Fluval 306 Cannister

  • #1
I have a relatively new tank that is going through the nitrogen cycle. Right now..it is at .25ppm ammonia and 0 Nitrites and 0 Nitrates. It is heavily planted with 2 decent size pieces of driftwood. I'm a tad impatient..so I have quite a few fish that are counting on me to bring them through this cycle. Just couldn't wait to get them. They are ALL doing well..and I have only lost one Cory Cat in the last 3 weeks. The guy at the pet store felt that I just got a cat with an issue. Everyone is eating, swimming freely and in general..showing no stress.

I had a Marineland Penquin 350 as a filter when I first purchased the tank. It worked GREAT..but as sound of a sleeper as I am...that filter was just plain distracting. There are nights where I laid in bed..until 4 in the morning..listening to the wrrr..wrrr...wrrr of the motor. Therefore..I went out and plopped down a chunk of change to buy a Fluval 306 canister filter. I purchased this one because I can adjust the flow and if I decide to go to a bigger tank...(which I probably will), I have a filter ready to go!!

Hopefully, someone that owns one will offer their advice as well. The filter comes with course sponges in a frame that slide down in the filter on the side on the intake side. I guess that filters out the course goo and crud. Then it runs to the other side where there are three baskets. The bottom one has Fluvals Bio sponge. The 2nd one has Fluvals Bio-media and the 3rd basket has 2 carbon packets.

As a new aquarium hobbiest,,I am trying to get "edumkated" on the hobby! I do a lot of reading and googling..but I still don't have a direct comparison to my situation. There is tons of advice..but I'm just not sure that it applies to my tank.

I have in my inventory at this time..the following.
1. API 0 30 PPI foam (coarse)
2. API Micro Filtration (semi-course)
3. API Super Micro Filtration (fine foam with floss attached)
4. Fluval Bio Max
5. Seachem Purigen 2 bags at 100mg
6. Seachem Matrix Bio-media.

These items have all been suggested to me..and I bought them when I had the chance since most stores DON't usually carry all of what I've listed.If I don't need or use them...I can take them back.

I was advised by one pet store to use the carbon packets and was told not to by another since I had so many plants. Therefore...do I need them?

I was thinking of the following. 1. leave the course pads on the intake framed filter. In the first bucket, I was going to layer the three foam pads. Coarse, medium and fine..in that order. The 2nd..I was going to use Seachems Bio-media. The 3rd..Fluvals Bio Max. I was going to leave out the carbon packs.

Am I on the right track...or am I all messed up in my thinking. PLEASE advise!! I'm going crazy with all this conflicting information. I watched a you tube video of the pond guru on setting up a canister filter..and he does make sense...but what do I know!!! He also makes this bio media that looks quite interesting called Biohome. It looks like it would be very effective..but it is from the UK..and costs a pretty penny to ship.

Also...I have been doing a 40-50% water change about once a week during this cycle. I was advised to keep that down to 10%. Your opinions on that subject would be nice as well.

Thanks in advance to everyone for their advice.
  • #2
OK, first thing in a cycled or cycling tank is do not make too many changes to your filters at once, as it will interrupt the cycle (e.g. if you remove pads that have bacteria growing).

The "carbon or not" issue with planted tanks is often debated, my own consensus more from reading than knowledge is that it is of questionable use, except if you have been medicating and want to remove the medication. Purigen is reported to be a bit better than carbon, but I use it occasionally and frankly can see no difference in water quality, but forum reports are generally glowing. I don't think either is really necesary.

Your filter seems arranged correctly with course media then giving way to more fine, with biological and/or chemical as the last step. If it was me (and hey... actually it is me, I have a 306) I would move the bio media (I'm assuming this is the white ceramic rings?) to the top, and add one more tray of fine foam before (under) it. I don't think the carbon is nearly as useful as more mechanical filtration. This also provides more room for bacteria growth.

Seachem Matrix vs Fluval ceramic rings -- I use the former, but these are very similar. If you have had days for bacteria to start growing on the rings, I would leave them. However -- if the tray is not full, just fill it up with Matrix over top of it. Or more rings. Pretty much anything durable EXCEPT the plastic bio-balls, which are really for sumps not canisters.

But here's what you need to know -- as long as you don't make rapid changes in the canister and have some mechanical filtration, it really does not matter much. Over time the tank will also have good bacteria on surfaces, plants, substrate... the main goal of the filter is going to be to provide flow, and to remove crud, and provide a home for bacteria. How you treat the cycle, the water, feeding... all are MUCH more important that precisely what you have inside the canister. You just need the basics -- course to fine media.

The main idea of the bio media is to provide something that does not pick up massive amounts of "gunk" and provides a lot of surface area. Sponge and floss also provide a home for bacteria, but since they get washed out and sometimes replaced, the bio media in the tray provides a more permanent home. But it's all similar to the bacteria, and the main thing you can do to help is not replace the media at all while cycling, and do so in very, very limited amounts on any filter cleaning -- like one pad each time perhaps. But don't obsess over the exact makeup. Simple is good.

And don't clean it too often -- every water change is too often. You want it to look pretty disgusting when you clean it. And clean it in tank water -- run off 5 gallons or so as you do a water change, maybe a couple buckets of 5 gallons each, and use that to wash out the sponges. Don't use tap water as it may damage the bacteria (you will read people who say "I use tap water all the time" -- here's the deal, chlorine in tap water is going to kill SOME bacteria; tank water will kill none; "some" may not be enough to matter but "none" is less). At the risk of repetition ignore manufactures who want you to change media in the filter all the time -- don't. That not only costs money but removes good bacteria. Wait for the floss to get pretty flat and not able to fluff up, and the coarse sponges should last a couple years.

As to water changes and cycle -- you bought fish and put it in there. Now you need to keep the fish from dying (and only have them suffer a bit). I suspect we all did that from impatience the first time. You need to do enough water changes to keep the ammonia low (0.25 is pretty good, even .5 is not instant death), and as it comes more under control start testing for nitrites. Nitrites will likely be the bigger deal -- it takes longer for the bacteria that consumes nitrites to colonize and grow, and 1 ppm of ammonia turns into almost 3ppm of nitrites. So you will likely need to do even more water changes to keep nitrites under control.

You do not want zero ammonia. In fact if there were no fish, you would want maybe 3ppm. But 3ppm is pretty harmful to fish. So it's a compromise.

As to water change amounts: In reality it does not matter much whether it is 10% several times, or 50% fewer times -- don't do so much you leave it too low, and don't let the ammonia and later nitrites get too high.

And expect the cycle to take a month. It may be quicker, it may be longer, but that's probably a good middle ground - set your expectations accordingly.

There are products you can add that jump start the cycle. I personally avoid them as there are at least some reports that it is a short term fix and then the introduced bacteria fades. But if you are still really impatient, read up on them.

Finally -- FEED VERY SPARINGLY. Fish can go days, or even a couple weeks, without food without harm. But they will eat and poop almost as much as you can feed them, and this increase ammonia production dramatically. I would feed only every other day and lightly until you get the tank cycled, and even then feed less than you might think you need. They are cold blooded animals, not warm - they need a lot less food than you think they do.
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
WOW!! Linwood...Thanks a ton!! That is some great info and very comprehensive, I will attempt to be patient. I love watching the feeding frenzy when I do feed..for they all come out and go nuts. I'll lighten up on the feeding schedule. I was feeding a little in the morning and at night. Then I dropped down to once a day. I'll try cutting it down to once every two or three days until the cycle is established. The tank is beautiful..and I don't want any deaths. I've only lost one Cory...but he started kicking the bucket one day after I picked him up. Everyone else is happy as can be!!

Also thanks for the advice on the filtration. I guess..I'll leave the the coarse foam on the sides and the Bio Foam on the bottom. I'll move the Bio Media up top and add a little more. Then if I'm not mistaken, you suggest doing additional mechanical filtration in lieu of the Carbon in the 2nd tray. .. Therefore...I should layer the superfine, fine and coarse with the finer foams closest to the Bio media, Correct me if I'm wrong!!

Thanks a ton for your great advice!! You da bestest!!!
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Here is a picture of the tank so far. It is almost 1 mo old.Plants are already growing pretty fast!

newest tank pic.jpg
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
OK..what I did was this. Took apart my canister, left everything almost the same except...

I left the coarse sponge filter on side.
left the black bio max sponge on bottom (coarse)
put three layers of mechanical filter pads in 2nd tray, 30ppi, micro fine and superfine API filtration media
on the top level, I added more BioMax Media to the existing Bio Max and closed her up.

I removed the carbon as I read in several places where it can filter out the fertilizer that I use for my planted tank. I have no problems doing water changes, so hopefully the water will remain clear.

I do have one question though, Should I put a small this floss pad on the bottom of the Bio Max tray to keep the media isolated? I have it layered in the 2nd tray but wasn't sure if I should also add it to the Nio Max tray.

Any advice on that would be helpful!

Thank you in advance!!
  • #6
I originally put floss under the bio media, but stopped doing it, as it is very hard to clean (you have to pour off all the media into something to get it out). I leave mine plain and in the basket by itself, then each filter clean I just take that shelf and dunk it a few times in tank water to wash off any loose stuff.

Carbon: I've read it both ways (absorbs ferts and doesn't), my impression is the "doesn't" writers seem more authoritative, but on the other hand I don't think it really does any good either. Do keep some around in case you need to treat an illness with medicines, as often they call for "treat X days then remove quickly with carbon".

Just be patient -- there's a huge temptation to keep making changes, and generally that is the worse thing you can do. Stay on top of water changes to keep a low but usable level of ammonia and nitrite and let things settle in.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Thanks Linwood!! I'll settle down for a while and just enjoy watching them for a change!!

Similar Aquarium Threads

  • Locked
  • Locked
  • Question
  • Locked
  • Locked


Top Bottom