Salty's step by step guide to building a moss wall biological filter - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-08-2009, 09:29 AM Thread Starter
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Salty's step by step guide to building a moss wall biological filter

I strongly dislike the commercially available internal filters which come in such an unsightly and boring container they are however a neccessity to keep our aquatica alive and happy . They also come in an awkward shape which is difficult to easily hide creating a black skyscraper in out near faultless tankspace.

Atm these instructions are a brain fart I have built it 3 days ago but I won't know for a month or 2 how well it works and undoubtedly in that time I will make small corrections and improvements hopefully resulting in an efficient design comparable to your standard internal filter. So keep checking any major updates I will edit the original post as I go atm it is very simple so that anyone can follow with ease.


My filtration and moss wall tile is 355mm x 203mm x 36mm (LxHxD) which has a filter area of 0.001441 m compared with the fluval 1+ which has 0.000148 m which is 9.7 times the surface area and potential for bacterial growth and biofiltration. My tank is 20L and I previously had a fluval 1+ filtering now my tank water is filtered 37.5 hour without a strong current due to the natural dampening effect of the sponge, thus restricting surface movement which could lead to loss of CO2 not good for you plant lovers.

Equiptment checklist
(prices don't really relate as I was buying mass quantities to allow for room for a LOT of error I still have enough let over to build another tile check dimensions before you start)

1. Plastic grid with approx 15mm square holes, must be atleast twice the length of the area you wish to cover. I got 6meters x 0.5meters from my local garden centre for 3
2. Approx 40 zipties (cable ties) 100mm in length 0.75
3. 1.5 meters Eheim aquarium piping (12/16) 8 for 3 meters
4. 0.5 meters Eheim aquarium piping (9/12) 6 for 2.2 meters
5. Maxi-jet 750 24.99 (not essential I can use my fluval 1+ and 2+ as the hose fits on the outlet I preffered the pressure of the 750l/hr)
6. T junction for 12/16 tubing 2
7. Christmas tree moss 5
8. 6x Suction cups with 6mm air line clips 2.50 (available from your LFS)
9. Fluval 4+ 4 pack of coarse filter sponges 5
10. Match stick (temporary)
11. Large thick sewing needle (thinner standard needles had tendency to bend) (parental supervision required)
12. 1.25 meters Fishing line
13. Scissors
14. Sharp knife (parental supervision I cut myself 3 times my gf had to leave as she felt ill from the blood)
15. Tape measure
16. 1 hour of time
17. Cold beers (18+ ofcourse)

total: 57.50 by me yours should come out to cheaper

Step by step: (prepare a suitable working area before hand) (click on pictures to enlarge and click on subsequent images to enlarge further)

1. Confirm measurements of area, mark and cut filter sponges to size mine were 185mm (save scraps)



2. Line up sponges next to each other making sure all are level. Thread the large needle with fishing line, providing a small loop at one end (opposite end to needle)



3. Push needle through the first sponge approx 15mm from the top of sponge, pull the slack through until 20mm of line and the loop is left on the side. Place matchstick through loop and pull tight



4. Thread all the sponges together using a ruler to check that the thread is uniform across the internal of the sponge as you pierce the sponge. Do this at 3 heights. I did 20mm, 90mm and 160mm



5. Check sponges fit when conjoined and work out how much of the spare sponge scraps need to be added to ensure a tight fit.



6. Measure and cut out the plastic grid to which the whole structure will be contained remember to cut at double the length of the area you wish to cover. Cut and measure the 16/12 hose to length twice, allow for a loop from one side to the other and back again. Mine are 700m x2



7. Start attaching the hosing to the grid using zip ties. Try and create as gentle a curve as possible, so that there are a limited number of kinks which may restrict flow and create dead spots in the filter.



8. Do the same for the other tube and using the knife make V shaped cuts in the tubing on the side that isn't covered by the grid (see diagram), so that you can visibly see through to ensure water escapes when turned on. The angles must be different for the sides of the cut for the flow to self regulating ensuring that the fist vents don't let all the pressure go to waste. The elongated angle side needs to be opposite to the theoretical predominant flow of water as shown, half way along the S bend you will need to change direction of the V due to water entering from both ends equally.



9. Where the two ends of 16/12 meet use the 9/12 tubing with 2 zip ties per joint as supports to ensure the water doesn't leak under pressure (you can also use the 9/12 tubing for the curves spreviously mentioned as it is easier to bend this upto user disgression). Secondly use the 9/12 and the aforementioned technique to extend the circuit tubing out of the top of the grid and give sufficient length to reach your pump/ fluval filter, I reccomend you just leave along amount on and cut once in the tank.



10. Take your preprepared filter sponges and lay them on top of the pipes then cover with an EVEN layer of moss if it is uneven you may end up with patching of the moss and leaves that are covered may rot and brown due to lack of light.



11. Now seal up with zipties ensuring it is secure and impossible for anything to move apart. Use the needle and fishing line again to reinforce any rows where moss appears loose and easily escapable



12: Attach the suction cups on the reverse side which will be against the tank wall ensuring they are tight against the grid and unlikely to move without excessive force. A view of the other side:



13. Add the T-valve so that the loop is complete with one intake, you will need 3 small lengths (40mm) of 16/12 to adapt the piping from the 9/12 currently going out of the loop to the T-connector and from the T-connector to the pump. I have made mine super long so that it is more accessible for experimentation :shifty: yours only needs to be long enough to reach the pump/ fluval filter.



Sample pics (to be extended as stated)

Straight after building:





1 month:

2 months:

6 months:

Notes

My shrimp seem to like to molt behind the filter (they walk over the top above water line) as its a restricted area where they aren't disturbed I am currently think of a way to cut them off completely. So far it seems safe for them to molt there but I do check every few hours incase one gets stuck for an extended period. So far had 2 molts behind it with no casualties. I have also noticed a new behaviour in my amano's they like to bask in the morning they aren't trying to escape and remain with only there heads just above the water line. I have heard cases that they can be out of the water for upto 24hours and survive so I gave them a ramp incase they were trying to escape and put water pots all around my room for them to find a new home if they wished. Not one left for 2 days/nights.

I am using my fluval 1+ filter atm to power the loop in the hope that this will speed up the cycling of the new filter.

The water pressure may cause loose substrate such as sand to be moved if it is exposed directly to an outlet in a tube this can be easily fixed with some insulation tape to divert outlet in the tubing and silicone to ensure it stays in place.

Air bubbles are normal for the first couple of days of running however if prolonged then you will need to discover the source. Shaking the pump whilst underwater should help release any trapped air.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-09-2009, 12:28 AM Thread Starter
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wow 75 views not asingle comment I think I am going for the record!
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-09-2009, 01:10 AM
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I'm assuming this goes into the aquarium against the back wall? How will you clean it when it gets loaded with debris from the water? I'm about to say it is overkill in a planted tank, but since I don't understand exactly what you are doing, I will wait to say that

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-09-2009, 01:34 AM Thread Starter
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Lol It is overkill but its not just a planted tank its got a betta, 3 guppy females, 2 endler males, 6 cherry shrimp and 4 amano shrimp in a US 5 gallon so its overstocked however nothign seems stressed or has died and I am quite an experienced livebearer keeper so I would know if they were having trouble. The beauty of it is that the fluval 1+ that is currently maturing it filters its own water and once the pump goes in I have already set it up with 2 layers of coarse sponge so there should be minimal debris.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 04:11 AM
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I think it is a cool idea
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 05:03 PM
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any updates?

Did it work out for you?
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 08:12 PM
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not sure i get how it works



if im getting this correctly one tube is an intake the other is the outflow.

but the sponge is only on one side wouldnt the water just flow around the sponge rather than thru it?

if there is another sponge im not seeing that would inclose the pipes in between, wouldnt having teh outflow inside of the sponge just blow everything out of it that the sponge "picked up"?

just trying to clear up my questions as im will be starting a nano at the office and having a hidden internal filter would be nice and alot easier to setup.


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 11:02 PM
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i was thinking about some thing just like this for my 55 gallon river tank.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 02:02 AM
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Back in the 90's, algae scrubbers were common in reef tanks. I actually had a sudo algae scrubber incorporated in my fuge when I was into reefs/salt water tanks. They are great for growing pods and cleaning unwanted nutrients from salt water tanks. Not sure if this is what your doing here, but it certainly is an interesting concept.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-04-2011, 12:22 AM
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awesome

i am having alot of spot algae problems in my newly set up tank because it is getting to much direct sunlight. i was going to set up just a plain moss wall but after reading this i am thinking that it is not only going to help reduce the amount of light hitting the tank but is going to incrrease the bio load that the tank can handle. i asm going to try this next weekend and see how it goes
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-04-2011, 12:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phantom85 View Post
i am having alot of spot algae problems in my newly set up tank because it is getting to much direct sunlight. i was going to set up just a plain moss wall but after reading this i am thinking that it is not only going to help reduce the amount of light hitting the tank but is going to incrrease the bio load that the tank can handle. i asm going to try this next weekend and see how it goes

Go for some frogbit. Help cover the light some.


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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-04-2011, 03:37 AM
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the light is coming through the window behind the tank not from above.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-04-2011, 04:52 AM
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the light is coming through the window behind the tank not from above.
Black poster board on the back?

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 12:26 AM
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Curious as to how this worked/works?
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