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External Canister Filter for Shallow Tank?

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Hello all,

While searching for the best external canister filter for my application, being a shallow tank (water is about 20 inches from the top rim of the tank), this forum came up as the top result for all my searches so I thought I'd ask all you wonderful people what you think!

I currently have a terrarium that is 50/50 land and water, plenty of plants in both. I'm looking for a way to keep the water side nice and clean with minimal manual maintenance (at least less than I have now :D). I currently have a Fluval 105 & 205 for my other aquariums and they work great for those setups, but not for my shallow aquarium :(.

In all the Fluval manual's I've found, they all seem to have this clause

The water level should never be more than 7.8 in.
(20 cm)below your aquarium rim
This is unavoidable for me in this shallow aquarium due to the sheer size of the tank. I've tried setting up a temporary rig to hook up the 105 and 205 to my current setup, but they don't seem to have enough "umph" to keep going on their own. If I manually siphon, I can tell the water is roughly an inch or two too shy from the top of the output nozzle to make it over the aquarium rim. If I manually pump the primer, it seems to flow okay, but as soon as I stop pumping, the flow hovers around that inch or two too short range (and yes, I even considered rigging an actuator to the primer pump to just run it 24/7 but it seems like a waste when I could find a proper filter that will do the trick).

I've been looking into the FX5 as it has a stronger pump, but even it has the clause that states it may not function properly if the water level is too far below the aquarium rim.

I have absolutely no experience with non Fluval Canister Filters. I've heard of Eheim, but that's about the extent of my knowledge. I haven't been able to find any clauses about water level in regards to aquarium rim for them but they may be hidden somewhere.

Would anyone be able to point me in the right direction for something that can adequately filter my shallow aquarium? It would be greatly appreciated :)
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One option would be to drill the aquarium and put in a bulkhead. Canister filters arent designed to work like you have it set up, coming up over the rim like that. Having it pump water nearly two feet vertically. Canisters work on siphon action and problems arise when trying to siphon like that.

Another solution would be to put a submersible pump down in the water on your canister's intake, overcoming the forces working against the filter's siphon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks samamorgan!

I had considered both options, however I'm not sure how to drill through glass, though I'm sure I could poke around google now that I know I'm not crazy hehe.

As far as the added sump pump goes, I take it I'd have to similarly match the flow of the filter? Is there any risk of overloading the filter / overflowing something? I've searched through google to see if anyone has done anything similar with the Fluval X05 models but I came up empty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've looked more into the drilling option and it's looking viable. I wasn't aware of the bulkheads before but now that you've mentioned it and I've had a chance to research it, it looks like a great idea!

Do you think that will solve my problems if I were to drill a hole and put a bulkhead in cutting out the 20-30 inches of excess intake pipe without moving the outtake? That would be ideal :D
 

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The outtake shouldnt matter, as long as you aren't exceeding the pumps rated head. I personally would have a bulkhead in/out though, because it would look cleaner, and increase flow rates. Pumps get less and less flow the higher the head gets. Canisters need a good balance between siphoning and return.

And yes, i think you would have to match the sump pump output to the needed rate of siphon fairly closely to minimize any impact on the filter's impeller/motor.
 
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