Diy Media Guide For Top Fin Silenstream, Aquaclear And Other Hob Filters

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
This is a write-up on some methods and options for using DIY media in your HOB filter. My goal is to condense in one thread, easy and cheap methods of improving the filtration in your HOB filter while making it more cost effective. I enjoy the hobby and especially the DIY aspect of it.

Have you become frustrated with replacing HOB cartridges and crashing nitrogen cycles? Is your filter not keeping up with the bio-load of your fish stock? Do you want to hot rod the stock filter your tank came with? Are you on a budget? Do you like or want to attempt some easy DIY projects that offer great results with minimal effort? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you should be interested in this thread.

The following lists some DIY media options for adding coarse/fine mechanical filtration and for adding extra biological media to your HOB filters. It will work for 10 gallon betta tanks, 75 gallon cichlid tanks and anything in between.

I will focus on mainly the Top Fin Silenstream series of HOBs and also give some examples using Aquaclear filters. The Top Fin Silenstream filters are included with the majority of Top Fin aquarium kits from Petsmart. They are prevalent in our hobby and very cheap to buy separately. Aquaclear filters are on the other side of the spectrum of HOB’s. Between these two models of filter, most people will probably be able to use this guide to get ideas for the brand of filter they own with some minor tweaking.

This is not an all-inclusive list, but a general guide to give you ideas for cost effective, readily available and easy to use media for your HOB filter.

I will include specific media I have used in my personal HOB’s. There are many brands and variations of media available at different price points, for certain applications and specialty use. I can not list every brand/model of HOB filter or media. Again, this is a general guide to point you in the right direction.

What I demonstrate in this thread may not be applicable to your situation and needs. Sometimes experimentation is required in the amount/placement/type combination of DIY media to balance the flow rate, effectiveness of filtration and adjust to the tank’s biological load. You may tailor the DIY media to fit your specific needs and application.

Before I begin, I must thank everyone here on the Fishlore forum. I have gained a lot of information from a lot of good people. Everyone here wants to advance the hobby and are always available to give some advice or share their experience in a positive. Therefore I want to contribute back and share what I have learned.

I also want to mention some YouTube resources I have come across with valuable information that help to advance our hobby. These hosts are also genuinely passionate about our hobby and I have learned a lot from them as well: Richard from Pondguru channel, Cory from Aquarium Co-Op channel and Joey from King of DIY channel. There are many more great aquarium hobby channels on YouTube, but I cannot list them all.


Basics of Filtration:

Throughout the guide, the flow of water follows the same basic pattern through the media. It can apply to whatever your filter and media you choose.

Water enters the filter and flows through the media in this order then back out into the tank:

1st: Coarse mechanical filtration

2nd: Fine mechanical filtration

3rd: Biological filtration.


Water enters the filter where larger suspended particles gets trapped by the coarse mechanical filtration and smaller particulates gets trapped by the fine mechanical filtration. Then the biological media (where the beneficial bacteria colonizes) will facilitate the nitrogen cycle.

In this guide I purposely did not give options for chemical filtration, though if you choose to use it, I recommend it being the last thing the water touches before it flows back into the tank. I did not want to get into debates of the validity or specific times of when/when not to use chemical filtration.



Top Fin Silenstream filters and other cartridge based HOB’s:

The first example of using DIY media in a HOB will be for the Top Fin Silenstream series of filters. The Silenstream shares many design characteristics with other brands of HOB’s, so the DIY media mods listed below are easily adapted for use in other brands of HOB’s.

It’s a basic HOB filter design using a plastic bio-grid and a replaceable cartridge. They have a telescopic intake tube with a very handy adjustable knob that lets you adjust the flow rate. The knob turns a restrictor in the intake tube limiting the water flow that feeds into the impeller housing.

Top Fin is Petsmart’s in-house brand and the Silenstream filter is included with most of their Top Fin aquarium kits ranging from 10g-55g. Although considered an entry level HOB filter, with the right mods it can be made into a very reliable and effective filter. The following lists the gph ratings of the models. Although not indicated in the literature or online, I assume the gph ratings is for flow at the impeller assembly without media installed. Your actual gph flow may vary, especially when using different combinations of media.

Top Fin Silenstream 10 85gph

Top Fin Silenstream 20 100gph

Top Fin Silenstream 30 150gph

Top Fin Silenstream 40 200gph

Top Fin Silenstream 75 400gph



Models 20, 30 and 40 share the same filter body, intake tube and reservoir. The only difference is the gph ratings due to differences in the impeller/pump. The model 10’s reservoir is not as wide but has the same design as the 20-40 models. The Silenstream 75 model basically has 2 reservoirs joined together side-by-side with a stronger impeller/pump assembly rated for higher flow. Sharing the same basic design elements, the DIY media mods featured here can be tweaked for use in the 75 model also.

I own the Silenstream 20 model and it’s used in the following pictures. Although originally included with my 20 gallon Top Fin aquarium kit, it was re-purposed for use on my 10 gallon and I find it to be a very effective filter in this application.







 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #2
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
DIY Intake Pre-Filter Sponge, cost $3-$15:

The first mod than can be made to any filter (HOB or canister) is to boost the coarse mechanical filtration ability with the use of a sponge pre-filter on the intake tube. The pre-filter sponge will catch all the large muck suspended in the water before it enters the filter. This has 2 benefits. First it will keep the media in the HOB’s reservoir cleaner for a longer period of time. Second, it will be a host for beneficial bacteria to colonize.

There are different methods of attaching a sponge to the intake tube. The first two examples are easy and cost effective while the third option costs slightly more…..

One method is to use the Top Fin MF-20 filter refill available at Petsmart for about $3 and comes with a 2-pack of sponges. The are closed at one end and have an opening at the other end for the intake tube to slip into. These come with loose fill carbon granules loaded into the inner cavity. This can be discarded or saved for another DIY project. Either way, they are not to be used in this application. Use a plastic zip tie or a rubber band can be used to secure the sponge to the intake tube.




I use these green Top Fin sponges on my Top Fin Silenstream 20 and one of my Aquaclear 30 HOB’s. They have been very effective and have held up well after being taken off and on multiple times when they are rinsed off with tank water.

Another option is to buy a 3-pack of Aquaclear/Fluval sponge refills for either their AC50 or AC70 models and use 1 sponge to make an intake pre-filter. They are avaialbe at most brick-and-mortar stores and online for $3-$5 for the 3-pack.

The following YouTube video, DIY Intake Sponge from Chewy’s Bro Aquatics channel, shows how to quickly accomplish this. After finding this video, I started to use an AC70 sponge as an intake pre-filter on my AC70. It works great!





The 3rd option for using a pre-filter intake sponge is using the ATI Filter Max. Depending on the source, they range in $8-$15. The company ATI sells both sponge filters driven by airlines and pre-filter intake sponge kits. Their ATI Filter MAX I and II models use a fine foam and their Filter Max III uses a reticulated coarse foam sponge. They have a modular design so more than one sponge can be attached inline.

I use their Filter Max II model on one of my Aquaclear 30’s and their Filter Max III model on my Aquaclear 110 HOB. Here are some pics of the Filter Max III.


 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
Adding Extra Mechanical Filtration in HOB’s Reservoir:

Additional media can be added to the reservoir of the HOB to supplement the cartridge, or the cartridge can be completely omitted. There are different options for accomplishing this. Here are the 3 main methods:

1: Polyfil $5-$10


Polyfil is polyester fiber fill traditionally used in pillows and is available from WalMart and craft stores. Some bags are marked “flame resistant” or something similar. Avoid these bags because the poly fibers are treated with a chemical.

Polyfil is used for fine mechanical filtration and traps the smaller particles of muck in the water. It can be compressed or stuffed loosely into most spaces. Some people rinse it out and re-use it, but I choose to discard it when it is dirty and replace it with new material.

Adding a layer of Polyfil before your biological filtration is easy and cheap method for boosting your HOB’s fine mechanical filtration ability.


2: Aquaclear Foam Sponge 3-pack refills $3-$5


Aquaclear sells 3-pack refills of sponges for their HOB filters. The refills for their AC50 and AC70 filters are the best to use and only cost between $3-$5 for 3 sponges. They can be cut to fit your application and can be easily used in your HOB’s reservoir (or as an intake pre-filter).

These sponges can be used for your main mechanical filtration or as coarse filtration before your cartridge or DIY fine mechanical filtration. These sponges are well made and can be easily cleaned by swishing them around in a container of tank water.

They will also act as a host for your beneficial bacteria to colonize on.


3: Roll of Bulk Filter Media $11-$17



This is one of my favorite types of DIY media. Amazon sells different brands of bulk filter media, usually in 12” x 72” rolls (other sizes available). They run between $11-$17. Most are dual layered, where one side is more coarse and the other more fine. You want the water to flow through the coarse side first and out through the finer side. These bulk rolls can be cut to fit any application. They can be used to replace the HOB’s cartridge, layered before the bio-media, or stacked for increased filtration.

When they become dirty, they can be sometimes rinsed off and re-used or they may have to be discarded if the material starts to deteriorate and lose its form. I have found the bulk roll media that costs a few dollars more is usually slightly thicker and can be re-used a few times.

Using bulk roll media gives you endless options for DIY media replacement/configuration for your HOB. An initial investment of under $20 will save you money in the long run, if it allows you to stop buying replacement cartridges.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
Adding Extra Bio-Media to HOB’s Reservoir:

When using the stock cartridge in a HOB filter, every time it is replaced with a new one, the beneficial bacteria is lost and the nitrogen cycle is broken. With the addition of some bio-media in the reservoir, your nitrogen cycle doesn’t have to be broken when replacing the cartridge. A bag of bio-media can also be added when DIY mechanical media is used.

Beneficial bacteria can colonize in the pre-filter sponge on the intake and in the sponge in the reservoir if one is kept there. The beneficial bacteria colonized here will supplement the bacteria in your bag of DIY bio-media.

Here are some easy and effective ways to add some bio-media to your HOB. Other brands are available such as Seachem Matrix, EheI'm Substrat Pro, BioHome, etc. I also use Matrix, but I focused on media less than $10 for this write-up.


These are bagged ceramic bio-media from Fluval and can be found for $2 online and at Petsmart. These are the same as the Aquaclear 30 Bio-Max refills that cost a few dollars more.

These little bags are good because they’re inexpensive and will fit in tight spaces for small HOB’s, or a couple of these can be stacked in a larger reservoir.

These are Fluval’s larger ceramic bio-rings and come loose in a bag. The bulk box has 500 grams of Bio-Max and around 80 count. They can be placed in a media bag, such as the one from the picture. It is a Top Fin 8” x 3” media bag that goes for $0.89 at Petsmart. Generic media bags of all sizes can be found on Amazon.

  • Cycled Bio-Media/Sponge from existing filters, free:

If you already have a tank set up, you may be able to obtain some bio-media or sponge from an existing filter that is already cycled. Placing the cycled media into a new HOB will instantly cycle a tank.

Here is a pic of a bag of cycled media I use in my Silenstream 20. It came from an Aquaclear I had set up on another tank. The dark colored sponge toward the left is also from another cycled tank. I keep that sponge in the reservoir. It is for an ATI Hydro-Sponge MinI and I can set up the sponge filter quickly for a instantly cycled quarantine tank.


 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
Putting it all together:

The following are pics of different combinations of DIY media that can be used in your HOB filter. For reference, I use the Top Fin Silenstream 20 HOB filter. Your HOB filter may differ but the same concepts will apply.

  • Intake pre-filter sponge + small bag of Bio-Max added to stock cartridge






  • Filter Media Pad cut from bulk roll + large bag of Bio-Max




  • Intake Sponge Pre-Filter + Polyfill + Aquaclear Sponge + large bag Bio-Max




There are other combinations that may be utilized w/ DIY media, but this will get you on the right track for your set-up......
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
Aquaclear HOB Filters:

All of the media I mentioned above can be used in the Aquaclear series of filters. They differ from most HOB’s because of their removable media baskets and their water flow enters from the bottom of the reservoir and flows upward then out the discharge chute back into the tank.

I have included pics of one of my AC30’s and my AC110. For simplicity, I have not included my other AC30 and AC70. They are set up slightly different, but follow the same principles of the flow of water through the media that I outlined toward the beginning of the thread.

The media basket in the following pics are from one of my AC30’s on my 20g. Although not shown, it uses the green Top Fin sponge as a pre-filter on the intake that I mentioned earlier in the thread. I cut down the stock sponge in the media basket to free up additional room for other media.

On top of the sponge is a layer of Polyfil, then a layer of filter media pad cut from a bulk roll, a 100-micron filter pad, then finally a bag of Seachem Matrix bio-media.








Next are some pics of my AC110. It uses the ATI Filter Max III shown earlier in the thread. I also cut down the stock sponge in the media basket to allow for additional media. Above the sponge is a huge layer of Polyfil, 2 layers of bulk filter media pads, then 3 bags of bio-media (Matrix and Bio-Max).

Here is a link of a write-up I did on the AC110 that I posted here on the forum (LINK).







The media baskets on Aquaclear HOB's are rather larger, even for the AC30. There is an infinite amount of combinations of DIY media that can be used for these filters. As far as I know, Seachem Tidal filters are the only other HOB's that utilize a media basket.

I hope this guide for using DIY media in HOB filters can be used as a reference and starting point for other members and their own DIY projects. I have had the idea for starting a thread about it for awhile now.

Many times I see people post questions in different sections of the forum, asking about filter media, alternatives to cartridges, how to add biological filtration etc. The subject of being on a budget comes up frequently, so I chose methods that have both worked for me and were inexpensive.

My goal was to post some cheap and easy ways to hot rod up your HOB filter and enjoy a DIY project that anyone can do themselves.

If anyone wants to post their own DIY media used in their filters, please do so. Descriptions and pics of your set ups are welcome.

If anyone here gets some ideas from the thread and mods their filters, again please post your results.

Thanks!
 

bettabo1

Active Member
Member
Messages
276
In my slipstream 10 I found a different brand of filter that fits. I cut a section of bulk bonded filter and used the stock clamp system to hold it in place.

I also use a fluval pre filter and bulk marineland bio rings. I run the filters at 50 speed.
 

Skavatar

Well Known
Member
Messages
3,971
can we get a sticky?

great write up.

and some info for the Tetra Internal filters and other similar internal/submersible filters.

 

yinoma2001

Well Known
Member
Messages
510
This is phenomenal Islandvic.
This may have been covered and maybe I missed it, in my kids' 5 gallon betta tank (which has the Top Fin 10), if I cut the filter (which I'm still using from 4-5 months ago as I try my best to clean in old tank water), where does the carbon reside? (or is there any in it?). I know there's a ton of good BB on that so would I just get rid of the black plastic frame and then just fit it in the reservoir part? I hope this makes sense. I haven't changed the cartridge yet.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
Thank you yinoma2001!

If the thread helped at least one person, then mission accomplished. If it helps out a few more, then bonus!

I'm not 100% sure if the cartridge is built the same for the TopFin 10 as the 20, but I believe it is.

The Top Fin cartridges has a layer of the white felt material on both sides of the inner plastic frame and inside is the loose carbon pellets.

In the past, I cut a slit on one side and dumped out the carbon.

If you're wanting to replace the cartridge with new media, but retain the beneficial bacteria, I would cut the slit and empty the carbon out and discard that.

Most people here on the forum advise that carbon is good for about a month, then it stops adsorbing and not effective anymore.

Cut away the remaining white felt material around the plastic frame and you can place it back into the reservoir with the new media.

This should keep your cycle going.

Good luck!
 

yinoma2001

Well Known
Member
Messages
510
Islandvic said:
Thank you yinoma2001!

If the thread helped at least one person, then mission accomplished. If it helps out a few more, then bonus!

I'm not 100% sure if the cartridge is built the same for the TopFin 10 as the 20, but I believe it is.

The Top Fin cartridges has a layer of the white felt material on both sides of the inner plastic frame and inside is the loose carbon pellets.

In the past, I cut a slit on one side and dumped out the carbon.

If you're wanting to replace the cartridge with new media, but retain the beneficial bacteria, I would cut the slit and empty the carbon out and discard that.

Most people here on the forum advise that carbon is good for about a month, then it stops adsorbing and not effective anymore.

Cut away the remaining white felt material around the plastic frame and you can place it back into the reservoir with the new media.

This should keep your cycle going.

Good luck!

Ahh. So the carbon is probably dead anyways. If the floss material gets to frayed, could I basically roll it up and keep it tucked in the reservoir to preserve the BB? I also have a prefilter sponge that is hopefully amassing good BB. I also kept some loose biomax ceramic things at the bottom of the reservoir. I couldn't squeeze the bag into that (though I have done so on my Aqueon 20 for my 29 gallon).
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
Yes, if it were mine, I'd just bunch the floss up and shove it down toward the bottom, where ever it fits.

Also, those sponge pre-filters work great!

Here is a quick video on the Aquaclear 70 from Richard "Pondguru" on his YouTube channel.


He stresses that the brand of the filter is not nearly as important compared to the media inside of it.
 

Nierums

Active Member
Member
Messages
131
Thank you for linking this in one of my posts (you linked it to help me out since I'm just starting out). This guide was great, I bought a Fluval C4, and kept their sponge pads, but added a 50 micron pad behind the original. I took out the activated carbon added a pound of Biohome Plus in the lower compartment and kept their c-nodes in the top. Since there is a bit of room, I added my old media from my previous filter into the sponge section of this one to transfer the beneficial bacteria. This post was really helpful, I didn't realize filtration was so involved. Thanks again!
 

Deep

New Member
Member
Messages
14
Awesome post, now I know what to do when I have replace my filter cartridge, as I am new to hobby you saved me a bunch
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
Excellent!

When it is time to replace the cartridge, consider cutting away all of the white felt material from the plastic cartridge frame.

You can place that material in with the new media to transfer the beneficial bacteria over.

Also consider installing a sponge pre-filter on the intake tube before replacing the cartridge.

That way you can start colonizing more bacteria right away on that.
 

Deep

New Member
Member
Messages
14
Islandvic said:
Excellent!

When it is time to replace the cartridge, consider cutting away all of the white felt material from the plastic cartridge frame.

You can place that material in with the new media to transfer the beneficial bacteria over.

Also consider installing a sponge pre-filter on the intake tube before replacing the cartridge.

That way you can start colonizing more bacteria right away on that.
I will keep that in mind, and I am assuming I can reuse the blue tray that has small spikes thing on it right?
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
The blue plastic bio-grid isn't hurting anything, but in my opinion it isn't helping much either.

You may certainly leave it in the reservoir.

On my Silentstream filter, my train of thought was that it took up space in the reservoir that could be better served by a sponge, bag of bio-media, Polyfil, etc etc.

The concept of the blue plastic bio-grid is that it creates surface area that beneficial bacteria colonizes on.

But in reality, the surface area is minimal and there is more surface area in the tank if you count the substrate, glass, ornaments and plants.

Considering everything in the tank, the surface area of the plastic blue grid starts to appear small.

That is why I removed it and inserted other media in its place.

For example, if you were to calculate the surface area of all the pockets on the exterior and inner structure of a block of foam sponge, you will have exponentially more surface area vs. the blue plastic grid. Plus the sponge catches muck and acts as a mechanical filter as well.

Same concept applies to a bag of bio-media. A handful of ceramic/sintered glass bio-rings or pumice stones will have an enormous amount of total surface area , both external and internal, due to their porous nature.

That is why in this thread the blue plastic "bio-grid" was removed for all examples. I felt there were many examples of other media that could replace it and do a better job.
 

tfreema

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
5,535
Following to steal great ideas!!

I love re-doing my filters using sponges, ceramics or biohome, and filter pads to replace the cartridges. You get much better surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow, better filtration, and save a ton of money by not replacing those cartridges so often (even if you wait for them to fall apart before replacing, it is still way more often than a sponge which lasts forever or ceramics that last a lifetime).

I have also added this prefilter sponge to my AC 110:
 

tfreema

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
5,535
I just noticed that your avatar is a Whataburger cup!! How can you do that to those of us that do not have one, but come from a place that does?? LOL. My husband especially has to eat there every time we go to Houston. It's the little things in life, lol.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #21
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
tfreema, not only is it a Whataburger cup, it's an officially licensed 30oz YetI Whataburger cup!

A Christmas gift from wife.

Here is a link to Whataburger's merchansdise webpage so you can order 1 (or 2!) and have Whataburger every day!



Skavatar, I can't really say one way or another.

I don't have a tank that had 100% matrix.
 

Tpane27

Active Member
Member
Messages
194
I'm not sure how often people check this but I had a question. I just bought a fluval c3 for my 20 gallon tall tank. Instead of using the c nodes it came with I just transferred my bio max I had in my smaller fluval into this filter. Is this ok? Should I combine the c nodes and bio max?
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #23
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
Transfering cycled media into a new filter is a perfect way to set a new one up.

If there is room still left in the new C3, add the C-Nodes.

If there was anything else in the old filter, like a block of foam sponge or floss pad, attempt to use it in the C3 also.

Most times there is plenty of room for extra media, besides what came with it.
 

Tpane27

Active Member
Member
Messages
194
I have been doing a lot of reading about the carbon and was considering getting rid of it shortly. I read a lot of people have swapped it out for the purigen seachem so I just bought some online and will most likely be taking out the carbon and putting the purigen in place. The bio max was the only thing I transferred over. I didnt think to put the other filters in as well but I'm sure in a couple days or weeks the new filters will be quite good.
 

tfreema

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
5,535
Tpane27 said:
I have been doing a lot of reading about the carbon and was considering getting rid of it shortly. I read a lot of people have swapped it out for the purigen seachem so I just bought some online and will most likely be taking out the carbon and putting the purigen in place. The bio max was the only thing I transferred over. I didnt think to put the other filters in as well but I'm sure in a couple days or weeks the new filters will be quite good.
If you are completely changing a filter on an established tank, you want to transfer everything over or run both filters side by side until the new one has built up a good colony of beneficial bacteria.

I don’t use carbon or purigen except to remove meds.
 

Hikari

Active Member
Member
Messages
69
I'll be taking a crack at using this guide to tweak my HOBs. I think the trickiest thing will be figuring out which order to put everything to get optimal flow, since I have the Top Fin 75 with the dual-chambers you mentioned (two actually, both on my 55g). Maybe I'll just hang it on my spare 10 gallon and play with it for a bit, and report back with whatever configuration works best for me with the materials I can get.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #28
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
HikarI , that would be fantastic if you can report back with results and with pics.

If you can come up with 1 or more ways to set it up, that would be great and very helpful!
 

Hikari

Active Member
Member
Messages
69
Islandvic Alright! Will do!


My camera isn't that great, and does better video than pics, so I went that route. I realized now I was calling it a 70 instead of a 75 in the vid, but that's not really the important bit. Anyways, I hope this helps out for anyone wanting to mod one of these filters.
 

wd67

Active Member
Member
Messages
334
I have had plenty of tanks in the past. That said I never heard of this till this time. Between you and the King of DYI site on You Tube, I have learned a lot about the Cycle and filter mods. I have two filters on my tank and both have the mods done. Both easy and both work way more than before. Thanks for the ideas folks!!
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #31
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
HikarI , fantastic video! I would have never thought about putting up the acrylic dam in the first reservoir. Very slick.

Thank you for your contribution to the thread! Please feel free to add any updates in the future.

WD65 , awesome that the thread gave you some ideas that helped.

If you want to post pics of how yours are set up so other members can see more examples, please don't hesitate.
 

wd67

Active Member
Member
Messages
334
Pictures you want, Pictures you can have. I have filter media that I get on-line and cut it to fit. I paid around 7 bucks for all the filter media I got. I can show the HOB filter but I will have to show the Canister later. I just cleaned it and I am not wanting to tear it out right now. But I use that black media on the bottom filter. One layer of course, one of fine and the white is polishing. It is on the bottom as I have a marineland 350 and it pumps water to the bottom and then back to the top thru the different media. I have three trays of Bio balls ceramic discs and lava rock. No carbon. If I need carbon I can add it to the HOB filter. I know there are several that think, like me that Carbon is not good to use in tanks. HITH is one thing they think could be caused by carbon. Whatever works, but my tank is really good and as long as the tests and fish show good health, I will stick with that.

Almost forgot. Both filters have foam filters on the intakes I can clean as needed.
 

Attachments

Hikari

Active Member
Member
Messages
69
Islandvic Glad I could help! I love being able to make full use out of all the space in those filters. They're both on the main 55 gallon now and doing great.
 

Ladyglo

Active Member
Member
Messages
137
Wonderful article, thank you! If anyone still monitors this, I do have a question. How much space for water flow do I need to leave, or can I fill the filter mostly up with sponges and media? It is a second filter that I want to be able to take media out of in case I need to set up a quarantine tank. Thanks
 

Skavatar

Well Known
Member
Messages
3,971
fill it up to the level of the output. any media above the water line won't be doing anything.
 

Ladyglo

Active Member
Member
Messages
137
Thanks, I guess my question is, do I need just enough room for water to flow through the media or do I need to have a lot of water swirling around the media? Currently the filter has a small cartridge and sponge with a large amount of water. Can I flip that and turn it into a large amount of media and just enough water to cover everything or does it have to have more water flow inside the filter?
 

Hikari

Active Member
Member
Messages
69
Agreed, I pack mine with as much media I can get away with without it overflowing. I figure I have all that space, might as well use it.
 

Jeezusjuiicee

Active Member
Member
Messages
220
with this post ive learned so much! thank you I'm definitely buying the bulk rolls of mechanical media! did the math its $2 per sponge with the bulk roll vs $9 a sponge! and you have taught me how to properly stack media
 

Basil

Well Known
Member
Messages
1,471
Has anyone done a DIY media mod to an Emperor 400 biowheel?
Trying to figure out how to arrange the media in mine.
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #42
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
I found this video from the "Angelo's Fish Tanks" YouTube channel.

He connects what looks like 5/8" ID vinyl tubing from a SunSun to the discharge of the spray bars, and diverts that water back to the bottom of the reservoir.

That water can now flow upward through whatever media is in the reservoir, but the thickness of the tubing interferes with the bio-wheel's rotation. He has to remove the Bio-Wheels, though different tubing with a smaller OD may solve that problem.

His mod would be a good foundation for whatever method you choose.

 

Basil

Well Known
Member
Messages
1,471
Thank you!
I’ve watched another YouTube where a similar method was used. I don’t mind the biowheels so I don’t necessarily want to remove them.
I may play around with a smaller tubing size and then see if the biowheels will still fit. I’m guessing they will still turn without the spray bars? The water coming underneath will turn them?
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #44
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
I would wager the Bio-Wheels would still turn.

The same amount of water will still turn the bio-wheels, it just would all come from the reservoir flowing out to the discharge chute.

The Penguin 350 doesn't use spray bars, and its wheels turn just fine.
 

Rattler11

New Member
Member
Messages
34
This is an awesome post, and if it wouldn't be too much trouble I'd like to ask a question.

I have a HOB much like the silentsteam you showcased throughout the post, but I ran into a problem. Basically bought this filter as a fast upgrade for an emergency quarantine tank. It's the same brand as one I'd been using for years and really loved, only difference was I bought it at walmart instead of Petco. Anyways, when using regular new cartridges (literally made for the brand I have) with the bio grid, I'm having over flow. I was using it exactly as directed, yet that was happening. I'm assuming the flow is just too strong? Oh well, I kinda just dealt with it for awhile, long enough for the fish to transfer to their actual tanks.

Now I'm trying to upgrade it and use it as a permanent filter (but no fish will be in this tank until I know I have something reliable). I used lava rocks throughout the larger compartment for biomedia, left the biogrid in since it might still have good bacteria, have a sponge pre filter on the intake, and was going to add poly fill all in the smaller compartment. What I found was I'm still having issues with over flow. There's no adjustable intake valve like you said yours has so I was just wondering if you had any ideas? If I leave out the polyfil everything works fine. Would the sponge pre filter be enough for mechanical filtration(I have a 30gal)?

Sorry if this is high jacking your post, if this isn't ok, I can totally take it down and make my own. Just thought you might have some ideas since you have basically the same set up and all these awesome suggestions!!!
 
  • Thread starter
  • Thread Starter
  • #46
OP
Islandvic

Islandvic

Fishlore VIP
Member
Messages
4,709
Definitely not a hijack, please post a pic or 2 of your filter. Preferably an over head shot.

I'm sure between the members of the forum and myself, we can take a look and give some suggestions to get your filter on the right track.
 

Rattler11

New Member
Member
Messages
34
So first pic is the basic set up, lava rocks, bio grid, and pre sponge filter (not pictured).

Second pic is where I want to put the polyfil. Either like that or just all throughout the compartment, I'm not totally sure yet, but I've been playing with it, and no matter how I do it, very little, or allot, as soon as I add it I get overflow.

Third and fourth are just each of the set ups running and how much over flow I'm getting.

I also plan on adding more lava rocks, but they're currently in one of my other tanks getting seeded for this one.

Thank you in advance for all your help!
 

Attachments

Carolyn Underwood

Active Member
Member
Messages
201
Islandvic said:
DIY Intake Pre-Filter Sponge, cost $3-$15:

The first mod than can be made to any filter (HOB or canister) is to boost the coarse mechanical filtration ability with the use of a sponge pre-filter on the intake tube. The pre-filter sponge will catch all the large muck suspended in the water before it enters the filter. This has 2 benefits. First it will keep the media in the HOB’s reservoir cleaner for a longer period of time. Second, it will be a host for beneficial bacteria to colonize.

There are different methods of attaching a sponge to the intake tube. The first two examples are easy and cost effective while the third option costs slightly more…..

One method is to use the Top Fin MF-20 filter refill available at Petsmart for about $3 and comes with a 2-pack of sponges. The are closed at one end and have an opening at the other end for the intake tube to slip into. These come with loose fill carbon granules loaded into the inner cavity. This can be discarded or saved for another DIY project. Either way, they are not to be used in this application. Use a plastic zip tie or a rubber band can be used to secure the sponge to the intake tube.
Islandvic said:
I hope this guide for using DIY media in HOB filters can be used as a reference and starting point for other members and their own DIY projects. I have had the idea for starting a thread about it for awhile now.

Many times I see people post questions in different sections of the forum, asking about filter media, alternatives to cartridges, how to add biological filtration etc. The subject of being on a budget comes up frequently, so I chose methods that have both worked for me and were inexpensive.

My goal was to post some cheap and easy ways to hot rod up your HOB filter and enjoy a DIY project that anyone can do themselves.

If anyone wants to post their own DIY media used in their filters, please do so. Descriptions and pics of your set ups are welcome.

If anyone here gets some ideas from the thread and mods their filters, again please post your results.

Thanks!



I use these green Top Fin sponges on my Top Fin Silenstream 20 and one of my Aquaclear 30 HOB’s. They have been very effective and have held up well after being taken off and on multiple times when they are rinsed off with tank water.

Another option is to buy a 3-pack of Aquaclear/Fluval sponge refills for either their AC50 or AC70 models and use 1 sponge to make an intake pre-filter. They are avaialbe at most brick-and-mortar stores and online for $3-$5 for the 3-pack.

The following YouTube video, DIY Intake Sponge from Chewy’s Bro Aquatics channel, shows how to quickly accomplish this. After finding this video, I started to use an AC70 sponge as an intake pre-filter on my AC70. It works great!





The 3rd option for using a pre-filter intake sponge is using the ATI Filter Max. Depending on the source, they range in $8-$15. The company ATI sells both sponge filters driven by airlines and pre-filter intake sponge kits. Their ATI Filter MAX I and II models use a fine foam and their Filter Max III uses a reticulated coarse foam sponge. They have a modular design so more than one sponge can be attached inline.

I use their Filter Max II model on one of my Aquaclear 30’s and their Filter Max III model on my Aquaclear 110 HOB. Here are some pics of the Filter Max III.


Islandvic...this is great information, so easy to follow, and really puts my mind at ease. I have been using some of this alternative media for my Top Fin HOB's but was not really sure I was doing anything correctly. Also, the photos are great in showing a wide combination of media types that can be used together. Thanks for this fabulous post!!!
 

CaptainGratin

New Member
Member
Messages
14
Super helpful post. Can someone please explain (might have missed it), why you want the bio media in front of the “cartridge(s)” instead of the reservoir behind it?
 

Hikari

Active Member
Member
Messages
69
CaptainGratin said:
Super helpful post. Can someone please explain (might have missed it), why you want the bio media in front of the “cartridge(s)” instead of the reservoir behind it?
It's to help keep it cleaner so it doesn't get gunked up as fast. The first mechanical filtration gets the gunk. The order of media can vary depending on how the water flows through the filter, but in the top fin's case, it enters from the side and then goes back to front.
 

New Threads

Similar Threads

Similar Threads

Follow FishLore!

FishLore on Social Media

Online statistics

Members online
197
Guests online
3,249
Total visitors
3,446

Aquarium Photo Contests

Aquarium Calculator

Top Bottom