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Old 01-16-2014, 02:59 AM   #1
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Optimal Filtration

I am running a Fluval 406 canister filter on my 54 gallon tank. The tank is fully stocked and heavily planted. So far the 406 seems to be doing a great job. That said while my water is clear I would not say it is crystal clear. I think this is due mainly to the fact that I can see small particles in the water. So that brings me to my question...I would like to get opinions on what is the best media for catching small particles? I'm also curious if I'm utilizing my media baskets in the best way possible. For anyone not familiar with the 406 here is a schematic from Fluval's website....I added the numbers for ease of reference...

I am running a Fluval 406 canister filter on my 54 gallon tank. The tank is fully stocked and heavily planted. So far the 406 seems to be doing a great job. That said while my water is clear I would not say it is crystal clear. I think this is due mainly to the fact that I can see small particles in the water. So that brings me to my question...I would like to get opinions on what is the best media for catching small particles? I'm also curious if I'm utilizing my media baskets in the best way possible. For anyone not familiar with the 406 here is a schematic from Fluval's website....I added the numbers for ease of reference...



The water flows through the filter in numerical order. Here is a quick run down of my media:

#1 - Foam sponges (came with filter)
#'s 2 & 3 - Fluval Bio-Foam (both mechanical and biological foam. came with filter)
#'s 4 & 5 - Fluval Bio-Max (biological filter media)
#'s 6 & 7 - Fluval Bio-Max (biological filter media)
#'s 8 & 9 - Coralife 100 micron mechanical filter pads and Chemi-pure carbon

I should mention that I recently added the 100 micron filter pad (I added it to the polishing pad that came with filter) and I have seen an improvement but it's still not perfect. So any suggestions to fix my floating particle problem or how to improve my filtration in general?

Thanks!
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Old 01-16-2014, 10:05 AM   #2
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I personally am obsessed with getting my water crystal clear and polished so I though I'd chime in here even though I don't own a canister.

I assume you want water that looks like this:

Crystal Clear Water in Aquarium Tanks - YouTube

or

How to get crystal clear aquarium water - YouTube

After my "pursuit for perfection," using HOB's, I found it could only be achieved (at least close) after making sure ALL water in the tank passes through 100 micron polishing pad (as well as Seachem Purigen for chemical filtration):

Aquarium Advice - Aquarium Forum Community - Paul1792's Album: Paul1792's 38 gallon - Picture

After downloading the owners manual to your filter, it looks very capable of excellent filtration. I believe that your problem is caused by either or both of the following issues:

1) water is bypassing the 100 micron polishing pads in the filter

and/or

2) the fact that your tank is "heavily planted" is restricting the flow of debris laden water to the intake on your (relatively) large tank (I think this is the problem).

If you are sure it's not #1, you could always try this:

Aquarium Filters & Filtration: Fluval Multi-Stage Series Water Polishing Pads

which gets you down to 60 microns but is labeled "not for continuous use."

or putting on a pre-filter - "filter sock" on your intake

Particulates in the the tank - Page 2

However, If you are certain there is no bypass in your filter, I'd suggest adding an HOB with the intake at the opposite end from the intake on your canister and making sure all water passes through 100 micron polishing pads. Specifically, I'd recommend a Fluval C4. Although a C3 would do it, the C3 intake only goes half way to the bottom of the tank so you have to buy a $7 extension. If you're going to do that, however, you might as well upgrade to C4 and run it at lower volume for a few bucks more. Note .... before giving myself a nice filter laden Christmas present .... I used a cheap walmart aqua-tech stuffed with custom media including 100 micron filter pads ..... and even got crystal clear water with that.

[Note: I just had a bad experience with aqua clear 50 running side by side with C3 ..... the factory media did not cut it. My C4 on my 29 gallon keeps water perfect ... so I got a second C3 to run on my 38 gallon. I use aquatic life 100 micron non-woven polishing pads in my HOB's.]
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:20 AM   #3
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Paul, thx for the detailed response. That is some clear water you have!

I think my problem is the 100 micron polishing pad just isn't catching everything. It has definitely improved water clarity but it's still not perfect. I may look into the 60 micron pads you suggested even if it just on a temporary basis to clear up after gravel vacuuming etc.

I really don't think its due to the tank being planted. I find a lot of "stuff" if my filter sponges so I'm pretty sure water flow is good. As for the tank being relatively large, the 406 is rated for up to 100g so nearly double the size of my tank. I also considered adding a HOB but I just don't want another filter to manage and more equipment on the tank. I think the 406 should be enough.

I am curious about your experience with Purigen. I have been toying with the notion of using it instead of the Chemi-pure. But the guy at my LFS convinced me to stick with Chemi-pure (they carry both products so I believe he was being genuine). Any issues you are aware of with using Purigen in a planted tank?

I will also give filter socks a look. Hadn't considered that!

Thx
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:21 AM   #4
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Apologize to all for the repetitive first paragraph. That's what happens you post things at 2am!!
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Old 01-16-2014, 05:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rak9378 View Post
Paul, thx for the detailed response. That is some clear water you have!

I think my problem is the 100 micron polishing pad just isn't catching everything. It has definitely improved water clarity but it's still not perfect. I may look into the 60 micron pads you suggested even if it just on a temporary basis to clear up after gravel vacuuming etc.

I really don't think its due to the tank being planted. I find a lot of "stuff" if my filter sponges so I'm pretty sure water flow is good. As for the tank being relatively large, the 406 is rated for up to 100g so nearly double the size of my tank. I also considered adding a HOB but I just don't want another filter to manage and more equipment on the tank. I think the 406 should be enough.

I am curious about your experience with Purigen. I have been toying with the notion of using it instead of the Chemi-pure. But the guy at my LFS convinced me to stick with Chemi-pure (they carry both products so I believe he was being genuine). Any issues you are aware of with using Purigen in a planted tank?

I will also give filter socks a look. Hadn't considered that!

Thx
*************
I agree you have plenty of filtration capacity and at 383 GPH

Fluval 406 External Canister Filter Review | Tropical Fish Site

your ratio of GPH to Tank size is almost 7, which is excellent for a canister set up. However, just because you are catching lots of debris, doesn't mean there aren't "dead spots" in your aquarium ....... or that the current generated by the 383 GPH flow is sufficient to draw detritus from all ends of the tank.

Since you see visible particles in the water, let me suggest this as an alternative. Put in either an air stone or some cute bubbling devise to stir up current at the opposite end of the tank from the filter intake. This would stir it up enough to get it into the regular "inflow" current of the filter intake. Or, if the filter intake is at one end ....... not sure if this would work ....... but try moving the intake to the center of the tank .... if you can ... or if you can, put the intake at one end and the outflow at the other. (I don't know if that's possible).

My aqua-tech 30-60 HOB had a 330 GPH flow and was drawing from a tank 36 inches long ..... but seemed to catch all debris that I wasn't siphoning out during regular water changes. Your tank is probably 48 inches or so long and the distance might be too far for a 383 GPH intake ...... again ..... just a thought to get optimal circulation from throughout the tank to the filter intake.

As for Purigen, I'd ignore your LFS guy. He probably believes he is correct .... but based on the bazillions of reviews and discussion of this product, Purigen wins hands down.

If you started a new thread called Purigen vs Chemi-Pure, I can tell you Purigen would be the hands down winner. It works GREAT for me for keeping parameters in check. I bought it based on all the rave review for it on this forum and purchases reviews on Amazon.

Also, Amazon sells the 100 ml size for $8, which is about 60% of what local LFS charge. It lasts 4-6 months and can be regenerated (although, I plan to just trash it when it is fully used up)

Amazon.com: Seachem Purigen 100ml: Pet Supplies

[note the 5 star rating. Also, I had never even heard of Chemi-Pure until you mentioned it this morning ....... and then I was at PetLand early this afternoon and their employee .... who has a salt water tank mentioned it out of the blue as great stuff for salt water tanks when I was there to buy another fish for my 29 gallon and mentioned I use Purigen. So it must have a decent following]

Best wishes and good luck.
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Old 01-17-2014, 02:03 AM   #6
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Paul, Thx again for the detailed responses. I appreciate the feedback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul1792 View Post
*************
However, just because you are catching lots of debris, doesn't mean there aren't "dead spots" in your aquarium ....... or that the current generated by the 383 GPH flow is sufficient to draw detritus from all ends of the tank.
That's interesting, I hadn't really considered dead spots. After thinking about it some more this could be a problem given that my intake is behind a rock wall...there is plenty of room so that its not blocked but perhaps it is preventing the particles from entering the filter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul1792 View Post
*************
try moving the intake to the center of the tank .... if you can ... or if you can, put the intake at one end and the outflow at the other. (I don't know if that's possible).

My aqua-tech 30-60 HOB had a 330 GPH flow and was drawing from a tank 36 inches long ..... but seemed to catch all debris that I wasn't siphoning out during regular water changes. Your tank is probably 48 inches or so long and the distance might be too far for a 383 GPH intake ...... again ..... just a thought to get optimal circulation from throughout the tank to the filter intake.
My tank is a bow front so I don't really have a center Here is a link to a thread with some pics so you can see my set-up..

Aquascape Advice

So after reading your post I noticed that while I have my intake and outflow are as opposite as they can be for a corner tank, the outflow is pointed towards the same side of the tank as the intake. So I have adjusted the outflow so that it is pointing to the center of the tank. Let's see if that makes a difference.

I'm also going to try a finer polishing pad and I will definitely give Purigen a shot. If all else fails I will look into getting a HOB. So you recommend Fluval over AquaClear (I think they are made by the same company)?
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Old 01-17-2014, 07:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rak9378 View Post
Paul, Thx again for the detailed responses. I appreciate the feedback.



That's interesting, I hadn't really considered dead spots. After thinking about it some more this could be a problem given that my intake is behind a rock wall...there is plenty of room so that its not blocked but perhaps it is preventing the particles from entering the filter.



My tank is a bow front so I don't really have a center Here is a link to a thread with some pics so you can see my set-up..

Aquascape Advice

So after reading your post I noticed that while I have my intake and outflow are as opposite as they can be for a corner tank, the outflow is pointed towards the same side of the tank as the intake. So I have adjusted the outflow so that it is pointing to the center of the tank. Let's see if that makes a difference.

I'm also going to try a finer polishing pad and I will definitely give Purigen a shot. If all else fails I will look into getting a HOB. So you recommend Fluval over AquaClear (I think they are made by the same company)?
*****************************

They are both owned by Hagen, yes. But the Fluval C series makes the AquaClear obsolete. Go here:

What is the best HOB filter?

and read my posts #11 & #13.

The AquaClear has been around for almost 20 years ? ....... When introduced it was a state of the art HOB .... that's why so many people swear by them. But the Fluval C series with polishing pad & trickle chamber (that the aquaclear does not have) gives Canister filter quality water right out of the box. Just ditch the carbon, stick in the Purigen, and I have my "custom media" listed in that thread. Note the link to the bypass issue on AquaClear. I had to duct tape mine to get it to work. Replaced it with a second Fluval C. I have spent about as much money on filters than if I just would have gotten a canister in the first place !!!!!!!! [Two Fluval C3's + an aquaclear 50].

Note: The AquaClear moves water bottom to top of the filter at such high velocity it will not take a 100 micron polishing pad (so most people use floss) .... The Fluval moves water back to front so more than double the surface area means lower velocity water as well as a great design make it so it can handle a 100 micron polishing pad that cannot be bypassed.

Also, the fact they are made by the same company is irrelevant. A Chevy Cruze is made by the same company as Cadillac CTS. That doesn't mean they have the same specs. Luckily, the "Cadillac" Fluval C is only about $5 more than a comparable AquaClear.

Note also: If you're going to buy a Fluval, might as well spring for a C4 because by the time you add the extension tube for the C3 at $7, it's only a few bucks more to upgrade to C4. To avoid excess current, you can run them as low as one third the flow but the Hagen patented re-filtering technology let's you slow the flow while keeping up the same GPH of filtration.

That's what I do on my 29 gallon. I have a C4 (mfg says for tanks up to 70 gallons) and run it at half of capacity to avoid serious "rip-current" effect.
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Old 01-17-2014, 08:31 AM   #8
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Holy Aquascape !!!!! WOW

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rak9378 View Post
My tank is a bow front so I don't really have a center Here is a link to a thread with some pics so you can see my set-up..

Aquascape Advice

So after reading your post I noticed that while I have my intake and outflow are as opposite as they can be for a corner tank, the outflow is pointed towards the same side of the tank as the intake. So I have adjusted the outflow so that it is pointing to the center of the tank. Let's see if that makes a difference.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rak9378 View Post
Here is an updated pic of my tank. I would like to add more plants but I think I'm reaching a point where I need to provide some extra fertilization. I am currently dosing Flourish 1-2x per week and I used Flourite under my substrate. My lighting consists of a T5 HO with two 10k daylight bulbs and I run it for 8 hours a day on a timer. I am thinking of starting a dosing schedule with Excel and adding dry macro ferts using the EI method. I'm also considering cutting back the amount of time the lights are on. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm sure there is a bunch of information I'm not providing so feel free to ask any questions.

WOW.............. I followed your link.

Your aquascape is phenomenal . Nice job. Your fish pics in your album are sweet, too !!!!!

I am hopeful that redirecting the water flow solves your problem without having to add a filter.
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Old 01-17-2014, 11:07 AM   #9
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Purigen and poly fill will do it
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Old 01-17-2014, 11:14 AM   #10
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Thx For the info and the very nice compliments!! Aquascaping has surprisingly been a lot of fun for me. I started off with busying some wood and rocks for the fish and it has turned into a creative outlet for me.

I will let you know if redirecting the outflow makes a difference. I will definitely give the Fluval C4 a look if I don't get that crystal clear water I want!!
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