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internal filters

Posted by fairy_toadmother z5 ncentral il (My Page) on
Mon, Oct 17, 05 at 21:12

hello, just getting back into fishkeeping. i have always used whisper power filters. however, i recently read that for planted tanks, an internal filter is necessary so as not to disturb water surface. any thoughts? what is the best kind. i only see "fluval" as an option.

i have a 25 gal high, probably near 5 gallons taken up with substrate. the filter will take up more space. i know that it is overstocked: 2 corydorus aenus (albino) spelling??, one pygmeaus, and 4 silver dollar sized angels. i know that i will have to move 2 angels soon enough to another tank. increasing filtration is not an option with plants added to the equation, and one angel is a lacefin so would be stressed to swim. i currently have an amazon sword, hoping i don't kill it.

also want to try CO2 but cannot do the ultimate set up. does the natural fermentation setups using sugar work well? liquid time release? i had more questions and forgot them! oh, anyone try the dip and read test strips for pH, etc?

thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: internal filters

I dont like dip strips. Even when stored properly, the quality deteriorates prematurely. They are expensive. IMO the master test set by aquarium pharmaceuticals is a good buy. For a 25G the yeast/sugar set ups work fine. Also if you don't want to bother a product called "'Flourish Excel" is great. It gives the plants the carbon they desire and can be used with CO2 injection. I use the yeast/sugar style for my 29G. However it is a DIY type ( I may be selling them soon) and is better then any store bought of this style. The Hagen Natural Plant System has a good generator. The activator/stabilizer packs stink, better to use grocery store yeast/baking soda mixture, also cheaper. The bubblecounter/diffuser is inefficient and needs to be modified for better saturation. I can give you a link if interested. As far as surface agitation, you are correct. The problem with it is it releases CO2 before the plants get full benefit. However a whisper HOB is fine. Keep the water level high enough so not to create a "waterfall" but a swirling effect. Another option is a canister with a low return. Also you can have a combo internal (or external) filter and CO2 Reactor/diffuser. Plants (most) benefit from water movement, doesn't have to be still. How deep is the substrate? Another concern is lighting. A high tank requires a good reflector and possibly a higher wattage, fluorescent lighting. Amazon Swords require a good amount of light and good organic substrate with good iron content or supplements (fertilizer for root feeders). trace elements are a good idea for healthy plants also. For some reason I cant do a link at the bottom but yahoo -Chucks Planted Aquarium pages Home and go to the home page for some good advise. Also www.thekrib.com


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RE: internal filters

thank yo so much on the warning re: dipstrips! glad to know that one!
i had been seriously considering flourish excel. i am glad you mentioned it. there is also "natural aquarium vital" that says its co2 is time released. can they even do that in a liquid? if so, would it be a better choice?

hagen natural plant system was also one of my budget choices (short of having the utimate set up). what do yo mean by generator? the system it uses? good to know on the alternative store bought activator...always interested in links!!!!
another dense moment: "HOB"? hang on back? i need to replace my power filter anyway. it is very old, locked up with lime scale (so bad that you can't adjust flow) and the impeller makes a lot of noise. i don't think it is worth getting replacement parts for. i am amazed that it even works. i even have swirling and challenged fish.

since i need to replace, what would you suggest as best? hmmm, i haven't noticed any combo internals with co2 reactors, can you point me to one so i can ooooh and aaahh? if i stay with power filters, i was thinking of using one with a biowheel attachment.

guessing on substrate depth: 3 inches of sand and an inch of gravel. eventually, the gravel will sift to the bottom. ihaven't vacuumed the substrate yet, just water changes. of course, i am now reading that roots won't penetrate the sand....live and learn.

lighting: working on improving it. until i can purchase a new light and cover, i replaced my 18" bulb this week. trying to remember what it was...if i was at home i could tell you. i know it is coralife brand...T8...looking at my catalog i thought i got the trichlormatic, but twice as expensive at the pet store than this. sorry about rambling, i will have to get back on this one tomorrow. my strip light is the original all-glass with the inside reflector of white. i am replacing it with the glsss twin tube versa top and will eventually have a double strip light. i have been looking at"sattelite compact flourescent" which is a bit pricey but not as bad as metal halides and vho's. then, there is the eclipse hood that has everything integrated (except co2 and it would hvae to be rigged to get access, i think).

duh, here's a piece of info i forgot that affects this: my tank is a mirror back. now, to check out those links...
thanks!!


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RE: internal filters

Do you mean the back of the tank is a mirror glass or you have that mirror background paper? HOB= hang on the back. As far as Seachem's Flourish Excel vs. Weiss' Natural Aquarium Vital go with whatever is more economical, they seem to do the same thing convert byproducts into available carbon for the plant to use up. I went to the Weiss site but couldn't find any info (I assume they use the same process). If you want a very detail explanation that may leave you saying "WTF" go to the Seachem site and click products,freshwater plants, flourish excel. A CO2 generator is just that, it generates the CO2. The container that the yeast, sugar and water are mixed in is the generator. By system I meant this fermentation type vs. compressed CO2 (gas tank type). The nutrafin by hagen is a good generator (fermentation also). I modeled mine after it only a larger version to produce more CO2 for a longer amount of time. Also, the hagen does not have a "gas seperator". When using a yeast/sugar mixture you are essentially producing alcohol. The gas seperator kind of works like a refinery. The crude CO2 is cleaned so only the gas goes into the aquarium water, not any byproducts. A bubble counter is the same thing (not the Zig-Zag type the hagen uses though). As far as filters go a biowheel isn't a good choice for planted aquariums, the wheel aerates to much and will release any CO2 that is in the water column. For an artificial plant aquarium they are great. What I meant by the canister having the option of being used as a reactor is to efficiently saturate the water with CO2, the CO2 bubbles have to be broken up before they surface and pop. Thats the problem with the hagen Reactor/Bubble counter. The bubbles are supposed to zig-zag back and forth , hitting the sides and slowly breaking up. It doesn;t work well and usually clogs with algae or byproduct if no gas seperator is used. The return of a canister filter can be modified to accept the end of the CO2 supply tubing. The bubbles will go in the direct flow of returning water and break up and saturate better. In this case a clear gas seperator/bubble counter is needed to monitor CO2 bubble count as well as refine the crude. I no this is confussing, but after researching the CO2 systems you will understand better, I think LOL. As far as the best, thats always a debate. For price and ease as well as room for plenty of media I like the Aqua-Clear power filters. They are inexpensive (about $20 for your size tank at Drs foster smith online). Whispers are nice and Penguins/Emporer (Wal-Marts "regent" filter is actually the old penguin filter before the bio-wheel, TopFin from petsmart is a whisper). The lighting for your tank may need to be minimum 50W but since it is a deep one good reflection is necessary also about 65W to make up for depth. This will only allow you low to moderate light plants and you can get away with no CO2 injection. If you want to have red and higher light plants you will need min 75W. Also the satellite usually comes with dual 10000K/6700K and dual actinic bulbs (actinic is useless for plants so that bulb needs to be replaced so add about $20) try the link for excellent info on lighting and prices. I am getting tired so the sand/gravel substrate should go. Use a micro-gravel instead. This is optimum for root growth. The usually reccomended is Floriteby seachem, expensive but 1 bag should do. It is rich in iron,aluminum and other nutrients that plants like. One word of advise, this stuff is very dirty and a PITA to rinse. It is not necessary but a good consideraion. Gravel size is important though.

Here is a link that might be useful: A.H. Supply


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RE: internal filters

yes, the back glass is manufactured with mirror glass. i have lots of diatom right now, and have let them stay on the mirror until i figure out what is best for lighting.

hmmm, atf knocking at my door??? :) dh guzzling?

did i mention how glad i am that i posted my questions here instead of just doing it like i usually do? then, not knowing what myproblem is...thanks for the advice regarding the biowheel, i know i would have gotten one already if i wasn't trying to figure out the internal filter issue. i have never used an external canister filter so i wouldn't know where to start. not to mention the space in the cabinet already has stuff stored in there....got to remember what is important so keep talking (PLEASE!).

i actually have that link saved from seeing it on another post! haen't had time to check it out, but i certainly will. forgot to check what bulb i had, but i am sure it isn't a high wattage.
thank you very much for all your help and suggestions!!

quick question: 2 55 watt bulbs do not equal 110 watts, correct? would the mirror make up for any of the intensity for high light plants (like swords)?


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RE: internal filters

Yes 2- 55W = 110W. In inches what is the height of the tank? With 110W you will definately need CO2 or at least the supplement we spoke of. The mirror back should help, perhaps thats why its there. I only have one canister and its a DIY jobby. Marineland the makers of the Bio-Wheel emporer and penguins have a canister that hangs on the back. It comes with a 2 cartridges. 1 is a micron filter that will polish your water from any particles and make it crystal clear. The other is a basket in which you can put activated carbon or whatever media you want. The micron filter is better used just for a polisher though. Like after a water change run it for a day. Then put back the basket (keep the basket in a bucket of aquarium water from the change so minimal chance for bacteria to dry out). The only problem with canisters is they can be a little messy changing the media.


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RE: internal filters

ok, i think my bulb is coralife trichromatic super daylight. i looked last night,but my memory is awful. the link below looks right, except in 15 watts. i might add thah the pet store had it more expensive than the website here!

i will have to measure the depth...i can deal with media change messes. i had a hot magnum on a 55 once that within a short time started linking. no seals would stop the drip...so, i don't like that one to this day. i did like the micron usage, if only it wouldn't drip.

someting i have been meaning to ask: does activated carbon also filter out any trace elements, etc you add to the water? it seems it removes black water, thus it would take out all the other stuff i add and waste my efforts.

Here is a link that might be useful: think this is it.


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oops, forgot

regarding CO2: any thoughts on the "carbo plus system"

i do alot of "window" shopping in catalogs :)

Here is a link that might be useful: drsfands


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RE: internal filters

I have wondered about the carbo plus system myself. One reason I never tried it was the price. You can set up a compressed system for the same price as the unit costs. Refils on a 6#-10# tank are only about $8-15 depending on the vendor and area. The tank would last alot longer then the blocks and the blocks and holder replacement aren't cheap, so economicaly it aint worth it. However, safety of using compressed gas is an issue. Compressed gas should be kept in an appropriate cage. IMO the home is no place for it without one. Many use it with no problems, also many drink and drive and never get into an accident or pulled over. The ease of the Carbo-Plus is very tempting, almost sounds to good to be true. Eventually I will get the compressed system, most likely go all out with a fully automatic one, totally expensive but one can dream and a cage of course. I have seen just a chain around them, I suppose that is a more practical wayto contain it if something happens. The link below is very, very , very long. Some info is a little too tech. but read it if you want. The discussion of the Carbo-Plus is in here along with the other CO2 systems using electrolysis. Key things are you tap waters parameters. Any CO2 system you deside make sure you have a KH and pH test kit. I keep my CO2 saturation about 25ppm. For everything except lighting and compressed CO2 systems www.drsfostersmith.com has the best prices. Exception in lighting is "some" of their bulb replacements. For the 25G I wouldn't worry about CO2 injection unless you go off with high lighting. A fermentation type is good to start with until you understand what your water needs, everyones is different. This is just my opinion. Well hear is the link.It is a thread that lasted about 4 years and at one point it repeats but if anything read the last post and the beginings.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Krib Thread Electrolysis CO2


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RE: internal filters/ Activated Carbon

I am starting to believe that the "The use of activated carbon in a planted tank robs the water column of needed nutrients and trace elements" is an old wives tale. Some drinking water filters claim that they remove certain nutrients and metals up to 99%. But it also may say in fine print that water pressure can alter the effectiveness. We are only using low flow filters. Ironically about 1 -2 months ago I started using activated carbon again. I wanted to see if I could reduce phosphates in my wtaer supply. I also monitored Nitrate. I did not notice any drops but the appearence of green spot algae, that appears on every high light plated tank to some degree, was drasticaly reduced. I supplement iron and other trace. At first their may be some decrease but not much. My plants are doing just as well, and maybe better then before. The water is also slightly clearer, not that clarity is a problem.


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RE: internal filters

hello again. wow do i have my research time cut out for me! thanks!!

regarding tank depth: outside measurement is @ 20". figure in the substrate, and it is 17" to the top. i have had the gravel, sand, plant in there for almost 3 weeks. it could be wishful thinking, but the center leaves on the mother plant appear greener lately. also, i sort of vacuumed the gravel/sand today, now they are mixed instead of the gravel on top. i actually used the sand with my cory cats in mind...will change it when i can. i am sure i am anthropomorphizing here, but my cory cats were happily sifting through the sand for the first time today.

i have also been concerned with CO2 tanks, and i live in a small 3 bedroom slab foundation home. not much room. i would sooooo love the automated system with pH control!

i have actually never heard the "old wive's tale"...worried on my own. i hate wasting money if it is only going to get filtered out. like i said, it filters out blackwater, maybe not... i am a worrier. i will take your experience...then another thought...why wouldn't carbon filtration release carbon into the water from activated carbon? better do my research first before the brain starts, huh? good point on water flow.

btw, what gallons per hour would you suggest for a planted tank? everywhere i read would seem to leave too little filtration (no more than 100gph for 25 gal) for the fish i have in there. the suggested sizes create too much current for one angel, until it gets a bit clogged and slows down.

thanks again!


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more ponderings...

looking at chuck's page: love that paludarium! how does he keep from getting lime scale at the water line? ro water? i have read one of his articles already from a link on another site. his diy CO2 article leaves me much less intimidated!

i forgot another question. have you seen co2 test kits? do they measure co2 or just measure kH then give you a chart to figure out estimated co2?

also, to clarify. my tank has been set up since early sept (actually earlier than that- moved it from my grandmothers to my home), little if any substrate (old flourite i think), some flat marbles and the filter, 2 corydoras aeneas...oct 2 or 3, i removed the marbles, put in substrate (fish removed) then added the corydoras pygmaeus and 4 s. dollar sized angels, one large amazon sword with lots of babies. approx. october 15, i changed to the current bulb. just leaving a bit of record for myself and a reference.


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RE: internal filters

I have never used the CO2 test kit. Just a chart KH and pH. I have read that the CO2 test sets can be skewed by phosphates and tanic acids in driftwood. I try to keep it simple as possible with my Bill Nye Jr. collection of tests. Since I monitor pH and KH anyway it just seems easier to use a chart. I am not sure how they work. I had seen a "red sea" test kit for about $30 at Petco it had all the crap the A.P. master does plus , iron, phosphate and CO2. The iron would be nice since I dont have that one. I just add a supplement. I have read 2 negitive reveiws of red sea kits but haven't really researched it fully. For the filter 150 GPH, the Aqua-Clear has adjustable flow (a little noisy when not running full throtle) I put sturdy plants next to the filter return , they grow just as quickly as the rest. I read an interview a while ago with a guy that has plant only aquariums and is in the business. He said that flow is underated in a planted aquarium. True you are better off with not so much of "splash" from above, but more on the mind set of "current" in the tank. I have a 29G with a 150 gph penguin ( no bio wheel), and a about a 90gph pump/sponge filter that is for the CO2 reactor. My plants grow about 2 1/2" a week on average. Under the filter and near the pump are faster growing. What that means I dont know LOL. Kind of alot of fish at once though, just read that. Keep a watchful eye on the ammonia/nitrite levels.


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RE: internal filters/ Activated carbon

Sorry, I forgot activated carbon and organic carbon (the stuff plants use) are 2 different things.


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RE: internal filters

"the CO2 test sets can be skewed by phosphates and tanic acids in driftwood."--- good to know!

with a hob power filter, i was going to attach a sponge pre-filter. that is if i don't go canister- but i like your idea of having the co2 going into your filter AND now that you say there is a sponge in there, i like it even more. (or did i misunderstand?)
thank you again for all your help!


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RE: internal filters

today, it appears that the babies on my amazon sword are greening up and growing. the strange thing is that some are and some aren't.

research seems to only confuse me more. not sure where i read it, but white reflectors reflect better than al;uminum. the opposite is said on www.thekrip.com. my head is spinning. yes, and i will probably be one exploding yeast/sugar all over the house. :)
looking at the krib makes me not want to bother with the carbo plus. thanks for the link! still a lot more to look at...


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RE: internal filters

Some people have put the CO2 supply on the intake side of a canister filter. This is a very efficient way of saturating the water with CO2. The only problem is it will probably kill any benificial bacteria and may cause eventual decay of the parts in the filter. CO2 is very acidic (carbonic acid). I meant the return part of a canister filter, where it leaves the canister and goes back to the tank, can be retro-fitted with a "reactor", another canister with a sponge perhaps. The water flow bounces the bubble arround "popping" it, and the smaller bubbles from that popped bubble. A co2 bubble should be popped in the water for it to benefit fully. Thats one problem with most store bought fermentation kits. One way is an airstone. But they can clog easy without a gas seperator. I used this method in a 20G plant only with a HOB power filter. I am not sure but I think that this method is fine for a smaller tank. Possibly a larger one might be a problem. Look around for different DIY CO2 injection systems so you can see what I mean. As far as white better than polished aluminum, doesn't seem to make sence. I would think that a more reflective surface would be more efficient. I don't have a meter to measure that except my own eyes. I have read that in experimentation that polished aluminum out performs white almost 2X. ???? There are better DIY CO2 systems then the soda bottle kind. I never did the soda bottle one because I was affraid of the yeast explosion. I will give you a link shortly for one.


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RE: internal filters

well that explains why it lowers your pH. couldn't remember that from chemistry class! would a pH controller be necessary if you turn off the co2 at night? can you turn off the dyi's?

i agree, the white didn't make sense to me either. i think it was stated in one of my older aquarium books.


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RE: internal filters

I dont turn off the CO2 at night. It makes the pH fluctuate too much. DIY fermentation cant really be turned off. Some use an airstone on a timer at night when the lights go off. I think that will do more harm then good, making the constant pH change too drastic. It is reccomended to start off CO2, any type, slowly and gradually until you find the proper setting or mixture for fermentation types. A small amount of yeast at first, then increase to a more aggresive amount if needed. I keep my levels at about 25ppm CO2, using pH 6.8 and dKH 5. I thought about the white vs. polished aluminum before when laying down a shiny tape measurer on my white kitchen counter top. There was a spot of light on the ceiling from the tape's reflection. No spot when I picked it up.


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RE: internal filters

good point with the tape measure!

thanks, i will keep this in mind. i will eventually save this thread as a file to refer back to!


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RE: internal filters

ok, i know i am dense and ah supply has sold me on their lighting/reflector theory. however, i "would" like something more attractive and pre made (b/c i know better than my abilities). what about this? i realize i would have to switch a bulb.

Here is a link that might be useful: auction


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RE: internal filters

Thats ironic! I just started an ebay account for the first time yesterday to get a book I have been searching for, for over 2 years. Haven't checked the aquarium section yet, I'm affraid LOL. Anyway, that is an awesome price since the new goes for $150 +. The lunar lights and cooling fan are a great bonus. You most likely would have to change out both bulbs anyway if they are over 18 months old. You can usually use 55W in a 65w fixture so the bulbs from AH would be OK. Check the ballast to confirm though. I say go for it. You will need CO2 injection or organic carbon supplements for that much wattage. Also if you plan on getting a wood canopy you can just affix the AH fixture to the lid. I'm sure you know someone with basic wiring skills (someone who can rewire a table lamp or wall swithch). I would go for the used one for that price first.


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RE: internal filters

ok, shhhhhh :)

ah ha, you can affix to the canopy! i had been "considering" it, but had no idea how they worked with lights. canopies do look nice and "finished." thanks!


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RE: internal filters

Yup, just screw the assembled fixture to the inside lid of the canopy, over a tight fitting glass top. I am refering to the AHSupply one. The other said it should be kept on the "legs" over the glass top. I guess because of the cooling fan? It may restrict flow? Either way a cooling fan is a good investment for the higher powered lighting. In the summer I have to prop open the glass top to let heat escape. I have not installed a cooling fan yet but it will be in place soon enough. My tank would get up to 5 degrees hotter when the lighting was on.


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RE: internal filters

thanks! i was wondering how much heat the high wattage ones put out.


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RE: internal filters

When LED is more affordable it will be the answer. Intensity to power usage blows the doors off Fluorescent. M.H., and Sodium. Also, doesn't give off enough heat to be a concern.


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i didn't know that! any links that explain this? i havent' finished my "research" yet..so much out there to sort through.


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RE: internal filters

well, i lost the auction :(
there is another that is a 4 tube, 20". would 20" be ok on a 24" tank? place lower light plants on the sides and corners.


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RE: internal filters

You can get uva leds fairly cheap...that's the leds alone though. You can lots of them off of ebay.

uvb and uvc aren't as affordable just yet.

Adrea


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RE: internal filters

not sure what those are, adrea...but thank you!


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