Filtration on a budget - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-05-2011, 08:35 AM Thread Starter
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Filtration on a budget

Hi all, New member here. Wanted to share my thoughts and dabbles into filtration.

Scenario - one large oscar, three medium chiclids in a 550litre (approx 147 gal) freshwater tank.

Filtration originally - single internal pump with attached bio filter 2000 Litres per hour hooked up to a rain bar.

This was proving sufficient for awhile, but with no plants at the time and no undergravel filtration, I was finding algal blooms and fluctuating water quality to be an issue as the chiclids grew.

Decided against the more expensive canister filter option; deciding to build my own external filter.

Equipment
One 54 litre black UV resistant tub - $12.00 AU
One sink drain fitting with pipe bend - Free, reused/trash and treasure
Two lengths of metre long 20mm poly - $9.00 AU
Various connectors - $ 2.00
One small tube marine sickaflex $10.00

River stone - $10.00
Gravel - $8.00
Bio Sponge mats - $ 2.00
Zeolite pads - $8.00
ceramic beads - $15.00
bio balls - $2.00

Optional - self watering pots (varies in price usually around a $1.00 each)
vermiculite $5.00
Pearlite $7.00
peat based potting mix for indoor plants - $12.00
Wall braces - $16.00

Tools required.
Jigsaw
file
soldering iron (useful to smooth down the plastic after cutting)
wet dry fine grit sandpaper.

Method to the madness...

1. Cut a hole in the base of the tub to fit your sink assembly
Place the hole in the far corner on one side, creating a longer flow distance for the water to travel.

2. Sickaflex this into place.

NOTE: The reason for the sink assembly is it's easy to drop a plug in it when u need to clean it. Also allows you to fit pipes up that are large enough to happily flow upwards of 3000 - 5000 litres an hour. Also, there are self sealing assemblies that allow you to disassemble the plumbing for ease of cleaning .

3. Fit up your return plumbing first, let it cure etc and test it for leaks. Make sure you measure twice and cut once.

Depending on the location of your tank to the location of your filter will determine your requirements for the intake and outlet plumbing, but in principle it's simple.

Water goes in the furthest point of the tub; is filtered through your choice of filter medium and is fed back to your tank.

Leave a little bit of space between the return drain and the water level of your tank; this will help oxygenate the water by breaking the surface.

I run terrestrial plants in self watering pots on top of the substrate and also have a little contingent of semiaquatic acorus gramineus planted directly into the substrate helping to filter it.

This in conclusion; gives me a semi cleaning wet/dry biofilter.

Downsides -

Some people find it difficult with any sort of subtank/external filtration system to get the water levels right without flooding their tanks.

The filter can sometimes get blocked and flood out ... Easy fix is to pipe up an overflow line in your filter to dump the water back into your tank
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-05-2011, 01:11 PM
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The kind of DIY post I always like to read. Seen several variations on this theme but this was the most cost effective (cheap) I like it


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2-75g planted, 3-55g planted, 110g w/30g sump, 2018 update returning to sanity (Nutz)
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-16-2011, 11:53 PM
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This is a great idea! essentially an aquaponics setup, if we didnt use all sorts of nasty(to humans) chemicals in our tanks you could grow tomatoes etc in a sunny window. I want to set up a 1000L pond in my yard and grow trout all year and barramundi through the summer here using the fish waste to grow veggies in a tub above the pond.

Good work


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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-03-2011, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
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What nasty chemicals do you run in your tank exactly... I don't run any chemicals in my water... period. no fertz, nothing.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-03-2011, 01:29 PM
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How long has this system been established? Do you have any other photos of the assembly and how it's configured to the tank?


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-10-2011, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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The system was setup roughly end of January this year...

Assembly photo's... negative... I will take some when I build the next one.

Configuration... It was initially setup with large river stones, ceramic beads and biosponges...

I added fine river stone, bio balls, acorus (sweet flag) a diffenbachia and fishbone fern.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-10-2011, 09:10 PM
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Thanks for the follow up post. I'm setting up shallow grow out pans on the lania this summer and increasing the water column with a same level sump configuration will improve water quality. Considering a similar setup to yours as well.


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RubberSideDownOnTheLanding,
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-11-2011, 03:30 AM
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Many house plants can be grown in pure lava rock, no peat, perlite or vermiculite needed.
Set up the house plants so there is a constant flow of tank water through the pots.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-21-2011, 10:03 AM Thread Starter
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Yes! Thanks Diana! I tried planting Directly into the filter itself (no Pots) and the plants went CRAZY!

Forget pots when u set this filter up! choose water tolerant plants and plant them directly!

Will have setup photos of this filter in near future. Have moved house and have to reset it.
Pics to come
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