Tom's (Rapid's) mini canister filter
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Old 01-20-2013, 03:39 PM   #1
SouthernGorilla
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Tom's (Rapid's) mini canister filter


I've seen several old threads around here about this particular filter. And several more asking whether it would work on a particular tank. Since ours has been up and running for an entire day I figured I'd add my experience to the mix.

First and foremost I want to agree with all the other posts I've read; the stock hoses are absolute junk. I really wish aquarium product manufacturers would just use standard size fittings so we could use regular PVC or silicone hose to connect things. The corrugated hoses supplied with this filter make it unnecessarily difficult to position the intake and spraybar.

Because our tank was such a mess (we've been running filterless) I had to service the filter this morning after just one night's running. And again the other posters have been correct; this filter is a PITA to service. You have to lift it out of its cradle to get it above the water level and disconnect the hoses while trying not to spill water everywhere. But you will spill water. I've also had to use pliers to open the fill cap to prime the filter after servicing. Reconnecting the hoses to the filter housing is also a pain.

At first I was disappointed by the layout of the filter. The pump is on the return line after the media compartments. So the water only has the force of the siphon from the tank to move it through the media. I wasn't convinced this would allow for decent mechanical filtration. And mechanical filtration was the entire motivation behind the purchase. Our tank didn't need biological filtration. The plants have kept the ammonia and nitrites at or near zero.

I solved this problem with some spare parts from previous experiments. The sponge from a small sponge filter fit perfectly over the pump intake tube. I wrapped a layer of blue/white filter pad around the sponge as well.

The small divider in the housing didn't really do anything except take up space. So I pulled it out to make room for a large pouch of API Nitra-Zorb.

Basically this system works out exactly like an HOB overflow sump with a sponge pre-filter on the return pump. I think it's a stretch to call it a canister filter. Yes, it is an enclosed system. But functionally it is identical to a sump. A true canister filter is a pressurized system that functions more or less identically to a pool filter system. The Tom's "canister" is not pressurized except for the return line.

Despite what it may seem from what I've written above, I am not disappointed in the filter. Yes, it needs some tweaks to make it work properly. But it really can be made to work. Our tank looks amazing after just one day. The pump produces enough current in this ten-gallon to annoy the betta. But it isn't nearly as much current as the Penguin 150 HOB filter we tried before. And this filter works better than the Penguin did. I think the Tom's filter is decent value for the money. I think it does a fine job on this size tank. I am even considering buying another for the twenty-gallon we are starting to build.

In case anybody needs to know, our tank has one betta, three cories, two otos, three apple snails, and a handful of ghost shrimp. It's planted with anubias congensis, alternanthera reineckii, eleocharis parvula, bacopa carolinia, a nymphoides aquatica/cordata, a couple moss balls, and a bunch of anacharis. It's pretty overstocked and heavily planted for a ten gallon tank. So I'm really impressed with both the filter and the Nitra-Zorb.

I will post pictures later to clarify what I've done.
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:14 PM   #2
blink
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Just a thought but all the aquarium canister filters I've ever seen work the same way, water is drawn in by siphon and flows through the filter via gravity and/or displacement from the siphon then goes into the pump for the return trip back to the tank.

The only canister filter I can think of that MIGHT work by pumping water IN is the API canister. I seem to recall that filter having it's pump inside the tank, but I don't remember if it's on the intake or the outflow.
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:06 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blink View Post
Just a thought but all the aquarium canister filters I've ever seen work the same way, water is drawn in by siphon and flows through the filter via gravity and/or displacement from the siphon then goes into the pump for the return trip back to the tank.

The only canister filter I can think of that MIGHT work by pumping water IN is the API canister. I seem to recall that filter having it's pump inside the tank, but I don't remember if it's on the intake or the outflow.
Interesting. I had always thought the bigger models worked the right way. Since that's not the case I guess I'll stick with my original plan for the twenty gallon tank. I want to build the filter system like a scaled-down pool filter. That way I can backwash the filter to clean it and lower the water level for a water change simultaneously.

For those who haven't seen one in person, here's the underside of the Tom's filter body.

Untitled by SouthernGorilla

And with the foam installed on the pump intake.

Untitled by SouthernGorilla

The complete assembly with the foam and mesh on the left and the Nitra-Zorb pouch on the right.

Untitled by SouthernGorilla

The unit installed on the back of the tank. I've already replaced the return line with regular hose. The difference that made in the flow is incredible. Future plans call for a complete switch to PVC or nylon.

Untitled by SouthernGorilla
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:24 PM   #4
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Now that the filter has been running for almost two weeks I wanted to update the thread.

The simplest, neatest way I've found to service the filter is to pull the intake and spraybar out of the tank while leaving them connected to the filter. If you're careful you can remove everything without spilling any water. If you try to disconnect the hoses to avoid removing the lines from the tank you will definitely spill water. This is the difficult part of the process. Once the filter is removed it is a breeze to open and clean.

Finding a simple way to service the filter was essential because it needs to be serviced rather often. The heavy load of debris produced by a planted tank clogs the sponge in just a couple days. I need to clean it at least twice a week to keep it flowing. If I forget, the pump sits there running without circulating any water.

I still like this filter. Design flaws aside, it does the job. It's just not suited to be the primary mechanical filter on a heavily planted tank. It would be perfect for a bare quarantine tank or running in a sump as a chemical/biological filter. But I would not use it again on a regular tank.

It is tempting to think it might work on a smaller tank. But then I'd be worried about the current it creates. It creates enough current in our ten-gallon tank to annoy our betta. In a smaller tank it would be even worse. Although that might be just what some fish want.

To sum up; if you use this filter on a ten-gallon or bigger planted tank be prepared to clean it every two to three days. If you just want to add biological/chemical filtration to a tank, throw a pre-filter on the inlet and you'll be fine. I would not hesitate to use this filter again. I'd just make sure I used it within it's limits.
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:24 PM   #5
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Nice update. I also have this model and enjoyed your mods.

What size vinyl hose did you use as a replacement? I couldn't find a size that fit both the top of the filter and the spraybar or intake strainer.
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deeda View Post
Nice update. I also have this model and enjoyed your mods.

What size vinyl hose did you use as a replacement? I couldn't find a size that fit both the top of the filter and the spraybar or intake strainer.
I think the hose is 1/2". It came with the gravel vac that was with the twenty-gallon tank we "inherited". It doesn't fit the top of the filter as well as I would like. I think at some point I'll end up getting rid of the stock fittings on the filter and using ordinary barbs from the hardware store. Especially after the trouble I had this last servicing getting the pump to catch prime again. The stock flex hose is junk.

I also ended up removing the sponge from the pump inlet. Somehow it had gotten so restrictive that it wouldn't let the pump move sufficient water. Instead I just wrapped the blue/white foam into a spiral with the inlet tube stuck down the center. Now I have enough flow to keep the bamboo shrimp happy in the current.
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