10g Planted Dual-Betta Tank w/Matten Filter - El Natural - Aquatic Plant Central

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Old 11-12-2016, 11:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 10g Planted Dual-Betta Tank w/Matten Filter

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Just set this up to see how it goes...
* 10g standard glass tank
* Substrate is native Central Texas dirt from the yard, capped with Flourite Black
* Lighting is two SunLite 13W T5 Daylights in GE Slimline under-cabinet fixtures

The new part for me is the filter:
* 4" cube matten-filter with Airlifter from Swiss Tropicals

The rest of the divider is made of:
* 2" matten-filter foam also from Swiss Tropicals
* I used some cut piece to block the space at the top of the cube filter so the bettas can't get across.
* The foam sits on the glass bottom and touches the lid, so there's no way past it above or below.

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Yes, the 2" divider is pretty thick, but it holds itself up and doesn't look too bad. 1.5" or 1.0" could have been a better choice, but I think some support would have been needed.

The original idea was that water passing through the divider would add to the biofiltering capacity, but since I put a T on the airlifter output (to provide water movement on both sides) there's not much flow going through the divider. I think it's stagnant in there.

We'll see how it goes and what adjustments to make. If the foam up against the glass gets grungy over time, I may add some trim on the outside to hide it from view.
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Old 11-12-2016, 04:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: 10g Planted Dual-Betta Tank w/Matten Filter

Interesting! Please keep us updated. I've thought about using a matten filter in soil substrate tanks, and wondered what problem might come from having the filter foam in contact with soil.
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Old 11-19-2016, 11:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: 10g Planted Dual-Betta Tank w/Matten Filter

Thanks Michael!

There's a little bit of debris collecting already between the foam and glass, but the water parameters are stable. Of course the filter and substrate were cycled before the fish went in.

I don't yet see any interaction between the dirt and the foam -- the sediment isn't being drawn into the filter, for example.

Only the large anbuias has made any growth yet, but it's still early. That new leaf had started before being put into this tank anyway.

This is looking like a good way to keep a pair of betta, except for these points:

* Quiet air pumps are expensive. The one on this tank (Tetra Whisper) is better than most, but only acceptable because it's in the kitchen and is masked by the refrigerator hum.

* If one were to use flake or pellet food I expect a lot of gunk would collect on the foam at the waterline.

For this next week, I am routing the outflow to one side only.
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Old 11-19-2016, 12:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: 10g Planted Dual-Betta Tank w/Matten Filter

How much noise does the air lifter make, not including the noise from the air pump? And do you think it works better or worse than a power head for moving water through the mattenfilter?
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Old 11-19-2016, 02:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: 10g Planted Dual-Betta Tank w/Matten Filter

Just the splashing of the water onto the surface. In this tank the outlet is above the surface level.

When I had it in the 110g to seed the filter, the outlet pipe was below the surface. The outlet pipe is cut at 45 degrees -- somehow that reduces the burbling noise of the air bubbles. In that case the noise was just the fizzing of the bubbles when they hit the surface.

If not for the air pump, the airlifter is about as silent as you can get.
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Old 11-19-2016, 03:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: 10g Planted Dual-Betta Tank w/Matten Filter

Thanks. All my experience with air driven filters is from ancient days, when they gurgled and burped enough to keep you awake at night. I'm glad they are quieter now, LOL!
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Old 11-21-2016, 09:17 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: 10g Planted Dual-Betta Tank w/Matten Filter

I fully support the pursuit of silence.

I can't think of a chemical or mechanical reason not to embed an electric pump into the foam, removing the need for the external air pump. Something to try eventually.
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Old 11-21-2016, 10:45 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: 10g Planted Dual-Betta Tank w/Matten Filter

You folks should go half-deaf, like me. If you don't like the noise you can turn off your hearing aide. LOL

Seriously, could you use an air stone to provide lift and eliminate the large bubbles' noise?

My lids are pretty tight so I added a large air stone just to make sure I have fresh air in the tank for O and CO2 availability. I am about to add a small sponge filter so it is colonized and ready to drop into the 10g QT. I will listen to see if the air bubbles are annoying or soothing (My wife likes the white noise of my tank for taking a nap)
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Old 11-29-2016, 06:27 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: 10g Planted Dual-Betta Tank w/Matten Filter

Yes, an airstone would lift the water too. Though the airlifters direct the outflow out away from the filter cube.

This week I've experimented by replacing the air pump with a small spare powerhead. In the photo you may be able to see how I made a cut out in the foam and inserted the bottom part of the powerhead housing.

The intake water comes entirely through the foam, just like the airlifter did.

With a makeshift T to direct the outflow both ways, this is silent. Lock-line fittings are on order.

Air pump + airlifter:
Pro: Can't clog / no maintenance
Pro: Doesn't add heat to the tank
Con: Air pumps are noisy or costly. As I said above, the one I used is actually pretty good.

Powerhead enclosed in the filter foam:
Pro: Quiet
Pro: Cheap
Pro: Adjustable flow
Con: You have to cut a nice expensive foam block
TBD: Might be adding heat -- the pump may be running hot with the extra load (can that happen with these magnetic impellers?)... the water temp jumped up 5F for some reason.
TBD: The foam may prevent the powerhead from clogging. It will certainly keep snails out.

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Old 12-13-2016, 07:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: 10g Planted Dual-Betta Tank w/Matten Filter

Update:

I put a Lifeguard Quiet One PRO 200 in the matten filter. This pump has the advange of having the intake at the bottom and the output at the top. It is buried in a hole in the center of the matter filter that I cut for it. I removed the pump's own tiny foam filter and bottom cap, since its fully encased in foam.

On top of the pump is a Y made of loc line. I improvised a fitting with vinyl tubing to connect the locline to the pump. And, yes, the loc line is too big -- my mistake in ordering the parts. But it works and lets me change the flow direction.

You can see that the locline is also wrapped in foam to keep the separation between the bettas:Click image for larger version

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