Tank Filtration and Water Changes - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 01:59 PM Thread Starter
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Tank Filtration and Water Changes

Hello TPT...

Had a question for the group. I have a 55 gallon tank with many fancy Guppies, some Platys and Danios. As for plants, I have Anubias nana and some nangi. If I change out most of the tank water every week, will one dual sponge filter be enough?

M
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 02:08 PM
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Hello TPT...

Had a question for the group. I have a 55 gallon tank with many fancy Guppies, some Platys and Danios. As for plants, I have Anubias nana and some nangi. If I change out most of the tank water every week, will one dual sponge filter be enough?

M
it depends on what your definition of many is. a sponge filter probably isn't enough filtration for a 55. I've only ever used canister filters on my 55. if you want to find out for yourself just test your water parameters every day for a week and see how quickly it rises. any detectable ammonia means your filtration is not suited for your size tank and fish load

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 02:38 PM
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Much depends on what level you want to maintain the tank and how long you want the fish to live. We don't often find a tank that large that will get by on one sponge filter without the fish dying. So it can become a question of what you want. In theory, we could do without a filter and just keep replacing fish! But for most of us, that is not why we started the hobby and do want to give the fish a chance to live, so that means we need more and bigger filters for a couple reasons. One is that we absolutely have to have water move from the bottom to the top to do gas exchange. Bad gas out, O2 in? Without that movement water becomes stagnant and fish will get sick or die at some point. Most find a 55 will require a power filter to avoid doing a lot of work to keep a sponge filter operating well enough to do the job. Part of that is that water changing quickly becomes a real problem when we need to do that much. Part of the problem is keeping that much water without chlorine and at the right temperature, PH/GH/KH to do massive water changes and keep the tank stable. At some point the time, effort, and expense begins to make a power filter look good.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 02:48 PM
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I would say no, of course it depends on the size of the sponge and pump. If we are thinking of the same dual sponge filter, they are rated for 10-20 gallons depending on the model. Even if you only had 10-20 gallons worth of bioload, your issue is going to be turning over all the water. My guess is it would only do once every 2 hours or so as opposed to 2x-10x per hour. This is not only useful for filtration purposes, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, dissolved oxygen levels.

Your other issues are going to be the filter clogging quickly as these tend to be very fine foam. Also, there will be a lot of detritus buildup on the bottom that will need siphoned regularly. With all that said, I run an OVERSTOCKed 75 on sponges only. This is a temporary holding tank for a few months with 3 platies, 25 platy fry, 175 silvertip tetras, 2 farlowella cats, and 8 sterbai cories. The tank is filtered buy 2 Hydor Pro 4 and 1 Hydor Pro 5. I also have a 4" disc airstone to increase turnover.


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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
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Tank Filtration and Planted Tanks

Thanks for the info. Not sure how many Guppies there are in there. You know how fast Livebearers reproduce. I've got some Aglaonema house plants in the tank too for added filtration. I understand it would be a good idea to check the tank water chemistry every so often to check nitrogen levels.

M
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MultiTankGuy View Post
Hello TPT...

Had a question for the group. I have a 55 gallon tank with many fancy Guppies, some Platys and Danios. As for plants, I have Anubias nana and some nangi. If I change out most of the tank water every week, will one dual sponge filter be enough?

M
have courage daredevil and try it out, then bless this community with your reports of stretching the limitations of this hobby. every tribe needs a scout. i salute you boy scout.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 05:39 PM
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I'd say no, no, no.

I'm running two Aquaclear 70 HOB filters on my 60g. They have AC50 impellers and are both filled with sponge material. Effectively they are HOB sponge filters. I also have a 4 liter DIY sponge bio-filter driven by an TOM Aqua Lifter pump. I service the AC70's routinely to get any crud out of the system.

I have found over the years that sponge material is not only a great mechanical filter, but also an excellent platform for biological colony(ies).

You 'might' get away with a couple of large air driven sponge filters, but it wouldn't be my first choice in a display tank.

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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 07:38 PM
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I would think it is fine biologically (can be tested by measuring parameters for a week and looking for trends) but as for allowing enough flow in the tank.... no. Gas exchange and good circulation is needed. Maybe run the sponge and add a small circulation pump to allow for gas exchange and circulation?

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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 08:14 PM
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Can't say for sure without knowing your fish load.
An air stone could help for sure.
A fan blowing over the surface of the water would also help but would cool the water from extra evap.
I tend to assume you have fewer fish than we might be assuming


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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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Sponge Filters and Water Changes

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Originally Posted by Chlorophile View Post
Can't say for sure without knowing your fish load.
An air stone could help for sure.
A fan blowing over the surface of the water would also help but would cool the water from extra evap.
I tend to assume you have fewer fish than we might be assuming
Chlorophile,

The air stone idea is a good one. Will add a couple. I'm religious about my water changes and change out a least half or more. The water changes should keep the water well oxygenated and clear of dissolved fish wastes.

M
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 12:24 AM
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Measure your nitrates. If you maintain the same level over several weeks then yes, it's enough. You have balance the production and removal. If they creep up, no you need to do more. You don't need to be far off not quite enough for things to gradually get worse over time.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 03:03 PM
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One other concern I have with this setup is scalability. If you have female guppies plus the platies, you have 2 frequent heavy breeders. If this does work and then the fish breed, your bioload increases. If your filter is currently operating at 95% bacterial capacity, the new bioload may top that to 105%. The extra bioload will result in detectable ammonia levels in the tank. For you to keep the bioload the same, you will have to cull or remove stock.


Note: Bioload has more to do with the amount of food added. However, the fish have some innate bioload. This normally isn't recognized due to most peoples thanks having 2x filtration. Fortunately, with a high enough plant mass, plants can adjust the compensate pretty quickly. With that, you don't appear to have any fist growers, so this effect is not nearly as quick. But, this is not a risk I like to take.

My advice if you are set on this is to set up the tank. If everything lives great. If they breed, sell some of the new fish on CL or try and trade to a fishstore for credit. Buy a second filter, a larger sponge, or some floating plants/float stems.


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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
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Hello Sar...

I'm counting on the roots of the immersed house plants to remove the bulk of the dissolved fish waste material during the day and and the bacteria colony in the tank to do the same job during the night time hours when the plants rest. The sponge filter is really there to oxygenate the tank water. I do have a couple of air stones in there too.

M
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 11:37 PM
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have courage daredevil and try it out, then bless this community with your reports of stretching the limitations of this hobby. every tribe needs a scout. i salute you boy scout.
Kind of like keeping a discus in a five gallon tank?
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-12-2018, 02:05 AM
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After thinking about this some more, I'm gonna partly retract what I wrote previously.

Filters are a great thing trapping particulate matter and providing a platform for beneficial bacteria. However, many aren't serviced often enough such that decaying detritus makes them a pseudo nitrate factory.

Also, its worth considering that beneficial biology lives on any hard surface in the tank, especially the substrate.

With sufficient water changes to remove pollutants such as TDS, excess nutrients and toxins, filtration becomes much less important. I could theorize that in many cases, a 50%+ water change say twice per week could nearly eliminate the need for a filter in an established aquarium.
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What came first, the chicken or the egg. It was the egg, but not the egg from a chicken.

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