, so I need a recommendation for one that is reliable and is easy to maintain and is not messy to maintain (does not get water all over).
Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
Michael S.
<Glad to share. Bob Fenner>

Canister filter et al. placement    12/14/12
I am having canister filter  at one corner , where to place the internal filter and powerhead , I want to move all the debris to the canister in take only.   give me suggestion where to place the power head and internal filter positioning to the canister filter intake
<The canister intake all the way down toward a bottom rear corner, the other two at the other end/corner... Bob Fenner>

Canister filter left off - information since     6/1/12
Hey Crew/Bob,
<Duncan>
Thanks a lot for your light-speed answer on the stand - very reassuring.
<Ah, good>
I am writing a separate email here because I've some information I think readers will find interesting, and wanted to make it easier for you to file.
<Appreciate this>
I accidentally left my Eheim 2215 canister filter off overnight (actually a good 15 hours or so) three days ago. It filters a 4ft X 1.5ft X 1.5ft, 240L aquarium, moderately stocked and planted. I also have a small powerhead at gravel level to help with circulation, with a small sponge covering the inlet.
Now I was seriously worried about dead bacteria and an ammonia/nitrite spike based on info gleaned from WWM, but I've tested the water for the past 3 days (API liquid test kits), and each day ammonia and nitrite are both reading 0.
It appears I have dodged a bullet here - is this lucky or semi-typical given the time frames involved?
<Not atypical... especially if there was an "air gap" at the top of the filter (inside the canister) and/or not much "digestible" material present>
Or will I get bitten on the proverbial in a few more days' time?
Keep up the good, nay awesome, work,
Duncan.
<Will do. BobF>

New filter, fish gasping /Neale 4/9/12
Dear crew -
<Celeste,>
Yesterday, I installed a Fluval 205 canister filter on my fish tank.
<A good filter. For tanks up to around 30 gallons/110 litres if lightly stocked. Like all canisters, removes oxygen from the water, so if overworked -- i.e., given a LOT of ammonia to process, or else clogged up with decomposing gunk -- it will have a negative impact on oxygen availability.>
I used to have two Marineland Penguin 200 filters,
<These are effectively external filters exposed to air, so they don't tend to draw oxygen from the water. While arguably less effective than canister filters because they're unpressurised, because they mix air with water as they work, they have the important positive of ensuring good oxygen levels.>
but one of them froze up after years of service, and I decided to replace them with the canister filter and I put the remaining Marineland on another aquarium. Today, my fish are breathing very quickly and not swimming around, and I don't know why.
<See above. Do suspect oxygen. Whether the canister is overworked, or else your tank overstocked, either way, you aren't getting the oxygen concentration the fish need. Adding turbulence helps: I always use a spray bar with canister filters so there's plenty of splashing to push out CO2 and encourage oxygen uptake by the water. Also make sure the aquarium isn't overstocked to begin with.>
I unconnected my DIY CO2 pop-bottle device that I refilled yesterday and angled the output of the canister filter so that it moved the surface water of the tank (I had set it up yesterday a few inches below the water line). It's been two hours since I did that, and they are still gasping.
<Hmm do also check the pH; if the pH level has changed suddenly thanks to the removal of CO2 fertilisation, your fish can react by gasping.>
My tank is a 36g tall freshwater planted aquarium with 5 black neons, 7 cardinal tetras, 9 Rummynose tetras, and a handful of cherry shrimp.
<Doesn't sound overstocked to me.>
There is also a power head just above the gravel line. I have the CO2 connected to it usually. I changed the water out yesterday as well; 20%, replaced with 5 gallons of distilled water and half a gallon of treated tap water. Temp is 73 degrees F. I change the water out weekly, replace the CO2 DIY mixture, and add the Flourish line of plant nutrients and such. The Fluval has carbon in one tray and the ceramic rings in the other two (what it came with). I know that the Fluval doesn't disrupt the surface water as much as the Marineland filters, could this by my issue?
<Yes.>
Should I install another power head at the water level?
<Try lowering the water level a couple of inches for a few hours. This often makes a huge difference. If the fish perk up, that's a good clue oxygen is the problem.>
Also, since I'm writing to you anyway, I'm trying to figure out the lighting in my aquarium. I've had 65 W dual daylight florescent sunpaq lights on my aquarium for the last few years. There are two bulbs. I replace one every 3 months as instructed by the manufacturer.
<Somewhat excessive! Every 6 months should be fine, even 12 for good brands.>
However, since my tank is a tall tank, I don't think I'm getting enough light at the bottom.
<Possible.>
My plants that are supposed to be my bottom cover don't spread out, they grow straight up.
<Etiolation.>
And my scarlet fire plants melt below a certain level. I'm studying on lighting, but again, the tall tank is throwing off the measurements most people use.
<Yes.>
I have a friend who's getting into LED lights for his aquarium and really likes them, but he doesn't have near the plants I do, nor the tall tank. Do you have recommendations for the wattage I should be using? Should I switch from fluorescent to halide or LED?
<If you can afford it, LEDs are much better for deep tanks, with lighting levels between 50-100% what's needed for reef tanks being suitable. Some brands, like the TMC GroBeam, are specifically designed for planted tanks. Failing that, double the number of fluorescent tubes, and add reflectors behind them.>
Thank you very much for your time, from me and my fish (and plants). You've helped us much in the past, both by questions and website.
Sorry, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 0. Sometimes I worry so much about my grammar, I forget things like that.
-Celeste
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
New filter, fish gasping, /RMF 4/9/12

Dear crew -
<Cel>
Yesterday, I installed a Fluval 205 canister filter on my fish tank. I used to have two Marineland Penguin 200 filters, but one of them froze up after years of service, and I decided to replace them with the canister filter and I put the remaining Marineland on another aquarium. Today, my fish are breathing very quickly and not swimming around, and I don't know why.
<First thing that comes to mind is poor dissolved oxygen (or accumulated carbon dioxide)... I'd increase surface disruption, turn over (circulation), stat.!>
I unconnected my DIY CO2 pop-bottle device that I refilled yesterday
<Ahh!>
and angled the output of the canister filter so that it moved the surface water of the tank (I had set it up yesterday a few inches below the water line). It's been two hours since I did that, and they are still gasping. My tank is a 36g tall freshwater planted aquarium with 5 black neons, 7 cardinal tetras, 9 Rummynose tetras, and a handful of cherry shrimp. There is also a power head just above the gravel line.
<Move this up right under the surface>
I have the CO2 connected to it usually. I changed the water out yesterday as well; 20%, replaced with 5 gallons of distilled water and half a gallon of treated tap water. Temp is 73 degrees F.
<Don't raise the temp.>
I change the water out weekly, replace the CO2 DIY mixture, and add the Flourish line of plant nutrients and such. The Fluval has carbon in one tray and the ceramic rings in the other two (what it came with). I know that the Fluval doesn't disrupt the surface water as much as the Marineland filters, could this by my issue?
<Could be... likely a combo. w/ the CO2 generator as well>
Should I install another power head at the water level?
<If you have it, yes; or a "bubbler" of some sort>
Also, since I'm writing to you anyway, I'm trying to figure out the lighting in my aquarium. I've had 65 W dual daylight florescent sunpaq lights on my aquarium for the last few years.
<Leave these turned on till the fish stop gasping>
There are two bulbs. I replace one every 3 months as instructed by the manufacturer. However, since my tank is a tall tank, I don't think I'm getting enough light at the bottom.
<May well be the case>
My plants that are supposed to be my bottom cover don't spread out, they grow straight up. And my scarlet fire plants melt below a certain level.
I'm studying on lighting, but again, the tall tank is throwing off the measurements most people use. I have a friend who's getting into LED lights for his aquarium and really likes them, but he doesn't have near the plants I do, nor the tall tank. Do you have recommendations for the wattage I should be using? Should I switch from fluorescent to halide or LED?
<Not wattage alone as a measure... but PAR, PUR... simple to measure w/ a borrowed meter. For your size/shape system I would not use MH... LEDs of strength are a very good choice. Please read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/lgtfixtags.htm
and the linked files above>
Thank you very much for your time, from me and my fish (and plants). You've helped us much in the past, both by questions and website.
-Celeste
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: New filter, fish gasping (plus understanding canister filters)     4/11/12

Bob and Neale (since you both replied) - I lowered the water a few inches as Neale suggested. I raised the power head to the surface as Bob suggested. No CO2 being added to the system currently. They are doing better. Not great, but better.
<Good.>
Lost a cherry shrimp today. They seem to be most sensitive to oxygen, I've noticed.
<Yes. They come from places like Taiwan where the water isn't tropical but subtropical, so they're actually at the limit of their comfort zone in tropical aquaria. They need lots of oxygen to do well.>
I plan on going to the pet store tomorrow evening and looking into getting another power head or something to help with the surface disruption. And here I thought I was moving to a better system with a canister filter....
<Canister filters do have some important advantages. Because they're pressurised, they force more water through ALL the media. In an unpressurised system like a trickle filter or hang-on-the-back filter, water can flow OVER the media and not necessarily through it all, so biological filtration can be weaker. On the other hand, canister filters depend entirely on oxygen from the aquarium, whereas hang-on-the-back filters are exposed to the air, so they mix air with water and aren't as dependent on oxygen from the aquarium. If the tank is properly set-up and stocked, this shouldn't be an issue, and canister filters are routinely used in tanks with oxygen-sensitive fish, including marine fish. But if your tank is overstocked, too warm for the fish it contains, or the canister filter is installed in such a way water turnover and oxygenation aren't optimised, then you can see problems. Rarely fatal ones, but you may notice fish gulping air, swimming at the surface more often that usual, or becoming lethargic. As/when this happens, review circulation. Install a spray bar or venturi, and use these to aerate the water, which drives off CO2 and allows oxygen into the water. Ensure there's plenty of movement in the tank from top to bottom, and keep the filter media clean so there's a good turnover. Configured correctly, canisters, whether internal or external, can provide excellent water quality. But they are slightly more difficult to use than hang-on-the-back filters or undergravel filters.>
So far as the lights go, I've been doing some research on LEDs and will continue to do so. They have some very nice looking LED fixtures for aquariums. Now it's just a matter of figuring out the color and wattage I need for my tank. Bugging all my photo friends about light meters and such.
Thanks again, both of you.
- Cel
<Cheers, Neale.>

elite jet flo 100, int. power filter 2/20/12
<http://www.theaquariumshop.com.au/shopexd.asp?id=1700&name=Elite%20Jet-Flo%20Internal%20Aquarium%20Filter%20100>
Hi,my fish tank,i think is very healthy.
<?>
Only had it 6 weeks,already had 16 babies!!! Clean every 2 weeks,feed every 2 days etc but have been wrried about my jet flo system,it is not producing the same level of air as before, It seems to have slowed down,have cleaned thoroughly,replaced sponge,but it seems to be the actual motor..any
suggestions???
<... take it apart, see if anything is hung up on the impeller... most likely a bit of filter media... Bob Fenner>

Optimum setup for Ocean Clear 354, cartridge filter, FW f' and Discus filtr.     1/5/12
Hi,
We have a 75 gallon freshwater planted Discus tank.  The aquarium came with a sump setup but we opted to replace the sump with an Ocean Clear 354.
<Mmm, good filters (well designed/built) but a pain to keep clean... and of not much use in the way of bio-filtration. I strongly urge you to look into, switch to a lower pressure (and more energy saving) canister filter... My fave brand/maker: Eheim>
The tank was doing well for a few years before the change of filters.  We used the existing overflow plumbed to a Quiet One 4000
<Mmm, yes, the olde modified Grundfos product>
and then connected that to the Ocean Clear 354 and back to the existing return with a 18 inch spray bar with 1/4 holes spaced 1 inch apart (initially the holes were 1/8 inch but the turbulence was throwing sand all over).  Within two hours of the installation we noticed a Neon Tetra and a Bolivian Ram gasping for air at the surface and so we installed a sponge filter with a power head and air line.  All fish are now fine, however, we want to know if there is another way to introduce oxygen without sacrificing the plants preferably something quieter than a sponge filter.
<Mmm, about the best means is to position spray bar/s near the surface, to discharge along the long access (side to side) of the tank... such that a over/under gyre is set up... to introduce/circulate all water to the surface in time, and add surface agitation to increase surface area for gaseous exchange. Again... Please look into biological filtration... you don't mention providing such... and it IS needed here. Perhaps perusing our FAQs file on Discus systems; read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/discussysfaqs.htm
Thank you so much for your help.
Michael
<And do write back after reading if this isn't clear, complete. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Optimum setup for Ocean Clear 354   1/8/12

Hello Crew,
<Miguel>
Sorry it took so long to respond(I had shoulder surgery yesterday)
<Ouch!>
You guys are great!
I was Wondering if adding an intake prefilter i.e. Poret foam and seeding it with a nitrifying  product such as Marineland Bio-Spira or Dr. Tim's instant nitrifying liquid would help until I am able to afford an Eheim filter?
<Mmm, not really a good idea to put any restriction on the intake side of centrifugal pumps... they're made to push, not pull>
Thanks again for such a great site!
Michael
<Welcome. BobF>

about canister filter   12/28/11
I  am using  dolphin  c1600 canister , my problem  is the canister is not sucking the debris and  fish waste in the bottom of the tank ,     what is the option to clear it off  , i am not want to change the water often , give some option how to clear it  through the filter only.
 <Either adding more circulation (an internal pump or powerhead) or simply vacuuming... Read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwclngtkfaqs.htm
                                    Awaiting for ur reply                                                                                 
                  Thanking you
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
About  canister filter  connection -- 12/29/11
my  doubt is  can we connect power head or  pond pump to the intake  of the canister filter  to improve  for more gallons of  water , that means  my canister is designed for 100  gallon of water by adding    additional pump to canister filter in the  input  can we increase for   200  gallon  of water .    
  <Mmm, not really; no. And there's an added risk of flooding by increasing the pressure thus; the hose/s may pop off, the seal on the top leak>
already  my canister is  having motor in the top of the canister ,suppose if we are adding another one to the canister  intake both the pumps will be fighting or what will happen to the canister filter it will do  a good job or what?
 awaiting for ur reply,
                                                                                        thanking you
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Seeding a canister filter.    9/29/11
Hello Crew! Once again thanks for all the help in the past and aiding with my 7 aquariums! On my 55g African(ish) biotope, which includes one African knife, One Polypterus senegalus and one Synodontis Eupterus, with some Anubias and dwarf grass in the foreground (reason for the ish). Here's a video (sorry if its against protocol to send a YouTube video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lcZy07SEQI . (The platys tetra and other random fish were there just while I moved their tanks around and now it is just the 3 mentioned. Anyways, I previously had two 55g rated hob filters that the tank cycled with. However on my 29g Biocube, the pump recently crapped out which I took apart and found a broken axle.
<Can be purchased separately>
I removed one of the
HoB style filters and placed it on the Biocube, and purchased an (expensive) Eheim 65g rated canister filter.
<I use Eheims as well>
This combined with the HoB gives me about
7-8X turn over rate.
<Good>
I definitely see the difference! The water turned crystal clear and the tank looks amazing. My question is, should I add some bio-media from a used cartridge filter into it to "seed' the beneficial bacteria? Or should I just let it do that on its own.
<On an established system, I'd go the latter route>
PS If Neale sees this, awhile ago I asked about an aggressive convict who I thought to be male, however after venting it is a female, and it did kill my male convict within one night. She got so big because she never bred, so she just grew and grew, and now is really aggressive.
<Interesting. Bob Fenner>

92 gal corner tank filter question.  8/27/11
WetWebMedia is a terrific resource!
<Thanks!>
I have a planted 92 gal corner tank with a school of Devarios and Rosy barbs.
<Nice, subtropical to low-end tropical species. Be sure not to overheat them!>
Currently I am filtering the tank with a Eheim 2028 canister filter rated at 277 gph. This gives only a 3x's/hour turnover rate. I also have a powerhead to increase circulation. After reading your site I understand that the turnover rate should be 4-6x's/hour. If I replace my filter with a large canister (like the Fluval FX5) which is rated at 606 gph with media, then the turnover rate would be about 6.5x's per hour. Would this be too much?
<Nope.>
Would I be better off going with a second canister which would be rated at ~300gph?
<Either suits. There's arguments both ways. One big-ass filter means less pipe work, so it's easier to hide. Two smaller filters means you have a backup in case one fails, or at least, you can change the media in one filter knowing that bacteria from the other with colonise it quickly.>
Thank you,
John
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 92 gal corner tank filter question.  8/27/11

Neale,
My tank was inspired by articles you have written on keeping subtropical tanks. Thank you Neale!
<Glad to help.>
I love the activity and schooling behavior of the Devarios and Barbs, and my wife thinks the tank looks great'¦ can't get better than that. The tank is kept at room temperature and is unheated. It usually stays between 72-76 degrees Fahrenheit. Common species like Devarios and Barbs are just as interesting, and certainly as much fun to keep, as the more exotic ones.
<Yes indeed. And often these fish have a seasonality to them as well, so in spring and summer their colours and behaviour really becoming vivacious.>
I'm sure once the additional filtration is in place they will be much happier. Thank you for the filtration advice. It's good to know that I can go a bit above a 6x's/hour turnover rate. I'm sure once the media and head height is accounted for the filters produce much less that their advertised flow rates anyway.
<If the fish are buffeted about, either use the taps to slow down the flow, or else use a spray bar to spread out the water flow.>
Thanks for all your terrific advice.
John
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

Could it be algae?   8/8/11
<... Review our guidelines... hundreds of megs of pix, NOT megs>
Hello crew at Wet Web Media... My name is Eldrich Freeman. You've helped me a bunch recently. Thanks by the way... I was wondering if you could help me with a possible problem with my tank. I have a 135 gallon (long) aquarium.
It has 2 Rena XP3 filters. I also have to MarineLand 295 gph power heads. I have stocked the tank with Pool Filter Sand and Texas Holey Rocks. I'm going to house Mbuna Cichlids. Notice that I said that I'm going to house them. I have no fish in the tank. It has been running for about 2 1/2 months (maybe 3).. Maybe this is a problem or maybe it isn't. I noticed yesterday that I have dark spots developing inside the tubing of my canister filters (intake and outtake). Both filters have developed these spots. I can't seem to tell what color these spots are. Maybe brown but the look black to me. Is this normal?
<Yes... part of the reason Eheim makes their own green tubing>
My water looks like you can drink from the tank. I mean it's crystal clear.
<I see this>
Is this something that I should worry about?
<Nope>
Is this something that I just simply have to use elbow grease to get rid of. I was told that you need some algae in your aquarium. If this isn't a problem then I'm sorry that I've waisted <wasted> your time. I have also attached pictures of the spots so maybe you could help me with a solution to this. I hope that these pictures can help. Thanks for your time.
<This is largely Diatom growth, though other Protists, Monerans are likely present... You could run a flexible brush down these lines, but I'd simply ignore this coating of the inner surfaces. Bob Fenner>

How long should I wait 2/23/11
Hi crew,
I cleaned out one of my canisters this morning and still need to do the other one. The one I did has sponge pads and floss in the chambers. There was no way to clean these with tank water. I had to rinse them in the sink.
So my question is: How long do I have to wait before cleaning the other canister? The other one is the one containing the ceramic rings. I'm pretty sure I can clean the rings with tank water, but anything else will probably need to be rinsed in the sink. I do have 17 discus ranging in size from 3 1/2" to 5", 5 clown loaches 3" and one 24" retic. The tank is a 240
Thank you
Pat
<If you're cleaning the biological media properly, i.e., without killing off too many of the bacteria, in theory you should be able to clean both filters at the same time. But given your livestock, a cautionary approach might be wise. Allow 3-4 weeks between each time you clean one or other filter. That'll allow plenty of time for the cleaned filter to recover if you've managed to kill off all the bacteria, and the mature filter will donate the bacteria, speeding up the maturation process, as well as removing ammonia and nitrite in the interim. Cheers, Neale.>

Freshwater canister filter repurposing  1/28/11
Good evening crew!
<Hello,>
I currently have a 100 gallon freshwater tank inhabited by a happy group of clown loaches and an assortment of rainbows. I recently purchased a drilled 90 gallon marine setup with the intention of replacing my 100 gallon tank.
It includes everything common to a marine setup, including a very nice sump. It is designed so that water drains through filter socks before entering the main chamber.
<Cool. Should work fine, but do be aware many freshwater fish will "shoot the rapids" over such sluices into the sump. Check this can't happen. Use some plastic mesh if needs be.>
My dilemma lies with the canopy. It is enclosed on all 4 sides, which means that my Eheim Pro II 2026 and Eheim Pro II 2028 would have no access to the tank. They are the sole source of filtration for my current setup. I don't have a saw lying around, so I am wondering about the possibility of decommissioning the two Pro IIs and using their sintered glass filled media buckets in the main chamber of the sump.
<Sure. Alternatively, see if you can't place the filters so their inlet and outlet pipes feed into the sump, then hide the canisters in the cabinet.>
I think that between the filter socks and the biological media in the main chamber, I can accomplish an equivalent level of filtration. Would you advise this move?
<Worth a shot. If nothing else, these mature media will speed up the cycling to just a few days, as bacteria move from them onto the other media in the sump. Add a few fish from day 1, and you should find things work just fine.>
The bucket design of the media enclosure would allow me to clean individual sections of the media without hassle. I understand this is a major drawback of wet-dry filters, so I should not have to worry about pockets of organic material accumulating. The only problem I can foresee is that the baskets are designed to have water flow up through them, rather than being submerged with water flowing over them. Would that reduce the filtering capability, or otherwise cause problems?
<Canister filters rely on oxygen coming into the canister with the inflow of water. But the bacteria are identical to those that live on wet/dry media. So once you remove the media from the Eheim filters and place in the sump, the bacteria will do their thing quite happily. While you might find it tricky to get identical performance because getting the Eheim filter media completely in the flow of water in the sump will be hard, they will at least jump-start any new media in your sump.>
I appreciate your input, and all you guys do to further the aquatic hobby.
-Steven
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Freshwater canister filter repurposing  1/28/11
Neale,
Thank you for your response. My tank has been up and running now for 3 years with these two canister filters. Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate have never been an issue.
<Cool.>
Given that, do you think I would want to add additional biological filtration in the sump?
<Won't do any harm. There are pros and cons to canisters, and the biggest disadvantage to them is they consume oxygen from the water column. A wet/dry filter uses oxygen from the air, so whereas canisters reduce dissolved oxygen levels, wet/dry filters will at least leave them alone but more usually raise them as the air and water splashes through the media. If you feel oxygen is a limiting factor, you could replace the canisters. On the other hand, if you're growing plants, then a wet/dry filter will drive off carbon dioxide, so you might not want to use one. Review the merits of each, and choose accordingly.>
Furthermore, with my current tank running so successfully off of these two canister filters, would I expect to see a cycle in the new tank?
<If the canisters and the wet/dry ran together for a few weeks, no, there'd be no visible cycling. Bacteria would colonise the new media while the canisters were in place.>
I assumed that between retaining 40 gallons of water from the old tank and the continuing to use the media (in some form) from the canisters, the transition would be smooth for the fish.
<Indeed, though moving the water will have zero effect, since the water itself contains few if any bacteria. They're all in the media!>
Lastly, if I attempt to run the canisters to the sump instead of the display, would there be any issues from the much shorter distance the return flow would have to climb? The sump is essentially the same height as the 2028.
<You mean having the canister in the cabinet at the same level as the sump, and the inlet and outlet pipes dipped into the sump? Yes, that should work fine.>
Thanks!
-Steven
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: I would appreciate your assistance again... GF Canister filter issues mostly  11/22/10
Hello Neale and WWM Crew,
<Hello again,>
I would like to ask for your advice/help again. The Ich infestation in my 20g has gone; all the fish are doing well, even the Pristella with the fin and tail rot. I did lose 1 female Platy and 5 Neons.
I am ready to upgrade to a 55g and I need a bit of advice on how to transition.
<Okay.>
I was reading an email exchange between Neale and Dawn from Florida. Dawn was in the process of doing the same upgrade with GF and 2 filters running on a 20G tank waiting to move one of them on a 55g. Neale's suggestion was to run both filters on the small tanks, until the bigger filter could be moved (ready and cycled) to the 55 g; that way the 55g would be immediately ready for the fish.
<Yes; that is certainly one way to do things. The other is to move all the mature filter media from the small filter and stuff it into the new bigger filter. That is easily done with things like ceramic noodles, but less easy with sponges cut to particular sizes.>
I bought a Cascade 700 Canister filter and I installed it for one day on my 20g tank, and mounted the 'spray'. The tank was running on a Penguin 150 and the Cascade. After two hours I noticed that the fish had a bizarre behaviour: they were swimming 'missile-like' from one side to another launching themselves against the glass or the gravel; they were also avoiding the central tank area, which they usually enjoy. I realized the filter was too powerful, so I lowered the flow nozzles (input and output) halfway. They were still swimming in frenzy, so I disconnected the filter.
<I see. What's the total turnover rate? Most small fish are happiest with turnover rates around 4-6 times the volume of the tank per hour. But medium-sized fish that like to swim, like barbs, loaches and the larger tetras, are fine with turnover rates 6-8 times the volume of the tank. It may take a few hours or days for such fish to get used to fast-flowing water if they haven't been exposed to it -- think about how muscle tone changes in response to harder work -- but basically fish that come from flowing water habitats will actually do better in tanks with quite strong filtration.>
Here are my questions:
1-Can I run the filter that way (lower pressure) until it cycles? And how long does it take to the media to be ready?
<Yes, lower flow rates will be fine.>
2- Should I take the spray out and use the directional spout at a lower output?
<Spray bars tend to reduce the water currents because they spread the outflow of water across a wider area. Directing spray bars against rocks, bogwood roots, even the glass wall of the tank can reduce water currents still further.>
3- If I cannot run the filter that way, should I buy bio-media rings and a reusable bag and cycle this in the Penguin chamber until it is ready, and then move the bio-rings in one of the canister's baskets?
<You can do this. In fact ceramic noodles are generally the best all-around media for biological filtration. Siporax is perhaps the premier brand, technically sintered glass rather than ceramic noodles, but ceramic noodles from any reputable manufacturer should do an adequate job. The Eheim ones are good quality, as you'd expect, but I've used generic ones with success.>
By the way, the cascade comes with two baskets; the bottom one contains a sponge (too large for temporary fitting in the Penguin), a Carbon bag, and a white filter floss/pad; the upper basket contains just the white filter floss. I would like to re-arrange them this way: the bottom with sponge, Zeolite, and the floss; the upper one with bio-rings and white floss. Can you please advice?
<Zeolite is totally redundant so throw away. At best, it's removing ammonia that the bacteria could use while maturing, and after a couple weeks it won't be doing that any longer, and will just be a bunch of dead rocks sitting in your filter. Carbon is of debatable value and I don't recommend for general freshwater fishkeeping. Again, it needs replacing every 2-3 weeks to have any function, and while it removes the yellowing chemicals from the water, it also removes medications, which is kind of pointless. In general, so long as you have some floss as a prefilter to catch detritus before water flows through the biological media, it doesn't much matter how you arrange the biological media. I generally just stuff canister filters with either lots of sponges plus a floss pad, or lots of ceramic noodles and a floss pad.>
My compliments to you and all the WWM folks. Your website is a great help for us newbies!
FB
<Glad to help and thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

Canister Filter Placement   7/11/10
Hello All,
I have a custom made 150 gallon 1/2" acrylic tank I am making into a planted freshwater tank. I have purchased two large canister filters and would like to know if its better to place them directly under the tank within the stand or should I place one filter on either side of the tank.
I'm not sure if it matters or if one position works better for water flow.
Thanks, Lisa
<Hello Lisa. When you place a canister filter under the aquarium it has to work harder. It has to push water against gravity. <<Mmm, actually, no... If the intake is at the same level as the discharge, there is very little "extra" resistance. RMF>> That means its flow rate will be reduced. So ideally the canister filter should be next to the tank, not underneath it. However, in practice if you choose a canister filter with adequate flow rate this isn't normally a major problem. Other issues, in particular clogged media, become more significant. A sensible approach is to buy more filtration than the manufacturer recommends because the manufacturer will describe the filter working under ideal conditions -- i.e., with clean media and next to the tank, not below it. It's much like the number of servings on cereal packets, or the miles/gallon for motor cars. For a planted aquarium with small fish like tetras, a flow rate of
4-6 times the volume of the tank per hour will be ideal. So if you have 150 gallons, you want your two filters added together to give you a turnover rate of 600 to 900 gallons per hour. It's better to have more rather than less filtration, and you can use things like spray bars to reduce turbulence as required. Cheers, Neale.>

Physics... relative height, placement of canister filters vs. discharge, intake  -- 7/12/10
<Hello Lisa. When you place a canister filter under the aquarium it has to work harder. It has to push water against gravity. <<Mmm, actually, no... If the intake is at the same level as the discharge, there is very little "extra" resistance. RMF>> That means its flow rate will be reduced.
Re: Physics... -- 7/12/10
Hello Bob,
Interesting. The instructions for the Eheim 2217 state that the filter should be below the aquarium. But it also says that the maximum "installation height" is 180 cm, or 5'10".
<Yes... lest the "top" pop off... Am having real troubles w/ one of my Eheims currently... have the multiple language manual out, going to buy the big tube of silicon lube presently... But this has naught to do with flow rate... as with disconnecting the lines, as long as they are both pressurized, the flow rate will be about the same, regardless of how (but not too tall to over-pressurize the seal/s, canister!) high they are distanced. B>
http://www.eheim.com/base/eheim/pdf/en/anleitungen/afilter/2215_2217_classic.pdf
All pumps push *less* water along the *higher* they have to push that water upwards. I think we can agree on that. The question is whether the installation height stated by Eheim refers to either [a] the point at which the pump will be working too hard and/or too hot; or else [b] when other components, like the gaskets, will fail under the pressure of water falling down from the aquarium into the filter.
<This latter>
Either way, I think it's good advice not to put a pump too far below the aquarium, and to take into account other factors, such as clogged media, as being the major reasons why water flow is often less than advertised.
Cheers, Neale
<And you. B>

Re: Canister Filter Placement -- 7/12/10
Thanks Neale! I have one set up on the side only because it wouldn't fit under the current stand I have but I have found I like it better there. It is easy access to the lid, I'm not dragging it to the front of the stand with all the water inside and it's much easier to clean up after all the water reaches the floor.
<Cool.>
I have also found a metal plant stand on wheels so you can cart your large plants around without picking them up. It works perfect under such a large filter.
<Sounds a good idea.>
I have 2 Marineland C-530 Canister filters. It's to pump 530 gph so x2 is 1060 gpm gives me just over 7 times the tank size.
<That's a lot, and do bear in mind that excessive turbulence at the top will drive off CO2, and that can cause problems for fast-growing plants.
Water circulation isn't the thing, but splashing that mixes air and water.
I'd recommend using a spray bar so the water is ruffled at the top rather than splashed.>
I do not have it fully stocked and don't plan on it. So much work when it's overpopulated. So I do have one more question regarding the filter.
Since I will be hooking up two, one will be on each side of the tank, would it be best to have both intake tubes on one side of the tank and both the output tubes on the other or should I put the intake and output tube from the left filter on the left side and right intake and output tubes from the right filter on the right side.
<Ideally, you'd have inlets and each end and outlets at each end. But with that said, you may want to have both outlets at the same end so that end has the strongest water flow. The weaker flow at the inlet end would mean
there's a gentler region that slow-moving fish could use. I find that fish tend to move around the tanks, some hanging out by the outlet because they like strong currents, e.g., barbs, while others prefer the slower area, e.g., angels.>
Not sure if I'm confusing you but this would put the tubes with the diffuser on each side of the tank.
<Airstones and other things with bubbles will drive off CO2, which isn't helpful in planted tanks. Do understand that what plants prefer isn't what fish prefer, so there's balance to be struck.>
I will be having Angels, Gouramis, Rainbows, Neons and some Corys along with my plants. Not sure if one way would be more suitable to my tank than the other.
Thanks for ALL of the great advice!
Lisa
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish Filtration: Trickle or Canister (RMF, any thoughts?)   7/6/10
Hi there, I am hoping you can give me some guidance on filtration for my goldfish.
<Fire away.>
I currently have a 50 gallon glass tank with three good-sized Orandas, a tele, and a small Ranchu and am running 2 Eheim 2217 canister filters. I am thinking of upgrading to an almost 100 (U.S.) gallon acrylic tank, and the maker wants to install an overflow box and drill the tank.
<OK.>
Re the new tank, I am debating whether I want to move to a trickle filter or just add another canister to the system. I have had mixed advice on trickle filters for goldfish and am unclear if they provide sufficient tank turnover/surface agitation.
<Either should work fine if properly configured and large enough for the job. If "marine grade" in terms of size, turnover rate it should be fine. I have kept big cichlids in ex-marine tanks with trickle filters, and didn't observe any real problems.>
On the other hand, I have heard that trickle systems are cleaner looking, lower maintenance, and are superior in terms of beneficial bacteria.
<Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Canisters are easier to maintain in some ways because you can unplug them, take them into the kitchen or patio, rinse off the media easily, and then put them back when you're done. Not
all trickle filters are equal, but assuming yours has a big sponge at the front for mechanical filtration, removing and cleaning that sponge should be easy enough. Getting at the plastic balls isn't always so easy. On balance though, I don't find that either has any "killer" feature that renders the other one obsolete.>
However, it also seems that a closed system, i.e., the canister filters, may be "safer" in the event of power outages (which happen where I live), don't need to be topped off, etc., and of course I already have an investment here.
<Oh, and the contrary, canister filters are VERY sensitive to power outages because air can't get in. Within 20 minutes (supposedly) the oxygen inside the canister filter is gone, and the bacteria start dying, or at least becoming dormant. That's why it's so important to crack open your canister during a power outage and place the filter media in a bucket or basin of aquarium water, so air can get to the media more easily. On the other hand, if the power is gone for too long, a trickle filter can dry out, and again, that will kill, or at least make dormant, the bacteria. I would recommend you read this article on surviving power outages:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/power.htm
While freshwater fish are much more tolerant than marines of this sort of crisis, it's as well to be prepared.>
However, three canisters (unless I spend hundreds to get a super high capacity one to replace what I have) may be unwieldy.
<Indeed. There are jumbo canisters like the Fluval FX5 that may or may not suit your budget.>
If I do keep/expand the canister system, can I incorporate it into the overflow box somehow?
<Sure.>
(The problem with an acrylic tank is it has bracing at the top, so not so easy to hang the spray bars, etc, over the top--but I need an acrylic tank as I move frequently and I have found that glass tanks and movers don't mix.)
<Nothing wrong with connecting the inlet and outlet to the sump, and placing the canister inside the cabinet beneath the tank.>
What would you recommend for goldies in the larger, new tank?
<Either; see above.>
Finally, if I incorporate the overflow box with either system, where should I position it and should I have one or two?
<In theory, the more uniform the water flow, the better. But with that said, fancy Goldfish aren't strong swimmers and won't appreciate the very high turnover rates used in marine tanks. You're looking at about 6 times the volume of the tank per hour, whereas marine tanks will be 10 times or more. Check the size of the pump being used, and ideally find one with an adjustable flow rate. Failing that, I'd have the inlet at one end, the outflow at the other, so the Goldfish could swim to faster or slower areas as they preferred.>
And, where should the tank be drilled?
<Do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm
Especially the "Plumbing and Fitting Size:" and "Through-Put Fittings:"
sections. Note what Bob says about having large, numerous holes so there's redundancy there in case of blockages or underestimating. At the same time, I wouldn't worry unduly about getting this "perfect", and whatever is
recommend for marines by the manufacturer should be adequate for Goldfish.
The major difference is that Goldfish produce more solid waste, so mechanical filtration is even more crucial than in a marine tank.>
I believe am going to have the tank made to these dimensions: 60" long x 21" wide x 18" high. I would really appreciate your advice as having this tank made is quite an investment and I want to make the best choices I can.
Many thanks!
Catherine
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.> <<I do agree with what you've presented Neale... and would add/reinforce that trickle filters tend to "over-drive" nitrification, producing more nitrate than other modes of filtration/gear... And such filters are noisier, create more smell, and take more power to operate. If it were me/mine, I'd continue to operate this new system on the (perhaps larger) Eheim canister filters (which is what I use on my fancy goldfish systems). Bob Fenner>>
Re: Goldfish Filtration: Trickle or Canister (RMF, any thoughts?)   7/6/10
Hi Neale,
Many thanks for the advice and the links. That is just what I needed, and I do appreciate the help!
Regards,
Catherine
<Glad to help. Good luck with this project. Cheers, Neale.>

More re: Goldfish Filtration: Trickle or Canister (RMF, any thoughts?)   7/6/10
<<I do agree with what you've presented Neale... and would add/reinforce that trickle filters tend to "over-drive" nitrification, producing more nitrate than other modes of filtration/gear... And such filters are noisier, create more smell, and take more power to operate. If it were me/mine, I'd continue to operate this new system on the (perhaps larger) Eheim canister filters (which is what I use on my fancy goldfish systems).
Bob Fenner>>
<<<Thanks Bob for your comments here. I'm a bit skeptical about the whole "nitrate factory" thing because I can't see how, why additional nitrogen would get into a filter just because it's one type of filter compared to another. Surely the food you're adding to the system, plus its ambient livestock density, is what determines how much ammonia gets processed by a biological filter?...
>Mmm, chemical reactions are often "driven" to one side of the equation of reactants/products by factors, conditions... like temperature, RedOx state (oxygen concentration in this case)... RMF<   7/7/10
Re: More re: Goldfish Filtration: Trickle or Canister (RMF, any thoughts?)   7/7/10
Thanks Bob,
<Neale>
Yes, have heard this before. Don't believe it, I'm afraid. Until someone shows me where the *extra* nitrogen gets into the water, I can't see how any one type of biological filter can create more nitrate than any other.
<Interesting... that our perceptions differ here. Am wondering now... if I could refer you to some other examples of reaction series that would serve as better illustration. Do you understand that these (nitrification, denitrification) biochemical reactions are reversible? That they can go "forward AND backward?"... That they can be "driven" more to the products (vs. reactants) side of equations? Wet-dry, trickle... and some other types of filters/filtration simply drive the forward reaction of nitrification toward more product (nitrate)...>
I don't disagree that some filters, e.g., live rock, can create anaerobic conditions where denitrification can take place, and so lower nitrate content relative to what a standard, completely aerobic biological filter can do.
<Oh! Yes... a good example of "more" of the reverse reaction series being thus "driven". B>
Cheers, Neale
7/6/10  cont.... But with that said, I do agree with Bob that most freshwater fishkeepers with demanding fish tend towards external canister filters. Like Bob, I use Eheim canisters and find them reliable and -- when spread out across the lifetime of the filter, 20 years in many cases --
extremely good value. I think it's relevant that the Eheim 2217 that you mention you used, and I use too, is the same design my dad used in the mid '80s -- these are filters that work very well and have no serious flaws.
Being able to adjust the taps on the in/outflow hoses can be very useful when you're balancing flow rate against the low water current fancy Goldfish prefer. You haven't mentioned reverse-flow filtration, but I will raise the idea here. Few filtration systems handle the sheer filth produced by large fish like Goldfish as well. They're relatively easy to maintain as well, if a bit fiddly to install (though surely less complicated that trickle filters). Much to think about, anyway. Cheers, Neale.>>>

Re: More re: Goldfish Filtration: Trickle or Canister (RMF, any thoughts?) -- 7/7/10
Hello Bob,
<Dear Neale>
Yes, I do understand the two-way flow of nitrogen in biological filters.
And I can certainly understand that differences in oxygen availability can effect the balance of that flow.
However, my argument would be that even allowing for a certain amount of nitrogen fixation inside an aquarium biological filter, any nitrogen captured from the atmosphere will be a trivially small amount compared to that supplied via the fish food.
<Agreed>
If you're feeding your goldfish a handful of pellets that are 40% protein, the quantity of nitrogen in there -- and therefore the nitrate end product of biological filtration -- will VASTLY outweigh the daily nitrogen fixation by, for example, blue-green algae.
<Also agreed>
My gut feeling is that nutrient input control, the use if skimmers to remove proteins/amino acids before they become ammonia, and the denitrification potential of live rock and fast-growing plants easily account for the perceived variations in biological filter "performance".
<And this>
Anyway, all speculation on my part, and not based on anything beyond education!
Cheers, Neale
<I was thinking that we were speculating re how much more NO3 et al nitrate might be "produced", extant in any given fresh, marine setting w/ and w/o trickle filtration in use... B>
Re: More re: Goldfish Filtration: Trickle or Canister (RMF, any thoughts?) -- 7/7/10
We are, I think. And my argument is simply that so long as the biological filter handles the ammonia produced by the fish, so there's zero ammonia and nitrite, there will also be no real variation in nitrate concentration.
<Actually... this does occur. There is real variation in nitrate concentration using overdriven nitrification means>
So I'd choose a filter that best matched my budget, aesthetics, flow rate requirements, etc.
<I do concur here. B>
Cheers, Neale

Re: More re: Goldfish Filtration: Trickle or Canister (now reverse flow UG)   7/6/10
Neale, can you fill me in on reverse flow filtration? I am not familiar with that.
Thanks!
Catherine
<A reverse-flow undergravel filter uses the outflow from a canister filter to push water into a standard undergravel filter plate. Water rises from that plate through the gravel, and in doing so pushes solid waste into the water column where it is sucked into the canister filter. The result is that the gravel stays much cleaner than in any other type of aquarium because the gravel is constantly being cleaned. The gravel also works as a biological filter, ensuring excellent water quality. The downsides are these: Firstly, undergravel filters can't really be used with plants. The
exceptions are plants without roots, whether attached to bogwood or floating at the surface; either of those types of plants will grow fine.
The second limitation is that the gravel needs to be more or less uniform for best effect. Water flows along the line of least resistance, so if the gravel bed is shallower at one part of the tank, that's where all the water will flow. Obviously, if you dump big rocks on the gravel bed you'll be creating dead spots that won't work as a biological filter. Finally, you need an adapter to connect the outflow from the canister filter to the undergravel filter. Because of the limitations on plants and rocks, reverse-flow undergravel filters aren't widely used now that people like to
create natural-looking aquaria, but they remain good value filters for situations where large rocks and rooted plants aren't going to be used. If your Goldfish are being kept with a few plastic plants (or Java ferns, or floating plants) and some ceramic ornaments, a reverse-flow filter will work just fine. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: More re: Goldfish Filtration: Trickle or Canister, reverse flow UG   7/8/10

Neale, thanks very much for that explanation. I did not know you could do that. Keeping gravel clean in a goldfish tank is a real challenge, so I have stayed away from it--but I actually would like to have it. It seems that if this is set up properly, reverse filtration may be one way to manage it.
Regards,
Catherine
<Glad to help. Yes, a reverse-flow undergravel filter is a "tried and trusted" approach to keeping messy fish tanks clean. Well worth researching. Cheers, Neale.>

Otto external canister filter, generic canister use  - 5/22/10
I cant set up my Otto external canister filter as I have no instruction guide or manual. Can you help pls? Cheers
<I don't know this company or their products. However, external canisters are very simple. The pump (called an impeller) moves water from the aquarium through one hose, up through the canister filled with media, and out through the other hose back into the aquarium. When setting up the filter, you start by putting media into the canister. For a freshwater aquarium you don't need carbon or anything like that. Just fill each compartment of the canister with sponges or ceramic noodles. Close the canister up, taking care to fit the rubber o-ring and lock down the metal clips. Now attach the hoses. There are usually taps on the hose used to open or close the water flow. When the filter is running these need to be open. When you're disconnecting the filter from the aquarium, you close
them. Since we're setting the filter up, open the taps. Put the canister underneath the aquarium in the cabinet. Connect the hoses to the two spouts on the canister filter. Often there's a big hose and a thinner hose, the big one being the hose that carries water to the canister filter, and the thinner one being the hose that takes water back to the aquarium. Sometimes the hoses are the same diameter. Secure the hose that carries water from the aquarium to the filter. Usually this plugs into some sort of tube with a grill at the end to stop small fish being sucked in. Now take the other hose, but before you stick it into the aquarium, blow through it. If you've done everything right so far, you should be able to blow bubbles out of the hose that's already in the water. If you can't, it means air is either leaking somewhere because there's a bad seal, or you haven't opened the taps properly so air can't flow through the hoses. If everything is okay, suck on this hose. Yes, suck! You should hear water being siphoned into the canister filter. There will be much gargling as the canister fills. Once it fills up, it'll feel very much heavier than before if you nudge it. Secure the outward flowing hose into the aquarium, typically to a spray bar or nozzle. Check the spray bar or nozzle is pointing into the aquarium not up in the air. If all is well, switch on the canister. It should work! When
you're cleaning a canister filter, you basically do this all in reverse, except that you don't need to unhook the hoses from the aquarium, you can instead leave them where they are. Just switch the filter off, close the taps, disconnect the hoses, and remove the canister for cleaning. Cheers, Neale.>

Afraid of my own filter 5/11/10
Hi guys and gals!
<Hello Bill,>
I just recently decided to set up an aquarium using a canister filter for the first time. I decided to go with the Rena Filstar XP2 for my 55 gallon aquarium.
<A generally good, mid-market filter.>
Everything is going well (now), but I just realized I have no idea what will happen if the power goes off and then comes back on.
<An understandable concern.>
This is a big concern as I live in the Midwest and we loose power often due to thunderstorms or snow/ice storms.
<Indeed.>
I am dreading that the power will go out sometime while I am away and then come back on and the filter will flood over since it won't be primed.
<The filter won't flood, and it should re-start normally, since the siphon isn't broken. I have Eheim and Fluval canister filters, and once in a while have experienced brief power cuts. The canister filters ran perfectly well once power was restored.>
I've already accidently started it once without priming it properly and it leaked out water from the sides of the top of the filter.
<If the thing leaks, it's either faulty or you didn't follow the instructions. A power cut WILL NOT cause a canister to leak.>
However, I had other problems occurring at the same time the filter overflowed and thus I am unsure whether it was being turned off and then on that caused it to overflow.
<Indeed.>
I am really hoping this has all been considered previously and there is nothing to worry about, but until someone actually tells me that, I will be very anxious about the whole thing. Please help put my fears to rest and answer me this; what happens with my canister filter if my power goes out and then comes back on later?
<The main problem is that after about 20 minutes of no water flow, the bacteria inside the canister start to die, since there's no fresh water getting in to provide oxygen. While you'd be unlucky to have the entire
filter die back to zero bacteria, after more than an hour, your filter will be operating noticeably less efficiently than before, and it may take a few days for bacteria populations to grow back to where they should be. Opening a canister and placing the media in a bowl or bucket *just* covered with water will allow oxygen into the media and keep the bacteria alive. This will keep the bacteria happy, but will do nothing for water quality in the aquarium. So if power is gone for more than a few hours, you will need some sort of back-up plan. Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/power.htm Although focused on marine tanks, the basics hold true for freshwater too.>
Thanks,
Bill
<Cheers, Neale.>

Eheim Ecco Pro impeller   5/3/10
Crew,
<Hello,>
I've been running a Eheim Ecco Pro Easy 80 canister on my 55G tank for I guess a little over two month now. They work great is an understatement.
I decided that I wanted to have a look at the impeller and how it comes out and how to clean it. I took off the door on the bottom of the canister head. It says to pull up on the impeller being careful not to break
anything. Well the impeller head seems stuck, it wont lift out. It spins freely and works fine, it just won't come out of bottom part of the canister head. Believe me I tried to the point of carefully tugging on it
with pliers and a towel as a cushion and still would not release.
<Hmm... well, the magnets are pretty strong, and it's a bit like click RAM into place on a computer motherboard: there's often rather more force required than you might expect. But with that said, if you can't get it out, but the impeller still rotates, it isn't stuck. So you might simply carry the filter head across the kitchen sink, run it under a hot tap, and let the water do the cleaning for you. A Q-tip or something similar might be used to wipe out the inside a bit.>
Any Ideas, I was just probably going to call Eheim and see if they can replace the head.
<Doubt it'll come to that, but by all means call them.>
I mean it still works, but months down the road when the buildup may become worse it will most likely be imperative than I be able to remove the impeller. Thoughts, thanks crew!
Matt
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: EHEIM Ecco Easy 60 pro & Baby Nerite!   5/3/10
Neale,
<Greg,>
Yes, Otocinclus. Can't put an Octopus in because I don't think they are compatible with my giant squid. Did I mention the giant squid?
<Not so far...>
As far as the snails go, 2-3 per gallon seems like a lot to me.
<Didn't say that; said 2-3 per 15-20 US gallons.>
Wait, let me get my glasses. Oh, I see much less needed. I did pick up 4 Zebra Nerite to start with to see how they do without risking starvation.
<If you add too many, the surplus will die.>
It's interesting that one was a maverick from the first night and set off from the relative protection of the cave to the great glass unknown.
<Indeed.>
Last night, the "big mama" also left the cave and found her way to the fake coral. To my utter surprise, I found that she moved on to the glass too but in her place was an itsy bitsy baby snail. I'm confused because I didn't see any hitchhikers and they've only been in there 3 days.
<Since they aren't viviparous, this chap is some months old. Few Nerite snails can be bred in captivity because their larval stages are planktonic.
But with that said, I'm at a loss to explain this particular snail. If it is a juvenile Nerite and not a Physa sp. or something similar, you've been quite lucky to see such a creature in a aquarium.>
Very hard to get a high res pic of this but attached is what I could snap.
I got a Cory cat to pose next to it to give an idea of scale.
<Indeed.>
Let me sneak in one more question before moving on to the main topic. I went back to fake plants after the fish devoured whatever I put in there before. Can you remind me of a good floating plant that will do well for bubble nesting and not get eaten within 4 hours?
<I find Salvinia is the least "edible" floating plant, whereas Indian Fern and Amazon Frogbit both get more or less nibbled by fish.>
Now, I am pleased to report that I installed an EHEIM Ecco Easy 60 pro last night (2234 but note the PRO) and it was far less intimidating than the online super sites make it look. The problem with pet* superstores is they have a photo of all the parts and there's many. But half of them are suction cups and the like.
<Yes.>
What I'm really happy about is that my LFS (fantastic.us in Charlotte) was the value leader. The price was only $128 which is cheaper than most mail order and it's good to help out the independent when one can. I'd gladly pay a couple bucks more but in reality they came in about $20 to $30 cheaper because of their relationship with EHEIM.
<Good.>
I want to thank you for the recent and detailed reply that you gave earlier today on maintenance. Obviously this company is the BMW of filter manufactures. Tremendous engineering.
<Typical Germans...>
Now, here's something for everyone considering canister filtration to sit up and take notice that this PRO model is making its way into the US market but I haven't seen it anywhere else but my LFS.
The standard Ecco comfort for the US is this:
http://www.eheim.de/eheim/inhalte/index.jsp?key=liniendetail_27520_ehen but that ISN'T the latest. It is what most people are carrying and is what most pics on the superstore websites show. What my LFS has is this:
http://www.eheim.de/eheim/inhalte/index.jsp?key=liniendetail_32311_ehen
which comes with two baskets of substrat pro and as you can see the big difference is the blue pre-filter at the top.
So for $20 to $30 cheaper than mail order, I get something newer or at least apparently better.
<Cool.>
According to one website, it looks like EHEIM is in the process of slip
streaming these in as replacements of the non pro models. This is exciting to me because I simply cannot find a way to order this newfangled version online in the US but my LFS had it and now I do thanks in part to your advice. I can't wait until the media matures because it is totally silent except for slight hum that was enough to attract the cat to the cabinet.
<Very good.>
(Part number remains 2234 for this size but adds "Easy Pro 60")
Cheers
<Thanks for sharing. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Eheim Ecco Pro impeller   5/4/10
Thanks Neale, exactly what I did. I ran water over it and used a smaller brush to go around the sides, then I replaced the priming ball and clicked the top back on. I didn't try this on my 2232 yet, I will see if my other
Eheim does the same thing.
Matt
<Glad you managed to get the job done. Cheers, Neale.>

Eheim 2026 Maintenance  5/1/10
Hi,
<Hello,>
I'm looking to understand the proper function and maintenance of my Eheim Professional II 2026. I've tried to piece together info from your FAQ, the owner's manual and product reviews but apparently I'm at a kindergarten level of comprehension in terms of basic part functions and cleaning techniques. I'd call Eheim directly but I'm leery of guidance based on bottom line vs. practical experience.
<Indeed. But on the whole Eheim is a good company, and trusting their instruction manuals isn't a bad idea.>
I'm using the original media and filter pads that I received with the packaging. In a year and a half I've only rinsed this media 3 times. I'll start with the filter pad questions. Apparently, I should be changing the white fine filter pad often. In the owner's manual it says with each cleaning. How do I know when they need cleaning? Just when they look dirty? Up till now, I took "dirty" to mean good in terms of biological filtration but the more I read it seems that I'm not looking at biological media but actual silt and dirt. And now that I really think about it, I'm quite dense as you can't actually see bacteria with the naked eye can you.
<The fine filter wool pads are purely and simply for trapping silt, i.e., what we call mechanical filtration. This does two things. First it keeps the water clear. Secondly it stops silt clogging the holes in the biological media, i.e., the sponges and ceramic noodles, and thereby ensures those media retain their maximum population of bacteria. The more silty they become, the less bacteria they hold. Don't get too paranoid about this, but on the whole replacing or thoroughly cleaning mechanical media every couple of months is a good idea. If you want to replace them, go ahead; otherwise just use lots of hot water to wash out the silt. So long as the fine filter pad isn't damaged, it can be reused. Eventually it starts losing threads, and at that point really should be replaced.>
Also, I'm looking for the equivalent to Eheim Grob and Fein Flocken which is so highly recommended on your FAQ by Mr. Fenner so I can just rinse rather than replace but for now I guess I'll start replacing. Is this difference that the often replaced pads are wool while the reusable ones are polyester?
<Correct. Fine filter wool simply loses its integrity after a while, with the fibres getting loose. The sponges hold their shape for many years.>
Also, the comments on the white fine filter pads say that they "polish" the water nicely. How can one tell if water looks "polished"?
<Polished = free of silt, not cloudy.>
What is the difference between the coarse filter pads and coarse filter floss in terms of function?
<The finer the media, the finer the particles it will trap. Imagine sieves, with the fine sieves catching sand while the coarse ones catch only gravel.
It actually doesn't matter massively which ones you use, and you can use the same media, e.g., a good quality ceramic noodle, to fill the entire filter if you want.>
Is one better than the other?
<There are marginal differences.>
Or would I still need a coarse filter pad if I purchased the Eheim EhfiFIX coarse filter floss?
<Filter floss removes silt better than coarser media, but that's all.>
Onto the biological media. How often is it recommended to clean media? My impression is about every 6 weeks, is this correct?
<That is considered by many to be the optimal approach. But others disagree. I only clean my Eheim external canister filters when I notice the water flow rate dropping, and that may only happen after 3-4 months! Some people argue filters are best left alone, and don't clean them any more than necessary, perhaps twice a year. Does depend on the system and the types of fish and the water quality. Obviously if water flow drops significantly, the ammonia won't be removed and oxygen won't be circulated.
But if the filter is working fine, there's no real need to get paranoid about cleaning the thing to often.>
When I clean the media, the owners manual says to run under warm water but I understand instead I should be rinsing with tank water.
<Either works. I recommend rinsing media in buckets of aquarium water because some beginners don't get the temperature of the running tap water right, and "boil" the bacteria. But so long as the tap water is around 25 degrees C, then yes, you can use that.>
Do I just rinse this until the water no longer turns dark brown? Is that how I know it's no longer "dirty"?
<The latter.>
Is the best way to take all of the media completely out of the holder or just run water over the media in the holder?
<Will vary. Sponges are best dipped and squeezed in water, whether under the tap or in a bucket. Ceramic noodles need to be dropped into a container or sieve, and then slooshed about a bit more vigorously.>
I assume the point is to just rinse off any silt or debris while leaving most of the biological bacteria intact.
<Correct, but don't worry about the bacteria too much. Even if you kill off a few billion, there will be plenty left behind!>
My water inside the canister is grungy when I take everything out and soak in a bucket of tank water.
<The brown sludge is normal and VERY good for houseplants.>
I'm beginning to think this water being so dirty is not normal and a very bad thing for the function of my canister filter as I just read debris will suffocate my good bacteria.
<No, it's quite normal.>
How do I know when to not clean but replace media? I have Substrate Pro and EhfiMECH and I understand to not replace more than half of the media at a time.
<Looked after correctly, sponges should last 5-10 years, perhaps longer.
Ceramic noodles will easily last 10 years, probably twice that.>
How often do I need to clean the tubes and other hardware parts of the filter?
<Interestingly, the hoses are often overlooked, and you'll often see after cleaning that a lot of sludge gets "coughed" out of these once the filter is switched on. So if you can, clean the hoses each time. You can buy bottle brushes on long wires specially made for this, or you can make your own. Do likewise for any spray bars or jet returns. Not cleaning these things isn't a huge problem though, as the filter media will eventually trap this stuff, even if it does float about the tank for a few hours. Now, the bit you mustn't overlook is the impeller inside the canister. Usually there's a little trapdoor that comes off allowing you to remove the impeller and clean out the well it sits in. If ignored for too long, the impeller eventually gets clogged up, and that will reduce flow rate and could potentially shorten the lifespan of the filter. This is a 30-second job, but should be done each time you clean the filter.>
Thank you.
Gina
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Eheim 2026 Maintenance   5/3/10
Thank you for your time Neale. I don't think I could have gotten a better response.
<Happy to help.>
I read somewhere that 8 months is the average length of time people stick with this hobby and if it wasn't for responses like these, I'm sure I would have given up at about that point.
<Oh dear.>
I gave a short persuasive speech last week in my professional speaking class at University about how fish do not make good presents (I'm sure I'll thank her someday) and if you have fish, you really need to educate
yourself about water chemistry, temperature, tank size, fish compatibility and social habits and how these things make the difference between death, outright cruelty, merely surviving and thriving for our pets.
<Sounds real good. Hope the audience was appreciative.>
A handful of people in class had Betta fish in small bowls with no filters and heater and were upset to learn what they had been subjecting their fish to.
<Yikes!>
Maybe, they'll take action, maybe not, but at least they have the information.
<Sometimes all you can do.>
Anyways, just one example of how the help you've given one person (me) reaches many who have never been to your site.
<Nice to hear that.>
Thanks again.
Gina
<Always a pleasure. Cheers, Neale.>

Hard plumbed canister filter (RMF, any alternative ideas here?)<I'd use Eheim's flexible tubing and valves>  2/11/10
Hi guys,
<Hello,>
I have been asked to set up an tropical fresh water system for a friend in a wall between 2 rooms.
<Do bear in mind not all fish, indeed most fish, do not like light shining through their aquarium from both sides. You need to choose species very carefully, and avoid species that prefer shade. If you ignore this, you'll end up with a great tank filled with fish that hide all the time or show "stress" colouration. Livebearers, Rainbowfish, Trichogaster spp. gouramis tend to be among the best choices; catfish, loaches and cichlids would be bad choices.>
The tanks dimensions will be 100cm Height by 92.5cm Width by 62cm depth with a capacity of approximately 573.50 liters not taking in to account decor and substrate.
<This is a very deep tank. Small, benthic obligate air breathers -- such as Corydoras catfish -- cannot be kept in here. It's simply too deep for them, and they'll drown. Again, choose species carefully.>
The tank will be fitted in place of an existing window which is now redundant due to an extension that has been built. I have limited access to the left hand side of the tank for pipe work and filtration. The system must be kept simple and quiet with easy maintenance as his understanding of aquaria is fairly limited at this stage. I also only have space under the aquarium for a canister filter and basic equipment, not a sump. I am looking to use the Eheim Professional 2 Thermo 2128 Filter due to its built in heater and simplicity.
<A very good filter.>
The tank will be stocked at a low level with Angel fish and suitable tank mates.
<Angels would not be my first choice here, but depending on the quality of the shade above them, they might do okay. Certainly, avoid wild Angels, and buy small specimens rather than adults, since adults used to shady conditions could freak out in such an "exposed" location.>
I am hoping to use bulkhead fittings on the left hand side as visible pipe work is sure to look unsightly in a straight through tank.
<Yes, but you do have the problem that the inlet and outlet will both be at the same end of the tank, and this is the least efficient way to arrange filtration. The ideal scenario would have the outlet feeding into an undergravel filter, so that the outgoing water would be distributed all across the aquarium via the gravel bed. Of course the down side is that plants with roots won't like this, which limits you to [a] floating plants and [b] epiphytes (plants attached to bogwood, like Anubias, Java moss and Java fern). Not the end of the world by any means, but limiting nonetheless.>
All the outlets are planned to have high quality shut off valves as an extra precaution with a strainer fitted on the inlet. My concern is where to fit the inlet as regards to the water level. Initially I was planning to fit it just above the level of the substrate as I figured since a canister filter is a closed loop system increased pressure should not
really be an issue.
<Actually, pressure is a factor, and the more pressure on the canister, the harder the impeller has to work. Ideally, a canister filter is at the same level as the aquarium, as if sitting on the same tabletop as the aquarium. Most folks put canisters underneath their aquarium because it's easier to fit them into a cabinet that way, but it isn't the best way at all. Indeed, putting the canister underneath the aquarium reduces the flow rate because it has to work against gravity. Anyway, the inlet opening should be a fair distance above the substrate, perhaps 5 cm/2 inches above, so that it doesn't immediately become clogged with plants and such.>
My only real concern with this set up is that if anything before the return pipe were to fail the tank would drain to the substrate level leaving the fish marooned on a pile of sand.
<Yes, can happen. The old school solution is actually very simple. You know the hockey stick shaped inlet pipe that goes up and over the side of the aquarium? This is the bit connected to a grill of some sort at the inlet,
to stop fish swimming in, and the hose at the other end that goes to the canister. On this hockey stick pipe, a small hole is drilled on the part INSIDE the aquarium, and inch or so below the waterline. Now, when the canister is working normally, this little hole doesn't really do anything.
Some water gets sucked in, but it's so small it doesn't dramatically alter the sucking going on at the main inlet. But should the canister leak, water level drops, and eventually this hole rises above the waterline. When that happens, air is sucked in, the siphon breaks, and water stops flowing into the canister. Of course this doesn't stop the canister from running dry, and likely burning out a fuse, at best. But it does mean only an inch or so of water is lost, so the fish remain happy.>
Looking at conventional canister arrangements where the inlet is at low level (I use 3 in series on my 500 liter coldwater marine system) I'm thinking the siphon action during a similar failure would have the same effect?!
<Yes; if the inlet is drilled directly into the base of the aquarium, then you can't drill a fail-safe hole like the one just mentioned. The aquarium would drain like a bath with the plug pulled out.>
My second thoughts were to fit the inlet at the half way point meaning in the worst case scenario only half the water would drain, hopefully at least keeping the fish wet.
<Yes, this would indeed work.>
The problem is I currently only have access to the left hand side of the tank so I'm wondering if placing the inlet and outlet so close together would cause inefficient filtration?
<In theory, yes, since the best filtration is the filtration that sucks water at one end and blows out the water at the other end. Having said that, a big canister filter may have enough "push" to keep the water circulating reasonably well at the far end of the tank from the inlet and outlets. Plus, Angelfish are slow water fish, and don't have any real need for strong currents.>
Also I'm sure having the inlet at a lower level would be better for the removal of detritus?
<Yes and no. Yes, an inlet closer to the substrate sucks up more gunk more quickly, but if that means it becomes clogged too quickly, and water quality suffers because of the reduced water flow, that's not a benefit.
The main job of the filter is to remove ammonia and nitrite, for which brisk flow of water is required. In fact mechanical and biological filtration are mutually exclusive: the more the filter traps solid waste (mechanical filtration) the worse it gets at biological filtration (less surface area for bacteria). So there's a balance to be struck, and it's
better to avoid having the filter do massive amounts of mechanical filtration where possible. If nothing else, regularly net out solid waste, and avoid stocking the tank with stuff that dies quickly (like plants that can't possibly do well under whatever light conditions you have).>
If absolutely necessary it may be possible to have the inlet and outlet fitted at opposite ends at the higher level since we are still in the planning stage. This would however mean a costly modification to the wall.
I would be very grateful for your thoughts on this and many thanks for the gold mine of information you guys make available on this site.
Kind Regards
Ben
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.> 

Re: Hard plumbed canister filter, and FW lvstk. sel.    2/11/10
Hi Neale,
<Ben,>
Thanks for your advice it's really appreciated, just a few more questions if I may. From your suggestions I assume the Angels are not really suitable for this tank and the following would be a better selection?
<Angels might work, might not. Difficult to say. Like most cichlids, they prefer shady conditions.>
4 Blue, 4 Pearl and 4 Gold Gourami.
<These do work quite well in "divider" tanks with light on both side.>
A good selection of small to tall large leafed plastic plants on a dark colored 1/4" fine gravel substrate and ample hiding places. I can really see the merit of the reverse gravel set up and will do my best to implement it. If the reverse gravel filter is deemed to difficult we have decided to make the effort for opposing outlet and inlet.
<I suspect a reverse-flow will actually be quite simple. You essentially buy an undergravel filter plate, and then attach the outlet from the canister to the uplift. You can buy adapters ready made; Eheim for example have what they call "Reverse flow principle" adapters. Ask your retailer.>
The tank is well away from windows and we were originally looking to fit 2 full spectrum TMC Aquaray LED modules along with a reef blue. The blue would be set at a very low intensity for day to night transition and evening viewing. I know the light will diminish drastically at such a depth and live plants were never planned for this system. After reading about Gourami's I get the impression they would spend a lot of time at the surface of the tank, would this make the bottom half of the tank seem bare or will they happily use the full depth?
<Gouramis will explore all levels, but they will stay mostly at the top.
Ideally, you'd have some floating plants like Indian Fern and Amazon Frogbit for algae control (a really issue in tanks viewed from both sides, otherwise they get pretty mucky looking). If you want a catfish for the bottom, your best bets would be things like Synodontis nigriventris and Whiptails. Cherry-fin Loaches would be another great choice.>
Once again thanks Neil for your sterling advice.
Best regards
Ben
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Converting an old Phosban reactor to a freshwater canister filter  1/20/10
Hi, I've been a long time fan of the marine FAQs, but am a first timer in the freshwater section. I have a question that I don't think has been asked before. Having had a reef tank for several years, I have a few equipment odds and ends laying around, including a bunch of MaxiJet powerheads and a TLF Phosban Reactor.
http://www.twolittlefishies.com/documents/1202405781.pdf
I'd like to set up a small freshwater system for our son and the idea occurred to me to convert this extra equipment into an external canister filter by filling it with a combination of typical freshwater filter media (e.g. sponge, filter wool, ceramic, maybe even bio-balls). The TLF is an up flow design, normally a fluidised bed, but in this case it could be packed with the right combination of filter media, maybe even changed to a downflow design so that the first layer of mechanical filtration is on top, and easily accessed/cleaned. Depending on which MaxiJet we hook up, the flow through should be in the 100-200 GPH range.
Do you think this could be made into an effective filter for a 15-20 gallon system?
<In theory, yes, but with some care on the type of pump used. Bear in mind freshwater fish often come from relatively slow moving waters, so unlike marine fish, freshwater fish will want fast or slow water currents depending on the type of fish. Guppies for example come from still water habitats like ponds and ditches, so a water turnover rate around 4 times the volume of the tank per hour is optimal. So for a 20 gallon tank, a canister rated at 4 x 20 = 80 gallons per hour would be right. Swordtails, by contrast, come from flowing streams, and prefer 6-8 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour.>
If yes, how would you recommend setting it up?
<Having made this observation with regard to the required flow rate of canister filters, do understand that the flow rate of a powerhead or pump simply shifting water is going to be much greater than the same pump attached to a canister filter, where it's pulling water through porous media. While I can't put a number on it with any accuracy, I'd expect a pump with a turnover of, say, 100 gallons per hour to move only two-thirds, maybe a half, that amount of water once added to a big canister. You will need to experiment a bit to get a good balance between the flow of water through the filter and the resulting current in the aquarium. Install some taps onto the inflow and outflow pipes so that you can tweak flow rate easily.>
What type/mix would you recommend to use for filter media?
<In ad-hoc filters, I find a clump of filter wool (about one-fourth the capacity, for mechanical filtration) and the rest ceramic or ideally sintered glass noodles works best.>
Thanks,
Tom
<Cheers, Neale.>  

Upcoming Power Outage   1/16/10
hello,
I have three scheduled power outages for 8 hours each within the next few weeks. I have been reading about the precautions I should take but am a bit confused as to what I do with my filter. I am trying to get a black and Decker power supply shipped to me but I wont get it shipped in time for me to use it. I know that I need to wrap my tank with blankets but I read that the filter can become toxic. do I take the filters out of the canister filter tray and place them in the fridge with water to keep them cold?
<Do read here for marine tanks:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/power.htm
So far as freshwater aquaria go, the same basic rules apply, but you have a bit more latitude. Freshwater fish are, by their nature, usually better adapt to variations in temperature and water quality than marine fish. The best approach is to leave the aquarium alone, well insulated. Don't feed!
There's no need for aeration or stirring, and in fact this would cool the tank down faster. In-tank filters like undergravels and sponges can be left alone too. External canisters should be disconnected and the biological
media placed in shallow containers (e.g., washing up bowls) that can be filled with aquarium water just enough to cover the media, but no more. The idea is that the sponges, ceramic noodles, etc. are as close to the air (critically, the oxygen) as possible so that the bacteria don't suffocate.
They are fine like this for a day or two, no problems. The problem with external canisters is that if they're left connected to the tank, or disconnected but left with the media inside them, the bacteria don't get any oxygen and quickly die. External canister filters rely absolutely on a constant flow of water through them, so when there isn't any flow of water, you have to remove the biological media as outlined above. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Upcoming Power Outage
ok, so I take out the porcelain/ceramic tube things, the mesh filter thing, and the bio balls
<Yes.>
but I can leave the carbon in there. ok.
<Well, I'd take the carbon out and replace with fresh carbon. Actually, carbon is pretty useless in most freshwater tanks, ad unless you're changing it every 2-4 weeks, it isn't doing anything anyway. A good question to ask yourself is "What does carbon do?". Most folks have a vague idea it improves water quality. But all carbon does is absorb organic chemicals, primarily those that create acidity between water changes. This was valuable when people did 10% water changes once a month, but almost completely useless if you're doing 25% water changes weekly, as you should be. You'll get better water quality by replacing carbon with more biological media. Of course, pet shops and filter manufacturers will happily SELL you carbon, but that's because it's extremely profitable, not because it's useful.>
and no bubbles. I'm glad you told me that. I bought I rechargeable air pump the "just in case" scenarios but I guess this isn't one. I didn't think that they would be able to last 8 hours with no oxygen cycling into the water.
<To be fair, it does depend on the size/types of fish being kept. If you have a moderately stocked tank with just small fish (tetras, guppies, gouramis, etc.) then adding a bubbler will be neither here nor there. But if you have big, messy fish (plecs, cichlids, etc.) then adding an aerator can be helpful. It also depends on how cold your air temperature is. If it is not particularly cold where you live, then adding some extra aeration will be useful. But if it's really chilly right now (as it is here in England!) then I'd sooner keep the water warm than worry too much about aerating the water, unless I could see the fish were gasping at the surface. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Upcoming Power Outage -- 01/17/10
sounds good..I will remove it all from my canister filter and leave it in a little bit of water. I'm VERY curious about the no carbon thing. my canister requires a lot, and according to the manuafcturere, I need to replace it every month...a cost of $15/month.
<K-ching!>
not including the actual floss filter to replace (another $15/mo). OUCH!
<K-ching!>
I was thinking of going to find filter mesh I can reuse over and over again. I have read online that others do this quite frequently. but I'm most interested in the no carbon. I was going to order a big bucket of carbon and just swap it out of the mesh bag that the old, used carbon is already in. this monthly change requires 400 grams (about 6 cups) of new carbon.
not to mention I have a second canister filter on the way, so 800 grams per month total...AH, so much! I have read that carbon actually increases phosphates but I dont know how to measure that. my test kit only has nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, and ph. I also read that carbon only filters out medicine and some organic compounds and can create high phosphates since carbon contains that but doesn't do nearly as much as what many mfg's want you to think. I have this filter already hooked to my 55 gal and once I set up my 150 gal I will have two hooked up
(http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=16744). I have a planted freshwater aquarium so will this work with this type of set up?
<You can certainly use canister filters for planted aquaria. Aim for about 4 x the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, and try to minimise splashing so you don't drive off valuable CO2 too much.>
you mentioned to replace the carbon section with more bio media. would this be the ceramic tubes or more of the bio balls?
<Either. Anything that holds bacteria will do. Sponges, ceramic noodles, filter floss, bio balls. In lightly stocked tanks, I've even used fine gravel in bubble-up box filters!>
I'm soooo willing to try this (but I'm scared at the same time) because this will reduce so much money spent, garbage in the landfill, and mess.
<Agreed.>
not too many people have written about what to expect with a no carbon change over or how often to test your tank to make sure the water quality is good.
<After you first set up the tank, weekly testing is a good idea. But for most aquarists, monthly testing is fine, and once you stop adding fish and the tank's been running a year on "autopilot", it is probably very stable, and you needn't do any testing at all unless the fish start acting odd.
Expert fishkeepers will recognize signs of stress -- e.g., swimming slowly at the surface, odd colours, lack of appetite -- so will be aware of problems before they get out of hand.>
my tank has a lot of fish...actually, too many (I know, bad me...slap on the hand) but I am usually really good with maintenance, water changed, etc. I have to be, other wise I have disastrous consequences. I usually do water changes bi-weekly (or as needed per the test kit) so my carbon is pointless according to your previous email.
<Indeed.>
I will search your website for more "no carbon" info but please lead me in the right direction.
<Do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/fwfiltrmedart.htm
Cheers, Neale.>

Upgraded to a 125 gal. fw tank, will 2 Eheim filters be enough?  12/17/09
First, thank you crew you are all just wonderful.
<Always good to hear!>
Now, after following your advise for the last 2 years I have successfully upgraded from a 20 gal. to a 36 gal. to a 55 gal. and now to my dream tank 125 gal. with all fish still thriving thanks to your expert advice each upgrade.
<Cool.>
Water tests now after being up and running for 2 weeks are as follows.
Ammonia 0, nitrites 0 and nitrates 10 ppm. I have low light plants about every 6" using substrate called, Eco-Complete.
<Fine.>
I have 2 questions, I brought 2 Eheim Classic filters for this tank and have them set-up 1 on each end of the tank, also I am running the 2 hang on the back filters both rated for 55 gals. that were running on the old 55 gal. tank that I will leave on for 6 weeks till the Eheim filters have cycled, my first question is will the 2 Eheim filters be enough when I take off the hang on the back filters in 6 weeks?
<Which Eheim Classic filters? There are three models, the 2213, 2215, and 2217, with turnover rates of 116, 164 and 264 gallons/hour. For a 125 gallon tank, I'd recommend a turnover of 6 times per hour for medium sized
fish, i.e., a total of 6 x 125 = 750 gallons per hour. You could get by with less, down to 4 times per hour, i.e., 500 gallons per hour, but this is better for small fish, and bigger fish may create more mess than the filters can handle adequately well. In other words, two Eheim 2217 filters would be "just about" okay for a 125 gallon tank, but hardly generous. Two of the other two filters (the 2215 and 2213) would be, in my opinion, inadequate for a tank this big.>
From all I have read on your site I believe they will be but I would like someone on the crew to confirm this for me so I will sleep peacefully.
Second question is stocking, as I upgraded tanks I naturally brought more fish and I now have 6 Boesmani rainbows, 4 Turquoise rainbows, 2 angel fish, 1-3"reg. blue Gourami and 6 albino Cory catfish, in QT are 3
Denison's barbs and after 4 weeks I intent to get 3 more Denison's barbs.
QT is only a 20 gal. so can only keep 3 in there at a time. Then that will be the end of my stocking for the 125 gal. tank as I know each fish will grow to 5 or 6 inches. So..in your wise opinion, will I be overstocked?
<No.>
This is the first time I have written and I hope I have given you enough information, after all this time I don't want to make any mistakes that will make my fish unhappy or unhealthy. Your advice will be very much appreciated, thank you. Karen
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Upgraded to a 125 gal. FW tank, will 2 Eheim filters be enough?   12/18/09
Thank you Neale for your very quick response,
<Pleasure.>
sorry I did not include which Eheim filters I am using, they are the 2217's as the tank is 6 ft. long and I am keeping fish that like a nice current I thought having one on each end would make them very happy ( as they seem to be) all schooling from one end of the tank to the other, a beautiful site to behold.
<Indeed. Excellent filters. But even a pair of them will be at their limit filtering a 125-gallon system. It's worth reminding ourselves that the filtration rates on filters are calculated for when the filter contains clean media and is installed at the same level as the tank, not below it.
They also assume the tank is lightly stocked with small fish like Neons rather than Oscars or Goldfish. So while the best case scenario may suggest that such-and-such a filter is suitable for tanks up to X gallons, in real terms their performance will be substantially less.>
To be honest I did read that advise on one of Bob F's bits of wisdom :) I also was worried about the turnover as you have mentioned and probably will continue with this concern, I am faithful with my water changes, 25% each
week and feed lightly, Ocean Nutrition flakes with frozen blood worms and frozen mystic shrimp a few times per week. So I am hoping this will help with the lower turnover.
<Could well be fine. These are excellent filters and you can cram a lot of biological media into them. Will depend very largely on the size, types of fish being kept and how messy they are. Oftentimes it isn't water quality
(i.e., ammonia/nitrite) that cause problems, but water clarity (i.e., silt, solid waste, etc.).>
I could leave the 1 Marineland 280 filter running with the 2 Eheim filters if you feel this would provide a better environment for the fish. I would appreciate your thoughts on this.
<Within reason, the more filters, the better.>
The plants are all established over the last 2 years and consist of large java ferns..lots of java moss, Val and Anubias with some of the plants reaching almost to the top of the tank plus floating plants.
<Given this mix of plants, you might give some though to combining one or both of the canisters with a reverse-flow undergravel filter if you the quality and/or clarity of the water isn't consistently good. Apart from Vallisneria, none of these plants goes in the gravel, and Vallisneria (oddly enough) has quite a good track record in tanks with undergravel filters.>
So once again thank you, at this time of the year the whole crew and yourself give a special meaning to the spirit of giving. Hope your holidays are wonderful. Karen
<Thanks for the kind words. Have a happy Christmas yourself. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Upgraded to a 125 gal. fw tank, will 2 Eheim filters be enough?   12/19/09
Hi Neale, once again thank you for sharing your knowledge
<Happy to help.>
Your e-mail was very helpful and I will move my 2 Eheim filters from under the tank and place them level with the tank tomorrow so they can perform in the way they were built to perform, also I will read about a reverse-flow undergravel filter in combination with the 2 Eheim filters.
<Both good ideas.>
As always I learn something new and beneficial from your experience each time I log on online and go to my favorite site WWM to search or write with a question and have it answered so quickly. Thank you again and have
a very Merry Christmas. Karen
<Thanks for the kind words, and have a happy Christmas yourself. Cheers, Neale.>

Help!! filter stopped working Cascade 1000 canister & fluval 304   12/3/09
History: Installed successfully December 20th, 2008 in a standard turtle aquarium with two large turtles (Yup, they are filthy critters....) A few times since then I have completely removed and flushed the tank and pump/filter but did NOT change any medium (I know, bad bad bad... But I have bad luck at getting pumps to get going again, but still, I know, bad bad bad.)
<Indeed. Can't stress this too strongly: the instructions on filter maintenance provided by the manufacturer are there for a reason. As the filter media becomes clogged, and as gunk accumulates around the impeller, the motor has to work harder. Eventually there's a point where the motor can't work anymore, and the thing stops. At minimum every couple of months, you should take apart the filter, rinse the media, and also take care to clean the impeller as instructed in the manual.>
June 2009 departed for the summer, with neighbor coming in to feed turtles and add water. I returned on Thanksgiving, everything was working fine, turtles happy, tank reasonably clear..., so I removed entire filter setup
from aquarium in order to, yet again, flush the pump/filter. I started the flush (ie, at kitchen sink, with full sink of water and faucet going, as I had done in the past). It worked fine for a few minutes. I turned it off to answer the front doorbell. I returned to recommence the flush, and nothing happened, as if the motor had burned out, but there was no sound whatsoever before, then, nor after.
<Unlikely to have burned out when switched off. More likely air bubbles in the system accumulated somewhere. Disconnect the hoses, empty them into buckets, reconnect, prime the filter again (I'm old school and simply suck
the outlet pipe until I hear water flowing into the canister), wait until water has filled the canister and risen into the outlet pipe, shake the filter to move any bubbles, and then switch off.>
Also, I was worried about the possibility of burning out the motor, so I quickly turned it off, pulled everything apart, and (finally) cleaned everything, and put the filter together again, with no media whatsoever, just to test whether I could get it to turn on, at least. So I tried to turn it on, and again, nothing. I assume I have broken / burned out the
motor, but maybe there is a fuse that merely needs to be replaced? (Hoping so)
<There is a fuse in the plug that goes into the wall in most cases.>
or maybe there is a standard issue which you know about which I can somehow correct.
<Usually filters don't work because they haven't been primed properly. In other words, water hasn't been sucked through the whole system. A canister filter is ready when water fills the inlet pipe, the canister, and the outlet pipe; if you have a transparent outlet hose (preferable) you can see the water level in the outlet pipe: it should be the same as the aquarium water level. Remember, it's a siphon, just like your learned about in physics at school.>
At no time did the motor unit feel hot. At no time did the motor unit make any sound whatsoever. (This is such a silent motor, so actually, that may be the problem exactly, that since it is so silent, I had no idea I was burning out the motor). How can I replace the motor? I hate tossing everything if it is merely the motor that is broken.
<Both Cascade and Fluval filters are relatively cheap canister filters, and their track record when it comes to being fixed isn't good. While I've used Fluval filters many times without problems, neither of these brands comes close to Eheim in terms of longevity or availability of spare parts.
Essentially you get what you pay for: something made in China, or something made in Germany. This isn't to do down the budget options unfairly; as I say, I've used Fluval filters in the past and use one on one of my aquaria.
But you will find getting repairs or buying spare parts much more difficult. Fluval spares are sold, but less widely.>
I like to be earth friendly. And for the record, I have two fluval 304 canister pumps as well, which I cannot get to work. I have never gotten them to work, I had to get the Petco sales person to set them up for me (they were wonderful, and also, If they didn't, I wouldn't buy them, that is how bad I am at these things)
<See, I suspect you're using them wrongly. For one to break is unfortunate but happens... but to break three! That's a pattern.>
So when the filters needed to be cleaned, (so I cleaned them) I could not get them to work again. Currently I have a Cascade 700 which is my original pump (I never have trouble putting this together, priming it, or getting it going, what is the deal with the larger ones???), and which is the one I am using now for my turtles, although it is a bit undersized. In other words, I KNOW it is a problem with the user (me). I am looking for guidance on tricks of the trade/expert experience/common sense as well as instructions and sources for parts. Hopefully it is something simple that I am overlooking.
<Read the instructions.>
If not, I am praying that it is a fuse that can be replaced.
<Maybe.>
However I am not able to find information that is detailed enough to figure this out.
<Eh? Look at the plug; if there's a fuse inside it, replace it! Be sure to choose the right amp fuse though-- it's usually a very low amp, like a 3 A fuse that's needed.>
If not that, I hope I can replace the motor, with detailed instructions on how to get a new motor, how to get the old motor out, and how to put the new motor in. And while we are at it, any suggestions on my fluval 304s????
<Read the instruction manual, perhaps? Seriously. These units are difficult to operate if you don't read the booklet that comes with them. What I usually recommend to complete newcomers to the hobby is to set up the filter first time next to a bucket of water on a tabletop somewhere. That way you can see all the pipes and levers without having to crouch at odd angles under an aquarium cabinet. Set the thing up as instructed, prime the filter, and then switch the thing on. Easy. Once you've done it out in the open, doing the same thing under the aquarium is a lot easier.>
I really do not want to buy a 5th pump, no more money (darn economy...), when I KNOW the problem is me..... Thanks. DEC
<Cheers, Neale.>
This message and any included attachments are intended only for...
<These "legal" disclaimers always make me laugh, so thanks for sharing. In case you're wondering, they have no legal validity at all. They're just a waste of bandwidth.>

Eheim Ecco 2334 Filter, FW canister f'  9/22/09
Hi,
Our Eheim Ecco 2234 Filter doesn't seem to clean up debris in the tank.
There are tons of floating dead plant pieces (too small to be picked up by hand). The white filter pad was changed in the last week; the blue filter pad was changed in the last 6 weeks. What could be wrong?
thanks for your help!
<Canister filters don't really remove stuff from the surface of the water very well. Both Eheim and Fluval (and likely others too) make "surface skimmer" attachments that are supposed to help, but these are designed to remove the organic film at the surface, rather than plant debris. So the bottom line is that there's nothing wrong with your filter as such, it's merely that this type of filter can't do much about this sort of problem. The best approach is to simply use a net to skim away floating material.
Use one hand to push down any plants with leaves at the surface, and use the other hand to move the net through the water. It should only take a few minutes to clean most tanks this way. If you arrange the filter outlet so there's a spray bar along, say, the left hand edge of the tank, then most debris will collect on the opposite side, in this case the right hand edge.
This makes removing debris even easier. It's worth mentioning you don't really want this stuff going inside a canister filter: the more the mechanical media is clogged, the less water (and oxygen) flows through the
biological media, and so the less well the canister will remove ammonia and nitrite. Another point worth raising is that happy plants don't generally shed many leaves. If you have a lot of dead leaves, it may be your plants are stressed: not enough light, the wrong temperature, poor substrate, and so on. Non-aquatic plants (which cover, unfortunately, many of the cheap aquarium plants sold by some retailers) obviously just die underwater, while some plants, particularly Cryptocoryne spp., will (sometimes) shed their leaves when move from one tank to another. But on the whole, if you really do have "tons" of dead leaves in your tank, you may have a bigger problem than you think. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Eheim Ecco 2334 Filter -- 9/22/09
Thank you so much! The plant loss is due to an ich/velvet treatment we are nearly through with (salt and covering the tank with a blanket--no light).
<I see. Well, once the plants recover, the problem should fix itself. Scoop out the dead material now, and in the future, leaf loss should be far, far less. Cheers, Neale.>

Too much filtration  8/8/09
Adding Big Filter to Clean Tank
I have a 180 gallon, planted, fresh water aquarium. The tank contains 17 full size Discus, some Plecos.
Otos and Cory cats. Equipment includes CO2 injection system, Proclear 300 wet/dry filter with prefilter, ocean clear 300 filter. Water temp 85/86 Ph 6.0 TDS 100.
I have a Fluval XL that I want to add to this configuration. My reason is to help improve my water clarity. There always seems to be some very fine suspended matter which prevents the tank from being crystal clear.
The xl would be filled with Eheim Substrat pro. This filter would pull water from the bottom and hopefully remove more suspended matter. Now here is my main concern. Is there such a condition as to much filtration and what would be the impact of the various biological colonies. If I eliminate all the waste what would these colonies feed on.
Any thoughts you might have to permanently improve the water clarity would be greatly appreciated. Henry Dylewsk Sparta NJ
PS Great site!!!!!!!!!!
< Thank you for your kind words. Sounds like your tank may be heavily planted. Plants will remove all nitrogenous wastes at any level, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. This means that these wastes are not available for the biological bacteria to utilize. If you did a water quality check you may see that they don't exist or are at very low levels. Adding the FX will probably not affect the biological filtration because much of it is being
handled by the plants anyway.-Chuck>

Eheim 2028 media setup   3/13/09
Hi
I have a 4" Red Eared Slider in a 30 Gal tank about 1/3rd full of water.
The filter is a Eheim 2028. I am wondering what the best media set up is for a turtle.
I have an Eheim pre-filter on the intake - this catches lot of the large gunk. In the filter I have the following
Lowest Basket
Coarse Filter Pad
EHFI Mech
Middle Basket
Coarse Filter Pad
EHFI Substrat Pro
Top Basket
EHFI Substrat Pro
Fine Filter Pad (EHFI Synth)
I have been adding Seachem Stability to promote bacterial growth (1/2 cap every day and with water changes)
Do I need Activated Carbon / Purigen in the setup. Would Seachem Matrix offer any advantage bio media in the Top Basket.
Thanks a lot for your help
Amit
<Greetings. The short answer is that mechanical and biological filtration are the order of the day here. So any of the media you have should work well. Because turtles are so messy, particularly when they get bigger, and also because they are primarily herbivorous, so are producing a lot of solid waste in the form of undigested plant material, mechanical filtration is the key to keeping the water silt-free. You'll likely need to give all the media a good rinse every 2-3 weeks. The pre-filter and a coarse sponge should catch the worst of the gunk, but still, expect to rinse the ceramic media quite regularly too. Cheers, Neale.>

Eheim Filter Maintenance, cleaning an eheim 2215!   3/3/2009 Hi WWM Crew, <Hi Peter.> I come to you because after searching the web, all the tropical fish forums, and even German translated sites, I need final confirmation on how to properly clean my Eheim canister filter 2215. <Ahh, das ist nicht ein Problem mein Freund (Sorry, I couldn't resist. :-))> I have had my 55 gallon tank for a year and a month, and my trusty Eheim filter has been running for that entire time. I'm planning a bit of a renovation to my planting and noticed that the stream of water from the trusty old filter is running a little slower then it used to. <Yikes, it hasn't been cleaned in over a year? I'm surprised it is flowing at all.> I have checked on line and there are about a hundred different answers to how to properly clean the canister. <Everyone has their own opinion, including me, but what I describe has worked well for me.> Some say to never replace the sponges or filter material, some say to replace half, some say I should have cleaned it 6 months ago, and some say I shouldn't have to clean it for years. <Canister filters should be cleaned every two weeks to one month maximum.> So I come to you, WWM crew to please steer me in the right direction. How do i PROPERLY clean my Eheim 2215? <You will need the following: 1. Large container of dechlorinated water about the same temperature as your tank 2. Paper towels 3. Sink or basin with hot water supply 4. Bottle brushes 5. New filter pads: If you have trouble finding them, I get them on line here, they have about any Eheim part you could want: http://www.shop.trilbytropicals.com/category.sc;jsessionid=3AED190AF9246B28E 441190C67A0AAEF.qscstrfrnt04?categoryId=60 6. Bucket 7. Towels Steps: 1. Turn the filter off. 2. Put the filter in the bucket (Have towels ready to catch spills) (Step 3 assumes you do not have the quick disconnect valves on your intake and discharge hoses) 3. Disconnect the intake tube and the spray bar from the hoses, put them aside, hold your thumb over the end of the hose and put the hoses in the bucket with the filter. 4. Carry your bucket full of filter and water somewhere you can let it drain. 5. Once it is drained, disconnect the hoses and open up your filter. 6. Discard the filter pads. 7. Rinse your biological filtration medium (Ehfisubstrat or Ehfisubstrat Pro) in the dechlorinated water 8. Rinse any coarse filtration medium (like EhfiMech) in water 9 Rinse out the canister itself in hot water, wipe the inside clean with paper towels 10. Use the bottle brushes to clean out the hoses and intake and discharge ports of the filter. 11. Remove the impeller cover, CAREFULLY remove the impeller and ceramic shaft - rinse and wipe these down 12. Clean the impeller housing. 13. Inspect any o-rings or gaskets for damage\wear, replace as necessary 13. Refill the canister filter with your filter medium, new filter pads, and your rinsed biological medium 14. Restart the filter according to the instructions. 15. Repeat this procedure every two weeks to one month. Once you get in a cycle, change your fine filter pad every time you clean the filter, change the coarse pad every other cleaning, rinse it out the times you do not change it.> Much gratitude. <My pleasure> Peter <Mike>

Air trapped inside of canister filter   2/4/09 Hello there! Thanks in advance for taking a look at my question. It's just a minor problem, but is rather annoying, so any tips you can offer would be greatly appreciated. I seem to have air trapped in my canister filter. It's an Eheim 2235 - the Ecco series, which has a carrying handle that also primes. I have shone a flashlight at the translucent green case, and can see what's happening - the intake is generating a vigorous ripple of water, and the bubbles make their way around the outside of the circular baskets, between the baskets and the case. I believe it's the bubbles which are causing the noise I am hearing. At first I thought it was a bit of Ehfisubstrat (which does get crumbly after a while) caught in the impeller housing, since it is making sort of a grinding sound. Now I am fairly certain that it's just the sound of air being sucked in, like when you try to get the last bit of milkshake out with a straw. I have already tried rocking the filter, have primed and reprimed a few times already, taken the filter all apart and put it back together again - to no avail. My hunch is that I have an air leak somewhere, so I tried greasing the O rings with Vaseline, hoping that would help. So far, nothing has worked. Am I missing something? Thanks so much! All that you do is very much appreciated. I am a regular contributor at the forum, and am happy to see it really starting to take off! Nicole <Hello Nicole. Air gets into a canister filter in three ways. The first is air bubbles in the aquarium itself. If you have anything that makes a fine mist of bubbles, these can carry around the tank and end up being sucked into the inlet pipe. Here they get carried into the canister, and tend to collect around the impeller, which is where the knocking noise comes from. The second way is leaky (or at least insufficiently tightened) seals on the hoses connecting the canister to the aquarium. I find that mostly these leak if that happens, so you spot the problem quickly, but if the leaky seal is the one connecting the inlet pipe (the long, stiff tube that sticks into the tank) to the bendy hose, it's possible for the leak to dribble into the aquarium, so you don't see the leak. But there's still a break in the pipe work, and air can seep in. Thirdly, if you put the canister together the wrong way after cleaning it, air can get stuck inside the canister, and again, it rattles around inside the impeller. In your case, if you're finding that bubbles in the water column are being sucked into the filter, the only fix is to stop that happening. There's no real advantage to having bubbles in the water. They *do not* oxygenate the water to any significant degree. They look nice, but that's it. Arrange the filter so that the spray bar is just under the surface of the water. You'll get rippling at the surface, which increases its surface area, helping gaseous exchange, but without any bubbles. Oxygenation in an aquarium depends not on bubbles but circulation, a point easily misunderstood. Canister filters work so well because they take water from the bottom of the tank and push it out the top, ensuring optimal circulation. The production of bubbles is neither here nor there. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: air trapped inside of canister filter  2/5/09 Hi Neale! Thanks for all your help. <Nicole,> I don't have airstones in the tank. I, too, have spent time explaining in detail that "it's not the bubbles that oxygenate the water" - but most people seem to think I'm daft! The other day I was trying to convince an older gentleman that undergravel filters are actually more efficient with powerheads. Not sure I won that one, but at least I spoke my piece. <You can take a mule to the water, but you can't make it drink...> I am not sure what finally fixed it, but I guess third time's a charm! I took it apart and put it back together for the third time, this time greasing *all* the seals, including the inlet and outlet. Hopefully I won't have to clean this for a couple months (the tank has a fairly low bioload and already has a workhorse of a filter on the other side) since it seems like it's going to be fussy from now on. I got it used at a sweet deal ($40, including S&H, costs $120 new) so I guess I can't complain too much! <A good filter at a great price. To be honest, of all the canisters I've owned, the Eheim ones have seemed to be the most prone to getting bubbles trapped in the wrong places. Since they're also the filters that run the longest with the fewest problems, I figure that's an acceptable flaw. Usually the bubbles can be removed, it's just fiddly.> Since I have you reading this already, I can't help but run something by you - I hope you don't mind. Could you evaluate my stocking list and tell me if you think this will be tenable for a while? I had a spawn of kribensis in the tank, and it's so full of carefully placed decor that I am loathe to break it down to catch them. They are starting to get big (the largest is 1.5" already) and I am hoping that they'll all just get along since they are siblings. Anyhow, in a 55 gallon tank, I've got the following: 2 curviceps cichlids (believe they are both female) 2 adult kribensis - 1 male, 1 female 6 kribensis fry (there were at least 20 at some point, but I didn't do anything too special to raise them) 6 blue tetras 3 silver tip tetras - 1 male and 2 female (they school loosely with the blue tetras, I guess because they look similar) 4 diamond tetras (getting more, just lost one of my older ones) 1 bristlenose Plec <All nice fish. You're certainly not overstocked, even if you took each tetra species up to a half-dozen each. I can't see any problems with behaviour either. I would remove the surplus Kribs as and when you can, only because it's a good idea to minimise inbreeding.> I don't think I'm going to put any more new species of fish in there, except I will add some more tetras to make a larger school of each kind, especially the diamond and silver tip tetras. What worries me most is that 8 kribensis in a 4 foot, 55 gallon tank isn't going to be enough "floor space" - what do you think? <There may be a certain amount of friction, but it's important to remember they aren't pair-forming fish. In the wild they're polygamous, with males holding big territories with smaller female territories within it. That's why the males don't participate much in rearing the young, and the female usually pushes the male out immediately after spawning, for a few days at least. So provided you have a multiplicity of caves, Kribs will generally work out an arrangement, especially if you mostly have females and just one or two males (the ideal scenario). If the juveniles are all males, then you may have more problems. There's actually a lot of misinformation about Kribs in the hobby literature, for example implying that they form pairs (they don't, normally) and that they feed on insect larvae (in the wild, mostly algae and organic detritus). It's worth spending a bit of time reading up on this fascinating genus of fish. Do see a few of my thoughts here, for a start: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/pelmatochromis.htm> Thanks again very much for your help with this new query! I appreciate all your tips on the canister filter too, it was your suggestions that got me to reexamine the inlet and outlet. Something worked, and the filter is almost silent now. Hooray! Nicole <Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Eheim Filter and Aeration on new set-up 01/09/09 I have an Eheim 2234 canister filter on a 29 gallon aquarium. I just set-up the aquarium one week ago and it only has 3 black mollies while the water cycles. The mollies have been hanging around the surface of the water suck air. <This is something Mollies do in stagnant or poor water conditions. In nature it allows them to survive in warm pools and swamps. But in the aquarium, it's usually a sign of problems.> The filter did not seem to be getting any oxygen since both the intake and outtake tube were fully submerged. <Remember, the issue is circulation; the job of the filter is to suck water from the bottom (where there's little oxygen) and push it out at the surface (where the water can absorb oxygen from the air). The Eheim 2234 has ample turnover for a 29 gallon tank, so on paper at least things should be fine. In the intake obviously needs to be at the bottom of the tank, but the outlet should be positioned close to the surface of the water so that there is much ripping of the surface. You don't have to position the outlet above the waterline, but many people do, and the extra splashing helps dissipate carbon dioxide.> The outtake has a swivel on the end so I turned it upwards so that the water would move and it seemed to make the fish more active and move down. It is not clear in the instructions how the outtake tube is supposed to be located in the tank. <If you don't have a spray bar, get one. Attach the spray bar to the outlet hose. Position the spray bar along (say) the right hand side of the tank close to the surface and then place the inlet pipe at the opposite end of the tank (in this case the left hand side) with the inlet opening close to the substrate. It doesn't matter exactly how you do this, but you do want the inlet and outlet at opposite ends of the tank. When you look at the aquarium from above, you should see the water spraying out from the spray bar, either above the waterline as a series of little jets, or just under the waterline, as strong ripples. Again, doesn't matter much. If you want your aquarium to be silent, it's best to put the spray bar at or just below the waterline to minimise splashing.> Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Len <Cheers, Neale.>

Canister Filter Recommendations  9/17/08
Good Morning Crew
<Hello,>
Thank you once again for all you folks do for the hobby. Per your Recommendation i am setting up a reverse flow under gravel filter for my 70 gallon freshwater community tank. I have a couple of questions on the best way to set this up.
<Fire away.>
The filter plates are 48 x 18 with two lift tubes. I will be splitting the output from the canister filter to the lift tubes.
<Correct; a single uplift is fine for anything up to about two square feet; beyond that you need multiple uplifts.>
What flow rate will i need for this?
<Good question. Because the filter has to work a bit harder -- it's pushing water through some gravel now, as well as its own filter media -- be generous in your allowances. I'd be looking at 6x the volume of the tank in turnover per hour rather than the usual baseline of 4x.>
I have been looking at the Eheim Pro 3E which has a adjustable flow rate or the Fluval 305.
<Adjustable flow rates don't make much sense in most tanks, so they're not a feature I'd pay for. You want full flow, all the time! The Eheim Pro 3E 2076 is rated at 435 gallons per hour, and the Eheim Pro 3E 2096 is rated at 490 gallons per hour. In other words, I'd consider the Eheim Pro 3E 2076 adequate for tanks up to ~70 gallons, and the Eheim Pro 3E 2096 to about ~80 gallons. The Fluval 305 is rated at 260 gallons per hour, making it suitable for tanks up to ~45 gallons.>
Which would be better.
<Given your tank, either of the Eheim filters, or really anything else rated at 400-500 gallons per hour. Eheim filters are slightly more expensive than your mass-produced Chinese filter, but they're rather better made and durable, as you'd expect from the Germans. You might also consider a couple of "Classic" Eheim filters, like the 210 gallon per hour 2217 model; a pair of these, one at each end, would do a fantastic job, and you'd have two different "sucking" ends, which should keep your water really clean. Having two filters spreads the load in terms of maintenance too; you can disconnect one filter to clean it, knowing that the other filter will take up the slack for a while.>
Would it help to plumb in a bypass line with a valve feeding into the tank to help control the flow going into the lift tubes.
<I'd keep things simple: a y-splitter somewhere along the output, connecting to the two uplifts, should do the trick.>
Thanks again for your help. Note that i am also using a Emperor 280 for additional flow and filtration.
<I'd not factor that filter into anything. Set it aside as a filter for stocking with, for example, chemical media such as peat (if you have soft water fish) or crushed coral (if you have hardwater fish). Maybe fill it with filter floss to remove silt. Because that filter isn't doing anything with bacteria, you can clean and change the peat, coral, carbon, floss or whatever as required. This makes your life so much easier, and you have total control over both water quality and water chemistry, without worrying about any one filter being compromised by doing two or more jobs. If you look at marine tanks, you'll see this approach is pretty well standard now. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Canister Filter Recommendations  9/18/09
Thanks again Neale
<My pleasure.>
If i ever make it across the big pond i got to buy you a pint or two.
<Cheers!>
One more quick question. if i ever decide to change this over to a saltwater tank will this filtration system work as is.
<Absolutely! Bob Fenner writes about them in his 'Conscientious Aquarist' book at some length. While I don't think you'd use one as the SOLE method of filtration, coupled with live rock and a skimmer, a reverse-flow undergravel system will work very well for a basic system. There are pros and cons to be sure, so see here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/ug5proscons.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/u_gfiltmarfaqs.htm
If you're planning such an upgrade down the line, do bear in mind that turnover rates in marine tanks need to be substantial; even 10x the volume of the tank isn't out of line. You may decide spending another $50 on two really big canisters now will save you a bunch more money down the line.>
Thanks again.
<Happy to help, Neale.>

Filter Changes... Eheim, FW, maint.   8/26/08 Hello! <Ave,> I have a new Eheim outside filter. Unfortunately, the instructions do not say how often to change the Substrat or the mech, or the blue filter. <No set time really, as every tank is different. The biological filter media (things like ceramic noodles and sponges) should be fine for many weeks, even months, between cleans. I'd recommend starting with a 6-week cycle, i.e., every 6 weeks open the filter and give the sponges and ceramic noodles a good rinse in AQUARIUM WATER (not under the tap). They don't need to be spotlessly clean, all they need is for any solid material, such as bits of dead plant, to be rinsed off. Mechanical filter media, such as floss, should be cleaned at least as often, and it's sometimes best to replace rather than clean this stuff. Depends on your tank and, frankly, your budget. I have better things to do with my money, so I tend to take the time to deep clean filter floss and other mechanical media as far as possible. Mechanical media only works if it is reasonably clean, as the point to this stuff is to capture silt from the water, and dirty media won't do that. Finally, chemical media will very likely need to be replaced periodically. Carbon needs replacing once or twice a MONTH to do any of the stuff people think it does. I don't use carbon, and consider it redundant in most freshwater systems. Likewise ammonia remover (zeolite) will need to be replaced regularly. This is completely redundant in most tanks, but if you have a niche application such as a hospital tank, then you'll need to replace it sufficiently frequently that you never detect ammonia (likely every 1-2 weeks depending on the stocking level and the size of the filter).> I have been changing the white filter every week. Could you give me some advice? <Is this the mechanical filter media? I think so. See above.> Thanks. Susanne <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Filter Changes  8/26/08 Thanks so much! <More than welcome.> The fish appear to be doing fine. My aquarium has 240 liters (just over 60 gallons). <A good size; half the battle one. Big tanks are easier to maintain than small tanks.> My main concern is to keep my fish happy and healthy. The last thing I want is my fish to suffer as a result of my ignorance on how to properly care for them. Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. <Hmm... specific questions I can answer, but this is a bit broad! Would suggest picking up a good book and reading it cover to cover. If you do things by the numbers, it's quite an easy and relaxing hobby! http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bookswwmsugg.htm > Susanne <Cheers, Neale.>

Fluval 305/405 Questions 07/28/2008 Hello Wet Web Crew, Happy Mid-Summer to you all. <And to you.> We have a community 115 gallon tank with 50 fish, swords, mollies, Corys, guppies. Salinity is 1.002. Our filtering is 1 Fluval 305, 1 Fluval 405, and a UGF using 3 Aquaclear 70's (802). We change water once or twice a week to total 40-50%. Parameters are normal. <OK.> Question, please, on the mechanical sponge filters in the Fluvals. We now wash them in tap water/rinse/repeat each water change. They look ok, but smell very 'pond water' like. In a good way, not a dead fish way. We strive to keep the nitrates under control, which is a concern in this tank. About the mechanical sponge filters, it comes down to this: Are we ok with our method and the pond smell, or should we clean further by one of these means? (A) Soak in 3% solution of bleach, let dry, rinse, re-use. (B) Wash/rinse in tap water, no bleach, let dry, reuse. Either (A) or (B) would require two sets of sponges so one set can be in use while the other one dries. The common result of (A) or (B) would be drying the sponge. Does drying kill nitrates with or without the bleach? <Would tend to eschew bleach in favour of hydrogen peroxide if possible. H202 breaks down to water and oxygen quickly, so while a good cleaning agent, it has the benefit of being relatively non-toxic, at least after rinsing. Bleach can be safe if thoroughly rinsed, but even small amounts left in a sponge could be toxic. To be honest though, I'd not worry about the smell of the sponges. All I do is rinse mine until the water that squeezes out of them is clear. While canister filters are sometimes called "nitrate factories", that has to be put into context. They don't create nitrate out of thin air, but out of the nitrogen compounds in the aquarium, i.e., food and decaying organic material. Water changes and tank cleaning should keep this down, and the presence or absence of canister filters won't have any great impact either way. Where they look bad is by comparison to systems that incorporate denitrification, for example living rock in marine tanks. Living rock performs both nitrification and denitrification, so by comparison lowers nitrate levels as well as eliminates ammonia and nitrite. As and when filter sponges get so clogged up you can't clean them, replaced them, but no more than 50% in a 6 week period.> Next Q: How often should the inlet/outlet hoses to the Fluvals be removed and cleaned? <As often as you want.> May a mild solution of bleach in water be used so long as the hoses are rinsed thoroughly? <Yes, but with the same caveat as above. There are "hose cleaning" tools available, basically similar to bottle brushes but on a longer stem.> We have a lot of crud blowing into the tank after rinsing all media and changing water in the Fluvals and tank. We think it comes from the hoses as air moves through the hoses on the siphon re-fill. <Your analysis is correct.> Next Q: Does the ceramic media need to be replaced at a certain interval? We hear it lasts forever from hobbyists; and that it lasts 1 year from Hagen. We beat it to death swirling/banging it around in a bucket of tank water to clean it once a week. Does this method de-clog the ceramic pores? <Again, I wouldn't worry too much. Certainly a practical lifespan is measured in years, although quite possibly you get best results by replacing some (50%) a year. Over time the surface area decreases as the crevices (at a microscopic level) get irredeemably clogged with silt and detritus. So after 5 years, the media might only have some percentage of its initial surface area. But in practical terms this never seems to be a major problem, at least not in periods of, say, ten years. I do find that cleaning filter media regularly (4-8 weeks) makes it easier to maintain media in a good state, but I know many experienced aquarists who insist that canister filters are best left alone for as long as possible, and only clean them when water flow obviously drops. Such people maintain clean tanks with relatively large canister filters though; folks who use the smallest canister filter for their busy aquarium are likely to see water pressure drop very rapidly.> One hint for others on fry: The community fish are producing an incredible number of fry. We found that by leaving the Fluval intakes open, we save fry to raise. They are sucked into the Fluval and found in the bucket each week. We save as many this way as we do using plastic grass mats for them to hide in. They also have a supply of food coming through the filter. They go into our fry tank and survive the filter experience. <Thanks for the tip!> Many thanks in advance. Don and Rosemary <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Fluval 305/405 Questions -- 07/28/08 Neale, Many thanks, yours answers are always to the point, efficient, and make sense. We are most grateful for your expertise and help. Cheers, Don and Rosemary <Glad I was able to help. Happy fishkeeping! Neale.>

Problems with Fluval filter 7/4/08 Hello <Hello> I am having problems with my Fluval filter for my turtle tank! I change it as usual and I have done this for like 6 months now, no problems, well last night, the filter is not priming and sending water back into the filter to fill up properly. <Is this a sudden change?> I have checked and re-checked hose connections, interior of filter, properly installed filter media, etc... I don't know why the water is not being taken in when primed and filling up canister?? The motor seems fine as well, I am frustrated! Any suggestions would be appreciated, Ro- <Short of any obstructions (in the tubing, impeller, media, etc.), you may need to replace the rotor/impeller of the filter. Over time (years), the magnet can lose strength, requiring replacement. Do try cleaning the impeller/rotor and the area it sits in thoroughly with vinegar first. Scott V.>

Re: Problems with Fluval filter 7/4/08 Thank you, I will try that. Ro- <Welcome, Scott V.>

Canister filter preference  6/26/08 Hi, <Wyatt> Excellent site, great source for reference. I have been researching canister filters for some time now and am looking for advice or opinion concerning which filter is most suitable for my tank. I have a 46 gallon bow front, lightly planted with driftwood, filtered by an Emperor 280 power filter and a tetra whisper in-tank filter (20i). Currently, I only have a small mixture of shrimp in the tank, so the bioload is small. I am planning to maximize the plant growth in my tank, and I believe a canister filter may help me do so. <Agreed> I am running an AquaLight compact fluorescent fixture (192 watts, 6700K), with a mixture of SeaChem's Fluorite substrate and natural gravel (majority Fluorite with solid Fluorite bottom 2 inches). I next plan on taking on the co2 aspect of my tank. <Ahh!> Power filters are great for oxygenating the water, but in doing so they take out the much needed co2 in my tank. I was considering a canister filter because I can control surface disturbance, and the water isn't exposed to air, and therefore oxygen, throughout filtration. I could also use the out-take for more efficient co2 dissolution as well. The hang on the back power filters are also an eyesore, and the canister filters attract me for their numerous filtration capabilities. Now to my actual question, after researching filters, I think I have narrowed it down to the Rena Filstar XP3, and the Hagen Fluval 305. The XP3 is rated at 350 GPH, while the 305 is rated at 260 GPH. It seems that Eheim has a reputation for being the best, yet their filters seem underpowered. <Mmm, not so. Eheim has many fine filters of varied capacity> The EHEIM 2236 Ecco filters 185 GPH, yet it is rated for tanks up to 80 gallons. That seems underpowered especially considering the fact that that rate will be reduced by media within the filter. A filter with the equivalent GPH rating for a different brand might be suggested for tanks half the size of the aforementioned. Their seem to be numerous discrepancies between brands. I do not want to overdo it as far as filtration goes, but I do want the ability to take on a larger bioload in the future, should I choose to do so. I am also concerned about the current that these filters might produce. I do not want an overpowering current in my planted tank, yet I want sufficient filtration. Which canister filter do you suggest? Thanks, Wyatt <My absolute choice is the Eheim line... Is what I use, have used for forty some years... Very quiet, energy efficient, dependable, powerful... Other manufacturers have tried to "catch up"... like Intel and AMD... they're not quite there. I would go with Eheim for sure. Bob Fenner>

Fluval Filter Media, Water Polishing, Carbon/Chemi-Pure 4/13/08 Hello WWM gang, Thank you for your great site, wishing you a happy spring. We have a 125 gallon community tank with 40-45 fish (Corys, swords, mollies, platys). We operate a Fluval 405 and a Fluval 305 and a UG. We change water 2x weekly (25% each time, with a UG vacuum and Fluval clean). Our water is clear, parameters are fine (we do have to watch nitrates). Questions specific to 'filter wool' in the Fluvals and question on use of carbon vs. 'Chemi-Pure' product. <Neither critical to freshwater fishkeeping, so use whichever you want. I personally consider both a waste of time/money compared with good quality biological media and generous water changes. Compared to these two things, any carbon or equivalent product has a tiny, tiny impact on water quality.> After the Fluval first stage sponges, in our lower basket we always use 'filter wool' as a fine mechanical filter and change it weekly. We use charcoal in the next basket up (monthly change) and then two baskets of bio-max ceramic rings (Fluval 405) and one basket of rings (Fluval 305). <So far pretty normal.> Fluval says to place filter wool in the bottom basket, and that makes sense to filter particles so they do not clog the ceramics. <Yes; about the only thing that really matters with a canister filter is that the biological media should never become completely clogged with silt. A bit of silt won't do any harm, but if you see the water flow visibly dropping to less than half its normal rate, you have a potential problem with insufficient O2 getting to the bacteria.> Fluval says to buy their "polishing pads" and place in the upper basket (meaning after the ceramics if this procedure is followed). Are we doing the same "polishing" the water thing by using 1" thick inexpensive filter wool in the bottom basket only? <Pretty much yes. Provided the biological media (the ceramic noodles or sponges) stay relatively clear, then you can use whatever you want as the pre-filter. My filters containing nothing more than generic filter wool for the pre-filter and either the original sponges or good quality ceramic noodles as the mechanical and biological media.> Is the Fluval product (we have not seen it) a finer filter material than the generic filter wool? Do we accomplish the same thing by folding the wool into a thicker bundle? <Better to use a thinner layer you change more often, because too much will reduce the flow of water. But in any case, experimentation and observation will provide all the answers you need.> Does the filter wool need to fill the entire basket, or is one inch in the bottom of the 3" tall basket OK? <A thin layer should be fine.> Do we need to add a Fluval "polishing pad" to the top basket or can we stay with our method? <Your method is fine provided [a] the water quality is good (i.e., zero ammonia/nitrite) and [b] the biological media doesn't clog up too fast.> Carbon/Chemi-Pure: Your site advice in most FAQs says dump carbon and fill with ceramics; but also suggests in other FAQs using Chemi-Pure in place of carbon. <There's a difference of opinion among some of us as to the value of Carbon (and equivalent products). I'm very much anti-carbon in freshwater tanks. For a start, it's benefits are trivially small compared with water changes. So it removes "organics" from the water. Fine. So does a 50% water change each week, at lower cost, and with the added benefit of removing nitrate too. Carbon stops the water going yellow. Great. So do water changes. And so on. The big negatives to carbon are that it is [a] expensive over the long term when used such that it "works" at all, i.e., 100% changes of carbon on a 2-4 week basis; and [b] it removes medications from the water. This latter has resulted in the deaths of goodness knows how many fishes that people treated for Ick or whatever and then were surprised when their fish kept getting sick.> First, should we forget carbon and Chemi-Pure altogether and opt for more ceramics? If the answer is 'maybe', what are the deciding factors? <I would.> If answer is more ceramics, please answer this Q anyway: Chemi-Pure specs say it lasts 4-6 months. Is this true? <Highly doubtful. All these sorts of estimates of chemical media longevity depend upon the context. In an under-populated tank receiving massive, regular water changes then perhaps yes, this sort of estimate can reflect reality. But in the average tank with lots of fish getting lots of food and relatively modest water changes, I'd be highly surprised if the chemical media really worked that well. Chemical media manufacturers rely on the fact that you can't possibly test their products and pull them up on it. How do you know when the media is "full"? What test would you use? They could be selling you dried macaroni and it wouldn't make any difference -- you're getting a product that you can't observe working, can't measure its efficacy, and can't tell if its doing nothing at all! No wonder they love to sell the stuff!> If so, what is this material and how is it different from carbon/charcoal? <In practical terms, very little. Chemi-Pure contains chemicals that (are said to) remove a few inorganic pollutants including phosphate. Given that phosphate isn't a toxic chemical in freshwater tanks receiving regular water changes, this is more a marketing gimmick than anything else. You should always remember that this stuff is mostly just charcoal, and costs virtually nothing to make. The profit margins are terrific, and hence aquarium hardware manufacturers are obviously keen on selling the stuff. Back in the old days when people avoided doing water changes, carbon served a useful role removing tannins and organic acids from the water. Without it, tanks often looked rather yellow. But in this enlightened age, it's redundant, and nothing carbon does isn't better done with a 25-50% water change at the weekend.> Cheers, thanks! Rosemary <Cheers, Neale.>

Canister filter set up -03/27/08 Good afternoon, I'm in the (now frustrating!) process of setting up a canister filter (OTTO 450G) for my new aquarium. I've got everything seemingly ready but it keeps just pumping water into the filter but not pushing it out. I've hunted around a bit and read through the manual but it seems I'm doing the right thing (Which I obviously am not). I've filled the filter with water by syphoning it full with my 'IN' hose but when I turn both hoses to the 'on' position and plug it in they both suck water. I've tried differing combinations of empty and full hoses (To attempt to avoid suction) but no water ever seems to leave! Thanks for your time <If you've never set up a canister filter before, or not one of this type at least, I'd heartily recommend doing a dummy run by the kitchen sink. Fill the sink first. Put the in and out pipes into the sink, prime the filter (e.g., by sucking water into the filter) and then switch it on. This'll let you check that everything is working properly without the awkwardness of an aquarium cabinet to get in the way. What you're looking for is to check that [a] you have the taps set to the "open" position and that you have [b] properly primed the filter. It is very easy not to do both -- done this many times! Once you have the thing working by the sink, switch it off and move the filter to the aquarium (empty it of water as best you can, but a little chlorinated water in the filter or pipes won't do any harm to the fish). Now you know how to configure the filter, setting it up again should be a breeze. Do remember that canister filters work at reduced efficiency when placed UNDER the aquarium, and if the distance between the canister and the tank is too great, the pump can't push the water up into the tank. This is the issue of "head pressure" and one reason you need a slightly bigger than expected filter when you put it underneath the aquarium and why small canister filters sometimes disappoint in terms of turnover. Cheers, Neale>

Re: Canister filter set up -03/27/08 Yeah, I've tried this and managed to get water flowing the right way but water still leaks (Glad it wasn't where my tank is set up, there're lots of bookshelves nearby!). I think it's a sealing issue perhaps? Thanks though. <If the filter is leaking, do check you have the seals on the canister and/or taps fitted properly. It is very easy to put the O-ring that seals the main chamber at the wrong "level" around the motor half of the canister, so when you push it into the receptacle part of the canister it doesn't make a good seal. Dust and kinks can cause similar problems, and rubber items more than a couple of years old can decay and may need replacing. This latter is especially true if the rubber item was used and then stored for a long period. Make sure the hoses are securely tightened around the taps and any other fittings. Take some time to establish where the leak is coming from: the taps, the canister itself, or someplace else. If all else fails and it is a brand new filter, you may want to take the thing into the store and replace it. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Filtration, FW  -03/27/08 Do you believe I could use eheim 2028 strictly for mechanical filtration and an emperor 400 for bio and chemical?. Tank is a standard 90 gallon with med load of cichlids. Thank you. <Provided the turnover of these filters when combined is at least 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, yes, this should work. So read up the turnover rates of those two filters, add them together, and then making allowances for overstocking, whether the canister filter is alongside or underneath the tank, etc. But dedicating an entire filter to mechanical filtration is pointless. 50:50 mechanical/biological media is ample. If you're keeping, for example, Tanganyikan cichlids, you need very good water quality to have any hope of success. Cheers, Neale.>

Filter Questions, FW    3/17/08 Hi, Everybody. This is my 1st time asking for your help directly, though I've been reading & learning from you folks for a year & a half. <Cool.> Thanks for all the great info! I have a 29g FW tank with 2 Blue Gouramis, 2 Pictus Catfish and 1 Blood Parrot waiting to be moved to a larger tank, either 90g or 120. <OK.> I have an Emperor 280 HOT and an Eheim ECCO 2234 for filtering. My very 1st question is; can I, or should I put something like EhfiMech in the bottom of the ECCO and still use the coarse filter pad and only the EhfiSubstrat Pro with the fine white filter pad and use the Emperor with its replacement filters and BioWheel with extra charcoal? <Use whatever mix of filter media you like, PROVIDED you understand what each one does and maintain it in an appropriate way. All filters need at least some biological media and some mechanical media, but chemical media are very much optional and depend on the situation. See here to save me spelling it out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfiltrmedart.htm For what it's worth, carbon is a waste of money/space in a freshwater aquarium.> Or remove the white filter pad in the ECCO and use filter floss with the replacement filters in the Emperor? The ECCO is new for me. <You can indeed use filter floss to replace filter pads once they are too dirty to clean.> I have an Eheim Pro II on my 35g hex (my Community Tank), which is terrific with another Emperor 280 and I see that the ECCO does not use EhfiMech. I just want to get this right. I had been using a Penguin HOT with the Emperor until I got my Blood Parrot, it's name is Penguin. But since she moved in, the HOT's can't keep up with the tank anymore. So I was given the ECCO. It's just temporary anyhow until I get the larger tank. <The ECCO filters are good.> Which brings me to more questions; choosing a filter for a 90-120g tank, I need some expert advice. What do overflows, sumps and refugiums do? <In a standard issue community freshwater tank, the answer is not much so don't worry about them.> Of course I want 1. what is most efficient and 2. easiest to maintain. <Provided a filter(s) gives you at least 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, and ideally 6 times, then what sort of filter you use doesn't matter much. Some are better in some situations than others, e.g., undergravels don't work well with plants. But beyond that, choose according to price, brand, convenience, ease of maintenance. Eheim filters have a very good reputation, so many folks consider them worth the little bit extra. But I've used all sorts of filters and rarely found them wanting.> And if all goes very well, I think I'll be brave enough to convert the 29g to saltwater. <Before you do anything else, buy a book about Marine fishkeeping and read it. While much is similar to freshwater fishkeeping, there's other things that are very different. Bob's 'Conscientious Marine Aquarist' book is very good and highly recommended.> Oh, and just a note: I have a gorgeous and very happy Betta, Purple, who lives in a 3g Eclipse in my kitchen where he is constantly showing off! He lives with 2 Dwarf African Frogs and has never seemed so content. <Good stuff.> My last quick comment; If you live with someone who is very shy, get a fish tank and have them help take care of it, or at least pick out the new inhabitants. This works great for my kids when people come to visit. It even grabs my hyperactive husband's attention! <Sounds like good advice to me! My experiences/observations concur with yours. Thanks for sharing.> Thanks millions! Jo Anne <Cheers, Neale.>

Canister filter and gravity feed  3/9/08 Thanks guys for all the useful info. I could not find this answer anywhere, so here goes. Setting up a 75g freshwater hex tank. The system is plumbed for reef ( 1.5" overflow and 2 x 1" returns) which is not optimal for my setup - angel, discus <Mmmm, there are some (good) reasons to not mix these...> and a few small friends. I'm understanding that a true sump/fuge would allow to much de-gassing. This will be a planted tank with Eco-complete or equivalent substrate. So the question - can I employ a canister filter (probably the new Marineland C series 360) using the gravity feed from the overflow and going back to the returns. Would this put additional "stress" on the o-ring seal in the canister ? <Won't be a problem.> It seems that it should just help increase flow rate thru the canister. The canister itself could sit in the unused sump in case of leak or o-ring failure. I'd prefer to keep all the plumbing, etc. hidden and not hanging off the back of the tank and this seems like an easy solution ( therefore: it wont work.... ). The canister, if used "normally", is supposed to do about 360gph. I would think this setup would increase that a little, but it should still be a decent flow rate for this size freshwater tank. Your insight, experience and general intelligence would be greatly appreciated. Greg <These tools are made sufficient to take the height of pressure, coming/going through the length/s of tubing supplied. No problem. Bob Fenner>

Question for canister fittings, FW     2/16/08 I have been trying for the past 2 weeks to get my new canister put on my 75 gallon tank. Well the place I bought it from said I needed to buy 2 1/2 x1/2 male threaded barbs that were pvc or nylon, I did but the barb end is to small and now is leaking even with the hose clamps. I went to several home improvement stores and all the plumbing places around and found I need a 5/8 barbed end the only ones they have are steel and brass ones. I have several expensive cichlids Would it harm my them if I used the brass fittings?? <I don't think you don't want to have any metal in contact with the water except stainless steel or titanium; other metals are too likely to corrode, and the dissolved metal ions can be toxic to the fish. I don't understand why your canister filter needs these attachments: all commercially available canister filters are sold with complete sets of pipes and fixtures, and these should work fine. If something is leaking or missing, you should either return the filter (if new) or else obtain spares via the manufacturer (if second hand). Cheers, Neale.> 

Canister vs. Hang-on, FW     01/13/2008 I have been looking at your site, and have seen filtration questions answered differently. My tank is a 30 gallon with a H.O.T.. Magnum and a double bio-wheel by Marineland. Not many fish as to an ammonia spike. I have a Fluval 304 and a Fluval 404 that I could use. My question is-Canister vs. Hang-On. Would I be better off using one of the canisters? Someone told me the Bio-Wheel is not a good choice, and others say it is. Could you please give me your opinion on this. Thank you for your time. <Greetings. There's no short answer to this: it's a case of "horses for courses". All things being equal, a tropical aquarium needs about 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour when small things like Neons and Guppies are kept; that goes up to about 6 times for larger fish such as Goldfish, and as much as 10 times for sensitive or mess creatures, such as big catfish, marines, Oscars, and so on. So a 100 litre aquarium with small fish needs filtration that equals at least 400 litres of turnover per hour. So far, so good. But not all filters excel at the same things. Canister filters are very good at mechanical filtration. Water is sucked in under pressure, forced through sponges or whatever, and then back into the tank. But because the canister is closed to the atmosphere the only oxygen it gets is through the water, and the bacteria can easily used up this supply as the water goes through the filter media. End result is that canister filters are less effective at biological filtration than filters that are open to the aquarium or open to the air, such as trickle filters or wet-and-dry filters. On the flip side, low-pressure trickle and wet-and-dry filters aren't so good at trapping solid waste. They don't generate much pressure, and the water doesn't pass through much mechanical filter media. Your hang-on-the-back filter is some sort of low-pressure filter, with a pump pulling water quite gently into the box where it sluices through chambers open to the air. That's great for biological filtration, but less good for mechanical filtration. The "ideal" is ultimately about choosing what your fish need most. If you're keeping Goldfish, then mechanical filtration is paramount, since these fish produce a lot of silt, partly as faeces, but also because they root about the bottom of the tank all the time. But if you were keeping marines, where tanks are lightly stocked but the livestock very sensitive to ammonia, then biological filtration is the prime issue. Realistically, provided you adhere to the 4x, 6x, or 10x rules outlined above, it shouldn't matter too much, but one idea to use two types of filter, so that you get the best of both worlds. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Hi! Questions about Eheim media... 1/6/2008 Hi! First off, thanks for all of the VERY helpful information on your site. I've been spending a lot of time researching things before I set up my newest freshwater aquarium, and your site has helped a great deal. Thank you! <You're welcome.> I have a new 90-gallon tank in my new home that has been waiting for me to have enough money to work on. I am finally ready to start. <Very good.> I've had two 10-gallon and a 29-gallon freshwater tanks before, and I loved them. I had very good success with them. But I was using Bio-wheel over-the-rim filters in them, and now since I am setting up a 90-gallon, I am going to be using my first canister filter. I'm a bit nervous about it :) <Don't be. Canister filters have improved dramatically over the years, and most are very easy to install and maintain. The two things to always have at hand are a bucket and a towel though, because even though modern filters come with taps and valves to prevent leaking, there's always a little water left behind that can get out. I highly recommend setting up your filter one time with the tubes stuck in a bucket of water. Do this in the kitchen or on the porch. Go through the process of setting up and then taking apart. It's much easier to learn this by practising first, than figuring it all out when the filter is wedged in a cabinet under the aquarium!> I purchased an Eheim Professional III model 2180 (the one with the heating element). I'm waiting for it to arrive, but I'd like your expertise on what kind of media I should fill it with. I've searched the FAQs and articles, and found that Bob recommends Eheim's Grob and Fein Flocken, but I am getting quite confused... <Every aquarist has favoured media, but the bottom line is they're all pretty good, and if you decide to buy according to budget and availability, you can't really go wrong. That said, there are a few brands that get the nod in terms of being that little bit better than the rest. But any such differences will be minor, and not the sorts of things that end up with dead fish!> First, the Eheim products all have non-US-friendly names to them... <German products, German names... I'd imagine most Germans find words like "Hummer" and "Pop Tart" pretty silly sounding, too! Anyway, the Ehfi- part of the name is some sort of standard prefix, like "Mc" at McDonalds. The second part of the name describes the media. So EhfiSubstrat is Eheim Substrate (='Substrat' im Deutsch) for biological media; EhfiTorf is Eheim Peat (='Torf'); and so on. In the same way McNuggets are McDonalds brand of mechanically-recovered minced chicken carcass shapes bound together with salt and skin.> second, the Grob and Fein Flocken is a little hard to find... and third, being that this is my first canister filter, I'd like your expertise on what I should fill it with, and just as important, in what order (from top to bottom). <This is quite easy to figure out. Look at the flow of water first. You put mechanical media (media to remove silt) in the first compartment(s), and biological media (media to remove ammonia) in the later compartment(s). The idea is you want to remove the silt before the silt suffocates the bacteria. Simple as that. Beyond this basic rule, you can pick and choose whatever you want.> I wouldn't waste your time if I didn't look throughout the FAQs already for a nice breakdown of what media you recommend in it and in what order. The info I found is kind of recommends products here and there, but what I'd find very helpful is if you could recommend something like: Top layer: Ehfi-ooga (this will trap large particles) Next layer: Ehfi-booga (this will do x) Next layer: Ehfi-oogey (this will do y) Bottom layer: Ehfi-boogey (this will polish) ...etc :) <I'd go with some sort of filter wool for the first compartment, coarse filter media for the second, and then the last two both biological filter media. Using Eheim products, that'd be something like EhfiSynth, EhfiMech, and then two lots of EhfiSubstrat (or EhfiSubstrat pro). But there's no need to restrict to just Eheim brands. Siporax filter media is at least as good for biological filtration, and filter wool is much the same whoever makes it, and the point to filter wool is that you CHANGE it regularly. If I was keeping clean fish (like tetras) then going with 1 x mechanical media and 3 x biological media would be possible. But if the fish are messy (like cichlids) then 2 x mechanical media and 2 x biological media is more sensible.> Thanks SO MUCH for your help and your continued service to the fish community. It's very much appreciated! - Chris <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Using a brand new filter on a seasoned tank 10/3/07 HI, <Hello,> I have a 75 gallon tank. I had a Eheim Filter that just decided to not run correctly no matter what we do new parts etc... <Too bad.> I went and got a new Fluval filter last night. The place I bought the filter told me to keep both filters running for about two weeks to get the bacteria into the new filter before I stop running the old filter. <Not the way I'd solve this problem. Much easier to simply take all the mature media from the old Eheim and put them into the new Fluval. Problem solved.> The problem is the old filter is blowing air, lots of air. It will run ok for 1/2 hour or so and then a big burst of air comes out in to the tank and needles to say a lot of micro bubbles with it. <Ah, seen this happen. It usually isn't the filter per se, but how the filter is set up. Air (obviously) can't magically get into a watertight filter. But if you configure the inlet (the "sucking" pipe) somewhere that gets air bubbles, those air bubbles get sucked into the filter. Certain canister filter designs don't handle this problem well, and the air bubbles collect at the top of the canister, often around the impeller (the spinning blades). Eventually the top of the filter gets so full of bubbles that some bubbles break away and go into the outlet stream of water. There's usually a lot of rattling noise as well. Anyway, the solution is to re-jig the position of the filter inlet. You also need to take great care you are reassembling the filter properly, such that you aren't trapping air inside the canister to begin with.> It is stressing the fish out, they run for their lives (so to speak) when this happens. Last night I had both filters running but the fish started to stress out swimming fast and changing color ect.... <Hmm. Can't really imagine it's doing them much harm. Compared with, say, heavy rain or ocean waves, a filter blowing bubbles is pretty trivial.> My question is, is it ok to just run the new filter alone, is there anything I should do to the filter, what is the correct thing to do. <As above, take the media from the old filter and install in the new.> I have both filters off right now, <No! Never, ever switch off a filter. Anything more than, say 20 minutes, can kill the bacteria.> also could the fish have stressed out do to the two filters running could this be to much filtration for a 75 gallon tank at one time. <Not a problem. Aquarium fish will tolerate as much as 10 times the volume of the water in turnover per hour. It is very difficult to have too much filtration. Compared with the flow of a river, filters are insipid trickles.> The fish were so stressed that I have both filters off right now and this calmed them down. <They get used to it. My freshwater tank has ~10 the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. It took the fish an hour or so to get used to the extra water movement when I installed the third filter, but they're fine now.> I will wait for your response until I do anything with the filter. Thanks in advance for your help. Deb <Hope this helps, Neale>

75 gallon FW canister filter advice   9/12/07 Good evening; I have learned so much from this site, saying "thank you" seems cheap... but thank you for all your knowledge and help!!!! <No need to feel cheap. There's a tip jar on the front page.> I have a 75 gallon freshwater tank (3 years running) with the following livestock: 2 "Colombian catfish" (10 inches each - eventually going to brackish), 1 Hypostomus plecostomus (my hypothesis, 10 inches), 1 silver dollar (2.5 inches), and 1 black ghost knife (11 inches). <Almost certainly not H. plecostomus, which doesn't get traded much (at all?) these days. More probably some species of Pterygoplichthys, such as Pt. pardalis. Potentially reaches around 45-50 cm (~18 inches) so plan ahead. As you say, the Colombian sharks -- Sciades seemanni -- need brackish water. They aren't fussy about salinity, since they move around estuaries constantly, but something upwards of SG 1.005 seems to bring out the best in them.> I have only rock and driftwood, no plants. <Silver dollars would eat the plants anyway.> As you may guess, there is a lot of waste going through this system and it's all I can do to keep up with my poor Whisper 5 hanging filter. <Agreed. Hang-on-the-back filters really only make sense on tanks containing small tropicals, like tetras and Corydoras. Once you start getting fish that produce a lot of solid waste, you need something pressurised that creates much more suction. This is where canister filters come into their own.> It's time to upgrade to a canister, but there are a few important things I don't fully understand; I have heard a lot of people recommend both Fluval and Eheim, but what else BESIDES the canister filter (and its media) are needed? <Nothing. Some folks like to combine canisters with undergravel filters to create a reverse flow filter. Since you're not growing plants, this would be a good option. What these filters are is a system where the canister filter sucks in the water, passes it through a series of mechanical filter media (floss, sponges, etc.) and then pumps the water out into the undergravel filter. The water rises through the gravel, where the bacteria live, and that's where biological filtration takes place. The results provided by these filters can be extremely good, and the additional cost is small (an undergravel filter plate, the uplift tube to connect the plate to the canister filter outlet pipe, and some gravel). Because only water cleaned of solid waste goes into the gravel bed, the gravel stays clean. Also, the water rising through the gravel pushes solid waste out and into the water column, where the canister filter can remove it. If this all sounds like too much work, then a plain vanilla canister filter will do just fine.> I have heard of people using their canisters in conjunction with hanging filters, bio wheels, "spray bars", and doubling up their filtration to something way beyond the capacities of their tanks. <None of these things make a significant different to the loading of a tank or water quality. Anyone who thinks adding a spray bar to their filter means they can keep 100% more fish is deluding themselves. The limiting factors are the bacteria on the filter media (admittedly some media are better than others) and the availability of oxygen in the water. But even swapping out generic filter media supplied with your filter for something high-end like Siporax is only going to have a small impact on water quality.> So in short: can you recommend a filtration SYSTEM for this 75-gallon freshwater tank using a Fluval 405 for the aforementioned livestock, or is the Fluval 405 enough filtration on its own? <The golden rule is TURNOVER. The Fluval 405 offers 340 gallons per hour turnover. That's a "nominal" rating and will go down, significantly, once you add filter media, and down even further once the media has become a bit clogged. It is very common for turnover to drop to 50% the nominal rating. You'll see this yourself -- after it's been running a few weeks, the pressure of the water squirting out the outlet becomes much less than before. Anyway, Your tank is 75 gallons. The minimum safe turnover for a freshwater aquarium is 4 times the volume per hour. In other words, in your case, 300 gallons per hour. The Fluval 405 just exceeds this by a small margin. In other words, it's adequate for a freshwater aquarium but not generous. Many aquarists, myself included, would suggest 6 to 8x the volume of the tank in turnover per hour when keeping big, messy fish. If I was you, I'd either combine it with a reverse flow undergravel to boost filtration, or add a second canister filter.> Can you recommend a suitable Eheim canister filter for this tank? <Choose one according to your budget and turnover issues. I'd be looking at using one or more canister filters of whatever brand that produced 450-600 gallons per hour turnover.> What are the benefits of the additional filtration systems, such as the bio wheels and hanging filters, once I have installed a single canister filter? <Provided you get the necessary turnover, all filters can work well. There's no reason at all why you can't combine multiple different filter designs. People tend to prefer to have one big filter instead of three little ones because it is tidier and easy to maintain the tank, but there's no real practical advantages either way.> What media would best be used in my canister filter? <Again, choose according to your budget. The differences in performance between standard and deluxe media is slight. Using deluxe media won't let you keep any extra fish, and using generic media won't make it impossible to have perfect water quality. The deluxe media tends to last longer, be easier to clean, and supports denser populations of filter bacteria (under lab conditions at least) but the differences either way will be modest. Regular water changes and an appropriate schedule of filter cleaning are far more important issues.> And will the same setup be sufficient for a brackish tank of the same size? <Yes.> Also, as a side-question... my silver dollar is healthy, but will he benefit from having more of his own kind to school with? Can my 75-gallon tank handle a couple more dollars? <Yes and yes. Given the Colombian sharks will be coming out soon, I can't see any reason not to add four (or more) silver dollars to your set up so that they have nice school. They'll be more playful and altogether better aquarium fish.> Thank you again... your trusted advice really shapes my decisions., as I'm sure many of your readers will attest to :) ~Meech <Cool. Good luck, Neale>

Re: 75 gallon FW canister filter advice 9/13/07 Wow, 450-600 gph in a 75-gallon tank?! How do you think a canister filter, that has a turnover of 225 gph, ends up being rated by the manufacturers for up to a 100 gallon tank, if that's so far from the truth? <In exactly the same way cereal manufacturers say there are 27 servings inside one small box, and the way motor car manufacturers say their cars do 50 miles to the gallon. The marketing department makes something up under the best possible conditions, without any connection whatsoever to the real world.> It's harder than ever now to trust what I see printed on the packaging. :( <Indeed. Trust me, my estimates are widely held in the hobby and not at all excessive. My own community tank has the equivalent of 10x turnover per hour, and still has gunk sitting on the bottom thanks to a Panaque catfish that could poop for Britain at the Olympics. Big plecs are astonishingly messy, and any attempts to economise filtration on a Plec tank invariably results in an aquarium with at the very least a very dirty substrate and silt-laden water.> I have done bit more research since your response and narrowed my choice down to 2 possible options of similar base cost: The Fluval 405, and the Eheim Classic 2217... though my TRUE preference would be to purchase an Eheim 2128 with the built-in heater. :) <The filters with built-in heaters are NOT always salt-proof. Check before dropping down the cash if you intend to use this filter in a brackish aquarium. That said, filters with built-in heaters are wonderful things for lots of reasons.> Does either the Fluval 405 or the Eheim Classic 2217 have anything superior to the other, OR would you ultimately recommend the Eheim 2128 over both of these filters? <The bottom line is that choosing between Fluval and Eheim is like choosing between Coke and Pepsi or Apple and Microsoft. Each brand has its own -- often fanatical -- advocates. I think broadly speaking Eheim tends to have a better reputation for reliability and longevity. But that said, I've often used Fluval filters and never yet had problems with them. The one Eheim canister filter I had was incredibly noisy, but that certainly doesn't seem to be other people's experiences of them. To be honest, when I shop, I tend to go with whatever is best priced at the time, and look out for end-of-line specials and other discounts. That may not be the "best" way to shop, but it works for me. That said, I tend to use multiple filters on one tank, so if one filter does fail, it wouldn't be a disaster. If you're choosing one filter you want to last for 10+ years, then quite possibly spending the extra on an Eheim might make sense. I would warmly encourage you to look at reverse flow undergravel filters though -- coupled with a canister filter, they generate a huge amount of filtration, and would be ideally suited to your selection of fish. They're a trifle fiddly to set up, but once built, are basically maintenance free compared with traditional UG filters that need a lot of care. Anyway, the Fluval 405 is a good filter at 340 GPH. The Eheim 2217 offers 264 GPH, so is substantially "weaker" in absolute terms, even if it is perhaps better in terms of design and manufacture. The Eheim 2128 offers 277 GPH. So of the three, the big Fluval offers the most raw filtration and realistically is the only one that could *on its own* be recommended for use in a 75 gallon tank containing relatively large and messy fishes. Couple one of the smaller Eheim filters with a second filter and things might look different. Even coupling one of them with a plain vanilla undergravel filter drive by its own powerhead(s) would do the job very well. But the bottom line is that the "magic number" for you is 4x75 = 300 gallons per hour. Nothing below that is really worth bothering with.> Thank you again :) This isn't an easy decision for me! ~M <Hope this helps, Neale>

Re: 75 gallon FW canister filter advice -- 09/13/07 Thank you, Neale, for your wisdom and advice! I feel like my brain gained some good weight since yesterday. Since you are suggesting reverse-UG filtration in conjunction with the Fluval 405 (which I will go with), I will have to do some studying on UGF setup. Again, thank you for your valuable time. :) One day I hope to have the courage and knowledge to come to these decisions on my own. ~Meech (PA, USA) <Thanks for the thanks. Reverse-flow filters are discussed in most aquarium books, and I'm sure there are articles about them here at WWM if you root about a bit. They're "old school" but they work well, and nothing beats them in terms of the price-performance ratio. Good luck, Neale.>

Looking for a quiet pump 7/14/07 Hi there, I have a Tenecor 170 gallon, flat back hexagon and I am planning to use a pump with an ocean clear canister. What is the quietest pump it is very important because the tank is in the bedroom. I am going to have a freshwater tank with goldfishes and koi. Is that the best filtration or should I just use two Eheim 2028 canister? I wish to have crystal clear water. Also I have two fluval fx 5 running on my 75 gallon tank now and there is a humming noise to it. I wish to have a system that is very quiet for this 180 gallon tank of freshwater fish. Thank you. <Greetings. You do not need to have an air pump. All an air pump does is circulate the water. It doesn't add oxygen to the water (the idea the bubbles help somehow is wrong). If you have a strong electric filter that circulates the water, the air pump is obsolete. All you need to do is make sure the electric filter is pushing the water all around the tank and that there's a bit of turbulence at the surface as well. Often, having two filters, one squirting water downwards and the other towards the surface of the water works well. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Looking for a quiet external pump   7/15/07 Dear Neale, Thank you for the reply. I did not mean an air pump but I was asking more the type of external pump to be attached to the Ocean Clear Canister that is quiet. A friend said that Gen-X pump is quiet and it would be a good external pump for the Ocean Clear canister and would that be a good choice or do you have any suggestions? Do you like Ocean Clear canister or Nu Clear canister? I have two brand new 170 gallon tanks and I intend to keep African cichlids in one of them and goldfish and koi in the other. Your help is most appreciated and thank you for the information on the air pump. I thought bubbles produce oxygen but I was wrong. Cheers and thank you so much. <Greetings. I'm not familiar with either of those filters so can't comment from experience. Possibly Bob or one of the other American aquarists here will have comments they might pass on. What I can say is I've often had tanks in the bedroom and never noticed canister filters being a problem. Properly maintained they should be more or less silent. Cheers, Neale.> <<This make/brand of filter are larger, pressurized canisters... that require a good deal of pressure, coupled with moderate flow (and even then frequent maintenance)... These are well made units at any length, and do have a good deal of surface area... I encourage you to purchase two sets of the canister elements from the get go... to have one in use, the other for light-bleach washing, air-drying in-between service intervals for switch out (will save much time/clogging, and replacement of the units)... The pump line mentioned is fine... Other good choices are gone over here: http://wetwebmedia.com/pumpselmar.htm and the linked files in the Related FAQs above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Looking for a quiet external pump   7/17/07 http://wetwebmedia.com/clncarta.htm Dear Bob, <Metsing> Thank you for the wonderful advise. <advice> Same two tanks of 170 gallon but I think that I might go with either one Nu Clear 530 or the Ocean Clear. Do you have a preference on this two canister?. I will need two cartridges, as advised thank you. <These products are almost identical... I would go with whichever is less expensive, more readily available> I had a listen to the Gen-X and it is not as quiet as I liked. <Good and yes> I am now going to change my mind and have the two tanks as saltwater instead of freshwater tanks with fish only. <Oh!> What is the quietest pump.....sequence Reeflo, Eheim, velocity or please advise I need a really quiet pump? <The first two are very quiet> And also I need to have a quiet and cooling pump because I am not going to have a chiller. Thank you again so much. <Again, our input re this issue is posted: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm the light blue tray... BobF>

Canister filter preference?? 6/10/07 I am going to be setting up a 150 gal freshwater tank. <Very good.> I thought i would use 2 emperor 400's and 1 or 2 canister filters. <The Emperor is a fine filter in terms of biological filtration, but its design is somewhat limited for mechanical filtration. (Specifically, it doesn't have a huge amount of suction at the bottom of the tank and only limited capacity for mechanical filter media.) So, you definitely need to supplement it with one or more canister filters to provide proper circulation of the water, especially at the lower levels of the tank. This depends somewhat on the fishes you intend to keep: mechanical filtration is relatively unimportant if you're keeping small fish like neons and guppies. But if you are keeping cichlids, plecs, and so on that are large and messy, you need lots of mechanical filtration. Otherwise your tank just ends up covered in detritus and silt.> I have never had experience with canister filters although i have had fish tanks for years successfully... <OK, the basic rule here is for small fish (guppies) aim for turnover around at least 4 times per hour, i.e., in your case 600 gallons per hour. For larger fish (plecs) you need at least 5-6 times turnover, i.e., 750-900 gallons per hour depending on the size and messiness of the fish. Now, while any aquarium filter will quote its turnover on the packaging, these quotes are "optimal" values assuming no filter media and no head pressure. As soon as you stick filter media in the tank (reducing water flow) and place the filter below the aquarium (making it work against gravity) you can lop 10-20% right off the turnover quote. After a few weeks in use, clogged filters may even be running as low as 50% optimal turnover. So, provided you take all this into consideration, you can go ahead and choose whatever filters you want.> Could you please tell me what canister filters you would recommend best for my application? <Everyone has their favourite brands. Eheim are probably the brand most highly respected and considered to be the most reliable. Something like the Eheim 2260 would be about right for a 150 gallon aquarium with largish fish coupled with one or more of the Emperor 400 units. But even the "budget" filters are good machines and worth considering. You probably want to look out for things like ease of maintenance, i.e., does it have a full set of taps on the pipes for easy disconnection, or a built-in primer to help re-start the water flow. I happen to prefer filters with spaces that allow you to add whatever media you want rather than force you to use the manufacturer's own filter cartridges. Some filters have built-in heaters; these can be very useful on tanks where large fish are being kept. Big cichlids especially sometimes become destructive, and heaters are fragile and easily broken.> There's thanks very much!!!! <Hope this helps! Neale>

Bio filtering question, canister mod.  3/23/07 Tell me if this is crazy, or actually might be good. <Okay...> I just bought new canister filters, upgraded from hang on back.  I am  still learning, but I have heard (as in the bio-wheel) that for bio filters,  they should have water and oxygen. <Yes> So not sure how they are getting enough  oxygen if put in closed canister system. <How who?> but... here is the crazy idea.  I have an old canister laying  around.  I was thinking of drilling a small hole in bottom edge, running in  air line and air stone, sealing it real good, then filling with bio  material.  I could then have small stream of air injecting into this  canister while the water was running thru it. <I would NOT do this> I would use this canister as  second in-line from first canister (first filter doing the mechanical  filtering).  Am I crazy, or might this just work??? <Not worth it IMO... for three reasons... the likelihood of the airline failing... you siphoning out the tank... Secondly, the wear/tear on the pump motor with the air mixed in... Lastly for the danger of induced emphysematosis... excess gas/embolism> One final question.  I am still confused about filtering order after  the mechanical part.  some places say bio then chemical, others say  chemical then bio.  Does it make a difference? Thanks Rich <Can make a difference in overall efficiency... Chemical should almost always come last... depending on the set-up, intent, the other two might be first/second. Bob Fenner> Via Aqua Filters Hi This is a stupid question but I just moved into a house and the previous tenant had 2 turtles in a tank he said he would come back in a few days and pick the turtles up and never did. I don't know any thing about filters or how to keep marine life in general! Any way the water is all dirty so I figured the filter and tank needs cleaning. The tank has a Via Aqua filter but I have no Idea where to begin and If I take It apart water just flows out. I have been to all my local pet stores etc and no one know of these filters. I need to do some thing I feel cruel keeping these turtles in the tank like that. How do I go about Cleaning these filters? <Mmm, easy enough... disassemble, rinse... sometimes renew activated carbon to rid the smell of those stinky turtles... Please see here: http://www.commodityaxis.com/ResourceData.aspx?id=21 or contact Commodity Axis for more information re their canister filters. Bob Fenner>

Magnum 350 No flow I just bought a magnum 350 pro. <I have had a few of these.> I have a 40L aquarium on Wal-Mart 55 gallon stand. its set up for a turtle tank. <You will need to clean the canister often, turtles are quite messy.> I set it up with and without the spray bar. and I cant get an acceptable flow!  (I get a small trickle) the tank is 75% full of water. all the air SHOULD be out of the lines. <It should be more than a trickle, these filters have a decent amount of water flow.> I've tried it several different ways, but I currently have the intake connected to an UGF. <I would try to get it working without the UGF first, and I would not use the UGF for turtles, they will dig and defeat the purpose of the UGF which will just turn into a place for waste to collect.> the out take is below the water line. (because of the 75% water) from the bottom of the tank to the floor is 24 inches. no kinks or bends in the hose. <Any bubbles coming out with the outflow?  Do you use the quick disconnects?  I found my 350 ran better without them, just straight tube.> from the top of the canister to the water level is 21 inches. <should be plenty.> I'm thinking the magnum 350 is more gravity based than it is a pump. could it be the stand is not high enough? I paid $100 for this filter, I'm very unhappy <As long as the canister is below the water level it should function fine, the gravity gets it started, but after that the pump should, well... pump.  Does it make any funny noises like the sound of bubbles being chopped up by the impeller?  These are good canister filters, I did not like doing maintenance on it, because of the small metal clips, and that dang thing that holds the carbon always blew up on me.  The Rena XP3 and the Fluval 404 are also good canisters in this price range.  If you cannot get it going, take it down to your Local Fish Store and have them test it out.  You could also try filling the tank up all the way to see if this helps.   Sometimes when my canisters do not want to start I take a powerhead and blast water into the intake to get things flowing in the right direction.  Best Regards, Gage> thanks

Magnum 350 Flow Woes I emailed the other day about arrow crab behavior and saw this today- I had the same problem with my magnum 350 when I bought it, but I'm embarrassed with this, <No worries, we are all friends here, do you know how many times I have sprayed myself with an out of control power head? you would think I would have learned by now to secure them in the mixing/changing tubs before plugging them in, but no.  Or start a siphon and miss the bucket, draining nasty seawater onto my floor, or better yet, tools that were stored under the tank.  Gotta love that one.> but I had never used one before, and it doesn't tell you in the directions not to leave the micron filter in. This was the source of my problems-a learning experience at least.  if you want to post this info/experience to the original mailer- mike---sorry I keep chiming in. <Hey feel free, we appreciate the input.  BTW I do not mean to bash or favor one filter over another.  IMHO I have nothing against the Magnum 350 canister, they are good filters, but the number of times I spilled water on my floor with the Magnum was higher than with other canisters I have used.  Best Regards, Gage>

Magnum 350 Set up revisited, and fixed! the problem was... in the manual it doesn't show you how to setup the charcoal filter.  I had the charcoal in the wrong part, I placed the charcoal in the middle core, instead of around the outside, which caused the plug... =) so I found the problem... <AH HA! I knew you could do it.> set everything back up, works good but still the spray bars were weak =/ anyway I ditched the spray bar and it works a lil better, not getting much aeration out of the diffuser, so I took it off and now I'm getting some turbulence... yes I'm using the quick connect and I think ill take your advice and get rid of the UGF, I was thinking the same thing... just a place for waste to collect. <If the quick connects are working for you, keep them; it will make maintenance much easier.  Glad to hear the UGF is gone, it would have been more trouble that it was worth IMO.  Good luck with the turts!  You might also play around with just buying filter floss in bulk for the canister, you will find that you are replacing the sleeves for the magnum very often and this might be pricey, I have not checked lately, just a thought.  Gage> thanks for your help

Is my filtration good enough? FW, Canister    1/5/07 Hi Bob, <Jules> My name is Julian. I have just recently purchased a 72-gallon bowfront tank made by All Glass. Taking advantage of the great Boxing Day deals at my LFS, I have already purchased an Eheim 2217 classic canister filter, as well as a Maxi-Jet 1200 powerhead (for improving water circulation). It says on the package that the Eheim canister is capable of pumping out 264 US gal./h. <Is a mighty fine product... quiet, dependable...> I am planning to stock my tank with a mix of African Rift Lake Cichlids. <Oh! I have two such tanks... filtered with Eheims> I have owned some AF Cichlids before, and I know that they can get quite messy. Mechanical filtration and water circulation is my main focus. I don't think I will be overstocking my tank too much. Perhaps a medium bio-load will do. I know my canister is no beast, but do you think it is good enough? <Mmm, along with weekly water changes, yes, likely so... I suggest you rig yours up as I have... with the intake situated (with the slotted screen) near the bottom, and the return arrayed on the same side, discharging through the perforated bar, along, across the side toward the other side... near the surface (just underwater)> I am contemplating of whether, or not, to add an Emperor 400 bio-wheel filter in addition to the canister. <Is a good addition, yes> As for water circulation, I am wondering of the best placement for my Maxi-Jet 1200 powerhead. Should I place it near the inlet pipe, or perhaps the outlet pipe of my canister? <I'd try the latter myself> If so, at what water level? <Maybe near the surface... but try this and see how it works out> Or should I buy an additional Maxi-Jet 1200 powerhead and place them on each side of my bowfront? <Even better... aimed in a clock or counter-clockwise direction... toward the middle of the panels...> My main concern is the settling of detritus/debris on the substrate bed (probably fine gravel) and especially in the rockwork. And also, should I place a filter (sort of acting as a pre-filter) in the strainer of the inlet pipe. Would this decrease the flow rate of my canister? <I would just rely on the green plastic strainer supplied with the Eheim> Any suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated. I am also contemplating of whether, or not, to purchase corner overflows for my tank. Would they benefit my setup? <Mmm... towards what ends? Do you intend to add volume, tie in another container outside the main tank? Perhaps to gauge this set-up for a go at marine keeping in future? If none of these, I would not drill it at this time> Many thanks Bob, Julian <Welcome, Bob Fenner>

Canister filter problems with air locks on turtle tank   12/15/06 I'm in the process of setting up a 280 gallon turtle tank, in an aquarium that used to be just fish.  All was going well until I dropped the water level about 9" below the top of the tank, tried to restart my Fluval FX5 canister filter, and discovered that it is not strong enough to overcome the airlock. <Ah, yes... actually the "draw" or vacuum is problematical here... Like most canister filters, this ones pump is intended to "push", not pull...> For the time being I am pushing water into the Fluval with an Iwaki pump, but it is very noisy and of course the Fluval was not designed for such use. <Yes... and quite dangerous... could easily "pop" open the canister... flood your floor... I would remove this pump, not use it> What do people usually do to overcome this problem? Frank. <Mmm, many folks use internal filters with turtles... there are powered and air-driven types you could use... do ask your LFS dealer (fish stores) what they have, suggest here. These types of filters require about as regular... weekly, cleaning as a canister. Bob Fenner>

Planted Discus Tank... filtration/circulation 12/12/06 Hi Crew! <Mike> I'm in the process of setting up a moderately planted 100 gallon discus tank. <Some fun!> About the last bit of research I need to complete before adding water has to do with filtration. I'm planning on using canister filters for filtration, but am not quite sure how to balance the discus' preference for reasonably calm waters with their filtration needs and the plants needs for some current to facilitate biological processes. <Easy to do... using the spray bars for the returns... near the surface is best... at one end or both> My original thought was to use two Eheim Professional II, model 2126.  They are rated at 250 gallons/hour for a combined total of 500 gallons/hour. <I have two of these fine filters> Couple of questions: What is a reasonable water turnover rate given my somewhat contradictory considerations? <This, these will be fine... not as vigorous a movement per unit time as you might think, consider> Assuming no additional sources of current in the tank, would the two Eheims be too much?  Too little?     <IMO/E right about right> I really want to get this right from the onset and appreciate your assistance. Happy Holidays, Mike <And to you and yours. At the near-surface for the discharges... Bob Fenner> Magnum Filter Problems  12/5/06 I have a 350 Magnum Canister and I'm having a problem with bubbles coming from the exhaust. I have checked the connections ( intake/out), I even brought clamps to put on the ends of the tubes. I also notice that when I let it run, the water the water drops below the water line. So how do I kept the water from dropping. Thanks I'm new to this site. PLEASE HELP!!! < The lid is not seated properly on the canister and air is coming in around the top. Two things to look at. The first is to make sure that the O ring is properly seated. The second thing to look at is the outflow tube coming from the impeller housing. Sometimes the lid does not fit over the tube and the tube sticks up into the lid and prevents the lid from properly closing.-Chuck>

Canister Filter For Turtle Tank  - 09/07/06 Hello Bob, I just found your site on questions and answers today while doing some research on canister filter systems.  My set up is for 2 red eared sliders about 15 years old, 7 and 8 (inches approx.) in length.  The tank (50 gal) is about 80 % full of water.  I have attached a ramp and a flat dry area near the water line with ledgers and aquarium silicone (very basic and not pleasing to look at but you can't have stuff the turtles can fit into their mouths).  I had an old AquaClear outside power filter hanging off the back but it recently got dropped during a cleaning.  It was doing a fine job of keeping the water clear with the sponge and carbon but each time the power went off it would get hot and stop.  Luckily it never burned out. I probably should have done more research but as you know, you can't leave a turtle tank unfiltered.  Stinky!  I would do complete water changes every 7 to 10 days to keep the glass clear and remove the turds.  I purchased a Odyssea CFs 4 and so far no problems.  I have been doing research (belated I know) on this product because I had not heard of it before.  I worked for a local pet store 20 plus years ago and it was not around then.  Info that I have seen suggests that the o rings dry quickly and the on off valves where the hoses attach to the canister are not up to par (don't last too long leak wise and break easily).  It can still be returned for an exchange.  You seem to prefer the Eheim in the info that I have read.  Would you suggest going that route? < This is a new filter that has had mixed reviews. It is cheap, somewhat powerful and a little noisy. I think if your tubing is fairly straight then there is less of an issue with the valves. With sharp bends on the tubing, the valves can't hold the hoses intact and this stress and it creates cracks and leaks. Eheim has been around for many years. Their filters are expensive and not as powerful but they are well made and will last a very long time.> Also the outlet part of the Odyssea seems to create a lot of foam.  They seem to be afraid of the foam.  The falls from the AquaClear did not make foam.  I could lower the outlet into the water because the turtles do not require aeration like fish,  just filtration.  Also would a sterilizer be a good investment? < Not needed for a turtle tank.-Chuck> Thanks you for any information you might have to give me. Alethea

Water movement... Plants leaning over, canister filters   8/21/06 Good afternoon! <And to you> I absolutely love your website and all the wonderful info and advice you offer. I took about an hour searching and reading the website before emailing. I found answers that were close, but either the aquarium size was different or the search turned up info on reef tanks. I had emailed earlier to ask about filtration for my 50 gallon acrylic planted tank. It's a fairly heavily planted tank with Eco Complete substrate mixed with gravel. I have 10 cardinal tetras, 6 featherfin rainbows, 5 japonica shrimp, 2 Cory cats, 4 Glowlight tetras and 4 Otos. <Reads very nice> I currently have an Eheim 2215 on the tank. I was contemplating purchasing either an Eheim 2026 or 2028. Both my LFS and WWM recommended that bigger was better. <To an extent, yes> I purchased a 2028 and set it up. My LFS suggested that I place the spray bar vertically in the left rear corner in order to have the greatest amount of flow over the leaves of the plants. <This is what I would do as well> This it does, however it also causes some of the plants (very tall Crypt, Cabomba, Hornwort) to bend quite a bit. I always unplug the filter because I don't want to stress them out. <Mmm... not a good idea to unplug, re-plug in canister, "closed" filters... too much likelihood of them "going anaerobic" and toxic metabolites getting washed into your system...> The other plants in the tank also move a lot in the current but because they are shorter and the plants themselves are stronger they don't bend like the more delicate ones. I would liken it to having a ceiling fan to medium speed. It almost reminds me of a reef tank at this point! lol. The LFS said the water movement should be "active" but that the plants should not bend over. The fish seem to be okay with it but every plant in the tank moves now. <Mmmm> My questions are these: is this too strong for the fish to live in comfortably? <Not the fishes, no> Is this too strong for the plants? <Maybe...> Is there anyway to slow the current just enough to allow the plants to stand upright? <Yes... I would remove the "end plug" from the discharge line... see if this results in an acceptable flow pattern> I am running both filters concurrently until the new one has established. Should I continue using both or just have the 2028? <I would run both> I've researched where my fish originally come from but since they are most likely all tank raised I don't want to exhaust them with this much current. <Not likely> Thank you so much for all of your help. I'm so frustrated with some of the LFS. The one fellow seems to be really experienced, but I prefer the education and experience all of you have provided. Have a wonderful evening, Beverley <Will do. Bob Fenner>

Re: 20 Gallon Long Question  6/30/06 Hi! <<Hi, Sue. Tom>> I need to ask a question that I cannot find the exact answer to on your website, I also am a little leery to take the word of a LFS teenager so I would prefer to ask it of you guys since you have always given me great advice.   <<Thanks for the vote of confidence, Sue. :)>> I am planning on setting up a 20 gallon long tank with Tetras, Corys and Otocinclus.  The plan is to have the tank heavily planted, a couple small piece of driftwood as well.  I have a question regarding a filter...would a Fluval 205 work alright in this tank as described in your opinion?   <<I've got the older '304' model on my 50-gallon tank, Sue, and have been very pleased with it. (I've got additional filtration via an AquaClear 70 HOB filter, as well.) I've heard reports of the Fluval models leaking or being too time-consuming where cleaning is concerned. I've experienced neither of these problems. Frankly, I find mine a snap to clean but I don't wait three months or, longer, to clean mine, either. Another product to give serious consideration to would be Eheim, specifically the 2234 model. It's "rated" to 60 gallons, which means little as far as I'm concerned. What I look at is the 'gph' (gallons per hour) rating. For about what you'd spend on the Fluval 205, you could get the Eheim 2234 and gain 22 gph. Food for thought.>> Upgrading in the future will not be an issue, as I do not have room for anything larger...this is just about it size wise!  A friend of mine has a larger tank, a different Fluval number, I am very impressed with the water quality and clarity of her tank and would like to try a Fluval, just want to make sure that I purchase the correct one.   <<I don't think you'd be making a mistake here by going with the Fluval 205, to be honest. The fish you plan on stocking are not "messy" by any means. I've found mine to be a fine product.>> Thank you!   <<You're welcome, Sue. Enjoy your new tank and pets! Tom>>

Filtering a 40 long from the end  5/29/06 I am looking to set up a 40 long aquarium on a low room divider wall, and would like to keep the two 48" walls clear of filters so that the fish can be clearly seen from both sides.  Since it will be a freshwater system of predominantly (dirty) goldfish, I am concerned that a power filter at one end of a 4ft long narrow tank will not circulate and clean water from the far end.  If I invest in a canister filter, such as a Fluval 405, can I put the intake at the far end, and the outlet at the near end? <Mmm, yes>   Will the impeller handle 4ft of additional hose? <Yes>   If so can I run this additional hose under the gravel (actually, over the top, 16" down,  48" under gravel, and 6-8" back up) for cosmetic reasons, or will the 48" of additional hose need to be housed in the hood?  Any help would be appreciated. Dale Johnson <Better to run this above. Bob Fenner> FW Surface Films, maint., canister filters   5/29/06 Bob, <Michella> Thank you for your help!  I have another question.  I currently have a Fluval FX5 and Fluval 404 running on the tank.  For the media, I am using BioMax, prefilter, the plastic bioballs, Zeocarb (not too much, though, as I read too much carbon is not good for plants), and Biomatrix, along with a couple of polishing pads.  I also have lunar lights that run at night.  Over the past week, I noticed a thin, cloudy layer of film on top of the water, that seems to be somewhat oily. Any idea to what is causing that or what it can be and how to get rid of it?  Thanks again for your help! Michella <The film could be external or endogenous in origination... the former from "dust", aerosols in the house... the latter from foods/oil, microbial action... Both/either should be addressed... by having the canister filters discharge/disrupt the surface (or alternatively there are "surface skimmer" attachments that can be fitted onto the intakes), dipping a pitcher at the surface or using clean, white/plain paper towels to wick the surface... Some of these films can be problematical re gas exchange... Bob Fenner> Equipment/Filters...Bursts of bubbles from a Magnum 350   5/25/06 Bob,  <James today, Bob exploring the mysteries of the deep in HI> <<Heeee! RMF>>   I noticed the question from Donna regarding air-bursts from her HOT Magnum. I have been using three 350's and two HOT's for several years and the only time I observed air building up in the canister (and causing bursts of bubbles) was when I had an airstone near the intake and it would suck in the occasional bubble until a larger bubble was built up inside the canister. and then it would periodically spew a mist of air droplets in the exhaust several times a minute. This sounds like it would have been obvious to the most casual observer, but it took me several days of messing with everything I could think of on the Magnum until finally I was glaring at the snorkels in frustration and saw a bubble spiral around into the intake side. (D'oh!!) Using 5 Magnums for the last three years and that's the only way I've seen air get entrained - through the intake. <Thank you for this, Mark, will post.  James (Salty Dog)>   Mark Hein

HOT Magnum ... air entrainment- 2/28/2006 First I have to say that I love your site and refer to it all the time (and usually find the info I am looking for). <Okay> That being said, I could not find any reference to the HOT Magnum releasing bursts of microbubbles. <Yikes... trouble> I spent ½ hr on the phone with Marineland and they didn't seem to be able to help me. <Unusual> Their suggestion was to 'burp' the canister. <Mmm, would help if this situation was temporary... that is, only bubbly for a short while (a day let's say at the most), but then all air removed that was entrapped by opening...> To leave it running and lift it horizontal while making sure that the intake tube stays in the water.  This is supposed to get the air out. <Will... if the amount of air is finite...> But it didn't seem to work.  I still have bursts of microbubbles every 20 seconds or so. When I first set it up about 2 weeks ago, I don't recall seeing any bubbles.  I have since pulled it apart for cleaning (lots of algae at the moment) and since then I get these bursts of bubbles.  Any ideas? Thanks, Donna <Yes... there is an area where air is "getting in"... and this is dangerous... for a couple of reasons... Emphysematosis ("gas-bubble disease"... you can read re on WWM), and the possibility of leaking... Somewhere about the tubing, connections, the actual closure of the Magnum, there is a way for air to get in (and possibly water to get out...). A few ways can be employed to detect and fix this leak... First, hand-tightening all by twisting the tubing, hard fittings together may "do it"... Turning the unit off, and swiping a bit of toilet paper along the junctures (the intake lines outside the tank, the top/seal of the filter, and the discharge lines) may reveal a bit of water seeping out where the air is getting in... This/these should help... but do write back if you are still unable to find/fix the leak. Oh, and you did lube the o-ring? Bob Fenner> Synodontis eupterus  Featherfin catfish and Canister filter ratings  2/23/06   Bob Fenner    First let me 'Thank You' for answering my last question I sent you. <Welcome> I have been offered 16 Synodontis eupterus catfish about 4 inches in length. <Neat... a community> The only tank I have available for them is a 125 gallon which contains no other fish. The question is how long could they be kept in such a tank with the appropriate rockwork i.e.: caves etc.? <Perhaps indefinitely... with good feeding, regular water changes...> That is until what length would they need to be separated if at all. I've read numerous articles and most agree that they can be kept in groups as they are not aggressive to each other. A few articles claim they are aggressive when two are kept in the same tank. <In small tanks, yes> Maybe you need more than two so they have a pecking order similar to angel fish. <They do indeed>   Also what size filter would one need on this size tank for both the interim and long term? <I'd have two large outside power filters, some sort of internal circulation (powerheads, airstones...)> I was thinking of a Filstar 3 plus a trickle filter with a gallon of small bio balls. What about a Filstar 3 and an Aqua Clear 110? <These would do nicely> Water change of about 25% would be done weekly in either case. <Good>   Reading answers to other peoples questions I've noticed that you prefer the Eheim 2028 [?] over the Filstar 3. <Yes> Could you give your reasons? <Eheims are superior in design, construction... use less power, are the most reliable...> I realize that the Eheim is a much larger filter but up here in Canada the Filstar 3 can be purchased on sale for $150 whereas the Eheim costs about $250 when on sale. Therefore for about $50 more you could purchase two Filstars. Thank You in advance   Brian <I understand... do check the values however for flow per money for water movement... and understand the Eheim will likely be of service for a decade, two... A better value... Bob Fenner>

Too much filtering or water movement How much is too much? - 20/1/05 I was wondering what would be considered too much water movement. I have a 75 gallon tank and one Fluval 405. I wanted to put in a second Fluval 405 to make sure the tank stays nice and clean. But then I was worried about the problem of too much water movement. Right now the fish in the tank don't seem to have any problems with the one filter. What do you think? <Depends on the fish (and, more importantly, corals. However, in general, fish can withstand - and sometimes prefer - far higher currents than we provide. Ever swum in the ocean? Or a fast flowing river? If I am right in thinking that a 405 provides a max. flow of around 350gph, then two such filters would be perfectly suited for freshwater.... I would be looking for more flow for most marine tanks. Best regards, John> Thanks, Rusty

140g Tanganyikan Filtration Question - 11/25/2005 Hello and Happy Thanksgiving! <Thank you; happy Thanksgiving to you, as well.> I really appreciate the information you provide and have learned a lot from this website. <Glad to hear it!> I just purchased a 140 gallon half cylinder aquarium to house a Tanganyikan community and I'm a little confused about the type of filtration I should be using. There are so many products on the market that it's a little overwhelming! <True enough!> I am thinking about an Eheim Pro II 2028 canister filter, <A WONDERFUL product.  This and the 2128 are, in my opinion, the best canisters available.  I find mine delightful.> but from what I read, this is not enough filtration for my size tank. <Possibly true.> What would you suggest? <I'd go with a large-ish wet/dry system under the tank....  a "sump"....  Can build it yourself, or there are also products available geared for marine aquaria that you could use.> Do I need something else in addition to that?  Thanks! <If you do choose to use the canister (again, I do greatly enjoy/recommend this particular model), then I would add one or two sizeable hang-on type filters.  I think the "better" solution would be to go ahead with a sump-style wet dry, but you can really do most anything you want and are comfortable.  And those Eheims work like a dream....  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Fluval 403 Replacement Parts - 11/27/2005 You have a tremendous website. <Thank you. Tremendous work has gone into it.> I have two Fluval 403 filters. I gave away all my fish last year (they had out-grown the aquarium) and took down my aquarium. I recently set it back up. The o-rings are dried, cracked and leaking. I need new o-rings for the Fluval 403 filters. I have looked everywhere but can't find these o-rings. Do you know where I can get o-rings for the Fluval 403 filter? <I would contact the manufacturer for these; if they can't get them to you, they'll likely be able to tell you who can in your area. Try this site: http://www.hagen.com/usa/aquatic/index.html .> Thank you. -Donald <Wishing you well, -Sabrina> Oops!  Fluval 403 & Great website!  De John - 11/28/05 I have two Fluval 403 filters. I gave away all my fish last year (they had out-grown the aquarium) and took down my aquarium. I recently set it back up.  The o-rings are dried, cracked and leaking. I need new o-rings for the Fluval 403 filters. I have looked everywhere but can't find these o-rings. Do you know where I can get o-rings for the Fluval 403 filter?  Thank you. Donald <Hi Donald. This is a common problem that can be mitigated by keeping the o-rings lubricated, whether in use or not. I use silicone grease. For replacements, I would recommend calling the manufacturer - web searches came up dry for me also. Good luck, John>  <<Try changing your search terms, I found this in about five seconds using "Fluval 403", then on the very first website I hit, I searched on "gasket", got this: http://www.thatpetplace.com/MainPro/shopay00.aspx.  I'd give this place a call, they carry the O-rings for most other Fluvals, they might be able to get a hold of this one (should be able to). Marina>>

140g Tanganyikan Filtration Question - 11/25/2005 Hello and Happy Thanksgiving! <Thank you; happy Thanksgiving to you, as well.> I really appreciate the information you provide and have learned a lot from this website. <Glad to hear it!> I just purchased a 140 gallon half cylinder aquarium to house a Tanganyikan community and I'm a little confused about the type of filtration I should be using. There are so many products on the market that it's a little overwhelming! <True enough!> I am thinking about an Eheim Pro II 2028 canister filter, <A WONDERFUL product.  This and the 2128 are, in my opinion, the best canisters available.  I find mine delightful.> but from what I read, this is not enough filtration for my size tank. <Possibly true.> What would you suggest? <I'd go with a large-ish wet/dry system under the tank....  a "sump"....  Can build it yourself, or there are also products available geared for marine aquaria that you could use.> Do I need something else in addition to that?  Thanks! <If you do choose to use the canister (again, I do greatly enjoy/recommend this particular model), then I would add one or two sizeable hang-on type filters.  I think the "better" solution would be to go ahead with a sump-style wet dry, but you can really do most anything you want and are comfortable.  And those Eheims work like a dream....  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Pentair Filtration for 50 Gal Corner Goldfish Tank? 10/30/05 We run 4 fancy goldfish, an Oto and a Betta <Best not to mix goldfish with tropicals...> in a 50 gal corner tank, filtered with a Rena Filstar 3 canister filter and a Current Gamma 8  watt U.V. light. The tank is on an acrylic stand, <Neat> the filter is inside the stand. The stand is drilled with a couple of 2" diameter  holes, one for water, the other for air and electric lines. The filter occasionally belches microbubbles and gunk into the tank. This has driven me nuts since day one -- eighteen months ago. The problem is caused by misalignment of the inlet/outlet taps caused by strain on the hoses caused by the combination of hard plumbing and angles necessary to get water in and out of the acrylic base.  I replaced the Filstar's pump/top assembly and tap assembly without any improvement. The acrylic hood does not allow room for a sufficiently large power filter and the U.V. light. <This/these can be cut, routered pretty easily... with not much risk to the integrity of the tank> I am unwilling to give up the benefits of the U.V. It's complicated. Trust me.  Also trust me when I say the hard plumbing and odd angles are a necessary evil with any regular canister whether Rena, Eheim, or other similar canister. I've talked to a few vendors. One recommended that I replace the Rena with a Marineland Magnum 350 or an Eheim. I'm not all that thrilled about spending the money for an Eheim and ending up with the same problems -- plus I'm unsure there's enough turnover as it is. The Magnum doesn't have enough room for the chemistry and biological media I favor, <Good point> with the plumbing the turnover would be marginal -- and no guarantee that the same or other problems wouldn't reoccur as a result of the kludged plumbing. I'm leaning towards a Pentair AF system of Double Mechanical Module; Double Chemical Modules (one for Purigen and Water Softener Pillow, the other for Seachem Matrix); and a Double Heater Module (might as well hide the heater); and would likely plumb the pump in the stand (3/4" or 1" inlet/outlet) and the rest of the system (3/4") between  stand and wall, using the U.V. as a hang-on outlet -- about 2-1/2" below the water surface. Any better options for filtration? <Mmm, not much/many... if you're willing to spend the money with little actual modification to the tank here. You could (if you drained it...) build a weir/overflow... or cut the top... But your plan is better, will work> I haven't completely diagrammed the plumbing yet, but figure it will need four or five hard plumbed right angles in addition to whatever load is caused by the modules. I think 300-350 actual gph output would be about right. <Yes, sufficient> Marine Depot recommends a Pan World 50PX-X pump. Pentair recommends their Quiet One 4000 HH. Can you  recommend a pump? <Both of these will work... Quiet Ones have had issues... you might check on BB's re> Quietness and reliability are most important, cost a close runner up. FWIW, the 4000 HHs go for around $70. At $140  the Pan World is as high as the budget goes. Finally, if I do go through with this plumber's nightmare, can you recommend a source for corrugated hose and fittings? Rich <Marine Depot sells these... (maybe ask for Ben or Ali there)... send them a drawing of the space, holes you have... buy the tubing/pipe locally. Cheers, Bob Fenner> 

Thanks for Answer Re: Pentair Filtration Goldfish Tank? 11/1/05 Bob and The Rest of You Fishy Rascals, <Yo!> Thanks for your response to my questions. You've helped me make up my mind. Be prepared for a few plumbing-related questions as the project moves forward. <Ah, good> Thanks again and beware the Goldfish From Hell, Rich <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re: Pentair AF in 50 Gal Goldfish Aquarium 11/3/05 Hello Crew, <Richard> You can't say I didn't warn you that I'd be writing again. Well, you can. But it wouldn't be true. <Heee!> Just to remind you, I wrote and asked questions regarding using Pentair modular filtration for my 50 gal goldfish tank. Bob agreed that considering my situation Pentair made sense. I talked to Marine Depot to get some more advice before  ordering. Their rep, who is also named Rich, made two surprising (well, to me anyway) suggestions. I thought I'd run them by you for some additional feedback. First, he thought it would be a good idea to use Triple (!) size modules in order to decrease frequency of mechanical filter maintenance.  <A good idea... very messy fish... and a good idea to keep mechanical parts clean by frequent cleaning... switching out of cartridges... multiple sets for processing> And I thought a Double Mechanical was overkill. On the other hand more overkill might not be a bad thing. <Correct> Second, when I told him that I planned on using two Double Chemical Modules -- one for chemistry (Purigen, Water Softener Pillow) and the other for bio-media -- he said the gravel substrate in the tank was sufficient for biological filtration, and a module for bio-media was unnecessary. <Mmm, nice to have redundancy here. Nitrogenous waste/cycling problems are still the number one source of mortality of captive aquatic life... especially goldfish> Actually, it makes some sense since a couple of weeks after switching from a few Rena (AP) bio stars to 1 liter of Seachem Matrix bio media in a Rena Filstar -- for no particular reason -- nitrate levels actually doubled! Don't panic, still below 20 ppm. I hadn't really connected the change in bio-media to the increase in nitrate levels, but after talking with Rich wonder if it might have been caused by increased nitrification from a larger population of nitrogenous bacteria. <Yes, likely a factor... but better nitrate than its precursors> This project is going to require some fancy-shmancy plumbing; cutting a few holes in the acrylic tank stand; not to mention careful placement in a limited amount of space. I'd hate to get it wrong because I bought the wrong size or wrong number of modules. <Understood> Third, if the setup does need bio-media can I use Matrix in a Pentair module with a 300-350 gph flow rate? <Could> Would that strip the bacteria right off the rock? <Mmm, no... but you might want to consider running the chemical and biological filter modules in parallel (as opposed to series... with valving to bypass one/the other... to control flow and give you the opportunity of getting into each w/o turning off your pump...> The output could be split with a tee and a ball valve to get less flow, say 150-175 gph, through the module holding  bio-media, and the other half of the split could routed through the (Current Gamma 8 watt) U.V. Light, which also might benefit from a slower rate. <Oh! Good> Thanks for the advice I am about to receive, Rich <Sounds/reads almost like a prayer! Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Plumbing Pentair AF system for 50 gal corner aquarium on acrylic stand -- Goldfish  11/9/05 Dear Crew, <Richard> I took your advice and ordered the Triple size Pentair Mechanical, Chemical and Heater Modules for my 50 gal (220L) goldfish aquarium from Marine Depot, and also ordered a Pan World 100 PX pump to drive it. Please, if you would be so kind, give me some advice regarding plumbing -- Any suggestions at all on how to make this work better would be appreciated. What follows is the current rough plan. I hope what I've written is sufficiently clear. <Me too!> Inlet: One each 18' and 12' nipples <Through the bottom I take it... would make the shorter one only a couple of inches shorter than the tallest... no need for more difference, and if trouble, less water out of the tank> -- each with strainers. Each nipple to its own PVC elbow. <This plumbing diameter... 1 1/2"?> The elbows to the ends of a horizontally mounted Tee. The middle hole of this Tee to a true union. (Union so suction can be broken for maintenance). The true union to middle hole of another PVC Tee, mounted vertically. The top of the vertical Tee closed with removable plug (so suction can be created). <Likely not needed> The bottom of the vertical Tee to a 12' nipple to hose barb to flex tube. Other end of Tee enters aquarium stand.   Line to pump: Flex tube to elbow on floor 1/2 out and 1/2 in aquarium stand. Hose barb to flex tube to ball valve to hose barb to true union to pump inlet. (Ball valve to remain completely open unless pump unplugged.) (Pump mounted conventionally -- mounting plate down.) Pump Exhaust: Exhaust to true union to ball valve to elbow to flex tube to elbow on floor. Nipple through stand bulkhead, exiting stand. Line to Mechanical Module: Nipple to Elbow to hose barb to flex tube to Triple Mechanical Module. Filter (Inline to Split): Triple Mechanical Module to Triple Chemical Module to hose barb. Flex hose around corner to Triple Heater Module to ball valve to TEE. 2 ball valves, 1 each off both outlets. Filter (Split 1) Ball valve to true union to hose barb to flex tube to elbow hose barb to second Triple Chemical Module (for bio-media).  Planned flow rate less than or equal to 125 gph. Outlet: Flare nozzle mounted just above water line. Filter (Split 2) Ball valve to true union to hose barb to flex tube to 8 Watt Current USA Gamma UV filter mounted vertically. UV to hose barb to outlet U tube. Planned flow rate less than or equal 200 gph.  Outlet: Flare nozzle 2' below water. <Mmm, I'd move this discharge up a bit if you could... near the surface... disruption is better> All hoses and fittings 3/4' dia -- as are inlet and exhaust on the PanWorld. <I would make the initial intakes/inlets larger... the pump is not made to "pull", but push...> Couplers and close nipples as necessary. Flex tube -- garden variety vinyl aquarium hose or corrugated if I can find it. <You can... at Home Depot, Lowe's... Your plan has lots of good ideas re use of flexible, and capacity for removing modules, pump during maintenance (do fit a few loops of extra flexible to allow easier removal...)> Thanks in advance, Rich <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Tank Too Small, Filtration Too Heavy - 10/17/2005 Hey there, this is kind of crazy but I'll ask any way. I have a 29 top fin tank with two Bala sharks and two Pictus catfish and one black ghost knife. <This is too small for balas and ghost knifefish.> I am currently running one hot magnum 250 and one penguin 330, is this to much filtration? <In a 29? This is way too much current in my opinion.> PS I am upgrading the tank size to a 75 should I buy the Eheim pro two thermo 2128 model <I have and adore my Eheim Professionel II 2128. It has my hearty recommendation for replacing that magnum if you choose to do so.> or do I have enough already. <Can possibly get by. Wishing you well, -Sabrina> 

New Tank Filters ( Freshwater )  9/29/05 Hello Gang ! <K.S.> Thanks so much for the excellent information contained on your site ! <Welcome> I have a 75 gallon freshwater tank, fully cycled, and I now have the bug to upgrade to a 180 -240 gallon set up. <Oooh, you lucky pug!> With my new tank, I am  wondering what filters I should use. I currently have an Eheim 2028 on the 75gal, but was intrigued by the Simplicity plus system by Tenecor, which got me to looking at all the Wet/dry type filters. <This AZ company does make some nice units> Can you tell me for a 240 gal tank what wet/dry set up you recommend....my LFS said to have two Eheim 2028....but I thought I could actually get a bigger filter set up.....and one that I might some day be able to use if I ever convert to salt water ??? Tks !!!! K <Best to refer you to what is posted on WWM on the topic... for Freshwater Filtration: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm and Marine: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm Important for you to fully understand your options here... better to suit your filtration to your desired livestock, time for fooling with/maintenance, budget for operation... Enjoy the journey. Bob Fenner>

Filter Good Enough? I have a Fluval 204. Is that a good enough filter? Thanks for all the help. You guys are very fast! Thanks, Katie < A Fluval 204 is rated at 180 gallons per hour when not obstructed with waste. It should work well with the 30 gallon but may need more service on the 55 gallon.-Chuck>

Via Aqua Filters Hi This is a stupid question but I just moved into a house and the previous tenant had 2 turtles in a tank he said he would come back in a few days and pick the turtles up and never did. I don't know any thing about filters or how to keep marine life in general! Any way the water is all dirty so I figured the filter and tank needs cleaning. The tank has a Via Aqua filter but I have no Idea where to begin and If I take It apart water just flows out. I have been to all my local pet stores etc and no one know of these filters. I need to do some thing I feel cruel keeping these turtles in the tank like that. How do I go about Cleaning these filters? <Mmm, easy enough... disassemble, rinse... sometimes renew activated carbon to rid the smell of those stinky turtles... Please see here: http://www.commodityaxis.com/ResourceData.aspx?id=21 or contact Commodity Axis for more information re their canister filters. Bob Fenner>

Diatomaceous Filter Hi, I am setting up my mothers 30 gallon tank. She has a Diatom filter I am not quite sure how to use it. <Please see here: http://www.diatomfilter.com/> I know that I need Diatomaceous earth and I have to replace the rotten hoses. But that's about all I know. I read about a Diatom filter and it stated 'can run continuously' then it stated 'maximum 8 hours per week'. <Should not be run continuously... for a few reasons... gets clogged easily, uses quite a bit of electricity, gets quite hot...> So do you not have to run them all the time like you do a regular filter? Being that they clean a 10 GL tank in 12 minutes, you only have to run them for 12 minutes every few hours maybe? I dot know how to set up the filter, clean the filter or anything, I am just clueless and would appreciate any information that you might have on Diatom Filters. Thank you, LeAnn <Read on my friend. Bob Fenner> Save The Carpets!! - Cascade 1000 Maintenance - 04/01/2005 Please help! <Hi, Elisabeth! Sabrina here, hoping to do just that.> I have a Cascade 1000 filter and I've had my tank 70 gallon) set up for about 1.5 months. <Well, welcome to the aquarium hobby, and may this adventure be a fun one.> I have Heart parrots and Silver dollars, anyway the problem is that I cant find the owners manual and I'd like very much to rinse out the floss in the filter. <A good idea, for sure.> I tried turning off and taking the top off (big mistake) <Yep> I had water all over.  <Better grab some galoshes for the next part....> Then I tried turning off the pump and disconnecting the hoses. another big mistake as water gushed out the hose. <Sounds like it's getting pretty humid there.> I know this is something simple but I DO need help! <Well, poor attempts at humor aside, I think I've got some help for yah. Take a look at the place where the hoses connect to the filter. On both hoses, there's a sort of lever-looking thing. See that? Turn it 90 degrees to where it is now. That should cut off the water, and you should be able to take off the lid without getting any wetter than, say, a mostly dry cocker spaniel. After you've emptied and cleaned the filter, when you go to put it back together, open one of the hoses over the filter (just turn that little lever-dohicky) to fill it up most of the way again. Close the hose again, and put the lid back on the filter. Open both hoses, prime the filter by pushing that big roundy button thing a few times, and turn 'er on! Simple as that. Furthermore, I urge you to write to Penn-Plax and tell them that you've misplaced your manual, and they'll probably be eager to help you obtain a new one. Penn-Plax's website is: http://www.pennplax.com/  and you can reach their customer service folks by emailing: consumerservice@pennplax.com. Now, here's a silly thing I do with manuals and such, as I really tend to lose them. I tape all my manuals to the inside of the stand of the aquarium, usually just to the left of the door. That way, if I need to figure something out, I know where I can find it, and it's not going to walk away very easily, being all stuck to the piece of tape and all. Might be something to try!> Elisabeth Keeney <Wishing you and your family a nice, dry carpet, -Sabrina>

Canister, Canister, Doin' the Can-Can Hey Crew, This should be an easy one. I am in the market for a canister filter for weekly clean up. I am trying decide between a Diatom filter of a magnum filter. In your opinion which do you think would be the better choice. Thank You! < I would choose the Magnum because you can use different cartridges depending on the level of clean up you require. A coarse canister insert with good carbon can get rid of any colors in the water and the micron insert can really polish up the water by removing the fine particles suspended in the water.-Chuck> 

Canister filter Qs + tank setups Hey WWM Crew, <Jamie> A big ol' Thank You! to Gwen for answering my last email (the one below this one). It helped me picture what's happening with the canister filter. I'm sure it'll all be crystal clear once I bring one home, lol. I'm also hoping that the plants won't become snail food, hehe. The snails are Pomacea bridgesii effusa Apple snails, the ones that do not eat live plants and safe for the planted tank. They haven't eaten any of mine for the year or so I've had 'em so I think I'm in the clear, lol. <We'll see> Anyway, I have indeed pondered more and more about my setup with the 20Ls. Since putting them together with one canister filter is not a good idea, I've been thinking what would. Maybe two Whisper power filters, but I am afraid that the water turbulence may be too much for both inhabitants and plants, and that they wouldn't bring up much of the snail mess. <These are actually a good choice... not too turbulent...> Then I thought maybe sponge filters would work but wouldn't I be compromising space for my plants and the snail mess might still pose a problem. Any suggestions??? I'm open-minded and all ears :) <I would go with hang-on, outside power filters> Also, I've looked over more of the Eheim canister filters and found the Ecco Comfort Plus Filter 2232 and 2234. Is this a good one or should I just stick with the Filstar for either the 30 or 33L?? <I prefer the Ecco products over the Filstar> Sorry for all the questions, figured that while you're all available I should ask the pros everything I can ;)  And, as always, thanks for help, it is greatly appreciated :) ~ Jamie <Bob Fenner> 220 gallon tank hi I have just purchased a 220 gallon tank and I am wonder what kind of filters to use I know I want canister filters the tank is going to be fresh water and also how many do u think I need < Since you already want canister filters I would only recommend a minimum of two Marineland Magnum filters with the optional BioWheel attachments. The two of them will pump 700 gallons per hour when clean. If you have a hard time keeping up you could add a third one.-Chuck> Ty Jerry Messer

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