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For improved water flow I have been running my filters with the media in reverse of what other folks do (I think). I took inspiration from how a pond maintenance company sets up filters for their ponds. The concept is to pack the filter media from coarse to fine in terms of water flow, allowing larger particles to be caught in coarser media and only passing smaller particles to the fine media so the fine media does not fill up as fast. The fine media is what restricts flow the soonest since it fills up the quickest.

Aquarium folks do seem to put their floss in coarse to fine if they use two grades. But the coarse to fine concept does not seem to be carried out to the other media. I think the conventional wisdom is a "functional arrangement", with the belief that the foam/floss will clear out the particulates first and keep the downstream bio-media cleaner. And from there I would guess it is believed that this make a healthier bio-media/bacteria colony.

Conventional wisdom, in water flow order:
  1. 1st layer A: foam/floss
  2. 1st layer B (optional): fine foam/floss
  3. 2nd layer: biomedia such as crushed lava rock, ceramics or bio-balls
  4. 3rd layer: chemical cleansing such as charcoal, purigen, etc...
However if we could grade media from coarse to fine, regardless of any other function it does:
  1. Coarsest: bio-balls, ceramic shapes
  2. Second most coarse: crushed lava and other small rock or small ceramic pieces
  3. Third most coarse: charcoal, purigen, and any other finely crushed solid
  4. Finest: varying densities of foam and floss
So accordingly, I've packed my three layer canisters in this water flow order
  1. 1st layer - coarsest media: bio-balls or ceramic cylinders
  2. 2nd layer - next coarsest media: activated carbon or crushed lava rocks (lava rock used as additional and finer bio-media than bio-balls/ceramic cylinders)
  3. 3rd layer A - coarse foam pad (the kind usually included with filter)
  4. 3rd layer B - dual density filter pad, setup coarse to fine (the product I use is finer than foam)
The performance has been very good, water has been clean, waterflow has been high, and am able to run for weeks without noticing any impaired flow. I can't find any real negatives about this. Some posts indicate a concern for anaerobic bacteria in the bio-media due to large particles jamming up causing anoxic conditions but water flow would seem too high for such a phenomenon. It may also be mitigated by the fact I use pre-filters. And anyway I leave the ceramics/bio-balls in an open tray (not in mesh baggies) so when I gently rinse it in changed tank water, it is easy to wash any large particles and sludge out. My belief is that this arrangement may in fact grow bio-media bacteria faster and more fully, due to the bio-media being first in line, thus cycling a tank/filter faster and creating a stronger colony.

Thoughts?

For reference: using 2 Aqueon QuietFlow 200GPH canisters on a 50G.
 

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For improved water flow I have been running my filters with the media in reverse of what other folks do (I think). I took inspiration from how a pond maintenance company sets up filters for their ponds. The concept is to pack the filter media from coarse to fine in terms of water flow, allowing larger particles to be caught in coarser media and only passing smaller particles to the fine media so the fine media does not fill up as fast. The fine media is what restricts flow the soonest since it fills up the quickest.

Aquarium folks do seem to put their floss in coarse to fine if they use two grades. But the coarse to fine concept does not seem to be carried out to the other media. I think the conventional wisdom is a "functional arrangement", with the belief that the foam/floss will clear out the particulates first and keep the downstream bio-media cleaner. And from there I would guess it is believed that this make a healthier bio-media/bacteria colony.

Conventional wisdom, in water flow order:
  1. 1st layer A: foam/floss
  2. 1st layer B (optional): fine foam/floss
  3. 2nd layer: biomedia such as crushed lava rock, ceramics or bio-balls
  4. 3rd layer: chemical cleansing such as charcoal, purigen, etc...
However if we could grade media from coarse to fine, regardless of any other function it does:
  1. Coarsest: bio-balls, ceramic shapes
  2. Second most coarse: crushed lava and other small rock or small ceramic pieces
  3. Third most coarse: charcoal, purigen, and any other finely crushed solid
  4. Finest: varying densities of foam and floss
So accordingly, I've packed my three layer canisters in this water flow order
  1. 1st layer - coarsest media: bio-balls or ceramic cylinders
  2. 2nd layer - next coarsest media: activated carbon or crushed lava rocks (lava rock used as additional and finer bio-media than bio-balls/ceramic cylinders)
  3. 3rd layer A - coarse foam pad (the kind usually included with filter)
  4. 3rd layer B - dual density filter pad, setup coarse to fine (the product I use is finer than foam)
The performance has been very good, water has been clean, waterflow has been high, and am able to run for weeks without noticing any impaired flow. I can't find any real negatives about this. Some posts indicate a concern for anaerobic bacteria in the bio-media due to large particles jamming up causing anoxic conditions but water flow would seem too high for such a phenomenon. It may also be mitigated by the fact I use pre-filters. And anyway I leave the ceramics/bio-balls in an open tray (not in mesh baggies) so when I gently rinse it in changed tank water, it is easy to wash any large particles and sludge out. My belief is that this arrangement may in fact grow bio-media bacteria faster and more fully, due to the bio-media being first in line, thus cycling a tank/filter faster and creating a stronger colony.

Thoughts?

For reference: using 2 Aqueon QuietFlow 200GPH canisters on a 50G.
Sounds exactly like what I have done to my various filters.
Eheim Pro 4 Model 350
* Very top tray had a medium to course sponge. Clogged up rather quickly. Now I have Eheim smooth ceramic rings in that tray. Next, the water drops to the bottom, then up thru course sponge/medium spong (bottom tray), Eheim BioMech (middle tray), the Eheim Substrat Pro with a top layer of filter floss (top tray). During service, the bulk of the muck is in the bottom of the canister - below the trays.
 
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