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Filter questions, problems, and general dissatisfaction.
Warning: Long winded...
I have gone through more filters on my 55 gallon tank... Originally, back
in 1990 when I got this 55 gallon tank of mine, before I was interested in
plants, it's sole occupants were a pre-adult oscar and a pacu who were both
putting on weight alarmingly fast, and needed a larger tank.
When I got the tank, I went out and bought a whisper power filter. I can't
remember the size, but it was a two filter-pad job, and for a while, I was
pretty happy with it. Then the noise started. Once filters pass the one
month mark of operation time, they start making noise for me. The top cover
rattled no matter how I placed it. So I rigged it with plastic wrap, and
that fixed it for a while. Then the impeller started making noise, and
eventually, the impeller would seize for no apparent reason, and required me
to take the filter apart twice a week. Out went the whisper.
I bought a Biolife filter. I don't know if any of you are familiar with
that filter, but it's an in-tank filter, with (I think) 5 separate
filtration sites. That worked well, but it was fairly hard to place in the
tank, because if you put it anywhere on the back, the water circulation was
such that you ended up with one half of the tank getting virtually no
circulation. I had to put it on the side, where it can just be squeezed in.
It worked well for a while, and then it started making noise. When the
filter had about two weeks of run-time, the main large particle filter strip
became just clogged enough to barely disrupt the flow through the filter,
and the system would begin to surge, alternately barely flowing and flowing
normally. Output from the pump (situated after the first two filtration
sites) which spilled into a trickle tray became irritatingly loud, and no
amount of floss in the tray could shut it up. It was also very susceptible
to water level variations. In addition, the suction cups that hold it in
place invariably got too hard to function, and the intake strainer clogged
too fast. More high-maintenance irritation.
So I spent too much money on a Magnum 350. It was nice at first. There was
nothing big and bulky in the tank, and I could aim the water where I wanted
it. The problem was that it was noisy if you didn't spend a week trying to
bleed out the air that inevitably ended up in the canister, no matter how
carefully you tried to fill it at first. And as soon as all the air managed
to work it's way out of the system, the filter was due for cleaning, and had
to be dismantled for cleaning, thereby restarting the cycle. Other problems
are that the tubes kink, no matter how you loop them, and age hardens them
rock hard. The intake strainer also got clogged too easily, and the heat
from the magnetic motor ensured that my tank stayed above 80 degrees.
Next, and latest, I tried an Aquaclear, because I remembered having read
good things about them. It was fine at first, but (predictably) the
impeller began to make noise. It was a little at first, but grew worse over
time, and after 2 months of operation, it got too loud to bear, so I cleaned
out the impeller well, and lubricated the inside bore on the impeller where
it slips onto the metal pin inside the impeller well. It worked for about a
week, then it started again. After a couple other, similarly unsuccessful
attempts to fix it, I cleaned it out and packed it up, and now it's sitting
next to the Biolife and Magnum in the closet. It also tends to get a
clogged intake strainer too quickly.
Right now, I have a small powerhead with a rough sponge over the strainer
doing it's best to keep the tank clean. It's keeping the water moving, and
works it's little butt off in a seeming losing battle, trying to keep the
water clear, but the best thing about it is that it's absolutely silent.
The noise thing has got to go. I want the tank to be silent. No water
splashing sounds, no impeller clatter, no vibration noises. I want to hear
the fish breathing.
Now the intake strainer clogging problems started happening when I got into
plants (obviously AFTER the oscar and pacu phase! :). I can't seem to beat
this problem. Bare intake strainers get clogged. Strainers with sponges
get clogged. And they do it in record times. And both just dump back
whatever they accumulated right back into the tank as soon as you turn off
the filter to remove the strainer. Is there a way to prefilter out decaying
plant matter that takes longer to clog, and is easy to maintenance? The
tank now has a sand bottom, and I realize that doesn't let decaying plant
matter get in between the grains, but I can never get the bottom of the tank
clean by vacuuming. There is always a mound of mulm piled up somewhere in
the tank. If I vacuum it up, it's back in two days.
What I'm looking for is a little less maintenance hassle. The bigger of a
pain in the rump maintenance is, the more I'm going to let it slide and put
it off. I want a silent, efficient filter with a good capacity and a
reasonable amount of time between necessary cleanings combined with a method
of (QUIETLY!!)prefiltering a large amount of decaying plant matter.
Is the Emperor big tank biowheel filter going to give me the same problems
as the Whisper and Aquaclear, such as impeller failure, quick clogging, and
noise? And while I'm thinking of it, is there a way to direct the water
under the surface to avoid excessive rippling and surface current?
And while I'm on the subject of filters, has anyone tried Aquarium
Pharmaceuticals "tap water purifier"? It's a canister-type filter that
hooks to your faucet and filters 10 gallons per hour, supposedly removing
heavy metals, salts, etc and leaving you with soft, clean water. It costs
about $65 bucks in my local Petland. It claims to filter up to 400 gallons
(I think) before needing a replacement insert ($29). If it's true, it might
be my solution to my liquid-rock tapwater.
Thanks be to all who read this whole thing without falling asleep, and extra
thanks to those who respond!! :)