55g with no filter?
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55g with no filter?

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Old 07-24-2011, 09:25 PM   #1
 
55g with no filter?

Is it possible to maintain a 55 gallon with no filter? My friend went to upgrade her tank and didn't notice the previous owners had taken the motor out of the filter. It's not possible to buy just the parts here, and the shipping costs would likely be over half the price of a new filter.

Sigh.. her son just had surgery and she thought a bigger tank would be good stress relief, now she's just got more problems.
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:18 PM   #2
 
You can ... but if you want to have any kind of stock ... your talking very frequent water changes to keep clean oxygenated water in the tank. At the very least it should have an air-stone to promote gas exchange.
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:25 AM   #3
 
A cheap alternative to a HOB filter would be a sponge filter. Not expensive at all, and is actually a VERY good biological filter, and minor mechanical filter. You can also make a do it yourself sponge filter for not that much as well.
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:05 AM   #4
 
You really need a filter unless there are lots of real plants. You can get a very good HOB for $40 or less, canisters are $100+. As a bare minimum, you can add a sponge filter for under $20, but the air pump will be another $10~.
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Old 07-25-2011, 09:02 AM   #5
 
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A "filter-less" tank can easily be done, but at a reduced stocking level. Even a small airstone makes a huge difference (be very careful with stocking). The airstone will provide surface water movement, which is the primary oxygenation/CO2 dispersal mechanism. The tank's substrate and surfaces (as Byron often mentions) provides a huge area for the nitrifying bacteria. Filters allow us aquarists to stock much more heavily than nature and filters provide wiggle room for events such as overfeeding (you know you do!). Still need to keep up with water changes. Live plants will help also.

Can the filter from the previous tank be used? Even a partial UG plate will add significant capacity to the 55.

Last edited by DKRST; 07-25-2011 at 09:05 AM..
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:49 AM   #6
 
I stand corrected - a filterless tank 'can' be done as long as there is some circulation promoting air infusion and thermal gradient reduction and perhaps increased water changes OR there are plenty of living PLANTS. However, as mentioned, a filter allows a more forgiving environment and maintenance in the removal of organics in suspension and water processing for N2. In an established tank, there is nitrifying bacteria in the substrate, however, it has limited capability relative to water movement through it. I have read that N2 bacteria is an opportunist, dependent on the available ammonia or nitrite being delivered to it, which occurs much better in a filter than the substrate (unless there is a UGF).

So all this gobble-d-goop means that a tank 'can' be maintained without a filter, but for most of us, a filter allows us to maintain a cleaner tank longer without extra effort beyond the weekly water change.
Having said the above, I honestly think that given routine 'normal' maintenance, most of our tanks have much cleaner water than most tropical streams, rivers, ditches, ponds, lakes.... Fish seem to do just fine in very muddy waters (thinking of heavy rains and the amazon river*). So we as hobbyists tend to obsess over water filtration and tank maintenance....we could probably all relax some and our fish would be just fine.
On the other hand, I've seen tanks with very poor water condition and I feel better with crystal clear water.

*Trivia: did you know that the flow of the Amazon river is so great into the ocean that a ship twelve miles out at sea could drop a bucket and retrieve fresh water!? "Believe it or not".
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Old 07-25-2011, 11:23 AM   #7
 
As others have said it is easy to do provided you have LOTS of plants and good growth. I run a few filterless tanks and prefer them. You still need a powerhead or airpump of some sort for circulation. They stay clearer then I think a lot of people expect and actually require no more maintenance then a filtered tank. Same amount of water changes and just plant pruning instead of filter cleaning. I don't see a filter as much more forgiving, both have their pros and cons. Obviously there is no cycling filterless tanks and stock can be changed dramatically without problems. They do not usually suffer nitrate build up, often they consume nitrate instead. They also are not as dependent on regular maintenance. If you can't change water for 2-3 weeks when you regularly do it weekly. You will often find that they maintain water quality much better then a filtered tank. Three weeks between a water change and some of my tanks will still read zero nitrate. If you setup the tank properly you are not limited on stock too much. My 15 gallon has 24+ fish in it along with a bamboo shrimp, lots of snails, and 2 dozen breeding cherry shrimp. Water clarity has its good days and its bad. Its really bad after you do a water change, but eventually settles to be quite clear.
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Old 07-25-2011, 01:04 PM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikaila31 View Post
My 15 gallon has 24+ fish in it along with a bamboo shrimp, lots of snails, and 2 dozen breeding cherry shrimp. Water clarity has its good days and its bad. Its really bad after you do a water change, but eventually settles to be quite clear.
Impressive. I'm a believer now. I knew it could be done in theory, never tried it. I'm assuming that unlike me, you don't seriously overfeed! That might be my next tank, a 29g "natural". Can't afford a canister right now and have everything else I need other than some silicone to patch a seam in the tank.
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Old 07-25-2011, 07:44 PM   #9
 
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Quote:
*Trivia: did you know that the flow of the Amazon river is so great into the ocean that a ship twelve miles out at sea could drop a bucket and retrieve fresh water!? "Believe it or not".
Couldn't resist--it is actually much more amazing that 12 miles. The fresh water of the Amazon extends for over 300 miles before the salt water of the Atlantic mixes with it. This is in fact how the river was discovered. A Spanish sea captain sailing well out of sight of any land, somehow realized his ship was sailing in completely fresh water, so he turned west and discovered the Amazon.

At any given moment, a fifth of all the freshwater on the planet is flowing between the banks of the Amazon. At its mouth it is over 100 miles across, a huge delta, and for many miles upstream you cannot see the opposite bank from either side. In terms of water carried it is without doubt the largest river on earth, and it does appear to be the longest over the Nile according to the latest data.

In all the rivers of North America, there are some 1,000 species of fish. In the Amazon system, there are more than 3,000 known species, and every year many more are being discovered and described. That is more species than in the entire Atlantic Ocean. There are still vast areas where no exploration has ever occurred. Sir David Attenborough has commented that with the destruction of so much of the river system due to this and that, it is sad that probably hundreds of species will become extinct before we even know they exist.
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