Filter questions

annemun(z8NC)July 11, 2007

My husband and I have decided to upgrade to a 45- or 55-gal freshwater tank and are debating going to a canister style filter. We have tried the Emperor that hangs on the side, but it is just too noisy. We currently have an Eclipse 12-gallon and you never hear it. We have been advised that the canister models are quieter and very efficient. Pets Plus also advised going with the Filstar XP1 for this size tank. Would the Filstar XP2 be a better buy as we hope to change this to a saltwater setup sometime in the future? Would welcome any comments from anyone using these filters. Our main thing besides it being efficient is that it be SILENT!

Thanks very much.

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I admit to being an Eclipse fan, so may be prejudiced, but the entire concept is really quite brilliant when you think on it. Take it in from one end at the bottom and discharge it at the other end over a bio-wheel, silently and with no extra tubes, motors, air lines or need for places to hide external filters.

They are also so easy to clean and with little effort, simple to refill the cartridges. Just cut off the pad, empty the frame, wash, dry and refill. Once you cut some pads to fit, all it takes to hold them on is 2 rubber bands.

If you have the wherewithal to pay the price, the Eclipse hood/light/filtration units are now available to fit a 55.

My real issue with any of the canister filters is the cost of the highy specialized refills, and the myriad parts to clean.

If you want silent, efficient filtration coupled with quick, simple and- if you do your own refills- incredibly cheap maintenance, I honestly don't think you can beat an Eclipse.

But whatever your decision, do your wallet a favor and do not buy any filter from a pet store before you check out the prices at Foster & Smith.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 1:07PM
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birdwidow, we love our 12-gal Eclipse system but have found nothing larger available in our area but a 38-gal Eclipse "show" tank and we wanted to go a little larger.
Have already checked out Fstrs & Smith. Where can we find a 55-gal Eclipse unit? Will these fit any 55-gal rectangular glass tank? Thanks very much for your input!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 1:43PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

Would 2, 24" eclipse combo hoods work? Most 55G tanks have partions in them anyway. Other things that could help. Use a tight fitting glass canopy with the trimable plastic back strip. Use drills, rotary tools, exacto knifes to tightly fit any equiptment like air lines, filter returns/intakes, electric cords for submersible heater and pumps. Always keep the water level high to the top of the filter return if it is a cascade waterfall type. Use foam padding on the outside of a hang on the back (HOB)to keep vibrations down. I like to keep it simple and cheap with filters. I use alot HOBs and as long as the water level is high enough there is virtually no noise. I like HOBs for the ease of maintainance. Try 2 smaller ones. I don't like canisters for the lack of aerobic bacteria growth. A bio-wheel on the return would fix that, but there is your churning noise back. Maintanance on canisters can be a PITA if you keep them in the cabinet. They also can be noisy. If you go with a canister to save on media make sure it can handle just plain layers of loose media and you dont need special shaped, non-refilable containers. But all in all, I use HOB mainly for ease. I never noticed they where noisier. Matter of fact I think the canister had more of a hum to it and was noiser. Good luck in your choice.

Here is a link that might be useful: 24

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 3:56PM
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I was wrong in describing the latest from Marineland as an "Eclipse". I realized that after posting previously.

They are calling their new, larger hood/light/filter combos: "BIO wheel canopies".

Kind of pricey, but maybe not so much if you add up the separate costs for a hood, filters and lights for a 55, especially if you want to convert later to a reef tank, because if you bought one with the T-5 HO lights and they proved too much for a FW tank, you could always just remove one of the bulbs and hold it aside until you later go to SW.

It would be cheaper than converting the fixture later.

Finding it on the F & S website can be a bit of a chore though. They are listed under aquariums & hoods, not filters.


BTW: Woe: No. You can't fit a pair of 24" eclipse hoods onto a 55 gal. For one, they are made to fit over the top edge of the tank, and they are deeper in depth, front to back.

But I honestly believe that the day of the complete, overhead filtration system may be coming, to pretty much replace both HOT's and canisters, at least for living space show tanks.

I have a pair of them made by Fugi, one 48" and the other 36". Same basic design, but without the bio wheel, which is a pity, because that bio wheel is as close to the ultimate and simple means of both gaining and maintaining bio-load, while exposing every drop of filtered water to air as has yet come along. An airstone and pump with a bio-wheel is totally unnecessary and that much less equipment to bother with.

Pop on the marineland hood combo- plug in the filter cord- plug the light cord into a timer, and GO.

For a show tank in a living space, the overhead's are the perfect solution to the old hoses, cords and mess. I love them.

Don't laugh, but the first of my fish to get treated to one of the new 55 gal. sized hood/filter/light combos will probably be my tame, charming, but totally useless, fat, 50 cent, now 13 inch pet Goldie. LOL!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 5:09PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

One thing I don't like about the all-in-one is limitation. I don't use bio-wheels in planted tanks. I would also like to have the option of low light to high intense lighting. Also if one part is deffective or dies, I guess you or I can repair it, but most people are not willing to do DIY repairs or modifications. Don't get me wrong I have almost bought one. Holy crap, brain just got jogged ODYsea, has large all in ones. Unless that is what you are talking of. Also, a Korean brand, Jebo is it? I also reccomend a bio-wheel to anyone who isn't keeping live plants, they are the answer to a sump style wet/dry.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 9:22PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

Apparently Jebo is Odyysea. They have anywhere from 2 gallon up to 125G and then some. All with all in one canopies. In Europe and the UK there are even more brands available. I think Rio makes one. Like birdy said they are good for smaller areas, and Europe/ UK is all about minimizing to save space. here is a link to their main page. I have seen these in a LFS, very reasonably priced too. I have a JEBO light CFl tube, 2 X 55W for a 29G, very good and 1/2 the price of most brands. I saw a 37 bowfront acrylic with the all in one canopy w/ stand for $99 in NJ before I moved. I think it was $49 or $59 just the tank. Very nice indeed.

Here is a link that might be useful: JEBO

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 9:38PM
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Woe: I use a lot of bio-wheels, and still grow lush vegetation in my FW tanks.

As for low level to high intensity lighting, it just a matter of switching bulbs, or, as I suggested to annemum, just remove one of the HI bulbs.

One thing especially nice about the Emporers, is the ability to adjust the rate of spray to the bio-wheels, but if the filter is geared to tank size, I honestly can't see why they would prevent plant growth.

Some plants certainly don't do well in a strong current, but there are so many others that do, having both a planted tank and strong circulation isn't necessarially contraindicated.

No, the new, larger all-in-ones I wrote abot are made by Marinelend, and the over-tank ones were made in Japan, by Fugi. I should have bought a dozen of them in a huge, everything from groceries to live pets dept. store in Tokyo when I had the chance, but like a fool, I didn't.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 9:43PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

Birdwidow: What I mean by intensity in lighting is the "brightness". If you have a single fixture that is rated for 55w in a 55 gallon tank for a non-planted or low light plants, that may be OK. If you wish to have purple, red or other high light needing green plants that require 4 watts fluorescent per gallon you are limited. You can not put a 55 watt bulb in to a fixture that has a ballast that only handles 20 watts, it wont light. You can change the color the bulb emits, but that's about it. When you have over 2.5 watts per gallon fluorescent lighting in a FW tank, plants or no plants you are asking for algae problems. BUT, if you have over 2.5 watts up to 5 watts and the tank is planted with plants that require higher lighting, you need to have the to have the tanks "system" firing on all cylinders. Just high light demanding plants wont be enough to keep algae from growing like mad in that type of set up, unless they are growing at the rate which they grow when in their tropical lakes and streams. They require a ton of CO2 to grow fast enough to use most of the available nutrients in the water column to prevent algae from growing. Or, out compete the algae ( every planted tank gets some algae). When the tank is lit the plants use any available CO2 and exchange it with oxygen. This gives it the boost it needs to grow at the rate it does outside. This brings us to why I don't like bio-wheels in a planted tank. The oxygen that it adds to the water along with the added surface agitation drives off CO2 in the water column. The current has nothing to do with that. I actually install small pumps at various locations in my tanks to circulate the water without agitating the waters surface too much. The water circulation actually helps push debris up to the filter intakes and "spreads" nutrients in the water column. In a planted tank you also don't need the surface area of the bio-wheel as you do in a non-planted tank. The plants take care of most of the ammonia before the bacteria even gets a chance. With less ammonia for food there is less bacteria growth in a planted tanks filter media. Thats all. There is lush growth and there is lush growth. In a planted tank with 3.5 watts fluorescent and above with CO2 injection to the ideal level, 25ppm CO2, you will have a noticably lusher more vibrant tank. Between the CO2 and light intensity for better growth, the reflection of light off the plants leaves is amazing. In my tanks with 4.5 watts per gallon, the lower light plants like Java Ferns, grow at amazing rates. The leaves are thick, long and vibrant. Sorry for the long winded explanation but, thats it in a big ol' nutshell.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 7:57AM
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Thank you all for your input. It has halped us make up our minds to go with the 37-gal Eclipse show tank at Petsmart for now. In the course of our research, we did discover Marineland's new "bio-wheel canopy", which is a re-designed Eclipse for larger tanks. However, they are priced out of our budget, so hopefully after they are on the market for a while, the price will come down. Thanks again for all your help, looking forward to the larger space for some territorial gouramis!! Happy fishing.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 8:23AM
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Personally, irregardless of brands and quality, I would have both an outside filter and one on the inside, whether it be an old-fashioned box filter, with charcoal/carbon or a sponge filter. Sometimes ya need a seasoned backup.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 5:50PM
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I agree about multiple filtration and address that need with sponge pre-filters fit onto the intake tubes. I use a combination of box and sponge filters in my breeder and baby tanks and particularly like the double sponges ones that attach to the inside wall of the tank and release through an adjustable tube, so the outlet is above the water line.

The double sponges allow me to rotate cleaning them. One goes into the tank water bucket and the other under fresh water, so both get cleaned regularly, yet the bioloads are always left intact.

And of course, keeping multitudes of tanks with sponge filters in them gives me instantly "aged" tanks whenever I need one.

But breeder, baby and grow out tanks are bare. The only live plants in them are in weighted, plastic pots, and clumps of Naja, Ricca or Java Moss.

A show tank is another matter altogether, and like most breeders, I may have dozens of breeder/baby tanks going for every show tank, and then some, and for a show tank, I'm going purely for asthetics, and for that- it's hard to beat an overhead filter/light combo, hidden under a hood.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 10:21PM
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james_ny(z7 NY)

If you go with a cannister the Eheim is probably the highest quality and quietest. Agree with petiolaris, I would back it up with 2nd filter [someone must make a quiet hang on, maybe Hagan]. A 55 gal is usually the best priced big tank.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 11:06PM
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I don't disagree about back ups, but the more simple the filter design and the better the tank is balanced: fish to water volume, plants, filter to fit- the less likely you will need any back up other than a replacement motor and/or flywheel on-hand, just in case.

If a big tank is properly balanced and never allowed to go longer than a week without a minimum 50% water change, it could lose all filtration for days with no real harm, and as long as you have heat in the house and water, extra changes until the electricity is back on will keep the fish alive.

But the bottom line for all aquariums- large or micro, is what it always has been since the Romans started keeping fish in garden ponds: Balance the fish to the water volume and- WATER CHANGE.

Do enough water changes, on a consistant basis, and you don't need ANY filtration.

Actually, the best back up of all for any modern aquarium, is probably a stand-by generator.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 1:39PM
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When I was a young adult and desperat for a job I took a position at a tropical fish wholesaler. I was in charge of one section of freshwater tanks and eventually the salt section. I thought I knew how to take care of tropical fish but soon discovered I knew very little. Anyways, all of our freshwater tanks had sponge filters. Although different fish metabolize at different rates and required differing maintenance needs, I was taught to throroughly clean the tanks every Friday, so that they got through the weekend. That meant that all of the tanks got a sizable change of water. Some were "flushed" and some were drained to the bottom and filled up. Some had really sensitive fish and could only take a partial change. But ALL of our filters were squeezed well. As thoroughly the sponges were squeezed and put back on, week in and week out, none of them ever perceptively experienced "new tank syndrome". I guess that no matter how they were squeezed, it wasn't enough to deplete the "good bacteria". The only time the tanks had NTS was when an unseasoned filter was emplaced. So I learned to put an old one in, while replacing a worn out one, while the new one went through the Nitrogen Cycle. This may sound crazy but for all the bacterially oreinted meds (Tetracycline, Sulfa, EM, Maracyn,....) we put in, the "good bacteria" never got killed off the sponges.

Once after a fish kill in a 70 gallon salt tank, I thought it would be a good idea to replace the water with "aged" water from other tanks, to go with brand new filter media for the outside filter. That didn't go over too well and the tank clouded back up. But when I used "seasoned" filter media, things were fine.

Years later, one of my co-workers read an article in either FAMA or TFH about squeezing filters to hard and removing the good bacteria. So he cleaned his tanks by obly giving token squeezes to his section of tanks, while I continued dping the "tried & true". His tanks tended to remain cloudy. His filters were full with impurites and couldn't hold anymore wasteproducts.

Nothing scientific, here, just observations from a former tank cleaner!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 7:14PM
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james_ny(z7 NY)

Good point birdwidow. I use a different approach because im lazy and don't do many water changes. I over filtrate on my 150 gal [Eheim 2260 canister, Hagen aquaclear 500 hang on and a ug filter. Even when I don't do water changes my ammo stays at zero. If I go too long my ph drops and I break out the buckets. petiolaris it's interesting that you find the bacteria seem to reside in the filter and not the water. I've always suspected that but was never sure.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 10:21PM
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Petrolaris' experience is is proof of the fact that the bacteria does indeed reside in foam filters and why breeders love them so much. It's not just their safety with tiny fry, but their abilty to seed a new tank.

And, why I always keep double sponges in every tank. My routine is: top into drain water bucket, bottom into sink, then reverse positons. The bioload is maintained, yet the sponges aren't allowed to become so filled they cease to function.

However, the hard plastic surfaces of box, HOT and canister filter hoses and housings need to be cleaned as new regularly, or they will clog and what adheres to them, is not healthy. Ditto the foam filter frames. Save the bacteria on the sponges, but clean the frames.

I also believe too may people have bought into mfg. and advertising hype of this or that "super" filter being the end-all, to reduce, or worse, eliminate the need for water changes.

No filter; bank of filters or water chemical additive can make up for the fact that an aquarium is a closed system.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 9:16AM
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