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Everything posted by Peterlock

  1. For decades I've used a Diatom filter for water polishing. In a past review I did a bit of complaining regarding how temperamental they can be - as well as difficult to set up and break down. That said, I realized the Diatom - which hasn't changed since 1970 is really a piece of aquatic care history and there's no other supplementary filter on the planet that can deliver the results a Diatom can. They're still made my hand, in the USA - which in itself is unheard of these days. I've since bought the large XL system and the smaller D-1 - This review is about the D-1 Diatom Filter by Vortex. For those not familiar with the Diatom it uses diatomaceous earth as a filter media. Diatomaceous earth or DE are tiny fossilized organisms called diatoms which are crushed to an extremely fine powder. DE has the ability to filter out particulate matter, pathogens and parasites as small as one micron - it's the only material of it's kind and the Vortex Diatom filter is the only filter on the planet that can rid a tank of parasites like ich. That said, they deliver unrivaled results when it comes to crystal clear water, but they are cumbersome to use. For the larger XL model set up alone is a bit of a challenge, it's time consuming and finicky. You need to be able to open the motor casing, replace bearings, oil certain parts, put silicone on gaskets and fittings and so on. it's not rocket science, I think anyone can do it but this is one filter that does need a little extra TLC. The D1 is much easier to deal with and handle and a great choice for up to a 55 gallon aquarium. You can go larger say, 75 Gallons by letting the filter run longer but chances are you'll need to replace the charge of DE. The XL for instance takes 3 cups of DE - the D1 only one cup and remember, the more it clears the water the more the DE coating on the filter bag will clog and that means lower performance. So you might have to clean the filter and recharge with new DE for a larger tank. But any effort invested with Vortex Diatom pays you back in spades. It's a one of a kind specialty filter that does something many products today don't - it does exactly what it promises to do. And that's to leave you water so pristine and clear it'll knock you out. Turn off your aeration and you'll think your fish are floating in air - the results are that good and that dazzling. As a primary filter for your aquarium I can't recommend it. It's limited to mechanical filtration only. You can use activated charcoal Vortex Super - Char is quite good. But in opinion I think charcoal should be used sparingly and only to remove mediations and tank treatments. Activated charcoal can become toxic quite quickly and should never be used in aquarium water on an on going basis. Many of the problems hobbyists encounter, lethargic fish, fish loss, slow growing plants, dying plants in many cases can all be traced back to using activated charcoal. Quick Specs * Certified Flow Rate of 250 GPH * No water bypass * Good for tanks up to 55 gallons * Only filter that can remove anything down to one micron in size - including ich * 2 year manufacturer's warranty For any one who wants that icy clear water that's so pristine it's almost surreal - is going to love this filter. Once you get the knack of using it - it becomes second nature. They're a little quirky but they are built like iron and should last you a lifetime. You'll end up tweaking it from time, mostly adding a drop or two of oil into the two oil ports from time to mine. Like a good friend - treat it well and the benefits far outweigh any minor inconvenience. Own a piece of aquarium history and get yourself a Diatom - you're guaranteed to love the results. 5 FINS UP!
  2. Gorgeous aquarium, I love how simple and elegant it is. It's these types of designs that remind me over and over that less is more, well done!
  3. For years I've used a Diatom filter for water polishing. For those not familiar with the diatom it uses diatomaceous earth as a filter media - diatomaceous earth or DE are tiny fossilized organisms called diatoms which are crushed to an extremely fine powder. DE has the ability to filter out pathogens as small as one micron - it's the only material of it's kind that can filter out parasites like ich. That said, they are incredibly cumbersome to use. Set up alone even for the experienced is difficult and time consuming. You need to be able to open the motor casing, replace bearings, oil certain parts, replace gaskets, apply silicone, clean out the motor and more. It's a fine product that does exactly what it promises to do but again, very difficult to set up, break down and maintain. A long time fan of many Marineland products - the Magnum 350 caught my interest because it can double as a water polishing system. Instead of the DE it uses long hollow cartridges of a tightly woven pleated material similar to Hepa filters for cleaning the air. Having a few questions I placed a call to Marineland and found out the polishing cartridge will remove particles as small as 10 microns (about half the size of the dot over a lower case i) I would think most people this is more than adequate. When I asked about using DE the Marineland tech told me that using it was fine and can't obstruct the impeller, void your warrantee or cause any problems. So you can easily get the filtration down to one micron - free of the hassles involved with a Diatom filter. The Magnum 350 is the only filter of it's kind that can convert from a mechanical filtration canister - to a water polishing system. Set up is a breeze as is break down - and the results are fast and spectacular. I tried it out on a 55 and within two hours the water was unbelievably clear, pristine and gorgeous. As I write this review it's currently polishing another tank. Included in the box is more than enough hose then you'll ever need, the motor, canister, gaskets, O-rings, a pre filter sleeve, in take strainer and out flow with diffuser. Also included are two handy quick disconnect vales - one for in take and one for out take. These let you un hook one or both hoses without water gushing out everyplace and either move the filter to another tank for polishing or simply empty it and put it away. They even toss in a couple of quality Flexi Brushes for cleaning out hosing and filter parts. As a primary filter for an aquarium I would never recommend it - It's limited to mechanical filtration only. The chamber they give you for activated charcoal is far too small to hold enough biological media and you would never colonize enough nitrifying bacteria. This bacteria is essential to both neutralizing ammonia and maintaining healthy water. Although should a filter fail on you, this would make an excellent temporary filter or perform equally well as a supplementary filtration - if you tolerate the noise level. It comes with a jar of activated charcoal - which I never use. With the rare exception of removing medication from my tanks. Which is another plus for the Magnum 305. The filter is fairly well made - definitely not the build quality you would find with eheim. Some of the smaller parts are flimsy at best, but this is knit picking. Quick Specs * Certified Flow Rate of 350 GPH * No water bypass * Good for tanks up to 100 gallons * Only filter that can convert easily from continuous filtration to water polishing * 2 year manufacturer's warranty * Polishing cartridges can be cleaned and re-charged with bleach solution At the list price around $329.99 I wouldn't give it a second glance. But if you can find a good deal on it, I would say grab one. I bought mine on Amazon for $94 an absolute steal. The polishing cartridges sell for $17.99 just about everyplace you look. However you can find them on eBay or Amazon for $8 - $9 and I've ordered a bunch of them. As far as the Magnum 350 it's short comings are insignificant compared to how much this filter can do for you - as long as you use it for the right application. Marineland stands behind their products. Anyone how used their Stealth heaters - which I really loved was made aware of a potential short in the wiring. I called gave the name and wattage of the heaters and shipped out replacements of a higher end heater immediately. When I was doing the initial set up, the impeller was problematic, called Marineland did some trouble shooting and the person I spoke with took my shipping info and told me they were shipping out a new impeller assembly - good tech support is worth it's weight in gold. My read on the Magnum 350 is it's a great filter to have, and nothing else will keep your water at this level of clarity. Even algae blooms vanish in a few hours, same with hazy new tank syndrome water - if you're using the DE. If you think you can use it for what it does best - and find it a very...very good deal. I would highly recommend it. You get all the benefits of the Diatom filter by Vortex - without the brain boiling headaches.
  4. One of the problems of multiple tanks at least for me, is that every time I want to re-do them something comes up - and something always comes up. I've replaced one 55 with glass as a substrate which you guys have seen pictures of, but my tanks still had that "fish tank" look. I've had the same Sea view backgrounds for years - it was defiantly time for an upgrade. Here's what I know about interior design, you start with the floor, and then the walls. That's the limit of what I know - and that's not much. But like the old saying goes about Art - if you like it, it's good. The easiest and least expensive upgrade I could think of was the background. So I had read some terrific reviews about Oceanvisions and ordered a few feet of the Crystal Black. If anyone has used Sea view Backgrounds and the Sea View mounting gel the application is similar - to a point. Oceanvisons is more like a giant "sticker" it's a 3 ml thick reflective Vinyl with a clear protective film on one side. The adhesive is crazy sticky, so be very careful when applying it - it's a major advantage to have someone help you. The application isn't brain surgery - well, except for me. (I had measuring tapes out, rulers, a compass, a protractor, drafting table, CAD codes loaded on the computer, Tech support on one phone line and Mensa on the other) There were supposed to be instructions included with what I ordered but there wasn't. It was easy enough to go to the Manufacturers site and get them. * Fit the background against the front of your tank and use a razor blade and ruler for a good even cut. * Clean the back of your tank as best you can, get all grit, grime and any other glue or tape residue off. * Wipe the back down with soapy water (this is the odd part) then you do the same to the sticky side of the background (They recommended using a small amount of Dawn dishwashing liquid) The soapy water only buys you time - it allows the background to be moved and positioned before the adhesive sets, so work fast. Once you've got it in place use a credit card to push out all the air bubbles and any wrinkles or folds. Just like with Sea View the only thing that really does a good job of this is a Credit or similar type card, Of course you want to scrape downwards so soapy water doesn't get into your aquarium. The backgrounds aren't permanent and can be removed whenever you like. The residue left on the tanks glass can be removed with a little soapy water, or safe tank glass cleaners. It's a great product and adds a dramatic, elegant effect to your aquarium - without taking the emphasis away from your goldfish. In fact it gives them brighter visibility, and makes your tank look larger and deeper. Oceanvision backgrounds come in Crystal Black, Light or Dark blue, green, mirror and Silver. I also picked up stealth black airline tubing which disappears against the background - it's great stuff as well. Here are some before and after pictures of the same tank: Before - Yuck! What was I thinking? After - a little better. It's a great product if you like this kind of solid background, I'll be ordering more. Oceanvision backgrounds sell for $4.99 per foot - The black stealth tubing $4.49 for 25 feet.
  5. With no shortage of Biological water treatments available - I've never really relied on them. The reason being is there's really no true shortcut to a fully cycled aquarium - you have to wait and let nature take it's course. In the past I've tried products like Cycle by Nutrafin and Easy start by Tetra but in most cases these products were used in setting up fast quarantine and hospital tanks. Most of these products -want you to use them continuously which doesn't make sense to me. If you have a fully cycled tank why would keep adding new strains of bacteria to already established water? Well, I think because some manufacturers want you too keep coming back for more and the price of admission isn't cheap. Cycle at around $22 for 16 ounces encourages you to dose your tank with 5 ml for every ten gallons once a week - and 10 ml for every ten gallons during water changes. Nonsense. This brings me to "Stability" by Seachem (one of my favorite companies) But being partial to them and their product line doesn't mean I don't question or research as best I can when trying something new. That said, I'm nursing a new 55, a 40 and 125. I had a bottle of Stability which I had bought on a what the heck basis - the 55 has fish in it, I seeded the filter but still had serious ammonia spikes. Seachem claims that the bacteria used in competitive products are inherently unstable. And for the bacteria to survive it must live in the exact temperature, PH and other water parameters in which it was raised and colonized. This makes perfect sense. When you add this bacteria to your aquarium, it survives for a brief while - but then crashes and dies. Stability on the other hand, has bacteria that can survive in almost any kind of water - fresh and salt and virtually any type of water conditions. Seachem states the strain took a decade to develop. What sets it further apart from the competition is that it contains nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria which isn't the case for any other product of it's kind. Seachem also states - other bacterial supplements form toxic hydrogen sulfide - something that can never happen with Stability. With this said, I've dosed the 55 and 40 according to the directions which are 5 ml per 10 gallons on the first dose and a follow up of 5 ml per 20 gallons for 7 days. What I've noticed - and noticed quickly, is that my water is clearly more stabilized. Currently I show no ammonia on the API test or Seachem Ammonia Alert meter - it's been five days since the last dose and all of my readings are in the safe zone. I don't use it for water changes - but having experienced the problems of adding fish to a non or partially cycled tank, I have not so fond memories of daily 50% -80% water changes for weeks..ugh. Where Stability shines is in helping you protect your fish and stabilize the water, especially in helping to keep the primary fish killer - ammonia in check. So for specific applications Stability is an excellent product. It's harmless to fish and appears to deliver on it's promise. But as a weekly or even monthly addition to established tank maintenance I wouldn't suggest it. To their Credit, Seachem says you can use it as an on going additive - but unlike other products they don't make it sound like you have to. http://www.seachem.c.../Stability.html
  6. Just about every major manufacture and boutique specialty company has a water conditioning and treatment product. I can't say I've tried them all, but close too it. Some products have at the least, minimal effectiveness while others can be potentially dangerous. An example would be Stress Coat which has binding sugar strands in the Aloe. This isn't a problem unless one of your fish has a small scratch or wound. The sugar feeds the bacteria which can lead to major infection and dire consequences. I've been using Amquel for years and it's a fine conditioner, excellent at removing chlorine, and Chloramines, but like all of these products - they come with limitations. Well, with one exception and that's Prime by Seachem .A few months ago, I decided to give it a try, and haven't looked back since. Prime doesn't just remove the chlorine and Chloramine it does much more: * Detoxifies any and all heavy metals in your tap water (you can contact your water company directly for a list of them and PPM) * Neutralizes Ammonia * Neutralizes Nitrite * Neutralizes high Nitrate to non toxic levels * Removes toxic gases * Will not foam or change PH * Helps regenerate natural slime coat Since using Prime, I've seen improvement in all of my fish. In 2010 one of my tanks was hit with the dreaded and rare Toxic Tank Syndrome (see horror stories) within 48 hours I had lost nine gorgeous fish - except for one survivor, a single Broad Tail Nymph. Since that ordeal, "Roxy" became a bottom dweller spending most of her time laying in a corner. Treatments were conservative, but nothing worked. After my first 50% water change using Prime her behavior began to improve. Now she swims among her tank mates, her color is a gorgeous deep velvet black ( they have such tiny scales they look like velvet) her appetite is ferocious - she's the picture of health (knock on drift wood) In fact I see improvements in all my fish and in every tank . There simply isn't anything like it, Prime is hands down one of the best things you can do for your fish . In addition to the outstanding, patent pending formula of Prime - it couldn't be more economical to use.A single 500 ml bottle treats up to a whopping 5,000 gallons of water. A tiny bit goes a long, long way. It should also be noted that in times of emergency the dose can be increased five times, Prime is harmless to fish. It's the only product of it's kind, and towers above any other water treatment on the market - period. I would urge anyone to add a bottle of Prime to your arsenal of fish care products - Your finned friends will thank you for it. Did I mention it makes a great Martini?
  7. I've written a few reviews on eheim filters so I'll hold back on the gushing compliments and simply review the 2215 which arrived yesterday and is set up and running like a charm. Every part from the motor to the intake tubes, spray bar right down to the suction cups are of unsurpassed quality. The filter is running a 40 gallon close to my bed, and it's absolutely dead silent. You can't go wrong with the 2215 (Model Classic 350) this time proven, efficient system holds a ton of filer media, which is included, two media separation grill plates, more than enough 1/2 inch tubing - and everything you need for easy set up right out of the box. Some fast specs: * Holds one gallon of filter media (included) * 163 GPH * 15 Watts * Fine and coarse filter pads (included) The design hasn't changed in 30 years - no reason to fix what isn't broken. However, there are a few nice improvements: * Safety check valves for both in put and out put - great for leak proof disconnects. * Improved silicon head gasket - should out last the old rubber ones by decades. * Rubber feet on the bottom = zero vibration even on hardwood floors. The instructions are pretty vague, it's best to just follow the diagram. Those experienced with canister filters should have no problems whatsoever. A few things to remember: 1) It's not pointed out in the manual, but you'll need to cut two 3-4" inches of tubing to attach the safety valves at both in take and out put. 2) There are some very good set up videos on Youtube -or you can always call eheim toll free - their support is terrific. The 2215 can handle up to 92 gallons, but I like to at least double up, so this was the perfect choice for my 40 gallon. Like all eheim filters, the media fits so well and tight and the water travels from bottom to top - so there's virtually no water bypass. This means optimum filtration and excellent water quality on the return. If this is your first eheim purchase or if you're like me and have a few eheim filters - the 2215 is a time proven best bet. It's a filter that just won't meet your expectations but exceed them. The only con with the classic line of filters is that they don't have a flow control. However if you feel the current is too strong just put a filter foam sleeve around the intake. It's on sale at Amazon for $99, no tax and free shipping - at this price it's an absolute steal.
  8. Out of my own library of books, research papers and other collected data spanning three decades I can attest no book, no resource has proven time and time again to be as invaluable a reference. The book is as the title suggests, a complete "Guide" to the myriad of complex, often overwhelming and occasionally maddening complexities of keeping these ancient, living works of art alive and flourishing. Perhaps not meant to be read from beginning too end, although I have, many times. The book serves as a reference point for you to turn to regarding specific problems and issues you face at the time. The book shines brightest with it's in depth, sweeping knowledge of disease. Written by some of the most experienced minds who all share a common a thread - an obsession with Fancy Goldfish. The book is geared towards intermediate and advanced hobbyists. However, a novice who is fascinated by these gorgeous creatures and captivated by their behavior should find this book a fascinating read. One you can turn too time and time again. The book is packed with brilliant photographs of Virtually every species/ sub species is covered with excellent commentary and wonderful photographs. You'll also find an incredibly depth coverage of parasites, bacterial and fungal infection along with magnified clear images taken from high powered microscopes. Clear instructions on treatments, medications and cures are abundant and a critically important part of this tremendous effort - written to keep your prized Goldfish, healthy and happy. More than a book " Fancy Goldfish: Complete Guide To Care and Collecting" is an invaluable resource. I would urge anyone who has yet to own a copy not to hesitate. Purchase this book with full confidence and without hesitation.
  9. So I have a little obsession with gadgets and probably need help, but is it really that big of a crime? Anyone whose priced digital probe meters knows they're expensive but so many like those by Hanna, Vital Sine and American Marine have excellent reputations for pin point accuracy. I especially like Hanna because they manufacture every component themselves, they don't source out a single component. This probably is why their reputation is unsurpassed as they remain in complete control of the manufacturing process from start too finish. Personally I don't own any of their high end digital products, with the exception of their digital thermometer which I've had for about 5 years - and it's a great device. The probe is stainless steel and very sharp so you could use it to check the internal temperature of oranges and grapefruit if you were so inclined. I find the best use for it to be checking water temperature during the fun and always welcome ordeal of water changes. There's a plastic cover that snaps on over the probe which you'll want to make sure is attached when you submerge the probe - which you need do only about an inch or so to get the reading. The unit meets the compliance with USA food regulations, so no worries about the material being unsafe for your fish. The meter has self check function which with a simple press of a button the device will check itself and make sure it's properly calibrated. Checktemp has a range of -58.0 to 302.0 degrees - and I have found it to be continuously spot on accurate. The meter also operates on one single 1.5V AAA battery, which should provide a whopping three thousand hours of continuous use. It's small enough to fit in your pocket so if you have tanks in different rooms or use different taps to fill buckets as is the case for me, it's a really handy gadget to have. Easy to operate, you just slide a little switch over and the meter does a quick calibration and then it's ready to go. The only con I have about it is that it's not an instant read - it can take up too 20 seconds to get your final reading, which shows up nice and clear on the LED screen. 20 seconds doesn't sound like much, but when you're hunched over a bathtub or sink it sure does. Especially when waiting for those infernal and dangerous mercury thermometers to level off. You'll get a final reading faster at times but not by much. It comes with the following * Stainless Steel Probe * Protective Sleeve * One 1.5 V AAA Battery * Instruction Manual Priced around $25 it's an excellent value - provides accurate readings and makes water changes easier by eliminating guess work. Without hesitation I would recommend the Hanna Checktemp to most anyone.
  10. Having used Seachem ammonia Alert meters for years, I find them indispensable. I've tried Mardel meters but have found them to be just awful. Inaccurate readings galore and you have to replace the cartridges every 4-6 weeks. They're also 2-3 times the cost of the meters by Seachem. The Seachem meters don't replace proper testing of water parameters but then they're not meant to. They simply alert you to Ammonia spikes. They won't give you a specific reading but rather let you know at a glance if there's a problem ranging from alert to toxic. From that point you need to get out your test kits and confirm your ammonia level. The meters perform exactly as intended - serious hobbyists have been relying on them for years as a tool to prevent potential disaster. Seachem states each meter will last a year, but I replace mine every six months or so - to stay on the safe side. At the minimal price for these meters I find them an exceptional value when used correctly for their intended purpose. Seachem ammonia alert meters provide added peace of mind (and with these fish we need all of that we can get) - not to mention they warn you of potential disaster and loss of fish by ammonia poisoning. The best price I've found is on Amazon where the Ammonia and PH meters cost $8.00 apiece. It's money well spent.
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