Any real need for canister/hang on back filter
I am beginning to think fancy canister or hang on back filters are not that necessary. A good air-driven foam filter in the tank is the only thing really necessary.
I already have a set up in place with a power canister filter: all I have is mechanical filtering media. When I test the water, everything is 0, save for nitrates which hover around the '10' mark. This is the reading, both from the tank and the tap water.
I am trying to cut back on electrical usage and an intank air driven foam filter would eliminate the Renas.
Anyone else do this?
Plants (if any) also help with the filtration.
If a tank is not overloaded or overfed, a "natural" tank works, just need a little water circulation. Biological filters allow a lot of "oops" room for heavy fish stocking and for folks, like me, who tend to overfeed on occasion. Mechanicals are nice for taking out the visual yuck. Canisters are a nice combo of both, but you are accurate. They and HOBs are not really requirements for a successful FW tank.
The largest tank in question is a 56 gallon column. I am going to be using 2 5" square foam filters in it.
One must remember that filtration serves more than one function, and these vary considerably according to the tank's biology and the type of fish. Other members have wisely mentioned plants and fish stocking, and they are also part of the equation.
Filtration occurs as mechanical, biological and chemical. Mechanical is moving the water through media (esp floss, pads, sponge, foam) to remove suspended particulate matter. Although it is possible to have planted tanks without mechanical filtration, it is beneficial for most tanks and it also helps circulate the water.
Biological involves encouraging nitrifying bacteria colonization in the filter media. While here too it is not essential, it is advisable (a) if there are no live plants, and (b) if the fish stocking is anything above what the tank can easily handle naturally. Most of us put more fish in a tank than what may be termed "moderate."
Chemical involves adjusting the water chemistry somehow, often with activated carbon and other substances that will remove toxins (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, metals, etc). This again is not necessary in planted tanks or those with moderate fish stocking that balances the tank's biological system.
A sponge filter will easily achieve mechanical and some biological. Provided the fish stocking is moderate, this is fine. And with live plants, even better.
Another important aspect of filters is the water movement. Some fish need more current than others, and this must be provided or that species will not be healthy. This is another important aspect of selecting "compatible" fish for an aquarium. Compatibility includes similar requirements respecting water flow, temperature, parameters, environment...in addition to behaviours.
Thanks for all the replies.
I have not used carbon in my filters for a long long time. I do not even use the little stars/noodles either. My water parameters remain the same. am= 0, nitrites = 0. The only reading is from the nitrates which remains at 10, which is also 'straight from the tap'. Tap water is 10 nitrate. (API master test kit).
I switched to the foam for a couple of reasons, although I will do what is best for the fish. Mainly to save electricity and to remove the electric load off of the circuit; I do think it was stressed.
I installed the filters Wednesday Aug 10. After almost 5 days, the water is almost as clear as it was when the canisters were running. I did get a little bit of milky cloudiness on the second day (Aug 12) but it cleared up shortly. This would occur occasionally with the canister filters so I don't think it is of any real consequence.
All the fish are well. I am going to continue to post with my observations.
Update: Aug 17, 2011. I woke up this morning and my male rainbow bosmani was stuck between the filter and the side of the 55 gallon tank. Dead... bummer. I guess he squeezed in there and panicked. I also realized that by being that close to the corner, the amt of filter space is reduced. I moved the filter away from the corner: I moved all of them away from the glass and turned them slightly so they were more of an angle.
I had to shift some plants and ornaments. Stirred up a bit of crap, but the water cleared out in about an hour.
Other than the rainbow (it was my prettiest rainbow of course...) all is well.
Update: Sept 20, 2011.
checked my water chemsitry in the big tank (56 gallon column).
I do not think this is any failing of the foam filter, I have been very remiss in checking my parameters.
The ammonia was slightly elevated, (only one 'step' higher on the liquid test), 0 nitrites, nitrates were @ 40. This was saturday, the day I do a water change, so I did a 50% on all the tanks.
Mea Culpa, but there are too many fish in the 56 gallon and I may well do 2 water changes a week.
total number of fish? 20 or less.
It is heavily planted. I need to come up with some sort of 'crevice' tool for the siphon gravel cleaner to get between the roots and stuff.
The water clarity is excellent.
Very interesting observations in the past year I have gone to only sponges filters in most of my tanks.
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