I have several nano tanks that all use the Tom's C80 Mini Canister filter. It's very inexpensive and very easy to customize to your needs. Here's the typical setup I use that seems to work very well.
Media and Canister Filter Setup:
- I toss out all the media that comes with the unit.
- The canister has two compartments.
- In the first compartment (where the water comes in) I put Seachem's Matrix biological media in there. On a new tank setup I substitute some of the Matrix for some Aqua Chargers pre-colonized media for about 2 weeks to jump start the cycling time. After that time I replace it with more Matrix.
- In the second compartment I put one of Seachem's bag of Purigen and then just plain old filter floss as the final filter media. I wrap the floss around the intake pipe from the filter pump. I believe in the idea of removing carbon completely from the filter since some people say it removes trace elements that planted aquariums need. The Purigen seems to satisfy the chemical filtration needs for me (clear water, removes any odors).
- The hoses are pretty lame that come with the unit, and are also too short to use if you want to put the filter out of sight.
- I create a versatile, easy to use plumbing setup that also makes maintenance very easy.
- First I cut a short section of 3/8" ID tubing.
- Then I use a barb adapter to convert the 3/8" to 1/2" ID.
- From there I use a short piece of 1/2" ID tubing to connect the adapter to one end of a Magnum quick disconnect unit.
- The other end of the disconnect unit has the valve and then connects with standard 1/2" tubing to the filter pipe.
This makes service and cleaning easy, just close the valves on the quick disconnects and twist to remove. The water will stay put in the piping if you need to service the filter.
For the filter pipes, 90% of my tanks have the Cal-Aqua filter pipe set. I like it quite a bit, they are easy to clean (the ADA pipes sometimes have an additional bend in the glass that makes brush work very difficult) and work very well. Also they are about half the price of the ADA equivalent.
In case you're interested, here's the approximate pricing for this setup:
- C-80 filter is about $30 - $40
- Vinyl tubing and barb adapters, about $5 - $10
- Magnum quick disconnects - about $15 for a pair (single valve type)
- Cal Aqua filter pipe set - $65 from Green Leaf Aquariums
- Matrix media - Comes in a big jar that will fill a few filters
- Purigen - 100ml sealed bag, ready to go as it is - about $8
- Filter floss - cheap
- The Aqua Chargers stuff is sold in a small jar - about $8
I also love Eheim, so if you want to spend just a little bit more get the ECCO 2232 unit, it works very well with small tanks because you can slow down the flow rate on the filter and you can use the same Cal Aqua glassware if you like. You can find the 2232 units for about $80.
I can post photos of these things if people are interested.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this helps!