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mudboots 07-08-2012 08:49 AM

Filtration Capacity...This is ONLY a Test...
Well, I am testing the effects of filtration one variable at a time, which has proved to involve a lot more math than I expected. I have had to learn terms such as "pretty close", "close enough" and "just about."

So here's the test. I took a JBJ PicoTope 3 gal and set it up with a Red Sea 60 filter, which is pretty much the going rate filter for a tank this size. But to make sure I had at least one variable out of whack for the test I set the 9 watt fixture aside and grabbed the hood off of my spare 10 gallon and put on twin 10 watt bulbs for a total of 20 watts "twisty" lighting. I added foil baffles on the edge of the bulb fixtures to prevent a lot of light loss since the fixture is not very light efficient.

I am using old, established substrate at about 2" deep, and emmergent vegetation that will survive, but will also release LOADS of organics as the leaves decompose to simulate an overloaded system. I am feeding betta flakes at a rate that is "pretty close" to what i'd feed a dozen neon tetras, or maybe 5 female bettas, which is a bit much for this size tank to begin with.

The goal is to see what happens given a certain regimen under one filtration system and what happens with changing only the filtration CAPACITY...not flow rate. I'll change other things later on, but for now filter capacity is variable 1 (or V1 if you like to label things).

I'll post the first two weeks plus system stats in the next post with the first set of pics. I started this 2 weeks this will be just as soon as I can eat a bite with the kids...

mudboots 07-08-2012 09:21 AM

re: Filtration Capacity...This is ONLY a Test...
5 Attachment(s)
Here's the first set of pics. The bulbs are "Daylight" and I am pretty impressed with the color spectrum...very crisp and clean...

You can also see that the filtration rate is between 60-90 liters per hour, which is just under 10x the flow per the actual water capacity of the tank. The volume of the filter is about a cup, which isn't much IMHO. Filter media is a bunch of coarse black sponge, and you can imagine just how little actually can fit in there since the plumbing takes up a lot of the available space.

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Okay, so do your best to disregard the Darth-Vader look of the 10 gallon hood sitting on the 3 gallon aquarium...remember This is ONLY a Test...

You've seen the specs already, so here's the routine. I do 50% water change every other day and use tap water with a tiny bit of water conditioner. The plant sps are Anubias sps and 2 Crypt sps that were grown emmersed elsewhere. I have a lot of Anubias because I know I can count on it's emmersed leaves to decay pretty slowly compared to most others I've dealth with, and I knew it's transition would still be going strong well into the filter capacity test.

As you will see in the pics, the lighting, high organics and overfeeding, even with 50% water changes every two days, and approximately 10x water flow, has left a lot to be desired. The tank water is pretty green, and I had just changed it prior to taking these pictures.

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mudboots 07-08-2012 09:49 AM

re: Filtration Capacity...This is ONLY a Test...
5 Attachment(s)
For the test filter, I took my spare 10 gallon tank, a small 5-drawer Sterlite organizer, 5 ft of 1/2" ID tubing, 8 ft of 3/8" ID tubing, some 1/2" pvc pipe, and a water pump.

The pump is rated at 150gph at 0-head and runs down to 0gph at 4.1'. In order to get my flow "close enough" to the original flow rate I needed have between 40-44" of head. I ended up with 42", and ran the pump outlet through the old filter's intake, which has a baffle built in for variable flow rates. I have it pretty darn close to what it was...

Here's about what I did...

Step 1 - move all of this mess to a room less likely to encounter a kick from a child, which would result in unhappiness.

Then I built an overflow. I did not drill a check-valve tap like I have seen elsewhere. The purpose is to get the air out and the water in, over the edge of the tank. This overflow is small enough that I could just turn the whole assemply under water in such as way as to release the air myself, then I plugged it all up until it was set in position. Then I opened up my hole at the end cap to prevent the siphon effect, and attached the drain hose. Perfect...the second time around...I made a couple of mistakes in the design at first, but that's another discussion altogether.

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You can see the the water is slightly about the top of the pipe. This has to do with physics and with the flow rate. In a larger volume aquarium it's not all that big a deal, but in something this small it means the difference between an aquarium and a mess on the dresser and floor. It's function is a typical overflow.

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And this is the exit...

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It drains into the new filter, which would be like a sump. The stack organizer acts as a wet/dry set up. I had to play with the number of holes for the flow rate, but have about 1/2" of water in each of the top three trays. The bottom 2 are removed because they are at the water level.

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Tray 1 is what was in the original filter. It hardly even looks like there's anything in there, and I did this only to demonstrate I have maintained the same flow rate, and now have my original filtration media, plus now beneath that I have another filter insert, and then a mass of poly-fiber. It's a polyester curtain screen fabric that's been in a box for many years. Melinda told me not to throw them out because we'd eventually use them...this is probably not what she had in mind ;)
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mudboots 07-08-2012 09:55 AM

re: Filtration Capacity...This is ONLY a Test...
3 Attachment(s)
The return line was run back through the old inlet fixture to allow me to fine tune it beyond the head flow rate, and that was set in the chasis of the old filter so that the outflow would be just like it was when the old filter was still on. This was to keep it as close as possible to the original regimen, the only other change being that the water flows to the top for the overflow and not into the old intake.

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The water looks great so far, and I used almost all of what i had in there. But with so much more new volume I will simply have to wait to see what it does over time. I don't think I will do a 50% water change every two days. It just depends. For now, here are some pics of the tank. I'll give updates as I have them...

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mudboots 07-08-2012 11:10 AM

re: Filtration Capacity...This is ONLY a Test...
I forgot to mention the light schedule. It's 4-on, 3-off, 4-on, 13-off. No CO2 injection, and no formal dosing of fertz aside from what comes from the food. The only inhabitants are a few ponds snails and some Malaysian trumpet snails.

Also, I am leaving for Junction, Texas for a week (M-F) and will not have a computer or internet capabilities where I'm going (while I'm going actually; I guess the availability is everywhere...just the circumstance that is the limiter)...

Melinda said she'd feed the system but would not do water changes, so I'll get to see it after a full week of no water change come Friday night.

davemonkey 07-09-2012 11:45 AM

Re: Filtration Capacity...This is ONLY a Test...
I ca't wait to see the results of thsi test. My guess is that the tank will be much clearer with the larger filter set-up. I think the extra volume of bio-filtration will remove the waste from the water more efficiently than a small filter.

mudboots 07-14-2012 12:02 PM

Re: Filtration Capacity...This is ONLY a Test...
3 Attachment(s)
Melinda fed the system a floating flake food which got sucked into the overflow as soon as she fed, so most of the "goo" went straight into the sump. That led to a bit of cloudiness, but since this is all just part of the test, I am quite fine with it, plus wait till you see the pics...I think the bit of cloudiness is about as clear as many of the tanks I see posted here.

There has not been a water change yet because I've been gone, we got 400" of rain, and that means yard wrok, so it'll have to wait.

Melinda did however remove the curtain from the filter media. She said it was releasing a LOT of tiny thread particles that made the tank look like a snow globe. So we have blue filter media in the trays (picture below).

I also added the pump-portion of an old Whisper 2-10i to get some tubulence in the 10 gallon and provide better water movement.

Here are the pics as of this morning...

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niko 07-14-2012 01:27 PM

Re: Filtration Capacity...This is ONLY a Test...
I'm interested to see how this experiment will work out. However as I learned recently there is much more to filtration than volume of the biofilter, "good" flow through the filter, and aeration.

Here's a Dutch website that talks in depth about many things planted tank including filtration. I am seriously thinking of translating the pages and posting them to the DFW aquatic plant club website. If you put the effort to translate you will read things that you have never seen on an English speaking forum. The Dutch indeed have ways to run a true Nature aquarium. One example is fine tuning the nutrient ratios by adjusting the feeding + water flow through the filter + the biomedia choice. Another example - raising a nutrient level by collecting algae from the tank and placing them in the filter where they die without light and release the nutrients in the water.

The website is hosted for free and it has heavy banner advertising. The advertising banners do not let me scroll down a page. The only way for me to scroll up/down is to highlight the text and move the screen down by highlighting.

Yo-han 07-14-2012 02:32 PM

Re: Filtration Capacity...This is ONLY a Test...
It's a good site isn't it (I'm dutch as well so easy reading)! Unfortunate the man who wrote it is not among us anymore. Would have loved to conversate with him.

But back on topic: because lot of dutch planted tanks use sumps, this experiment have been done many times before and some math can be found at the site given by Niko. But keep us updates about this experiment!

niko 07-14-2012 02:48 PM

Re: Filtration Capacity...This is ONLY a Test...
[QUOTE=Yo-han;635332]It's a good site isn't it (I'm dutch as well so easy reading)! Unfortunate the man who wrote it is not among us anymore. Would have loved to conversate with him....[QUOTE]

Yes, I was pretty striken to read that the guy is not around any more.

I don't know if you realize but the information on that site can not be found on any English speaking forum. Most of us understand aquariums on a very low level. For example I can bet that most people believe that there is only one kind of bacteria in their filters - the one that converts Ammonia to Nitrate. And I bet that many people do not know that this kind of bacteria is not dominating the biofilter.

The website answered many questions that we normally do not have an answer for. Mudboot's experiment, this Dutch site, and a large Ukrainian website devoted to the minute details of running a planted tank are a good mix to make a very informative series of articles about planted tanks.

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