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Old 01-01-2008, 11:10 PM   #1
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Philosophy on Filtration

I'd like to generate some discussion on filtration. It seems to me that all the biofiltration product designs are centered on degrading the organic material that your filter filters out. You change the physical filtration media periodically, but the rest of your filter's "catch" is supposed to be decomposed by the biological filtration part. And I'm doing that to the max with my filters. But I cannot help thinking I'm creating a cesspool in my filters by asking them to biodegrade so much that could be filtered and removed more easily than changing an expensive pad inside the filter.

Also, I've never heard any good, easy answers to the scum that always builds up on the top of the tank. I've read and participated in several threads on this and nobody seems to have the answer.

So I have a couple philosophical, but also very real questions:

1. Why not use a skimmer designed for a SW tank to skim the crud off the surface of our FW tanks? Is there some reason other than cost? I've seen fast flowing creeks with lots of foam and I would think it could work in a FW tank in a very similar way to a SW tank.

2. Why not design a filter that flows through a pre-filter that is easy to change instead of dumping all the particulate matter right into your canister filter, or power filter, or whatever it is? I've tried putting media bags as pre-filters over the intakes of my filters, but it seems crazy to have to reach your hand in and put a glass over the pre-filter to remove it without the junk falling back into the tank, etc. Why isn't there an easy design sold where the water is lifted and allowed to fall through an easily removable pre-filter before it goes into the main filter's media? You could remove and replace the prefilter in seconds and get rid of most of the particulate waste in your tank without loading down the main filter. This would remove an extreme amount of load that filters usually carry and would let you go far longer between filter cleanings.
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Old 01-01-2008, 11:48 PM   #2
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1- I don't know the exact technical terms, but basically fresh water does not have the surface tension to maintain the bubbles and form skimmate like sw does.

2- Personally, I don't use any type of prefilter or canister and anything else that would need to be cleaned. I go with the biological filtration (live rock) and skimmer.
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Old 01-02-2008, 08:26 AM   #3
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I think LR, LS and skimmers sound great for SW, but since they don't work for FW, there needs to be some other solution for that.
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Old 01-02-2008, 09:02 AM   #4
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Quote:
there needs to be some other solution for that
What is the problem you are trying to solve?
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Old 01-02-2008, 10:16 AM   #5
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1. Removing scum on the surface of FW tanks
2. Reducing the frequency of filter media changes needed
3. Increasing the quality of the water
4. Reducing the amount of work to keep the tanks in top shape. I have 17 tanks and it takes a significant amount of time to keep them healthy. Savings of work would be helpful and make it a more pleasant hobby where I could concentrate more of my time on exciting things like breeding fish and trying out new tank configurations.
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Old 01-02-2008, 10:22 AM   #6
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What kind of scum do you have on the surface of your water? I can't say that I've ever had scum on any of my tanks.

What kind of media are you changing? The only thing that you really need to change would be filter floss.

If you add plants to your tank, it should help keep your nitrates at bay. I have to actually dose Nitrates in my 55 gal planted tank because the stock doesn't produce enough. Water changes are still necessary to remove the built up of excess nutrients and fish waste.
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Old 01-02-2008, 10:50 AM   #7
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It's a greasy scum that always gets on the surface of FW tanks. There are threads on aquariumadvice.com discussing it that you can search on. I've read several of the threads and nobody has had a solution. My tanks are heavily planted. That doesn't fix anything. Media would be filterpads in Emperor filters, Filstar canisters, and Marineland canisters. I must admit that I don't do as much WC as people say is good. Right now, I'm rigging up an auto WC contraption on a 55 gal that will do 40%/day all by itself.
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Old 01-02-2008, 11:26 AM   #8
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I can't help with the greasy scum since I haven't seen nor had it so I can't offer any advice there.

In my power and canister filters I use a filter sponge (which never has to be changed unless it falls apart, just cleaned), ceramic rings (also never has to be changed, just cleaned occasionally), and filter floss (I change at every filter cleaning, maybe every 2 months).

How often and at what percentage are you performing water changes? I do weekly 50 to 75% changes and don't have any issues with water quality or a scum. Maybe bump up your change schedule or percentage and see if it improves?
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Old 01-02-2008, 11:47 AM   #9
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I'm lucky to get weekly 20% WCs done, and sometimes a 50-90% WC on special occasions or for special purposes. With 17 tanks totaling 686 gallons, it's awfully hard to maintain a schedule like yours. That's why I'm looking for a more automated WC methodology. Fortunately, my water isn't chlorinated and I have small bio-loads in most of my tanks. Do you have a special way to efficiently perform WCs?
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Old 01-02-2008, 11:50 AM   #10
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I just use the Python. It takes maybe an hour to do all the water changes except the 150. That one my husband takes care of because it's on a different floor but it takes him about an hour to do that one, including the filter maintenance. I really hope you're not doing the bucket brigade with 686 gallons.
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Old 01-02-2008, 12:09 PM   #11
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Yes, I am doing it mostly by bucket brigade. I have a python, but it's slow and kludgy, partly because of my house set up. The aquaria are too far from the nearest faucet and sink. Right now, I'm rigging up a drain in the floor by the aquaria that goes to the house sump pump where it will be automatically pumped away. That should save a lot of time and effort when I get it done.

P.S.
I saw some products called "surface skimmers" that look like they are designed to take of the surface skum issue.
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Old 01-02-2008, 12:57 PM   #12
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That surface scum is supposed to be harmless so you don't need to get rid of it ....

However, the only efficient way to have no scum on top is to draw water to your filter off the surface of the tank. The only way to do this is with a sump setup like the SW tanks. With an overflow & sump, you can also have a pre-filter up in your overflow, which can be easily cleaned/changed without getting your arms wet. The problem with this approach is that this will involve major modifications to your tanks. However, with multiple tanks, you can set up a single large sump to service a bank of tanks. That will cut down on maintainance, but at the expense of complicated plumbling .... plus you have to design the system right or you risk floods, etc.

BTW - no need for a drain if you can just dump the water out a window. I attach my gravel vac to a long hose that runs out a window to my flower bed. Pwc's automatically waters & ferterlizes my garden. I refill my tank with a simple hose connected to my faucet. .... no buckets!
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Old 01-02-2008, 01:05 PM   #13
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Oh yes, if you are doing the bucket brigade, I totally feel for ya. I wanted to put our 150 gal tank in our finished basement but my husband refuses because he doesn't want to have to haul buckets. It would be fine for filling but not for draining.
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Old 01-02-2008, 01:22 PM   #14
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The only efficient way to have no scum on top is to draw water to your filter off the surface of the tank. The only way to do this is with a sump setup like the SW tanks.
What about this: http://www.aquaticeco.com/index.cfm/...13892/cid/3869. Wouldn't this work? It says you connect it to your canister intake and it sucks off the scum.
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Old 01-02-2008, 01:51 PM   #15
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That small surface skimmer looks like a small PS meant for SW. It probably won't work in FW.

When I had FW tank(s) I used a product called the Meriden (sp?) water exchanger. It was a two hose in one setup. One attached to a faucet and the other went to the sink drain. It had an adjustable nozzle to create a stream of aerated water going into the tank. The rate of exchange was aprox. 3 gallons/hour. Because of the nozzle effect, chlorine was eliminated from the tap going into the tank.

I don't know if it's stll being produced but I thought it was one of the greates inventions ever for FW.
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Old 01-02-2008, 02:08 PM   #16
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Nobody is calling it a protein skimmer and nobody is talking about SW in their adds. This one (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...20skimmer&Np=1) says to hook it to your canister filter. This one (http://www.amazon.com/ROLF-HAGEN-Flu...9296991&sr=8-2) is for a fluval canister and canisters are mainly not used for SW.

I don't think it's a SW PS.
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Old 01-02-2008, 02:17 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by itafx View Post
What about this: http://www.aquaticeco.com/index.cfm/...13892/cid/3869. Wouldn't this work? It says you connect it to your canister intake and it sucks off the scum.
I have had protein film build up on my 75 gallon ever sence going topless. I had to remove the film about twice a week inorder to ensure I was getting good lighing into the tank.

I purchased that exact skimmer from the good Dr.s about a month ago and it has worked GREAT. I NEVER have a film on my aquarium now.

If you are having film problems, I highly suggest that skimmer.
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Old 01-02-2008, 02:21 PM   #18
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Wow. Thanks! That sounds like a great endorsement. What filter are you using it with? My topless tanks are evaporating so fast I have to go around and do a 10% refill every day or 2. They can get down 2 inches before I know it. Does this skimmer automatically accommodate that kind of change in water level without manual readjustment?
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Old 01-02-2008, 03:03 PM   #19
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I'm not sure on FW but we add more surface ripple in SW tanks to help dissolve the surface scum....
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Old 01-02-2008, 09:38 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Wow. Thanks! That sounds like a great endorsement. What filter are you using it with? My topless tanks are evaporating so fast I have to go around and do a 10% refill every day or 2. They can get down 2 inches before I know it. Does this skimmer automatically accommodate that kind of change in water level without manual readjustment?

I have it running with my Eheim 2026. Yes, it accommodates for the change in water level. It floats on the surface. It has about a 4 to 5 inch range that it can change.
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