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I need to start researching canister filters seriously now that we have a 60 gallon waiting for fish to come out of qt. I'd like to compare a couple different ones at the same power level, I'm thinking probably Fluval vs Eheim - I'm just not sure which models will be the right size, comparable, etc. We have an AquaClear 110 HOB that will be used at the same time as whatever canister I get. But I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the GPH for it since it's 167-500. That seems like a huge range, so I'm having trouble knowing what size canister it will take to fulfill the 10x rule. Right now, this tank will be home to three fish - one fantail, one moor, and one oranda. I want to err on the side of over-filtering though, because side question - would it be absolutely unthinkable to have 4 fish in a 60 gallon if someone else amazing swims along later, or could we get away with it? I might have follow up questions, but this is a starting point at least.
A while back Alistairw and I had a discussion via posts about filter flow rates and the GPH ratings touted by manufacturers. We were entirely in agreement that that manufacturers outrageously inflate these claims to sell more product. As an example we talked about Aquaclear specifically the 110 and it's advertised flow rate of a whopping 500 GPH. A friend of mine who keeps an abundance of large tanks from Fancy Goldfish to Live Rock and Saltwater has high end equipment and she's tested the flow rates of countless filters. I had quoted her as getting a reading of 150 GPH on the Aquaclear 110 but I was mistaken. During a recent conversation the flow rate she recalled was 52 GPH - and that was without any media - so 10% of the advertised claim. But this news shouldn't come as a surprise. If you consider the size of the pump on an eheim Pro 1200 XL this monster filter is made for tanks up to 320 gallons and has an adjustable flow rate up too 450 GPH - 50 gallons less than that tiny, fit in the palm of your hand little pump that runs the Aquaclear. The Diatom XL with it's lawnmower style top mounted pump capable of cleaning and polishing the water in multiple tanks has a GPH up too 400. Anyone who has ever owned any of these large canister filters or lifted off the pump knows just how solid and heavy they are. The question remains why do companies get away with making such outrageous claims? The answer is simple - because they can. Advertising and marketing is a slippery slope, it's been my career for decades and I've had my eyes opened more than once. I can tell you that an average bottle of perfume or cologne has a manufacturing price point of under $2.00 and all of it with the exception of a few pennies goes into packaging - because that's what sells. The cost of the contents in the bottle is insignificant. (with very few exceptions) This same scenario plays out in just about everything we buy. It's all about commerce and making a profit - and that's fine when we're talking about inanimate objects. But it isn't fine when we're talking about living beings like the fish that we love and nurture. Anyone who's read my post on commercial Dog food - knows how much I despise it. Out of thousands of brands there are 14 considered safe and healthy for your dog But at least commercial pet food has someone to answer too and the consumer someone to get the facts from and or file a complaint with and that's AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) When it comes to aquaria - we're on our own. Not only isn't there a single regulatory agency or organization that manufacturers must comply with. Nor is there a single organization to protect the consumer. Research is sparse to say the least. According to the APPA (American pet products association) 11.9 million households have a freshwater aquarium. Roughly half are estimated to own two or more aquariums. So it would be fair to say the number of fish tanks in American households would be over 20 million. Considering the cost of setting up and maintaining a single tank for say, one year - it's easy to see how Aquatic Pet Supply has become a multi Billion dollar industry. Most of the electrical components are considered appliances. Yet very few are even UL listed. And none to my knowledge are energy efficient certified - so much for the credibility on wattage and cost of use. As far as flow rates you need a professional flow rate meter to get an accurate reading. The little plastic flow meters you can buy for $30-$50 which are either plumbed in or connected between your out take hose are notoriously inaccurate and limited to what is little more than a guess at GPH up to a limit of 250 GPH at most. Air bubbles and particulate matter even those that can't be seen with the naked eye will distort any readings from these types of devices. I've often thought of buying one but glad I didn't. Especially now that I've made a few calls and done a bit of research and finally understand just how a flow rate is calculated. A good flow rate meter will have transducers that attach to the output pipe or tubing. These transducers send sound waves through the flowing water and back to the meter. The meter converts the speed the sound waves travel through flowing water into data that gives you your GPH. The cost of these instruments is prohibitive to say the least. The Innova-Sonic 205i by Seirra Instruments sells for $5,198 and they told me it was their most popular unit. If you're not in the business of testing flow rates this proably wouldn't be a good investment. But if you just happen to have that kind of change laying around to play with please buy on and let me borrow it. The only answer I see for ensuring the quality of products from the food we feed our goldfish to the filters that clean their water is regulation - and therein lays the rub. Companies that want their claims substantiated have much to gain from regulation. For example that stamp of approval from the FDA gives us, the consumer a sense of confidence and it helps to sell more product. When we buy food we like to know what we buy has the stamp of approval from the USDA. Companies who've built their business on misinformation and outright lies want no part of regulation. Because that would expose every false claim and lie. Or they would be forced into spending money upgrading the quality of their products to meet their claims - and that's probably what they fear most. So what to do? I think it's what most of us do already. Listen to others who we trust, research and research more and finally make the best choices we can using the information we have available. Goldfish are mysterious and complex, there are no iron clad rules a mere handful of experts - and an overwhelming number of self proclaimed experts. Goldfish lovers differ on every issue you can think of from how many fish to a tank, to PH, to using aquarium salt, to treating illness. You pick an issue and without question you'll find two opposing camps - guaranteed. And I think that's a good thing. It lets us - as hobbyists cherry pick the information that makes sense to us. In doing so we find out what works best for both ourselves and the fish we love.