Help with my Eheim Pro 3e- please explain
So after 15 years of loyal service my Fluval 203 bit the dust, well not really only the O-ring broke, I bought it secondhand from a LFS so its been in operation for 20+ years. I couldn't find a replacement O-ring and was getting worried about the tank so I splurged and bought an Eheim Classic 350 (with the spone kit) and an Eheim Pro 3e 2075 this is my first Eheim purchase. Just examined everything and the Classic is self explanatory but there are a few things about the Pro 3e that just don't seem to make sense.
The 'pre-filter' is at the top. Its easy to see how it works, water exits the inlet tube under the coarse blue filter mat and must pass through it to be sucked down the side of the canister to the bottom. But it seems like unnecessary complication when the blue filter mat could simply be the first layer on the bottom to begin with. I thought that the 'pre-filter' was an added stage of filtration but it seems as though Eheim have just moved the coarse filter pad from the bottom to the top to call it a new feature.
The first basket (on the bottom) has Eheim Mech Pro media (little black plastic tubes) it is supposed to be for mechanical filtration but I just don't see how they could catch dirt particles since the plastic is smooth. If its the ridges allong the tubes that catch dirt it would get clogged pretty quickly. How does it work, is this better than sponge-like (or other) media? Or should I replace it with something else? I tried to google Mech Pro but all the promotional literature says is what it does, not how it does it.
The next basket is filled with Eheim Bio-Mech Pro for mechanical and biological filtration, this kind of combination media might be a good idea in smaller filters with limited space but isn't the mechanical filtration simply going to clog the bacterial pores with dirt limiting the water flow over the beneficial bacteria? I know BB grow on sponges & filter pads as well but these pores are much smaller.
Then the 3rd basket has small balls of Eheim Substrat Pro for biological filtration covered by a fine filter mat to remove fine particles and 'polish' the water. I always thought that fine particle filtration should be before biological filtration. Shouldn't it go coarse, medium, then fine followed by biological media? This is driving me crazy, is my understanding of filtration all wrong? I simply have to know!!
Filtering should be coarse to fine in a gradual or staged progression. I bought a Marineland C-220 and it came with bio-balls (hollow plastic spheres that look sort of like little cages), ceramic bio-filtration (short tubes of fine pore ceramic material) coarse sponge, fine sponge and a polishing layer.... layered from coarse to ceramics in the correct order at least.
The bio balls are a waste of time as they have less surface area than a coarse sponge and all they did was to rattle around anyway. Tossed them.
The ceramics are about the same. Fine pored ceramic material requires pressure (60PSI or more) to have any flow rate at all through it. Standing water in a gravity ceramic filter flows at less than 1 gallon per hour. Seeing as my filter runs at 220 GPH and the water is not captured and forced through the material, it just goes around. I took it out and broke them apart to see if there was any sign of water flow through the ceramic in four months... pure white as the day they were created, no water flow, no use. Tossed them.
Anyway. I have set up my filter with a coarse sponge 1st stage, two stages of filter floss and a polishing filter last. I am going to add a finer filter material after the floss next time I take it apart as there is lots of room.
Giving a material a fancy sounding name and adding the "pro" suffix doesn't make it work, it just makes it saleable as a "different" product. I'm sure that many would argue that this stuff is a benefit but I doubt that any can prove it... it's easier to prove that it makes no difference in the system as taking it out and using something as simple as a sponge has no effect on the stability of the tank.
On a similar note, I am finding that the purpose of the filter as a total biological unit is better served by this gradual staged setup as waste that gets caught in the first stage breaks down and traverses to the second stage where it breaks down further.... eventually it ends up back in the tank and gets changed out with water changes or used by plants or micro organisms in the tank. I have left my filter for two weeks between cleanings then left it two months and found no difference in flow rate and no real difference in how "dirty" it looks inside. I suspect that a filter of adequate size in a dark environment may not need to be cleaned other than to ensure that the media itself has not broken down beyond being functional.
Is there a filter media conspiracy?
What you say about the ceramic noodles is very disturbing, my Fluvals 203 has been in operation for 20+ years with the same noodles so I'm going to break some open and see if its the same case. If it is then my long-standing aquatic faith in trusted brands like Fluval and Hagen will be as shattered as the ceramic! Im currently experimenting with rubber bands in place of the broken o-ring, maybe if I can find one the right thickness I can still use it, it would be handy to have as a spare.
As for the Eheim Pro 3e I'm going to swap around the order of the media as you suggested, in absence of evidence that the default setup is more effective I'll stick to the tried and true system of coarse, medium, fine, then Substrat Pro then Bio-Mech as suggested. However those ridged black plastic tubes are giving me nightmares... the thought that Hagen could be charging a premium price for something that may be absolutely useless makes makes me mad as hell :evil: Since my temple of faith has dangerously cracking foundations I'm going to make one effort to underpin it and leave the 'Eheim Mech Pro' in the filter for a few weeks then see if it has caught any dirt. If not then it goes in the bin and I'll replace with some floss. I tried to set it up yesterday but there was not enough tubing included in the box :-( and hardware store is not open until Monday. Spray bar is way too short as well, around 30cm and the tank is 5ft ~sigh~ so I will join it up to the old Fluval one. When you pay $400 for something you shouldn't have to cobble things together.
As to actually proving that media works, to know for sure at least 2 tanks (more for more media) would have to be set up, including a control tank. Both tanks would have a bare bottom so dirt could be easily seen and so the majority of BB would be in the filter media not in the substrate with the same number and species of fish in each tank fed the same way, basically identical tanks with the same filter, the only difference being the media in the canister, the control tank could have sponges the other Mech Pro. After a period of time the Mech Pro tank water would have to be tested for particles and particle size to compare with the same in the control tank water. The same would work for biological media but you would instead test the water for ammonia/ammonium, nitrites/nitrates and possibly total dissolved solids (or conductivity?). The results would certainly be interesting but I don't have the equipment to do it and don't know how to test for particles though you could take a sample of water and pour it through a paper coffee filter as a visual aid. However there should be no need for us to do any of this since the manufacturing company should have done tonnes of research developing the product and that info should be available to us. I'm going to email Hagen and ask them to explain to me how it works.
Interesting point about caught waste breaking down then falling through and going round, I never thought of that before. Yet more supporting evidence as to the importance of water changes.
BTW: how do you do that multiple quote thingy? I can only seem to get it in one big block.
The plastic stuff which is just so far on the other side of the spectrum.
I am far less concerned with actual particles in the water over water quality for the fish so I am not really aiming for crystal clear water but I tend to get that most of the time anyway by default, graduated filter media size will accomplish this as it is only a matter how fine the final stage is.
Doing a side by side would be easier and more quantitative by putting two empty glass tanks side by side and running the different filter setups on each while adding measured amounts of ammonia, tracking the cycle setup timeline and testing the biofiltration capacities after a period of time. I actually expect that this would not necessarily prove or dis-prove one media over another but show that the media choice probably makes no difference as we have this misconception of how much biofilm surface area is really needed in the first place, and probably by some factor rather than some margin.
I would suggest that if particulate is of no concern for this test and that a third tank with an empty filter would be as effective as the other two... so my point would be not to waste money on fancy media. Sponges, floss and pillow stuffing are just as effective as they are also not a real factor in the biofilm development anyway.
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