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Sponge Vs Hob Vs Canister

Discussion in 'Filters and Filtration' started by Brizburk, May 19, 2019.

  1. Brizburk Well Known Member Member

    Ok, im a canister person. Love them. Im setting up a species only tank and these little guys have always had a sponge filter, they dont like heavy flow. Now im tasked with either learning a new system or acclimating the fish to more current.

    Please tell me all about sponge filters, the pros and cons and please compare them to hob and canisters.

  2. Klink Valued Member Member

    Sponge filters are incredibly easy to set up and maintain. In my experience, they can be used as a sole method of filtration for a system, provided you clean the tank well to pick up detritus that might get trapped throughout the tank. I can't speak for canisters as I've never used one, but sponge filters are about as simple and effecient as you can get. Set them up, squeeze them out at every water change depending on bioload and you're good to go. I prefer them to HOBs for sure.

    I run sponge filters in all my tanks even if they have plenty of filtration. I have a 120g tank that has 2 sponge filters running in the sump at all times to filter other tanks if I set up a quarantine or something like that.

  3. RSababady Well Known Member Member

    wow - what a question :)

    The way I see it is like this on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the best):

    1. Water flow in the tank
      1. Canister: 5 as you can place the input to the filter wherever you want and the output wherever you want
      2. Sponge: 3 tends to create a more vertical flow with the output spraying away slightly from the filter
      3. HOB: 2 generates more of a vertical flow, so the water does not spread out evenly throughout the tank.
    2. Bio load dynamic change
      1. Canister: 5 - has the largest surface are for bacterial growth, therefore in the event of a change of the bioload, this filter changes and adopts quickly.
      2. Sponge: 2 - has little or not dynamic tolerance
      3. HOB: 3 - has some tolerance.
    3. Noise
      1. Canister: 4 - little or no noise
      2. Sponge: 2 - noisy because of the air bubbles
      3. HOB: 2 - motor noise and falling water noise
    4. Cleaning
      1. Canister: 5 - every 4-5 months
      2. Sponge: 2 - every 2-4 weeks
      3. HOB: 3 - every 2 months
    5. Cost of filter
      1. Canister: 2 - high purchase cost. Low usage cost as only one floss needed every 4-5 months
      2. Sponge: 4 - low purchase cost, but air pump required. Sponge replacement every 3 years
      3. HOB: 3 - medium purchase cost. High usage cost due to filter cartridge changes required regularly
    6. Convenience
      1. Canister: 3 - out of the way as it resides under the tank, however piping is required
      2. Sponge: 3 - located in the tank and takes up space
      3. HOB: 4 - the external HOB takes up little space but does require the tank to be moved away from a back wall. The internal HOB takes up space within the tank.
    I am sure some people will take a different view, but this is mine :)

  4. Andy S Valued Member Member

    Which canister filter do you have and what is the size of your tank? I run a Fluval 406 and also a Fluval 106 on a couple of my tanks. They are both equipped with a regulator to control the flow; you can open it all the way up to get full flow or you can close it to the point where there is almost no flow at all or anywhere in between.
    I don't have experience of other makes but I would think most have something similar but even if they don't it's easy enough to cut the return pipe and install an inline valve.
    Your other option is to install a spray bar which will break up the return to produce a far more gentle flow.
  5. Magicpenny75 Well Known Member Member

    FAQ about sponge filtration:  
    Sponge filters can be driven by powerheads, eliminating both bubbles and low flow concerns. There are other kinds of sponge filters besides the little $5 cylinder kind. I'm currently running a 75 on a mattenfilter setup, with an internal volume of 5 gallons and over a 300 square meters of surface area. Yes it takes up space inside the tank, and also gives me a place to put the heater and additional plants outside of the display, essentially acting as an in-tank sump. It is silent, and there is a zero percent chance of leaks, requires only annual maintenance, and will last up to a decade without replacement. No plumbing, no external pumps, nothing to prime in the event of power failure, no noise, and almost no maintenance. I don't see a downside...
    Even with all that, there are more than one way to accomplish our goal of healthy water, and I am sure that all of these methods will work when applied correctly. This is just my preference.

    Attached Files:

  6. Andy S Valued Member Member

    As Magicpenny75 says, there are always several ways of achieving the objective, a lot of it comes down to personal preferences. I understand all of the advantages of sponge filters - dirt cheap to buy, no moving parts etc but my two objections to them are that it is nigh on impossible to remove them to clean without dropping a load of gunk into the water and more importantly I just think they are ugly and difficult to disguise, taking up valuable tank space.
    I have recently built a 100 gallon tank approximately 6 feet long and 18 inches wide and I use a combination of canister and undergravel filtration but not in the way most people do.
    I have undergravel filter plates which cover the entire bottom of the tank, the full length. The inlet pipe for the canister is situated at one end but instead of going straight to the Fluval 406 it goes to an APS prefilter booster which contains just foam, three grades to strain the solids from the water. The water (now devoid of suspended particles) then goes from the prefilter into the Fluval 406 but because I have the prefilter I have removed all the sponge in the 406 and filled the space with biological media, ceramic rings and Seachem Matrix. It is then pumped back into the tank but instead of just returning to the water column it feeds down one of the 'uplift tubes' from the undergravel filter so that the water then has to pass through the substrate back into the water column; effectively I am using the substrate as further biological media. Clearly the water will not flow to the other end of the tank so at the other end I have three further uplift tubes with airlines to act as uplifts for the rest of the undergravel filter but in the normal directional flow.
    The advantages as I see it are that the suspended debris gets removed from the tank unlike with a sponge filter where it merely congregates on and in the sponge. All of the suspended waste gets removed prior to the water entering the main filter so hopefully I will not have to clean it for months, all I need do is clean out the sponges in the pre-filter booster which is dead easy, none of this debris ends up back in the main tank. I am also utilising my entire substrate (150 pounds of swimming pool filter sand) as a biological filter.
    I can see no downside to this other than by adding the prefilter it does have some effect on the flow rate but I think it's a price worth paying for the advantages I get. Some people say that UG filters cause problems for plants because it is unnatural for water to be flowing through their roots - all I can say is that my vallisinaria is going bonkers and throwing out runners which have to be cut back weekly. I just use root tabs for the swords but even if I didn't, any liquid ferts I add pass through the filter and end up returning under the substrate and flowing up through it. It's only been running a few weeks so I can't tell you how this will work out long term but I see no reason why it should not work.
  7. Brizburk Well Known Member Member

    Well the canisters i have are cascade 500 and 700. Currently running the 500 on my 36 gal thats understocked.

    However my original question is posed to a new species only set up that I'll be getting in a few weeks. The fish are part of the CARES program and i believe they are highly endangered in the wild. These 8 Spiketail Licorice Gouramis were tank bred from a wild caught pair. The wild caught pair were caught for the purpose of conservation. They are sensitive and have not yet spawned. Im still learning about them and looking forward to starting a thread about them when they arrive.
  8. NavyChief20 Well Known Member Member

    Sponge filters:
    A bit noisy
    Ugly to look at
    Not great for large tanks (mind you my tanks are all 75 plus)

    Good for establishing a cycle
    Good as an algae scrubber in a sump

    Unless you ditch the cartridge then its a continuous cost.
    Doesnt provide good circulation ratio

    Can be noisy
    High initial cost
    Orings leak without proper care
    Most require a trip to the hardware store for addon parts to make it work well.

    Im not a fan of HOBs or Canisters. Not at all, even if you tweak them. Sponge filters have some good uses but you dont want to use them in large volumes.
  9. coralbandit Fishlore VIP Member

    Go with the mattenburg for your gouramis .
    Swiss tropicals rule !
  10. aussieJJDude Well Known Member Member

    I agree with this.

    If you do go canister, consider getting an attachment the the spin or poppy pipe ends which help reduce flow in the aquarium while still allowing the ease of a canister - flowing at full volume.
  11. Brizburk Well Known Member Member

    Im not familiar with spin or poppy pipe ends. Can you explain them?
  12. Brizburk Well Known Member Member

    Thats some great info, thank you! I'll be looking into this type of filtration for sure. The woman who is giving me the fish just said she'd sell me their tank and filter, plants and light and all! Im going to do that then maybe i can add the matten filter (thats what its called right)... This way i dont have to worry about stressing the fish by putting them in a different environment.
  13. coralbandit Fishlore VIP Member

    Yup Matten filter !
  14. aussieJJDude Well Known Member Member

    In most cases they glass - you can also get plastic - that you put on the end of of the input hose....

    Here's a an example of each. First is the spin pipe, second is the poppy pipe.

  15. Tol Valued Member Member

    Those are cool, I have never seen those types of outflows before.
  16. bgclarke Well Known Member Member

    Another option is corner filters.
    I use Lee's Triple Flow corner filters in some of my tanks.
    Air powered with fine bubbles.
    Allows me to put seeded biomedia in them and use floss/bonded filter pad for mechanical filtration.