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Old 03-01-2005, 06:48 PM   #1
motifone
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Vortex Diatom Users & Acrylic Tank Owners?


Help!

I'm asking these question a bit prematurely, because I'd really like to include some pictures to help illustrate my problem. I'll try to add some pictures tonight, but any ideas you can provide me in the meantime would be great --

I'm having a couple problems with my new Vortex D-1.

1) I'm having a problem with air bubbles and uneven water flow. Lots of air bubbles churning through the impellor and causing a choppy, inconsistent flow. Happens a lot when trying to charge the D1 from a bucket (you know, the tipping the D1 upside down a moment, trying to establish siphon, etc). The D1 is on the floor, the bucket high up on a counter. Sometimes the flow stalls enough for the diatom powder to fall off the bag and seep into the return tube back into the bucket. I'm using the recharge valve and wondering if this is part of the problem because the filter/charge switch doesn't seem to be a completely tight seal. For example, when the recharge valve is closed (on charge), if I tip the recharge valve at an angle, water will leak up into the top part of the recharge chamber. Normal? How's your seal?

2) I'm having a real problem using the unit with my acrylic tank and unless I can work out a solution, this might be a deal breaker. What's the problem? Well, as you know, the top perimeter of acrylic tanks are covered with plastic for bracing. There's no "edge"/lip to hang the darn D1 tubes. I've tried a few modifications, but if the tube angles just aren't right or if the tubes are too long, crimping occurs and/or it only add to the siphon/flow problems. Any other Vortex users out there who use the setup on an acrylic tank?? If so, how do you do it? I'm poked around Home Depot but couldn't work out a solution. I really need something clean like you get when you hang this on the edge of a glass tank -- otherwise the tubes snake around in the tank and there is risk of scratching the acrylic. I don't have easy access to the back of my tank either, so can't hang it there where the acrylic bracing is thinner.

I wasn't very happy with the included D-1 tubing. I couldn't work all the crimps out of it and a crimped area on the intake tube even collapses from the suction. Do you folks replace the stock tubes with thicker Eheim tubes?

All help appreciated so I can try this again tonight. I'd love to keep this wonderful filter.

Thanks!!
Steve
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Old 03-01-2005, 06:55 PM   #2
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Here's a picture looking down at the top of my tank that might help. You can see of the top perimeter is covered by a plastic bracing. It's thinnest on the back, but I have no easy way of reaching the D1 around the back.

I can hang the D1 tubes on the canopy lip and add longer extensions onto the intake/outtake tubes into the tank, but it's a sharp bend that causes crimping.

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Old 03-02-2005, 04:26 AM   #3
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Sorry to hear you are having problems with your Vortex. I have the Vortex XL and hang the intake/outgoing tubes on the back of my 75 gallon tank when I need to polish the water. It could be run 24/7 in theory, but I have some filter feeders in there that wouldn't appreciate the sparkling clean water.
As to your questions, I kinda scratched my head about the problem you are having with the acrylic tank. It looks like you have a little strip there in the middle where you could hang your intake/outgoing tubes. As for the bubbles and other problem, though, here is some advice.
When recharging your filter using a bucket, make sure the water is high enough that it won't run low and give you air bubbles when filling the filter with water. Then turn the recharge valve to closed and put the intake/outgoing hoses in your tank. When you start the flow to your filter, make sure to open the recharge valve very slowly, so it doesn't get very many air bubbles in it. That helps me a lot. If you do get air bubbles in there, just put some more water in the bucket, start the filter and then turn it off and hold the bucket up over your head. The filter will refill, forcing out the bubbles.
As for the hose, YES, I replaced the original hose with some thick stuff that I bought at my LFS. Problem was the original hose was too damn short and drove me nuts, so I bought some longer pieces so that I can snake it around back of my tank easier.
I hope that helps somewhat.
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Old 03-02-2005, 05:33 AM   #4
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Aphyosemion

Thanks for the ideas. Yeh, I'm pretty much scratching my head here tonight, too.

I have a favor to ask you because we both own the recharge valve. I tried some more experiments in the bucket. I suffered several times and failed trying to establish a clean, bubble-free flow with the recharge valve in line. So, I removed the recharge valve (stock configuration) and the thing pretty much started up on the first try. I added the recharge valve back to the configuration (but underwater!), which kept the flow going. I closed the recharge valve to charge mode underwater and then slowly started to lift the recharge valve out from under the water, into the air -- air bubbles started to invade the flow. My recharge valve doesn't seem "air tight". In fact, if I take my recharge valve, set it to charge, and fill one side of it under the sink... the water slowly trickles past the closed valve door (it is ALL the way shut) and out the bottom. Can you try this with your valve? Try filling it with water under a sink with the dial set to charge. Does the water stay in the upper chamber or does it seep down past the door, emptying out the bottom? This will help me in determining if it is defective.

Thanks so much!
Steve
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Old 03-02-2005, 05:38 AM   #5
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My advice is to scrap all the supplied tubing and connectors and fabricate new ones out of PVC. This way you can make a 'U' that can extend past the tank rim.

Same goes with the recharge valve. I bought my Freedon Filter in part because it came with the valve, but after using it a few times got rid of it because it always leaked powder back into the tank while it was recirculating.

Now I prime the filter in the bathroom in a 1/2gal pitcher, then drag it all out to the tank, stick the pitcher into the tank and let the filter charge fully before submersing the pitcher and extracting the tubes into the tank. I have all AGA tanks with open tops so working this out is not a problem.
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Old 03-02-2005, 06:22 AM   #6
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Bill,

Hmmm. Darn. The scales are tipping in the direction of parting with the Vortex.

I think you are right about needing to construct something out of PVC pipe to make that U shape to clear the rim. Anything else is just pulled out of the tank from the weight of the hoses. Eliminating the recharge valve from the mix means relying more on the traditional "jug in the tank" approach -- which is also complicated by the lack of open areas on top of the acrylic tank and plants along the surface.

My water quality has since improved since using the Diatom and being more regular with filter pad cleanings.

I'll need to think it over. My fear is that if I need to go through these extra complication because of the acrylic tank, I'll be even less likely to use it and it will gather dust.

I'll toy with it some more this weekend.
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Old 03-02-2005, 03:10 PM   #7
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The other possibility is to add some inline ball valves to the hoses just after the recharge valve. You could close these when you're running the recharge valve to force it to be a closed loop. Maybe buy a pair of these?
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Old 03-02-2005, 04:42 PM   #8
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I guess I assume all you folks are using your Vortex with glass tanks then eh?
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Old 03-02-2005, 05:26 PM   #9
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Well, the parts that come with the filter aren't designed to fit over even the rim of my 125g AGA tank. You can see in the Hardware section on my site what I've done to the hoses of my Freedom Filter.
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:47 PM   #10
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Couple questions, in case I decide to continue to make this work (can't say I'm not trying!):

The Vortex uses 5/8" inner diameter hose, right? I was having trouble fitting two pieces of Home Depot 5/8" I.D vinyl tubing (same wall thickness as Eheim tubing) onto the input/output nipples on the Vortex. Do you use hose clamps to fit them on there. Looks like you do, Bill. It's a tight fit. The stock tubing fits on the nipples better because it is thinned walled. But that thinned walled tubing kinks far too easily.

Bill, where did you get all those yellow hose quick connections? Home Depot? What about the hose that connects to your kitchen sink?

I borrowed a couple clamps from work, which clamp onto the lip of my canopy and seem to do an okay job keeping the tubes submerged. Basically, my plan is to slip the tubes into the tank through the clamps. Then, try establishing a siphon into the Vortex with no diatom powder present. Now, I can't really fit any stiff tupperware into the openings of my acrylic tank -- tight fit, no where to hang it, etc. So I was thinking of using a plastic fish bag (you know, the kind they put fish in you buy). It's flexible and I could work it down around the tubes. I'm just not sure if the suction of the intake will collapse the bag too much, we'll see. I'm hoping the force of the output will balance things out in the bag. If the bag works, I can add the powder into the bag, charge the diatom, and remove the bag.

Worth a shot?
Steve
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Old 03-03-2005, 08:25 PM   #11
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Steve,
The green tubes directly off the motor are leftovers from my Eheim. They fit pretty easily, but I did add the clamps just to be safe. I've had better luck getting 5/8" tubing at pet stores (Lee brand) since the ones at the hardware stores are usually thin walled.

I got the yellow disconnects at Orchard Supply, but you can find similar (or better) at Lowes and HD. The teal colored disconnects (from Lowes) in the pictures are actually a better design and seem more durable than the yellow ones. The one thing to check is if the clamping part of the disconnect (not the nipple part) is a shut off or flow through type. The teal one shuts off so when the nipple is released, whereas the yellow ones are open when the nipple is released.

As for the sink, you'll need to get an adapter that'll screw into the faucet in place of the aerator and give you a standard 3/4" male hose connector on the other. I bought a brass disconnect fitting just for durability, but the plastic diconnect I bought at Lowes would probably have done just as well.

I think you'll find that a bag will collapse almost instantly. With your setup I'd be tempted to eliminate any 'U' and just have the flexible hose terminate with a small section of ridig tube and an strainer...sort of like using a couple of gravel vacs. This way you don't need to worry about the 'U' fitting over the canopy and rim. As for the charging container, it only has to be big enough to fit the ends of the syphon and return tunes into and keep them submerged, so you could easily use a 1.5-2l water bottle with the top chopped off.

Jeeze...it does appear to be getting very complicated, doesn't it?
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Old 03-03-2005, 10:02 PM   #12
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Bill,

I laughed at your last line. I think you are starting to feel my pain and can see why I am having second thoughts.

Thanks for your detailed reply on all your connections. That helps.

As to problem #1, "charging" the Vortex: You might be right about the bag collapsing. I might have a thin plastic bottle I could use instead. But, to avoid trying to shove bags or bottles into the tank, I had another thought that might work as well. Basically, I'd establish siphon and charge the Vortex with powder in a bucket with the black strainers off. Then, using a 5/8" Eheim nippled elbow, join the input and output tubes together underwater in the bucket. This would create a looped cycle, like the recharge valve. Turn off the Vortex. Bring the Vortex the tank, place tubes in water, start up the Vortex and let it recharge. Once recharged, remove the Eheim elbow underwater. The trick would be to see just how easy it will be inserting and removing the elbow underwater.

As to problem #2, keeping the tubes in the tank: I vetoed making a "U" shape contraption out of PVC because it's already tricky enough maintaining a siphon. I definitely need the clamps on the canopy rim to keep the tubes in the tank... otherwise, the weight of the tubes outside the tank will quickly hoist them out of the water.

I'll post some pics tonight to better illustrate my ideas. Thanks for listening?

PS #1 - Is it bad to use brass 5/8-5/8" hose joints if I need to? Metal bad for fish?

PS #2 - How long does your tank stay clear of particulate after using the Vortex.? Few days? (Heck is it worth this? )
steve
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Old 03-03-2005, 11:42 PM   #13
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Hmm.. Ive been using a D1 for years now and the tanks sparkle until i mess with them...

As far as having easier usage of it Just make a largeu that hangs into your canopy and into the center of the tank... I charge my D1 in the tank using a water pitcher.. I find mixing 1 cup of powder with 1 litre of water outside the tank in a seperate pitcher, and then dumping the wet powder into the pitcher in the tank to be easier, sometimes it clumps up on the bottom. When i had my large cichlid tank i made some U tubes there were permanent on the back that hung down into the stand with quick release/ball valves.. Id fill up the D1 (with water) hook it up flip upside down get sipon working. and turn over and let fill then turn back on. When i was done i would just disconnect and leave water in the lines to help prime. good luck! Id buy your d1 if i didnt already have one!
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Old 03-04-2005, 12:31 AM   #14
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cookingnerd,

Any pics of that U setup of yours?

I must be plumbing challenged. I hung out in the plumbing section of home depot last night, trying to work something out. They had some sprinkler system piping that had threaded ends that looked promising, but all the right angle joints that screwed onto the ends had 1/2" barbs that didn't fit the Vortex 5/8" hose. What did you make your "U" out of? PVC?

Quick release ball valves -- hmm? Lowes, too?

Here's a drawing I made a couple days ago, but abandoned it because wasn't sure how to construct it. Tonight, I'm going to try Bill's idea of eliminating the use of a "U" and holding the hoses in place with a clamp.

I always seem to get air bubbles in it when I try to prime it. Why isn't the air being expelled? I made sure that little hole on the bag connector is aligned with the turbulence connector.

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Old 03-04-2005, 01:23 AM   #15
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Use eheim disconnects for the tubing over the rear, and yes i used PVC.

I would think about using the tubes over the rear with the water filled tubes, would the inlet/outlet be visible? I notice bubbles when some of my fittings arent tight. As for using the recharge valve, those things are a POS i tried one awhile ago and didnt like it. Would it be a problem for you to hold the pitcher in the tank while the water is circulating for recharge? I would think you could make a bracket out of thin acrylic, nylon bolts and the pitcher..


Tell me how you are priming it. I fill the chamber, close it up attach my tubes.
Turn upside down while its on. water is pushed out of the chamber up the return hose, meanwhile a vacum sucks water from the tank/pitcher into the chamber. you WILL have air bubbls at this point. Turn filter upright while turning it off, make sure hoses slope down from the tank and dont droop below the filter inlet/outlet. after its upright
it should still be sucking water from the vaccumm and expelling the air inside the chamber out the outlet tube, wait till the chamber is filled. it will take a few seconds. Now you can add the powder into your pitcher.
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