Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   To filter or not to filter? (

Promelas 02-09-2010 06:23 PM

To filter or not to filter?
I haven't really been able to find much info on the subject, but one of the LFS said it's best not to have a filter on a planted tank (with fish) since the surface disruption will remove CO2 from the tank. He said with just a powerhead you'll be fine. Is this what most of you with planted tanks do or do you have filters still? My filter isn't anything fancy, an aquatech 20-40, but just curious if I should leave it on there or if it's better for the tank to go filter free. Thanks!

Mean Harri 02-09-2010 06:31 PM

In my opinion that is true to a degree. I would not use a hang on back filter. Especially one with a bio wheel. You don't want to add air(oxygen) to the water. The plants add o2. Disturbing the surface adds o2 and gases off the co2 in the water that is needed for the plants.

That said, canister filters come with a spray bar. This bar can be rotated to exhaust below the surface more or blow upwards creating rippling on the surface. Too much rippling is not good. And air pumps are a no go with planted tanks except at night. This is due to plants actually consuming o2 at night. A complete reversal of the daylight operation that they perform where they consume co2 and give o2.

A powerhead with a sponge filter can be use. But in a large tank you'll want more than one. Be aware that power heads create a good bit of pressure with lower volume passed through them. Fish that don't tolerate strong current won't like that. If you are looking to be budget minded, a powerhead may suit you well. Otherwise I recommend Eheim or Rena Filstar canister filters appropriate for your tank size.

Gday mate

Angel079 02-09-2010 06:35 PM

I use either canisters or internal filters or sponges in my planted tanks (dep on the tanks sizes) and all of them are pretty well planted (see pictures in my 'aquarium' the tap here to the left).
All of them are then set up to SLIGHTLY move the water surface but VERY minimal and def not ever set up above the water level.
That has worked for me (well my plants) for many many years and real well.

Edit on the power head: Dep what fish you have in there that may totally not be good for the fish.

Promelas 02-09-2010 06:44 PM

Cool thanks. I'll be avoiding fish that won't like the powerhead so hopefully I can keep that in to move the water. I've looked up some sponge filters online but I'm a little unclear as to how they actually work. Any insights? Also any recommendations on which one to buy? I've got a 29g tank.

Byron 02-09-2010 06:47 PM

I agree with Harri and Angel. And you haven't mentioned the fish, Angel's comment is along the lines that some fish come from faster flowing rivers and need some current, other fish come from very slow moving streams and ponds with very little almost no current. Plants do fare better in the latter setup for the reasons Harri mentioned. I would not use a powerhead, it will be too much flow unless you have those fast-current fish, and it will not contribute anything. Filters in planted tanks are suited to removing suspended particulate matter from the water, either with a simple sponge filter or canister. These create a minimal flow which serves to bring nutrients to the plant leaves and roots. This is explained in more detail in Part 3 of the sticky series at the head of this section; here's a link:


Angel079 02-09-2010 06:51 PM

I'd not use a powerhead in a 29g neither.
I pers set up all my tanks around the fish I wanna keep as the main set-up point and secondary for my plants. So what fish do you wanna keep, or maybe already have in there?

Here's the sponges I use and it also gives you a real good set up picture; the lil air tubing you see come out to the top there (the very thin one) that hooks up to a small air pump (mine are ~1watt) and the whole thing sits under water (I pref mine to be at least 1" under the surface) and that's it; that simple Bio Foam Single Sponge Filters, Sponge Filters | Pet Solutions

Promelas 02-09-2010 06:58 PM

@Angel079 So I should hook up 3 of those in a 29g? Or should I buy a bigger version? I kept the powerhead in there from the LFS recommendation to keep the water moving past the plants. Right now I have 6 head and tail light tetras and three green tiger barbs. I put up a different post with some ideas of what I'd like to put in there here:

@Byron Thanks for the link I'll check it out! I'm just a little confused as to how the sponges actually work though. So air will be pumped down and bubble out of the tube, drawing water through the sponge? Won't that bubbling air drive CO2 out at the surface as well?

Angel079 02-09-2010 07:08 PM

Oh no no...they come in diff sizes; I just used that one cause its what I have on my small tanks and the way the picture is online it makes it easy to explain...if you look here there's all different sizes (for diff sized tanks) Sponge Filters, Filters | Pet Solutions

They'll create a suction within the sponge as air moves through it and that draws the water thought the sponge and so with cleans your tank. The bubbles coming out are so minimal it won't hurt the CO2; now if you had a bubble wand in the tank that'd be LOTs bubbles and indeed creating a issue.

Other alternative would be a simple internal filter for you; that's also what I use in my 45g set up with the Tetra's (The 400 Model in your case, as they're very strong filters the "20g" will be plenty sufficient for a planted 29g) Cascade Internal Filters, Internal Filters | Pet Solutions

These fish def appreciated less current in the tank.

Promelas 02-09-2010 07:14 PM

Awesome thanks again for the info!

Angel079 02-09-2010 07:26 PM

You're welcome..another thought if you like DIY stuff and lil more power then a sponge filter but not as much as a powerhead...googel Hambruger Mattenfilter
I used to have these back in the day in my larger planted tanks; works great; provided you have the spare hours to build them :-)

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