Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

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Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by bekateen » Thu Jun 23, 2016 9:50 pm

Hi All,

I'm venturing in the world of bigger tanks. Plan to buy a 75 gal tank this weekend. This will be 2x bigger than anything I've owned in recent history. The tank will be a species tank for Panaqolus, about 6-10 fish. I know what I want for decor, heating, and lighting, but I'm uncertain about filtration.

Currently, all my tanks run on sponge filters or Aqueon QuietFlow HOB filters (with added sponge prefilters, see photo), or a combination of both.

I like sticking with the Aqueon HOBs because of their part universality and the company's good customer support. I'm considering two QuietFlow 55/75 in the tank, each with a foam prefilter added. But I'm concerned that Panaqolus are messy fish, and so even two HOBs will clog often. I've never used a sump before, but I would consider it. I've also never used a canister, but I don't think I want to go that route. Finally, part of me wants to use HMFs, but again I'm concerned a group of Panaqolus will clog them often.

What are your experiences? What would you do?

Thanks, Eric
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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by CharlieM9 » Thu Jun 23, 2016 10:47 pm

Eric,

A mattenfilter would be great for the tank! Just need to get an appropriate sized ppi is all. What species do you plan on putting in there? I would imagine something in the range of 10-15ppi would be most ideal. It would be able to handle a lot of the larger bulkier waste from the fish and not clog. I have HMFs to some extent on all my pleco tanks.

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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by bekateen » Thu Jun 23, 2016 11:01 pm

Hi Charles,

L397, hopefully. My struggle with the HMF is just how big the filter mat would be if it were to cover one end (and maybe a second mat at the other end if I follow TTA's idea (described here: http://www.planetcatfish.com/forum/view ... 66#p289666, if not also in other threads). Since the HMF mat dimensions (LxW, not thickness) must mirror that of the tank dimensions, these mats would be big soppy messes when they need pulled out. I've read a lot of threads where they are highly praised for most plecos, but some reservation is expressed for Panaque and Panaqolus because (1) of their high volume of wood poop and (2) the fish might scrape and ingest some of the foam.

Also, of course there is comfort in the familiar. I've been using these Aqueon HOBs for years now. For the largest size, the QuietFlow 55/75, I've found a plastic-framed foam sleeve that fits perfectly over the intake, and is easily removed and rinsed. It is very coarse and does not clog easily. It's not equal to an HMF, but it would do a decent job of picking out some debris.

Regarding the HMF, I am aware that some people sandwich layers of progressively finer foams together, e.g., 10-20-30 ppi, from outside to inside in order to help process the gunk, but other people frown upon that. I suppose I'd feel more secure with some experience, but I have none regarding HMFs.

Cheers, Eric

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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by naturalart » Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:06 pm

Eric, personally, I would go with the sump. 2nd choice would be a big canister. I like them because of their larger capacity, separation from the aquarium itself. And cannisters are 'easy' to maintain in my opinion. I haven't used an HOB for a long time now so don't know whats on the market, but last I heard HOB's only go too a certain size and thats it. Then you have to go too multiple units (which takes up more space) to do the job of one cannister or sump.
Used a HMF only once many years ago and wasn't particularly crazy about it. Not because of its functionality, but because of the look. HMF systems use the tank as a filter and you get to see all the 'funky going ons' of filtration. Which wouldn't really be an issue for me if I had a dedicated fishroom where I had a lot of tanks and less concern about how they looked. My 2¢

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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by CharlieM9 » Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:16 pm

As Natural art said the largest thing with them can be aesthtics.

Eric, I do use them on my panaqulous tanks without issue. L398 (breeding), L204 (growing out), L306 (breeding), L351 (growing out), L206 (growing). They don't turn into a "sloppy mess" as they don't really degrade in anyway. Just fold it a bit, pull it out of tank and into a bucket then hose off outside once or twice a year.

At the end of the day though it is always best to use what you are most comfortable with or have the most confidence in that it will be able to keep up with bio load and not be a burden to maintain for your typical maintenance routine.

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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by Narwhal72 » Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:58 pm

I think you are justified in worrying about the pleco poop. I keep a large variety of Panaqolous in a number of tanks and I am also a big Aqueon supporter. But in my tanks with panaqolous the cartridges do clog very quickly.

I would go with the mattenfilter myself. Use the 10 ppi foam. You can build a corner filter by siliconing in a couple of strips of acrylic about 2" wide x the height of the tank vertically in the corner of the aquarium. Then bend the mattenfilter foam around to fit like a quarter circle weir. Add an aqualifter in the middle and you are good to go.

Because of the slower turnover rate and placement of the mattenfilter the pleco poop will accumulate on the bottom where it can be vacuumed out. Or you could use a diatom filter for periodic polishing as well.

Aqueon has something coming that may be perfect for you. But it won't be available until late fall.

Andy

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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by bekateen » Fri Jun 24, 2016 7:15 pm

Thanks everyone. I'm still undecided, but leaning towards the HMF.

That said, do HMFs raise the TDS of a tank any more than normal filters? It seems like they would.
Narwhal72 wrote:I think you are justified in worrying about the pleco poop. I keep a large variety of Panaqolous in a number of tanks and I am also a big Aqueon supporter. But in my tanks with panaqolous the cartridges do clog very quickly.
Using the prefilter I've found significantly slows the clogging in my other tanks, but those don't have Panaqolus so I can't make a parallel comparison.
Narwhal72 wrote:Aqueon has something coming that may be perfect for you. But it won't be available until late fall.
Oooooh! Do tell! :-b

Cheers, Eric

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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by MChambers » Fri Jun 24, 2016 8:23 pm

I think a mattenfilter would be good, if you don't mind the look. They can be pretty unobtrusive in the corner of the tank.

Otherwise, I'd put two Cobalt EXT canisters filters on it, just because they are so easy to clean, but have high capacity. They're also dead silent.

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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by Narwhal72 » Fri Jun 24, 2016 9:07 pm

An HMF should not have any effect on TDS. It's an inert material.

Sorry, Can't tell you anything more about the new product. But I have been using several for a few months now and they work great. Sometimes it's really good to be in R&D.

Andy

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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by bekateen » Fri Jun 24, 2016 11:24 pm

I didn't mean that the HMF poret foam was responsible. I'm thinking that since the premise of the filter is that it traps organic matter and leaves it in the tank while bacteria decompose it, the byproducts of that decomposition (excluding the CO2) would contribute to TDS .

Okay, I understand about the Aqueon product.

Cheers, Eric

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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by 2wheelsx2 » Fri Jun 24, 2016 11:27 pm

It'll only raise the TDS if it is soluble. If it is not dissolved in the water, then it's not part of the Total Dissolved Solids.

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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by bekateen » Sat Jun 25, 2016 12:48 am

Ok thanks. Yes that part I knew, after all, the middle name in TDS is "dissolved." So I'm asking about the dissolved breakdown products. My tap water is already between 250-350 conductivity (so TDS is obviously higher). I don't want to push up TDS any more than necessary. Obviously the insoluble wastes will be vacuumed up and some of them, along with some soluble matter, will be lost with water changes. But since HMFs just sit in the tank and don't get removed/cleaned often, do they create a source for accumulating dissolved waste production by the bacteria on the foam?

Perhaps the reason why there is no difference, if there is no difference, is that most dissolved wastes don't get removed by ordinary filters anyway. But even so, I would imagine that the frequent replacement or cleaning of conventional filter media should reduce the solid waste and thus remove the indirectly produced dissolved wastes, when compared to an HMF.

Cheers, Eric

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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by bekateen » Sat Jun 25, 2016 2:36 am

Here it is: A brand spanking new 75 gal tank. Checking for leaks before it comes in the house.

Also, I've inserted an intact 4-foot-tall grape vine which I got six months ago from a local vineyard that had torn up its field to replant new vines. I want to get this vine soaking so it will be waterlogged and ready for the fish.

As is, the vine fits perfectly in the tank from end to end right now. But if I use an HMF, then I'll have to cut the vine into two pieces and rearrange. That may just be the tipping point that pushes me back to an HOB. LOL, how lazy am I? (I prefer to say I appreciate the appearance of the intact vine, rather than I'm too lazy to cut it).

Hmmm. Decisions, decisions about the HMF.

Cheers, Eric
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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by bekateen » Sat Jun 25, 2016 4:58 am

Stupid is as stupid does. If we can't laugh at ourselves, we're in big trouble. This time it's my turn. I positioned the stand, brought in the tank, added some sand substrate and the grapevine, then refilled with water (photo 1).

Only one little problem: I forgot to plug any extension cords or power strips into the wall outlets behind the stand before doing all the above work. #-O ~X( Now I can't reach the outlets (photo 2). I have two options: Either drain, disassemble and move the tank and stand or drill a hole in the back of the display cabinet. I'll probably do the latter so that I'll have permanent access.

Silly me.
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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by bekateen » Sun Jun 26, 2016 6:54 am

Had to drain the whole tank and move it and stand away from the wall to install an extension cord with surge protector.

Regarding filtration, I was all set to order an HMF today when the obvious hit me like a brick: This aquarium is located in my entry hall, right beside my front door. Literally, it will be the first thing guests see as they enter my home (Granted that's not optimal for privacy for the fish, but it's the only open space I have in the house at this time). No matter, the point is that this tank needs to be prettier than an HMF will allow. The messy pad wouldn't bother me, but I don't want it to be my first impression to visitors.

As a result, I withdrew to a secure place, and I chose to go with two Aqueon QuietFlow 55/75 filters, each with a large foam prefilter. The combined cost of two HOBs and two prefilters was $110, about the same price as a single canister (another filter system I have no experience with) and about the same price as one 3" HMF with a pump to drive water flow.

Also the tank will have extra circulation and aeration from an AquaClear model 70 powerhead and venturi (it will also have a foam filter fitted on its intake before the fish are in place), and at least initially a Fluval E series 200W heater (which won't be needed until at least late September or early October).

For substrate, I'm using a mix of whatever is around the house. This is a blend of (approximately) half play sand, which is a yellow-tan color, and half plain fine gravel/sand, which is grey. The grey sand says it's "washed," but it's probably almost 25% silt; it took me nearly an hour of repetitive washing to get it mostly clean, but even now, it makes the water a little cloudy. Hopefully the fiber filter in the HOBs will seive the fine silt out. By the way, this is the same gray gravel I used in my 20 gal oil cat tank.
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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by bekateen » Sun Jun 26, 2016 6:57 am

Powerhead and heater, generic grey sand:
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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by Shane » Sun Jun 26, 2016 12:05 pm

How is the grape vine working? I have had terrible experiences with it growing a coating of thick slime.
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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by bekateen » Sun Jun 26, 2016 4:23 pm

Hi Shane,

Thanks for the warning. My answer is, it's too early to tell. I've seen lots of grapewood for sale as aquarium decor on the past, so I inferred that grapwood is safe. This vine was taken right out of the field around December or January, then left outside to age/weather. It's been exposed to repeated rains for five months, and to 90-100+ temps for the last month, so hopefully it aged well. Then I stripped off as much bark as I could from the main trunk, although I couldn't remove the bark from the knots at the ends or from the small branches.

If it does develop slime, that'll be ugly. But is it harmful? I've read forum posts (on other websites, not here) saying that the slime was harmless and that in fact plecos would feed on it. Do you know if that's true? If so, I'll leave slimy wood in and let the Panaqolus work on it when they arrive. But if the slime isn't safe, I'll remove the grapevine.

A few years back, I collected a nice big chunk of wood I found in a forest. I brought it home and soaked it in a big bucket for months. That wood got slimy; I thought the slime would stop forming if I washed and dried and soaked the wood cyclically for months. But it never did. I didn't know if the slime was safe, so I threw the wood away; didn't want to risk it hurting the fish.

Yes, I'd like to know if the slime (should it form) is harmless or even a source of food. Do you know?

Thanks, Eric

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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by bekateen » Thu Jun 30, 2016 3:18 pm

Shane wrote:How is the grape vine working? I have had terrible experiences with it growing a coating of thick slime.
Hi Shane,

Here is your answer: A thick coat of slime less than a week after going in the tank. Will Panaqolus eat this slime? Or put another way, will they eat wood covered with slime?

Thanks, Eric
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Re: Want advice: how to set up a 75 gal tank's filtration system for Panaqolus

Post by Shane » Thu Jun 30, 2016 4:23 pm

http://www.planetcatfish.com/forum/view ... hp?t=20582

I can not seem to find a consensus with regard to it being harmful or safe. That said the most immediate danger is the stuff clogging and fouling your filter and media.
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