Additional Mechanical Filtration For A 30G?
First off, this is my first post on the forum, so introductions are in order. I've been into the hobby for about 3 or 4 months, after buying my girlfriend a 29 gallon tall tank for valentine's day. I was, of course, "that guy" who thought "Hey, buy a tank, fill that sucker up and put some colorful fishies in there, that's all there is to it!" Luckily we have a very good LFS that "set me straight" on that one, and now I know, of course, that there's a little more to it then that.
Anyways, just so you know, I run a 29G tall tank with a Penguin 150 bio wheel and a pair of two inch "bubble disks". Currently our tank is stocked (fully) with:
2x Opaline Gourami
2x Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami
1x Albino Long Tail BN Pl*co
We currently don't run any live plants or anything like that.
Right now, our Penguin 150 is providing adequate biological filtration (and I guess chemical too, as the water stays clear) and the water is stable at 0/0/10-20 levels. However, especially since adding the little poop machine that is the BN pl*co, I find myself having to change out the filter pads on an almost weekly basis. They get clogged up really quick with fish doo, and I'm pretty certain having fresh cucumber / zucchini in the tank for the pl*co doesn't seem to help either. The pads get slimy and coated real quick, and washing them doesn't seem to improve things any.
Hence my question. I'm looking for a fairly cheap (say sub $100) and aesthetically unobtrusive way to add some additional mechanical filtration to the tank, but I'm not sure what sort of filter would work well for this purpose. I like the idea of a canister or one of those Marineland hang on tank canisters for the aesthetic value, but the price is a little hard to swallow. I considered possibly an internal powerhead filter or sponge filter, but I'm thinking most of those would look pretty ugly and take up valuable tank space. My other option is to just run another Penguin 150, which would work, but require modification of my tank lid to fit another on there. Also, I like the idea of over-filtering the tank, but I would assume that there is some upper limit of flow I can run through such a small tank without negatively affecting the occupants. I want the fish to be happy, and not feel like they're in one of those swim in place pools all day. So, if you were in my shoes and had up to $100 to blow, what would you do? What if price was no object, what would you run then?
Thanks all for your help and opinions.
You could add a pre-filter sponge to the uptake of your filter. Just rinse it out in dechlorinated water when it starts to clog.
If money was no object, that Marineland H.O.T. canister would probably be a great choice. The pre-filter sponge is also a good idea. I'm not sure if they make a product specifically for that purpose, but you could certainly use a sponge filter block or any sort of open-cell foam cut to the desired shape.
It would require a lot of messing with your tank, but a reverse-flow undergravel filter might also be an option.
Here's the filter plate, for $15:
Here's the powerhead you'd want at $16:
And the reverse flow kit for $6.29:
The reverse flow kit comes with a pre-filter sponge. Basically, the system sucks water through the sponge into the powerhead, pumps it down through the uplift tube of the UGF, and up through your gravel. This gives you a two-stage biological filter with the sponge and your gravel housing bacteria. The high water flow up through your gravel also keeps waste and other junk from settling into your gravel. Instead, it suspends it in your water, where other filters (like your power filter) can remove it. If you want personal opinions, Herefishy is a big advocate of this system and has been using it for a long time. It won't work if you have sand instead of gravel, though.
I know you didnt like the idea of a sponge, they are ugly, but you can hide them with decor, fake plants, rocks etc. I only have one tank with sponge filters, its a 10g for cherry shrimp, they breed readily in it and I feed them to other fish. Ghost shrimp are much harder to breed, so even though cherries are more expensive to get started, the cherries keep me supplied with cheap live food I can be certain is disease free.
Anyway a couple of advantages to the sponge filters are that they cause little to no current in the tank if that is what you are worried about. This is important for the little shrimplets. Another advantage is that they get covered up with the bio-goo that filters the water, but since its in the water where they can get to it, the shrimp, adult and babies, love to comb over the sponges and eat that stuff on the outside. I dont know if any of your fish would, but I'd say its a good possibility.
Just my thoughts on the sponge filters.
Thanks for all the advice!
I ended up picking up a Marineland HOT canister at the local "pet-a-torium" today, so I'll set that up and see how it goes.
I actually started the tank with a regular (not reverse flow) UGF driven by air pumps, but discarded it as soon as I could (when I got the biowheel well established). I found that, at least with a regular UGF, tank cleaning was quickly becoming a nightmare (it's really tough to siphon out the gunk that builds up under the filter plate, you should have seen the mess that came up when I finally decided to pull it out!). Also, I had big problems controlling the populations of nitrite producing bacteria that grew underneath the filter plate. I was always getting dangerously high nitrite spikes (I would work and work at getting it to zero, only to see it spike back up days later) and couldn't figure out what was going on, until I pulled up the filter plate. It was really disgusting under there, and this wasn't in a tank that hadn't been cleaning in years or anything, but a fresh tank that was just getting past first cycling. Perhaps a reverse flow system prevents or minimizes these problems, but after cleaning a tank with the filter plate in the bottom, I really REALLY appreciate being able to siphon right down to the glass when I clean my tank now.
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