Powerhead with a sponge attached would be fine. In fact, that is my sole filtration in my 55 gallon. Does fantastic. In a way, I think I like it better than the HMF as it's easier to hide, clean, and is less obtrusive. But the wall of foam is growing on me.
Here is the long overdue update. Because of stupidity and not dipping plants, I've had a plethora of critters in this tank.
And icky detritus worms. I did a dewormer in the tank and it killed all but two of my CRS and the hydra. The worms and snails are unphased. Not happy.
But! The tank looks fabulous. It went from this:
The UG is monstrous. I believe this is from baby worms. The individual strands are super wide and all bubbly with bladders. I rather like it. I decided to remove all the hairgrass on the right side and replace it with more UG.
Sadly, with all the snails, the algae wall is completely destroyed with only a tuft here and there. Who said pond snails don't eat algae never microscoped their poo.
They are algae eating machines. I suspect that is why there is an enormous explosion in population.
Rotalas galore, green macranda, colorata, and something else maybe gai lai?
Love the top shots!
This is all down with very little co2. The drop checker with 4 dkh solution is a solid blue, I suspect that I could remove it with little to no effect. The plants are doing fairly well except the ones in the back left corner. I suspect this is a combination of two things. This is a very difficult plant and it needs a lot of co2 and also, there is not enough flow in this corner making it harder for it to get it's needs. This is completely fertilized with DIY root tabs and on a monthly basis, I through in a little fertilizer for good measure, mostly potassium and nitrates. Minimum work is down on this tank although the rotala is desperately needing a trim. On a random note, UG has attached itself to the top of the wall and is draping down like ivy. It's quite pleasing to the eye. I'll try to get a picture soon. In addition, moss is attaching itself to the wall in place of the algae. It's very pretty as well.
Everything! Easy to maintain (zero maintenance on filter so far), equipment hides easily, brilliant filtration.
DIY required, critters ate my algae. Jerks.
But that last one isn't the fault of the HMF, it's mine for not dipping plants.