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Cannister filter vs. hang-on-back power filters


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My 55 gal tank (2 med-large GF + 1 BN pleco about to join us) has 2 hang-on-back filters. They're both by Marineland--one is a very large single with HUGE filter pads (doubled) and the other is a double. Both are biowheel filters.

They seem to do a good job, but I keep hearing how much better cannister filters are, and you can't have too much filtration w/ goldies!

Can someone explain the following?

(1) Where does the cannister sit? In the cabinet under the tank? Is there no risk of water ending up all through the house if something were to break?

(2) How do you clean them? Is it pretty easy? Do you rinse the media regularly? How often is it replaced?

(3) How does biologial filtration work with these?

(4) What size would I need? I assume I would go for much more than a 55 gal one, as GF are dirty. 150 gal? 100?

(5) Should I continue to use the existing filters as well or replace them w/ the cannister entirely?

Thanks! Still not sure if I'll do this or not but need to do some fact-finding! :)

Edited by pawsplus
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My 55 gal tank (2 med-large GF + 1 BN pleco about to join us) has 2 hang-on-back filters. They're both by Marineland--one is a very large single with HUGE filter pads (doubled) and the other is a double. Both are biowheel filters.

They seem to do a good job, but I keep hearing how much better cannister filters are, and you can't have too much filtration w/ goldies!

Can someone explain the following?

(1) Where does the cannister sit? In the cabinet under the tank? Is there no risk of water ending up all through the house if something were to break?

There's risk with all filters, however canisters are water-tight, and will not leak provided they have an O-ring around the seal. They can be placed where it is convenient, however take note on where the best placement distance is for the filter, which is usually shown in diagrammatic form in the instructions

(2) How do you clean them? Is it pretty easy? Do you rinse the media regularly? How often is it replaced?

Media in all filters is rarely replaced, unless it breaks down quickly, or is chemical media (such as carbon). Cleaning can take longer depending on the size of the canister, and the way it is assembled, but I find it is still relatively easy, and my canister is 20L capacity. It takes me roughly 45 minutes to clean it in conditioned water (matched temp and pH).

(3) How does biologial filtration work with these?

Same as any other filter. The cycle does not change in terms of filters- it all happens the same way, however some filters are more efficient at running water evenly through all of the media provided, resulting in better water polishing. Canisters, which often carry much more media than most filters, will be able to hold more beneficial bacteria, and polish the water quite well as there is more media to pass through. Water polishing also does rely on the quality of media as well. Too much coarse media will not trap smaller waste particles as much as fine media, so it's good to have coarse media such as bio balls, noodles, rocks, at the bottom of the filter, and finer media such as sponge and filter wool/floss near the top. The density of the media also does affect the rate of flow.

(4) What size would I need? I assume I would go for much more than a 55 gal one, as GF are dirty. 150 gal? 100?

With canisters, 5x the capacity of the tank per hour is an acceptable rate. Go for the GPH (gallons per hour) rather than the size, however more media is beneficial. 10x filtration is optimal, and you can get canisters that do this. I run a canister filtering over 10x of my tank per hour, but as I mentioned above, this is quite a large filter.

(5) Should I continue to use the existing filters as well or replace them w/ the cannister entirely?

Really depends on the quality and GPH of the filter. Running two is a great precaution, especially if one happens to break down.

Thanks! Still not sure if I'll do this or not but need to do some fact-finding! :)

Hope this helps! I've answered your questions in red :)

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How do you find the GPH? I don't see it listed anywhere on any of the listings--here, for instance:

http://www.thatpetplace.com/marineland-c-530-canister-filter-150-gal?sc=10&category=2721

Is there a particular brand/type you recommend?

When you say " It takes me roughly 45 minutes to clean it in conditioned water (matched temp and pH), what do you mean, exactly? I am on a spring, so no chlorine in my water and I so I normally rinse my filter cartridges in tap water. How often do you have to do this 45 minute cleaning and what is involved? Is that tearing the whole thing down? That sounds like a LOT of work, unless it's very infrequent!

Thanks for your help! :)

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It says it filters 530gph in one of the yellow hexagons :) Just a little hard to see without zooming in. I have only used the Atman brand of canisters, since they are the only ones sold at my lfs. However, although they make great small canisters, the larger ones are not worth the price. So I really am not in the position to be able to recommend a good filter for you.

I clean once every three months on my canister filter, although many people clean every 4-6 weeks. Base it on how dirty your canister filter gets. I just get a bucket of water with the same pH and temp as my tank (mines city water, so I need to condition) and give the media a good rinse, by lightly squeezing it until the waste from it is gone- the media will always stain, but the aim of cleaning is to just get the gunk out of it, so water can pass through it easily. The harsher the clean, the more bacteria lost.

I also will clean out the hosing and other tubing for it occasionally, however since I clean my filter every three months, I do it every time. For cleaning every 4-6 weeks, it might stay fine for a few cleans before you actually need to clean it

Here's a video made by Tithra, that I think you'll find very helpful for cleaning. For the canister cleaning, skip to 7:06. This is exactly what I do as well when cleaning it, just less frequently :)

Edited by Narny105
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WHAT A GREAT VIDEO!!! :clapping: Fabulous. Now it makes sense! :-)

If anyone has suggestions for brands/models, I would appreciate it! :)

And what is a GOOD GPH rate?

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That canister you showed in the link, is a great GPH rate. Aim for around 10x capacity, so for a 55 gallon tank, 550GPH for 10x filtration, however anything around 450-550 is great!

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I personally have two Fluval 206's and love them. :) I clean them each once a month, however since there's two of them (and I stagger the cleanings) I clean one every other week. Canisters are really great filters and my water is always crystal clear, and my parameters stay very stable. ;)

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I personally have two Fluval 206's and love them. :) I clean them each once a month, however since there's two of them (and I stagger the cleanings) I clean one every other week. Canisters are really great filters and my water is always crystal clear, and my parameters stay very stable. ;)

What size tank?

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Just to throw something into the pot of info stew here, I run multiple filters on my tanks whenever I can. One canister, one or two HOBs. Each week, when I do a water change, I squeeze / rinse the sponges and other media from _one_ of the filters in a bucket of water I've siphoned from the tank, before I dispose of that water. This way, the bacteria in the filter media aren't shocked by temperature or chemsitry of the rinse water, and only part of the tank's total biofilter is disturbed at any given time.

When I'm done, I have the option of dumping that bucket of black water in the toilet - or the garden.

~Bruce

Edited by Bruce S
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OK . . . Still thinking about a cannister filter. I'm a little confused, though. This is the Emperor I have: http://www.kensfish.com/aquarium-supplies/aquarium-filters/emperor-280-power-filter.html , which is 280 GPH. I also have this Penguin (it's a few years old but it's comparable to this one): http://www.kensfish.com/aquarium-supplies/aquarium-filters/penguin-350-power-filter.html . It is 350 GPH. That's a total of 630 GPH (I have a 55 gal tank). Those are $30-40 filters.

This Fluval cannister filter is $154 (4-5X more expensive): http://www.kensfish.com/aquarium-supplies/aquarium-filters/fluval-406-canister-filter.html . And yet it only has flow rate of 383 GPH.

I can certainly see that adding the cannister to my existing 2 filters would add significantly more filtration. But just adding another HOB filter would do essentially the same thing for 1/4-1/5 the cost! So . . . what is the advantage of the cannister filter over the HOB?

Thanks!

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For me, it is the noise reduction. One of my goldie tanks is in my room and I need it to make little to no noise. So I have a fluval 406 on it. It was around $120 but so worth it. If I could afford to run canisters on all my tanks, I would for the noise reason alone.

Sent from my SCH-I535

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The noise doesn't bother me (I honestly don't even hear it). If it's not going to result in significant improvement for the fish, it's not worth it to me. So . . . other than the GPH, do the cannisters work significantly better? If so, how? :)

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Effective filtration isn't only about flow rate. Cannister filters have a larger chamber and hold more media, allowing a greater surface area on which the beneficial bacteria can grow. However, in the end the proof of the pudding is in your water quality. If your parameters are good with three HOBs , then there is no need to change anything if you don't want to. However, If your system struggles then adding a cannister is a good way of bumping up your biological filtration.

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