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FAQs about Canister, Cartridge Filters For Marine Systems 1

Related Articles: Physical Filtration, Review of the ViaAqua Canister Filter

Related FAQs: Canister Filters 2, Canister Filters 3, Outside Power Filters& FAQs on: Rationale/Use, Placement, Media, Plumbing, Maintenance, Troubleshooting/Repair, By Manufacturer: Eheim, Fluval, Other Brands,

Modu-, NuClear units... Very sturdy, lots of good surface area, the right pore size...

Extra filter pump for Fluval 404 Hi Bob, My present filtering is done by a Fluval 404. My problem is I moved the Fluval behind a wall a way from the tank. Now my water flow is very low, due to the distance tank.  <Actually... practically speaking, this distant placement should make little difference (the pressure in the intake line should offset the "head" resistance in the discharge side... unless it's a very long way (tens of feet let's say) or you've reduced the tubing diameter... Do look for "kinks" in the line... restrictions through valving, filter media/packing, fittings (I would remove any "spray bars" for instance.> My question is I just purchased a Mag 7 to help the Fluval with pumping. Should I place the Mag before the Fluval or after. I also have a UV sterilizer after the Fluval. The Mag 7 is rated @ 700gph and the Fluval is much less. I don't want to damage the Mag or Fluval with this increase in pump volume. Any help would be great!! <I am very leery here of telling you to try and do something I myself would not do... If a centrifugal pump were added, it would be placed ahead of the restrictive filter (such pumps "push" by design, engineering, not "pull"... However there may be a real danger in "popping" the filter canister, O-ring... I would NOT add a pump here... Let's chat over some other possibilities... like adding a sump/refugium to your system and using the new pump there... or moving the canister filter closer to the system... or both. Bob Fenner> Thank you Jamie

Re: Extra filter pump for Fluval 404 Thanks Bob for the suggestions, I would say I have about 12 - 15 feet of hosing round trip drop & rise for hoses would be about 3 ? to 4 feet). <Good input, once again the height is of little consequence... as the water is "pushed" as much as it is "pulled" with the lines originating and ending at the same approximate level (relative to the mass of this planet.> The intake side, is the Fluval intake pipe that comes from manufact. The hose travels down the back side of the tank to a bulkhead in the wall. I live in a Bi-level house with a crawl space under the steps. Fluval & UV are placed here for easy access.  <Oh! The induced drag through the sterilizer may be significant... could be a/the deciding factor... possibly might be worth experimenting here... cutting the hose between the canister and U.V. and inserting the Mag 7 there...> The return side is configured in a similar manner with another bulk head in the wall returning to the tank the cleaned water. The new hoses are ? , <Is this 3/4"? I hope so. Can't make out the tiny print> I think the Fluval hoses are only ?, which I don't use anymore. I thought maybe the Mag 7 after the UV to help draw the water back up to the tank. <Not made to "draw" but to push... hard on the pump... may cavitate badly if placed to "suck"... Bob Fenner> Thanks Jamie

New saltwater setup Bob; I just happened upon your website today and am astounded not only by the fact that it is so comprehensive in information, but that you make yourself available for questions from newbies by myself. :-) I am grateful! <You are welcome my friend. Given a similar background and desires, you would likely do the same> At the risk of boring you to tears with simple newbie questions .... I've purchased and read your book, "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist," and have found it to be extremely useful. However, I'm a bit confused by the conflicting information I've read on the Internet (of course) regarding the usefulness of canister filters in marine aquaria. <Different strokes... canisters can be useful adjuncts... for added biological filtration, handy places to launch chemical filtrants... Not a "one item does it all" type of filtration however... and do have some drawbacks (tendency to clog, generate abundant nitrates... inconvenience of cleaning...> I'm about to set up my first saltwater tank, and have purchased the following, upon the advice of my LFS: Standard 55gal tank Fluval 404 canister filter SeaClone protein skimmer standard hood setup with 2 24" 15-watt Triton fluorescent tubes 40 lbs aragonite reef sand My intent is to begin with a fish-only-with-live-rock setup. After some time, I'll probably also add some hardy invertebrates. My LFS recommended that I fill the canister filter with biological filtration media, only. <One route to go> I've since read many disparaging comments on the Internet regarding canister filters being "nitrate factories," and I'm getting the impression that I may be better off upgrading my lighting and, after the nitrogen cycle has completed, removing the canister filter and having only the skimmer, and live rock for denitrification. <All valid points that might be instituted.> If I keep the canister filter, will my fish and invertebrates be doomed to unhealthy nitrate levels unless I do water changes on an incredibly frequent basis? <You'd be better off with a "sump type" filter arrangement.> Some people on the Internet even go so far as to state that a canister filter and live rock work at "cross-purposes" ... <Actually they're more complimentary... in simple terms of aerobic and anaerobic de/nitrification...> Any advice? <Plenty... at this juncture, do keep studying, evaluating this apparently conflicting information (you will find it actually is not so... much more like the real universe, things are better/worse "depending"...) until you can sort through your choices... Some substantial part of the fun and learning from involvement in our interests is the personal growth of discerning opinion and fact. You will see. Bob Fenner> Thank you for your time. - Dave Clark

Marine set-up query Hi Anthony <cheers> Sorry, one last thing. I checked my 2ft tank for fit in my 4ft cabinet last night and had bit of a thought upon seeing the sump and Fluval 404 together. Could I run the 404 intake hose from the sump and use it to pump the sump water back up to the tank ? <no my friend. This great little filter was not designed to handle that sort of head pressure. You will need a dedicated pump for the purpose> Cheers, Scott <kindly, Anthony>

Eheim Maintenance Hi, Regarding the Eheim Pro II filter model 2028. Many of the marine equipment vendor sites claim that you only have to clean this filter every 3 to 4 months. <Mmm, this can be so... I have two of these units on freshwater systems... and rarely open them> I was under the impression reading your site and others that the filter pads for mechanical filtration should be cleaned much more frequently (perhaps weekly). Is the Eheim really an exception to this advice?? <Not really an exception. Depending on the "job" you intend, have these canister filters set up to do... your particular needs/arrangements of feeding, foods, other filtration... they may only need to be cleaned very intermittently. The best practical advice is to try them and open them up, see if matter is accumulating on the media (on mine it does not much at all)> Would you recommend 2 Eheims, one for mechanical filtration and one for biological filtration( perhaps a wet/ dry model) in a 100 gallon discus tank? <I do recommend two... but would set them up the same (per the excellent media provided and) their packing instructions> My thinking is that the mechanical filter can be cleaned more frequently, and the filter used for bio filtration can be cleaned less frequently as per your sites suggestions. <As stated, I believe you will find as I have that these are so well designed and made that there is very little accumulation of matter on the mechanical media. I would work into a schedule in concert with your regular water changes, of opening one every other week for a while (to access how "dirty" the first media is) and the following interval the other one. Bob Fenner, who really likes these units> Thanks, Bill

Filter Problems (canister, marine) hey... I don't know if you guys are familiar with filters... but my filter won't suck up water anymore.... can you tell me what the problem is... its a magnum filter... the old ones.. not the new 350... but yeah... it won't suck up any more water... I checked it many times.. the only thing wrong with it is the rubber band which is on the cap... I asked a man about it and he said that the because the band has little breaks on it that it would let in air.. would air affect the filter's ability to suck the water... I mean at first it works... but only for a few seconds.. the water level in the filter starts to lower, then at about halfway emptied it stops sucking in anymore water... can you help me out... I know it's not a fish problem but.. any help is fine... thanks... Sokha <You should replace your gaskets. -Steven Pro>

Priming Canister Filters I have a Fluval 404 filtration system for my 185 gallon aquarium and can't seem to get it pumping. Motor is running . do these have to be left on for a while to start (primed)? <Don't have to be left running (go and turn off NOW!) w/o water in them... you have to prime this canister filter... suck on the discharge end over a bucket to fill the intake line and canister itself... THEN plug it in. Bob Fenner>

Deep Sand Footprint Hello all, <cheers> Let me thank you in advance for your helpful thoughts. This site is a tremendous resource for anyone with an aquarium and an internet connection. <thank you... please share/advise other aquarists of this site too <G>> I was wondering if any of you had ever heard of someone replacing the media in a canister filter with a layer of deep sand (with a screen or snug-fitting filter pad to prevent sand from getting sucked through the pump).  <a staggeringly horrible idea. Slap whoever suggested it to you with the mucus cocoon of a parrotfish> Could this have any of the benefits of a deep sand bed, with good water flow across such a small area, or do you suspect that the water flow would prevent the sand from becoming sufficiently anaerobic?  <can't even begin to tell you how this would not work...er, OK... I'll begin: too small indeed to become anoxic/denitrifying, too small to do anything measurably helpful even if it worked, an impediment to the flow of water through the canister in taxing manner unlike which it was designed for, inevitable damage to impeller/housing from inevitable grains of sand...hmmm... more items of suckiness if I think further than off the cuff> If you think that the sand would be too aerobic, would really deep sand help this? <not recommended> Thanks again, John Sanders <best regards, my friend. Anthony Calfo>

Re: Filter change Hi all- Thank you for the reply to my filter question. As a follow-up, will switching from a hang-on filter to a canister make a significant difference? <most canister filters are larger than hang-ons and may very well be more effective by virtue of their size. Pick a good brand like Eheim that has been around for decades and is tried and true> I am currently running a 55 gallon saltwater aquarium with about 30 pound of live rock, a CPR Bak Pak skimmer, an undergravel filter, and a Whisper hang on filter. Basically, it's a FOWLR (plus one starfish) with a Cardinalfish, Koran angel, yellow tang, two striped damsels, and moon wrasse. <hmmm... do maintain that UG filter diligently> The biggest reason for my considering a filter change is the frequency with which I'm changing the filter pads, sometimes twice a week.  <either you are feeding WAY too much food or your skimmer has not been adjusted to collect good skimmate DAILY or a combination of both. A canister filter is not going to solve your problem... only put a bandage on a symptom> I know a canister filter requires maintenance as well, but I wonder if I'm harming water quality by having a filter with less filtering ability (although water parameters test fine). <if you get the canister, do modify with a course foam block (like from a Hagen AquaClear filter) on the intake strainer. Rinse and reuse this frequently and this will dramatically extend the life of the media in your canister> Thanks in advance for all your help. All good wishes, Daryl Klopp <best regards, Anthony>

Eheim 2213 can I use an Eheim 2213 to filter a marine tank. I own one and it is the ultimate fresh water filter, I would think it would be just as good at filtering saltwater, I am converting my 55 gallon and I have in tank canister and Eheim canister. there is more than enough water turnover, or is my Eheim useless. <not useless at all... a very fine filter that can indeed be used as your primary in a marine system...but not the only filter. Some live rock and/or a secondary mechanical filter will be necessary and give you great peace of mind with your investment in the magically beautiful marine animals. My very strong advice is to add as much live rock as you can afford. It is so efficient as a source of filtration that in some cases it can actually outperform and replace your Eheim. Still keep the Eheim for carbon and gross filtration> thanks Sam <best regards, Anthony>

Nitrate/Eheim Questions Hi, hope you're all well...I'd like to clarify something I'm unclear on even after pouring over the FAQ's on nitrates/denitrification. I recently pulled the Media Ehfisubstrat &Ehfimech) from the Eheim canister in my 46 reef. the reason would be too tedious to go into; it started with comments from Eric B. on another BB re: a xenia crash and many Q&A's with you guys). <I do remember vaguely.> I don't know if it's causal or coincidental, but it seems like my nitrates are higher since then (10-20 with crude dipstick tests-I'm about to order a Salifert kit). Do these two media support enough anaerobic bacteria to help with denitrification, <No, would be strictly aerobic bacteria in a canister filter.><<Mmm, depends on media... flow rate... RMF>> and if so, would one or the other of them be better? The directions are unclear on the function of the mech-they say something about ensuring an even flow of h2o thru the filter. My other parameters are all right on and the nitrates used to be zero also. The tank is running for six months with a low fish load <It probably just took this long to accumulate the nitrates.> two cardinals and two Banggais; also 4LPS and several softies, 2 shrimp, assorted hermits and snails. All seem fine except the bubble isn't inflated as often/fully as it used to be and is a dirty brown color instead of pure white (I feed it shrimp regularly). <The change in color is probably a good thing. Poor white indicates a lack of symbiotic algae/zooxanthellae. Many LPS pan and expand a lot when under lit. Many folks confuse this over inflated tissue with growth. The feeding probably sustained it until its zooxanthellae could recover.> I have a borderline substrate: a scant 3" in some places and 3 1/2 in others--hard to tell because a huge proportion of the floor is covered with 70# LR. Am I right to assume that adding depth to the small part of the floor that's accessible would only help a little? <Yes, of minor help. Better to have a uniform depth of 4-6".> I'm doing 10% h20 changes about 2-3x/month since the nitrates rose; was a little lax till then, I confess. <Again, probably why you are now beginning to seen increases in nitrates.> I have no sump and no room/desire for one since I have no built-in overflow. There is one large (5-6") clump of Halimeda which I could trim less; it would fill the tank if I let it! <A overall good indicator of proper calcium and alkalinity levels. In this case, also a sign of higher nutrients.> I'm feed frozen Mysis once/day, pretty moderately, I think. I'd appreciate your ideas on whether to replace the Eheim media, and whether to stick with the original set-up, i.e. one basket each of the mech and the substrate, use Siporax instead, just substrate, etc? <I would go with things as they are now. Increase the sand if possible, make sure you are getting good skimmate, and things should come back into line.> Thanks for all your help; I'd never have gotten into this hobby/survived without it! <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Filtration questions Thank you for the quick response to my question.  <Very welcome, my friend.> I asked about replacing my current filter with a magnum 350. This is for my 29 gallon FOWLR (10 lbs live rock, 25 lbs base rock, plan on getting more live rock in the future). After your suggestion I have done some research into Eheim filters and now am considering purchasing one of those.  <they are well made and long lived. I just wish they had stronger flow> The two I am between are the 2213 with a 116 gph flow and it says it is good for between a 30-70 gallon aquarium, and the 2215 with a 164 gph flow rate and it states is good for up to a 93 gallon aquarium. Which one would you use and would these products be better for my system than the magnum? <I'd choose the bigger Eheim, for sure. Compared to the Magnum, they serve different purposes. I find the Eheim better for biological filtration and lower maintenance. I like the Magnum better for quick filtration and chemical media. Given to choose though, I'd still take the Eheim. Kindly, Anthony>

One last quick question about filtration Sorry to bother you again but I have one last question. I emailed you concerning the Eheim filter for my 29 gallon. You mentioned that you wished the Eheim filters had stronger flow. I was planning on getting a 2215, but now I think I might get a 2217, with the 265 gph flow compared to the 164 gph for the 2215. Would this would be better? <Bigger is almost always better.> Thanks a lot. You guys are awesome! <This part is in general and does not specifically apply to just you. I just wanted to add it for those who read the daily FAQ page. If you have a follow up question, it is best to "Reply" so that we can see the original correspondence, too. We receive and answer a ton of email and cannot keep everyone straight. -Steven Pro>

Choose My Eheim Hi Bob. <<Bob's not here, Man. JasonC is, filling in while he's away diving.>> Just a question about Eheim, 2228 or 2229 wet dry, which is better? <<Hmm, I think Bob is more partial to the non-wet/dry Eheim's so I'd say he'd pick the 2228 [non wet/dry]>> Does the 2228 outweigh the 2229 wet dry since its flow rate is 750 liters per hour compared to the 550 liters the 2229 does? <<perhaps also a better design.>> I'm confused with which one to buy. Thanks Rob. <<If you must use a canister filter, then Eheim is the one. If the 2228/9 are in your price range, then buy the 2228. Cheers, J -- >>

Questions about Cleaning Canister Filter Media JasonC, <<Greetings.>> Hey it looks like the maintenance section of fresh/salt water filter cleaning go to the same page. <<interesting>> What's interesting is I understood it you're never supposed to clean your bio-load balls or ceramic cylinders. It doesn't mention to clean them but I just wanted to confirm. <<you could RINSE them every so often [every six months or so] in clean salt water, just to remove silt/mulm but you wouldn't want to scrub or bleach them or rinse in fresh water.>> In my canister filter I have a small white pre-filter followed by my copper bag. <<copper bag? You mean carbon I hope...>> then a separator and my ceramic cylinders for bio load and then a thick black filter. Is it true all of these items can be cleaned except for the ceramic as bacteria is growing on them necessary to break down ammonia/nitrites? <<and filter pads should be cleaned, bleached, scrubbed, etc.>> Do you suggest not cleaning them all at the same time as some bacteria is growing on these items and this would not have a huge drop in bacteria population? <<you should always clean [or replace if necessary] filter pads, and if you are on a regular cycle with this [say every week] then the bacteria will never really have a chance to populate the filter pads.>> thanks for the help! <<You are quite welcome - Cheers, J -- >>

Filter blockage deaths Hi Bob, I went on my honeymoon for 2 weeks. <Congratulations> during our absence the filter tube fell causing it to kink and block. The person we had looking after the fish came in and found the fish dead (Picasso trigger, 2 clowns, 4 stripe, emperor angel and blue tang). It had been 6 days since they had last seen the fish. We had an auto feeder set and all was OK up to then. (We had introduced the feeder slowly making sure the fish were OK to eat dried food and that the feeder worked OK over an extended period of time). <Oh> I returned 3 days after the fish had been found and by then the filter tube had been unkinked. All the chemical measurements were normal. What would cause the fish to die? Could they have died by lack of oxygen? A number of small crabs (2cm) and worms that were living in the live rock were also dead. The anemone also died, however one large coral has remained alive. <Many changes could, might have occurred as a consequence of the "kinking"... low dissolved oxygen for sure... and with con/subsequent changes in loss of aerobic nitrifying bacteria... and, and, and...> This is the first time we have lost any fish since we started about 6 months ago and we are very upset. How would the fish have died and would they have suffered. <Not likely to have suffered. Aquatic life is "hard-wired" differently than tetrapods (e.g. birds, mammals).> Regards, Michael. PS. Thanks for your website. There is much contradictory advice on SW aquariums, but we usually take your advice. <Thank you my friend. Don't be discouraged with these accidental losses. Make provision that it cannot recur and go on. Bob Fenner>

O rings (Tetra repair part) I have a Whisper power filter- Model 2B- the O ring leaks water. Can you tell me were I can get new ones. Thanks, C. Herbst <I would contact Tetra directly. They were very good about sending me a few new ceramic shafts for my pond pump. Their website is http://www.tetra-fish.com/index2.html -Steven Pro>

Problem with Fluval 204 Canister Filter Hello, and great site by the way. <Thank you very much. I am sure Bob appreciates all the compliments he gets.> I've got a new freshwater setup. A 100 Gallon Tank about half full for a VERY lucky Red Eared Slider (Turtle). Everything is working great for this little guy, but I've had a bit of trouble with the Fluval 204 Canister Filter that I bought for him today. The filter seems to be constantly developing air bubbles and is difficult to prime. It is an intermittent problem. Sometimes the filter will go for hours without a problem, and sometimes it's only a few minutes. I have the filter mounted level with the tank because of space restrictions. My basic questions are: 1.Does the placement of the canister cause difficulty in filtration? <Yes, it should be well below the tank water level.> 2. Is it normal for this type of filter to have this much trouble with air bubbles? <It is common for Fluvals to have problems purging the air when the sponge filters are new. They hold a lot of air and it takes awhile to force it out. Also, your height differences maybe making the problem worse.> 3. What kind of media would you recommend to keep this ammonia producing monster from poisoning himself? <Activated carbon, Zeolite clay, and the ceramic rings.> Thanks for your time and effort in putting up such a comprehensive source of information for those of us that are "Aquatically Challenged" Eric <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Canister filter question Thanks for your quick response. Okay, I understand and will probably take your suggestion. But just to further my education what would be the harm in allowing that filter to act as a biological filter as well? Could I add half of the recommended media? So there would be less surface area. Finally how often do you clean out a canister filter's media if it is a bio filter? -Pete <It is unnecessary to use as a biological filter if you have sufficient liverock and live sand in your micro reef tank. It will breakdown certain compounds making it more difficult for your protein skimmer to remove them, adding unwanted nutrients to your system. The media will displace more water and will eventually get dirty and cut down on the flow rate from the canister filter. -Steven Pro>

Canister filter question Dear Bob, <You got Steven pro today.> I love your website, it has been a great help in learning how to set up my saltwater tank. My tank has been going for about six months. It is a 12 gallon tank (one of the ones from Eclipse) that I have taken the hood off of and put a power compact light and a glass top for better lighting on. I have about 18-20lbs of live rock and about an inch of live sand as a substrate. I wanted to add a protein skimmer so I bought the Prizm skimmer as I read on your site that it was a good one for a small tank. I have a few polyps and one medium mushroom. I also have two clown fish that are fairly small. My levels are pretty good pH 8.1, nitrite 0, nitrate 10, ammonia 0, alkalinity 4meq/l, KH 12 and I add the standard trace elements Kalkwasser, strontium, coral vital, iodine. My question is that now that I have the protein skimmer I have to get rid of my filter that was hanging off the back of the tank because I have run out of room. A friend of mine said he would give me his Eheim professional II 2026 and all I would need to do is buy the substrate for the inside. This is a good canister filter that would solve my space problem, but is it too much for my small tank? In the next year I would like to move my small tank into a larger tank (probably a 30 or 50 gallon) so I thought this would be a good filter to grow with. Next question, should I use all of the recommended substrates (Ehfisubstrat, Ehfimech, 3pads) so that it becomes a biological filter in addition to my live rock? I asked at a store and they said that usually in a small tank you would change the pads every 2 months and every 6 months you should rinse the substrates in salt water. He said that it was okay to let most of your bacteria go to the filter and that in the end this would be beneficial for the tank. Does this all sound correct to you? <I have a suggestion for you that is going to sound weird, but it is what I would do. I would get the Eheim and not put any media in it. Your 12 gallon tank is pretty small to start with. Once you added the rock and sand, it probably only has about 8 gallons of water in it. You are not thinking of adding any more fish than your two clowns, are you? I would use the Eheim for additional circulation (~250 gph) and water holding capacity (maybe a gallon). Your rock and sand will provide you with enough bacterial surface area for your two fish.> Thanks for your help. -Pete <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Canister filter emergency Hi Bob! <You reached Steven Pro today. Anthony Calfo and I are helping out while Bob is away.> I just discovered that my Eheim 2215 canister filter has not been running, probably for a week or more (the plug was loose in the socket; it looked plugged in but wasn't, and the pump normally runs so quiet that it took a long time to notice. Pretty dumb.) How do I go about cleaning the gravel so that it can function as a biological filter again? Do I need to drain the hoses that connect the filter to the tank, since they're probably filled with yucky water? My 55-gal tank has a CPR BakPak skimmer with bio-bale, and about 70 pounds of live rock, so it's not totally without filtration, but of course I want to take care of this right away. Thanks for your help! -Suzanne. <Clean and drain everything in the Eheim. It will probably smell something awful (similar to rotten eggs) if it has been off for a week. -Steven Pro>

Re: canister filter emergency Excellent advice... but how exactly do I go about cleaning the gravel? <I would put it in a bucket and rinse repeatedly with hot water while churning with your hands. -Steven Pro>

To canister or not to canister .....this is the question! Hey folks I have a 135 gallon tank with a 40 gallon refugium, half dozen corals, 10 small fish 120 lbs live rock, DSB every thing is wonderful except I think the water could sparkle just a bit more !! Besides the refugium I run a Emperor 400 I want to add a big canister? What are your thought on this! <I would just put some more carbon in the emperor.>

Eheim for a reef tank? Hi, Welcome back and hope you don't mind two questions in one day! We corresponded a while back when I was gathering up gear for my first reef and I decided on an Eheim in addition to LR, and CPR skimmer in my sump-less 46 gallon. It provides great circulation, but as I'm learning more, I'm getting confused since many people seem to advise against canister filters on the grounds that they could filter out helpful tiny critters.  <A valid concern... depending on size, flow rate, what the canister is packed with... for how large, system's occupants...> I could always remove some of the pads and just use the beads and substrate.  <Ah yes> A side question is whether to turn off filters in a small tank like mine while feeding. If I were to run the Eheim intermittently is there a risk of poisoning the system with results of anaerobic metabolism/ how long does that take? Double thanks!! <Good questions. A timer to cycle off mechanical filters during feeding is often a good idea (don't rely on your, my memory... where was I? Oh... takes about an hour or two for most canister situations to begin to have/cause trouble. Hence the advice to lower water level in them (replacing with air) during transit, long shut down periods. Bob Fenner>

Skimmer for surface of water Hi Bob can you send me the web site again for the company that supplies the type of skimmers that clean the surface of your water. <This is on Eheim's site. You can find it on the WetWebMedia.com Links Pages if not via your search engines. Bob Fenner> Thanks

Filters Thank you in advance again. I have Fluval 304 that is definitely dying I can replace from the store it was purchased at for the same or credit. My question is should I go with the same and I was thinking of getting a 104 for dedicated bio filtration or one of the Eheim's that are hard to find in my area unless I mail order it. Do not know much about them and can they be used the way the Fluval are with the carbon and so on. It is for a 50 gal pent with two tangs and two dwarf angels, two 402 power heads, Prizm skimmer and 50 or so pounds of rock. The Eheim is a vastly superior product of about the same application. It can be packed with their/others media... I would mail-order this instead of the replacement Fluval. My further input on canister filters is posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marcanistfltfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Filtration (canister) Thank you for your help in the past. I had the copper pipe problem, except for a few snails and one shrimp all is ok now. I am holding myself back from throwing a Fluval 304 out the window. Power it does have but durability not sure about.  <Not a great product, though they have gotten tremendously better with changes over the years. Next time for a canister, look into Eheim> I have been happy with the canister set up especially with a 3 and 1yr old running around. I have two tangs, two dwarf angels, 50 lbs LR, usual scavengers, two 402 power heads and a Prizm skimmer. Tank is a 48 gal pent want to go towards reef in the future but not sure what direction on the filter would be best and size has to be a consideration. <Pull water from one end near the bottom, discharge from other end near the top... And do consider changing the tubing/length to do this (with Eheim's green of same diameter is best, sigh) in order to place the Fluval wherever you want (out of small hands way) like inside a cabinet. Bob Fenner>

Filtration (canister, surface) Dear Mr. Fenner, I have some filtration queries. First, is it possible to mate an overflow box with a canister filter or skimmer in order to remove the occasional surface film?  <Yes... in fact there are units/attachments made by some canister filters for surface extraction. See Eheim's website: http://www.eheim.com/> If so, any suggestions? (The system is small, basic, and without an overflow or sump.) Secondly, while your site recommends chemical filtration for a reef aquarium, other places have occasionally mentioned coral bleaching or clam starvation with such use. Any way to gain the good without the bad here? <Yes, with "punctuated" (periodic) use. Some activated carbon about once a month is my SOP... the GAC gets "used up" very quickly... hours, days at most...> Finally, this is the third time I have written (do not have chat capabilities and your site/help is invaluable). <No way to reach our chatforum?: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/> Both times your advice has been right on the money and lightning fast! I am now concerned for your health. Hours in front of the computer answering novices' questions cannot be good for you. Please develop some other interests, like a hobby; have you ever considered aquarium keeping? <Ah, you're cracking me up! On the contrary, involvement here is a tremendous relief and pleasure for me... otherwise am "on the same machines" reading, writing, researching for articles, books, images... Thank you for brightening my day. Bob Fenner> In seriousness, many thanks, Pam S.

Trials and tribulations Dear Bob, Sorry for the length, I have had a FO show tank (6'l x 30"d x 24"w about 200 gals) for over 6 years running a wet/dry, Berlin xl w/ ozone, and a Fluval 404. I had not lost a fish in almost two years though ran high nitrates, <60. The motor in the Fluval burnt out and I stupidly left the lines in while deciding on a new filter. <Yikes...> Fish started acting sick after about 3 weeks, water tested fine. <Anaerobic problems here are very transient... likely not testable.> After losing a puffer, lion, a clown trigger (all over 4 yrs old) and two wimples, (a dragon eel and Naso survived), I started a major over haul and when I drained the lines left from the Fluval, you knew, rotten eggs-hydrogen sulfide! <Yes> I spent a month of weekly 25% water changes, and lots of carbon. I read your articles on LR and added 90lbs, let it cure out for 6 weeks, pulled about 3/4 of my bio-balls over that time, added a "clean up" crew and let it settle another 3 weeks. Last week I added a hippo tang who spent two weeks in quarantine, I did not dip. It has ich now, and I have not been able to catch it to put it back in quarantine to treat. The Naso and eel seem fine. Should I have skipped the LR and cleaners since I only plan on keeping fish and now can't treat the tank. <No, I would have done what you have... and you can still try some of the fish/cleaners... Likely the Eel won't immediately consume a Gobiosoma goby (or two)...> The boss (wife) isn't happy about the tank, which is viewed from both sides, being a large empty water container without fish for the last couple of months, or the $ I have spent to get to where I am. Suggestions? Bill <... keep the Boss happy, use "hidden" funds if need be to purchase some more colorful, outgoing fishes (maybe a couple more Wimples/Heniochus butterflies... though I know they'll be much smaller than the ones you lost... and don't become overly concerned about the apparent ich at this point. It may well clear up on its own here. Do try adding a vitamin and iodide preparation to your fishes foods (actually not the Eels foods, but the Naso, etc... this will help as well. Bob Fenner>

Adding another tank Hello again Mr. Fenner, My brother-(who I brought into this great hobby/lifestyle) is remodeling his house & getting a 180 gal tank for his house & I'm jealous! <We should start a club> So, now I'm considering another 50g to set on the other side of my new Sony 55 digital TV.  <Wowzah! I'm tired of squinting at our thirty inch fossil cathode-ray type!> My existing tank is a 50 w/2 Fluval 304's & think I will set up the new tank the same way as the existing. My question is, can I use one of the existing Fluvals along w/some of the live rock & sand the shorten or eliminate the cycle process??? <Absolutely> I would buy 2 new Fluvals and use one in the existing tank and one in the new. What do you think? <Sounds good> My brother is actually coming to Las Vegas this weekend & we are going for all you can eat sushi sat night, you are welcome to join us. <Ah, no alligator tears for me, will be diving, photographing in the Bahamas> I'll stop tempting you after this. <Wanna bet?> If you are ever in Tustin, ca., definitely stop at a sushi bar called Tommy's-I have people here in L.V. that make trips to so cal to eat there. Thanx again for your assistance. <And you for yours. Bob Fenner>

Re: Adding another tank Mr. Fenner, I live in L.V., I don't bet! If my brother talks me into a room divider 150 or 180, can I still use the Fluval, sand & rock to kick start the system?  <Yes> I would probably go w/an under stand system, drilled thru the bottom & not have canister type filter. Can I still use the "macaroni" from my Fluval? <Yes> Have a terrific time in the Bahamas and Thanx again. If you go to Tommy's, have a Galaxy Roll. The best. Chat w/you soon Craig <Yum! Bob Fenner>

Set up questions Hello Robert, I have emailed you before and YES I am still in the setup process ;) I have been using your forums and for the most part I am very satisfied. <Hopefully worth the cost, time> I still want to run my setup by you just to be safe. I am setting up a marine aquarium with live sand and live rock. At first there will be no coral but I may consider it depending on how successful I am. The equipment that I have purchased is as follows: 1) 55 Gal rectangular tank made by Top Fin (Manufactured by Perfecto??) <Hmm, contact them: http://www.perfectomfg.com/, think this is a Hagen brand> 2) Ehiem 2026 Pro II Filter Media: (1) Ehfi Mech (2) Ehfi Substrat (1) Pad and Pillow set (1) 3 Pak carbon pads 3)Bak-Pak 2 protein Skimmer 4)Maxi-Jet Powerhead 1200 5) Looking into JBJ lighting. 4 (55w)=220W Two daylight and two blue. <Keep looking... these units have/had troubles...> Here are my questions: a) Which media should I use with the canister filter for my type of system? Everything it came with or just the carbon pad? Eheim's directions are not clear on this. <Likely to discount confusion... I would use all those listed... the Ehfimech on the bottom, the carbon above it between layers of "Fein"... replace/renew the carbon about once a month> b) I bought the Bak Pak2 and not the Bak Pak 2R? The Bak Pak2 comes with BioBale and is not intended for a reef system. Will the Bio Bale in the Bak Pak2 be beneficial or harmful for my type of system? <Beneficial for a few months... then I'd pull it. We can talk about this later when the information is more relevant> c) Is RO deionized water necessary? Can I just use my tap water? <Likely your tap is fine. Do you drink it? No worries. We use tap with our systems> d) Is there any additional equipment that I should consider purchasing? <At this point? Test kits? Cleaning gear? I'd just "jump in" at this juncture. Bob Fenner> Thanks again -RK

Re: Good Morning. (Marine set-up... choice in canister filters) One last question, I hate to bother so much, but I am really contemplating going with the bigger tank actually this weekend. Hey you only live once! <As far as we know...> Anyways, I have the Red Sea PRIZM protein skimmer which is rated to tanks up to 90 gallons, so that's not a problem. <Hmm, actually... I rate this product at no more than half that maximum> Will a Magnum 350 be enough for filtration or something more like Eheim 2026? <The Eheim is a MUCH better choice... but what else? Live rock? Any room for a sump?> I know you prefer the Eheim brand, whets the difference?  <Initial cost only on the negative side... the Eheim will last you literally a lifetime... uses very little power, very quiet, holds its value as a superior product should... better all the way around> I hate thinking about how much money I am going to have to spend on live rock!  <Shop around... look on the www.WetWebMedia.com Links Page... deals on whole boxes to be had.> Well thanks for your help. Alfredo <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: canister filter Hi Bob, Many thanks for your help. It is much appreciated :) <<You're welcome my > >Since this has happened I have put 8 x 3 foot Coralife fluorescent lights under the hood + reflectors. 4 are blue and 4 are white. There is about 210 Watts + reflectors of fluorescent lights, but it has only been a week, so I do not know if this was the problem. Opps, the lights are 30W each, so there is 8x30=240W + reflectors of lighting. The reflector claim 100% increase in intensity, but I do not know how true this is? <<Approximately, > When I take them off I do notice a big difference in brightness. ><Could be a lack of biomineral (calcium, magnesium), an imbalance of these elements, inadequate alkalinity, a paucity of carbon dioxide during the day, predators, negative chemical interactions with other stinging-celled life... >many other possibilities> Hmm, how can I tell if it was no enough lighting? Will the corals grow back again with the increase in lighting or are they doomed? <<If the lighting is a big part of the cause/problem, they will be greatly improved with the change>> If the lights do not fix the problem I will continue to look for a solution. <<Good>> >I was also wondering if I can remove my canister filter from the system? ><Should be okay> That's great. I will remove this tonight. Again, many thanks for your help. You have saved me from disaster a number of times. I also enjoy reading your web site and wherever possible implement what you describe on your web site. Warmest regards Lucien Cinc <<A pleasure to be part of your clarity, purpose, action. Bob Fenner>>

Film on surface Hello, <Hey there> I have cycled my 80 gal tank for three months now and achieved no ammonia or nitrites, etc. <None perhaps detected... they were expediently converted, absorbed...> I added 6 Damsels last week and thus began feeding. I now notice a layer of what appears to be oil/film on the surface of the water. <Ah, good observation!> It also contains some debris, maybe from the fish/food... I have a Tunze protein skimmer and an Eheim canister filter. Is my skimmer working properly? <Likely yes. A very good unit, manufacturer.> Or do I need to get an Eheim surface skimmer? <Ah! Excellent choice.> What is this film & why are the debris not being sucked up by the equipment? <Products, by-products of chemical/physical activity in your (and all) system, and resultant from feedings, etc.... No real problem if kept to a minimum... with "scooping" water from the top (like with a pitcher), or skimming with a clean, unscented paper towel... or best with the proposed Eheim addition> I have been feeding some jarred zooplankton, could that be causing trouble? <To some degree, yes... likely a source of the oil you're so keenly espying. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> -Sarka

Canister filters <Lorenzo Gonzalez here, pretending to be Bob Fenner, who's in Asia at the moment> I first have to thank you guys for all of the great and up-to-date info you provide, as we all know that in this hobby the current methods are always changing. I have decided to go with a protein skimmer and live rock set up for my 72 gallon fish only set up, along with a sizable homemade sump with more live rock and Caulerpa.  <Sounds great so far.> My question regards carbon. I have an old Eheim 2213 (do you remember the output on these?) that I plan on using with Eheim media and one Chemi-pure run for just one week a month. Does that sound okay?  <Yes, it sounds like a decent idea.> Can I just use an Aquaclear hanging in my sump with just the carbon?  <Sure. I do that.> Also, would Ehfisynth filter wadding be a good addition, along with Grob and Ehfimech, or would this add to nitrate build-up? Does the one week a month sound good on the carbon? <If you think you'll have some rather messy fish, the additional bio-mech might not hurt. And a little nitrate in a FOWLR tank isn't the end of the world, as long as it doesn't spike. As for carbon, I just run it all the time, though that's really not necessary in most balanced setups. But my water is ALWAYS crystal clear, and springtime-fresh smelling! The thing with an Eheim bio-mech setup, in my experience, is to be careful to NEVER rinse out all the media at any one sitting. Keep some of the media 'seeded' to re-start the filter after your regular maintenance.> Thanks ahead of time... John <No problem. -Lorenzo>

Canister Filters, a small island in the TEP Good morning Bob!! <Not quite awake yet...> I have 2 questions for you today!! First, I was wondering if you could suggest a good, QUIET, filter for my 40 gallon reef tank. Currently, I am running a Supreme Aqua King. Very noisy.  <Wow, didn't know that good old Eugene Danner's products were still about. Real water movement... but yes, noisy> It's rated at 350 gph. I was thinking about a canister type, but thought you could advise me. I think I would like to keep at least 350 gph, or better.  <More motion the better... and yes to over-rating... as they slow down when dirty...> I have been told that some magnetic drive filters claim to pump that much, but that the reality is much less when put under an actual load. <Yes... some much worse than others... Do invest in a good, actually the best make, Eheim here... you will be very happy with the engineering... whisper quiet, very dependable, low energy consumption/waste heat production... will last and last... and their "flocken" and Ehfi-mech filter media (one time purchase) as well. Link on the www.WetWebMedia.com Links Pages> Second, I an considering adding 3 fish to my tank. I already have 5 fish in there now, a Eiblii Angel, 2 false Percula clowns, a six line wrasse, and a lyre tail blenny. I was thinking of adding 3 Fiji Jewel Lyretail Anthias. Do you think that this might be too much for my system?? <Umm, this is the forty gallon right? It's already too fish-crowded...> I do a weekly 5 gallon water change, have a protein skimmer, and a UV sterilizer. Also, there are a few assorted mushrooms and corals in there. Thank you for your time, Bob!!! Pat Marren <Any chance of adding a larger system along with the new filtration? You need it... to keep up with your growing marine interest. Bob Fenner>

100 gallon tank, mainly filtration... Tank goal: To keep corals, mushrooms, Caulerpa, and slightly delicate fish like angels, etc. Yes Bob, I have a little more than 500 pc watts to keep those corals and algae growing. <Okay> I have bought a 100 gallon tank which has been sitting around for several weeks but I just can't decide on what type of filtration to use. I thought I had it all figured out but every fish store I go to disagrees with my idea.  <As long as you agree with yourself... that's all that matters> I am planning to use an Eheim 2060 (500gph) with a large skimmer and plenty of live rock (60-80 lbs). If I ever find a simple, easy to understand sump system I may at sometime in the future add a sump but that probably will not happen immediately unless you think it is a necessity.  <Good attitude... or at least we're in agreement> Four sales people at different shops and even Petwarehouse have all said "Get a wet dry" but I don't want the added problems that are cataloged on your website. <A sump is a sump... you don't need a wet-dry... I wonder how much money these folks might make by selling such off the shelf systems...?> These sales people insist that the Eheim won't be enough filtration because: 1) it won't turn the tank over as many times as I will need for a quasi-reef/fish tank, <The live rock is/will be the primary filter...> 2) gph on canisters decrease every day the canister is used so the gph is constantly decreasing,  <Not so much with a properly packed Eheim... I speak from decades of using them> 3) one canister will only take the water from one end of the tank therefore not cycling as much overall water is needed, and other similar complaints.  <Uh, the tank only has two ends... and you can/should use submersible pumps, powerheads for more circulation, aeration...> I want a simple, low maintenance filtration system that is effective (performance and cost) as well as operating quietly and that will be difficult for me to misuse.  <Your insight astounds me!> Eheim with live rock and a good skimmer sounds like a winner to me but no one else seems to agree. <Umm, I do.> I have read lots of info and at this point and have resigned myself to taking whatever your suggestions) is. <My advice is, of course to only let only your conscience be your guide... You're on the/a correct path my friend. Bob Fenner> Thanks once again, David Dowless

Filtration Problem Dear Bob, The latest problem with my tank (40gal SW w/40lbs LR, anemones, plate coral and fish/snails/crabs) is one that was completely out of my control and extremely frustrating. A recent storm temporarily knocked out my power and upon coming back all my tank equipment returned to normal except my Fluval canister filter (worst filter ever). After hours of trying to prime it, along with taking it apart and partially cleaning it, I have given up. I do have my skimmer running and several power heads with one of them breaking the water surface. I ordered a new Tidepool Wet/but it won't arrive for a week. <Try this priming technique... with the filter cleaned and re-assembled and a fish bucket for water near, place the intake line in the tank, and gently suck on the discharge line to start water flowing into the canister (you can put your hand between the discharge and your mouth if this seems gross)... after the lines, filter canister are full (water flowing into your fish bucket), put your thumb over the discharge end and place it in your tank... then fire the filter over.> My question is will the powerheads and skimmer (along with 40lbs live rock) provide enough filtration to keep my tank stabilized for a week and if not do you have any suggestions. <Maybe, but I'd use the Fluval as well> Thanks for your time and advice. Chris <Believe me, have spent many an hour behind, beside, under tanks trying to prime filters, pumps, lines... try this technique and look into the union valves made by Eheim going forward (will work on Fluval, other flexible tubing). Expensive, but one time purchase... and you won't have this priming problem again... Bob Fenner> 

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