What is the best filter setup?
What would be the easiest to maintain, most efficient filter setup for 15 gallon?
2ft undergravel filter, attached to powerhead with variable flow. As well as a 15 gallon internal filter. Small stones as substrate.
A single 26 gallon internal filter. Aquarium grade sand as substrate
Both will cost about the same to setup
Just a sponge filter with a small power head and a playsand substrate. Pretty much guaranteed cheaper than either choices.
I agree that a sponge filter is more than enough, however I'd just use an air pump over a power head as a power head will create a lot of water movement and fish like it calm.
An internal filter is pretty much the same as a sponge filter with a powerhead, so that's an option too, just don't get some big thing for a much larger tank. Get one sized for your tank and you're fine. Over filtering serves no purpose, it won't make the water any cleaner.
In my experience, the best and easiest to maintain would be a Tom rapids mini canister and sand. I like my filters to be silent.
Rapids Mini Canister Filter - C-80
I would not go with an undergravel or internal filter. I've used UGF's in the past (very popular in the 70's) and although they are good bio-filters, to much uneaten food and debris are pulled under and without aggressive gravel siphoning, they can become 'nitrate factories'. Internal filters just look bad like the corner box filter in ye olde days. Unless I had fry and/or the tank was heavily planted, I wouldn't use a sponge filter either and I'd also steer clear of cartridge type HOB's.
The mini canister looks intriguing or I would go with an Aquaclear 20 as both allow you to decide on the media type and volume to use.
As for substrate, I'd use sand hands down over gravel as detritus collects on top of sand and there's rarely/never any uneaten food.
Good luck and WELCOME to TFK!
as far as best fitler im siding with jeff the sponge and sand will work perfect and easy to maintain.
There is no reason to be using either of your options on your size tank. HOB's are an unnecessary expensive. So are Canisters. If money is something you don't have a lot of to spend, get a Hydro Sponge Filter or a Deep Blue. Either of these are great, just make sure to get one rated for your system.
Be sure to spend just a bit of money plants. If you don'tThey will help things along greatly considering you are running something simple like a sponge.
Hydro Sponge II is rated for up to 20. You can pick them up online base cost for 7-10 USD on average (plus shipping) online. Deep Blue Sea is another brand and it is popping up in more and more stores. I prefer this brand due to it being easier to do a quick disconnect versus the Hydro for when you clean it. Some people claim sponge are messy to clean when you pull them out. If you take a pitcher and use it to cup the unit when removing the sponge you can prevent it from making a mess.
I run an two tanks (80 and 90) gallons on a sponge filter. The 80 is fairly busy with stocking. The biggest issues are noise with the air pump. This is why research for a quiet unit is important. Deep Blue also has a relatively cheap Air Pump that they make. The one on my 80 works well and is quieter than my Tetra Whisper. Whispers are noisy, get them at your own risk!
Internals, the few times I messed with them they were bulky and awkward to put into a tank and make it look right. I find an easier time squirreling the sponge filters out of the way and on a 15 gallon what you buy will be smaller.
Just to show you what one can do on a well balanced tank. I spent 30 bucks on the sponge + air pump. Don't mind the Rainbows, within the next week or two I'm going to solve their shoal size problem by either moving them to another tank, or getting more for that tank. There is 1 peacock eel, 14 loaches, 3 rainbows (6 soon I hope?). In the past this tank also had 17 Harlequin Rasbora.
I am really liking the idea of a sponge filter instead of HOB for anything around 20 gallons or less (only because I couldn't get into a larger tank yet) with lots of plants... I would try it out on the office tank but there is already an AC unit that has been running for years.
Really though, the external canister filled with foam is the same thing, just more expensive and more flow... at least once I yank out the ceramics and fill it with foam.
Best filtration IME is live plants and forget the mechanical type filters.
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