Originally Posted by Imacat
Current tank conditions~
I have a 50 gallon tank fully stocked. I was thinking of switching over to a canister filter but I have many questions about them with my tank conditions.
I have a marineland penguin 350 HOB filter(works fine. Just creats alot of micro bubbles). The only bottom dwellers I have are Black Kuhli Loachs.
I have gravel in my tank right now and will be switching to sand in the next few days( I have all the info I need on sand)
My HOB filter is the only thing creating ripples on top of the water.
I have a Powerhead in the tank creating a "surge" water flow.
The filter I am looking at is "SunSun HW-302 3-Stage External Canister Filter, 264 GPH" on amazon.(Ill put in a link if its not against the forum rules)
My questions are ~
Do I need to purchase any other equipment with this filter?
Would the sand harm the filter?
Would I need an airpump to create ripples?
Should I keep my powerhead in the tank?
What other "pro's" are there to owning this canister filter compared to my HOB one atm?
Thank you in advance !
welcome to the forum
First thing I would suggest is looking at ebay for the filter (search for "canister filter")- I believe they are cheaper there. I like the sunsun filters and run 4 of them, of various sizes. For your tank I would look at getting the 303 model (370 gph). It comes with or without UV, designated by A or B (303A or 303B). The 302 comes without UV (though I think they just started making them with UV too), the 303 comes with or without, and the 304 comes with UV. The UV is useless for anything other than clearing green water, if it can even do that, so I would avoid spending that extra money if you can. Too, when looking at these filters, some with have a built in surface skimmer and others do not. You don't have to use it if you don't want to, but I do suggest getting one with the skimmer. I think they call it a "dirtiness entrance". silly name, but you will see it in the diagram in the item description. Also, some on ebay will come with only mechanical media, while others come with additional media.
You do not need to purchase anything additional for the filter, expect possibly media. Whats great is that you can customize your media and you don't ever have to replace it. I use fluval ceramic prefilters in the bottom tray (stage one), then mechanical media in the middle (stage two) and then fluval biomax in the top try (stage 3). The prefilters trap large particles, which helps the finer mechanical pads from getting clogged. I am super impressed with them.
Canister filters are impervious to sand. I keep my intakes an inch off the sand. Unlike HOBs, canisters have their pump at the top of the filter, so in addition to gravity keeping the sand out of the motor, all the stages of filtration prevent the sand from reaching the impeller as well. HOBs have their motors at the bottom of the filter, which is where the sand will collect.
You will not need an air pump - the spraybar will create more than enough surface disruption to facilitate the gas exchange.
It may not be a bad idea to keep the power head. If you get the small filter, I would say definitely keep it so that you can improve circulation in the tank. With the larger filter, you probably won't need it unless you notice some dead spots in the tank - areas that are stagnate, usually on the opposite side of the tank from the filter. HOBs are terrible at circulating water, so it's a good thing to use with them. Canisters are much better at circulation.
The pros of the canister over the HOB are too many to list. Literally, everything is better. The only thing that is not is cleaning the filter. It is significantly easier to clean an HOB than a canister. However, HOBs need to be cleaned much more frequently than canisters so I see it as a wash. I only clean my canisters twice a year. They have SOOOOOOO much more media in them that it takes longer for it to get dirty. Even the smaller 302 can house at least 4 times as much media as your current HOB. The 303 holds at least 10 times as much as the HOB. I mentioned cleaning the filter every 6 months - I do not use carbon, so there I only ever open up the filter to clean it. If you were going to use carbon, I suggest running it in a small HOB to make changing it every 3 weeks SIGNIFICANTLY easier. Otherwise, put the carbon on the top of the top media basket so that you can change it without making a mess. All you would do is pop the top and swap it out. It's really not that big of a deal - pulling the filter out from under the tank is the most difficult part just because it's heavy.
Canisters can be a bit intimidating at first, but once you get familiar and comfortable with them there is no going back