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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
After looking around I ended up going with a 29 gallon. 40 would just be a bit too big for my apartment. I purchased the Finnex Planted + 24/7 for lighting. For substrate I was thinking of mixing regular black sand with something like aquasoil to help with the plants and some Osmocote under the substrate. I was thinking of getting a HOB filter as canister filters are a bit costly for me at the moment. With the HOB filter should I be using the charcoal insert that comes with it with a planted tank? Also I see those Biowheel filters, are those any better than a normal filter?

Thanks!
 

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For an HOB I would suggest you go with aquaclear as the filter is more modular and you have more options. The bio-wheels are fine filters but for a planted tank you dont want carbon and the sponges coupled with some bio-media and maybe some purigen with the aquaclear are, in my opinion, the way to go. https://usa.hagen.com/AquaClear--Still-a-Filter-Powerhouse-after-all-these-Years

As for substrate if cash is a factor why not use dirt and cap it with black diamond blasting sand? The main disadvantage is it is more difficult to move plants in a dirted tank but the dirt will do a fine job of holding the nutrients from the osmocote+ and it is CHEAP.

If it was me setting up the tank as you described thats what I would do.
 

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Aquaclear seem to be the HOB filter of choice in this forum. I just started up a 10 gallon and put one on there. So I've only been using one for a month now. I have used biowheel filters since I was about 20. I can give you a breakdown of each.

Acuaclear cons
- The filter was extremely noisy. As the tank is on my night stand, this isn't a good problem to have. After doing some searching, I was by far not the only one to have this issue. Most say to pack the impeller and shaft with petroleum jelly to fix, but you will have to keep cleaning it out, and re-greasing. I ended up just putting a lot of grease on the shaft, and I experimented with teflon tape on the magnet. This helped with the noise, but didn't cure the issue. As I was lying in bed about a week later, the filter sounded like the impeller was hitting something solid and hitting it hard. This lasted for about a minute and then the filter began to run dead silent and has been that way ever since. (I know, weird right?)

-I set my filter up with pre-filter sponges and from bottom to top Eheim substrat, sponge, purigen. It's difficult to get the media basket out of the filter, because I didn't put the substrat in a bag. I am trying to emulate what makes Eheim filters so good, which is zero bypass. The filter does let some water bypass the filter media basket thus negating what I just tried to accomplish.

Aquaclear pros
-This filter is HIGHLY customizable.
-The flow is adjustable.
-The design is simple. (Because of this, it should be robust)
-No filter pads to buy
-Easy to clean

Biowheel cons
-Have to replace filter pads (although, I get mine to last at least 2 months...for anther thread)
-Moderately difficult to clean. What I mean by that is that it can be a pain to clean out the spray bars (which isn't very often). Also, you need to detach the spray bars to get to the impeller area.
-It has a rectangular intake. This may not be a big deal to most, but I like using pre-filters. There is no way for me to adapt to these filters cleanly.
- Zero flow adjustment. Plug it in, and let it go. I like to buy over sized filters, and turn them down a little. You cannot do that with these filters.

Biowheel pros
-Robust. I have had these filters for a long, long time and they just work. The Aquaclear is new to me, so I cannot say one way or the other for those.
-They keep your water clear. My fish have always looked like they were floating in my tank. I get the same results that others claim with purigen. I just started using purigen, and I am fighting a tanins issue right now, so I cannot really make that comparison at the moment.
-Somewhat customizable. There is an area to put different chemical filters in. I just fill mine with filter floss and change it out every 6 months or so.
-Usually quiet. I have sand and snails get in there (no pre-filter) from time to time. The best way to take care of the issue is to use a turkey baster and blow the impeller out while it's running.

Both are great filters. You can't really go wrong. Its all in what you want.

Best of luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the info! With the AquaClear would you recommend going for a larger filter? The one I found says for up to 30 gallons, should I look for something larger with a 29 gallon?
 

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The question of flow and size depends on the fish you plan on keeping but in general I agree with Nordic also if you run a pre-filter (which I would recommend) that will restrict flow a little from the get go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the help! I will probably go with an AquaClear 70 and just turn down the flow as needed. One more thing, for the cycling of the new tank I've heard of some people using Tetra SafeStart. Is this a good way to do it? Or will adding in the plants and just waiting be enough to start the cycling without anything added to the tank?

Thanks again
 

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Ive done it both ways. Personally I think fishless cycling and no bacteria additions with a slow buildup in bio load is the way to go but thats me.
 
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