What is a Diatom filter?
It is a Micron filter that is mega-boosted by using Diatomaceous earth to further lower the Micron level at which particles removed from the media it's filtrating. You can ultimately achieve a 2 micron filtering setting.
In other words, it is a set up made to polish your aquarium water to an extreme crazy level. Now, you could buy brand name diatom filter or you could do a conversion on a magnum 350 if you already own one. Since it's one of the few no-bypass filters already on the market.
What is Diatomaceous earth?
D.E (for short) is a pumice like rock material consisting of fossilized diatoms (hard shelled algae). When in it's powdered form, can reach the size of 2 microns...
What is a micron?
A Micron or Micrometer is a measurement; one millionth of a meter. To put this in perspective, a human blood cell is 2-3 microns in width and 7 microns in diameter. At my job I use micron filters with some intravenous medications to filter out unwanted particulates.
I take it you get the picture, but you are asking why would I do something to this extreme.
Well here's my answer; one thing I've noticed with those water polishing pads that are in my various filters aren't cheap. Plus they tend to get clogged up faster then it's time to do the actual maintenance of the rest of the filter.
Which all in all, means they're doing their job. Right? Of course they are. However once they've fulfilled their duty, they start to restrict the water flow through the pad. Which is no problem since most filters models still allow water to push around the clogged area and still get recycled back into the tank. Basically bypassing the clogged filter entirely.
Instead of reaching into my HoB or Canister filter to clean a water polishing pad every 3-4 days to make sure it's still doing it's job. I use a Diatom filter set up to water polish when I feel it's needed.
It could be before Guests come over. It could be if I happen to notice a lot of dissolved solids in the tank. Regardless it literally takes 10 minutes to set up and viola, sparkling water so clear you'd think the fish are flying. Plus, I don' have to buy any more pads.
Still sound like I'm being crazy? Vain and perhaps slightly OCD? Hmm maybe, but how's this sound to you then:
Dial in that micron filter in far enough and you can even filter ICH out of water even down to it's protozoan phase. You could even filter out an abundance of diatoms already present in your water column that would potentially lead to a algae growth, if done periodically with your water changes if you have typically hard water.
So here we go;
First you're gonna need one of these.
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Then you'll need to purchase a micron filter for the canister if yours did not come with one.
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Next you'll need either Diatomaceous earth or Cellulose powder and a bucket.
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Both you can find at your local pool store. Now even though I mentioned DE, the reason I'm using Cellulose powder is a five fold. 1) it's cheaper than DE. 2) You get 5x's as much for your dollar, 3 pounds of Cellulose powder is equal to 25 pounds of DE. 3) Diatomaceous earth, is not to be inhaled and it can be quite toxic to your system, whereas Cellulose powder doesn't readily float in the air as easy as DE will. 4) It's natural just as DE is. 5) it's less abrasive than DE, less wear on your micron filter.
Set up your canister filter with the micron filter inside, fill the unit with water and then attach the input/output hose in a bucket filled with enough water for the input/output nozzles to be submerged. Pour the Powder into the water and mix it.
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Now you want to prime your filter with the DE/Cellulose. Turn on the unit and let it filter the water.
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At least until the water clears up a bit.
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(Picture only to represent filtered water, your water will not have to be this clear to be ready)
Turn your unit off, and then attached the input/output hose to your Aquarium. Set the direction of your output nozzle to your liking and then turn the unit back on.
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I usually let mine run for a few hours and then turn it off when I'm satisfied. Enjoy the sparkly clear water!!!
Now here is a alternate way to prime the Micron filter in the canister. I find it takes longer, but in my opinion does a better job of coating the micron filter with the powder.
Use a Baster, to squeeze out a thick powder mixture directly into the input line of the filter as it's running in the tank. It takes a bit of practice and if your careful enough , no powder will escape into the tank.
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Here's more food for thought. Just as your normal water polishing pads, the Micron filter by itself that comes with the Magnum 350 will eventually start to collect a lot of debris and particles on it. However Since the Magnum 350 is a no-bypass filter, as it collects debris, it will start to filter even better as it gets dirtier eventually.
So, If you are in a good habit of cleaning. You could use the Magnum 350 as a secondary full time water polisher. Just keep an extra Micron filter on hand. Switch it out every 5-7 days depending on your tanks bio-load. No more buying polishing pads for a long time.
All you need to do is take the dirty filter out, replace it with the clean one.
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Use a solution of one part Bleach to three parts water and soak the filter overnight.
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Then you just rinse the filter out a few times till the bleach smell goes away.
Go have a cup of coffee, sit back, relax and watch your fish float through the air in your tank.