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Discussion Starter #1
My 10 gallon tank (the biggest I have for the moment) has been looking rather sorry lately. I'd like to start growing a plant or two in it (got a pack of Aponogeton bulbs), but more than anything else I need a better filter. Brown algae has been growing, and the filter clogs after a day or two of cleaning. The filter is something like an Elite Hush 10 and the lighting fixture is what came with the tank (50 dollar starter kit at a local pet store, saw it at Walmart too).

There are two things I would like from this knowledgeable community:

1) What kind of filter would you recommend? I'd like to go buy one tomorrow as I will finally have time.

2) What kind of light would you recommend? I don't even know what the ratings are of the one in my hod, but the light doesn't look natural and is seems to be losing brightness.

Thanks in advance!
 

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for eliminating your brown algae i would recommend a light that has a minimal red-yellow-orange spectrum.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I picked up a Marineland Penguin 100 last night.

So far it's doing a great job, the tank looks as clean as it was when I bought it.

I bought a 25w light, but it doesn't fit my fixture. I'd take it back, but it fits my 5 gallon just fine.

EDIT: Oh, and the light in the 10 gallon is 15w.
 

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Is your hood incandescent or fluorescent? Aponegeton bulbs are pretty tolerant of most lights, the trick is to identify which aponegeton bulbs you are working with, as some like more light than others.
The penguin is a pretty good filter, just watch the pins on the sides of the wheel, they tend to clog after a while, which causes the wheel to stop turning. With regular maintenance, penguin filters can last a really really long time (years) without problems.
 

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filter is a good item to upgrade so you are right in my opinion to look at that. Buying a new filter is only half of the solution, a new filter will not cure your algae. If you purchase a new filter chances are it will be a grreater capacity with a greater turnover flow, this is no use if you use the same filter media that you are using in your current filter, you should look to set aside some of the budget for the filter to purchase some quality pourous material, stones or tubes ceramic if you can.

I would also recommend a water test kit for your algae problem, once you understand the root of the problem in terms of the water chemistry you will be able to prevent the algae from occuring.

If this is a new tank then i would be careful of how long you leav your lights on for, too much light can lead to algae growth in your tank. Also keep on top of water changes.

Sorry if this sounds like i am preaching to you but i am just covering the basics. A good tip is to make the best of what you have.
 

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Andrew, good advice. However, the size of the filter can make a big difference. Increasing water circulation and filter media can make all the difference in the world... IF that is the problem. One mistake too many people make when selecting a filter is that they select it based on the size of the aquarium, not the amount of waste load in the tank. A 10 gallon tank with 2 neons will need much less filtration than that same 10 gallon tank with 8 neons. Also, feeding habits will come into play. Are the fish being overfed? No fish needs to eat every day except fry, and no fish other than fry needs to eat more than once/day. Excessive feeding increases waste levels. If the filter is big/strong enough to handle that extra waste, circulation isn't too much for the fish, and proper filter media is run (carbon, sponge, bio media), then a larger filter can help a lot.
Andrew is correct in saying that algae problems start for some reason, and until that reason is identified, all you will do is treat the symptoms, which can be like working with a ticking bomb. The best way to eliminate any algae problem is to first find the cause, then find the treatment.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
New filter was needed bad. The old one would clog literally every day.

So far, the new filter has made a world of difference.

The light is florescent, and the pet store I was at didn't have any florescent bulbs available. I'll be back in town in a few days, so I'll pick one up then.

As far as the bulbs, I have no clue. It was the random box at Wal Mart, and after about 5 days none have done anything. I left them free-floating for a couple days and they never sunk so I stuck them in the gravel sideways. A couple popped back up, so I just threw them in the 5 gallon.

In case someone asks, I wasn't going to keep an entire pack of bulbs in that tank... just the first two or three that actually grew.

When I pick up some lighting I'll also grab some better plant bulbs if I can. I found a couple lists of good starter plants, so I'll go with those to begin with.
 

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Can you get a good picture of the bulbs to post? I can recognize many of the bulbs on sight, but by a worded description here, it's pretty difficult.
Most of these bulbs will go through a phase of hibernation, so it may be a while before anything green emerges from them, and they also may not even be good anymore. If they are solid, then I'd do my best to plant them and see what happens, checking on them from time to time. It could be more than a month before you see growth. If they are soft in the middle, I'd throw them away, as this indicates that they are no longer good bulbs, will not grow, and will simply rot in your tank and cause water quality problems that seem to come from nowhere.
If you post a pic, I'll do my best to properly ID it.
 

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o yes you should aim to go above the tank size in terms of filter, but if you cant stretch that far then what i meant was to invest in good media as this can increase its impact. TBH i am not a fan of sponges, in a planted tank there is no need for them, i see them as mechancial media as they have little use harvesting bacteria.

What did your old filter clog with? What filter have you bought now?
 

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Andrew, I would have to disagree with you about the sponges. I have been involved in many trials and research dealing with the use of sponges, and even in a planted tank, they are a good culture for bacteria. Packing a filter with good media is important, and the sponge is media. The bacteria needs surface area in which to cling and reporduce, and a sponge is one of the best resources for this. Other biomedias are designed to offer the same thing, surface area... but you won't find them more porous than a good sponge.
Also, as I had pointed out before, the larger the filter the more space for media, so long as water flow isn't too strong for the fish and plants in the aquarium.
 

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well pourous is only half the neccessity of a good surface for bacteria to culture on, a sponge has a minute surface area compared to the different kinds of siporax or ceramic pourous tubes, you are far better off packing your filter with this than sponges.
I saw a brilliant comparison when i first started in the aquarium hobby, an internal filter stipped out with one large pond circular ceramic stone had a larger surface area than a external cannister filled with sponges= true story, not sure on the size of the filter but app true.
Its all about utilising the space in your filter. Personally i would only recommed sponges for mechanical filtration if you needed it and in a planted tank you shouldnt.

Of course we all have different opinions in here based on our experiences. No one individual is right like no individual is wrong- we are all successful in our own right. In the end sometimes you just have to live with the decisions you make when setting up your tank and making the best of what you can.

So to the person who started this thread i hope your filter continues to work out for you.
 

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Andrew, what about the other role the sponge plays in filtering out larger particles? Surface area alone is not sufficient, especially if this tank is already noted for having issues with clogged filter/media. The sponge is something to easily rinse in dirty tank water to preserve bacteria, and then replac to help collect solid waste so it isn't being recirculated through the tank. That is one of the reasons I suggest the sponge, you have biological and mechanical all wrapped up in one.
As you said, there are many opinions in such a matter, but I don't want the important points to be missed, had to make sure that I covered all of the bases.
 

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I have to agree with Dawn re: the sponges. In the aquaclear hang-on-back filters, there is lots of room for filter media. Just recently I started using 2 sponges with one bag of activated carbon, and the tank water is crystal clear. It is a good idea to use a filter slightly larger than the one recommended for the tank (i.e. I use an aquaclear 70 in my 46 gallon)
 

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you should change your carbon on a regular basis if you want to use it, if you use it too long it will release all of the toxins that you have trapped.

You only need carbon if your using tapwater or removing chemical treatments from the aquarium water.

Well i inly speak from my ex[erience with sponges, if you can afford it upgrade to siporax, vastly superior you will notice a difference!
 

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I have to agree about the sponges because I use two of them on both of my AC HOB 20 and have never had an ammonia spike. The bottom sponge blocks the debirs and the top one serves as an extra biological filter for any bypass.

One thing on ceramic media, biochem stars and all the others hghly pourous media out there. If you don't have a media to remove debris then once the highly pourous media becomes clogged and your beneficial bacteira can't get oxygen they die and you have a huge ammonia spike.

Heavily planted tanks don't need ceramic media in the first place and the sponges serve a more valuable role of removing debris and keeping the water clear.

Peronally, I will be buying filters on size larger from now on and I will have both sponges and biochem stars in them just for redundancy but I will never run an HOB without a sponge or other debri removing media.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ok, where to begin...

A picture isn't possible, as I can't for the life of me find the dang USB cable for my camera. I bought a test kit, and after testing I have found that both ammonia and nitrites = 0, nitrate = 40 (after seeing this I did a water change), ph = 7.2, alkalinity = 120, hardness = 150 (very hard). The only thing that is out of whack is the hardness, but from my research mollies love it (most of my tank is comprised of mollies). Right now I just have the cartridge that came with the Penguin 100 and a piece of the sponge from the old filter to help with maintain the bacteria (seems to have worked).

As for what the old filter was clogging with, I don't really know what to call it. Seemed to be the standard, run of the mill, brown muck. IMO the filter I had wasn't fit for a 5 gallon. It was essentially useless, as the water level was right at the top of the filter cartridge and once it started restricting flow, it just went over.

Since the change I have noticed that the brown algae (or diatoms, not sure which) have pretty much disappeared. The fake rock decoration that my shrimp are so fond of has switched from brown algae to a green strand kind, which if I remember is healthy for aquariums. My aponogeton bulbs have also started to sprout.

I've concluded I'll have to just order the light from the 'net. None of the local fish stores have those kind of bulbs. The bulb is the long kind, connects to the fixture on both ends, and on the bulb itself it says "All Glass Aquarium 15w Hg." I'll order a 25w or once I get a chance to shop around.

The filter I got is rated for 100 gph and handles 20g tanks. Right now I have all bases covered (mechanical, chemical, biological) and I'm hoping the addition of a bio-wheel will help keep things in check.
 

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For the green hair algae, check phosphate levels and also watch for a change in it once the bulb has been changed in the light fixture.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I have yet to get a kit that tests phosphates. That'll be something I order alongside my new lighting. I'd imagine they are high though.
 

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Many times we can tell what to test for based on the type of algae growing... and hair algae is noted for phosphate levels and old light bulbs.
 
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