EI method = filterless aquarium? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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EI method = filterless aquarium?

My point is you should not need any supplemental filtration if you are changing 50% of your water every week. As long as you have these three things, you should be fine between water changes:

1) good water circulation
2) established aquarium bacteria colony
3) lots of thriving plants

It seems like if you have those three key components, canister filters, HOB filters (when used for the point of filtration) are pointless.

I donít even think a heavy fish load is problem as long as you have the three key items and keep up with water changes.

Any thoughts?
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post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 05:41 PM
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it's a risk because the filter helps out alot with #1 and #2
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post #3 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 05:52 PM
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You can get by on a powerhead with a filter sponge, and can even ditch the filter sponge on an old very well established tank. But for the sake of all the new tanks that pop up on a daily basis around here, most people will not recommend it for beginniers/novices.

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post #4 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by redfalconf35 View Post
it's a risk because the filter helps out alot with #1 and #2
Iím not sure I believe that. The risk is heavily reduced by changing half your water every week.

If you have good circulation with the use of powerheads, you have #1 covered. If you have an established aquarium with deep substrate, you have #2 covered. The substrate, glass walls & plants contain much more bacteria than any filter can house.

How can an appreciable amount of toxin build up in a weeks time?
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post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 06:01 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by coolnick View Post
You can get by on a powerhead with a filter sponge, and can even ditch the filter sponge on an old very well established tank. But for the sake of all the new tanks that pop up on a daily basis around here, most people will not recommend it for beginniers/novices.
Even for a beginner, it cannot get any more straightforward than changing half your water every week and plugging in a powerhead or two. If the beginner is using the EI method of dosing (which is recommended for beginners), then a filter becomes an unnecessary expense for someone trying to get into this hobby.
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post #6 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by ExReefer View Post
Iím not sure I believe that. The risk is heavily reduced by changing half your water every week.

If you have good circulation with the use of powerheads, you have #1 covered. If you have an established aquarium with deep substrate, you have #2 covered. The substrate, glass walls & plants contain much more bacteria than any filter can house.

How can an appreciable amount of toxin build up in a weeks time?
I agree that if you know what you're dealing with, it's possibly a very viable alternative for the established tank, but if you switch the filter off too early, the ecosystem will collapse quickly. It also depends on the size of the tank and the stocking plan. A 1g tank can get toxic in hours if you let it go out of control. I'm not trying to discourage this idea, because i think it's interesting, but there are certain types of tanks that this isn't feasible for.
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post #7 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 06:40 PM
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I ran a 29 gallon tank for several months with just a powerhead, having a sponge on the inlet, for a filter. It worked, but not well, because the water was never visibly clean. Nothing bad happened, but water with particles floating around just doesn't look good. There are a lot of things you can compromise on with an aquarium, but whether the compromises are worthwhile is another question.

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post #8 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 06:43 PM
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Given the detritus and filth that my filters collect I would never want to run a tank without one.

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post #9 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 06:48 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by redfalconf35 View Post
I agree that if you know what you're dealing with, it's possibly a very viable alternative for the established tank, but if you switch the filter off too early, the ecosystem will collapse quickly. It also depends on the size of the tank and the stocking plan. A 1g tank can get toxic in hours if you let it go out of control. I'm not trying to discourage this idea, because i think it's interesting, but there are certain types of tanks that this isn't feasible for.
I think it is an interesting topic as well. Iíve been thinking about it for a while. Iím sure someone has posted a thread about this in the past, but maybe not in conjunction with the EI dosing method.

I see loads of plant tank enthusiasts with canister filters and I believe itís just not necessary for filtration purposes.

I recently moved from a reef tank into the planted aquarium hobby. As you may have guessed, I do not run any supplemental filtration (aside from a sponge on my powerhead). I have a 75 gal aquarium with three inches of Eco Complete, various stem plants, pressurized CO2, and two powerheads. I use one Maxi-jet 1200 with a Sure Flow kit (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=3578+4588+18992&pcatid=18992). I bought a circular sponge to fit over the intake on the Sure Flow kit and put my CO2 line directly into intake. The sponge keeps plant debris from clogging the propeller and the propeller disperses CO2 micro bubbles throughout the aquarium. I use one very small powerhead in addition to the Max-jet for additional water flow pointed at the surface for air exchange. The sponge on my powerhead is the only unnatural filter.

Other than that, I rely on my substrate, plants, and water changes to keep my fish healthy. I have an Ehiem canister filter sitting unused in a box in my basement. I have no concerns about leaks because I have no water leaving the tank via canister filter, HOB filter, etc. This gives me peace and keeps my set up very simple.
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post #10 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 07:02 PM
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I've always wanted to try an "au naturale" tank with little or no filtration, using a dense plant mass to keep it healthy, but once i buy the powerhead, i will just want to make a DIY filter of some sort. Maybe i'll make a 5g canister filter w/ it keep us updated on how your tank does w/o the filter.
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post #11 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 07:03 PM
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I have done it before and the tank never was as clean as when it had a canister on it. I also ended up cleaning the sponges considerably more than I wanted to.


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post #12 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 07:08 PM
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I've been running a 46g tank with a powerhead + sponge for almost 10 years now. Day one I put plants in the system. About two weeks later I stocked it to what I consider 100% capacity. I had no losses for quite some time, and those were normal for the fish I have in there. I do right around 50% changes weekly, although I am not running anything close to a EI system. Easiest tank I have ever had, by far. I agree with what ExReefer is saying, and it has been my philosophy for years that waterchanges are the most important and most effective filter we have.

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post #13 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 07:17 PM
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Imeridian, I'll take that eheim off your hands

The problem I have had without filtration is simply water clarity. I had a 10 gallon that went without a filter for a few months and with the exception of a few fry dying, the fish did fine.
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post #14 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 08:14 PM Thread Starter
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I understand the idea behind the media baskets containing additional media for holding live bacteria. Couldnít you just add more substrate to the bottom of your aquarium to accomplish the same thing? Eco Complete is porous and can hold a good deal of bacteria. Reminds me of Eheim Ehfisubstrat.

As for filtering small particles, a very fine sponge attached to a strong powerhead with take care of that. My sponge gets loaded with junk. I just squeeze the sponge in a bucket of tank water to clear off some of the collection.
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post #15 of 40 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 08:37 PM
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To add to this, we should think about undergravel filters. It's just using the substrate as a filter, drawing water through it. It seems that this is a similar technique to the filterless tank
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