Opinions on Pros & Cons of HOB filters in planted tanks?
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Old 11-01-2013, 06:23 AM   #1
Hardstuff
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Opinions on Pros & Cons of HOB filters in planted tanks?


Ok this could be a repeat thread but I tried the search & could not find any. From my experience I know that HOB filters will outgas a fair amount of CO2 from Planted tanks. I have read this & personally observed this using calibrated ph meters & regency test kits. To me that is a con.
However I also know that having a gas exchange of some kind at the surface is beneficial as well, meaning more O2 being brought into the aquarium. That is a pro!
I also know that HOB filters tend to scum up the surface know matter what you do but this can be minimized. That is a con!
Another Con can be additional flow agitation on the surface can cut down on par reaching lower levels of the tank. That my friend is a con!
They do offer good organic filtration but semi poor bio filtration. This would seem to be a tossup.
I run pressurized CO2 in 1 tank & DIY in another & from what I can see is that in the DIY tank the tank seemed to do better when the little Eihiem 2211 was backed up with the HOB filter. But the penalty was maybe losing a day or 2 in the fermentation bottle from the extra out gassing of CO2.
I have a low flow problem in my pressurized tank that I feel the HOB filter would help but I might have to crank up the CO2 a lot to help counter the CO2 discharge from the HOB filter! Some may say just point the spray bar up but that I find causes a lower flow problem down low.
Abstract: What is everyones opinion on using HOB filters in high or low tech applications? Thanks.
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Old 11-01-2013, 08:30 AM   #2
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I'd say your analysis is generally correct. As I see it, as long as you don't put something that is rated for a tank many times the size you have, I don't see any issues.

In addition, you can usually diap back the flow one way or another, and if the HOB filter isn't working out at all, it's easy enough to remove and you don't usually have a lot of money sunk into it.

I'd say give it a try.
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Old 11-01-2013, 01:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardstuff View Post
Ok this could be a repeat thread but I tried the search & could not find any. From my experience I know that HOB filters will outgas a fair amount of CO2 from Planted tanks. I have read this & personally observed this using calibrated ph meters & regency test kits. To me that is a con.
Depends on how low the water line is.
Quote:
However I also know that having a gas exchange of some kind at the surface is beneficial as well, meaning more O2 being brought into the aquarium. That is a pro!
Plants also add oxygen to the water. In a planted tank, I don't believe surface agitation is needed.
Quote:
I also know that HOB filters tend to scum up the surface know matter what you do but this can be minimized. That is a con!
Not true. HOB filters actually break up the protein and bio-films through surface agitation.
Quote:
Another Con can be additional flow agitation on the surface can cut down on par reaching lower levels of the tank. That my friend is a con!
I can't comment on this, as I haven't done any measurements. I can see refraction causing issues.
Quote:
They do offer good organic filtration but semi poor bio filtration. This would seem to be a tossup.
Organic filtration? I know of three classes of filtration used in the aquarium hobby:
-Chemical (Carbon, Purigen)
-Mechanical (Removes crud from the water)
-Biological (Converts Ammonia to Nitrate)

I have always had good bio-filtration with my HOBs. It is a function of the quality of the filter and the exposed surface area of the media.

Quote:
I run pressurized CO2 in 1 tank & DIY in another & from what I can see is that in the DIY tank the tank seemed to do better when the little Eihiem 2211 was backed up with the HOB filter. But the penalty was maybe losing a day or 2 in the fermentation bottle from the extra out gassing of CO2.
The yeast in the bottle will produce regardless of the CO2 concentration in the water. They don't shut down at 30ppm. Thusly, whether you had an HOB, no HOB, or if the CO2 line came disconnected, the amount of time the bottle was producing gas would not change.

Quote:
I have a low flow problem in my pressurized tank that I feel the HOB filter would help but I might have to crank up the CO2 a lot to help counter the CO2 discharge from the HOB filter! Some may say just point the spray bar up but that I find causes a lower flow problem down low.
So go get a re-circulation pump. Looks like an underwater fan. A HOB filter will only create flow in the area directly in front of it.

Quote:
Abstract: What is everyones opinion on using HOB filters in high or low tech applications? Thanks.
I use an HOB by my canister inlet. It is the filter that runs my surface skimmer (another great way to deal with surface scum).
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Old 11-01-2013, 01:30 PM   #4
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Personally I don't use many HOB filters because they're an eye sore. Too much equipment is a con for me. If you raise the water level to be directly under the output of the HOB, you'll get optimal surface agitation, and avoid large off gassing of co2. Just avoid huge splashing. I have a HOB on my low tech nano/shrimp tank, and love it.
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Old 11-01-2013, 02:38 PM   #5
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Look at the Koralia Nano 240 for additional circulation. Great little pump and works great in my 46 gallon.
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Old 11-01-2013, 06:28 PM   #6
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exv152 is correct about the level of the water and HOB's. I have 2 Penguin 350's on my 55g low light planted and if I keep the tank filled right up to the bottom of the HOB the surface aggitation is minimal.
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Old 11-02-2013, 12:55 AM   #7
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check out this link: http://www.prirodni-akvarium.cz/en/i...hp?id=en_co2ph. upshot is to increase co2 AND surface turbulence.
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Old 11-02-2013, 08:47 AM   #8
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Thanks for all comments. As far as HOB filters not outgassing or playing around with high water levels is simply not true. Even with high water levels & reducing flow to lowest settings I was able to see CO2 declines with a digital ph meter. gstitch did not mention if he or she was using digital ph meters to back their comments up on CO2 not outgassing using HOB filters. Now The filter actually helps control excessive CO2 buildup with DIY CO2 however one can just time out the device if using an internal reactor.
I personally have tested HOB filters & I know they out gas a fair amount of CO2, however they do offer good gas exchange & some added flow + additional filtration as added benefits.
As far as surface scum: from my experience they always do especially when turning them off & on again unless they have just been cleaned very well at that point. Once again I know some people will chime in & say they do not but mine always have in the past & will continue to.
Regarding busting up the protein & reducing some surface scum they do that but that does not mean they do not add some back as well at the same time!
Some of the non out gassing comments seemed were geared towards low tech tanks & non CO2 injection systems. The HOB filters may actually bring some CO2 back into the CO2 starved low tech tanks & create balance benefitting the system.
Some surface agitation Low Tech or High Tech has benefits in my opinion. It should help add healthy redox to the aquarium as long as its mild. What's mild? Opinions will vary!
I agree also about extra clutter in the tank. That was another con as well for me. But from a mechanical standpoint I was considering adding it to my High Tech setup since it is a small tank but is suffering from low flow low tank turn over right now.
Most circulators that I have researched have too much flow for such a small tank. In my tank the sections with the highest flow rates would grow BBA! Since I pulled my big filter out a Fluval 106 known for having high flow rates , my BBA has diminished + my small tetras do not hide as much now an actually school more even in this small tank! If I could find a real low flow circulator that would be perfect maybe 100 gallons an hour or less. High flow areas seem to grow more BBA at least in my tanks.
Regarding HOB filters not causing an early end to the yeast bottle. They do & I have verified this as well. I cannot explain this but my DIY set up holds CO2 well the way I cycle it. It seems to holds better in part because the reactor is better at diffusion than the atomizer. The DIY tank takes longer to build up CO2 than the pressurized but holds it better & stays more stable even when shutting it off for most of the night. Yes the yeast will only produce x amount of gas over time but the system holds the gas better.
Thanks again all, I appreciate the comments
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Old 11-02-2013, 10:27 AM   #9
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A HOB with the water line just below the output, where it creates a gentle ripple on the surface, is no different than aiming your canister spray bar at the surface for some agitation. Both methods will off gas co2. So I agree there.

But, a HOB should not be your first option for increasing flow. They do a poor job of creating flow other than just in from of it, as someone mentioned earlier. There are several options for power-heads under 100 gph.

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…The DIY tank takes longer to build up CO2 than the pressurized but holds it better & stays more stable even when shutting it off for most of the night. Yes the yeast will only produce x amount of gas over time but the system holds the gas better.
I’m not sure what you mean when you say diy holds the gas better and is more stable than pressurized. But I, and I’m sure many others, would disagree with this statement.
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Old 11-02-2013, 11:20 PM   #10
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What I believe is going on why I say my DIY holds gas better is because how it is delivered. My atomizer makes millions of micro bubbles. They float around the tank & some make it to the surface & a portion of those bubbles will escape into the atmosphere, hence CO2 discharge to a lower degree.
On the other hand my DIY system runs on an internal reactor powered with a powerhead with an additional ventura to dissolve the CO2 even more. Nearly 100% of the CO2 is dissolved . You can see the gas dissolve before your eyes so the tank in my opinion is more enriched.
On the other hand since I loose time on changing the reactor & waiting for it to build up the gas , It takes longer in that way to bring the tank down ph wise. Contrary to the pressurized system when I am low with CO2 like early in the morning well before lights on I have gas on demand so I can push the tank down faster in that regard.
Now if I did not use an atomizer & opted instead for the internal reactor with this tank I would get better diffusion of CO2, but the trade would be more clutter in the tank. Hope that clarifies what I was talking about.
I just added the HOB filter set to my DIY set up not the tank in question to lowest FR but I will have to probably double the reactor cycle to help balance the tank. I feel in this case its the way to go because a circulating pump/ powerhead even under 100 gallons probably will not filter as well as the small HOB filter because of additional bio media & sponges.
The tank already looks better with the surface agitation , the tank appears to have more energy now but its way too early to pass judgment.
I do agree with other comments about outgassing being similar as with canisters but that varies with outflow level as well. HOB filters are an is what it is filter in that respect. If this tank appears to react better I will go ahead & add a HOB filter to the pressurized set up.
I also feel that if HOB filters are used in larger tanks that DIY becomes impractical because of the out gas from them. Pressurized external or internal reactors should work well to help balance outgas but there are probably many folks saying big canisters should be used & sumps & I would agree with that as well.
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Old 11-03-2013, 06:47 AM   #11
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I have an Eheim Liberty 2040 on my 10g long.Besides the 2 sponge cartridges ,I also stuffed a sponge wrapped in filter wool in the compartment of the water intake ,a bit higher than the propeller ,of course ,and a bit of wool also between the 2 sponge cartridges.Also added a coarse piece of sponge in the squared shaped cascade outflow.
Now I can run it at higher rates ,without it agitating the surface too much ,cause before that ,cranking up the flow caused tsunamis in the tank.

I don't know if it is a good idea ,some people say you shouldn't stuff too much media in your filter.The water level inside has raised a bit since I increased the flow ,But it doesn't go above the 2 sponge cartridges ,which also rest on half inch of cotton wool I put on the bottom of the outflow compartment.So ,in general ,the water level in the filter has raised ,but still flows through filter media ,and the water circulates faster ,without blowing waves in the tank.

As for CO2 outgassing ,I think you are right ,a couple of weeks after starting the tank ,I began to see some white calcium-like deposits on some Anubias and Crypt leaves.They use carbonate in the water as a replacement for CO2 ,I was said it is because they live in harder waters and have that ability.I haven't seen any other of my plants do that ,still ,most of them are showing some yellowing ,so I started to dose some Iron + micronutrients product ,but progress is slow.

Thank you for this thread ,now I am even more convinced that I lack CO2.My PH is now at 8 ,and it used to be around 7.6 ,when I added the first plants.The more I added plants ,the more it climbed(I admit only measuring it when lights were on) ,but I'm pretty much sure CO2 outgassed from the filter and plants absorbing the rest is the cause.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:11 AM   #12
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Thanks sleepswithdafishez, that is a really good idea to try & slow down or minimize the flow on the surface. I have tried similar ways but I always found the water wants to back flow into the intake compartment & back into the aquarium in reverse, but only about 10%. But you took it to a new level. Especially with plugging the intake & using sponges at the outflow.
Last night I tried installing my Fluval 30 again & that lasted a whole 6 hours before I noticed my ph rise from a nice 6.6 to 6.8 I knew it was over for that filter. Although after reading what you just posted I feel like giving the old plug try a go.
For now I installed my only other last option which was a Fluval 1 internal. Within hours it helped my struggling Ehiem 2211 clear the tank much better! Best of all my ph fell back down to 6.6 which is my target range. So its obvious that HOB filters will out gas a lot. Thats with it turned all the way down & high water to the point of almost touching my canopy!
There probably is a way & similar to what you did to minimize the surface agitation, I would not give up on them totally until the tweaking is 100% tried! From a low tech stand, I can see them work well.
I forgot if you mention if you inject CO2 sleepswithdafishez . You still need to get your ferts+ lighting to name just a few in order & all else thats involved with this kind of set up as far as your yellowing is concerned. I have found that planted tanks are sensitive to just small changes, which can tilt your tank into an ugly mess. There are many factors that make these tanks run well and countless ways to mess a tank up!
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Old 11-04-2013, 05:43 PM   #13
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I didn't say HOBs don't cause off-gassing. That would contradict my statement about the gas exchange. What I said was the gas exchange in the water will not affect how long your DIY CO2 produces, which is what you seemed to indicate as your measuring device in the original post:

Quote:
But the penalty was maybe losing a day or 2 in the fermentation bottle from the extra out gassing of CO2.
Regarding the discharge of particulate at start up, unless your filter is continually dumping stuff in the return stream, that's pretty normal. Mine does the same thing, but it's quickly sucked back up with no problem.

Your atomizer is definitely wasting CO2 if bubbles reach the surface. It's why a lot of us use closed reactors (Cerges or Griggs) to dissolve the CO2. I would say DIY is ineffective in larger tanks because of the surface area for gas exchange. Surely any surface agitation would complicate the issue. A Griggs reactor with DIY might help.
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Old 11-04-2013, 05:59 PM   #14
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heres my pros and cons on HOBs from my experience. my pros and cons are more of compairing HOB to canisters. i skipped pros and cons that all filters have. like i don't consider surface agitation really a pro because you can create surface agitation with just about any filter. i would only put a HOB on a tank 20gal or smaller.

pros:
-affordable
-easy maintenance
-you can plant HOBs
-it works!!

cons:
-lacking in bio filtration
-ugly
-inline is not an option
-harder to adjust flow rate
-cant do spraybar (i think)

if you have the money canisters are the way to go! the only HOBs i own and recomend is aquaclear or fluval, theyre pretty much the same thing though
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Old 11-04-2013, 06:40 PM   #15
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...if you have the money canisters are the way to go! the only HOBs i own and recomend is aquaclear or fluval, theyre pretty much the same thing though
They are both made by Hagen.
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