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[APD] Re: Concerns over water circulation and filtration

I was given a 85 gallon tank with a fluval 203 filter. I want to make the tank a planted aquarium with a light fish load. I have been told by many retailers that the filter is not powerful enough for the tank.

Question, do I need a larger filter if the plants will be providing the filtration system for the tank?

Probably not. A lot of LFS people are stuck in the marine tank mentality that needs a LOT of water movement (I usually hear 6-8 turnovers of the ENTIRE tank volume per hour) and a whole lot of light. You need less of both in a planted tank. I actually have several slow-growth plant tanks that have no filter and not even an airstone and they do well and are algae-free.

If you need a bit more water movement you can always stick a few little powerheads in the tank to stir up the water. Most of the usual bacterial filtration will be handled by the plants instead so you don't need as much filter for the same fish load in a *heavily* planted tank. In all my tanks I run filterless, using the "filter" only for water movement.

Should I invest in power head or another canister filter for water circulation?
If so, any recommendation for a good powerhead or canister filter?

I've had good luck with the Hagen powerheads (402, 802, etc., there are several units in that series). The smaller of these units have built-in intake screens which is something you want if you are only using them only to stir the water.

Is there any benefits for the plants to have the water circulated?

Yes, since plants can't move to the food you have to move the food (chemicals in the water) to the plants. Water movement is the only way to do this effectively so you do need some. The exact amount of water movement is going to be dependent on your particular tank's needs and on your personal taste.

My advice is basically to set up the tank and see what you think. If you need more water movement it's easy to add more later. Don't worry about using the "filter" to filter if you have a light fish load AND are heavily planting your tank.


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