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Media For Canister Filter?


nichjake

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I've decided to set up a fluval 304 that I've had for ages but have never used. It came with the 55 gal tank my mom bought used a few years ago. Since the fluval media for it is very expensive I've been thinking of using other things. I'm thinking of using a filter sponge from an aquaclear that didn't work that came with my 45 gal in the bottom basket, the fluff that comes out of stuffed animals for the middle basket and crushed coral for the top basket as I have snails that could benefit from some extra calcium. Does this sound reasonable? How would the crushed coral affect my pH? Its already on the low side, about 6.4 and my snail's shells are suffering for it but I'm a bit afraid to mess with buffers that you add periodically like baking soda.

I've never used a canister filter before so any advice would be appreciated.

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is this going to be the only filter on the tank or an extra?

if it's the only filter you will need some bio media. the bio media should not be on the bottom in the canister, more towards the middle.

the crushed coral is a great idea as it will help the snails and help keep your pH stable.

if the unused sponge fits I say go ahead and use it.

I also don't think you can use stuffing from toys/blankets b/c you don't know what kind of chemicals they have used on it. I suggest buying filter floss from big al's online. it's about $7 and the roll lasts for a long time (it's 10 feet). you also want the filter floss on the top b/c it keeps any tiny particles from disrupting the motor. here's the link

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I have used a lot of different things. Variety is good if you have a layered basket type cannister. Not familiar with that one. I have tiny porous balls in some baskets, those white ceramic hoops, masses of floss stuff, and have used wire harder sponge matting at the top to filter the large pieces of debris. Also have one layer of coral stones as they are porous and so house bbs as well as the pH stabilising benefits. If your pH is that low, coral will def. help bring it up. I personally dislike the charcoal and the carbon type mats that come with cannisters and always discard them. Are you looking for more DIY type suggestions?

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This is going to be extra. It'll be going on my 45 gallon tank where I already have a penguin biowheel 350. I had an UGF with powerheads but I'm fed up with it so I'm slowly working it out but I'd like to get the canister going as soon as I get media.

I think I will definatly go with crushed coral, it'll be good for my snails and my pH plus it'll provide a stable place for beneficial bacteria to grow. Thanks for the link Martha, a local supermart (not wally world) sells some stuff for aquariums that looks like quilt batting but its chemical free, I think I'll get some of that. They also sell it at area pet stores but its about half the price at the supermart.

I plan on avoiding charcoal and zeolite, I don't need it and I don't want to deal with it.

I'm open to more suggestions if theres anything you guys use or like in canisters, I'm trying to do this as inexpensively as possible without sacrificing quality (the joys of being a poor college kid :P )

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Just use the foam in the slide-in tray. The bottom tray I would cram full of polyester pillow stuffing. For the middle tray I would use Seachem Matrix, it will serve as a great biomedia and allows for denitrification. The top tray can be filled with crushed coral as a very effective way to increase calcium and pH/KH.

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I will repeat Martha's wise advice - it is best to avoid using quilt batting, pillow stuffing and such types of "fluff". Many are treated with chemicals to discourage insects and other problems. Even if they are NOT treated, not all materials - including polyester - hold up under water. Many will break apart and disintigrate after a time.

The sponge will basically do the same job as the fluff will do - it will help filter out debris. I am not familiar with the Fluval 304, but most cannisters have the intake at the bottom and the outlet at the top, so the water flows from the bottom to the top and then out. The most common way of stacking the media in the baskets is thus determined by the flow.

At the bottom - the first thing the water goes though - should be a very coarse filter - normally a large pored sponge - the stiff ones sold in fish places - or your "wire" thing should work. The job of this coarse sponge insert is two-fold. It will filter out the large particles of waste that come into the filter - dropping them into the reservoir at the bottom of the cannister instead of plugging up the upper media AND, at the same time, the large pores will slow the water coming in a bit. This slowing of the current helps larger particules of waste to drop out of the current and fall to the bottom of the filter house.

Next up are the main workhorses of the cannister - any form of biological platform you prefer or can get. I prefer the porous ceramic balls or sintered glass (It can be expensive, though.) - I put the large pieces of media in the bottom basket - for they also make the currents swirl and slow - dropping more large particles out early in the water's travels through the filter. I have found that lava rock is usually very cheap - and if RINSED REALLY WELL - makes a good biological platform. It does tend to break down - but if left undisturbed in a cannister for most of the time, it has a long life. Other possibilities are sponge pieces, etc. They are not as efficiant as the sintered glass, but do the job.

Finally, on the top of the top basket, you will want to place a piece of floss - batting - filter media - the fine stuff. This is a final "polisher" for the water - filtering out any small debris that has made it through the filter. I use the bulk that I buy on line and cut it to fit my cannisters. The edges of the stuff - the stuff I cut off to make the pieces fit - make great glass cleaner pads. You can feel good about using them - and THROWING them out when they wear, for they cost nothing - they are just the trim from the filter floss.

So: bottom to top, you want course sponge, large biomedia, smaller biomedia, fine filter floss/sponge. :)

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Hi Daryl,

I also have the Fluval 304 on my 29 gallon (along with my 200 Penguin). I think I have the media baskets set up up wrong maybe???

I set it up with the supplies they gave me at first (using the carbon) and the water was spotlessly clear, but I took the carbon out because I didn't want to worry about it leaching things back into the water. So now I have in the bottom basket filter floss, the next basket has one side of filter floss and the other of ceramic bio balls, the type two are filled with the ceramic things.

What should I get instead or will this work okay? The water isn't as clear, but I am more worried about it being effective than anything else.

Thanks!

Amy

P.S. Sorry to hijack the thread...oops!

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I honestly do not know. I shall look around and see if I can find out the direction of the water flow in a Fluval. If it is from bottom to top, reversing your filter "stuffing" might help a bit. Having large, unevenly shaped pieces first tends to cause swirls and such in the currents, slowing the water a bit and causing the large debris to fall out into the bottom of the filter box - the place where there is the most volume. It also prevents the working biological media from getting clogged with debris. A final polish before the water is off to the tank works best, too.

Carbon is nice, but I only use it when I am specifically trying to remove meds from the water. Then I remove it. Carbon that is incorporated in a filter cartridge is ok - as long as you have used no meds - and can stay for a while. It becomes a platform for BB anyway. IT is easy to bang it out. Since I do not have any canisters on tanks exclusively - all tanks have at least one HOB filter - I do not ever put carbon in the cannister. That is just me, however.

Let me do some research. Perhaps you can look at it too and see if you can determine flow direction.

Edit: I would put any coral that you use in the top most basket. After the water has been a bit cleaned, it can pass through the calcium. Sounds like a good plan - a neat way to use the coral! :)

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The manual I downloaded (I dunno what happened to the one it came with) said the water flows from the top down the side to the bottom and then goes back to the top through the middle with the majority of filtering being done from the bottom up.

I typically stay away from carbon anyways. My HOB has some in it but its so old I'm certain it doesn't do anything, it just came in the cartridge. Thankfully my fish have been extremely healthy the last couple years and I hope hope hope hope hope they stay that way so I don't have to worry about filtering meds out.

Thanks for the input everyone :)

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Mechanical things and I don't have a great relationship...especially things with manuals. You should have seen me putting it together. I think it flows down into the canister and then is pulled back up, but I could be totally wrong.

I'm having a hard time with the media, because I just don't understand how the thing works. It seems like some weird magical filter. I do love it though.

It is just that my brain isn't wired that way. I wish it was though. I would love to try a DIY canister, but that is beyond me.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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I finally got it all set up and its working well so far. I put filter sponges in the bottom, filter floss in the middle and the crushed coral on top with a thin layer of filter floss on top of the coral as a precautionary measure to keep the little pieces from getting sucked into the motor.

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