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Old 10-03-2008, 12:56 PM   #1
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Questions for fish experts. If you want to be challenged read!

Been a fish keeper for about a month now, and I think I am getting a lot of relevant information, but I had questions about things that people have recommended to me in the past month.

1. Filter. Right now I am rocking a Top Fin filter that does 100 gph at a 20 gallon fish tank that is 5 times per hour.

I was recommended that this would not work? Why not? How much filtering is needed? What are the differences between a filter that filters water at 5 times per hour vs one that does 10 times per hour? Clearer water?

2. Bucket theory. I was recommended to only use a bucket for a fish tank. While I can understand the recommendation has anyone just cleaned out a bucket and used it with no effects? I guess I have never heard a story about a bucket etc. that killed a fish.

3. Lights. What is the recommended time to keep your lights on per day. This sounds like a open question, but lets take my example for instance.

I have 3 annubias plants in my 20 gallon tank. I have my timer that turns on my lights at 5 pm and keeps them on till 11 pm. I feel that I can enjoy the fish this way.

If you do not have plants do you have to turn the lights on at all? I guess what is the fine light between effectiveness and wasting energy? Just some thoughts.

4. Changing filters. With most HOB filters there is carbon and a filter in one little packet. I can imagine most people just change the filter, but I hear this is a "nono" as you throw away most of the beneficial bacteria. I guess if this is so bad why would it be designed this way. The only reason I ask is because I have not seen any documentation that says "keep the original filter in the tank".

I will think of more this after noon.
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Old 10-03-2008, 02:03 PM   #2
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1. Filter. Right now I am rocking a Top Fin filter that does 100 gph at a 20 gallon fish tank that is 5 times per hour.

I was recommended that this would not work? Why not? How much filtering is needed? What are the differences between a filter that filters water at 5 times per hour vs one that does 10 times per hour? Clearer water?

It's the combination of flow and efficiency that determine a filter's effectiveness. High flow + low efficiency= poor filter, lower flow + high efficiency = decent filter, high on both counts=excellent filter

2. Bucket theory. I was recommended to only use a bucket for a fish tank. While I can understand the recommendation has anyone just cleaned out a bucket and used it with no effects? I guess I have never heard a story about a bucket etc. that killed a fish.

As long as the bucket wasn't used for anything too nasty (cleaners, oils), I guess you could. I would tend to be more trusting of buckets that had food experience, especially those that had mild acids in them (pickles).

3. Lights. What is the recommended time to keep your lights on per day. This sounds like a open question, but lets take my example for instance.

I have 3 annubias plants in my 20 gallon tank. I have my timer that turns on my lights at 5 pm and keeps them on till 11 pm. I feel that I can enjoy the fish this way.


That's close to what I do, but I go 8 hours.

If you do not have plants do you have to turn the lights on at all? I guess what is the fine light between effectiveness and wasting energy? Just some thoughts.

Not really, but I imagine the fish enjoy the variety & cyclical aspects of it.


4. Changing filters. With most HOB filters there is carbon and a filter in one little packet. I can imagine most people just change the filter, but I hear this is a "nono" as you throw away most of the beneficial bacteria. I guess if this is so bad why would it be designed this way. The only reason I ask is because I have not seen any documentation that says "keep the original filter in the tank".

As a tank ages, the filter media becomes a little less important as bacteria will eventually colonize every nook and cranny in addition to the filter floss. For a freshly scrubbed tank, new tank or when you add an additional new filter - not a good time to swap your old media out.
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Old 10-03-2008, 03:24 PM   #3
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Thanks for your input Squawk. I really like your tank and what you have done with the rocks in the sand.
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Old 10-05-2008, 02:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roaf85 View Post

1. Filter. Right now I am rocking a Top Fin filter that does 100 gph at a 20 gallon fish tank that is 5 times per hour.

I was recommended that this would not work? Why not? How much filtering is needed? What are the differences between a filter that filters water at 5 times per hour vs one that does 10 times per hour? Clearer water?
Will it work? Yes. But there are advantages to going in another direction. In general, it's much better to have "too much" filtering than too little, because (realistically speaking) there is really no such thing as too much. Whereas if you have too little filtering, your tank conditions will go toxic and that's never fun.

If I remember correctly, the TopFin filters use only one integrated filter pad. This is a very poor design, inefficient, and makes it very hard to safely replace filter media. Also, from my own experiences, TopFins are really noisy compared to other brands of HoB (hang on back) filters.

I would recommend you invest in an AquaClear filter such as this one, or even the next size larger. AquaClears use 3 separate filter inserts that you can mix & match as desired; a sponge for clearing debris (and some filter bacteria), ceramic media (for TONS of filter bacteria), and then activated carbon for times when you need that. You also have the option (which I normally recommend) of normally not using the carbon, and instead putting in a second bag of ceramic media. That way, if you ever need to change out one of them, you don't lose all of your biological filtration capability. Or, alternatively, if you ever set up a second tank, you can take one of your two bags of media out of the one filter and put it in your other filter, and you have an "instantly cycled" new tank. The AquaClears are really nice filters and perform much better than the TopFins.

Quote:
2. Bucket theory. I was recommended to only use a bucket for a fish tank. While I can understand the recommendation has anyone just cleaned out a bucket and used it with no effects? I guess I have never heard a story about a bucket etc. that killed a fish.
Depends 100% on what was in the bucket before. If it was used for just plain water and nothing more, sure, give the bucket a good rinse and you're set. But if you used the bucket to mix up, say, pestidicide or plant fertilizer mixes ("Miracle Grow," et al.), or anything with an oily residue, or anything related to paints or stains...buy a new bucket. No point in wiping out a whole aquarium full of fish for the sake of saving $4 on buying a bucket.

Quote:
3. Lights...
If you have live plants, you want your lights on for 8-12 hours per day. Even without plants, fish are (obviously) used to a day-night cycle just like any other animal is, so all things being equal you want to provide that for them. If you have to go on vacation for a week and they spend one week in the dark, it's not going to kill them. But in general, something resembling a "normal" cycle of light & dark is probably good for their health.

Quote:
4. Changing filters. With most HOB filters there is carbon and a filter in one little packet. I can imagine most people just change the filter, but I hear this is a "nono" as you throw away most of the beneficial bacteria. I guess if this is so bad why would it be designed this way. The only reason I ask is because I have not seen any documentation that says "keep the original filter in the tank".
See my response to your first question. The heart of the issue is that the most important thing filters do is process liquid fish waste (ammonia), which is highly toxic to fish, into a much safer chemical form (nitrates). The bacteria that do this colonize your filter media. Six months from now, if you change out that packet with a new one, you've just thrown in the trash all the good bacteria you've been working months to grow! That's why the AquaClear line is so much better, it allows you to gradually change out your filter material a little bit at a time, thus preventing any major ammonia spikes and the need to re-cycle the tank.
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Old 10-10-2008, 02:56 PM   #5
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Roaf, I see that you have some excellent advice from Squawkbert. The only thing I would add is that you try to never throw out the filter that you have right now. What most of us with that type of filter do is pull the filter element out whenever it starts to get plugged up and swish it out in a bucket of used tank water. After that it goes right back where it started and it still has the beneficial bacteria in the filter material. They mostly live on surfaces and not in the dirt you rinsed out. Eventually the filter will start to break down and fall apart and by then you should have a new filter pad ready to go. A way to do that is just stick an extra one in the open space behind the real filter that you are using and let the water run over, around and through it. After a month or so there will be enough bacteria taking up residence in the new filter that at most you will have a mini-cycle when you actually change filter elements.
Others have already suggested that you get a better filter and that is a good way to go but for some of us it is not a viable option. It depends a lot on your budget and your other needs. The ideal, in my mind, is not another HOB but a canister filter. They go months between cleanings, hold just tons of good media of whatever type you like and are more versatile in most ways than a HOB. They are also dead silent if you get a decent one. When they sell for the price of a new tank, they are not a very good option for people just starting out on a limited budget unless you can find a good used one.
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