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Re: Cannister Filters

> The Ecco is reasonably priced and provides plenty of room
> for mechanical media, which is the only thing you need in a 
> filter in a planted tank. My personal opinion anyway.

I agree completely with Ivo's comment on mechanical filtration, and 
how that's all anyone really needs in a heavily planted tank.  

I had great success in my 55-gallon tank using just a Magnum canister 
filter with a diatom cartridge in place *all* the time.  I did fit a small 
sponge over the filter intake, but that's truly all the man-made 
biological filtration this tank had.

Every 2-4 weeks, when the filter return lessened noticeably, I'd swap 
out the diatom cartridge with a spare which I had soaked in bleach for 
cleaning.  (Yes, I did rinse and declorinate abundantly!)  I'd change 
20% of the water at the same time.

The fish seemed very healthy.  In fact, in this particular tank, I never 
lost even one fish due to disease or any other reason, except for (i) 
brand new fish just home from the LFS, (ii) jumpers that got fried on 
the partial glass top and (iii) deaths due to old age (cardinal tetras 
over 24 months old). 

The plants did well, too, which I attribute mainly to having lots of 
light (~4 N.O. watts/gall.) and an enriched substrate.  I even sold 
plants back to my LFS.  I never had any serious algae problems.  The 
tank was put together in early 1987 and ran until we moved, in late 1989.

The bottom half of the substrate was roughly (very roughly, and by 
volume) 90% "medium-brown" subsoil, 8% "reddish-orange clay" 
and 2% peat.   The top half of the substrate was 2mm shiny black 
sandblasting grit.  The subsoil and clay were collected from a wild, 
undeveloped area near Hot Springs, Arkansas.  

Now I'm not saying this is a magic recipe which anyone should 
attempt to duplicate.  This particular tank was set up with huge doses 
of ignorance and luck.  I'll probably do several things differently next 
time around.  For instance, next time I'm planning to use:

- A&H CFs instead of NOs,
- a dark brown matte gravel instead of a shiny black one (esthetic 
reasons + more surface area)
- commercial laterite instead of clay
- idiot-proof CO2 fertilization.  

One thing won't change, though:  The only man-made filtration will be 
a canister filter with a diatom cartridge installed.


David (B.)