My mattenfilter experience
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Old 01-24-2014, 12:36 AM   #1
SouthernGorilla
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My mattenfilter experience


It's been several months since I built our 20T and set up the mattenfilter. Since it's just a piece of foam and a pump, I guess it's low-tech enough to discuss it in the low-tech forum.

Folks are right in pretty much everything they say about the mattenfilter. Except for a couple clouding issues that seem to have been caused by the food we were using our tank stays crystal clear. It's absolutely amazing. No, it isn't a polished show tank. But it easily could be if I added a micron filter and maybe some chemical treatment.

Things I've learned;

Don't worry about the color of the foam. It will get covered in algae, detritus, and bacteria and turn a dull, light brown color before long. Ours blends into the tank rather well.

Don't cut corners securing the foam. I thought the curved shape of the foam would cause it to bow out against the bracing I glued to the glass. But the top got pushed in and let snails and duckweed get behind the filter.

An inch of foam does just fine for basic filtration. I know it doesn't have the biomass of the thicker filters normally used with this system. But in a heavily planted tank I really don't think you need that much biomass. Our tank also has emersed ivy growing out of it. So that undoubtedly adds to the nitrate removal.

The return on ours is in the opposite corner from the filter. I know I've seen some mattenfilters where the powerhead just dumps the return over the top of the foam. But I really think it's important to put the return at the other end to create a current that pushes debris to the filter.

One improvement I will make the next time is to add a reservoir of some sort in the return line so I have a place to add charcoal or other chemical filtration aids when needed. Setting bags of stuff behind the foam doesn't seem to work.

There's no need to put the foam below the substrate. Obviously, you do have to seal it at the bottom somehow.

I'm definitely a fan of this concept. I'll be using it in any future tanks I build as well. The only real drawback to it is the lost space in the tank. But it doesn't take up as much space as you might think. And I'll trade that lost space to save space outside the tank where I'd otherwise have to put a cannister or something.

I've actually begun designing a custom tank specifically for the mattenfilter idea. It will only have two view panes. The filter will be on the non-view side and will simply look like the end wall when looking into the tank. The space behind the foam will be out of view. The plumbing will run through the back wall and the return will just be jets in the very corner. So the view in the tank would have no wires or plumbing at all. Even the lines for the airstones will be run under the substrate. I'll work on a drawing this weekend.

I'd really like to hear from others who have run the mattenfilter. Or I'll try to answer any questions folks might have who are thinking about the idea.
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Old 01-24-2014, 02:22 AM   #2
Diana
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I have one set up, not as a pure Mattenfilter, but in conjunction with some aging canisters. It sure was keeping the intake to the canisters clean! I had been having problems with stuff clogging the simple cage, and even a small sponge over the intake was not enough. Plenty of area with these!

Tank is 5' long, 88 gallons.
2 canisters, used to be Fluval 404, but they are not really moving that much water any more, even when fully clean.
Intakes are in the back corners.
Outlets cross over so the North intake goes through a filter then the outlet is South of the mid point, back wall.
South intake goes through its filter, then the outlet is North of the mid point, back wall.

Safe-T-Sorb substrate, and the tank has so much Valisneria it is hard to see in to it.
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Old 01-24-2014, 10:19 AM   #3
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I've thought about using a small canister filter in conjunction with the mattenfilter. But just using it for the biological and chemical filtration.
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Old 01-24-2014, 04:34 PM   #4
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I'm really interested in this idea, and would love to set up a system with this. A few questions:

What is the gph rating your pump/powerhead?
What did you use to run the outlet to the other side of the tank?
Did you do a corner install or just the end of the tank?
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:31 PM   #5
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http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...t=mattenfilter is a good discussion of low tech mattenfilter tanks. I have had mine set up for 2 years now. It works fine, but I will probably stop using it when I re-setup the tank. The disadvantage that bothers me the most is the growth of BBA on the outside of the foam. I tried for many months to control it by squirting Excel on the growths as I found them. This worked a little bit, but not enough to really stop the growth. So, I just gave up and have been living with it. Unfortunately, when you have BBA in the tank, it spreads out and tries to colonize the whole tank. So, you need to be able to kill it off as it appears, and that seems virtually impossible with a mattenfilter. It could be that my relaxed approach to routine tank maintenance is the bigger problem, but I will still drop the mattenfilter soon.
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Old 01-25-2014, 12:34 AM   #6
SouthernGorilla
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
The disadvantage that bothers me the most is the growth of BBA on the outside of the foam.
Interesting. We have what I presume is BBA on several of our plants. But I don't see any on the foam. I think the critters are keeping it at bay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redtail84
I'm really interested in this idea, and would love to set up a system with this. A few questions:

What is the gph rating your pump/powerhead?
What did you use to run the outlet to the other side of the tank?
Did you do a corner install or just the end of the tank?
I don't remember the GPH of the powerhead. But it is one of the smaller ones. I was worried about too much current.

The plumbing is ordinary CPVC from the plumbing aisle of a home improvement store. Ordinary PVC would work as well. But CPVC has the minor advantage of being smaller in OD for any given ID. So it creates a slightly tidier package.

The filter is in the corner. I wanted to keep the front view as uncluttered as possible. So I put the filter in the corner and planted tall swords in front of it.
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Old 01-27-2014, 04:41 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info! Do you have any pictures of your setup? Also, where did you get your foam?
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Old 01-28-2014, 10:04 AM   #8
SouthernGorilla
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redtail84 View Post
Thanks for the info! Do you have any pictures of your setup? Also, where did you get your foam?
The foam came from Drs. Fosters & Smith. It's just the ordinary green reticulated filter foam.

I'll get some pictures as soon as I can.
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Old 01-29-2014, 10:55 PM   #9
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Here's an overall shot of the tank. I don't plan to enter any competitions with it.

Untitled by SouthernGorilla, on Flickr
The black blobs all over the place are some of the billion pond snails untouched by our vegan loaches.

Here's a closeup of the foam. The brown color is not the original color of the foam. It was originally a very fugly pale green.

Untitled by SouthernGorilla, on Flickr

This is the return side of the plumbing. The pipe just rests on the back of the tank.

Untitled by SouthernGorilla, on Flickr
Yes, that is ivy on a trellis growing out of the tank. Doing rather well, too.

And here's the pump side of the plumbing. And the ivy again.

Untitled by SouthernGorilla, on Flickr

The water is much clearer than it looks in the first photo. My phone takes fuzzy closeups for some reason.
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Old 01-30-2014, 02:13 PM   #10
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Khuli Loaches eat pond snails. But this is why mine did. "They" say you need five or more but I got one. He acted very shy because of being alone and unless I turned the light on at night, I never saw him. But when I got him he was thin. When I got rid of him he was three times as fat. But not coming out in light he didn't get any food as the other fish etc ate it all and he quickly learned what pond snails were.
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Old 01-30-2014, 03:18 PM   #11
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Our yoyo loach seemed to do well in our ten-gallon tank by himself. When we build the next tank I'll probably get several of them.
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:27 PM   #12
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How do you take out the foam and rinse it? It seems like that if you took out the foam for cleaning it would cause a ton of crap floating around in your tank and creating a mess. Unless in a mattenfilter you do not take out the foam for cleaning?
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:09 PM   #13
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I suspect removing the foam would make a mess. This tank has been running almost a year now and I see no need to mess with the foam.

The good thing is that the foam doesn't go below the substrate. It should just lift out. I'm not anxious to test that hypothesis.
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Old 01-31-2014, 02:07 PM   #14
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I really want to try one of these. Just looking at how it works it has to be extremely effective and low-maintenance.
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Old 01-31-2014, 08:03 PM   #15
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Funny i just read this thread as im researching currently of doing this to a tank, i want to split the tank into 3 compartments for fry grow outs from my apistos. But still debating how to do it as i would need 3 pieces for 3 compartments and to hold the powerhead if i choose that route. Im limited on space currently but have several regular spawning species of apistos that id like to raise up and i think this is a wonderful way to make use of space and the poret foam would be great for grazing fry.
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