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Old 01-21-2018, 09:25 AM   #1
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Default Sponge Filters?

I just watched a 45+ minute YouTube video by Corey of Aquarium Co-op extolling the virtues of the sponge filter. Other than aesthetics, he seemed to feel, or at least that's what I took away from it, that sponge filters were as good or better than almost any other form of filtration.

Is that so? Is aesthetics of having that big sponge in your tank, the only reason people spend 10-15-20 times more on a canister filter rather than a simple sponge filter? I thought I'd settled all this in my head, but I found that really confusing.
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Old 01-21-2018, 11:48 AM   #2
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Hi Salinger!

I was wondering if you'd post something from your excursions this weekend.

I hope you'll hear from lots of peeps on this subject. I zipped through Cory's video that you mentioned. He makes a lot of points for a sponge as far as his needs-he's running zillions of tanks so it makes sense financially and maintenance wise. Wonder if he has them in his display tanks at home? In Rachel O'leary's videos, you see sponge filters in pretty much every tank-except for the river manifold and the oscar and big boys tank-and the tiny kits. Again, she's running a business so upfront and ongoing costs are low and maintenance is easier.

When buying a filter you want to have a tank smaller than the filter can handle. So the eheim 2213 says it's for tank up to 60 or 65 gallons and I'm running it on a 20 gallon long. I think you'd need a pretty massive sponge and powerful airpump for the tanks you are looking at.

Sponges are cheap, easy to service, make noise (the bubbling at water surface), require an air pump (some can be noisy which will drive you bananas), have a large surface area for beneficial bacteria and are ugly and really can never be hidden. I always use one in a hospital, fry grow out (low flow helpful here) and shrimp tank (low flow and they like to forage around on the sponge for nummynums). Plus shrimp have almost a net zero bioload.

If you get a long low tank-the 20, 23, or breeder tanks (more surface area is considered best) then what is the best way to circulate the water around the entire tank. Cory made mention of moving the sponge filter around every week to prevent dead spots-but that really isn't practical in a display tank. You could get a power head but that's more money and another piece of equipment to look at.

How much bacteria (you want tons) will support your tank. You have the low flow sponge (most bacteria), the plastic base, the airline hose and the uplift tube-all of which will host bacteria to varying degrees. Now compare that to ALL of the media, mechanical and biological, in a canister and the addition of circulation.

Each of those little ceramic pellets (biomedia)are packed with houses for the bacteria to do it's work and you've got at least a couple of cups of that stuff in the canister. Plus you have a sponge in your canister (filters debris and hosts bacteria). Plus filter floss or more biomedia. With a canister, you decide how much stuff you want to pack into it.

There are other configurations and filter combinations you could run but I just wanted to address the sponge vs canister matter only.

If you took a poll on this forum I would imagine most people run canisters either alone or in conjunction with other equipment to enhance circulation and biological filtration.


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Old 01-21-2018, 12:53 PM   #3
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You need to evaluate filtration methods based on your particular needs. Do you care about sound? How about splashing from bubbles breaking at the surface? Do you want a particular amount of water flow? Are you interested in mechanical filtration, chemical, and/or biological filtration? Do you need to protect fry/shrimplets?

Answers to these questions will guide you toward the right solution for you. There isn't one solution that's perfect for every situation.

In my case noise was a key factor which on its own eliminated some options. Perhaps there are must-haves for you too?

I use a canister because it fits my needs and limitations. I'd likely use a sump if not for space limitations and no good way to deal with humidity.
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Old 01-21-2018, 01:31 PM   #4
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I love Cory's videos, and his honesty about his experiences with certain products, even though he is a business.

I've never used those type of sponge filters myself, but I do understand the concept behind them and what Cory is talking about in his videos. He has another one out there that he talks about optimizing the filtration in different type of Hang on back filters, and there is a 2hour one where he talks about all the different types and takes them apart.

Here is the one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipTDkQsT6HQ&t=3s
and this second video is the one where he explains again more about bacteria, filters and needed surface area for good bacteria and the advantages or disadvantages of each type of filter.

So basically, when it comes to filters, figure out what size you need based on the size of your tank. On my 54g I use an AquaClear 70, which gives me filtration up to 70gallons. I then optimize it by putting a prefilter sponge on the intake, and then two more sponges and biorings in the holder which increases the surface area for good bacteria to grow. I have a secondary filter on stand by in case I need to use chemical (carbon etc) filtration at any time.

This allows me to increase the number of fish I can safely keep in my aquarium and gives me the needed wiggle room in case there are any issues that crop up.

From what I have seen, sponge filters are good and they do their job, but if you don't clean them all the time, you get algae growing on them like crazy, as you'll notice in a bunch of his videos. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as there are fish and shrimp that will eat certain types of algae, BUT most hobbyists really don't like having algae like that in their tanks.

Cannister filters leave the tank much cleaner looking in terms of the amount of equiptment inside. You have one little intake and the outake and that's it. They are also not as noisey as Hang on Back filters (HOB).

I personally like the HOB filters like the aquaclear. I find them to be rather easy to clean and switch out media. I don't mind the trickling sound of water and the impeller is fairly easy to clean when needed as well. Sometimes you get the little top rattling and other sounds, but it never bothered me that much.

I suggest to go with what you like, what you can afford and what will be easiest for you to clean over time.
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Old 01-26-2018, 03:35 PM   #5
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A few things to note. I have a couple of cannisters, but don't use them. Too much work to clean. Leaving them a few months between cleanings is not a good option as everything in them is still in your tank. One thing you will notice if you frequent forums, is that every poster knows more about filtration than the manufacturers of said filters. You will hear things like" you need 10X turnover", while most manufacturers will give you 3 to 4 times with their ratings. They are laughing all the way to the bank as people "overfilter" (another term you will see often). The reality is that it doesn't matter how much filtration you have you still have to change water, and, the higher the bioload the larger and more frequent those changes need to be.
Outside filters such as the AquacClear, can easily be cleaned every water change. Don't be fooled by the seeming lack of filter media of an HOB compared to a cannister. They work very well and with the smaller ACs, you can add a second or third (as mentioned above) sponge to increase bio media.
Having said all that, I use mostly sponge filters, because they are cheap and they work. One small air pump powers about a dozen tanks, and uses only 17 watts of electricty. Algae isn't a problem unless you have too much light. Most of my tanks don't have lights so algae isn't an issue.
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