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Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

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Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by Shell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 1:48 pm

We are thinking of switching to sponge filters in the 55g once the home renos are complete here (we have two AquaClears running now). The problem is that the tank is fully established, and so I am worried about starting a mini cycle. I saw some "very cheap" internal plastic box filters at the lfs. You can stuff them full of media. The guy at the lfs told me that they are no good as they tend to break and generally do a poor job.  Neutral

My thought is that I could stuff one of them with the seeded media and run it on one side, and then run a new sponge on the other side. Eventually, once the sponge is good and seeded (a few months I'd say), I'd then take out the cheap box filter and replace with another sponge filter.

Anyone know about these little box filters? Would this plan likely work?  

The only other option would be to buy a canister filter for the 55g. I like this option, although more expensive, but maybe worth the cash. I'm, however, not keen on buying two as it would be too much for the tetras (they already have enough trouble with two AquaClears, even with the plant ground covers breaking the outflow). I am only hesitant because I worry that if we only have one filter running and it breaks while we are not home, then there is no back-up!

Thoughts welcome  Very Happy

_________________
-220g home to 6 gold barbs, 10 denison barbs, & 2 weather loaches
-55g home to 10 black skirt tetras
-55g home to 1 angelfish, 5 kuhli loaches, & 4 zebra loaches
-36g home to 8 zoogoneticus tequila
-10g home to 2 zoogoneticus tequila
-10g home to 1 panda cory
-10g home to 1 zebra nerite, 1 onion nerite, & 1 leopard ramshorn
-3.5g home to several leopard ramshorn snails
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by GaryE on Sun Mar 09, 2014 3:36 pm

I love box filters, but in a 55, they would have to be huge. They are great for four or five killies in a 15 gallon, and that's how I use them - two filters per 15 gallon. They do very little biologically, a little bit mechanically and basically are a step up on air alone. You miss your water changes with box filters, and bad things happen.
As well, diaphragm pumps have short lives of quiet, and long years of riot. They make a lot of noise. I have a silent linear piston air pump that has run non stop for 10 years, and is rated for 30 tanks, but it cost a good chunk of change. It is the most expensive thing in my fishroom, by a good margin.
I don't know how big your Aquaclears are, but I can say that I have one of the second largest size here that ran 17 years non-stop, and am sadly retiring some now that are wearing out at 12 years old. They are solid little machines, even with the cheaper impeller shaft that's increasing the planned obsolescence of the devices. You'll still get a solid 6-8 years out of them, while the average less expensive canister might get you five. Fluvals? They are quickly recycled.
I loathe canisters. I hate them. I swear at them. They never start for me and they break when I clean them. I've had two leak all over my floor, and three die suddenly. I always stand them in buckets, and check them daily for leaks. I know I am a minority and most aquarists love the things. I have had terrible luck, although I have only used fluvals.
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by Pathfinder on Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:01 pm

I have been utilizing Tetra and Aqueon HOB filters since I got into the hobby and they have never let me down. Aqueon's HOB are very quiet and are appealingly styled. If you're running a topped off fish tank, you can't go wrong with either brand.

I say topped off, as in full of water, because I also run these on turtle tanks and they really aren't designed for it. HOB filters, of any make, have a limit to how high they can draw the water (head). If your water level is super low (usually to accommodate a turtle's basking arrangement), there will often be too much head for the pump to run efficiently, or even at all. In my 55, for example, I am running at about 3/4 full and my Tetra Whisper 70 produces a very loud waterfall (water falls ~6" into the tank).
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by Shell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:36 pm

Gary and Pathfinder- I hear ya...I honestly love the Aqua Clears in that they are so efficient, they do a fantastic job, and they are so easy to maintain! The only downfall, on my part, is that if the power goes out here (which it does frequently, usually just for 10 min. at a time), we get home and all of the tanks are running, the ones with sponge filters and canisters....but the HOBs in the 55g are always dry and grinding...if they would just start up like the others, I'd run them in all of our tanks...that's how much I love the work that they do....what a dilemma  Wink

_________________
-220g home to 6 gold barbs, 10 denison barbs, & 2 weather loaches
-55g home to 10 black skirt tetras
-55g home to 1 angelfish, 5 kuhli loaches, & 4 zebra loaches
-36g home to 8 zoogoneticus tequila
-10g home to 2 zoogoneticus tequila
-10g home to 1 panda cory
-10g home to 1 zebra nerite, 1 onion nerite, & 1 leopard ramshorn
-3.5g home to several leopard ramshorn snails
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by Sbenson11 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:49 pm

I use mostly Aquaclear 50's on most of the smaller tanks, but as you mentioned they sometimes don't restart if the power goes out. Got a 70 on the back of a SW tank and it never fails to restart, had that thing for going on 10 years now.

Not a fan of canister filters. Actually my neighbor gave me one a couple of years ago, I turned around and sold it for $50  Shocked 

Steve
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by Shell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:52 pm

@Sbenson11 wrote:I use mostly Aquaclear 50's on most of the smaller tanks, but as you mentioned they sometimes don't restart if the power goes out. Got a 70 on the back of a SW tank and it never fails to restart, had that thing for going on 10 years now.

Not a fan of canister filters. Actually my neighbor gave me one a couple of years ago, I turned around and sold it for $50  Shocked 

Steve

I have heard this before from others...so, I don't get why ours don't restart? We have a 70 and a 50 running in there, and neither one restarts...even after a WC, which takes no more than 10 minutes, we still have to prime them both...?

_________________
-220g home to 6 gold barbs, 10 denison barbs, & 2 weather loaches
-55g home to 10 black skirt tetras
-55g home to 1 angelfish, 5 kuhli loaches, & 4 zebra loaches
-36g home to 8 zoogoneticus tequila
-10g home to 2 zoogoneticus tequila
-10g home to 1 panda cory
-10g home to 1 zebra nerite, 1 onion nerite, & 1 leopard ramshorn
-3.5g home to several leopard ramshorn snails
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by CAAIndie on Sun Mar 09, 2014 5:54 pm

I also noticed that my AC 30 does not restart afterwards either, my Fluval C3 gets going much much easier. I really like those filters.
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by alexmtl on Sun Mar 09, 2014 6:03 pm

Well some may not agree with this choice, but here goes my bias.

I am a big biologic filter type of aquarist. I believe in the biologic method, perhaps more than could be justified in what is being practiced today by the main stream. In theory the biologic filter is the most natural way to filter water in order to break down the accumulation of nitrogen.

I favour undergravel filters; assuming that you vaccuum the gravel each week while you water change. I have heard all the negatives; about the detritus that accumulates so that you need a complete breakdown each year; that plants do not do as well in UGF; about the lack of mechanical debris removal etc. All good points. OK, I see that there is no maintenance free filter so at some point you have to do cleainng, whether each week or every year or both.

It is what you prefer that will make your eventual choice. Right now I run combination undergravel filter and HOB. The HOB tube is connected to the UG tube such that the flow is down through the gravel and pulled up into the HOB. The concept that I like is that you have a large biologic source media along the bottom of the tank, why not utilize it and the enormous surface area.

OK. Caveats : you must clean the gravel each week and you should break down each year (essentially rebuild each year). Is it more work than a HOB ?; yes. Do plants thrive in the UG flow media,; perhaps.

My other preference is the HOB with high volume sponge.
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by Jay0173 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 6:42 pm

It would also really depend on the type of fish in the aquarium. For instance, there are some fish that aquarists like to keep that cannot handle the flow of any type of filter other than a sponge filter or an internal corner filter with the lid off. Such is the case with Tiger Teddy livebearers, which grow to only 2.0cm. They simply cannot handle the flow created by HOB or canister filters. A sponge filter is pretty much the only way you can go with these fish.

I also have had the Aquaclear filters, and yes, they are notorious for not re-starting after a power failure. That is because when the power goes out the filter looses all of its suction and the water reverses direction, emptying the water in the impeller compartment.

For my larger tanks I use a canister filter, and have had no issues with them restarting after a power failure. I use the API Filstar XP-L filter in m 55 gallon aquarium (I'll be getting another for my 65 gallon) and I believe you cannot go wrong with a canister filter.
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by caoder on Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:25 pm

Easy solution for power failures are to put a battery backup for computers on the tank with the aqua clears... Or daisy chain all of your tanks together. Depending on what you have plugged in it may last hours.
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by Biulu on Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:18 pm

If your tanks are not stocked to the max, and you have enough plants you don't have to worry about power failures. I have had my tank in Mexico without a filter for several weeks as they decided to cut off my electricity when the bank forgot to make the 'automatic' payment and didn't lose any fish.

This is a larger system though (180 litres) somewhat comparable to the tank you are talking about.

Of course you need to clean your canister filter after a time like that as everything starts rotting in there. But otherwise...

Regarding life/duration of a canister: I have a Marineland that has been running since 2008 without any problems whatsoever, and last year I found an Eheim at the curbside on national moving day that still said 'Made in West Germany'. That means it is from before 1990 and I did not even need to change the O-ring! It is running well without leaks.
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by Pathfinder on Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:45 pm

@Shell wrote:Gary and Pathfinder- I hear ya...I honestly love the Aqua Clears in that they are so efficient, they do a fantastic job, and they are so easy to maintain! The only downfall, on my part, is that if the power goes out here (which it does frequently, usually just for 10 min. at a time), we get home and all of the tanks are running, the ones with sponge filters and canisters....but the HOBs in the 55g are always dry and grinding...if they would just start up like the others, I'd run them in all of our tanks...that's how much I love the work that they do....what a dilemma  Wink

Which HOB's are you using? All of the ones I've used in recent years are self-priming, though the big ones certainly like to be helped out.
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by Shell on Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:55 pm

Thanks for the responses and input all - we have some thinking to do!

CAC- I too like the canisters, our Rena XP3 starts instantly, regardless of how long they are off.

alexmtl - I don't have much experience with undergravel filters, although the filter in the "pest " tank is undergravel and , despite the large bioload in there, it always tests fine and looks clear! I find them easy to maintain as well - but, again, this is a tiny tank with a tiny undergravel filter!

Jay0173 - the tetras really do not do great with the Aqua Clears - although since we hung ground covers from them, they manage much better (they still occasionally swim on a slant when under the outflow though! But, nothing compared to before the ground covers...without them, they were literally swimming sidways!). I really think that they would do better with sponge filters...but as Gary mentioned, maybe this is not enough filtration for a 55g...never even thought about that!!

caoder - we tried a battery back-up from a computer for the 55g in the past and it failed to start during a power outage...I still think it was the fault of the battery (perhaps too old), so this too is something we may try again - with a newer battery!

Biulu - unfortunately the tetra tank is not stocked with live plants...there is only one small (shabby looking) java fern and two moss balls in there - the rest is plastic plant city! We have tons of live plants in the 220g, 36g, and 10g....but, all of our other tanks are decorated with fake plants (with the exception of moss balls!). Maybe it is time to slowly transition this tank into a planted tank....we'd have to get new lights if we did this as the 55g only has standard fluorescents...

Pathfinder - the HOBs we are using are an AquaClear 50 and AquaClear 70. I really do love them, they work well, do a fine job, and I honestly love the waterfall sound. They just fail to restart, even if only off for 5 minutes...

_________________
-220g home to 6 gold barbs, 10 denison barbs, & 2 weather loaches
-55g home to 10 black skirt tetras
-55g home to 1 angelfish, 5 kuhli loaches, & 4 zebra loaches
-36g home to 8 zoogoneticus tequila
-10g home to 2 zoogoneticus tequila
-10g home to 1 panda cory
-10g home to 1 zebra nerite, 1 onion nerite, & 1 leopard ramshorn
-3.5g home to several leopard ramshorn snails
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by caoder on Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:02 pm

A new battery or a new backup unit. Don't connect the heater or the lights onto the back up as those tend to take too much power and not necessary for a tank on the short term.

I also have heard media in canisters tend to foul faster in stagnant water during outages, but its better than dry media if all of the water drain from the hob.
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by Shell on Tue Mar 11, 2014 12:29 pm

@caoder wrote:A new battery or a new backup unit. Don't connect the heater or the lights onto the back up as those tend to take too much power and not necessary for a tank on the short term.

I also have heard media in canisters tend to foul faster in stagnant water during outages, but its better than dry media if all of the water drain from the hob.

Good call on the heaters and lights - the temp in the tetra tank usually sits at about 74 degrees, so I'm thinking they'd be okay without the heater for a few hours, it shoudn't drop too much.

I'll have to talk to hubby about this as I'd like to make a decision as soon as the renos are done here. Whether it be trying out the battery back-up again or changing filters, I'd like to decide in advance....for peace of mind when we are away!

I honeslty think the tetras woud be fine without filtration for a short perid of time as there are only 14 of them in there - I still worry about them though! My bigger concern is the grinding sound that comes from the HOBs when we get home after an outage - I'm guessing that cannot be good for the filters!

_________________
-220g home to 6 gold barbs, 10 denison barbs, & 2 weather loaches
-55g home to 10 black skirt tetras
-55g home to 1 angelfish, 5 kuhli loaches, & 4 zebra loaches
-36g home to 8 zoogoneticus tequila
-10g home to 2 zoogoneticus tequila
-10g home to 1 panda cory
-10g home to 1 zebra nerite, 1 onion nerite, & 1 leopard ramshorn
-3.5g home to several leopard ramshorn snails
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Re: Cheap Internal Box Filters or Canister?

Post by caoder on Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:18 pm

They are running dry and overheating. It is not good at all. Do you keep your aquariums filled to the top?
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