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re: Canister Filter Recommendations

Mike Heerman asks "I'm looking into getting a cannister filter for my new
70 gallon aquarium. I've never had a cannister filter before. I'm looking
for one that is easy to take apart and clean." Based on our experience with
an Eheim Professional (model 2228) I personally would look no further. See


for a technical debate on the designs, prices of the new Fluval MSF vs. the
Eheim Professionals. (Based some early reports about leaking during
priming, I would shy away from the even newer, more economical Eheim ECCO
models.) While you could no doubt "get away with" an Eheim 2224 (rated to
65 gals) in a heavily planted tank, I suggest the 2226 (rated to 90 gals).
You don't have to clean the hoses that often, although I think they may be
slightly easier to service on the new Fluvals. However see the above
threads for several other problems with the Fluvals, whose design was
modeled on the Eheim Pros (but the Fluvals have several design flaws IMO
and problems have surfaced). In any case, service is so easy that's it's
actually fun. From posts on the various boards it appears that many of us
are on a 2-4 (even 6) month schedule. Sometimes you just need to change
your phosphate resin or the pre-cut fine-filter pad. Once in a while you
give your media a dip-rinse in used tank water right in the baskets using
the handles. The much-discussed greater cost of an Eheim comes to just a
few just a few dollars a year if you divide the price by the decade of use
(decades in some cases!) that users have gotten from their (old-design)

Part of the fun of the new canisters with their great features is that you
can easily customize the media. And there is ample space for the addition
of extras like a bag of resin to remove tap-water phosphate. You can decide
the amount of mechanical vs. biological media (keeping in mind that any
permanent or semipermanent mechanical media also functions biologically). 

There have been a couple of recent threads here on the Plant List about how
much biofiltration is really needed in a planted tank, with the view that
many of us may be "overfiltered", growing more bacteria than necessary that
divert ammonia from our plants. When we set up our 135-gal we didn't know
that we would have the success we did and we also planned for a full fish
load. Our 2228 is undoubtedly more filter than we need. We have cut back on
the amount of Ehfisubstrat (Eheim's sintered glass media with a very large
colonizable surface area). It's expensive and needs periodic replacement
since it clogs after about 6 months. We will probably just use up our
supply and rinse and reuse it to reclaim the outer surface only (dropping
its efficiency to approx. that of ceramic noodles, bioballs, or even the
plain gravel in a filter bag that some plant folks run in their filters. In
fact, you might want to look into the old design Eheims, which are *much*
less convenient to "layer", but which have their proponents.

However, our growth (thanks to our lighting, CO2 and fertilization) is
*excellent* and we have no plans to eliminate dedicated biomedia in our
filter. Too much could happen -- a hidden dead fish, some disaster that
compomises our plants, a medication that knocks out the bacteria in the
tank (you can temporarily remove the filter baskets during medication). We
give our root-feeders ample Nitrate fertilization with Jobe's sticks and
our water-column nitrates are steady. But I have more baby swords than I
know what to do with, our banana plants have giant leaves, and I trim our
vals often enough as it is -- I'm not out to weave Valisneria baskets :) If
you have a heavily planted tank with a couple of flag fish or SAEs you
might want to tweak your tank for maximum, rather than optimal, growth. Not
us. We have a community tank where plants and fish are equal partners. I
find the "excess biofiltration" arguments weak in theory and (at least in
our case) in practice. Our plants may have to make due with some nitrate
"chuck" instead of pure ammonia "fillet", but the plants have the light,
the CO2 and the fertilization. The fish have their large biofilter reserve.


Planted Tank Resource Page at
Jared Weinberger                    jweinberger at knology_net  
______    http://www.knology.net/~jweinberger/     ________