Should I switch to a sponge filter?
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Should I switch to a sponge filter?

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Should I switch to a sponge filter?
Old 06-19-2011, 06:46 PM   #1
 
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Should I switch to a sponge filter?

Hey.

Got a new question. I've been reading up on sponge filters a lot.. that they're beneficial in planted tanks because they help keep CO2 in the tank. I don't have or really think I am going to add CO2 system to my tank, so I'm sure it's important to keep the CO2 that's in there available for the plants.

For those who haven't seen my other posts of me asking a million questions (which I thank you all for your help, a million times over!) I currently have a 28 gallon tank with some plants, with plans to add a few more / a lot more. Currently, there's crypt wendtii (maybe just one.. two disappeared but I'm hoping they'll come back), another crypt (think it's a crypt at least) which looks like a grass looking plant, quite a few small (but growing) amazon swords in the back, some of what I'm pretty sure is Red Ludwigia, marimo balls, some floating wisteria, and a one of the plants that come in a tube at petco which they labelled as something like Compacta. I know everyone talks poorly of the petco/petsmart tube plants - but that's where I got my swords and wisteria and so far they're doing fine, as is the Compacta, though I've been keeping and eye to make sure that one doesn't fail.

My only concern with a sponge filter is noise.. I've heard they're terribly noisy. The filter I have right now is an Aqueon Quietflow 30 and it's wonderfully quiet. I only hear the noise of a small waterfall where the water's pouring out into the tank; the filter itself is silent and I love that. But the flow is fairly strong so I haven't planted anything under it for fear the plants won't survive. I've got a fake "bonsai" tree under it to try to slow down the impact of the water flowing in. If I get a sponge filter, how loud are they? I had a bubbler in my tank previously (before adding the plants) and it was a tolerable noise, but any more bubbling than that and I think it would get annoying. The tank is currently in my living room, so I don't want it to be too loud.

If a sponge filter would be too loud for me, should I try the plastic bottle "mod" I've seen, where you tape the cut soda bottle over the outflow to disperse the flow a bit more. Or, I've also seen a mod where people have installed a sponge on the outflow of my filter which also inhibits the water flow a bit, while at the same time offering another surface area for bacterial growth.

Also, should I move my heater to the center of my tank for more even heating? Right now I've got it on the opposite side of my filter, and away from any plants. If I put it in the middle it would be behind the big "grassy" crypt - will the plant be ok with the heater there?

Any opinions? If it matters, my stock currently is 1 angelfish, 5 harlequin rasboras, and 7 very young danio (no bigger than the rasboras, some a bit smaller). I'm planning to rehome the danio and add some more rasboras and some corys. I have a sand substrate.. some sort of fluval heater and I've already mentioned my filter. My tank is about 2 months old, and the decorations were all transferred from another tank. I haven't checked my parameters since about 1-2 days ago but my ammonia and nitrite were at zero with the nitrite at like 20ppm or somewhere around there. I can do another test if you'd like.

Last question is -- if I am to switch to a sponge filter, I know I wouldn't want to turn off my current filter because of the bacteria colony in it. Would I need to run both filters to help with growth on the new filter or would some grow with it just being in the tank. I've been looking inside the HOB filter and I just don't know if I can stuff any sponges inside it.. Should I take something out (like maybe the filter cartridge?) and replace with the sponges. I even have a small filter cartridge for another brand that I might be able to throw in with sponges - so I'll still have the chemical filtration as well.

I'm a newbie to this.. sorry. Trying to learn as much as I can! I was originally going to go with a sponge filter, but heard the were noisy so I got the HOB instead. Now I'm doing my research about planted tanks (after already having planted) and seeing that I may have made a mistake.
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Old 06-19-2011, 07:20 PM   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennesque View Post
I've been reading up on sponge filters a lot.. that they're beneficial in planted tanks because they help keep CO2 in the tank. I don't have or really think I am going to add CO2 system to my tank, so I'm sure it's important to keep the CO2 that's in there available for the plants.
Umm, where did you hear that? Sponge filters don't keep CO2 in a tank any better than any other filter. The less surface agitation, the better from a planted tank standpoint. Could you be more specific?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jennesque View Post
My only concern with a sponge filter is noise.. I've heard they're terribly noisy. The filter I have right now is an Aqueon Quietflow 30 and it's wonderfully quiet. ..... I had a bubbler in my tank previously (before adding the plants) and it was a tolerable noise, but any more bubbling than that and I think it would get annoying. The tank is currently in my living room, so I don't want it to be too loud.
If you use an air-pump driven sponge filter (with an airstone), you'll hear the pump much more than the bubbles, usually. A powerhead would likely be quieter, especially if the discharge is under the water surface.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jennesque View Post
If a sponge filter would be too loud for me, should I try the plastic bottle "mod" I've seen, where you tape the cut soda bottle over the outflow to disperse the flow a bit more. Or, I've also seen a mod where people have installed a sponge on the outflow of my filter which also inhibits the water flow a bit, while at the same time offering another surface area for bacterial growth.
Personally, I'd just purchase a small Eheim canister filter before going to all that trouble
I think you mean they add the sponge to the HOB intake? That works well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jennesque View Post
Also, should I move my heater to the center of my tank for more even heating? Right now I've got it on the opposite side of my filter, and away from any plants. If I put it in the middle it would be behind the big "grassy" crypt - will the plant be ok with the heater there?
If my heater is in a water current, my tanks heats a little more evenly, but it's no big issue either way. The only problem I have with my plants is one particular sword has a leaf that turns yellow exactly at the point where it touches the heater in my 55 gallon. Plant will be fine, but I'd give a little space (a fraction of an inch or more) from the heater.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jennesque View Post
Any opinions? If it matters, my stock currently is 1 angelfish, 5 harlequin rasboras, and 7 very young danio (no bigger than the rasboras, some a bit smaller). I'm planning to rehome the danio and add some more rasboras and some corys. I have a sand substrate.. some sort of fluval heater and I've already mentioned my filter.
I'm sure someone has mentioned that angels need to be in a group and if you add two additional angels, you'll need a bigger tank to house them at their adult size!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jennesque View Post
if I am to switch to a sponge filter, I know I wouldn't want to turn off my current filter because of the bacteria colony in it. Would I need to run both filters to help with growth on the new filter or would some grow with it just being in the tank.
Just run the sponge filter, along with the current HOB for a few weeks to establish the bacteria in it and that should do it. HOB's are the noisiest type of filter, in my experience, BUT you can have a planted tank with an HOB without a problem.

Last edited by DKRST; 06-19-2011 at 07:27 PM..
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Old 06-19-2011, 07:44 PM   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKRST View Post
Umm, where did you hear that? Sponge filters don't keep CO2 in a tank any better than any other filter. The less surface agitation, the better from a planted tank standpoint. Could you be more specific?
Yes, I meant the less surface agitation. Sorry, I wasn't sure how to word it appropriately! I know it doesn't add to the CO2, but that type of filtration can limit the loss of CO2 - is that correct? :) Sorry. Either way, I know as far as CO2 for plants sponge filter > HOB.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DKRST View Post
If you use an air-pump driven sponge filter (with an airstone), you'll hear the pump much more than the bubbles, usually. A powerhead would likely be quieter, especially if the discharge is under the water surface.
I have two air pumps now, one is weaker than the other. The bigger one is a tetra whisper air pump and it's relatively quiet. I can hear it, but I was using it for my bubbler and the noise of the air pump didn't bother me. I can place it on carpeting so it can be very quiet. The only problem is I'm not sure how big of an air filter I would need for a sponge filter. I bought it so long ago I don't remember, but I'm going to assume it was for a a 20 gallon tank because that's what I had before this tank. Would that be sufficient? Or too much? Or is a powerhead really a better option? I figured if I already had an air pump lying around unused, I might as well use it instead of the powerhead.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DKRST View Post
Personally, I'd just purchase a small Eheim canister filter before going to all that trouble
I think you mean they add the sponge to the HOB intake? That works well.
I'd buy a canister filter if I had the money, but I just don't have that sort of money to spend on a fish tank at this point.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DKRST View Post
If my heater is in a water current, my tanks heats a little more evenly, but it's no big issue either way. The only problem I have with my plants is one particular sword has a leaf that turns yellow exactly at the point where it touches the heater in my 55 gallon. Plant will be fine, but I'd give a little space (a fraction of an inch or more) from the heater.
Thanks! I guess I will consider moving it. I don't really want to move the plant in the center because it's a crypt.. but I can always move the filter a little closer to the center. I guess is it beneficial to have it near the filter then to increase it's exposure to the currents?


Quote:
Originally Posted by DKRST View Post
I'm sure someone has mentioned that angels need to be in a group and if you add two additional angels, you'll need a bigger tank to house them at their adult size!
I am aware of that - it was a donated angel that I'm still considering if I want to donate it or not. I don't have room or plans to get a bigger tank for the room for more angels, because I would absolutely need more than 3 -- the recommendation is a breeding pair or 5+. I could keep a breeding pair, but not with anything else so this isn't really something I'd like to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DKRST View Post
Just run the sponge filter, along with the current HOB for a few weeks to establish the bacteria in it and that should do it. HOB's are the noisiest type of filter, in my experience, BUT you can have a planted tank with an HOB without a problem.
I know a lot of HOB can be loud, but the one I have doesn't bother me. I don't hear the filter itself, just the water outflow which is fine by me.
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Old 06-20-2011, 01:48 PM   #4
 
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I'll just pick up on your subsequent questions.

A sponge filter will be more than adequate for a 28g tank with the mentioned fish, all of which prefer less water movement; the issue with the HOB is not so much plants as fish. I have a dual sponge in my 29g, the Elite made by Hagen [photo attached below]. A small air pump will be sufficient for one sponge filter, so you're all set on that.

The heater is best positioned close to the filter return so the current (and even with a sponge there is a slight current) moves the heated water into the tank.

Byron.
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Old 06-20-2011, 02:25 PM   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
I'll just pick up on your subsequent questions.

A sponge filter will be more than adequate for a 28g tank with the mentioned fish, all of which prefer less water movement; the issue with the HOB is not so much plants as fish. I have a dual sponge in my 29g, the Elite made by Hagen [photo attached below]. A small air pump will be sufficient for one sponge filter, so you're all set on that.

The heater is best positioned close to the filter return so the current (and even with a sponge there is a slight current) moves the heated water into the tank.

Byron.

Ok, good to know. The fish have seemed ok with the current thus far (the danio sometimes play in it, but they're not staying anyways) but I know the rasboras generally avoid that corner of the tank (except one who does hang out around the filter on his own.). The angel will swim around the lower area of that part of the tank, but I was worried it was too much current.

I had two of the crypt wendtii in the tank and the one that was the closest out of all my plants to the outflow 'melted', and I'm not sure if it will be coming back.. part of the green grass plant is consistently moved around in the current as well, and I'm sure that'll only get worse as the plant gets bigger, so this is why I was afraid the current may be detrimental to the plants.

But the sponge filter seems like a cheap alternative to switch to, which is why it's something I was willing to consider. I just didn't want a lot of loud noise, and a lot of things I've read online have made it seem like sponge filters were the loudest things out there. Not only would that be annoying for me, but I worried that wouldn't be calm and peaceful enough for the fish. Come to think of it though, by lfs has mostly sponge filters in their freshwater tank and they didn't seem too loud. I'm assuming theirs are probably over sized considering how they overstock the tanks.

So, if noise shouldn't be a problem, I'll start shopping for a sponge filter. :) I'll also move my heater. Now, should I be running both the sponge filter and my hob, or is it ok/better if I can find a way to stuff the sponge into the hob filter for a few weeks and then install the sponge filter. Or is the current on the sponge filter so low that I shouldn't have to worry about the two running at the same time? I also currently have a sock/stocking full of gravel from my tank before I switched to the sandy substrate, which I know will help. I was about to remove it since my tank has settled in and should be done cycling. (Everything has been stable with zero ammonia and nitrites), but I figured I might as well keep it if I'm switching filters.
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Old 06-20-2011, 02:36 PM   #6
 
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Ok, good to know. The fish have seemed ok with the current thus far (the danio sometimes play in it, but they're not staying anyways) but I know the rasboras generally avoid that corner of the tank (except one who does hang out around the filter on his own.). The angel will swim around the lower area of that part of the tank, but I was worried it was too much current.

I had two of the crypt wendtii in the tank and the one that was the closest out of all my plants to the outflow 'melted', and I'm not sure if it will be coming back.. part of the green grass plant is consistently moved around in the current as well, and I'm sure that'll only get worse as the plant gets bigger, so this is why I was afraid the current may be detrimental to the plants.

But the sponge filter seems like a cheap alternative to switch to, which is why it's something I was willing to consider. I just didn't want a lot of loud noise, and a lot of things I've read online have made it seem like sponge filters were the loudest things out there. Not only would that be annoying for me, but I worried that wouldn't be calm and peaceful enough for the fish. Come to think of it though, by lfs has mostly sponge filters in their freshwater tank and they didn't seem too loud. I'm assuming theirs are probably over sized considering how they overstock the tanks.

So, if noise shouldn't be a problem, I'll start shopping for a sponge filter. :) I'll also move my heater. Now, should I be running both the sponge filter and my hob, or is it ok/better if I can find a way to stuff the sponge into the hob filter for a few weeks and then install the sponge filter. Or is the current on the sponge filter so low that I shouldn't have to worry about the two running at the same time? I also currently have a sock/stocking full of gravel from my tank before I switched to the sandy substrate, which I know will help. I was about to remove it since my tank has settled in and should be done cycling. (Everything has been stable with zero ammonia and nitrites), but I figured I might as well keep it if I'm switching filters.
If the tank has been running several weeks, and as it has live plants, I would just add the Sponge filter when you get it and remove the HOB then. Keep the stocking of gravel, though that may not be needed either. There is more nitrifying bacteria in the substrate, on plant leaves, on wood and rock, etc., than in a filter anyway. Provided the tank is "established" as i said. Plus the plants are using more ammonia than bacteria (depending how many of course). Shouldn't be an issue.
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Old 06-21-2011, 09:28 AM   #7
 
Before switching to a sponge filter, why not put a baffle on your existing filter to cut the flow back (or restrict it to the back wall). I have simple baffles made from water bottles (an idea I picked up here) that work fantastic at reducing the return water flow on my AC70 HOB - and you just can't beat the price!
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:47 PM   #8
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i recently tried adding a dual sponge filter to my 29 gallon tank, and used a Tetra Whisper 40 air pump. i couldn't seem to get any suction though. particles would float right by the sponges, and i couldn't feel any suction when i put my hand on it. i added back the HOB filter for now. and i was planning on experimenting with a single sponge filter, and see if that works.
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Old 06-23-2011, 11:19 PM   #9
 
You can always attach a power head to a sponge filter instead of an air pump. The sound of an air pump drives me crazy, so I always use power heads which are near silent and easy to find used.
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Old 06-24-2011, 12:58 AM   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Before switching to a sponge filter, why not put a baffle on your existing filter to cut the flow back (or restrict it to the back wall). I have simple baffles made from water bottles (an idea I picked up here) that work fantastic at reducing the return water flow on my AC70 HOB - and you just can't beat the price!
I've been thinking about trying this. I just wasn't sure how effective it'd be - or what would be a better option. But, I guess for the price, I might as well try that first.
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