Diy Media Guide For Top Fin Silenstream, Aquaclear And Other Hob Filters - Page 2

Basil

Member
Has anyone done a DIY media mod to an Emperor 400 biowheel?
Trying to figure out how to arrange the media in mine.
 
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Islandvic

Member
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

Member
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?
 
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Islandvic

Member
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

Member
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!!!
 
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Islandvic

Member
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

Member
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!
 

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Carolyn Underwood

Member
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

Member
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

Member
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.
 

Spyder

Member
If I'm understanding correctly, you can essentially just pack the TopFin Silent HOB 10 with as much media as you possibly can then (as long as it's not overflowing). For example, I packed a fluval sponge in it laying down like bricks and then bought a bag of the Fluval ceramic "pellets" that come in the white mesh bag. The bag was too full to fit in the tank so I cut it open a bit and removed some of the ceramic rings and then zip-tied the bag shut again.

Once my first, cycled, cartridge was full, I cut away that floss and ended up doing this:

1. 1 Fluval Sponge in the back like a brick
2. Layered the cartridge floss over it
3. 1 small bag of ceramic rings

The only downfall to this that I am seeing is that the tank is easily fogged up with particulate if you mess with anything in the HOB filter (when removing stuff to clean it up in a bucket and put it back). Just the slightest aggravation of the sponges/ceramic back there turns the tank into a mess for a while (very small particles similar to dust kind of) - but it all settles back down fairly quickly.

(FWIW - I do have an intake sponge on my intake valve but it is not very dense and is kind of coarse. I definitely know that some fine matter can make it right through the sponge, but flakes and larger food particles, or fry, won't)

Does anyone have a better or more efficient way of cleaning out the HOB filter without having to pull the whole thing off the tank so as not to accidentally disturb the media and end up clouding up the tank? (Logically, it sounds like that is really the only way, but I want to be sure the particulate matter that gets into the tank isn't harmful).

EDIT: There's only 1 white Fluval sponge in the HOB. I initially thought I stuffed 2 in there.
 

wd67

Member
I have had some success taking the inlet and sponge out first and get the impeller out at the same time. Then the filters in the hob come out without the junk getting back in the tank. Today is tank clean time...again. That's a couple of hours time, with the only issue is keeping the oscar from biting me and or the gravel cleaner. He flat don't like me messing with "his" tank!!
 
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Islandvic

Member
Spyder , if the filter is unplugged, water should not be spilling into the tank while taking media out.

How thoroughly was the bag of ceramic media rinsed before you placed it into the filter?

Maybe there was dust left on it from the package ?
 

Spyder

Member
Islandvic said:
Spyder , if the filter is unplugged, water should not be spilling into the tank while taking media out.

How thoroughly was the bag of ceramic media rinsed before you placed it into the filter?

Maybe there was dust left on it from the package ?
I rinsed it in a bucket of water with prime in it like I’d do a water change and sloshed it around pretty rough for a few minutes. To be honest I’m not sure if that was enough. But, the particulate is similar to overly aggressive disturbance of the substrate. Maybe I’m just not being gentle enough pulling the sponge out. Being the smaller HOb it’s stuffed in there pretty tight so just squeezing a bit to get it out releases a ton of gunk (which kind of spills back through the output mouth)
 

Rcslade124

Member
Here's how I did mine. Fluval bio foam at intake. A bomax black sponge after then a bad of media full of old cartridge
 

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Spyder

Member
Rcslade124 said:
Here's how I did mine. Fluval bio foam at intake. A bomax black sponge after then a bad of media full of old cartridge
Thanks for sharing that! I readjusted a bit using your picture and everyone’s feedback and the water is already clearing up! I think I packed it too tight and water was kind of just saturating through and out without flowing through to trap the particles.
 
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Islandvic

Member
Many times it's a lot of trial-and-error getting a particular method dialed in.
 

Spyder

Member
Islandvic said:
Many times it's a lot of trial-and-error getting a particular method dialed in.
You sir started a ton of us down the DiY path and I can’t thank you enough. My wallet and fish are MUCH happier! Lol
 
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Islandvic

Member
Here is a link to a thread that FishRFriendz just posted, where he showed in detail making a DIY media basket out of Darice plastic craft mesh, also sometimes referred to as plastic canvas.

Azoo Mignon 60 Filter Basket


Very good write up with pics.

His method can be applied to any HOB filter.
 

peddidle

Member
I have what is essentially the same as the TopFin Silenstream (it's an Aqueon QuietFlow 10) on a 10-gallon and on a 20-gallon. I already have floss and ceramic rings. I am wanting to add Matrix (tap water nitrates run 20 to 30) in hopes of lowering nitrates. Where in the filter would I put it?
 
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Islandvic

Member
peddidle , those Aqueons have reservoirs that are not very deep (front to back), so space is a little limited versus the Silentstreams.

With the limited space, in my opinion you may not have enough room to add the Matrix needed to put a dent in the tap water 's nitrates.

If you alread have the Matrix, just put it in any available space in the HOB.

Also, I would advise to look into low-light plants for the tanks. On the buy-sell-trade section of the forum, there are members who sell plant packages for very reasonable prices with shipping.

Plants, in my opinion, would be a good starting point to deal with nitrates.
 

peddidle

Member
Islandvic said:
peddidle , those Aqueons have reservoirs that are not very deep (front to back), so space is a little limited versus the Silentstreams.

With the limited space, in my opinion you may not have enough room to add the Matrix needed to put a dent in the tap water 's nitrates.

If you alread have the Matrix, just put it in any available space in the HOB.

Also, I would advise to look into low-light plants for the tanks. On the buy-sell-trade section of the forum, there are members who sell plant packages for very reasonable prices with shipping.

Plants, in my opinion, would be a good starting point to deal with nitrates.
Yes, they're already packed pretty full and I don't even have much stuff in them. Both tanks are planted. I haven't bought the Matrix yet, but from what I've read, this is likely my best option. The tanks are partway through fishless cycles. I'm able to purchase different filters if that would be the best thing to do.
 
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Islandvic

Member
I would hold off until your tanks cycle and you add fish.

Afterwards you can evaluate your nitrate situation.

If you can control nitrates through weekly water changes and with the plants, I would not jump into getting a new filter and buying matrix right away.

Nitrate reduction can be tricky sometimes. Even with a procduct like Matrix, Pond Matrix, BioHome, etc, it may take weeks or months to colonize enough aerobic bacteria to put a dent in the nitrates, if you're able to at all.
 

Ssnaaiil

Member
How often do I change the sponge and the bio media??
 

Tol

Member
Ssnaaiil said:
How often do I change the sponge and the bio media??
Sponges when they are falling apart ( a long time generally), bio-media never.
 

Ssnaaiil

Member
Tol said:
Sponges when they are falling apart ( a long time generally), bio-media never.
They don’t get plugged up?
I’m switching to this method from using regular filter cartridges cuz those just get nasty and plugged up
 

mattgirl

Member
Ssnaaiil said:
They don’t get plugged up?
I’m switching to this method from using regular filter cartridges cuz those just get nasty and plugged up
You will want to rinse your bio-media occasionally. If it is in a media bag (recommended) pull the bag out and rinse it off in some of the water you have pulled from the tank or fresh dechlorinated water. Swish it around in the water. You can get pretty rough with it. You aren't going to dislodge the bacteria no matter how rough you get with it. Getting all that mulm off of it will allow it to work more efficiently. Squeeze your sponge to clean it. When I clean my sponges I keep squeezing until no more black is coming out of them.
 

Tol

Member
Ssnaaiil said:
They don’t get plugged up?
I’m switching to this method from using regular filter cartridges cuz those just get nasty and plugged up
Sponges can at times but rinsing/squeezing them generally does it, same goes for the bio media. I rinse all my media in tank water that I have removed during water changes. Using a pre-filter will help cut down on how dirty everything inside the filter gets as well.
 

ghostdawg

Member
HI all. @Islandvic I vacuum the gravel, decor and cleaned the filter media real good today along with my 40% water change. I also followed this thread about adding sponges to the filter intake & inside the filter along with the old filter media. I put the new sponge in the front & old behind it. I didn't add that blue plastic thingy. If anything goes wrong, I blame you all!
Here is a pic of how I added the sponge inside the filter box, I'm not sure if I put it in the right way (if there is right or wrong way). :D Thanks.
 

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Islandvic

Member
ghostdawg , it appears you have a Silentstream 10?

I think the way you set it up is perfect.

In my opinion, the blue plastic grid takes up space that better media could be utilizing, so the sponge that was inserted will work excellent.

You're correct, there isn't really a right or wrong way. A little trial and error usually will get you dialed in, but the pic you posted looks good to me.
 

ghostdawg

Member
Yes, it is the Slientstream 10. Thanks for the advice and the Howto. After adding the full sponge, the half a sponge is sticking up high, almost touching the top of the cover. Is it ok like that? I forgot to mention it earlier.
 

MarleyRM

Member
Islandvic said:
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......
This is amazingly helpful for beginners like me!

Thank you for your info! Here is what I did
 

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Islandvic

Member
ghostdawg , I don't think it sticking up will be a problem. You can always cut it down if you want and shove it in the space next to the intake tube.

MarleyRM , very good to see the write-up helped you. Thanks for posting pic!
 

kered

Member
When modifying a hob filter I like to get more travel sort of speak, I try to separate the front and back of the larger box, using a plastic card in the slots for the old media holders higher than the level of water in the filter but leaving a gap at the bottom, by doing this you force the water to travel from the prefilter at the top down through the main sponge and then up through the biomedia at the front to then exit the cascade, some of the photos in the thread the water can flow from the right side where it comes in and then basically across the top of almost everything only passing through the top inch of sponge/media, you need to create a barrier so it has to go down through everything to get out.
 

Mike999

Member
I used to fuss over the filter media, but after going 100% aquaclear sponges in each of my 4 hob filters, I've not really thought much about anymore.

The aquariums look clear, so I presume the sponges are doing their job.
 

Sanderguy777

Member
I used those topfin sponges on my Penguin 350s! They clogged too fast, but they actually fit the dreaded rectangle intake.

I have a question that may or may not fit here...
My 55 gallon cichlid tank has two penguin 350s on it, but I want to switch to an undergravel filter with two 320gph+ powerheads. Is there a way to get chemical media into an undergravel filter? I'm thinking of something like purigen, but I don't know how it would get circulation.
 
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Islandvic

Member
I'm not sure how it could be integrated into an UGF.
 

Sanderguy777

Member
I kind of figured. They weren't really designed to be modified....
Thanks though. Great thread BTW
 

kered

Member
I have never used purigen but anything you put in the water will find its way into the UGF and eventually stay there until biodegraded.
 

mastersafara

Member
Will the nitrogen cycle complete with just the bare minimum cartridge and bio-grid that comes stock with the top fin silentstream filters? Or is it useless as stock? If that’s the case, why does top fin sell it like this and set us up for failure. Yes it’s our/my responsibility to do my research however why are they selling their starter kits this way? Just to make a profit by making us find out the hard way we ultimately will need to go back to the store to buy more supplies for their filters?
 
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