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Old 02-13-2004, 04:02 PM   #1
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HELP: Trying to understand canister filters... Yes, STILL =/

Me = canister retarded

I've been trying to find good articles on the web to explain canister filters. Some of you have given me recommendations as to which canisters are best, but I'm still trying to understand what exactly a canister filter does so that I can make an educated decision. I understand that the pressurized tank filters the water better. Originally I was going to do one canister, and 1 HOB per tank. Now I'm feeling like I'd like to do away with HOB filters altogether. But I'm left wondering if my tank will get enough oxygen without an HOB since there will basically be no surface agitation.

From this article (3/4 way down):

"The biological filtration of canister filters is limited due to the amount of oxygen present in the water passing through the filter. Because they are pressurized filters, there is no water to air contact within the biological media. This means that this area of filtration will not be as efficient as other types of filters available."

To me this means I absolutely have to use a bio-wheel or air pump or something. I hate air pumps because they're always noisy, IMO. Also I was hoping to do away with the clunky HOB, especially because I might have fish in the future that are Houdini's trying to escape like eels. I feel like I could better seal the top of the tank w/o an HOB attached. Then I read this...

"There are canister filters available that include a bio-wheel on the return into the aquarium. The biowheel makes up for the limited biological filtration that occurs in the canister itself, since there is excellent water to air contact time within the biowheel."

I've never heard of that. That sounds like an awesome combo. Do any of you know about these setups? Or must I also get an Emperor since I'll probably be overstocking?

This is just another link with a graph comparing models:

I'm leaning towards an XP, but may go with an Enheim. All thoughts are welcome to help dumb ol me. I'm sorry for asking so many dang questions :P

Holly ~

I love the fishes cause they're so delicious.
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Old 02-13-2004, 04:11 PM   #2
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Alright, now I'm remembering some of you mentioning a spray bar for your canisters. I wonder if that would do enough surface agitation...

I don't want to spend too much money only to find out I wished I'd bought different products/setups is all :P

Holly ~

I love the fishes cause they're so delicious.
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Old 02-13-2004, 04:17 PM   #3
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How big is your tank?
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Old 02-13-2004, 04:19 PM   #4
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This post spawned from this other one I made:

I am buying heater/filter for
25g hex
Holly ~

I love the fishes cause they're so delicious.
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Old 02-13-2004, 04:54 PM   #5
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Holly, IMO a canister is the best type of filter for the money, and 2 is better than one. The standard eheims come with a spray bar, but that can be very noisy if used above the water line. However, either those or the fluvals can be positioned to increase the surface agitation as desired.

With 2 canisters in a 55g, you'll have more than enough bio filtration
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Old 02-13-2004, 04:57 PM   #6
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Bio Wheels and other wet/dry setups are generally considered the "best" for biofiltration. There are problems with this, like the Bio Wheel and if it dies out (which will happen pretty quick) you will lose a huge portion of your biofilter. Sure, this might no happen often, but if you are not home and the power dies, you have to re-cycle the tank. Happened to my father one day, the Bio Wheels in his two Penguin 330s dried right up when no one was around and the power went out. Bio Wheels can also be splashy and noisy. You can fix the splashing by raising the water level, so it is not an issue.

With a canister, the bacteria will still be OK, it will just not spread as fast initially. The high oxygen level of the Bio Wheel helps it get established faster. Some people will say, "but the bacteria does not get any oxygen". Well if that was the case, all of the fish would die too :P

I feel that a load of bio media in a canister can support more bascteria (the surface area on the media is huge) and will be more stable in case something does happen. Something else to think about, once a tank is cycled, it will have all the bacteria it needs, regardless of where it is. You do not need Bio Wheels for a high fish load, you just need enough places for the bacteria to grow, and canister provide plenty of this.

The Marineland "canisters" with the Bio Wheels are no tru canisters IMO. They do not offer the media stack capabilities of the real canister. They are good for water polishing but for pretty much everything else can be better handled by another type of canister.

Water oxygenation is only a concern if you setup the spray bar completely under the water and pointing down and have no live plants. You can point the spray bar wherever you want as needed to keep the water surface aggitated, or have it out of the water altogether. I currently have my spray bar well under the water surface, but I use a powerhead to aggitate the surface. I could just lowed the water level or change the spray bar, but I leave a calm area on the water surface for the Guppies to sleep.
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Old 02-13-2004, 05:01 PM   #7
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I have an Eheim 2026 on my 58 gal. Mechanically speaking, it's probably similar to any cannister filter. It's basically a tank that contains two stacked plastic mesh baskets into which you place the media of your choice. Water is drawn in by an impeller in the filter lid and forced through a tube to a distribution plate on the bottom.

I use ceramic noodles (they look like macaroni pasta) on the bottom basket - this serves as the rough particulate filter and the ceramic noodles break up incoming water flow so that it is evenly distributed for the upper media basket.

The upper media basket contains the extremely porous Ehfisubstrat filter media - I suspect that it's simply crushed pumice. The huge surface area of this media provides lots of room for the bacteria to grow.
Above the two baskets is a thick fibrous pad, the fine particulate filter. The water exits through the filter lid into a spray bar having 1/4 inch holes.

This filter generates more than enough surface agitation in my 58 gal - so much that I think a betta would be extremely unhappy in my tank. In fact, when I first set it up, I received an unexpected shower because the spray bar was mis-oriented! The 2026 has a flow restrictor so I can adjust the flow rate.

I think that this powerful flow coupled with the massive amount of surface agitation makes up for the fact that the biological media is completely submerged. In addition, 100% of the water that enters the cannister is forced through the filter media. In contrast, I've read that up to 50% of the incoming water simply runs over rather than through the filter cartridges in HOB filters. That's why cannisters are thought to be more efficient than HOBs on a GPH basis.

If you were to connect a wet/dry system or a biowheel between the cannister and the tank, you would have an awesome biofilter capable of handling a very heavy bioload.

The downside to cannisters is that they are very expensive compared to HOBs. You don't want to know what I paid for my Eheim and I'm really too embarrassed to tell you - let's just say I got reamed at the lfs. I saw the same setup for 30% of what I paid at Big Als.
The upside to cannisters is that you need only clean the media every few months depending on your bioload. My lfs told me not to mess with the filter until I notice elevated nitrates or decreased flow rate - it's been 3 1/2 months... so far, so good.

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Old 02-13-2004, 05:03 PM   #8
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I have a large canister filter running on a 55 without any kind of BioWheel or anything, and even with power outages (6 days during hurricane) I lost no fish. I agree with Grimlock that there is oxygen in the water and biofilters exist all over the tank - on the glass, ornaments, gravel, everywhere. The bacteria is present in the canister filter and does a great job, with the freedom to choose your media, and how much of it you want to use. I like them because for large tanks they move a lot of water, and in particular I dislike the large plastic box hanging off the back of my tank, which you don't have with a canister. If this particular tank had room behind it for a HOB I would probably keep one running, just in case something goes wrong with the filter and I have to order a part or something. I like to have 2 filters on my big tanks, just in case. I have spent so much money on fish plants, etc. that it is good insurance.

That being said, plenty of people run only HOB's on even large tanks. It is personal preference.
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Old 02-13-2004, 07:11 PM   #9
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You can definitely get enough surface agitation with a canister filter. My fiancé keeps the spray bar below the water line, but aimed up at 45 degrees, so the water coming back in the tank agitates the water, nice and quiet. I can currently hear the water coming back into the 29 gal, which means between the cats drinking out of it and evaporation, it's time to put in more water.
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Old 02-13-2004, 08:55 PM   #10
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I have a Magnum 350 pro, cannister with dual biowheels. I tried the biowheels for a while, they worked fine, but then I put co2 on the tank and didn't want surface agitation anymore, so I removed them.


Other folks are not to crazy about Magnums, but I like them, and find them to be good filters, and very adaptable. Nice, multi-task filters, IME. They are noisier than my ehiem, but thats about it.

marineland/magnum link

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