Advice Needed - Filtration For Fluval 13.5

PTVinnyMac

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Hi, I'm a saltwater noob. Starting on my first tank, want to get a mantis shrimp. Based on my research I've deduced the following and I'd like any or all helpful advice:

1) I'm going to use a mix of live sand/crushed coral for my substrate

2) I will be using live rock in the tank, but will not be getting in to corals. I just want to have the mantis shrimp on it's own. I may add a couple of fish down the road, but that's about it

3) I won't be using a protein skimmer

4) If you are familiar with the fluval evo, I will be using the the stock sponge, with biomax and carbon as per fluval specification. Should be good right?

5) What could I put in the empty chamber where the skimmer would go?

6) Any cycling tips and timeline required?

I don't want to rush it, I want the tank to do well, I know Mantis shrimp are hearty. The only reason I feel a bit rushed is because finding them online somewhere that would ship to canada is difficult. Some of the big Al's around town can bring them in, but the frequency they get them is inconsistent and they cannot guarantee the size. (I would like a small one)

Another LFS near me actually has one, that's about an inch and a half and would be perfect. But he wouldn't let me buy it and hold on to it while my tank cycles as he does not want to risk it dying while he holds it for me and then lose the sale (which I do understand) So there's no guarantee he will have it once the tank is cycled.

Any and all advice is welcome and appreciated!!
 

Asomeone

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So I'm gonna link you to posts, one being my own, another being another recently setup tank. The info provided in these threads is great for beginners since the most seasoned of fishlore chimed in.
Help - Saltwater Tank Beginner
First Marine Tank!

Alright, that being said lets dive on in from someone whose also going through the same process just a bit further along
Live sand crushed coral is a good choice for a substrate. I'd probably shoot for a 1 inch bed.

Live rock is a great choice just ensure to keep it submerged through transport and have the tank completely up and running before purchase. I did not do this and I regretted it. Also ensure to clean your live rock. You can find plenty of guides for this. But essentially its washing the LR in salty water and brushing it to clear it from unwanted stowaways.

Protein skimmers aren't needed for tiny tanks as they will rely on consistent and methodical water changes to continue running.

I have the fluval flex (similar chambering) It'll be just fine but I personally don't like to use carbon. Some people feel differently...I use purigen in my tanks.

In the empty chamber you could add in more live rock or put the heater there. Or you could even buy the media trays they sell for the fluval series to add more filtration of watever kind. I would recommend you plug the lower inlets of the tank. I think you have them...the ones on the bottom of the 1st chamber. If its still empty I'd plug those up with silicone. If not I cut a piece of plastic and superglue it over the grates. Its a pointless thing if you're caring properly for your tank. Its just there to ensure the pump doesn't run dry but for my purposes all it does it prevent the rear chambers from properly acting like a sump. IE the water level changes in the whole tank instead of just the rear.

Since you're cycling with LR and live sand it could drastically speed your cycling time. I cycled within 2 weeks and had additions within the first month. This is very subjective though and it could take much longer.

I see you didn't add a wavemaker to your list and anyone else who chimes in will likely say you need a wavemaker. I personally went with the jaebo line due to cost and performance. Lack of one contributes a myriad of headaches you don't want.

I'm new to the salty side too. I love it. Enjoy, ask any questions, even if you think theyre dumb. Just make sure you get a quality test kit and test away. Salty tanks from what I've learned require much much more dedication and money compared to FW. Once its all set up and everythings said and done the price goes way down. Just keep an open mind. do your research and I'm sure you'll do great. Welcome to the salty life. Its a headache.
 
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PTVinnyMac

PTVinnyMac

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Asomeone said:
So I'm gonna link you to posts, one being my own, another being another recently setup tank. The info provided in these threads is great for beginners since the most seasoned of fishlore chimed in.
Help - Saltwater Tank Beginner
First Marine Tank!

Alright, that being said lets dive on in from someone whose also going through the same process just a bit further along
Live sand crushed coral is a good choice for a substrate. I'd probably shoot for a 1 inch bed.

Live rock is a great choice just ensure to keep it submerged through transport and have the tank completely up and running before purchase. I did not do this and I regretted it. Also ensure to clean your live rock. You can find plenty of guides for this. But essentially its washing the LR in salty water and brushing it to clear it from unwanted stowaways.

Protein skimmers aren't needed for tiny tanks as they will rely on consistent and methodical water changes to continue running.

I have the fluval flex (similar chambering) It'll be just fine but I personally don't like to use carbon. Some people feel differently...I use purigen in my tanks.

In the empty chamber you could add in more live rock or put the heater there. Or you could even buy the media trays they sell for the fluval series to add more filtration of watever kind. I would recommend you plug the lower inlets of the tank. I think you have them...the ones on the bottom of the 1st chamber. If its still empty I'd plug those up with silicone. If not I cut a piece of plastic and superglue it over the grates. Its a pointless thing if you're caring properly for your tank. Its just there to ensure the pump doesn't run dry but for my purposes all it does it prevent the rear chambers from properly acting like a sump. IE the water level changes in the whole tank instead of just the rear.

Since you're cycling with LR and live sand it could drastically speed your cycling time. I cycled within 2 weeks and had additions within the first month. This is very subjective though and it could take much longer.

I see you didn't add a wavemaker to your list and anyone else who chimes in will likely say you need a wavemaker. I personally went with the jaebo line due to cost and performance. Lack of one contributes a myriad of headaches you don't want.

I'm new to the salty side too. I love it. Enjoy, ask any questions, even if you think theyre dumb. Just make sure you get a quality test kit and test away. Salty tanks from what I've learned require much much more dedication and money compared to FW. Once its all set up and everythings said and done the price goes way down. Just keep an open mind. do your research and I'm sure you'll do great. Welcome to the salty life. Its a headache.
Thanks so much for all the info. Really do appreciate, I'm loving these forums more and more Everyday!

Regarding the wavemaker, I forgot to add that to the list, but yes I do have one (hydro koralia - 240gph)

If you can tell by the I've attached, the previous owner already applied a piece of acrylic and blocked off most of the slits from the top down and left the 2 bottom ones open (the open ones are what are being shown from the pic) so I dunno if based on what you said, that might cause some flow issues?

I have a good test kit (API) and I'm pretty neurotic with testing my freshwater so that will carry over to this tank lol

Another thing I'd like feedback on is my water plan. I've spent a lot currently so an RODI is not happening right now (Unless I find a good deal on a second hand?) But based on me wanting a Mantis shrimp only tank, the guy I spoke with at my LFS confirmed that I could go ahead with tap water and treat it and then make my saltwater as mantis shrimp are quite hearty anyhow. Considering you started with tap water for yours, I feel better about this?

I was also watching a few videos where it said I could top up with fresh water (because adding more saltwater will raise salinity levels) so it works out perfect for me as I'm planning to keep a 2.5 gallon container of prepped saltwater for 10% changes either weekly or bI weekly (I will determine this as I go) and then a 7 gallon of fresh tap (treated) for top ups and for use for my freshwater tanks as well.

1566363000297.jpg
 

Asomeone

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PTVinnyMac said:
Thanks so much for all the info. Really do appreciate, I'm loving these forums more and more Everyday!

Regarding the wavemaker, I forgot to add that to the list, but yes I do have one (hydro koralia - 240gph)

If you can tell by the I've attached, the previous owner already applied a piece of acrylic and blocked off most of the slits from the top down and left the 2 bottom ones open (the open ones are what are being shown from the pic) so I dunno if based on what you said, that might cause some flow issues?

I have a good test kit (API) and I'm pretty neurotic with testing my freshwater so that will carry over to this tank lol

Another thing I'd like feedback on is my water plan. I've spent a lot currently so an RODI is not happening right now (Unless I find a good deal on a second hand?) But based on me wanting a Mantis shrimp only tank, the guy I spoke with at my LFS confirmed that I could go ahead with tap water and treat it and then make my saltwater as mantis shrimp are quite hearty anyhow. Considering you started with tap water for yours, I feel better about this?

I was also watching a few videos where it said I could top up with fresh water (because adding more saltwater will raise salinity levels) so it works out perfect for me as I'm planning to keep a 2.5 gallon container of prepped saltwater for 10% changes either weekly or bI weekly (I will determine this as I go) and then a 7 gallon of fresh tap (treated) for top ups and for use for my freshwater tanks as well.

1566363000297.jpg
Be mindful. I started with tap and transferred over to RODI. I only started with tap because my RO unit had not yet arrived. More on that in a minute

Wait the guy blocked off the top slots and left 2 slots on the bottom open? I'm sorry its not clear from your photo. That's kinda backwards since most want the top open and the bottom closed for the fluval tanks. Its watever so long as you're comfortable with water fluctuating in the entire tank instead of just the rear. Not a death sentence for the tank by any means.

Glad to hear you have a decent test kit. Do you have the saltwater reference cards for the API kit? I literally had to buy another whole kit cause I didn't have the cards for saltwater. In hindsight I probably coulda found them on ebay. Same Kits! Stupid. From practice I've also found API kits to be a bit unreliable when it came to ammonia...just something to be aware of. Might be in your best interest to buy a separate ammonia kit from another brand. They would display .5 ammonia when my tank was actually lower or at 0.

Okay so for the tap water I'll quote stella1979 since I did not have my shrimp survive. He in fact died when I performed the first water change since it had been added. Inverts are not as hardy in the salty lands and are rather intolerant of quick parameter changes. If you go to page 2 of my thread you'll see my failure.

Stella1979 from here.
Inverts are particularly sensitive to heavy metals even in trace amounts. TDS stands for total dissolved solids and the source water (your RO) which you mix with marine salt should have a TDS of absolute zero. Media in RO/RODI filtration units are what strip all or most of the TDS from our tap water... my RO stages consist of a particulate filter, 2 carbon stages, then the RO membrane, and finally, the DI stage. All stages are refreshed as necessary to keep the unit in top order with DI resin needing replacement the most often (less than twice a year though.) So here are my TDS numbers from my own tap and filtration unit (which delivers RO and RODI water. By the way, I also use remineralized RO water for our drinking water as well as the nano freshwater tank.)

Tap - 350ppm
RO - 30ppm
RODI - 0ppm

From use, the media in the filtration stages will become exhausted and need replacing. When the RO TDS increases, the media in those filters are replaced, same with DI. This is why it's advised to frequently check the TDS of our water... which is easy as pie for me since I also use the TDS meter on RO/feed water for orchids a few times a week. As you can see from my numbers, the first few stages of my own system take care of the majority of the TDS but there is that little bit left. What is it? Well, idk everything that's in it but I can measure 3ppm nitrates. What's the other 27? Because idk, I cannot say my RO system makes water completely safe for the reef tank without also putting the water through the DI stage.

Here's an example I like to give when folks ask if they can use tap water, and... sometimes you CAN but it's infrequent and is solely dependant on what's in that water. There once was a reefer who had very, very low TDS straight out of his tap (somewhere south of 60ppm.) He did his research, started his reef tank, cared for it very well, and all was well for more than a year. He had fish, inverts, and corals. Everyone was happy for a good long time but somewhere in year 2, suddenly, corals were a little upset and the reefer couldn't figure out why. Before long, inverts started dying more corals were upset and some were dying. He kept plugging along, trying to figure out what in the world was going on. Finally, there was little left alive in the tank and even fish were dying. He had a major test done on his source water (tap) and the tank's water. What they found was very low-level tin in the tap, which over time, had built up to higher levels within his tank. The tank went through a slow but complete crash as what was still a very low level of tin accumulated in his reef tank.

asomeone again.
For me this was a big indicator that an rodI unit was absolutely needed for salty tanks. You can pick one up for about 60 dollars new on amazon.

So what I learned from my shrimp death was this. I only pump water in slowly during my water changes now. I ensure water is within a degree of the tank. I ensure salinity is right on the mark with my tank. My tank houses clowns right now but I don't want to risk the same issue with them.
 
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PTVinnyMac

PTVinnyMac

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Asomeone said:
Be mindful. I started with tap and transferred over to RODI. I only started with tap because my RO unit had not yet arrived. More on that in a minute

Wait the guy blocked off the top slots and left 2 slots on the bottom open? I'm sorry its not clear from your photo. That's kinda backwards since most want the top open and the bottom closed for the fluval tanks. Its watever so long as you're comfortable with water fluctuating in the entire tank instead of just the rear. Not a death sentence for the tank by any means.

Glad to hear you have a decent test kit. Do you have the saltwater reference cards for the API kit? I literally had to buy another whole kit cause I didn't have the cards for saltwater. In hindsight I probably coulda found them on ebay. Same Kits! Stupid. From practice I've also found API kits to be a bit unreliable when it came to ammonia...just something to be aware of. Might be in your best interest to buy a separate ammonia kit from another brand. They would display .5 ammonia when my tank was actually lower or at 0.

Okay so for the tap water I'll quote stella1979 since I did not have my shrimp survive. He in fact died when I performed the first water change since it had been added. Inverts are not as hardy in the salty lands and are rather intolerant of quick parameter changes. If you go to page 2 of my thread you'll see my failure.

Stella1979 from here.
Inverts are particularly sensitive to heavy metals even in trace amounts. TDS stands for total dissolved solids and the source water (your RO) which you mix with marine salt should have a TDS of absolute zero. Media in RO/RODI filtration units are what strip all or most of the TDS from our tap water... my RO stages consist of a particulate filter, 2 carbon stages, then the RO membrane, and finally, the DI stage. All stages are refreshed as necessary to keep the unit in top order with DI resin needing replacement the most often (less than twice a year though.) So here are my TDS numbers from my own tap and filtration unit (which delivers RO and RODI water. By the way, I also use remineralized RO water for our drinking water as well as the nano freshwater tank.)

Tap - 350ppm
RO - 30ppm
RODI - 0ppm

From use, the media in the filtration stages will become exhausted and need replacing. When the RO TDS increases, the media in those filters are replaced, same with DI. This is why it's advised to frequently check the TDS of our water... which is easy as pie for me since I also use the TDS meter on RO/feed water for orchids a few times a week. As you can see from my numbers, the first few stages of my own system take care of the majority of the TDS but there is that little bit left. What is it? Well, idk everything that's in it but I can measure 3ppm nitrates. What's the other 27? Because idk, I cannot say my RO system makes water completely safe for the reef tank without also putting the water through the DI stage.

Here's an example I like to give when folks ask if they can use tap water, and... sometimes you CAN but it's infrequent and is solely dependant on what's in that water. There once was a reefer who had very, very low TDS straight out of his tap (somewhere south of 60ppm.) He did his research, started his reef tank, cared for it very well, and all was well for more than a year. He had fish, inverts, and corals. Everyone was happy for a good long time but somewhere in year 2, suddenly, corals were a little upset and the reefer couldn't figure out why. Before long, inverts started dying more corals were upset and some were dying. He kept plugging along, trying to figure out what in the world was going on. Finally, there was little left alive in the tank and even fish were dying. He had a major test done on his source water (tap) and the tank's water. What they found was very low-level tin in the tap, which over time, had built up to higher levels within his tank. The tank went through a slow but complete crash as what was still a very low level of tin accumulated in his reef tank.

asomeone again.
For me this was a big indicator that an rodI unit was absolutely needed for salty tanks. You can pick one up for about 60 dollars new on amazon.

So what I learned from my shrimp death was this. I only pump water in slowly during my water changes now. I ensure water is within a degree of the tank. I ensure salinity is right on the mark with my tank. My tank houses clowns right now but I don't want to risk the same issue with them.
Yes, I've heard quite a few shrimp species are sensitive but mostly for Mantis shrimp from what I've seen and read I should be good. I'm in Canada so our prices differ a fair bit from those in the US. Most of the RODI systems I have found on amazon are $100+. Maybe you can suggest one?

I have the cards for the test kit so I don't forsee any issues there.

I'll keep an eye on the ammonia, again, with only have the shrimp in the tank I think I may be able to get away with a bit.

Also forgot to mention, the previous owner made an egg crate tray to fit in the skimmer area. I may remake my own, as I had to buy a sheet to reinforce the bottom of the tank. Lots of myth about Mantis shrimp breaking glass (Have yet to find any recorded instances) oddly enough one of the LFS representatives I spoke to when calling around to find a shrimp, said it happened to customer of his. But again, based on my research, if there is an area they are likely to cause some damage it could be the base while they dig (Accidentally while they break up rock and other substrate) so the egg crate will ensure none of that happens lol

Back to the tray, should I maybe use it and if so, what do you suggest I throw in there?
1566365058711.jpg
 

Asomeone

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I personally use the aquatic life RO
OOOO I like the idea of using eggcrate. So cheap! Since you're pulling in water from the bottom id use a very unrefined sponge. One with very large pores. that way since ur using the original sponge it'll soak up the rest. I'd put live rock on the next 2 stages...but that's just me. I like me some live rock.

You may be able to get away with nitrates but ammonia is one of those things for the salty tanks that is no beuno. I'd try to keep it at an absolute minimum.

What are your source water parameters/tds? It might be easier to let us of fishlore tell you if you really should get an (at least) RO system and optimally an RODI system.
Canada huh...cheap beer expensive rodI systems
 
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PTVinnyMac

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Asomeone said:
I personally use the aquatic life RO
OOOO I like the idea of using eggcrate. So cheap! Since you're pulling in water from the bottom id use a very unrefined sponge. One with very large pores. that way since ur using the original sponge it'll soak up the rest. I'd put live rock on the next 2 stages...but that's just me. I like me some live rock.

You may be able to get away with nitrates but ammonia is one of those things for the salty tanks that is no beuno. I'd try to keep it at an absolute minimum.

What are your source water parameters/tds? It might be easier to let us of fishlore tell you if you really should get an (at least) RO system and optimally an RODI system.
Canada huh...cheap beer expensive rodI systems
For some reason the link isn't working, so I searched aquatic life reverse osmosis system in my amazon app. Here's the first one that comes up

Aquatic Life RO Buddie Four Stage Reverse Osmosis System with Color Changing Mixed Bed Deionization Cartridge

Could I use filter fiber in the tray instead of sponge? And then maybe add some bio rings?

Also, what kind of test could I perform on my tap water to provide this information? If I have to find trace metals and such, I've never tested for that before?
 

Asomeone

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PTVinnyMac said:
For some reason the link isn't working, so I searched aquatic life reverse osmosis system in my amazon app. Here's the first one that comes up

Aquatic Life RO Buddie Four Stage Reverse Osmosis System with Color Changing Mixed Bed Deionization Cartridge

Could I use filter fiber in the tray instead of sponge? And then maybe add some bio rings?

Also, what kind of test could I perform on my tap water to provide this information? If I have to find trace metals and such, I've never tested for that before?
Oh gosh 200 bucks for a filter I got for 60 dollars. Yea that's the same one I was referencing. Ebay?
You can definitely use filter floss in there but I'd question why continue using the sponge block if you're gonna be prefiltering the water to the cleanliness level filter floss gives. That's just me, I'm sure other people use your method.

Places like home depot sell diy test kits that test for a number of harmful things in the water. Theres so much to test for in tap water that can be harmful to the salty aquarium. You can also pay for a lab to do a test on it. This will give you far more accurate results and extensive results, but obviously is more expensive. Just off the top of my head you'd have to test for the standard. Ph, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite. On top of that I'd wanna test for chlorine content, alkalinity, copper, iron, lead, pesticides....You see where I'm going with this haha. Considering trace amounts of something is probably found in all of our taps that is why most prefer rodi.
 
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PTVinnyMac

PTVinnyMac

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Asomeone said:
Woops double post.
Yep. Crazy difference in the price, I know!!

The more I read, the more comfortable I feel about treating my tap water. I don't expect too much complications. Worst comes to worst, I'll use distilled water which is readily available at my local walmart and cheaper then the RO water.

I'll keep an eye out for a second hand RODI as I go and maybe I'll get lucky.

Thanks for all your help Asomeone.

I'm finished cleaning out the tank, got the bottom reinforced and my pvc cave for my shrimp. Gonna just get some filter fibre and buy some live rock then start my setup.

I'll post some pics as I start putting it together!!
 

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