Honey, I shrunk the FX -or- Modding the Oddysea CFS 500
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:02 AM   #1
Wasserpest
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Honey, I shrunk the FX -or- Modding the Oddysea CFS 500


After reading OS's review here I knew I had to get me one of these babies to tinker around with.

While it is a pretty good filter for the money, there are two basic design flaws. One of them, oversized O-rings, has been covered extensively, and is overcome easily, see link above.

The second becomes obvious when you look at how water flows through the filter media (a black and a white sponge in my case). The water enters on top, and is sucked out by the pump via a strainer that is sitting in the center of the canister housing. That means that only roughly the upper half of the filter media is actually being used. (Some slightly different models don't have the black bottom sponge and come with bioballs instead). This is exaggerated by the plastic strainer which is closed on the bottom and therefore prevents the pump from sucking water from the lower filter media.

This brings us to Modification #1.

One approach is to redirect the pump inlet towards the bottom of the filter, so that water passes through all media before leaving the filter. This works, but a better approach might be the one described by Gunner here and at the link mentioned above. By allowing the water to pass down between the surface of the sponge and the canister wall the surface of the media is greatly increased, which is a good thing.

Since I didn't feel like cutting up the whole sponge, I went a slightly different route.



On the bottom of the filter, I added some "Snap Over Rollers" that I had bought years ago in the $ Store just for that purpose. They will help to keep some space between the bottom of the filter and the lower sponge while not impeding flow.



Next, I made some cuts into both sponges, to allow some of the water to pass through to the bottom and being pulled through the lower black sponge.



Elastic sponges might close the newly cut channels over time, so I used some more of the handy Snap Rollers to prevent that from happening.



Finally, I cut off the bottom of the strainer which prevented water from the lower filter regions to be sucked in by the impeller. I put the strainer back to keep the white sponge in good shape.

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Old 12-23-2010, 12:07 AM   #2
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As I mentioned in the review thread, the green ribbed hoses seem very thin and brittle. They might last a good while, but with a new hardwood floor and 250 gal of water I am not going to risk it.

I found some other tubing (sold for pond filters I believe) which is somewhat flexible, correct size, and near bullet proof.



Ignore the other connections for now... I needed to go to smaller tubing for testing purposes. If it all works out, I am going to use the large diameter tubing for the whole setup.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:07 AM   #3
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With the pump sitting at the bottom of the canister, there is a possibility that "air" (oxygen) collects inside and results in some gargling noisiness. While the filter can be turned off to purge air inside, this can get old quickly.

Also, I would like to use this as a big giant CO2 reactor as well, which compounds the issues.



So... I added a little piece of tubing which reaches down near the impeller, and sucks any accumulating gas from the top of the canister.

Works great. I am probably going to add another coarse sponge on top of the white sponge to distribute flow and catch larger debris.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:42 AM   #4
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Perfectly!!

Very nice job on the modifications. I was trying to figure out what Snap Over Rollers were until I saw the pics. I guess you won't be curling any hair any time soon.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:49 AM   #5
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Nope, no more curlz.

Actually I bought them a long time ago when I was experimenting with spraybars and strainers and stuff. I knew a day would arrive when they'd come in handy.
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Old 12-25-2010, 11:53 PM   #6
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I'm curious about the tubing to suck up the air that might accumulate at the top. I'm using mine as a CO2 reactor as well (i've modded the inside differently, but that's not really relevant). And yes, there is some "splashy" noise because there's air inside...but why exactly do you want to suck it out? The point of the "air", the CO2 in both our cases, being there is to eventually be dissolved into the water (I've never figured this out, but in all my reactors, they accumulate CO2 during the day, and lose it during the night...I'm guessing because during the day the tank produces oxygen and with more dissolved gas in the water, the less the water absorbes the CO2.?). Anyway. Yes there is some noise, but why would you want to suck out the CO2 since you put it there for a reason....
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Old 12-26-2010, 01:18 AM   #7
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Great write up Wasser. I have yet to mod mine at all, mostly because it has been doing its job... I haven't cleaned it in a month, either.

This is certainly more appealing to me than chopping the heck out of the sponges.

The purpose of the hose is to eliminate that nasty gargling sound. My aquarium is something to be seen, not heard... Or so my wife tells me. Much similar to what she say about me.
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Old 12-26-2010, 05:53 PM   #8
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Pixi - the problem with the gas accumulation is that it isn't CO2. CO2 itself becomes dissolved very quickly, but in a lower-than-regular pressure environment like the canister filter air (O2) tends to pearl out of solution. That's the stuff that takes time to dissolve. Some of us have that issue where canister filters get a bit noisy in the afternoons, because by then O2 levels are up high near saturation, causing the issue. Over night it dissolves, and in the morning things are quiet again.

I see your point about wanting to keep the CO2 in there to dissolve it. In reality though, a bubble travels all the way through the inlet tubing, swirls around a bit in the canister, gets picked up by the tube and when it hits the impeller, it is already pretty much gone. So we still have 100% dissolving, but no accumulating gas and related noise.
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Old 12-26-2010, 06:40 PM   #9
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well ok...if it isn't CO2, then yeah i can see why you'd want to suck it out....but i'm pretty sure it is CO2 since you said you're sending it into filter.

That said, isn't that filter freaking awesome? It's a giant bucket you can put what ever you want into. Sorta like an Ehiem Classic only with 5x the water flow. It's the DIY Canister I've tried to make except it doesn't leak It's all kinds of awesome for people that like to fool around with their equipment.
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Old 12-26-2010, 08:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smackpixi View Post
well ok...if it isn't CO2, then yeah i can see why you'd want to suck it out....but i'm pretty sure it is CO2 since you said you're sending it into filter.
That's the logical assumption. However, some filters do the same thing even if no CO2 is bubbled into them. Believe me, CO2 dissolves astonishingly quick in H2O. You can test this by shaking a plastic bottle filled with water and CO2, vs water and air.

And I agree, for the money this filter is great. Remains to be seen for how long it holds up.
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Old 12-31-2010, 09:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
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And I agree, for the money this filter is great. Remains to be seen for how long it holds up.
One of the best aspects of this filter is that you could replace the pump if it should degrade or fail. Can use any submersable pump in it's place, will have to cut out the slots that hold it, but not much of a challenge.

I base my assumption that it is CO2 at the top of the filter because I'm sending in 2 bottles worth of DIY CO2. I replace one a week. For the the three-4 days after a new bottle is loaded, lots of splashy noise, after that the filter quiets down alot...so i surmise, if i wasn't putting CO2 into it, it'd run much quieter and there would be no air. My next project is a Rex inline diffuser so I won't have to think about it anymore.
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Old 03-13-2011, 06:31 PM   #12
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Thanks Wasserpest for pointing me to this thread! Somehow I completely missed it!

Some questions about your mods.

After you cut the strainer, does it still connect to the pump? Or is it mostly the white sponge holding it in place?

And I take it you're not using the blue pad. So the sponges double as bio and mechanical? Or do you use a prefilter sponge on the intake? How long can you go without rinsing the sponges?

Last question, on the second pic, first post. Are those rollers glued to the filter wall? I thought the sponges held them in place, but in that pic, they are in position without the sponge ...

Thanks!
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Old 03-14-2011, 07:39 PM   #13
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You are welcome waters!

The strainer does not connect to the pump anymore. That is part of the mod, and allows more water from the lower sponge to be sucked through the filter. When it was connected, the strainer would shield some of the flow from below.
I left it in place to keep the white sponge from collapsing (although I doubt that this would ever happen with regular maintenance intervals). Plus the cap makes sure water goes through the entire sponge, not just down in the center.

I am not using the blue pad, correct. I think it is too fine to be a pre-filter, so it would crud up long before the "main sponges" were filled. Plus it was interfering a bit with my mod #3. I don't use a pre-filter either, just a large strainer.

Obviously there is a trade-off between "water polishing" and maintenance intervals, dependent on pore size of the sponges. Very fine pored sponges will remove smaller particles, but also clog quicker. The two sponges of the CFS500 are fairly coarse, but still do a good job with mechanical filtration. They are also excellent for biological filtration, due to their large surface and even flow.

I cleaned my CFS for the first time after a month, and honestly it was not necessary yet. This time I will wait for two months (unless I notice the flow dropping a lot). Of course this all depends on your situation, stocking level, how much you feed, large poopers etc.

Regarding the rollers, nope, not glued to the filter sides. It's a bit difficult to see due to the reflections, but I cut similar channels into the black sponge, and the rollers are stuck in these channels and simply held in place by the sponge.

Let me know if you have any other questions!
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Old 03-14-2011, 08:32 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest View Post
You are welcome waters!

The strainer does not connect to the pump anymore. That is part of the mod, and allows more water from the lower sponge to be sucked through the filter. When it was connected, the strainer would shield some of the flow from below.
I left it in place to keep the white sponge from collapsing (although I doubt that this would ever happen with regular maintenance intervals). Plus the cap makes sure water goes through the entire sponge, not just down in the center.

I am not using the blue pad, correct. I think it is too fine to be a pre-filter, so it would crud up long before the "main sponges" were filled. Plus it was interfering a bit with my mod #3. I don't use a pre-filter either, just a large strainer.

Obviously there is a trade-off between "water polishing" and maintenance intervals, dependent on pore size of the sponges. Very fine pored sponges will remove smaller particles, but also clog quicker. The two sponges of the CFS500 are fairly coarse, but still do a good job with mechanical filtration. They are also excellent for biological filtration, due to their large surface and even flow.

I cleaned my CFS for the first time after a month, and honestly it was not necessary yet. This time I will wait for two months (unless I notice the flow dropping a lot). Of course this all depends on your situation, stocking level, how much you feed, large poopers etc.

Regarding the rollers, nope, not glued to the filter sides. It's a bit difficult to see due to the reflections, but I cut similar channels into the black sponge, and the rollers are stuck in these channels and simply held in place by the sponge.

Let me know if you have any other questions!
Thanks for the answers.

I bought the rollers yesterday and will probably carbon copy your mods tonight. But honestly, I'm a bit nervous about splitting the strainer, since it would be a permanent mod. I'm still a bit unsure how much water will actually be sucked from the lower sponge, even with that mod.

Agreed on the sponges! I'm a big sponge fan! When my tank was bare bottom, I had an ATI Hydro sponge. I like how the Odyssea is basically a big sponge filter that doesn't look hideous in the tank.
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