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re: tank setup questions

Hi Kevin!

This is my first "advice" post on this list so I hope someone points out if 
I'm really offbase with my answers.

I have noticed on several ballasts
a warning to the effect that the bulbs should be mounted within some
distance of a grounded reflector.
<end snip>

I custom built my own hood to have 8 - 48" bulbs on a 18 inch wide tank. I 
asked a licensed electrician friend (Ontario, Canada) about that exact 
issue. He said that I should ground the grounding wire to a corner of the 
ballast (I'm using shop ballasts which were already wired, they just needed 
to be liberated from the stifling confines of the white metal light standard 
they were in). This would ground the ballasts and therefore prevent shocks.

I mounted my ballasts above the tank but on the outside of the cover (I used 
a underhang so they don't show to viewers). This prevents heat transfer from 
the ballasts to the tank. To protect against to much heat from the bulbs I 
included a 4 inch muffin fan in the hood as well (there's an interesting 
article somewhere on the web which discusses how light's are much, much less 
efficient if they run hot. To the point where it might be better to run 4 
bulbs which are running cool then to run 6 which are running hot).

The last suggestion which the electrician made was to mount the ballasts so 
that there was a good airflow between the ballasts and the wood. Apparently 
when these ballasts start to go they really heat up. The concern was about a 
potential fire hazard. To comply I mounted the ballasts using 10 washers (5 
on each end) which gives me a significant gap under the ballasts.

I also have a Ground Fault Interupter on my tank. This device is supposed to 
measure the amount of electricity in a tank and if this amount suddenly 
increase it will shut off all power to the tank. A very good piece of 
equipment to have IMHO.

choices have come down to the Magnum external or the Fluval 4
<end snip>

Although you mention the Magnum external and Fluval 4 internal I will 
mention two others which you might also end up considering.

I currently have a Magnum 350 external, a fluval 303, an Eheim 2215 and in 
the past I have had a Fluval 4 internal as well.

Fluval 4:


Internal (no worries about spillage, loose cables etc). Can be filled using 
standard carbon/floss media or you can alternatively purchase a sponge 
instead. This means biological filtration or chemical depending on your 
requirements. Easy to move from tank to tank as required.


Takes up space in the tank.

Magnum 350 external canister:


Hides beneath the tank. Can be run with either a Micron filter (think in 
terms of very, very tiny mechanical filtering which will even remove algae 
from the water. Can also be used with a carbon/floss container. One 
additonal tool is a BIOWHEEL attachment which can be connected to the 
outflow of the filter. Less likely to be wanted on a Plant tank because of 
surface rippling but useful in other applications.


Although quiet, noisier then an Eheim. Occasionally the impeller makes a 
slight rattling noise although I have an older unit.

Fluval 403:


Large canister space, three separate media containers. Good powerful flow 


The gasket is truly a pain in the ass when replacing after cleaning the 
filter. Air takes longer to empty out then the Eheim. The newer 404 model is 
supposed to fix these problems but unfortunately I don't own one.

Eheim 2215:

IMHO this brand is worth every cent it costs. Runs quietly, clears air or 
CO2 without problem. Numerous options including surface extractors, 
quick-connects and a prefilter. Outside of Canada you can actually purchase 
a model which has the heater built in.


1) If you purchase a canister filter purchase the quick connects. The best 
ones are on the Eheim filters which tend to fit the larger magnum and fluval 
models as well but both the fluval and magnum quick-connects work ok.

2) If you decide to run a micron filter on the Magnum here is a tip which 
will lengthen the filtration life of the micron cartridge. Purchase the blue 
floss/sponge media which is used with the smaller magnum filters as part of 
the carbon/sponge combination. You will notice that this sponge actually 
consists of an outer blue layer which catches large particles and an inner 
white layer which catches smaller particles. If you slip this over the 
micron cartridge the micron cartridge will be prefiltered by the sponge 
which will result in a much longer cartridge life with minimal effect on 
filter flow. The sponge for the 350 is too big for this use, you need one of 
the smaller sponges.

3) If you use diatomacious earth (spelling is wrong I'm sure), be careful 
when creating a siphon to fill the canister. This earth is believed to be 
carcinogenic (cancer causing) so you would be much better off creating the 
siphon using the little tool that Fluval provides for this service.


Personally I would look extra hard for an Eheim filter. They are worth every 
single penny in my opinion. I've used mine for fresh and salt water over the 
years and I have yet to have a reason to complain. I really like the 
prefilter option because it eliminates a lot of the large particle build up 
in the bottom of the filter.

My next suggestion would probably be the Magnum because of it's versatility 
and ability to provide chemical, biological and large physical to smaller 
physical filtration.

I really hate the gasket on the external fluvals. I've never had to hold my 
breath hooking a filter up to a tank before I received that one.

The internal filter also has a number of advantages. You could easily run 
the filter in another tank for a week in order to get a healthy biological 
filter prior to getting your new tank running.

I hope this "book" helps.

~Jamie N

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