No Filter, Only Powerhead

  1. CasualHobbyist

    CasualHobbyist New Member Member

    Can I be successful with this setup?

    15 gallon tank (24 x 12 x 12)
    4 male guppies
    pea gravel
    decors: rocks, driftwood, silk plants
    two powerheads on either side of the tank
    30% water change every week

    1. Would the tank be able to produce enough bb?
    2. If i do not have a dedicated power filter to house these bb, would there always be a mini cycle every time i stir and vacuum the gravel?
    3. Can this setup be successful?
  2. KinsKicks

    KinsKicks Fishlore VIP Member


    This would not be a completely successful set up; I believe there won't be enough BB in your tank to support your guppies. I know it's only 4 of them, but there isn't a lot of BB that will be able to grow on the gravel, and it's not worth running the risk of having your tank never cycle. Gravel simply isn't that great of a substrate for doing something like this (although there are set ups that are suitable, but those require a lot more work to get going)

    Plus, powerheads will most likely blow your guppies around quite a bit and they aren't the best swimmers with those fancy tails.

    Is there a reason why you can't have a normal filter?

    And welcome btw!
  3. s

    smee82 Fishlore VIP Member

    It could possibly work if you add sponges to the intake as this would create an area for the bb to colonize but you would be better off with a proper sponge filter.

  4. BottomDweller

    BottomDweller Fishlore VIP Member

    I agree with KinsKicks
    If you were to try this (which I don't recommend with this setup) it would be best to have lots of live plants.
  5. OP

    CasualHobbyist New Member Member

    Hi! Thanks for the reply. It's not that I can't have a normal filter. I am keeping fish for quite a while now and I am just wondering if this can be done.

    I think the powerheads blowing up the guppies can be solved by having smaller powerheads and stronger fish like a school of zebra danios.

    However, not having enough BB is also my main concern.
  6. KinsKicks

    KinsKicks Fishlore VIP Member

    Okay :). Although I will say danios should be kept in at least a 20 long because they are quite active and are on the bigger side.
  7. OP

    CasualHobbyist New Member Member

    Yes, this is why I posted this question. There are a lot of successful filterless planted tank setups out there, but no setups like this (maybe for a reason :D). Thanks BottomDweller
  8. OP

    CasualHobbyist New Member Member

    Okay. Maybe I should think more of what fish to get for this not-so-possible setup. Thankss :):):)
  9. s

    smee82 Fishlore VIP Member

    If you want to do a filterless setup it is possible. The most popular is the walstad method. All it is is using plants as a filter so if you have enough plants to cope with your fishes bioload its possible(i know rhat thats an extremely simplified explanation).
  10. NavigatorBlack

    NavigatorBlack Fishlore VIP Member

    I would not do this with guppies, unless I had wild types without the big tails. The tank would never be cycled, but old time aquarists ran unfiltered tanks successfully. You'd need may 6 zebras in a 15 (which has the same base size as a 20 - base size matters more than depth and 5 more gallons in a 20 would be unused by zebras anyway). 6 zebras, no other fish, 40% water changes twice a week.
    That's my question.
  11. OP

    CasualHobbyist New Member Member

    Yeah I've read about the Walstad method before. Maybe live plants are really necessary for a filterless setup.
  12. NavigatorBlack

    NavigatorBlack Fishlore VIP Member

    It isn't necessary to go Walstad for an unfiltered tank. You certainly need well cared for plants. The problem is you need extremely low stocking levels, far far lower than most of us are prepared to enjoy. You also need carefully chosen fish - slow moving ones with minimal bioload - ideally swamp species from still, almost stagnant water.
    And you need a rigid water change schedule.
    No swamp species is adapted to the powerhead usage you are considering.
  13. OP

    CasualHobbyist New Member Member

    Good point about the old time fishkeepers.

    I have no reason for this at all :D just curious if it will work. I am thinking that since BB grow on any surface of the tank (decors, gravel, rocks, etc) requiring only oxygen, maybe I can setup a successful tank without buying any dedicated filter media as long as it has low bioload. The biological media will be the things inside the tank, while the powerheads oxygenate the water. Mechanical media would be the weekly water changes.

    In fact, I can even see some pros in this setup:
    * no filters to maintain - no rinsing and changing of media)
    *if the power goes out - all of your BB are in the tank
    *Less nitrates - unless we are changing our mechanical media weekly, the debris that it accumulate are adding up to nitrate. This is why I think that it might be better to get these stuff during water changes than to let them be in your filter until you clean it.
  14. BettaPonic

    BettaPonic Well Known Member Member

    With live plants it might work. You should look into the walstad method.