I have a 20g long aquarium with a standard filter. I want to swap the standard filter for a sponge filter to help my molly fry to survive.
My aquarium is also planted so would I need a power head?
Has anyone got any advice or recommend a sponge filter for a 20g aquarium?
You can use a hydro sponge filter in that tank and if you want a some current with in the tank you can attach it to a powerhead. Here a website on them Aquarium Sponge Filter | ATI | Bio Filters & Replacement Hydro Sponges
Elite double sponge filter is what I use for sponge filters but those have to hook up to an air pump.
If your concern with the existing filter is fry getting pulled into the intake put a piece of filter sponge over the intake. This diffuses the filter intake, AquaClear sponges are a few dollars. Poke a hole in it with a knife & slide it over.
However, I disagree with the need for it. If you are losing Molly fry to the filter then there is probably something wrong with them. Remember, it's survival of the fittest. While fish that should never survive make it in our tanks, there are still fish that don't make it...and they SHOULDN'T make it. If you want to keep your line of fish healthy and strong, then you'll let the filter (or anything else for that matter) claim the ones that nature otherwise would have. If you want genetically inferior fish to survive in your tank, then get a sponge.
Things are different with fry, smaller fish that don't have the strength to swim against what is proportionally a huge suction. I learned the hard way years back breeding angels, half a spawn wasn't defective in any way other than not being smart enough to avoid the intake. Screen was a first try, while they didn't get sucked in they got sucked flat to it; dead is dead. If you have adults getting stuck on the intake of a suitably sized filter then yes, there is something wrong with them.
If you have 1/8" fry with a 100 gph filter you'll have ballpark the same effect with a 1" fish & an 800gph pond pump, or a 2" guppy with a 1600 gph pond pump. I've had adult angels get hung on a siphon that's pulling out 5 gallons in around 30 seconds, 600 gph. A large sponge over that siphon & I can walk away, I do this on the few tanks I haven't drilled for water changes.
You are tuff with the words but I agree with your point of view. for some to survive others have to go, it's natures way.
Much of it depends on what direction you're taking your breeding efforts. If this is a surprise spawn, and you just want to see a few survive without being overwhelmed with the usual end result of too many fry with no home then yes, survival of the fittest is the best way to go. If you're breeding for a purpose you don't want a piece of equipment doing indiscriminate culling.
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