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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am still new and learning everything about canister filters.

I have the Marineland C-220 series. Right now it has the floss pad, ceramic rings, carbon, bio balls and sponges. Does anyone have any good recommendations for different media?

My water is clear, algae free and a strong flow rate still. I am gonna be cleaning it for the first time this Thursday (1 month since starting it up) and was wondering if I should change out any of the media.
 

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Yea I'm generally not a fan of chunky media. You do need them to be a certain size but not that big imo. Bio balls and rings are usually for big sumps.

I haven't tried carbon but know the gurus don't generally use it
 

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I have that same C220 filter (2 of them actually). I didnt use the bio-balls. I went sponges at the bottom, then floss (I use quit batting), then the carbon and purigen(this is a new setup, and a non planted tank) and once the carbon is gone it will be more floss and the purigen, and then the ceramic rings mixed with matrix.
 

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Carbon is good for clearing out meds from a tank even with a water change it helps...carbon only last like a couple days to a week pushing it..as said I would if had the funds maybe change our bio balls or ceramic rings...look into this thread some of the good people here have started a test with some of the top media a lot of us use.

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/9-equipment/1045898-matrix-without-seachem.html

..in my canister I got the Eheim Substrat Pro material but if I remember right I might have the rings and rock mixed..either way I want to get rid of the rings and get more rock since the rings are so smooth that they are pretty pointless when it comes to growing beneficial bacteria on them..but if things are working right now no need to change if you have the money then go little by little..it's going to be a long process in the sense of you can't take all bio balls out or you will start a recycle and other problems with the tank..changing little by little over a course of a couple months will work..or if you got a HOB put those suckers in there let it run for a couple weeks to a month or a little longer (longer is just being safe how my head works) and by then you should have some good BB on it that you can switch out all bio balls for the other media and take out the HOB..and can do the same with the rings..just do things slow and take your time..if you go fast you will cause problems to the tank..but that goes with every thing with a tank is a slow long process to the road of perfection!!! Hope this helps!!!!

How my canister is set up but I got a bag of purigen at on top of the fine pad with another fine pad on top of the purigen lol
 

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I wanted to add I use a sponge pre-filter on all of my canisters. They make great bio-filters and significantly reduce filter maintenance and stretch the life of the sponges that come with the C220.
 

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I've always, without fail, used 30ppm foam for mechanical followed by seachem matrix. I spray the foam out from time to time with hot water and dip the matrix in old tank water from a water change to separate some debris if it forms on the media. I know bio balls are inefficient submerged media. Sponges work well for bio media as well as ceramic medias.
 

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Personally, I think people can really overthink canister media simply because there are so many options. You could use almost anything with the right amount of surface area, plus a course and a fine pad and be just fine with regular maintenance followed.

Personally my favorites to add are a combination of substrat pro, seachem matrix or foam filled bio balls and floss/fine pad and course pads... plus purigen and chemi-pure. Ceramic rings or better substitutes can be good at catching larger particles, but I don't always use those either.

I suppose the smaller the filter and with less filtration these choices would become more important. I usually have two filters or one large canister so it doesn't really matter much.
 

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I do find a lot of what I might call confusion when debating the best media. What is "best" is likely to be different in lots of cases so we won't all find one specific item. So then the search begins and the more we understand what each media gives us is going to help us choose better.
One item that is often missed with the barrels like Eheim provides is what they are meant to do. They do collect some bacteria as all things do, but their main purpose in the Ehiem canisters is to improve the water flow so that all the media is used. I think of the space at the bottom of the can and the barrels as something of a maze that spreads the water around the full bottom area. In doing that the water is more prone to rise through all the full circle of media rather than coming out of the pipe and heading up in one single "tunnel" through the media above.
How and what to put above depends on what you find your tank needs. Got more junk floating around? Get more or finer things to strain the particles. Too much ammonia so that you need more bio? Add more bio media.
One I find that I don't like is the loose filter floss as it gets too sogged and just cuts flow too quick. I use a bonded blue/white pad to replace floss as it has stiffeners to hold the shape better. No carbon for me. Don't find I need it so I lay it back for some time when I might.

Big point to me? I recommend waiting to do the first cleaning if there is not a real reason. If flow is not dropping too much, I would wait. When tanks and filters are new, the bacteria seems somewhat easy to disrupt and cause a mini-cycle. Many canisters can run several months before needing cleaned. Unless there is a reason, I would wait to clean and then do it gently to preserve all the bacteria you can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yea I'm generally not a fan of chunky media. You do need them to be a certain size but not that big imo. Bio balls and rings are usually for big sumps.

I haven't tried carbon but know the gurus don't generally use it
So what if I replaced the ceramic rings with small lava rock? I heard that works good.

I have that same C220 filter (2 of them actually). I didnt use the bio-balls. I went sponges at the bottom, then floss (I use quit batting), then the carbon and purigen(this is a new setup, and a non planted tank) and once the carbon is gone it will be more floss and the purigen, and then the ceramic rings mixed with matrix.
Isn't purigen bad for planted tanks since it removes nitrates? And matrix is just another bio layer, so maybe that instead of the bio balls?

Carbon is good for clearing out meds from a tank even with a water change it helps...carbon only last like a couple days to a week pushing it..as said I would if had the funds maybe change our bio balls or ceramic rings...look into this thread some of the good people here have started a test with some of the top media a lot of us use.

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/9-equipment/1045898-matrix-without-seachem.html

..in my canister I got the Eheim Substrat Pro material but if I remember right I might have the rings and rock mixed..either way I want to get rid of the rings and get more rock since the rings are so smooth that they are pretty pointless when it comes to growing beneficial bacteria on them..but if things are working right now no need to change if you have the money then go little by little..it's going to be a long process in the sense of you can't take all bio balls out or you will start a recycle and other problems with the tank..changing little by little over a course of a couple months will work..or if you got a HOB put those suckers in there let it run for a couple weeks to a month or a little longer (longer is just being safe how my head works) and by then you should have some good BB on it that you can switch out all bio balls for the other media and take out the HOB..and can do the same with the rings..just do things slow and take your time..if you go fast you will cause problems to the tank..but that goes with every thing with a tank is a slow long process to the road of perfection!!! Hope this helps!!!!

How my canister is set up but I got a bag of purigen at on top of the fine pad with another fine pad on top of the purigen lol
Thanks for that link!!! From what I am seeing it's probably best to replace the rings with something a little more porous? Like lava rock or matrix.

I wanted to add I use a sponge pre-filter on all of my canisters. They make great bio-filters and significantly reduce filter maintenance and stretch the life of the sponges that come with the C220.
What exactly is a sponge pre-filter? Just a finer Sponge before the big ones?

I've always, without fail, used 30ppm foam for mechanical followed by seachem matrix. I spray the foam out from time to time with hot water and dip the matrix in old tank water from a water change to separate some debris if it forms on the media. I know bio balls are inefficient submerged media. Sponges work well for bio media as well as ceramic medias.
So adding another Sponge layer seems like it would help a lot.

Personally, I think people can really overthink canister media simply because there are so many options. You could use almost anything with the right amount of surface area, plus a course and a fine pad and be just fine with regular maintenance followed.

Personally my favorites to add are a combination of substrat pro, seachem matrix or foam filled bio balls and floss/fine pad and course pads... plus purigen and chemi-pure. Ceramic rings or better substitutes can be good at catching larger particles, but I don't always use those either.

I suppose the smaller the filter and with less filtration these choices would become more important. I usually have two filters or one large canister so it doesn't really matter much.
Do you ever have to replace your matrix and substrat pro?

I do find a lot of what I might call confusion when debating the best media. What is "best" is likely to be different in lots of cases so we won't all find one specific item. So then the search begins and the more we understand what each media gives us is going to help us choose better.
One item that is often missed with the barrels like Eheim provides is what they are meant to do. They do collect some bacteria as all things do, but their main purpose in the Ehiem canisters is to improve the water flow so that all the media is used. I think of the space at the bottom of the can and the barrels as something of a maze that spreads the water around the full bottom area. In doing that the water is more prone to rise through all the full circle of media rather than coming out of the pipe and heading up in one single "tunnel" through the media above.
How and what to put above depends on what you find your tank needs. Got more junk floating around? Get more or finer things to strain the particles. Too much ammonia so that you need more bio? Add more bio media.
One I find that I don't like is the loose filter floss as it gets too sogged and just cuts flow too quick. I use a bonded blue/white pad to replace floss as it has stiffeners to hold the shape better. No carbon for me. Don't find I need it so I lay it back for some time when I might.

Big point to me? I recommend waiting to do the first cleaning if there is not a real reason. If flow is not dropping too much, I would wait. When tanks and filters are new, the bacteria seems somewhat easy to disrupt and cause a mini-cycle. Many canisters can run several months before needing cleaned. Unless there is a reason, I would wait to clean and then do it gently to preserve all the bacteria you can.
I was just following what the Marineland guide says. Maybe I should wait another month or so. Do you think it would be problematic to replace the carbon with lava rocks since everyone seems to say carbon doesn't help too much.

I have no loose particles floating around, no ammonia, water is clear, and no algae.

Does the order of the media matter much? I am just following the order Marineland has right now.
 

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The order of media material does matter - to a degree. Basically, you want the course media first, then some finer media or bio media, then finish up with the fine filter pad. Some users (like myself) prefer to put the fine filter pad before the bio media to better protect the biomedia from plugging up with debris (I don't mind tearing the filter down monthly to clean the fine filter pad).

Honestly, every new filter I have ever setup, I typically toss the carbon media in a drawer before I set up the filter. In my opinion, I would toss your carbon and replace it with something else. What you replace it with depends on your particular setup. If you have some ammonia issues, then add more bio media. If you want to add more fish, then add more bio media. If you hate seeing fine floaties in your tank and your ammonia levels are good, then add more fine filter floss.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The order of media material does matter - to a degree. Basically, you want the course media first, then some finer media or bio media, then finish up with the fine filter pad. Some users (like myself) prefer to put the fine filter pad before the bio media to better protect the biomedia from plugging up with debris (I don't mind tearing the filter down monthly to clean the fine filter pad).

Honestly, every new filter I have ever setup, I typically toss the carbon media in a drawer before I set up the filter. In my opinion, I would toss your carbon and replace it with something else. What you replace it with depends on your particular setup. If you have some ammonia issues, then add more bio media. If you want to add more fish, then add more bio media. If you hate seeing fine floaties in your tank and your ammonia levels are good, then add more fine filter floss.
How are lava rocks as a bio media?
 

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I have never used lava rocks as bio media but when I asked that same question some time ago my research showed me that almost all types of ceramic media provided more actual porus surface area than lava rock. Lava rock looks like it would be great but looks can be deceiving. The best media I saw were these ceramic log looking pieces. Bio balls are amazing for wet dry filters but not for fully submerged media such as canister media. Purigen does not remove nitrates (this may be tit for tat to you), it removes organic compound particulates from the water which is why it clears the water so well. Those compounds eventually will break down into many things including nitrates but nitrates are usually the least of our worries when difficiancies are found. My tap spits out 5ppm nitrate and I ei dose ssooo I and most of us are fine there.
 

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I'll try to not get too into depth here.

Sintered glass biomedias (Eheim SubstratPro and what @Willcooper is referring too by the round logs, Biohome Ultimate, more porous/surface area than ceramic media) is supposed to have the most surface area.

Though Cermedia MarinePure, which is made of inert aluminosilicate ceramic, has some pretty nice claims, but is expensive.

Seachem Matrix (smaller version would have more surface area for nitrifying bacteria than the larger sized Pond Matrix, but the Pond matrix does have *more potential space for denitrifying bacteria *when used in flow rates higher than 50 GPH) is another material with a large amount of surface area per volume. Regular Pumice stone may be the same thing (still not 100% confirmed) at a even cheaper price.

There are also open cell foams (poret foam, etc) that claim to have large amounts of surface area.

But there is also different nitrifying filtration methods that are can be more effective at nitrifying even without these biomedia that have large amounts of surface area per volume. Such as Fluidized/Moving Bed Filters (can use sand or many different light material such as K1 kaldnes and the likes), or Wet/Dry filters that provide a more oxygen rich environment for nitrifying bacteria.

As Willcooper hinted at, lava rocks looks very porous, but those "pores" don't tunnel network all through the internal structure of the material, so just the outside surface is really the only available surface area, while other materials really do have pores that allow water to pass through the internals (more surface available inside the media).

But as already mentioned early in this thread, if your current set up is working just fine, there is no need to change anything/upgrade (you can just use carbon or purigen as needed though). The Beneficial bacterial colonies will only grow to a population size to handle the given bio/nitrogen load. Large amounts of surface area can be unused if you don't have much bioload that would require all that space.

I'll throw a monkey wrench in, these highly porous biomedia with a large amount of surface area, the pores are really small and clog easily so when those pored clog, those water passageways are cut off, making the internal surface unusable for nitrifying bacteria (not enough oxygen reaching those areas, but does provide a suitable environment for denitrifying anaerobic bacteria so that can be a plus if desired), so it pretty much negates the purpose of using those high surface area biomedias.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Oh ok, that was very well explained. Thanks!

One thing people don't seem to be mentioning is chemical filtration too much. Should it always be used or should there be a reason to have to use it?
 

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Generally speaking, most of us don't use carbon (chemical filtration) in planted tanks. It has it's place (removing various chemicals used to treat illness in your tank, etc.) but unless you need it, I would put the space used by chemical filtration to better use (more mechanical or more biological, depending on your specific needs).
 

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Carbon really can be used anytime, but it definitely has it's place when starting up a new aquarium. You want to put anything that will remove organics from the water until the plants and the more traditional bio-filter kicks in. Both Eheim and ADA both recommend it's use at startup.
 

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lava rocks looks very porous, but those "pores" don't tunnel network all through the internal structure of the material
don't believe the hype. Lava rocks (including pumice) were used originally because they are the most naturally porous rock. During its cooling and formation stage, gasses inside create tiny cavities. Why do they go dark when submersed? Because water gets inside. manufacturers of course deny this and try to convince us otherwise but ask how do they make their media porous and you'll soon find out it's the same technique.

Real lava rock has been sustaining microorganisms on and inside it naturally in our seas for millions of years. They also contain more minerals. Another overlooked fact.
 
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