Water flow problem

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Aquarium Advice Regular
Nov 7, 2005
Austin, TX
Let me start with some background info...

Currently running:

1 Marineland Emperor 400 filter (double bio wheel, 400 GPH)

1 Marineland Penguin Powerhead 660 (170 GPH Water Pump)

My problem:

The Emperor filter is on the right side of the tank...it keeps the water and sand looking clean and constantly moving.

The Penguin powerhead is on the left side of the tank at the top and is not working as well. There are large amounts of brown algae that only grows on the left side of the tank. I think its due to lack of water flow...also the left side of the tank just doesn't look as clean or nice as the right.

We have tried repositioning the powerhead in several different places, or even going right up against the glass, and nothing seems to work.

QUESTION: My powerhead says "Submersible" on the package and it shows it submersed in the picture on the front. However, seeing as how it has a cord that plugs in I just couldn't imagine it being completely under the water...of course most of it is, but I read another post on AA about how a guy was putting his midway down his tank....truely submersed. Can I do this too???? It doesn't seem possible with the eletrical issue. Plus it would just look ugly...

I should also mention I don't have to extra tubing that goes from the powerhead into the sand...


1. Can I buy a second Marineland Emperor 400 filter and leave the double bio wheels out, and just use it as a "water mover" basically? (This option is another 80 bucks)

2. Try and submerge powerhead completely and put the end in the sand?? (I don't want to shock the fish, if its even possible but thats how it looks in the picture on my box)

3. Buy a wavemaker???? I don't even know where to start looking.

4. Other options

So this is where I'm stuck...just don't know which route is best/financially smart.

Any ideas?

As usual, TIA.
Instead of buying another filter, just buy a PH. They are cheap, like 15 bucks or so for a 250gph PH. You can point it in the direction that you wish. They are pretty small and don't look all that aweful in a tank.
Those powerheads really are fully submersible too. You can move it down close to the sand to create flow where you need it. Be careful about where you position it though if you have any livestock that could get sucked into the intake side. The ones that I use to sometimes move down low in the tank have the add-on kits that come with a large piece of foam to cover the intakes. This does make them more intrusive looking in the tank though. I don't know how big your tank is or anything, but you mentioned having to stick the end "in" the sand. That you definetly don't want to do. You can move it down close to the sand if you need to.

Is that brown algea possibly cyanobacteria? That stuff tends to grow in places where there is poor current. You can probably look around for a thread here regarding cyano and how to get rid of it. It's a real nuisance but more flow in the tank helps to get rid of it. If you do decide to add an additional powerhead, my personal preference is the maxi-jet models over the penguin models. The maxi-jets come with a much better attachment to hold it on the glass. I have 3 maxi's and 1 penguin in my 50 gallon (because I was dealing with a cyano outbreak) and the maxi's stay right where I put them. The penguin is always falling down into the tank. Hope some of this is useful.

So either a more powerful power head...or submerge the one I got??

I don't really even like my powerhead now is why I wanted to go with another filter.

The powerhead I got just seems to aerate, not really move water, I mean I can turn the aeration up but it doesn't seem to fix the problem it just blows my fish around, LOL.

I will look into the maxi-jet...but I really thought another filter would do it...hmmm.

thanks for the responses.

Oh and by the way I got a 55 gallon FOWLR going with 3 fish and various clean up crew, and urchins.
With such a large tank, you could have a couple powerheads in there. In my 10 gallon I have two, one in each corner, blowing to the opposite corner (if I would draw the flow, it would look like an X). Do check about cyano though. If it has bubbles on it, it's probably cyanobacteria. If it is hairy, it's probably algae.

And it's true...powerheads are fully submersible. I was nervous about it at first too, but stick that sucker all the way down. :)

Haven't seen any bubbles...its just brown stuff on the glass...and only in the low flow spot. I will check on the cyano though...

since I already have the powerhead, I am going to try and submerge / Submerse (correct wording here, I dunno...?) the one I have and see if that works.

Maybe if I place it in the back facing the front glass it will richotet and create a current.

I'll mess around with it....thanks again guys. (and gals if present)
I would put a maxijet 900 or 1200 in there. That will get you something like 250-300 gph of flow. A good investment even if you do decide to get a new filter as well. I'm running 4 powerheads in my 50 gallon and the fish do seem to appreciate the flow. I don't even use the aeration feature on 3 of them. I just plug the air intake with the plug that comes with them and direct the flow where I want it. I was only running one PH when I had my cyano outbreak but no further problems now with all the powerheads. They aren't very expensive either, something like $30 for the 1200 model, probably cheaper if you pick it up online.
You are talking about some dusty stuff on the glass right. If that is true just knock it off with your hand, scrapper or mag float.
The reason it's blowing bubbles is you have the air intake above water level. This in itself can cause problems. You really shouldn't be aerating a salt tank, there's no need to if you have sufficient water flow, and the air bubbles can "burn" inverts and fish. Just shove it all the way down into the water, if it has one of those little shield/flow direct things, kinda aim it up towards the surface at a gentle angle so that you get some surface agitation for increased osmosis/gas flow. You will get more divergent currents from aiming it towards the opposite wall. Really though, opposing currents are the way to go. As to wavemakers, you can get a cheap rise off of the coralvue wavemaker timer schpiel.
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