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Old 01-09-2014, 08:34 AM   #1
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AquaClear Bypass Issues

While switching out fliters (goodbye Aqua-Tech 30-60 - Hello Fluval C3 & AquaClear 50 working sided by side), I noticed a very obvious design flaw in the AquaClear. After seeing post #20 by ole scratch which mentions the bypass issue like it is a known problem

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...-292099-2.html

l made post #21 to that thread which describes the two ways the "holes in the side" and "dip in the top" of the media basket cause water to exit the filter with out being fully filtered.

My solution .... duct tape all holes and "dips" on the filter basket.

After thinking about it, I wondered how come this is not a widespread complaint. Only to find out, it's very well documented on several sites.

Here is a link to an excellent explanation and a more permanent "cure" than duct tape:

AquaClear bypassing filter media - Equipment Forum - Nano-Reef.com Forums

Post #6 of that thread shows pictures of plastic glued with epoxy over the holes where I have duct tape.

Since so many people swear by aquaclears, I am guessing for example that an aquaclear out of the box provides 75% full filtration and if you use poliching pads or the blue bonded stuff or tightly packed floss, you are getting 50% full filtration.

That being said, maybe that's all you need for crystal clear water.

Oh, and thanks to all fellow members of this forum for teaching me that weekly (not monthly) water changes + pre-filter + customized HOB debris filtering media (including 100 micron filtering pads) + Seachem Purigen instead of carbon = uber duber crystal clear and polished water that makes fish appear they are swimming in air ... as seen here looking through the 36" long view from the side of my 38 gallon tank:

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

Thumper 828 gets a similar result with custom media using only an Aquaclear 70:

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...-a-282932.html

Note however: you cannot replicate Thumper828's media recipe in an AC 50 because the depth is 1 and 1/2 inches less and the water flows from bottom to top. This where the Fluval C3 & C2 series are clearly superior to AquaClear 50 or 30. Since water flows from back to front at lower velocity with zero bypass, you can use a 1/12th of an inch 100 micron polishing pad (or the stock factory polishing pad) and get that "fish swimming in air look." I am using 300 micron in my aquaclear 50. That .... along side of the C3 that uses 100 micron polishing pad ..... seems to be keeping the water polished.
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Old 01-09-2014, 10:24 AM   #2
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The reality is that in spite of some bypass, the AC filters work really well. Blocking the holes may or may not actually improve the overall effectiveness of the filter. These filters have been around a long time and curried much favour with users because of their simplicity, ease of maintenance, and low, long term operating costs. They also work, which is the main reason people still use them after all these years and after the introduction of tons of competition.
All but the 110 can hold 2 sponge inserts below the ceramic noodles. A layer of floss or quilt batting can be placed between them. The floss will clog very quickly which indicates that perhaps the bypass isn't really an issue to be concerned about.
To me the important thing is to keep the sponges clean, which fortunately isn't hard.
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Old 01-09-2014, 10:59 AM   #3
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The Aqua Clears and the newer C series HOB's are made by the same company. What you are seeing in the C series is progress. Just as the AC's were an improved design over older designs, so is the C series. The AC's are still very excellent filters and will be for a long time. The C series is a further improvement in technology. As an engineer by profession, I rejoice. LOL. OS.
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Old 01-09-2014, 11:08 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by BillD View Post
The reality is that in spite of some bypass, the AC filters work really well. Blocking the holes may or may not actually improve the overall effectiveness of the filter. These filters have been around a long time and curried much favour with users because of their simplicity, ease of maintenance, and low, long term operating costs. They also work, which is the main reason people still use them after all these years and after the introduction of tons of competition.
All but the 110 can hold 2 sponge inserts below the ceramic noodles. A layer of floss or quilt batting can be placed between them. The floss will clog very quickly which indicates that perhaps the bypass isn't really an issue to be concerned about.
To me the important thing is to keep the sponges clean, which fortunately isn't hard.
***********
You're right ....... I think I have become a bit obsessed with the crystal clear water thing which I stumbled upon accidentally by doing things one at a time based on advice from and experiences of other members. But hey, at least I haven't gone as far as this guy did with his external plumbing & wiring to achieve the desired result.

How to get crystal clear aquarium water - YouTube

I agree that so long as people use floss instead of carbon, all the water that passes through the holes on the side is being filtered. Interesting though, as the filter clogs and unfiltered water flows from intake directly through the "dip" on top of the divider to the outflow ... for those who keep the lid on ...... and who sometimes "forget" about their filters, there is no clear sign the filter is plugging up as would be the case if water flowed out the front bypass.
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Old 01-09-2014, 11:25 AM   #5
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The Aqua Clears and the newer C series HOB's are made by the same company. What you are seeing in the C series is progress. Just as the AC's were an improved design over older designs, so is the C series. The AC's are still very excellent filters and will be for a long time. The C series is a further improvement in technology. As an engineer by profession, I rejoice. LOL. OS.
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Very well said. BTW, I just looked through your photo album Very nice job. I love looking at pics & videos of awesome aquariums.
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Old 01-09-2014, 11:58 AM   #6
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When the filter becomes clogged, water comes out the bypass. This is an indication the filter has gone too long between cleanings. I had to laugh at Old Scales post. I spent 30 years working with engineers, to implement their ideas. The engineers mantra seems to be "If it isn't broke it hasn't been fixed enough".LOL
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Old 01-09-2014, 12:16 PM   #7
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Good one! LOL. You're right on Bill! WE break stuff so we can find ways to make it better and for job security, Ha.
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Old 01-09-2014, 12:20 PM   #8
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Hey Paul, Thanks. Also, I spent many a nice sunny day on the shore at Orange Beach. My mom and dad lived 27 yrs. just down Gulf Beach Highway in Pensacola. I miss going to the seafood festival. OS.
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Old 01-09-2014, 06:49 PM   #9
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Boy ...... do I feel vindicated.

There is an aftermarket replacement filter basket to address the exact issues I raised. Thumper828 found it when he was experiencing the same bypass issue I described.

Here is the link:

AquaClear 50 Media Basket

Problem is the price. At $37.99, it costs almost as much as the filter itself. I'll stick with the duct tape solution.
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Old 01-09-2014, 06:57 PM   #10
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My AC bypasses some because of my overstocking the basket with media a little too much. (Extra polishing pad) When it bypasses a lot even when at the lowest flow position, I know it's time to clean it. I put a small square of cut-to-fit pad in the basket hole in front of the by pass slot. It filters the by pass water some and actually gets some BB on it. OS.
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Old 01-10-2014, 07:21 AM   #11
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This really is an old issue even in this forum: From 2008:

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums/f60/aquaclear-hob-filter-water-by-pass-108014.html

Hopefully this information will help people debating whether to go with the Fluval C series vs AquaClear. To sum it up:

1) The AquaClear is prone to the aforementioned bypass issue. Due in part to the fact that water flows bottom meaning less surface area and water going at a higher velocity than most filters (inclucing Fluval C series flow from back to front.

2) The AquaClear does not polish the water out of the box. Inserting tightly packed floss/polishing pad to polish water makes it even more prone to bypass.

3) The Fluval "factory media" contains a pad that goes from coarse to very fine micron level that does polish the water.

4) The AquaClear does not have the drip tray feature that gives more biological filtration.

Some think that the AquaClear is more customizable which simply is not the case. As a matter of fact, I'd say it's the reverse. The only "factory" media I have in mine is the CNodes (essentially the same as AquaClear bio-max). On both my C4 and C3 my media goes Acurel debris reducing pads (cut to fit) -> AquaticLife 100 micron non-woven filter (polishing) pad (cut to fit) -> two 100ml biobags of Seachem Purigen [the C4 has plenty of room so it also has Seachem Matrix in a biobag for extra bio filtration] -> Cnodes. The C series has zero bypass for mechanical filtration (but some bypass for chemical filtration) and zero bypass of biological filtration. There is an indicator to tell you when flow is restricted.

Other interesting observations from watching the C3 and the AC 50 working together side by side:

1) Both filters are rated for tanks "up to 50 gallons" by Hagen. Yet the advertised flow rate is 200 GPH for the AC 50 and 153 for the C3. Yet, the stream of water coming out of both looks almost identical. As a matter of fact, looking from the bottom of the tank up, it appears more water is flowing out of the C3. (This may be because the flow is a bit restricted due to a 300 micron polishing pad and tightly packed matrix and factory bio media). The AC50 cannot handle a 100 micron polishing pad like the C3.

2) The lip of the AC50 is higher out of the water than the C3. This mean the tank really has to be FULL to avoid those annoying little air bubbles and splashing noises.

I guess I should start a new thread on this that is on point so people trying to make the choice between AC & C series can make an informed decision.
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Old 01-10-2014, 07:48 AM   #12
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I spent a lot time trying to figure out which filter to purchase. I think a side by side comparison would really help a lot of folks.......
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Old 01-10-2014, 08:25 AM   #13
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I spent a lot time trying to figure out which filter to purchase. I think a side by side comparison would really help a lot of folks.......
****
Thanks ....... I remember you went through the same agonizing analysis as I did. Hours wasted if I just knew where to look.

I ordered the same media (sera wool "floss" and blue bonded stuff as you did but Drs Foster & Smith sent the wrong stuff. At least their customer service is good ...... they admitted they made a mistake and shipped out the right "stuff" and it's on its way at no charge. When I get it and service the filters, I am going to do a pretty exact measurement of the volume in cubic inches of media the water is passing through and all that. Then I'll start a new thread called "HOB's - Fluval C vs AquaClear vs something else" ... in hopes it will spare future filter buyers the agony of information gathering ..... and even then ..... as you and I did ... "go with your gut."

Edit: Thumper, I think you said you deleted the "blue bonded stuff" in favor of sera wool due to the bypass issue ... Is that correct? I am going to set my AC up as close to yours as possible since you still get that "fish swimming in air" look. [I'm glad I'm retired so I have plenty of time to devote to my obsession with quality filtration and crystal clear water.]
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Old 01-10-2014, 08:48 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Paul1792 View Post
****
Thanks ....... I remember you went through the same agonizing analysis as I did. Hours wasted if I just knew where to look.

I ordered the same media (sera wool "floss" and blue bonded stuff as you did but Drs Foster & Smith sent the wrong stuff. At least their customer service is good ...... they admitted they made a mistake and shipped out the right "stuff" and it's on its way at no charge. When I get it and service the filters, I am going to do a pretty exact measurement of the volume in cubic inches of media the water is passing through and all that. Then I'll start a new thread called "HOB's - Fluval C vs AquaClear vs something else" ... in hopes it will spare future filter buyers the agony of information gathering ..... and even then ..... as you and I did ... "go with your gut."

Edit: Thumper, I think you said you deleted the "blue bonded stuff" in favor of sera wool due to the bypass issue ... Is that correct? I am going to set my AC up as close to yours as possible since you still get that "fish swimming in air" look. [I'm glad I'm retired so I have plenty of time to devote to my obsession with quality filtration and crystal clear water.]
I did do away with the blue media, for the time being. I get great results using the filter floss and adding the blue only caused the water to go out the overflow. I have also omitted the filter floss at one time and used 2 cut to fit pieces of the now omitted media and had good results ....but it seems the filter floss does polish the water better. I have tried so many configurations now its not even funny. The best results I have gotten so far is using the Foam block in the bottom,purigen, 2 cut to fit chunks of the filter wool, then the bio-max on top....with this set up water never goes out the overflow, filter maintenance has been minimal, and I still get the "swimming in air" water clarity.. My brother in law uses foam at bottom,purigen,floss, blue media, then bio with good results also. I guess everyone has there on combination that works well for there application......
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Old 01-10-2014, 09:41 AM   #15
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I have used Aquaclears for ever and never had any of the issues that I see mentioned. I find most of the issues boil down to user and shoving too much filter media or improper filter media into the system. Any time I have had issues it was because I let the filter media get clogged up.
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Old 01-13-2014, 09:42 AM   #16
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The engineers mantra seems to be "If it isn't broke it hasn't been fixed enough".LOL
That might make it in to my signature line for work!
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Old 01-13-2014, 10:48 AM   #17
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I don't want to sound like I don't have respect for engineers. I worked closely with a large number of them over my 30 years as a millwright. Some were brilliant some weren't. None were stupid. However, the really good ones could see things in 3D. When discussing a job, changes were often made to improve the install even before it started. Some wouldn't listen (usually new ones but not always) and the job would be done twice. Many of my workmates would get upset about this. I looked at it as job security. Reality was, we were on the same team. They needed us to fulfill their vision.
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Old 01-13-2014, 12:57 PM   #18
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The only engineers that seemed to really get things right are the ones who got out on the floor with the guys and got dirty too. I ruined probably thousands of dollars of "office" clothes working out with my guys. I loved it cause that's where I started with the company. As a grunt out on the floor. The engineer part didn't come until years of sleepless night later. I'm retired now and miss my guys like you would family. OS.
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Old 04-09-2014, 03:06 PM   #19
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Just going to bump this thread.

I have an AC 50 on my tank and yes it does have the bypass problem, especially when the flow rate is turned up all the way. I too looked for a solution and saw the many different things people were doing to stop the bypass.

Here's what I ended up doing: I cut a piece of the Acurel brand debris catching pad/sponge to custom fit in that small area where the water enters the filter. I then placed it between the water collection area and where the water exits the AC 50 (on top of the bio media). Problem solved! Now the water is forced to go through my sponge and even if its falling right back out of the filter well at least now I know that its being cleaned before going back into the tank. Plus if you leave the sponge in that area long enough I would bet it'll become another good home for beneficial bacteria!

Maybe those custom AC media baskets can make the AC filters better performing but why pay as much as you would for the entire filter when you can take a cheap sponge and stuff it in-between the area where the bypass issues occur.

Just my .02 on the matter but hopefully it will work for anyone who experiences these bypass issues and is looking for a solution for them.
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