I have a penguin 350 in a planted tank that also doesn't need the carbon. I removed the carbon and floss from the cartridges, then kept the plastic and lined it with furniture batting for filter floss. (The cheap poly stuff from walmart). In front of the inserts I use plastic round pot scrubbers from the dollar store. I also removed the bio- wheels as I believe they cause too much surface agitation and aren't necessary for a planted tank.
I have replaced all the cartridges with a stack of media that more closely duplicates the Aquaclear filters: A coarse sponge at the bottom, then a medium sort of sponge, then finer floss (Quilt batting, fabric department at Wal Mart). The larger ones have a few ceramic bacteria condominiums in mesh bags. If they had Bio wheels, I am leaving them alone, but about half of them have stopped turning because of the growth of algae, moss, and even Riccia.
water from the filter is directed at the biowheel, causing it to spin. beneficial bacteria populate the biowheel which is not completely submersed in the tank, which is supposed to be good for the health the tank. my magnum 350 canister filter has that setup, and it to didn't turn as effectively prior to it's replacement.
my current Aqueon HOB filter doesn't have a biowheel, but it does have what they call a "stationary wet/dry filtration" which is supposed to do the same thing... i think :mmph:
sorry, this hijack is gonna be over in a moment. How do you feel about them? I;ve used UGF, which is working remarkably well with my planted tank thus far and Aquaclears. I want a canister at some point myself.
I personally consider biowheels a gimmick. Sure, they hold bacteria. But the walls of the tank, the intake pipe, the substrate and any decor in the tank holds bacteria, too. I don't see the amount of bacteria contained in a biowheel is massive enough to make or break a cycled tank. After all, when's the last time someone suffered a mini-cycle when their biowheel stopped spinning (killing most of the bacteria) or when they remove the biowheel for a replacement or because they're tired of keeping the thing spinning?
Honestly, I am very much in favor of canisters. A lot of people shy away from them, but they are not technically difficult to use. And if you want to talk about biomedia, just look at how much biomedia you put inside of even a small canister (Rena XP2) as compared to the thin sliver of media you can put into any HOB cartridge slot.
Further, when you add up the amount of money it takes to keep replacing those HOB cartridges, it doesn't take long for the price tag to go very high. Have you ever wondered why the filter manufacturers don't make a standardized filter cartridge for their HOB filters? It's because the money isn't in the filter itself, it's in the constant purchasing of those cartridges. They want to make sure you buy their media cartridges so they get your money, not someone else.
Canisters are much easier to maintain, much more stable running, much quieter, and much, much better at doing an actual filtering job. Not to mention that they can be setup so that they don't break the surface water which degasses the CO2 from the water.
And, no, I don't work for any canister company or profit from whatever is purchased in any way. I just like canisters better. I started out with two Emperor filters and simply could not polish the water like I wanted. So I finally tried a canister, and wow, was I impressed. Made me wish I hadn't wasted so much time and money on the HOBs and cartridges. I have not found one person who regrets buying a canister and wishes to go back to an HOB so I have a feeling I'm not alone in preferring a canister so much more.
Many people buy HOBs to avoid paying more for a canister. But when you consider the price of a canister against the constant expense of replacing cartridges for HOB filters, usually, a canister saves people money in the long run. Just something to consider. :smile:
Good explanation, makes sense too. The filter cartridge replacements do add up. I love my canister filter! I'm just trying to use what I currently have though for the HOBS. As far as HOB filters, the AquaClears are my favorite.
I can appreciate using what you have (or getting what you can just to get started). I have 10 smaller tanks that all use HOB filters. Most of these tanks are being broken down, but I used them to temporary hold my fish while I moved and had to break down my 75g tank. The nice thing about having HOBs on hand is that they are very quick and easy to setup. I think they work great for Q/T, H/T and in my case, holding tanks.
At first, I used to consider canisters overwhelmingly expensive and for the "big guys" or some such. But once I got my first canister, I instantly fell in love with it. Then it dawned on me that it wasn't so expensive after all when I considered all the replacement cartridges I had to buy.
So I try to pass this on to others who may be thinking the way I did at first, breaking the myths and assumptions that canisters are exorbitantly expensive and aren't for the regular guy.
The very concept of filtering the water is based on dirty water flowing through a media that removes the dirt. Labs have done studies about how is the best way to run the water through the media, and what arrangement of the media is the most efficient to get the maximum cleaning of the water.
There are 2 conflicting parts to the problem of filtration:
1) If the water passes through the media too fast it can knock off whatever debris has been caught in the media. The thinner the media the more of a problem this is.
2) If you do not keep the water in the tank moving fast enough then the debris settles out on the floor of the tank instead of getting caught in the filter.
To overcome #1, use a thick mass of media, and spread out the area of the media so the water is flowing though a wide mass, and through a thick mass.
Cartridges are obviously very thin, so they do not qualify as 'thick mass of media'. They are not really very small in the face area, though. Compare, for example the surface of just one side of an Aquaclear sponge (Where the water enters) to the face area of a cartridge. Not too different. Now, stack up cartridges until you have as much media as in one Aquaclear sponge. Do the same for a canister. The older Fluvals, (*03) series, XP3, and Eheims are easy to see: The surface of the bottom of the baskets is not too far off the same area as a cartridge. However, stack up enough cartridges to equal the stack of media possible in a canister! Cartridge style HOBs just are no comparison!
To overcome #2 I have found that the water in the tank needs to be kept moving at something like 5 times the tank volume per hour from the filter, and more water movement from power heads aimed at possible dead spots. If all the water movement comes from a filter, then 10x is the minimum.
This complicates #1: The faster the water moves the more debris it knocks out of the filter.
I have seen some math at Seachem's web site, in their articles section that suggests that due to their inefficient trapping of media cartridge style filters (most HOBs) need to be sized at 10x the tank volume to be able to capture the debris. Most canisters, and Aquaclear style HOBs (that thick stack of media) can be efficient filters @ 5x, because they trap the debris and do not release it much better.
To save money on the cartridges you can rinse and reuse a cartridge until the floss falls apart, then get some of the filter media called 'Rite Size'. It is blue on one side, and white on the other. There are other brands that are similar. Cut a piece that is big enough to be a bit snug in the chamber, and use the plastic cartridge to hold it in place. If you want to run carbon or other loose media put it in a nylon stocking. (I cut up knee-his into 2 or 3 media bags)