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Re: Noise

> 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.

Try an Ehiem. Fill it with nothing but a sponge at the top and bio media.
Add a big prefilter sponge to the intake. Clean the sponge weekly or every
other week.

> 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.

The sponge on the prefilter may just need to be bigger or longer etc. Mulm
can be directed to where it's not as visible by trying out a different flow
pattern in your tank. Let it build up in a back side portion of your tank
and hit this section when you do your weekly water change etc.
Another solution may be another filter added. I clean out my magnum
prefilter sponges maybe every two weeks or so...some longer even. I clean
the filter's themselves perhaps every 3-6 moths at best.
When you do your water change you may want to prune the day prior to that
and trim well and get rid of the excess dead leaf matter with a net that day
etc. Pruning well is a good solution. Another idea would be to select
different less shedding plants. Hair grass is good, Riccia, and Gloss since
they trap the mulm somewhat and can be lightly vaccumed to remove it.
Many swords and other plants tend not to shed much.
A gravel change may seem a big endeavor. It might help you though. I used
RFUG's for many years and they push most of the mulm up to the surface where
I'd vac it off. Darker gravels will hide mulm better. Flourite is good for
this and is good for plants also. White or light brown sands will show off
the mulm nicely.   
> 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.

You want a slower growing lower light tank then. Slower growing plants will
help also. Snails will help break down excess mulm but cause lots of their
own feces as well. Shrimps are good at this also without adding as much mulm
> 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?

Looking at your past, I'd pass if I were you:)

> 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.

CO2 is the solution, not extra maintenance:) You are looking for less
maintenance are you not? Softening is not less, it's more. CO2=good for
plants. My tap is above 400ppm (410-440ppm, GH of 24 and a KH of 8 now) and
smells like rotten eggs and lime. We have to towel dry stuff here otherwise
it leaves nasty deposits all over. My plants are fine. You need to add more
CO2 and leave the tap alone.

Tom Barr