Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

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Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by Shane »

As I get my fishroom back up I have gone almost exclusively to the sponge corner filters from Swiss Tropicals. They provide a massive surface for biological and mechanical filtration. For catfishes in particular I appreciate that the heater can go in the cavity the filter creates so I never have to worry about fish burning themselves.

Even with the uplift tube or power head and the heater behind the sponge there is still space in the cavity to add additional biological filtration (sponges, bioballs, ceramic rings, etc), chemical filtration (just place carbon or other media in mesh bag and place in cavity) or a mesh bag with botanicals such as peat, alder cones, oak leaves, etc.

I used HOBs for many, many years and have dabbled in canisters and internals as well but can't see going back to any of these in the future. For multiple tank set ups, plugging in a single air pump versus individual electric filters also massively cuts down on the number of outlets needed (and I strongly suspect electricity used). The main reason I avoided air driven systems for years was that I hate a noisy fishroom, however, new modern pumps and blowers can produce a massive amount of air flow with very little noise.

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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by kvnbyl »

do you think free-standing sponge filters are a effective as say, blocking a corner of the tank off like you are doing?
Do you think two large free standing filters would do a heavily stocked 90?
I use Eheim 2217s, 12 of them, and, as you say, the electric bill is starting to get outrageous. we pay around 43 cents a kilowatt hour so any way to knock that down would be great
There would be the initial investment for a linear piston pump, then a gang valve and lots of tubing but I could pay for that with the money I would make selling canister filters on Craigs' list!
am I headed in the right direction?
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by aquaholic »

If you put two big air pumps onto the same central airline ring, you can have one sponge filter per tank with the same or better redundancy as two sponges per tank. You will notice a distinct drop in air volume (and bubble noise) when one air pump fails while all sponges will continue working. I use the same size and brand airpumps everywhere to reduce the spare parts kept and simpler swap out.

This may be a minor advantage in reducing equipment costs, messy airline tubes, air leak sites, number of items to monitor and clean etc if you have ten or twenty aquariums but a major advantage if you have fifty or two hundred or more aquariums.

If you have oxygen cylinders in your fish room (for shipping, boosting dissolved oxygen, reviving anaesthetised fish etc) a good simple power outage solution is to place cylinders in storage on your central airline ring with a normally closed solenoid valve. If the electricity stops, the solenoid valve will open. Preset the oxygen cylinder for a very slow bleed.
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by Shane »

kvnbyl wrote: ↑18 Feb 2023, 16:38 do you think free-standing sponge filters are a effective as say, blocking a corner of the tank off like you are doing?
Do you think two large free standing filters would do a heavily stocked 90?
I use Eheim 2217s, 12 of them, and, as you say, the electric bill is starting to get outrageous. we pay around 43 cents a kilowatt hour so any way to knock that down would be great
There would be the initial investment for a linear piston pump, then a gang valve and lots of tubing but I could pay for that with the money I would make selling canister filters on Craigs' list!
am I headed in the right direction?
I am honestly not sure about a direct comparison between corner sponges and free standing sponges as there are just so many variables: air pressure, sponge surface area, sponge pore size, etc. However, it seems reasonable to me that a full circle would have more surface than a half circle. Of course you lose the cavity that allows you to hide the heater and add chemical filtration and/or mesh bags of botanicals. To me, the corner filters are more aesthetic but that's just my personal opinion.

What is heavily stocked to you? It's really a subjective description. Keep in mind I am perfectly happy keeping a single 14" Panaque in her own 75 gallon tank with massive filtration and 50% weekly water changes.

I have two Danner air pumps in the fishroom and am very happy with them. They come with gang valves. Expect to pay about $140 for a Danner AP 60. If that sounds like a lot... My Danner AP 60 is powering 3 40 breeders and 5 10 gallon tanks. So, by tank, that is less than $10 per tank and that pump could easily handle double that amount of aquariums. Airline tubing and fittings are very inexpensive.

Again just my opinion, why would I waste tank stand space that could have aquariums on canister filters? This is one of my biggest gripes about canister filters. They take up too much space in the fishroom and are too hard to hide. A single air pump is the size of a 2.5 gallon tank.

Agree with all of aquaholic's comments below. Especially for a large fishroom. If you go with air driven filtration you will want to save up to have a back on hand in case of emergency.

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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by Jools »

kvnbyl wrote: ↑18 Feb 2023, 16:38I use Eheim 2217s, 12 of them, and, as you say, the electric bill is starting to get outrageous. we pay around 43 cents a kilowatt hour so any way to knock that down would be great
That's funny, 43 cents/Kwh is almost exactly what we pay in the UK, plus a 60 cents per day charge for using the service. I used the larger Eheim pro 3 on my "special" tanks, running cost about $10/day each in today's prices (but heats too) - so I think where you are running multiple tanks the blower is the plan.

As an aside, bear in mind the surface area of the corner is the height of the tank front and back. I also used them at one end of the tank so that about 10% of the side of the tank was the filter. They could run for years with only water changes for maintenance. Next fishroom will be set-up this way.

Cheers,

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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by JamesFish »

I think for value / safety the air filters win.

They take more abuse. (Watch out for the older aqua ones they have small holes in them and they clog.)
Have very low chance of leaking. (Cut the airline just above the tank and put a non return, valve or straight connector and if it disconnects for any reason it won't have enough drop to back flow)
No suckers to fail.
Media lasts longer on them then internal pumps.
A fair few air driven filters and its cheaper to run than internal pumps

Now the down side is the noise of the air blower / air pump(s) and the bubbles. Diaframs are expensive on any option and normally need doing every 12-18 months if your lucky.

Note to prevent algae issues I tend to use one HMF with a normal filter. I find one to trap small debris stops most problem algae. This combines with light cuts and other bits so no not saying its magic bullet.
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by aquaholic »

No need to complicate a simple concept but here are some additional details relevant to me for anyone interested....

Diaphragm air pumps are much quieter than air blowers or mechanical piston pumps. The Medo linear (piston) pump range is a solid reliable compromise though. Many air pump brands tend to disappear after a few years so buy spare parts when you first get the air pump(s).

If your consciously mindful about avoiding diameter restrictions on your air circuit supply, you shouldn't have to replace diaphragm or flapper valves very often. Once a decade or longer typically for me. So from the air pump, use a sweeping elbow or TEE join, not a sharp 90 degree corner. Flexible hose joint from pump to hard pipe (or continous flexible pipe throughout) will eliminate any vibration - noise transfer. Step up a wider diameter if possible (TEE of same diameter does this). No dead ends, use multiple closed loop circuits. No check valves, no air stones, etc. You can elevate the pump position and clip the air supply ring circuit on ceiling to eliminate back siphons. If your paranoid, add a drainage tap on lowest part of main airline circuit.
I use 19mm irrigation polypipe (and fittings) run just above each tank on tiered racks so all my airline hose lengths are identical. I skip individual valves to each tank this way but every tank needs water (I have automatic water change).

Some stand alone sponge filters are rated to 400L volume each. Different densities also available. I prefer a coarse grade sponge but even the fine grade sponges will hold a staggering amount of muck. I prefer black sponge as some of my fish nibble away green sponges. I import Chinese knock offs in carton lots including 2m x 1m sponge sheets - generally 100mm thickness. I played around with carving and painting sponge as tank backgrounds and tried using a typical glass aquarium heater embedded into sponge to slowly drive water circulation for biological filtration if you want a completely silent tank....

If you need a circular hole, soak sponge, freeze and drill with spade bit drill (before it defrosts). Very easy to slice or carve sponge with a fine serrated knife or electric carving knife. Easy to bond sponges together with the right glues too.

I run quite a few sponge filters so I clean every 3 months on rotation with a dedicated top load clothes washer. The spin cycle does most of the work.

Although I use central filtration (moving bed reactors and water pumps), I consider the air driven sponges to be my main filtration and only my air pumps are on emergency back up power.
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by MarcW »

Another vote for air driven sponge filtration, you can see my setup in the MarcW fish room build thread.

Essentially it is a ring above the height of the highest tank driven by a Medo linear piston air pump placed higher still on a shelf, with the small screw in valves from Jehmco providing multiple adjustable outlets above each tank. Every tank, except the largest one has matten filters across one end from Swiss Tropicals, most also have an additional cube sponge filter, and/or some media from old cannister filters in bags pushed behind the matten filter.

I do have a spare, albeit slightly smaller linear piston air pump which would easily power one outlet per tank if needed to keep things going, I also keep a maintenance kit for each air pump in the fish room if needed.

Along with all the previously stated benefits, the one which has been the most use to me is, during a power outage you just need to power one air pump to keep the fish room going, my largest air pump a Medo LA-60B uses 64w of power. I have since upgraded to an automated battery backup system, as detailed in the fish room build thread, but it only takes a fairly low cost 12v car battery and inverter to keep that going for several hours, providing you are there to switch the power supply over when the power cut happens.
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by AmazonTank »

Hi Shane on the Swiss Tropical Corner Matala setup I was thinking of filling the corner up with K1 and a couple large air stones and creating a moving bed filter
πŸ€”πŸ˜
Any advice? I wanted to add the K1 to the back of my uniquarium also to create a filter in the sump space!
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by Shane »

I think it would work just fine. I actually am running air stones in the cavities as I have more air pressure than I know what to do with. I would not try this with super messy fish (like Panaque) however as their sawdust poop accumulates in the cavity behind the sponge. Every other water change I siphon 2-3" of sawdust from behind the sponge.
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by AmazonTank »

I wanted to add the K1 to the back compartments of this uniquarium to utilize the room!
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by TwoTankAmin »

I have been a big fan of air power and poret foam for a number of years now. I do not do corner filters however. I do Mattenfilters and I use a lot of the Poret cubefilters. I also have a single 5x5x10 inch Tower filter. I initially lpowerd all of Mattens with water pumps, but switched all but one to air.

I see no reason to put much of anything re filtration behind a matter or corner filter. Maybe carbon, hide a heater a bag of coral if needed, but certainly not any addition bio-media. You cannot do any better than Poret in that respect.

My tanks are spread out between two buildings and 4 -5 rooms. So I cannot have a blower and a central system. Instead I have three heavy duty diaphragm pumps from Jehmco (they sell all sorts of quality air power up to blowers). The two smaller pumps can power from 8 -15 outlets while the larger one does 12 - 20. I sit the air pump on a piece of 10 ppi foam and it gets quiet. The weight of the pump eventually causes the unit's rubber feet to sink into the foam and it gets noisy, I then relocate the filer to a new position on the foam.

I have 3 canisters one of which contains only Poret foam. I have 18 Aquaclear hang-ons, many of which have Poret in them. I use 10 ppi Poret to make intake pre-filters for almost all my filters.

The best part about the Poret is how infrequently it needs to be cleaned. This means less maint. work for me. I also find I don't get a lot of nitrate in tanks with enough well established Poret filtration. Plus the water in general is clearer in Poret filtered tanks as well. I have never seen the need to add bio-media to any of my Poret filtered tanks especially those with substrate as well. I have also comed to consider it unacceptable to filter my barebottom tabks use and other media.

As always, the above is just this fish keepers opinon.
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by AmazonTank »

Thanks very much for your post, I'm always looking for ways to better filter my water! I have a ziss moving bed k1 filter in a 26 gallon pleco growout tank will see if it helps nitrates!
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by dw1305 »

Hi all,
AmazonTank wrote: ↑04 Sep 2023, 20:38 Thanks very much for your post, I'm always looking for ways to better filter my water! I have a ziss moving bed k1 filter in a 26 gallon pleco growout tank will see if it helps nitrates!
Floating cell media is great and helps the filter to remain fully oxygenated at all times, any-one who talks about "denitrifying" media is either "confused" or trying to sell you a product. So your filter won't remove any nitrate (NO3-), but it will very efficiently convert TAN to nitrate.

I'm still a fanatical water changer, but if it is a suitable tank? A floating plant will be very effective at removing nitrate

I like Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum), but any one will do.

cheers Darrel
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by AmazonTank »

I added Ziss moving bed filters to a few tanks. I'm thinking about twotank mentioned about it not really adding much if you already have top filtration.
I run wet drys and eheim 2080's full of marinepure.
Love to watch it tumble. This weekend I'm gonna set up 1 gallon of K1 micro media in a swiss style matala corner of my tank and see if I can create a cool moving bed filter.
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by TwoTankAmin »

I do not want to argue with Darrel. But when I do not seem to get much in the way of nitrates in any of the tanks where I am using a mature Matten filter. But I have not tested for nitrates in a long time. I do know two things though. The first is that hobby nitrate test kits are somewhat inaccurate, especially in the range of 0-20 ppm.

The second is that Hypancistrus fry are somewhat sensitive to nitrate and I need to avoid any build up of it. I do not lose many fry at all. And this is the case even though when life dictates I cannot do a full weeks maintenance and must leave some tanks out, the tanks left out are my Hypancistrus breeding tanks. The fish can take and the Poret helps ti insure that in terms of nitrogen issues.

As far as I am concerned a thick poiece of Poret whether a cubefilter, corner filter or matten filter is able to do some denitrification. Consider how many potential pathways water can enter and then move though the maze of pores available. Then add facultative bacteria and you will find that when water takes some, but not all routes, to travel though the foam, there will be some places where the bacteria use up the oxygen doing what they do. And since nitrate is created and when the oxygen in a small space is used up, those facultative bacteria will then switch to using the nitrate.

This does not mean that everywhere in the entire block of foam this is happening, but when it happens in enough places the result will be the removal of nitrate that is noticeable. I doubt any of us measure everything closely enough to be able to tell if what ever nitrate we might test is actually all that was created or if some or more than a little was processed in some palce in the filter foam.

I wonder if there is any research into this. But it should be possible to know if a given amount of ammonia is created or added to a fully cycled system which should then allow one to calculate how much nitrate that should create. I have done the math in theory, for the maximum amount of nitrite and nitrate 1 ppm of ammonia can cause to be produced if we test using the total ion scale. On the nitrogen scale 1=1=1. On the total ion scale we mostly use as hobbyists, the numbers go up at each step along the way.
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by dw1305 »

Hi all,
TwoTankAmin wrote: ↑17 Sep 2023, 16:44 I do not want to argue with Darrel. But when I do not seem to get much in the way of nitrates in any of the tanks where I am using a mature Matten filter.
Argue away, without using <"labelled ammonia isotopes"> no-one has definitive proof of what happens in a tank, but I think "mature matten filter" is probably relevant. This is what Dr Tanner, our sponsor, has to say in <"Aquarium Biofiltration">.

Having said that I think we are in <"apples and oranges"> territory, in that what happens in a canister filter, where oxygen is limited, is different from in a matten type filter, that has access to oxygen rich aquarium water.

cheers Darrel
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by TwoTankAmin »

One of my healthiest tanks is a 75 gallom. heavily planted but with barely an inch of sand. Most of the plants are aniubias, But I have some crypts and Hygro in small pots with fine gravel.

There are two filters on the tank as it used to have fewer plants and much bigger fish. One filter is an Aquaclear 300 and the other is an Eheim Pro II 2026 which is filled only with Poret foam. No Eheim media, no floss etc., just 20 ppi Poret in both baskets. The first time I cleaned the canister was 3.5 year or so after it was started. Dr. Tanner suggested I only clean it when I noticed the output was slowing down.

I am not sure which does more of the fltration. The plants or what is in the Poret in the filter.

As to what heppens v.s. what the potential is are two different things. On the nitrogen Scale baiscially 1 ppm of ammon might produce 1 ppm of notrite and that in turn makes 1 ppm of nitrate. This is the maximum possible and it doesn't reuire any equiment to know this. On the total Ion scale, where they count the Hs and Os the potential is different. There the potential is 1.28 ppm of ammonia can make 3.28443 ppm of nitrite and that can make a max of 4.42664 ppm of nitrate.

That 1.28 for ammonia is the number I use for the average for total ammonia which is usually mostly ammonium. That would mean 1 ppm of TA can make about 2.659 ppm of nitrite and 3.458 ppm of nitrate. Again let me stress these are the potential maximums which does not mean that is what one might get. However, for hobbyists trying to get a tank cycled without fish, knowing the maximums can be helpful. If you know how many ppm of ammonia might make what, then your actual readings can be anticipate to gave a max. level. If this is exceeded and you did the math correctly, you know there is something else going on. Usually this is human error.
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

Post by dw1305 »

Hi all,
TwoTankAmin wrote: ↑17 Sep 2023, 23:33I have 3 canisters one of which contains only Poret foam. I have 18 Aquaclear hang-ons, many of which have Poret in them. I use 10 ppi Poret to make intake pre-filters for almost all my filters............... The best part about the Poret is how infrequently it needs to be cleaned. This means less maint. work for me. I also find I don't get a lot of nitrate in tanks with enough well established Poret filtration. Plus the water in general is clearer in Poret filtered tanks as well. I have never seen the need to add bio-media to any of my Poret filtered tanks especially those with substrate as well. I have also comed to consider it unacceptable to filter my barebottom tanks use and other media.........
The simple answer is that all mechanical filtration becomes biological filtration media once it has been wet for a while. I think yours is an eminently sensible approach, I just want ammonia and dissolved gases entering my filter, my personal opinion is that many peoples problems stem from them using their filter as a syphon.

My take-home message, for everybody who uses a canister filter, is get a large foam pre-filter block, and then clean it regularly. I use really big blocks, because I'm not always home.
TwoTankAmin wrote: ↑17 Sep 2023, 23:33One of my healthiest tanks is a 75 gallom. heavily planted but with barely an inch of sand. Most of the plants are aniubias, But I have some crypts and Hygro in small pots with fine gravel...........
I am not sure which does more of the fltration. The plants or what is in the Poret in the filter.
A bit of both, I think. There isn't any "plant only" biofiltration, even if you just have a floating plant with no substrate, it is always synergistic "plant / microbe" biofiltration.
TwoTankAmin wrote: ↑17 Sep 2023, 23:33There are two filters on the tank as it used to have fewer plants and much bigger fish. One filter is an Aquaclear 300 and the other is an Eheim Pro II 2026 which is filled only with Poret foam. No Eheim media, no floss etc., just 20 ppi Poret in both baskets. The first time I cleaned the canister was 3.5 year or so after it was started. Dr. Tanner suggested I only clean it when I noticed the output was slowing down.
Perfect and the same for me, I want a filter medium that doesn't clog and is physically stable, and then I just let it get on with it.
TwoTankAmin wrote: ↑17 Sep 2023, 23:33On the nitrogen Scale basically 1 ppm of ammonia might produce 1 ppm of nitrite and that in turn makes 1 ppm of nitrate.
In atomic terms, not might, but does, you start with one nitrogen (N) atom and you end with one nitrogen atom. One molecule of ammonia (TAN) is oxidised to one molecule of nitrite (NO2-) and subsequently one molecule of nitrate (NO3-). That also explains why nitrification is an acid producing process (you've liberated three H+ ions (protons), and acids are "proton donors") and why oxygen is so important.

Dissolved oxygen (O) is the prime metric, the coffee, in nitrification, and the filter media etc is really just froth. I'm a Poret foam fan, but Kaldnes type floating cell media, Eheim Substrat Pro etc all "work".

That is one reason why I like plants, they are massively net oxygen providers and take up all forms of fixed nitrogen, it is a "win - win" situation.
TwoTankAmin wrote: ↑17 Sep 2023, 23:33On the total Ion scale, where they count the Hs and Os the potential is different. There the potential is 1.28 ppm of ammonia can make 3.28443 ppm of nitrite and that can make a max of 4.42664 ppm of nitrate.
It can, but the "4.427" figure is from <"url=https://www.hamzasreef.com/Contents/Cal ... ersion.php]https://www.hamzasreef.com/Contents/Cal ... ersion.php[/url]"> and it is just the conversion factor from nitrogen (N) to nitrate (NO3-), the important bit is that you still only have one nitrogen atom, you just have it combined in different compounds, with different RMM.

The RAM of N =14 and O =16, the RMM of NO3 is 14 + (3*16) = 62 and 62/14 = 4.43 multiply the quoted value of N by 4.43 and that is the amount of nitrate NO3.

PPM is the same unit as mg/L (there are 10^6 milligrams in 1 litre (1000 g) of water).

To convert N to NO3:
Nitrate-NO3 (mg/L) = 4.43 * N (mg/L), so 10 mg/L N is 44.3 ppm NO3
and to go from NO3 to N:
N (mg/L) = 0.2259 x Nitrate-NO3 (mg/L)

cheers Darrel
Last edited by dw1305 on 20 Sep 2023, 07:44, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

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Thanks you guys are awesome and very knowledgeable! Appreciate it!
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Re: Swiss Tropicals corner sponge filters

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I added k1 to this seaclear uniquarium to get a moving bed filter. Any advice friends.
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