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FAQs about Canister, Cartridge Filters For Marine Systems, Media 

Related Articles: Physical FiltrationReview of the ViaAqua Canister Filter

Related FAQs: Canister Filters 1, Canister Filters 2, Canister Filters 3, Outside Power Filters& FAQs on: Rationale/Use, Placement, Plumbing, Maintenance, Troubleshooting/Repair, By Manufacturer: Eheim, Fluval, Other Brands,


Sump/Refugium + Fluval 205 question 1/11/12
<Hello Earl>
I value your opinion, gentleman, so here is my question. I have a 36 gallon corner tank, 35 pounds of live rock, 4 small fish, about 12 coral frags, and I am putting in a DYI 10 gallon sump with a small refugium, because that's all I have room for. My son used his computer/laser to cut out the panels for the baffles, it looks professional. I am putting this in because I was told that a canister filter would turn into a nitrate factory and I should take it out.
<Only if the floss/pads aren't cleaned/replaced weekly.>
My nitrates did go up so I removed the filter.
<Nitrates will go up in any system if dissolved nutrients aren't exported out of the system.>
I have an AquaMaxx HOB1 protein skimmer that I am using on the tank right now, but plan to hang it on the intake compartment of the sump. In talking with another reefer, they told me that I can run the canister (Fluval 205) if I use it for carbon only and leave the pads out, in addition to the sump for added filtration.
<Without pads the carbon will plug quickly.  Best to use a pad and change/clean weekly.>
I thought this sounded good but I thought I would ask you since you are much more educated in the hobby than myself. Does this sound reasonable?
<The refugium is a good idea.  As to the other issues, re above.>
I was also wondering at what level nitrate can get to to start becoming dangerous to my tank.
<For a fish only system I'd keep below 30 but that depends on the fish you are keeping.  Some fish do not appreciate nitrate levels much above 10ppm.>
I know a 0 level is ideal but according to my chart the most it has gotten to is 20, API test kit.
<Actually, zero nitrates is not ideal.  Best to have a low level (10ppm) of nitrates in the system if keeping corals/clams, etc.  James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Optimum setup for Ocean Clear 354   1/8/12
Hello Crew,
Sorry it took so long to respond (I had shoulder surgery yesterday)
You guys are great!
I was Wondering if adding an intake prefilter i.e. Poret foam and seeding it with a nitrifying  product such as Marineland Bio-Spira or Dr. Tim's instant nitrifying liquid would help until I am able to afford an Eheim filter?
<Mmm, not really a good idea to put any restriction on the intake side of centrifugal pumps... they're made to push, not pull>
Thanks again for such a great site!
<Welcome. BobF>

Canister filter media order Canister filter for a marine tank. Media Selection 4/29/2010
Dear crew,
<Hi Gary.>
Just a quickie, at the moment I'm running my 46 gal set up on just Live Rock and a Deltec Skimmer. Now I was thinking of adding a canister filter just for chemical filtration as I have a slight hair algae problem on one particular rock. The rock in question was under a fluidized bed filter until it decided to dump the sand in my tank so I removed it, will this be leaching silicates?
<Perhaps - only time will tell unfortunately.>
I was going to put some live rock rubble in as well. What is the best way round to stack the media. I would put the live rock as the first step, but in which order would you put the phosphate media and carbon media.
<It really does not matter. I set mine up so it passes my LR rubble, then my carbon, then Polyfilters.>
<Have a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marcanistfltfaqs.htm >
Thanks in Advance.
<My pleasure.>

Re: Canister filter media order, now fluidized bed, Si issues questions  4/30/10
<Hi Gary.>
When I said my fluidized filter dumped sand in my tank and would it be leaching silicates, you replied
Perhaps - only time will tell unfortunately. Can you elaborate on this, what could happen.
<If you get a sudden dump of silicates, you can get a diatom algae bloom.
Not really harmful, but it takes time to clear up.>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diatomfaqs.htm >

Re: MARINELAND C series filters, FW chem. filtrant use   10/22/08 please tell me about the use of such materials as Purigen and Polyfilter and activated carbon. Do they really help? <Total waste of space in most freshwater community tanks, though at least some chemical media are more useful in marine systems. Much said on WWM about filter media. Read, and make your own mind when the benefits of a certain chemical medium justify reducing the biological and mechanical filtration capacity of your system. Do also remember most chemical media need regular replacement, so there's a cost/benefit factor to consider as well. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfiltrmedart.htm Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Live Rock... actually canister filter use, SW  10/20/08 I also have a large Fluval FX5 external filter. What would you suggest I do with it. <Run it empty if you want, just water movement.> Should I fill it with filter media or use it with nothing in it for water movement. <They are a bit of maintenance nightmares, need to be cleaned often (weekly), so the less stuff to trap detritus the better.> Kenny <Chris>

Removing Canister Media  7/12/08 Hi Crew, Firstly, and most importantly, I must thank you for this fantastic resource. I have spent many hours going over the wealth of knowledge contained within. It has saved me hundreds of dollars in equipment choices and setup tips. <It is for you, and other friends-not-yet-met in our interest that we toil> My question relates to some responses I have seen from you which state that you can run a canister filter without any of the media. <Mmm, yes... as a simple pumping mechanism> I have a 200L tank (55gal I believe) that is basically a FOWLR plus some leather corals. The tank has been running for about 3 years with an eheim canister as the main source of filtration. However, nitrates have always been an issue due mostly, I believe, to my laziness and lack of maintenance of said canister <Very common> (bioload is light at the moment while going through a tank transition period with only 1 Rabbitfish, 1 chromis and 1 convict blenny- I know not solitary, a rare "on a whim" purchase for which I am yet to find a buddy). I recently purchased an ecosystem60 HOB refugium with Miracle Mud in the hope of making the canisters work obsolete. So far it would seem to be working, as two weeks into operation and the nitrates are reading around 2.5 mg/l with the Eheim nitrate factory still operating. I now wish to remove all the media from the canister and keep it running as I still wish to use it for carbon, extra water capacity, water movement, and the surface skimmer attachment. Now when you say to remove all the media, do you mean remove everything, filter pads and all? <Mmm, can be done... the less mechanically you have in there, the less frequent will be your maintenance intervals, and lower the standing measure/amount of NO3> Should I possibly leave the blue pad in to stop sand from getting into the impeller? Thank you very much for your advice. Glenn <Try it and see... I would at least leave in the Ehfi-Mech if you're using... Bob Fenner>

Bio Balls, Carbon - 6/25/08 Conflicting advice about bio balls and carbon Lately I have received conflicting advice about the use of bio balls and carbon in my reef tank. I was told that carbon filtration should only be done periodically or it will remove all the essential elements necessary for good coral growth. <Mmm...not 'true' per se, but can remove certain desirable organic compounds, salts> I was also advised to replace the carbon in my Fluval filter with bio balls. <I'm not a big fan of bio-balls, as they tend to get gunky. Fired ceramic?> I have your site bookmarked and trust your advice. So here is my setup: 46 gal hex with lots and lots of live rock (running 7 months) Live sand about 1/2 to 1 inch deep 20,000 K metal halide Sea Clone protein skimmer <Is this removing good skimmate? If so, bravo...but I know a lot of people who have trouble with these...poor design> Fluval 304 (with ChemiPure, bioballs, filter pads) All test parameters look good (added 2 fish and bioballs this week and nitrates rose, but only to 20) Fish: yellow tang, 6 line wrasse (new), royal gamma (new), blue green chromis, yellow tail damsel, black and white striped damsel <Note: A 46 gallon of any shape is far too small for a tang, much less a hex. They need at least 5-6 feet of uninterrupted swimming space> Corals: Hammer, 3 small Kenya trees, Ricordea (Sm),  Inverts: 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 banded shrimp, 2 serpent sea stars, lots of crabs and snails, 1 small spike urchin My goal is to get coral going to add movement to the tank ( I have water pumps running). So, what would you advise about bio balls and carbon usage? <Read around wetwebmedia.com re filter media> Should I add chemicals to help the corals? <With Scleractinians, Ca+, alkalinity supplements...water changes should handle the rest, provided you do them regularly.> Can I add macro algae to the tank for the tang and to look pretty? <I wouldn't. It can really take over- and that tang just needs a bigger home, period.> I do not have a sump or refugium at this time. I have been doing 5-10 gallon water changes weekly so far. <Good. Keep them up!> Thanks for all your help. <No problem. Benjamin>

Canister Filter 1/23/08 I have read many of the questions and your replies in regards to using filter media in canister filters. Some of your responses were to use filter media but with frequent cleanings to prevent nitrate build up. Makes sense. Other responses were not to use filter media at all. And some responses were to eliminate them completely. <Yes, different people, situations and opinions. Generally the same results for the differing advice.> I have a 75 gal. fish only, at this time, with a refugium, protein skimmer, a Fluval 404, Magnum 350, approx. 70# of live rock and 80# of live sand. I intend to add additional live rock as money permits. <OK> I have two Maroon Clowns, one Cleaner Shrimp, and assortment of Hermits and Snails. At this time I am using blue foam filter media in both filters. My tank has been up for only 4 weeks. <Careful adding anything with the clowns, especially since they are established first.> My questions are, should I continue using the filters as they are with frequent cleanings. <If you want to.> Or would I be better served by using them for bio filtering only or could I eliminate them and use the refugium, protein skimmer and live rock and sand for my filtering. <You could do this, it would be my choice.> Also will the filter media remove any microscopic creatures that might benefit future additions to my tank. < Some may become trapped or even colonize the media between cleanings, but this will be negligible given the flow through these.> Thanking you in advance, Shawn <Welcome. You really have sufficient live rock to support your livestock. You can continue running the canisters with frequent maintenance, but it is more work and not really necessary. Best wishes, Scott V.> PS your website is awesome <Thank you.>

Chemi Pure Question 1/22/08 Hello Wet Web Media crew, <Hi Danny> Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer a quick question of mine. I just made the switch in my 75 gallon saltwater FOWLR aquarium from Bio Chem Zorb to Chemi Pure. I always changed the Bio Chem Zorb once a month, but the manufacturer of Chemi Pure suggests it only needs to be replaced every 4-6 months. I'm a bit suspicious of this, and I certainly don't ascribe to their claim that it eliminates the need for future water changes. I still plan to do my 20% water changes every two weeks. What I would like to know is how often you suggest that I replace the bag of Chemi Pure in my canister filter? Would this recommendation be equally applicable for both fish-only tanks and reefs? <Danny, this hype is all going to depend on fish load and tank/filter maintenance. I use this product and I change the media about every four months. My tank is lightly stocked and during water changes I do vacuum the coral sand. The use of a protein skimmer will also increase the time between Chemi Pure changes. You also mention "replace the bag of Chemi Pure". In your size tank, two units of Chemi Pure are suggested for optimal water quality.> Thank you very much! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Best regards, Danny

Hi! Questions about Eheim media... 1/6/2008 Hi! First off, thanks for all of the VERY helpful information on your site. I've been spending a lot of time researching things before I set up my newest freshwater aquarium, and your site has helped a great deal. Thank you! <You're welcome.> I have a new 90-gallon tank in my new home that has been waiting for me to have enough money to work on. I am finally ready to start. <Very good.> I've had two 10-gallon and a 29-gallon freshwater tanks before, and I loved them. I had very good success with them. But I was using Bio-wheel over-the-rim filters in them, and now since I am setting up a 90-gallon, I am going to be using my first canister filter. I'm a bit nervous about it :) <Don't be. Canister filters have improved dramatically over the years, and most are very easy to install and maintain. The two things to always have at hand are a bucket and a towel though, because even though modern filters come with taps and valves to prevent leaking, there's always a little water left behind that can get out. I highly recommend setting up your filter one time with the tubes stuck in a bucket of water. Do this in the kitchen or on the porch. Go through the process of setting up and then taking apart. It's much easier to learn this by practising first, than figuring it all out when the filter is wedged in a cabinet under the aquarium!> I purchased an Eheim Professional III model 2180 (the one with the heating element). I'm waiting for it to arrive, but I'd like your expertise on what kind of media I should fill it with. I've searched the FAQs and articles, and found that Bob recommends Eheim's Grob and Fein Flocken, but I am getting quite confused... <Every aquarist has favoured media, but the bottom line is they're all pretty good, and if you decide to buy according to budget and availability, you can't really go wrong. That said, there are a few brands that get the nod in terms of being that little bit better than the rest. But any such differences will be minor, and not the sorts of things that end up with dead fish!> First, the Eheim products all have non-US-friendly names to them... <German products, German names... I'd imagine most Germans find words like "Hummer" and "Pop Tart" pretty silly sounding, too! Anyway, the Ehfi- part of the name is some sort of standard prefix, like "Mc" at McDonalds. The second part of the name describes the media. So EhfiSubstrat is Eheim Substrate (='Substrat' im Deutsch) for biological media; EhfiTorf is Eheim Peat (='Torf'); and so on. In the same way McNuggets are McDonalds brand of mechanically-recovered minced chicken carcass shapes bound together with salt and skin.> second, the Grob and Fein Flocken is a little hard to find... and third, being that this is my first canister filter, I'd like your expertise on what I should fill it with, and just as important, in what order (from top to bottom). <This is quite easy to figure out. Look at the flow of water first. You put mechanical media (media to remove silt) in the first compartment(s), and biological media (media to remove ammonia) in the later compartment(s). The idea is you want to remove the silt before the silt suffocates the bacteria. Simple as that. Beyond this basic rule, you can pick and choose whatever you want.> I wouldn't waste your time if I didn't look throughout the FAQs already for a nice breakdown of what media you recommend in it and in what order. The info I found is kind of recommends products here and there, but what I'd find very helpful is if you could recommend something like: Top layer: Ehfi-ooga (this will trap large particles) Next layer: Ehfi-booga (this will do x) Next layer: Ehfi-oogey (this will do y) Bottom layer: Ehfi-boogey (this will polish) ...etc :) <I'd go with some sort of filter wool for the first compartment, coarse filter media for the second, and then the last two both biological filter media. Using Eheim products, that'd be something like EhfiSynth, EhfiMech, and then two lots of EhfiSubstrat (or EhfiSubstrat pro). But there's no need to restrict to just Eheim brands. Siporax filter media is at least as good for biological filtration, and filter wool is much the same whoever makes it, and the point to filter wool is that you CHANGE it regularly. If I was keeping clean fish (like tetras) then going with 1 x mechanical media and 3 x biological media would be possible. But if the fish are messy (like cichlids) then 2 x mechanical media and 2 x biological media is more sensible.> Thanks SO MUCH for your help and your continued service to the fish community. It's very much appreciated! - Chris <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Hi! Questions about Eheim media... Thanks so much, Neale! It's definitely a huge help. <Glad we could help.> And the term "mechanically-recovered minced chicken carcass shapes bound together with salt and skin" is pure genius :) <And technically correct, too! Cheers, Neale.>

"Polishing" Water  12/24/07 Dear Crew, Happy holidays! <And Happy Holidays to you, too! Scott F. in today!> I need your help yet again. I want to clarify my water more. I have an Outer Orbit light fixture and the light seems to reflect every particle in the water. I was thinking of adding an additional filter, but not sure which one. I was thinking of either an Eheim where I can pack my own filter media, or an Ocean Clear inline filter made just for polishing water. If I go with the Eheim, I don't know what filter media to use. I would prefer the Eheim as this will only draw 50 watts. Any suggestions? Thank you. Jeff <Well, Jeff- I like the Eheim, too. I would probably use a mechanical media, such as "Ehfimech", which is a porous clay material that traps debris. I would also utilize activated carbon for its chemical filtration capabilities. If you pay attention to the replacement and cleaning of these media, you'll get really great results for the long run. Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

External Canister filter 11/26/07 Hi <Hello> My set up is 190 Liter 42g, (UK) bow front, air driven skimmer, LR (but unsure how much (see pic, please note one or two small pieces of base rock at the bottom). Filtration is via an Eheim pro 2 2026- media- some sort of white ring in the bottom compartment, covered with a blue coarse sponge, then a layer of white/cream porous balls in the next and a bag of phos remover next to it. <OK> All parameters low, but I've been advised remove all media and have the Eheim solely for mechanical filtration. I'm diligent when it comes to maintenance, and I intend to clean the filter, propeller (gunk), and the media once a month (using tank water when doing a change), therefore shall I stick with my set up, or remove the media? Mo <The problem you are hearing about is with the mechanical filtration itself. It traps detritus that could otherwise be processed out of your system, producing excessive nitrate. The filter and media can be used if you are very diligent about cleaning, I would clean it at least once a week. Just keep an eye on your nitrate level and watch out for the dreaded algae. Happy reefing, Scott V.>

Why Add A Canister Filter With A Wet-Dry? -- 11/07/07 Hello guys and thank you for donating to me some of your time. <<Quite welcome>> In an e-mail that was sent to me from Eric R., he answered some of my questions regarding my high-nitrates (has recently gone down to 25 from over 160 ppm) <<Excellent>> and also gave me a few general tips. <<I hope they were of use>> It was suggested by Eric to buy a refugium and also a small canister filter with cut-up Poly-Filter in it to better my setup. <<Indeed...both are always worthwhile additions in my opinion>> I understand why I should have a refugium (a medium Aquafuge refugium and live sand is coming in the mail), but I didn't understand why I would need a small canister filter plus I don't want to buy one if it won't be worth my while. <<The canister filter was suggested merely as a means to provide some additional chemical filtration to your system...if you have some other way of utilizing the Poly-Filter media then by all means do so>> Maybe I was unclear when describing my setup. Oh, and FYI I've only been in the marine hobby for 3.5 months so I am of little knowledge. <<You are changing that just by reading/being here>> I have a 120g FOWLR saltwater tank with 45lbs live rock with a 2" layer of crushed coral. <<I probably mentioned this before, but this two-inch 'crushed coral' bed is probably a large contributor to your Nitrate issue as the course material will trap much uneaten food/detritus and the depth is not sufficient to foster enough of the right kinds of bacteria to function as a proper DSB. It would be best to either reduce the depth to an inch or less...increase the depth to four-inches or more...or change it out for a 'sugar-fine' Aragonite material>> It houses a Snowflake Eel, 4 Damsels, and various Hermit Crabs and snails. For filtration I use a Little Giant water pump that runs 640 gph into a 2' wide by 1' deep by 1' high wet-dry trickle. The water when going through the middle chamber in the wet-dry trickles first goes thru a standard filter pad, then thru De-nitrate and activated Carbon, then thru a piece of felt, then thru more De-nitrate and activated Carbon plus Chemi-pure, then thru another filter plan, and finally trickles over live rock before being pumped into the main tank. I have a Berlin Triple Pass Turbo Hang-On Protein Skimmer that is rated for tanks up to 250g. I now realized I made a poor purchase regarding my skimmer but I'm not about to replace it due to the fact it cost over $200. I also have 3 foot-long air stones lining the back of my tank for extra oxygen for my Snowflake. <<The skimmer should oxygenate the water well enough...as I suspect the air stones are creating much salt-creep around the top of your tank>> Considering my current setup, would it be a good idea to add a canister filter? If so, why, and how big? <<A canister filter would ensure the most efficient/effective use of the Poly-Filter just by the very nature of its design/function (forces water 'through' the filter material), and any of the small 'external' canister filters would suffice...but...you can also likely employ the Poly-Filter material somewhere in your Wet-Dry filter... Is up to you>> Thank you for your generous service. -Phil <<Happy to assist. Eric Russell>>

Filtration on new Marine tank.   8/12/07 Hi Bob, Jay here from the UK. <Howdy!> Top website, the best of its kind. <Thanks> I am in the process of setting up a 100 gallon FOWLR tank and was hoping that I could ask you a question with regards to doing so? <Shore> I have a Juwel Vision 450 with a Fluval FX5 canister filter, and a? Aqua Medics TurboFlotor 1000 Multi SL protein skimmer, I also plan to add a 3+ inch DSB and 100lbs of live rock and a few suitable fish and some invertebrates. My question is that the Juwel came with a built in 2 stage biological filtration system that contains the following: 1. Filter wool pad 2. Active carbon sponge 3. Nitrite removal sponge 4. Ammonia removal sponge 5. Coarse filter sponge 6. Fine filter sponge The above in built filter system is run via a 1000 litre per hour power head, would you leave this filter system in place or would you remove it to gain more space in the tank and go with the Fluval FX5? <I would leave all in for now... but likely gravitate to not using chemical filtrants here in time (as the system becomes more established in the next few months) to replacing all but the coarse filter media... sandwiching this about a permanent "to-hypoxic" media like Siporax or Ehfi-Mech or such (one-time purchase)... This to get you what this filter can do practically... and not use up your time for maintenance and flow rate...> I do not want to add a sump at present as drilling my tank will invalidate my 3 year warranty, I would really appreciate your opinion on this. <A good idea to ask about... other fellow marine hobbyists there/UK on the various BBs and hobby club groups... what they've done... Myself, I would proceed with having the tank drilled...> Thanks very much Jay PS. I have just received your book in the post, what I have read so far is very good indeed, cant wait to read the rest. <Oh to have had the focus of J.K. Rowling! Cheers, Bob Fenner>

30 gallon aquarium with Eheim 2234, media for a can. stkg. a small SW...   7/27/07 Hello, <Hi to you> I've just started my first saltwater tank, and the tank is "vacant" at the moment as it is cycling. However, I do have a couple of questions: 1. I am planning on adding about 20 to 25 pounds of live rock to provide bio filtration and I also have Eheim 2234 Ecco canister filter. What type of media would you recommend for this type of filter to get the best water filtration possible and how would layer each media. Eheim's webpage is limited in that regards and I would like to use other media (Marineland, Seachem) to achieve the best results? <I would use the Eheim media (it's superior), the ceramic, coarse, fine and perhaps occasionally place carbon... last in the order of flow path> Im also planning on buying AquaC Remora protein skimmer and would like to find out what would be the best possible combination of filter media to maintain healthy looking aquarium. <...? Filter media in the skimmer? There is none> Im planning on adding 2 percula clownfish, 2 firefish and 2 chromis and a tank cleaning crew. <... Not the Chromis along with the Clowns here... and really not the Microdesmid... Please, research before acquisition... WWM... re Compatibility, Systems...> Thanks for your help!! <Keep reading and you'll likely do fine... if nothing else you'll make less mistakes, understand the ones you do make better. Bob Fenner>

Eheim 2026 media question on FOWLR setup   4/27/07 hi bob!  no I didn't get a response to my original note.  thanks for checking!! <Ahh! Didn't think I placed such... am responding now, below> I've been trolling through your FAQ's the last couple of days and have gleaned quite a bit.  Being very new to this hobby, I did want to send a quick email to validate what I think I have learned from the FAQ's and have applied to my setup - no doubt an expensive hobby, so I want to take the cautious approach.  My LFS has been helpful but they do not sell Eheim's so I wanted to get a 2nd opinion. <Okay> I have a 75gallon tank with live sand and I will be purchasing 75lbs of live rock by the end of the week.  No fish or inverts yet - basically I've mixed RO H20 and salt mix and got it temp, with a powerhead and Eheim circulating water.  The tank was purchased "lightly" used and came with a "lightly" used Eheim 2026 Pro II series (trying to make due with what I have for now and then slowly upgrade).  I'm a little concerned about getting enough water flow so I added 2 powerheads in opposing sides and directions of the tank. I have the Eheim media arranged the following way from bottom to top (basically right off the box): 1 L Ehfi Mech 1 Eheim Course "blue" Filter Pad 2 L Ehfi Substrat 1 Eheim carbon pad 1 EHFISYNTH Filter Pad In terms of other equipment, I just purchased a CPR Dual Bak Pak for protein skimmer and just ordered two Hydor circulation pumps to keep water moving.  My LFS is recommending I purchase a UV sterilizer but from what I've read in the FAQ's, the jury is still out since they will kill good and bad bacteria. So finally the questions: 1) Of the above stated media, should I change anything - order or media? <No> I'm very concerned about the "canister nitrate factory" notion but it seems with proper maintenance this can be mitigated.  Any tips and suggestions to avoid this scenario? <Weekly opening, rinsing of all media...>   From what I've read, and again need this validated, the live rock should adequately perform the biological filtration.  But can I eventually pull out the Ehfi Mech and the pads and just use carbon as a chemical filtration without any mechanical filtration? <Mmm, not really... unless you're going to add more mechanical et al. filtration elsewhere> Given it's a 75 gallon, the livestock number is limited - I'm guessing maybe 4-5 fish of average size. 2) From what I've read, Chem-Pure is awesome stuff and I've ordered online 1x10oz (2 bags) since I can't find it at my LFS. Where in the media order should I place the Chem-Pur and is it substituting media, i.e., Ehfi Substrat or augmenting what I have? <The latter... above the Ehfi-Mech... one unit per month... switching out one of two total every month...> 3) From what I've read, you recommend weekly cleaning of the canister -  at least replacing the Ehfisynth pad and checking the media baskets every couple of weeks.  Is that b/c of the Ehfi Mech? Or b/c it's a closed system? <Mmm, neither... just the necessity of cleaning out a good deal of accumulated "detritus" in such a filter type in SW use> Just wondering if I can setup the media differently to do less frequent cleaning of the canister (every 2-3 weeks vs. weekly)? <Try it and see... I'd monitor your nitrates as an indicator of cleaning intervals. Bob Fenner>

Canister Filter Pads in Marine Aquaria - 3/27/07 Hello, <Hey Mike, JustinN with you today.> I have a 55 gallon  saltwater aquarium, with a Fluval 304 canister filter hooked up to it I've been reading on the internet that you should take out the filter pad that is in the filter I just wanted to know if this is true or should I leave it in, If I take it out what would I use to filter the bigger particles out of the water. Thanks for your time. Mike Stevens <Quite the run-on sentence there, bud! In the future, do try to avoid this... As far as the canister filter goes, the choice on leaving the filter pad in is entirely up to you, but regardless of if you do or not, that canister filter will need to be cleaned fairly religiously to not create an accumulation of nitrates and wastes. Rinse out the media in a bucket of water change water (that which you pull out of the tank, not what you are putting back in, of course!) Hope this helps! -JustinN>

Magnum HOT canister size  3/13/07 Hi, <Hello there> New to the hobby, your webpage (which has given me LOTS of information, and inspiration!  Thanks!) <Welcome!> I am running a 20g (high) freshwater aquarium.  I will not go into details about my system here, but my question is this.... The Magnum HOT system.  I am using it and find it works satisfactory for 24/7 operations.  I traditionally use the SeaChem matrix carbon in the carbon canister.  And sometimes throw in some PhosBan, or other stuff into a media bag and hang inside the canister.  Does anyone know the actual rating of the media canister? <Rating? As in? Volume? How often to switch out different types of media?> Can I put Purigen, or PuraComplete directly into the canister? <Yes> If so, do I have to fill it completely? <No>   I am assuming I do need to fill it completely, and that may be costly for the higher priced media's compared to just carbon. Ok, a quick second question.... :) I have a 2g tank I have been using for fry, and after they passed the "suckemup into the filter" stage, I put a Duetto 50 filter in there.  Now I purchased a 5.5g for another room and would like to put the fry in that.  I was thinking of getting a hang on tank filter for it, but do not know which one would be the "best".  I am looking for variable flow control, and maybe the ability to use other medias than the simple cartridge. <Mmm... the variable control issue has got me... I like the Hagen and Whisper/Tetra-Second Nature... lines best myself...> I have a 5g Hex by Marineland and HATE the filter in it. <I too am not such a fan>   The BioWheel is great, but the little filter cartridge gets filthy fast, and the carbon is NOT equally distributed in the frame. <Good point> Not to mention no place for added media. I did purchase this kit as my first aquarium getting back into the hobby. <Do write Marineland re these issues, your points... They'll appreciate it> Thanks for the help! Carrie <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Filter help... canister... filter media... maint...   3/3/07 I need a little filter help. I have 2 canister filters now. You state they should be cleaned every week. I know I should change the white filter pad weekly. The blue course filter rinse with tank water? Rinse the Chemi-pure weekly with tank or tap water weekly and replace in about 3 months? <yes> The ceramic media has a lot of brown stuff over it, rinse with tank water and remove all stuff or leave stuff on it? <Rinse the media with tank water> Now I want to set up a wet/dry I just got from a friend. Should I use the bio-balls or leave them out? <Leaving the bio balls in the wet/dry will almost certainly start a nitrate reactor.  I would take them out. and just use the wet dry as a sump.> I have some live rock, not a ton. I should place a Chemi-pure bag in the bottom tray, and replace every 3 months? In the sump area I can place my skimmer and live rock? Is there any other maintenance on the wet/dry? When? I am new to this and want to get this right. I hope you can help! <You can use the Chemi-pure in the sump.  I would not place the live rock in the sump.  It will do better in the main display.  A general rule of thumb is one pound per gallon.  I have my skimmer in a sump and would encourage anyone to do the same thing.  Easier access without disturbing your fish.  Also if you have to add things to the tank, a sump is a good thing to have.  I use mine to add makeup water for water changes.  If there are no pads, or bio balls then you will have no maintenance on the wet/dry. Other than making sure that it does not overflow.>   Thank you. <You're welcome.  Brandon F.>

Marine Filtration Problems/Options  2/5/07 Hi, <Hey Mark.> Thanks for the great site. <Welcome.> My question is about filtration. <Okay.> I recently  added  a canister filter to my 125 gallon tank in a attempt to up grade my system only to realize that this is not really a good option. <Correct.> I was considering removing all the filters and media and placing live rock in the  baskets. But it feels like a waste of electricity to run it at all. <Well if you have LR in the display'¦.not necessary, I would just keep it empty, use it to run chemical media/carbon when necessary.> I do not  have a sump and all my equipment is in the main display. Is it enough filtration  to just run a good hang on protein skimmer with live rock and power  heads for water movement and if so how important is the depth of the sand bed, I  currently have 1 inch. <Well what type of skimmer is it? Most hang on skimmers can not handle such a large aquarium'¦Look into adding refugia.> My fish are a juv. blue angel, juv. sailfin tang a juv.  Naso tang and pair of black and white percula clowns. Also, I change  10%  of the water weekly. Best regards, Mark <To you as well, Adam J.>

Eheim floss alternatives in a canister 7/14/05 Hi.  I've a new Eheim 2026 Profesionel 2.  The fine white Eheim pads, I'd imagine must be changed frequently but they are expensive.  Can I use regular no-name floss instead? <I wouldn't>   Would there be a danger of fibers catching and obstructing the impeller?   <Possibly... but worse, more likely all will "pack down", channel...> Someone suggested that if I do use ordinary no-name floss, I should cease using sintered glass as it sheds fines, potentially damaging to the impeller and its chamber. <No>   What are your ideas and experiences.  (Not living in Western Europe or the States, I cannot get products online, by the way.  So the Eheim pads remain expensive). <Am a huge fan of a one-time purchase of Eheim's Grob and Fein Flocken... a polyester media that you can rinse out and re-use... for decades... this is what I use... the Grob (large) ahead of a handful of the Fein. Bob Fenner>

Fluval question -Please help James or anyone,  <James, here>  I read that you use a canister with Chemi Pure. I plan on using a canister filter for chemical filtration in addition to my sump (former wet/dry) and skimmer. I am wondering what is the recommended media to be used for chemical filtration apart from ChemiPure e.g. something to manage phosphates etc.  <Your choice, either Sea Chem or Kent Marine phosphate removers would be my choice.> Secondly should I be running the recommended chemical filtration (via my Fluval) during my cycling phase?  <I wouldn't use it during cycling.> Finally I was going to use the canister for mechanical filtration but was told this could be a nitrate trap. I would like to change/clean my canister media monthly.  <Monthly changes will be a nitrate factory. I clean my filter weekly and my nitrates never exceed 5ppm, then again I do 10% water changes weekly. James (Salty Dog)> 

Alkalinity Test kits, Canister filter inserts and Nitrate 5/24/05--Part3 - (And No Shills Necessary!) Thank you for the quick response to my questions below (and the free "keeping spouse happy with tank" advice)! <Glad to! As for the spouse... I am glad that others can benefit from my failures! Ha! Actually, my wife is very tolerant.> Per your advice, the lava rock is removed, and I'm planning on adding the remaining live rock in one batch (after confirming it is cured by keeping it in tub in garage). I'll also buy a better alkalinity test. I've been using Jungle Quick Dip strips, but they have always been "off the chart" in the "ideal" range. I've been questioning their accuracy. Any recommendations on best test? <Always choose an alkalinity test that is a titration type. Titration tests require you to add drops of reagent until a change from one color to another is observed. The value is calculated from the amount or number of drops of reagent that are added. Test kits for alkalinity that use dip strips or compare to a color chart are very unreliable. I am fond of Salifert and Tropic Marin alkalinity kits, but many good ones are available.> I'm going to go with selling the Fluval, but keeping the Eheim for the great water movement it gives me. I had heard--LFS--that filling the Eheim completely with the Eheim filters would "polish" the water without creating nitrates. Do you agree? Or would I be better just having the Eheim completely empty? (I'm the guy who knows there is no way I will be doing weekly maintenance on the canister--most likely just every month or two.) Thanks again for your help and great site. Greg  <I disagree with your LFS, but there is no harm in trying. If you observe nitrates after a couple of months, I would either step up the maintenance or remove all media from the canister filter.> P.S. I'm going to shill for you. I made an Amazon Honors Payment to you guys and was surprised that more people don't do the same. I'm always buying stuff from the LFS when I go in and pick their brains because I feel their time is worth something and they're in business to make money. More so for you guys who are doing this site free of charge to the fish-keeping world. Not everyone is made of money--although this isn't the least expensive hobby I can think of--but I'm still surprised people don't throw a bit more change/bills in your electronic glass jar. <Thanks for the contribution! It is refreshing and uplifting to cross paths with someone who is willing to voluntarily support something they find value in. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Canister filter inserts and Nitrate 5/16/05 Greetings WWM Denizens! Thank you for all the advice, info and time spent accumulating it! You have gotten me from freshwater to saltwater, which may explain my configuration and question/problem. (I've searched the forums and can't find my particular query.) My problem is nitrates (surprise, surprise), and I wanted to know if my solution would work . <Thanks for the kind words! Glad you have benefited from the info here.> Tank is converted from freshwater, about 9 months old with salt as follows: 100 gallons, Aqua C Remora Pro, with the larger skimmer, about 50 pounds of live rock--adding more slowly; 40 pounds of lava rock, which I am hoping will slowly become live rock (it has only been in saltwater tank); 3 powerheads knocking water around; my good old Fluval 403 from the previous century; an Eheim 2217; I also have about an inch of crushed coral for cushioning and prettiness.  <Sounds reasonable, although adding live rock slowly is often a problem since each new piece has to cycle. I strongly suggest setting up a small tank (even a plastic tub) to cycle new rock in before adding to the tank. Also, lava rock can be unpredictable in composition and is a risk for introducing contaminants (especially metals). I would personally lean toward removing this in favor of live rock.> The problem is nitrates. No matter how careful I am with feeding and how much goop my skimmer picks up, the nitrates will not drop below 15-20. (Ammonia always 0, pH 7.8 to 8.0, treating with 1 Tsp washing soda each 25 gallon water change.) I use RO water from a nearby ice and water store (about $60/year at 25 gallon change every four weeks), which I test for nitrates every now and then, so that's not the source.  Forgot livestock--one perc, two yellow medium sized tangs, one dwarf coral beauty--that's all!  <Your stocking is reasonable, but your pH is a bit low. I would urge you to check alkalinity (especially if you are adding washing soda). You nitrates are likely a result of two things... since your ammonia and nitrate are being processed in the highly aerobic canister filters, nitrate is being produced away from the live rock.  When the nitrate is produced on/in the live rock, it can be further reduced to nitrogen gas in the anaerobic zones in the rock. You probably have enough rock now to completely take over biological filtration. In any case, such a small amount of nitrate is probably not a problem.> The long term plan/solution is to add a sump/refugium, but until I can figure out how to explain that to my wife, I'm stuck with the canisters.  <The sump/refugium will have many benefits, but in the mean time, keep those canisters squeaky clean! A good rinsing of the media in a small amount of tank water weekly will help a lot. Also, I have found that many expenditures can be (mostly truthfully ;^)) be rationalized to your spouse by explaining that it will save money in lost livestock.> From reading the posts, I think I understand you all agree that weekly--yikes!--changes/cleaning of the foam/pads would help with reducing nitrates. Although I spend time every day with my beloved tank, opening those things once a week (or every other week) isn't going to happen. (See previous comment about wife and add "traipsing water across the living room" and you'll understand why.)  <If you aren't going to maintain them, I would get rid of them or gut the media from them and use them only for water movement. Even when perfectly maintained, they aren't providing you with much benefit and you could sell them for money for more live rock.> So here's my thought: How about just using no foam, poly filters, or pads in the canisters and only leaving the Eheim pre-packaged materials, plastic pot scrubbers, and other "hard" porous materials that I have in there other than foam? Would that reduce the nitrates without losing all the benefits of the filters? (If so, I would like to do half plastic pot scrubbers on top and half the rock-type stuff that is in there now, if that would work.) Then, would 2-3 month cleanings of the rock-stuff/pot scrubbers be adequate? I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Other than the nitrates, everything in the tank seems to be quite happy (including some very full Xenia and a couple of mushrooms). Thank you again for your assistance. Greg  <The nitrates are a result of both the accumulated organic matter and the highly aerobic nature of these filters. The media supplied with these (and plastic "pot scrubbers" make great high surface area, aerobic media. I would maintain them properly or gut them completely of all media.> PS I would like to chime in that Sally Lightfoot crabs, in my opinion, ARE killers. I lost a bunch of damsels and a cardinalfish to one before figuring out what was going on.  PPS Since this is my first question posted, I have to say again, you guys are great!  <I couldn't agree more! In my opinion there are no completely safe crabs (including hermits). Best Regards. AdamC.>

Canister Filter Media - 09/29/05 Hello, <<Howdy>> I have a Fluval 204 canister filter for a marine tank and am wondering what is the best filter media to put in the three baskets.  Also I have a small anemone with one tiny clownfish, would it be alright if I put another clownfish in the tank. <<Hmm... Would help to know a bit more about your tank.  I don't really care for canister filters as most folks tend to plug them in and "forget about 'em."  But that said... If you have live rock in your system and you're not intending the canister for biological filtration, I would say load it up with carbon which you should give a freshwater rinse weekly and change part/all out an a monthly basis.  An alternative would be to use cut-up Poly-Filter...again giving a weekly freshwater rinse and changing out as required.  As for the clown... You could likely add another (again, I don't have enough info on your system), but be aware they don't always "pair up" just because you put two of them together.>> From Sam <<Regards, EricR>> Eheim For Rowaphos   9/4/06 Dear James Hope you are well. <Not bad, thank you.> A further question or two. At the moment I run 2 Eheim filters on my 37g reef tank : 1 mechanical and  1 wet and dry. There would seem to be enough space in the bottom basket of the mechanical filter to add an inch or so of Rowaphos which I would like to use to eliminate phosphate.  Maybe I could mix Rowaphos with the Eheim media, or replace the whole bottom basketful with the Rowaphos. <I'd do the whole basket.> Does this sound like a fair idea and/or would it ruin the efficiency of the filter? <Should be fine.> If you think I should keep the filters as they are (I know you guys are not great fans of Eheim always, <I've never had problems with the Eheim line.> but I am 'afraid' to take them out of action)  are you acquainted with the Deltec MCE600 skimmer which has a space for adding Rowaphos.  Is that a good option perhaps? <If you are not presently using a skimmer, this would be a very good option. Not familiar with Deltec, but understand they are a efficient skimmer.> Many thanks for your time. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> All the best. Peter Hosier

Canister Filter Media/Maintenance - 09/01/06 Hello Crew: <<Good Morning>> Today I purchased an AquaC Remora Skimmer with Maxi-Jet 1200 and the additional pump box online to replace my Prizm. <<A good move>> My tank is a 55 Gallon with a 3-inch DSB, 25lbs of Tufa Rock from my previous Cichlid tank and 10 lbs of Live Rock.  I have a canister Filter that has Carbon, BioSponges, and Floss.  The question I have is what components of the canister should I  remove? <<None...necessarily.  All can be used if rinsed (sponges) or replaced (carbon/floss) on a weekly/bi-weekly basis...though personally, I would replace the sponges/floss with Poly-Filter and rinse weekly until exhausted and then replace>> The Tank currently houses 2 Perc. Clowns, 1 Six line Wrasse, 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Neon Goby, 2 Cleaner Shrimp, 1 Fire Shrimp, various Hermits and Snails and I plan on adding 1 Flame Angel, 1 Watchman Goby, 1 Pistol Shrimp and a Brittle Star or Two.  With more rock should I remove it all together? <<Only if you won't keep up with the maintenance>> I also am setting up my quarantine tank so that I can purchase the Flame Angel and was wondering if the floss from the canister filter would cycle the QT? <<Indeed it will>> Thank you so much for all your help. <<Quite welcome, EricR>>

Canister media   12/16/06 Hello-   First, I want to say "I love your site". All you there are doing a great job.   Second, I want to ask two questions.  My first question is about canister filters. (I do know you are not fond of them) <Only for certain applications... I actually use them on my present two systems (Eheim)... but do need careful, regular maintenance in most marine applications> but I am just starting out and bought a used tank that came with 2 canister filters and Aqua C skimmer. Due to a $$ issue I cannot go with a sump at this time, but will upgrade to one when able to. Anyway, I'm going to use the canisters for now. Can you tell me what you would recommend to use in them? <Mmm, yes... and much of this is posted: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marcanistfltfaqs.htm and the linked files (articles, FAQs) at top> They have so many different medias, pads, carbon and such. <Yes... my best "advice" (what I would use) is from the first water (some filters are top down... most flow bottom up)... something like Ehfi-Mech or Siporax (an everlasting aerobic and anaerobic media... you will just gingerly rinse every cycle... Next, a course then fine mesh-fiber media... e.g. Eheim's Ehfi-Grob and Ehfi-Fein... These also just rinsed weekly... then a unit or two (depending on the size of the canisters themselves) of Chemi-Pure or equivalent... can be home-made with Dacron bags... replaced, switched out every month or so...> I know I should maintain them once a week. <Yes>   My second question is about the skimmer. The tubing that goes from the skimmer to the pump is only about 2 inches long. Again, no sump, so this will be in the tank for now. Can I buy a piece of tubing long enough for the pump to sit on the bottom of the tank behind the rock? <Yes... your LFS, or a large hardware store...> It has a model 3 pump.   I appreciate your response. <Welcome my friend to our ever-wonder full hobby. Bob Fenner>

Re: canister media  12/17/06 Thank you for your quick response. I do appreciate it. You don't mention the use of any filters (fine or course), you would not use them? <Mmm, are mentioned... are the intermediate media by Eheim... made of poly... a one-time purchase...> Lastly, when you mention rinsing, you mean by the tank water not the tap water? <This is best, yes> Again thank you and keep up the good work. Your site is very educational for all. <Thank you for seeking clarification here. Bob Fenner> Re: canister media   12/18/06 I want to apologize for taking your time again. <Hello Unnamed Questioner - Tim answering your question today!> I asked the wrong question in regards to the use of filters. (I later realized.) Can you tell me where to purchase the Ehfi-Grob and Ehfi-Fein? I was unable to find these products anywhere. I have only found Ehfi-Synth, Ehfi-Fix and Ehfi-Substrat (pro). I appreciate your response. <And we appreciate your query. Do a google search for these and any online shops that sell these products are likely to show. Best of luck.> Re: canister media   12/19/06 I do apologize again, but are these the actual names of the products? Ehfi-Grob & Ehfi-Fein? I did a google search for these products and the results are "0" items found. Any links that did come up, I used their search feature and again "No products found." Thank You again. <Mmm, please see here on Eheim's site re: http://eheim.com/filtermedia.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: canister media   12/21/06 I am just writing in regard to the Ehfi-Grob & Ehfi-Fein. After trying to search everywhere, I contacted Eheim. As per Eheim these products were produced many years ago and are now discontinued. <Thank you for this my friend... I was produced many years ago... and have not yet been discontinued... Heeee! They still make similar, the same products, but have changed their names> I also have one more question, do both canisters have to have the same media? <Mmm, no... I find it easier to stack both the same though... We used many Eheim canister filters in our service company's systems (mainly freshwater applications) years back... and did the same with all of them. Bob Fenner> Eheim Canister filter Hi WWMCrew, After reading through the faq's, I'm considering the purchase of a Eheim 2215 canister filter for chemical filtration (using Chemi-pure and poly-filters as media).  I'm a little confused though.  I have live rock for biological filtration, so I don't need the Eheim biological media.  What else do I put in the filter to pack it?   <Mechanical media like Grob and Fein Flocken... their Bio-Mech... in addition to the chemical media you list> Doesn't the filter need to be fully packed? <Mmm, "fully-packed"? The canister does not "need" to be completely filled, or have any given arrangement of types of media inserted in it> I can't just throw in a bag of Chemi-pure and a poly-filter and call it good can I? <Oh, yes... but best to place between (sandwich) two pieces of mechanical media (to keep most of the gunk off of the chemical media)> It I use poly-filters should I cut them into round disks to fit the Eheim? <Can do, or just fold and fit> Also, Eheim makes an activated carbon disk.  Their media is round and fills the entire diameter of the filter (7.3 inches), a bag of pure-pure isn't big enough to cover the entire diameter of the filter.  To me it seems like the Eheim media would be more efficient because there would be less pass through. <In actual practice, no big difference... for many years we (the service co.) would place two units of Chemipure, replace one intermittently> It doesn't seem like pure-pure in this situation would be much better than just placing it in a sump (the water is going to pass around the bag either way). <Better in the canister... with the sandwiching described above> My understanding of the Eheim 2200 series (aka classic series) is that there are no media baskets. There is one large chamber that you pack with media. <Correct> If my goal is to add pure-pure, would I be better off purchasing a filter with media baskets like a Fluval or Eheim Ecco? <My choice is the canister, the Ecco, and Fluval in that order> Thanks for your time and patience, Jeremy <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Going Sleeveless? Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> Thanks for all of your help, I have through trial and error and research got quite a nice looking (in the beginning stages) reef tank going. <Awesome!> First info.  55 gallon reef tank.  Approximately 90 lbs live rock, 3 1/2 inch live sand bed, 4 x 65 watt pc light. CPR BakPak skimmer, 2 Rio 1400, one Rio 800 for circulation and one Fluval 404 with blue filter media and carbon. (all media changed/or cleaned weekly) <That's what I'm talkin' about, baby! Good idea!> Currently have one yellow tang, mandarin goby, coral banded shrimp, and three small corals. Like I said-beginning stages. Change 15 gallons every two weeks, add Str, iodine and calcium (400) Everything seems good water is fine nitrates 10 or less tank has been up for over two years, converted to reef about 1 yr ago. My question is this, I like the idea of having a Fluval for removal of detritus, water movement, as well as just having 2 or so more gallons of water stability, gives me a weekly water change too. When I clean the pads they are always brown to some extent. <Yep- exactly why you should keep changing those pads weekly or more often, folks! Those pads do a great job at trapping detritus and organic matter...But if it stays in the tank, it can begin to degrade water quality and increase nitrate levels, etc> Is it worth keeping for just those reasons or would you just add a CPR refugium with PolyFilter/carbon and get rid of it completely. Money isn't that tight, but I am gonna get refugium anyway so one less outlet and one more free power outlet would be nice. <I can relate to that! I like natural systems, and like the idea of using the refugium or sump as a "settling area" for detritus and processing of organic nutrients. Once again, I see no harm in mechanical filtration as long as the media is serviced regularly. The only real hang up I have about mechanical filtration is that most of us tend to neglect the service aspect...> But I do see detritus in filter weekly, if I keep changing it weekly, will that keep nitrates from growing there? <It will help...You may want to experiment without the mechanical filtration and see what your live rock and (deep) sand bed do with nitrate levels. Also- consider more frequent (2 times a week) 5% tank volume water changes...that will help dilute nitrates before they can even build up> There are many schools of thought on canister filters yeah or nay, but I am all for getting rid of another piece of machinery/chore if not worth using.  How about just running it empty for extra water stability, current. <Yes...but if you're looking for current, better served by using that outlet for an external top-mount pump, like a Gemini or a Tunze...those pumps rock!> I know I am splitting hairs here, but I believe in optimizing my resources. If getting another skimmer would do the same thing I am all for it. <Two skimmers is good, but one well-tuned, properly maintained skimmer should do it> One more thing, I have seen those small Fluval filters that go inside the tank. Could I just run one of those a week a month for my carbon? If so how much carbon do you recommend using, so I know which one to buy? <I run carbon continuously on a passive basis in my sump (in mesh bags), about 4-6 oz.s, and rotate them out every other week, along with Poly Filter...I'd rather do that than have an ugly internal filter in the tank (at least that's my thinking). I like Seachem Matrix carbon, but there are lots of good brands out there. Just look for a phosphate free brand with good quality reputation.> Thanks for your help in any way. <Any time. Have fun with your system! Regards, Scott F>

Media Replacement And Skimmer Choices? Gracias sir! <No problem!> "Do a little research on the WWM site about these fishes" I'm in there now...digging ;).  As far as the foam media in both the H.O.T. and Fluval is once a month "regular", I see that everyone pretty much agrees on once a month for the carbon but could the same be said for the foam media as well? <Good question! I really like to get in the habit of weekly cleanings on these sponges. You will be amazed at the amount of yucky stuff that accumulates in 'em after just a few days, then breaks down. It's a bit of a pain to change them so often- but a great habit!> As far as the skimmer is concerned I looked at my tank today and then looked at the skimmer and said to myself "hmmmm that thing is a bit small isn't it" but if I can get my $75 out of it for a while and upgrade in the future I think that's probably what I'll do. Thanx again. Kevin <Well, Kevin- you could nurse along a second-rate skimmer for a while...But if it were me- I'd curse and kick and scream and then buy a better skimmer from the start...Better off in the long run, IMO! Good luck! Scott F>

Isolation tank biological filtration 12/17/03 Hi Folks, <Hi Andrew!> My 100l isolation tank is biologically filtered by an Eheim canister containing their recommended biological media. The water quality in the tank is very good except nitrate which is often 60 to 80mg/l before the 25% weekly water change (using RO water). I am looking for a solution to reduce the nitrate down considerably. <A worthy goal!  I will discuss options below, but would suggest that an ideal isolation (quarantine) tank should not have any input to generate nitrate.> My LFS is adamant that the high nitrate levels negate the benefit of an isolation tank, he argues it would be better to introduce the fish directly into main tank to benefit immediately from the excellent water quality. While I do not agree with this view (I will always isolate before introducing new fish), I do understand where he is coming from. Therefore I would like to make the isolation tank water as good as possible. <First of all, your LFS is missing the point.  The isolation isn't just to benefit the incoming fish, but IMO, equally or more to protect those you already have.> I am considering replacing the Eheim biological media with live rock. I propose placing the live rock actually in the canister itself, so that it benefits from a good water flow. I would make the transition slowly, to give each bit of live rock time to get up to full biological capacity before removing all the Eheim media. <I would suggest against live rock in an isolation tank.  If you add medications, they may be absorbed into the rock reducing their effectiveness.  The porous nature of the rock can also harbor pests and parasites> The key to this strategy is that I am not interested in the critters that live within the live rock, I am purely interested in the rock acting as a host for bacteria (for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate removal). <I agree with your philosophy here, but not the strategy. Most folks would suggest that you accomplish the biological filtration with synthetic media.  Air driven sponge filters work marvelously for this purpose.  After use, they can be removed from the quarantine tank and washed, boiled, bleached, whatever.  Once appropriately cleaned, they can be kept in the sump of your display to re-establish the biological filtration potential.> Now the worst case scenario - I have to treat a fish in the isolation tank with copper. This would finish off any critters in the live rock and no doubt temporarily reduce the bacterial effectiveness (as it would the Eheim media). After the treatment I assume the rock would recover full biological capacity, in the same way the Eheim media would - or is this assumption flawed? Perhaps the rock would absorb the copper more than the Eheim media, slowly releasing it back into the system, therefore delaying the bacteria re-establishment? Perhaps the fact that the Eheim media is not porous is a key to its success - quick recovery after copper treatment? <I am quite sure that the Eheim media is very porous.  The large surface area created by the porosity is what makes it an effective biological media.  I don't  know if it is any more or less likely than live rock to absorb medications, but IMO the point is moot.  A basic quarantine system should not contain any porous materials at all.  A bare bottom tank with a couple of pieces of PVC pipe for hiding places and a sponge filter are all that are necessary.  This allows for the siphoning of the bottom (where parasites and wastes will settle), and no worries about reducing the effectiveness of medications.> The alternative is to place the live rock in the isolation tank itself, and remove it temporarily whenever copper is applied. But this is not really going to work. I would have to run the Eheim media constantly, even when not treating with copper, so that it can "take the load" on the occasions the live rock is removed due to treatment. Therefore the canister will be generating nitrate more quickly than a few pieces of live rock can deal with it in the isolation tank. I know this doesn't work because my main tank had this arrangement, and even a large mass of live rock could not keep up with the nitrate generated from a canister. It was only when I totally removed the canister biological media that the live rock eliminated nitrate from the main system completely. <Your observations are right on.  Nitrate will accumulate when an ultra efficient, highly aerobic nitrifying media is present (your canister or bio balls for example).  When nitrification occurs in a substrate that also supports de-nitrification (live rock), de-nitrification is much more efficient.  Again, these are moot points.  To ensure that your isolation/quarantine tank achieves it's goal of being a place to identify and treat any diseases on incoming fish and prevent their spread to your display, I would recommend draining, bleaching and drying the quarantine system after every use.  Most aquarists leave such systems dry until they are needed and only keep a sponge filter "seeded" in the sump of their display.> In short, do you think my idea of live rock in the canister is wise for my isolation tank? <In short, no.  Porous media have too many disadvantages and no real advantages for the relatively short period of time that fish should be kept in isolation/quarantine.> As always, thank you for your trusted advice. <As always it's a pleasure!  Adam> Andrew Senior

Can I put crushed coral in my canister filter? Dear WWM Crew, << Blundell here. >>   Is there any benefit in using crushed coral as a filter media? << I think so.  It provides great surface area. >> Will that have any positive impact on pH or alkalinity? << I don't really see how it will, but it can't hurt. >> I've been using a H.O.T magnum filter as a mechanical filter/water polisher with the micron cartridge. This task will now be performed by an Eheim 2213 canister filter with nylon wool stuff. That leaves the magnum without a job -I have an Eheim 2227 wet/dry for the biological filtration. Rather than running the Magnum empty, I was thinking of filling it with crushed coral, so as to slow down the erosion of my DSB. << I've thought of this before, but can't really see how it will be dissolving.  However, there really aren't any reasons not to. >> Can I use crushed coral/dolomite or some sort of media meant for a calcium reactor? Thank You, Narayan <<  Blundell  >> PS. Adam, my QT has been running for a week now. I'm ready to get a cleaner goby now.. Thanks..

Concerns with adding crushed coral to a canister filter.7/29/04 You guys know your stuff and I hate to criticize, but I think this response was off. At the very least a caveat about possibly damaging the motor of the filter should have been offered (as small pieces of coral are likely to break loose). << That is a good point, that I overlooked.  There are possible problems with this idea.  I should also mention that I do have canister filter with crushed coral in it, but I don't use it anymore.  I do still use my BioWheel filter, and I pulled out the filter pads and filled that space with sand and rubble rock.  On occasion, the sand will get in the impeller area and get plugged up.  But it isn't that difficult to get going again.  So there definitely are risks to consider, but overall I like the idea of extra surface area in the areas of high water flow. Thanks for the email. >> L<<  Blundell  >><RMF is in total agreement>

Media for my Fluval Hello again, I have 2 Fluval 304's for my 50 gallon tank. They are set up as follows: Fluval 1=  Top compartment Kent Nitrate sponge/ Empty Middle Compartment Bio-max/ Bio-max Bottom Compartment Charcoal/ Bio-max Fluval 2=  Top compartment Bio-max/ Bio-max Middle Compartment Bio-max/ Bio-max Bottom Compartment Charcoal/ Bio-max I rinse the Bio-max every 3 months and replace 1/2 of it at 6 month intervals.  I replace the charcoal monthly.  I replace 1/2 of the nitrate sponge every 2 or 3 months. Is there a better suggestion for my Fluvals? I would appreciate your input. <I would substitute the carbon with Chemi-pure. It's much much better than carbon and has an extremely low phosphate content. Regular carbon will leach phosphates. James (Salty Dog)> 

Canister filters <Lorenzo Gonzalez here, pretending to be Bob Fenner, who's in Asia at the moment> I first have to thank you guys for all of the great and up-to-date info you provide, as we all know that in this hobby the current methods are always changing. I have decided to go with a protein skimmer and live rock set up for my 72 gallon fish only set up, along with a sizable homemade sump with more live rock and Caulerpa.  <Sounds great so far.> My question regards carbon. I have an old Eheim 2213 (do you remember the output on these?) that I plan on using with Eheim media and one Chemi-pure run for just one week a month. Does that sound okay?  <Yes, it sounds like a decent idea.> Can I just use an Aquaclear hanging in my sump with just the carbon?  <Sure. I do that.> Also, would Ehfisynth filter wadding be a good addition, along with Grob and Ehfimech, or would this add to nitrate build-up? Does the one week a month sound good on the carbon? <If you think you'll have some rather messy fish, the additional bio-mech might not hurt. And a little nitrate in a FOWLR tank isn't the end of the world, as long as it doesn't spike. As for carbon, I just run it all the time, though that's really not necessary in most balanced setups. But my water is ALWAYS crystal clear, and springtime-fresh smelling! The thing with an Eheim bio-mech setup, in my experience, is to be careful to NEVER rinse out all the media at any one sitting. Keep some of the media 'seeded' to re-start the filter after your regular maintenance.> Thanks ahead of time... John <No problem. -Lorenzo>

Set up questions Hello Robert, I have emailed you before and YES I am still in the setup process ;) I have been using your forums and for the most part I am very satisfied. <Hopefully worth the cost, time> I still want to run my setup by you just to be safe. I am setting up a marine aquarium with live sand and live rock. At first there will be no coral but I may consider it depending on how successful I am. The equipment that I have purchased is as follows: 1) 55 Gal rectangular tank made by Top Fin (Manufactured by Perfecto??) <Hmm, contact them: http://www.perfectomfg.com/, think this is a Hagen brand> 2) Ehiem 2026 Pro II Filter Media: (1) Ehfi Mech (2) Ehfi Substrat (1) Pad and Pillow set (1) 3 Pak carbon pads 3)Bak-Pak 2 protein Skimmer 4)Maxi-Jet Powerhead 1200 5) Looking into JBJ lighting. 4 (55w)=220W Two daylight and two blue. <Keep looking... these units have/had troubles...> Here are my questions: a) Which media should I use with the canister filter for my type of system? Everything it came with or just the carbon pad? Eheim's directions are not clear on this. <Likely to discount confusion... I would use all those listed... the Ehfimech on the bottom, the carbon above it between layers of "Fein"... replace/renew the carbon about once a month> b) I bought the Bak Pak2 and not the Bak Pak 2R? The Bak Pak2 comes with BioBale and is not intended for a reef system. Will the Bio Bale in the Bak Pak2 be beneficial or harmful for my type of system? <Beneficial for a few months... then I'd pull it. We can talk about this later when the information is more relevant> c) Is RO deionized water necessary? Can I just use my tap water? <Likely your tap is fine. Do you drink it? No worries. We use tap with our systems> d) Is there any additional equipment that I should consider purchasing? <At this point? Test kits? Cleaning gear? I'd just "jump in" at this juncture. Bob Fenner> Thanks again -RK

Eheim for a reef tank? Hi, Welcome back and hope you don't mind two questions in one day! We corresponded a while back when I was gathering up gear for my first reef and I decided on an Eheim in addition to LR, and CPR skimmer in my sump-less 46 gallon. It provides great circulation, but as I'm learning more, I'm getting confused since many people seem to advise against canister filters on the grounds that they could filter out helpful tiny critters.  <A valid concern... depending on size, flow rate, what the canister is packed with... for how large, system's occupants...> I could always remove some of the pads and just use the beads and substrate.  <Ah yes> A side question is whether to turn off filters in a small tank like mine while feeding. If I were to run the Eheim intermittently is there a risk of poisoning the system with results of anaerobic metabolism/ how long does that take? Double thanks!! <Good questions. A timer to cycle off mechanical filters during feeding is often a good idea (don't rely on your, my memory... where was I? Oh... takes about an hour or two for most canister situations to begin to have/cause trouble. Hence the advice to lower water level in them (replacing with air) during transit, long shut down periods. Bob Fenner>

Canister filter question Dear Bob, <You got Steven pro today.> I love your website, it has been a great help in learning how to set up my saltwater tank. My tank has been going for about six months. It is a 12 gallon tank (one of the ones from Eclipse) that I have taken the hood off of and put a power compact light and a glass top for better lighting on. I have about 18-20lbs of live rock and about an inch of live sand as a substrate. I wanted to add a protein skimmer so I bought the Prizm skimmer as I read on your site that it was a good one for a small tank. I have a few polyps and one medium mushroom. I also have two clown fish that are fairly small. My levels are pretty good pH 8.1, nitrite 0, nitrate 10, ammonia 0, alkalinity 4meq/l, KH 12 and I add the standard trace elements Kalkwasser, strontium, coral vital, iodine. My question is that now that I have the protein skimmer I have to get rid of my filter that was hanging off the back of the tank because I have run out of room. A friend of mine said he would give me his Eheim professional II 2026 and all I would need to do is buy the substrate for the inside. This is a good canister filter that would solve my space problem, but is it too much for my small tank? In the next year I would like to move my small tank into a larger tank (probably a 30 or 50 gallon) so I thought this would be a good filter to grow with. Next question, should I use all of the recommended substrates (Ehfisubstrat, Ehfimech, 3pads) so that it becomes a biological filter in addition to my live rock? I asked at a store and they said that usually in a small tank you would change the pads every 2 months and every 6 months you should rinse the substrates in salt water. He said that it was okay to let most of your bacteria go to the filter and that in the end this would be beneficial for the tank. Does this all sound correct to you? <I have a suggestion for you that is going to sound weird, but it is what I would do. I would get the Eheim and not put any media in it. Your 12 gallon tank is pretty small to start with. Once you added the rock and sand, it probably only has about 8 gallons of water in it. You are not thinking of adding any more fish than your two clowns, are you? I would use the Eheim for additional circulation (~250 gph) and water holding capacity (maybe a gallon). Your rock and sand will provide you with enough bacterial surface area for your two fish.> Thanks for your help. -Pete <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Questions about Cleaning Canister Filter Media JasonC, <<Greetings.>> Hey it looks like the maintenance section of fresh/salt water filter cleaning go to the same page. <<interesting>> What's interesting is I understood it you're never supposed to clean your bio-load balls or ceramic cylinders. It doesn't mention to clean them but I just wanted to confirm. <<you could RINSE them every so often [every six months or so] in clean salt water, just to remove silt/mulm but you wouldn't want to scrub or bleach them or rinse in fresh water.>> In my canister filter I have a small white pre-filter followed by my copper bag. <<copper bag? You mean carbon I hope...>> then a separator and my ceramic cylinders for bio load and then a thick black filter. Is it true all of these items can be cleaned except for the ceramic as bacteria is growing on them necessary to break down ammonia/nitrites? <<and filter pads should be cleaned, bleached, scrubbed, etc.>> Do you suggest not cleaning them all at the same time as some bacteria is growing on these items and this would not have a huge drop in bacteria population? <<you should always clean [or replace if necessary] filter pads, and if you are on a regular cycle with this [say every week] then the bacteria will never really have a chance to populate the filter pads.>> thanks for the help! <<You are quite welcome - Cheers, J -- >>

Nitrate/Eheim Questions Hi, hope you're all well...I'd like to clarify something I'm unclear on even after pouring over the FAQ's on nitrates/denitrification. I recently pulled the Media Ehfisubstrat &Ehfimech) from the Eheim canister in my 46 reef. the reason would be too tedious to go into; it started with comments from Eric B. on another BB re: a xenia crash and many Q&A's with you guys). <I do remember vaguely.> I don't know if it's causal or coincidental, but it seems like my nitrates are higher since then (10-20 with crude dipstick tests-I'm about to order a Salifert kit). Do these two media support enough anaerobic bacteria to help with denitrification, <No, would be strictly aerobic bacteria in a canister filter.><<Mmm, depends on media... flow rate... RMF>> and if so, would one or the other of them be better? The directions are unclear on the function of the mech-they say something about ensuring an even flow of h2o thru the filter. My other parameters are all right on and the nitrates used to be zero also. The tank is running for six months with a low fish load <It probably just took this long to accumulate the nitrates.> two cardinals and two Banggais; also 4LPS and several softies, 2 shrimp, assorted hermits and snails. All seem fine except the bubble isn't inflated as often/fully as it used to be and is a dirty brown color instead of pure white (I feed it shrimp regularly). <The change in color is probably a good thing. Poor white indicates a lack of symbiotic algae/zooxanthellae. Many LPS pan and expand a lot when under lit. Many folks confuse this over inflated tissue with growth. The feeding probably sustained it until its zooxanthellae could recover.> I have a borderline substrate: a scant 3" in some places and 3 1/2 in others--hard to tell because a huge proportion of the floor is covered with 70# LR. Am I right to assume that adding depth to the small part of the floor that's accessible would only help a little? <Yes, of minor help. Better to have a uniform depth of 4-6".> I'm doing 10% h20 changes about 2-3x/month since the nitrates rose; was a little lax till then, I confess. <Again, probably why you are now beginning to seen increases in nitrates.> I have no sump and no room/desire for one since I have no built-in overflow. There is one large (5-6") clump of Halimeda which I could trim less; it would fill the tank if I let it! <A overall good indicator of proper calcium and alkalinity levels. In this case, also a sign of higher nutrients.> I'm feed frozen Mysis once/day, pretty moderately, I think. I'd appreciate your ideas on whether to replace the Eheim media, and whether to stick with the original set-up, i.e. one basket each of the mech and the substrate, use Siporax instead, just substrate, etc? <I would go with things as they are now. Increase the sand if possible, make sure you are getting good skimmate, and things should come back into line.> Thanks for all your help; I'd never have gotten into this hobby/survived without it! <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Deep Sand Footprint Hello all, <cheers> Let me thank you in advance for your helpful thoughts. This site is a tremendous resource for anyone with an aquarium and an internet connection. <thank you... please share/advise other aquarists of this site too <G>> I was wondering if any of you had ever heard of someone replacing the media in a canister filter with a layer of deep sand (with a screen or snug-fitting filter pad to prevent sand from getting sucked through the pump).  <a staggeringly horrible idea. Slap whoever suggested it to you with the mucus cocoon of a parrotfish> Could this have any of the benefits of a deep sand bed, with good water flow across such a small area, or do you suspect that the water flow would prevent the sand from becoming sufficiently anaerobic?  <can't even begin to tell you how this would not work...er, OK... I'll begin: too small indeed to become anoxic/denitrifying, too small to do anything measurably helpful even if it worked, an impediment to the flow of water through the canister in taxing manner unlike which it was designed for, inevitable damage to impeller/housing from inevitable grains of sand...hmmm... more items of suckiness if I think further than off the cuff> If you think that the sand would be too aerobic, would really deep sand help this? <not recommended> Thanks again, John Sanders <best regards, my friend. Anthony Calfo>

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