Sponges For Hob...

Splaker

So I've been researching this topic. The sponges have been promoted by many on YouTube, especially the Aquarium Co-op guy... So he suggests the Aquaclear sponges (or this knockoff: )

I have the Marineland Penguin 350 so a few questions about using sponges with it:

1. How often do these have to be rinsed? Once per month? More often? Does it depend on your bioload?
2. Should they be washed in aquarium water?
3. Instead of adding two sponges, should I go with one then add something else like a bag of ceramic rings or perhaps something like Purigen in a bag?
4. I cannot get his intake sponges (he is really enthused about intake sponges!) where I live. I saw others on Amazon but have no idea what size he is using for the 350 they are demo-ing...

Thanks for your help!
 

A201

Fluval FX series replacement sponges.
Completely stuff the media box with sponges.
Squeeze dirty sponges out in used tank water once every 3 or 4 weeks.
I transitioned my old Marineland Emperor 280 years ago. The sponges work great. No more expensive filter cartridges.
 

Islandvic

Something like the video suggests can be adapted to use for the Penguin 350's intake.

I'd take the strainer off and place a foam block from an Aquaclear 70 on the end, the same way the video shows.

 

Splaker

Fluval FX series replacement sponges.
Completely stuff the media box with sponges.
Squeeze dirty sponges out in used tank water once every 3 or 4 weeks.
I transitioned my old Marineland Emperor 280 years ago. The sponges work great. No more expensive filter cartridges.

Thanks... so no other media with the sponges? Charcoal, ceramic, lava, and so on? So this does both mechanical and biological correct? Chemical unnecessary?

Hmmm... this looks really good too.. 4.8/5 with over 500 reviews...

 

A201

In my converted Emperor I do have a small mesh media bag with ceramic media. It was just a left over extra from another filter. I put it on top of the sponges. No problem mixing ceramics w/ sponges. Only use charcoal when removing meds from the water column.
 

Splaker

In my converted Emperor I do have a small mesh media bag with ceramic media. It was just a left over extra from another filter. I put it on top of the sponges. No problem mixing ceramics w/ sponges. Only use charcoal when removing meds from the water column.

Good idea.. thanks.. so on top is better than the back of the filter housing?
 

A201

Just position it where ever the water flows over it.
 

Splaker

How often should a) sponges be changed and b) ceramic rings be changed?

Anyone try Purigen? I've read that it is an excellent product that can be re-used continuously if it is cleaned...
 

A201

Sponges will last many years. So will ceramic media. My AquaClear sponges have been in use 5 years with no real signs of wear.
 

Splaker

Interesting... so just rinse/wash with aquarium water? easy enough...

Sorry one more question - how should I introduce new sponges/ceramic? As I said, I have a Penguin 350 - it has 2 compartments for media. I am thinking if I keep the current media (those blue expensives pads that have to be replaced...) in place in one of the compartments, and place the ceramic and sponges in the other, this should seed the sponge/ceramic, wouldn't it? Just don't know how long it would take...
 

MomeWrath

Sorry one more question - how should I introduce new sponges/ceramic? As I said, I have a Penguin 350 - it has 2 compartments for media. I am thinking if I keep the current media (those blue expensives pads that have to be replaced...) in place in one of the compartments, and place the ceramic and sponges in the other, this should seed the sponge/ceramic, wouldn't it? Just don't know how long it would take...
Yes just replace them one at a time. depending on your bioload, 2-4 weeks. No other media is needed with sponges, they will provide mechanical and biological filtration and work better once they get a little biofilm built up, so you don't want to rinse them more than once every two to three months or when the flow is reduced. That will depend on your bioload and the density of foam you use. If you're a car guy, think of filter sponge like a K&N air filter. They work better and catch more stuff after they get a little buildup on them.

you can read more here:
Aquarium Biofiltration - SWISSTROPICALS
 

A201

That's all there is to it. Sounds like a good plan. Should take about a month to sufficiently seed the new sponges with BB, then toss the blue cartridges. Stuff the second media box with sponges & ceramics.
 

Splaker

Thanks folks!!! Great help and this newbie appreciates it!
 

86 ssinit

Yes sponges work great in that filter. As said it will probably take about a month to transfer your bacteria to the new sponges. I have 2 of these filters and I set mine up from back to front. First I use a tetra floss bag. The largest size bought in a box of 12 with 2 holders for under $20. These will last around 2yrs. Next I cut a med grade sponge to fit. In front of that I added a bag of matrix or biohome with 2 scrubbies on top.
Everything get rinsed every other week during water changes and cleaned in wc water.
0F82E23D-9368-4598-99BA-19AF8C216CF1.jpeg
 

JayH

This is one of those filters where I think you need to be careful in how you rework the media. If you just mindlessly cram in sponges you're going to compromise the water flow. This filter is designed for there to be an empty space behind the rear-most cartridge so water can freely flow from the center intake position across the whole back of the filter and then flow forward through the cartridges and out the front. Without that open space in the rear the flow of water will be concentrated in a much smaller area and the filter will tend to clog faster, not to mention not be as effective.

You can see this happening in the photo above where the water is being channeled from the center intake around the corner of the blue plastic plate. You can see turbulent water near the center and no obvious water movement anywhere else.

With a divider of some sort in the rear-most slot, an open space behind the media is created and this allows the water full access to the entire surface of that rear-most cartridge and whatever is in front of that. The water will flow forward through the entire surface area.

I'm not saying you have to use the official cartridges, but you need something so the water has free access to the full area behind the media and can then flow forward through the media. Without this you'll get hot spots of filtration where muck will accumulate and only move on to other areas when that spot clogs. This is not an all or nothing thing. There will be some flow in other spots, but most of it will be concentrated in a small area without that free channel in the rear.
 

MomeWrath

This is one of those filters where I think you need to be careful in how you rework the media. If you just mindlessly cram in sponges you're going to compromise the water flow. This filter is designed for there to be an empty space behind the rear-most cartridge so water can freely flow from the center intake position across the whole back of the filter and then flow forward through the cartridges and out the front. Without that open space in the rear the flow of water will be concentrated in a much smaller area and the filter will tend to clog faster, not to mention not be as effective.

You can see this happening in the photo above where the water is being channeled from the center intake around the corner of the blue plastic plate. You can see turbulent water near the center and no obviously water movement anywhere else.

With a divider of some sort in the rear-most slot, an open space behind the media is created and this allows the water full access to the entire surface of that rear-most cartridge and whatever is in front of that. The water will flow forward through the entire surface area.

I'm not saying you have to use the official cartridges, but you need something so the water has free access to the full area behind the media and can then flow forward through the media. Without this you'll get hot spots of filtration where muck will accumulate and only move on to other areas when that spot clogs. This is not an all or nothing thing. There will be some flow in other spots, but most of it will be concentrated in a small area without that free channel in the rear.
I agree with this. What I do with an HOB when I replace with sponges is I use a 1" or 2" thick sponge and literally trace the disposable cartridge onto it with a knife. That way it's a direct replacement. One of the reasons I like the Whisper HOB is it uses a carrier, so I just put the sponge in the carrier where the disposable used to be.
 

Splaker

I agree with this. What I do with an HOB when I replace with sponges is I use a 1" or 2" thick sponge and literally trace the disposable cartridge onto it with a knife. That way it's a direct replacement. One of the reasons I like the Whisper HOB is it uses a carrier, so I just put the sponge in the carrier where the disposable used to be.

What if I took the existing blue media cartridge and ripped off the material but kept the plastic housing and glue on a sponge that is fitted to size?
 

JayH

What if I took the existing blue media cartridge and ripped off the material but kept the plastic housing and glue on a sponge that is fitted to size?
Cut off the material and keep the frame. Put that frame in the rear-most slot. If it depends on the material you cut off to fit properly in the slot, you may need to figure out a way to extend it or find some other stiff plastic perforated plate to replace it. Then put whatever you want in front of that frame. You don't need to glue it to the frame as long as it will support itself.

Just keep in mind that you want the water flowing all the way across the back and then forward through the full face of the media toward the front. I would try to get two layers of sponge in there, one each of different porosities. Ideally, put a coarse sponge on the intake as a pre-filter, then you can use medium and fine in the body of the filter. This should give you loads of surface area for bacteria and good mechanical filtration as well. If you don't do the pre-filter, then I'd use coarse and medium in the body of the filter, coarse in the rear, medium in the front.

Ideally, you probably want at least a little open space in the front so the water will flow freely through the entire face of the media and then exit to the tank. Without this the water will tend to flow only through the upper portion of the media nearest the tank, leaving the lower portion largely unused. You don't need much space, just enough so the media isn't pressing against the front wall.

This is one of the problems with HOBs designed with a back to front flow. You need to "waste" space in order to maintain a proper water flow through the media.

The HOBs designed for a bottom to top flow allow you to make better use of the available space since they need only a small gap at the bottom for free water flow. You can use the entire remainder of the space for media.
 

Splaker

When you say the "front" is this the side closer to the biowheels?

When you refer to the back and front of the media housing, is the "front" where the biowheels are located?
 

JayH

"Front" is the side closest to the tank. Front/rear perspective assumes looking at the tank in a normal fashion, with the HOB hanging from the side of the tank opposite the normal "front" viewing position. So the rear of the HOB would be the side furthest from the front of the tank.
 

tjander

IMO it does little good to rinse out the sponge in old tank water. The first time you do this the water will turn dark and any further rinse will just be like wash cloths in dirty water. You could rinse then dump the water, refill the container then repeat. Or just run them under the faucet it’s been widely debated that tap water is not going to kill your bacteria by just rinse them. I started using tap water about a year ago and have had zero problems. Now that said, I do rinse the bio rings and the filter parts in used tank water. But all filter media goes under the tap.
 

Splaker

That makes a lot of sense. If you think about it, if you wash a dirty grubby dish rag under some cool water, would you get all the bacteria and dirt out? No way. That's why we wash out dirty dish rags in a washer with hot water and bleach (at least that's what we do in our house!)
 

JayH

I don't think it matters a lot if you use old tank water or tap water. I also don't think you need to get the sponge to the point that tap water passes through it perfectly clean. Squeeze it a few times in the bucket of old tank water and what comes out comes out. You probably don't want it sparkling clean anyway. As I've said before, a lot of that gunk that gets washed out is an all you can eat buffet for the beneficial bacteria. We think it looks bad so we want it all gone, but that's not necessarily the best thing for the tank.
 

tjander

Wouldn’t the left over gunk eventually lead to a spike in nitrates? I know in my shrimp tank the sponge is pretty dirty after 2 weeks, and this is a shrimp only tank so it’s not over feed, also the shrimp graze on the sponge all the time. My point is I don’t think enough BB could be developed to consume all the gunk. IDK.
 

CHJ

30+ years ago HOBs came with sponges (and maybe a bag of charcoal). They worked great. Just wash the stuff when it gets filthy.
Then manufacturers got greedy and wanted the "disposable razor" model where consumers would keep giving them money. Sponges bad! Disposable cartridges good!
That filter from more than 30 years ago (no idea how old it was when my dad found it) is currently running on one of my 75s. It is full of sponges with a polishing pad for the water to flow through on its return to the tank. So they do not build them like they used to.
I still get grouchy when I see companies saying that impellers and other parts of the filter are are "consumables" in modern filters.
 

Splaker

IMO it does little good to rinse out the sponge in old tank water. The first time you do this the water will turn dark and any further rinse will just be like wash cloths in dirty water. You could rinse then dump the water, refill the container then repeat. Or just run them under the faucet it’s been widely debated that tap water is not going to kill your bacteria by just rinse them. I started using tap water about a year ago and have had zero problems. Now that said, I do rinse the bio rings and the filter parts in used tank water. But all filter media goes under the tap.

I should add one important thing - I am on a well! No chlorinated water...so my "tap" water shouldn't affect my filter media...

So if I decide to go with a sponge and ceramic rings (since the seller gave me a container full of rings...) should I place the sponge at the rear and the ceramic behind it or ceramic at the rear and spong behind? I'm thinking of getting the sponges that fit the Aqua Clear 70.

Hey folks,

Week 2 and ready to switch out (yes tank is cycled and there are 20 fish in there) the disposable marineland filter media with 30 PPI foam for the inside and a course pre-filter. Sponges arriving today through Amazon..I decided to add some ceramic rings in a media bag with the sponge. Anyhow, I was thinking of this approach:

1. Soak the new sponge in aquarium water after cutting to size. Let it soak for several minutes (or more?)
2. Remove only one of the current filters/media. Set aside as I may need the plastic backing of the Marineland filter.
3. Instal the new foam. I think it needs to be placed at the back (furthest position away from the bio wheels/tank).
4. Add the other media (ceramic) placed between the new sponge and the biowheels/tank.
5. Add the pre-filter sponge (cut/size if necessary)

Do I need to turn the unit off while performing this switch? Given that I am putting in brand new materials, should I be concerned with loss of good bacteria? I do have the Seachem bacteria product that is added when tanks are cycling and after water changes.

Anything else?
 

86 ssinit

Yes I would turn it off. Otherwise everything under the old media will spill into the tank. Turn it off and clean the existing media. Remove the side you choose to change. Cut off the poly fill on the outside of the cartridge and add that to the side with the new sponge. I would flatten it out and put it behind (furthest away from wheel) the new sponge. Leave it there for a month but still doing your regular maintance. Than change out the other side.
 

JayH

Week 2 and ready to switch out (yes tank is cycled and there are 20 fish in there) the disposable marineland filter media with 30 PPI foam for the inside and a course pre-filter.
While it may be a matter of semantics, I think it's important here to point out that your "tank" is not what actually gets cycled. "Cycle" refers to establishment of sufficient bacterial colony to handle the bioload of your tank. That colony lives all over the place, but of relevance here is that which lives in the filter media. So in this context it's the filter media that gets cycled, not the tank as a whole.

If you discard that media, you discard your bacteria colony.

3. Instal the new foam. I think it needs to be placed at the back (furthest position away from the bio wheels/tank).
Most of these filters are designed for there to be free flow of water across the back of the filter media chamber. This gives the water access to the full cross section of the media. If you cram foam in there, all the water will be forced through the narrow bit of foam near where the water enters the chamber. This will interfere with the water flow through the rest of the media and very quickly clog because all the muck is passing through a very narrow section of the foam.

If you want it to work properly you can't just cram stuff into the media chamber. You have to consider how the water is going to get access to the media and flow through it.
 

Splaker

While it may be a matter of semantics, I think it's important here to point out that your "tank" is not what actually gets cycled. "Cycle" refers to establishment of sufficient bacterial colony to handle the bioload of your tank. That colony lives all over the place, but of relevance here is that which lives in the filter media. So in this context it's the filter media that gets cycled, not the tank as a whole.

If you discard that media, you discard your bacteria colony.


Most of these filters are designed for there to be free flow of water across the back of the filter media chamber. This gives the water access to the full cross section of the media. If you cram foam in there, all the water will be forced through the narrow bit of foam near where the water enters the chamber. This will interfere with the water flow through the rest of the media and very quickly clog because all the muck is passing through a very narrow section of the foam.

If you want it to work properly you can't just cram stuff into the media chamber. You have to consider how the water is going to get access to the media and flow through it.

So what I intend to do is place one piece of foam in each chamber (eventually both). The foam/sponge is 1" thick. Does this not leave ample room in the chamber to either add something else (ceramic rings for e.g) or perhaps just leave as is (just sponge)? I am aware of the importance of keeping that flow going and so making sure space is available. Others have pointed that out. I think I will try it tonight then take pictures and post here... then get some feedback as to what I ultimately do in those chambers. So for now, I will only remove one of the media and place one sponge in there. I just have to figure how it'll fit in there. I think the sponge is only 4.7" wide and the chamber is 5" or a bit more... The length is over 12" so I can simply cut it down to size...

thank you for the feedback...

Also, is it imperative that I use the plastic backing? Or can the sponge just slip right in there if it's stiff enough? Thoughts?
 

86 ssinit

As my picture shows I start with a poly bag than sponge than a bag of matrix. I clean filter every other week and change water weekly. That filter is in a 90g and works with another hob a tidal 110. My other is in a 30 and on top of the matrix bag I have 2 scubies. Everything is perfect in both tank with nitrates at 0-10. I hear this is all wrong but it’s worked for over 15yrs .
What size is your tank.
 

Splaker

65gal...
 

JayH

The Penguin filters are designed with the assumption you'll use their media. The way that media fits into the media chamber is critical to proper functioning of the filter. Think about how it looks with their media in place. Each media chamber has slots for two plates with media of some type attached to the plate. This leaves a clear gap at the rear of the chamber and at the front of the chamber.

Now consider how the water flows through with it arranged this way. The water comes into the center section and flows through a slot running top to bottom into each media chamber. The back portion of the chamber is completely open and unrestricted, so water flows freely into that entire area. The water then pushes through the filter plates. Because that back section is completely open, the water has free access to the entire surface area of the filter plate. There's a gap between filter plates and the front plate is not pressed against the front of the media chamber so water can freely flow through the entire surface area of that plate as well. The water then overflows and returns to the tank after spinning the gimmicky bio-wheel-of-fortune.

The thing to take particular note of here is the free access to the entire surface area of both filter plates. Without the gaps between the media and the front and rear walls, the flow will be restricted and will take primarily the path of least resistance. With free access front and rear, there is no portion that has more or less resistance, so the flow is even through the entire surface area.

If you cram that chamber full of media without providing front and rear gaps, there will be a path of least resistance and the water will flow primarily through that path. If you put foam across the rear, all the water now has to flow through that very narrow, and now restricted, gap between the center entry and the media chamber. It no longer has unrestricted access to the entire rear of the media chamber so it will prefer taking the more direct route to the exit point.

You're also forcing all the water through a fairly small section of the foam. This is going to clog that part of the foam rather quickly.

For the most part, filters designed to use filter plates have a flow pattern that depends on open spaces in the media chamber. If you significantly alter this flow pattern you may end up with not exactly the results you were expecting. I'm not saying you have to keep using the manufacturer's media, but if you want good results you have to think carefully about how to work with the flow pattern designed into the filter. The sad fact is that filters designed to use filter plates are going to be difficult to properly retrofit to other media.

If I were stuck using one of these, I'd get a rigid plastic plate with lots of holes or slits and glue that across the rear portion of the media chamber near where the rearmost filter plate would go. I'd do the same thing near the front, leaving 1/4" gap between the front wall and my plastic plate. I'd then put all my aftermarket media in the space between the two plates. This will ensure unrestricted access to the full surface area of all the media.

If I could afford it, I'd chalk this filter up to experience, toss it in the waste bin, and get an Aquaclear or Tidal that's designed for a bottom to top flow through your choice of media.
 

Splaker

It gets a bit complicated, doesn't it!! I will try to make this work since I am "stuck" with it for now... and I've spend over $30 for the after-market media... Will post some pics as I work this

Thank you!
 

86 ssinit

And the filter is the emperor 400. If so that filter has a huge media area and should be able to take the sponge and bag of ceramic rings in front (closest to to wheels ) with no problem at all and still plenty of room behind the sponge.
 

Splaker

So The Aquaclear is easier to work with in terms of adding after-market media?

And the filter is the emperor 400. If so that filter has a huge media area and should be able to take the sponge and bag of ceramic rings in front (closest to to wheels ) with no problem at all and still plenty of room behind the sponge.

Are you referring to my filter? I have the Penguin 350.
 

86 ssinit

The Marineland is a great filter. The 400 is being sold at Petsmart for $30. Can’t go wrong. Now the 350 may not be enough for that tank. For hob filters most like to move the water 8-10 times an hour. So you may need another filter down the line. According to how many fish and how big there waste load is.
 

Splaker

The Marineland is a great filter. The 400 is being sold at Petsmart for $30. Can’t go wrong. Now the 350 may not be enough for that tank. For hob filters most like to move the water 8-10 times an hour. So you may need another filter down the line. According to how many fish and how big there waste load is.

Ya, I've recently considered adding another filter... Maybe a smaller canister? No idea, as I am new to all of this and learning as I go... Now that iv'e stocked 20 fish and am at my 1"/gal limit, I am concerned my bio-load will overwhelm that system... I'll see how it goes... I could just get the 400 and then won't have to worry about a second filter... do you think the 350 has enough aeration? Seller did include another aerator...
 

86 ssinit

I allways use 2 filters. One goes the other is still running is my line of thought. Real cheap filter I’ve been using for around 4-5yrs now is the odyssea ex-250. It’s sold on eBay for under $20. It’s a powerhead with 2 sponges attached. Works great and moves 250gah. I made the spray bar.
 

JayH

So The Aquaclear is easier to work with in terms of adding after-market media?
In a word, yes. The Tidal even more so. The Aquaclear has a sling that you fit the media in and slide into the body of the filter. The water flows under the sling and then up and back to the tank. This allows you to completely fill the body of the filter with media and not disrupt the intended flow.

The Tidal uses the same flow but includes a basket you can fill with media. This is easier than the Aquaclear sling since it has four walls and you don't have to worry about media falling out before you get it into the filter. I don't think it's a huge deal, but the Tidal is a bit more convenient. Both are very good filters that allow you to make use of almost all the room in the filter without interfering with the intended flow.

To expand a bit on what I said before about flow through the Penguin, the water will move from an area of higher pressure to an area of lower pressure. If you have the intended gap behind the rearmost filter plate, as water enters the media chamber the pressure in that entire gap area increases slightly. The area on the other side of the first filter plate is slightly lower so the water will move in that direction. The key here is the pressure in that entire gap is higher so the water pushes through the entirety of the surface of the filter plate. As the water moves through the first plate it slightly increases the pressure between the plates so the water pushes into the gap in front, eventually moving up and falling back into the tank.

If you cram foam in behind that rearmost plate, now you've changed the pressure areas. Now there's just a higher pressure in the center portion and a lower pressure in the entirety of the media chamber. The water pushes in, but not in any particular direction other than toward the exit. You want the water to flow through the media, not just occasionally bump into it on its way to the exit.

I would finally add that just because somebody has posted a video on YouTube does not mean they know what they're doing. I'd wager well over half the videos on sumps posted on YouTube are by people who don't really understand how to properly set up their sump. Same with HOBs. Just because somebody crammed some sponges into their Penguin filter and made a video about it doesn't mean that's the right way to do it.
 

Splaker

So this is what I did to one of the chambers... I ended up tearing off the blue media and kept the plastic backing... the spong fit nicely in there.. definitely NOT snug... there's room there for water to flow in and around the media. I just hope that the sponge will capture the dirt particles effectively... I also added a mesh bag with ceramic rings between the wheel and the spong.. Was this done correctly? Here are some pics including the pre-filter, which is a lot bigger than I imagined... it looks a bit ridiculous actually so I might get a smaller one in the future.. it's a pond pre-filter by Tera. As you can see, the left chamber still has the Marineland media... I will leave it there until this new sponge is cycled.. also, I noticed the flow is a LOT stronger (better?) with the new media since it's clean and there's a lot more easy flow.. the original set had two blue media and another with cotton-like white bag filled with some sort of small rocks...
 

JayH

Putting the sponge in the very back is exactly the thing I've been saying is a bad idea. You've got all the water on that side going through a swath of sponge that's what, half an inch wide by the height of the sponge? That's a sure recipe for clogging that sponge almost immediately. It also interferes with the flow of water forward through the rest of the media. Instead of the water exerting equal pressure across the entire surface of the next stage, it's going to be greater at one end than at the other.

What you want is for the water to flow forward through the face of the sponge, not come in through the end. To make that happen you need a gap between the sponge and the back wall of the filter.

This is far from the worst such arrangement I've seen, but it's definitely non-optimal. The flow is not going to be even back to front because of the interference of the sponge and you're going to have to be flipping that sponge and cleaning it very regularly. If you're going to leave it where it is, try to get it a little lower -- no higher than the plastic piece in front of it -- so when it clogs the water can bypass it and move forward without being within a few hair widths of spilling over the back.
 

Splaker

Putting the sponge in the very back is exactly the thing I've been saying is a bad idea. You've got all the water on that side going through a swath of sponge that's what, half an inch wide by the height of the sponge? That's a sure recipe for clogging that sponge almost immediately. It also interferes with the flow of water forward through the rest of the media. Instead of the water exerting equal pressure across the entire surface of the next stage, it's going to be greater at one end than at the other.

What you want is for the water to flow forward through the face of the sponge, not come in through the end. To make that happen you need a gap between the sponge and the back wall of the filter.

This is far from the worst such arrangement I've seen, but it's definitely non-optimal. The flow is not going to be even back to front because of the interference of the sponge and you're going to have to be flipping that sponge and cleaning it very regularly. If you're going to leave it where it is, try to get it a little lower -- no higher than the plastic piece in front of it -- so when it clogs the water can bypass it and move forward without being within a few hair widths of spilling over the back.

Ok so I clearly misunderstood you. Part of the problem is that I think I've read too many differing opinions. There seems to be a lot of different opinions on how to do this... Thanks for the input but I feel stupid at this point! I guess confused as to what "front" and "back" - I want to correct this. So should I just move the plastic back toward the wheel/aquarium? I'd have to remove the ceramic bag.. But it's not essential I suppose. I should point out that the sponge appears to be snug up against the back of the chamber but there is actually room there. The sponge is also not quite as wide as the plastic backing - you can easily get a finger in either side with a slight bit of probing.

Thanks again for your help... Worst case I go and drop $70 on an Aquaclear or Tidal.. they seem to be more foolproof

Btw, the pre-filter should work to capture a lot of what used to go directly in, shouldn't it? At least that has improved??
 

JayH

You are certainly correct that there are a lot of different opinions on this. From seeing some of the photos and watching some videos on YouTube you'd come away with the impression that you can just cram media in there willy-nilly, filling every corner to the utmost, and it will all contribute significantly to tank filtration. But I think a moment's reflection on this will show that if we want the filter to be more efficient than the bacteria that lives in your substrate, we need to consider how the filter is designed and how the water will flow through the media.

When used as intended by the manufacturer, the water in the Penguin filter will come into the center section and flow from there through a narrow slot into an open area behind the rearmost filter plate. ("Front" is nearest the aquarium, "rear" is furthest away from the aquarium.) The water level in this open area rises slightly, increasing the pressure a bit, causing the water to seek an area of lower pressure, which, as designed, is on the other side of that rearmost filter plate. So the water flows through that plate, this sequence is repeated, and the water flows through the second plate. As the level rises the water then escapes back to the tank.

Without significant physical modification, there's no other way to direct the flow of water in this filter. All you can do is interfere with the flow and cause it to be less directed and more random.

When the media chamber is crammed full of media, the flow will first be concentrated in whatever media is blocking the narrow opening from the center portion and spread out radially from there, being pulled generally toward the front, but not in any coherent fashion. Certainly the rear corner opposite the inlet will become a dead zone with very little water circulation.

I suppose it's a trade-off between maximizing the use of every cubic inch of potential media space and having a good, directed flow of water through the media. There will be a general flow from rear to front, but without that open area at the back you'll get much less flow through media in the opposite corner. Without an open area in the front, you'll get greatly reduced flow through the media near the bottom all across the front. If you block the inlet opening with foam, you're going to get less flow in general and that foam is going to clog very quickly.

There were some photos, I think in this thread, with a piece of light diffraction grating (rigid plastic mesh) angled between the rearmost indent on the center column and about a third of the way from the center along the rear wall of the media chamber. This left a small open area in front of the inlet that allowed the water pressure to build up in that area and push uniformly from there out into the media. This will still likely result in dead zones in the outer rear corner and the lower front, but it's a significant improvement over just cramming foam against the back wall.

If you put ring-type media with very low resistance to water movement in the front, that will interfere little with the water flow and should avoid the dead zone in the lower front section. So cramming media in the front may be okay depending on the specific media used there. As long as it allows for very free flow of water it should get good flow and work fine.

If you have gaps on the ends between your foam and the side walls of the media chamber, the water is just going to flow around the foam. The pre-filter foam will trap a lot of the heaviest muck, but you'll still end up with lots of smaller bits that will make it through to clog the foam pressed into the opening. The biggest thing with the pre-filter is you've trapped a good portion of the muck in a place that's easy to service. It shouldn't be a big deal to give the pre-filter sponge a few squeezes in the removed tank water every time you do a water change. I don't think anybody wants to pull all the media out of their filter that often.

I'd suggest trying to find some foam large enough that you could position it securely right where you have the plastic plate right now. This would leave a gap at the rear and not block the inlet at all. With that in place and ring-type bio-media toward the front you'd likely see much improved performance. Be sure the foam is no taller than that plate is so the water has a way to escape back to the tank in case the foam becomes completely clogged.
 

MomeWrath

What JayH said. I drew you a picture ...a thousand words, right?
I discovered the same when I put foam in my daughter's HOB filter. When it was too close to the back (wall side) of the filter, it clogged up really fast. Once I turned it around so there was space behind it, it worked perfectly.
 

Splaker

What JayH said. I drew you a picture ...a thousand words, right?
I discovered the same when I put foam in my daughter's HOB filter. When it was too close to the back (wall side) of the filter, it clogged up really fast. Once I turned it around so there was space behind it, it worked perfectly.

I see it now! So plastic up against wall... Okay will try this now! some rings for good measure!

JayH thanks so much...it has become clear and our effort at explaining this is much appreciated...

Speaking of bad advice from Youtube, have you seen the video Seems like he otherwise knows his stuff but he absolutely crams the Penguin 350 with Aquaclear sponges... I watched that initially and was "inspired" by it.. JayH has educated me!
 

JayH

I've watched a bunch of videos According to YouTube I have watched that video, though I don't recall it specifically.

The problem with this style of filter is the entire course of the flow is not intuitively obvious. If you don't stop for a few moments and think about the implications of the design it's easy to make mistakes. I think there's an assumption that the manufacturer just wanted to use replaceable filter elements they could continue to charge you for and that's the end of the design features. Depending on your level of cynicism, they perhaps have gone even further, making the filter far less useful unless you use their replaceable media. The result is a filter that makes it difficult to use all of the space in the media chamber.

In the video I watched they said he'd never seen that model of filter before and had just bought it at Wal-Mart to use in the video. Clearly he's not given a great deal of thought to it. He did catch the overflow potential and addressed that by cutting down the foam and doing a cutout. He also talked about not installing the red plate so it was up against the front wall. Considering the amount of time he spent thinking about this he did pretty good.

He'd have done better if he'd stopped with just the one piece of foam. With that he had plenty of open space in the rear to allow the water access to the full face of the foam. Even with just the one piece he'd have greatly increased the surface area available to beneficial bacteria.

The problem is that 50,000+ people have watched that video and now think it's a good idea to cram the back end of their HOB full of foam regardless of the specific design. I'm inclined to cut him some slack on this because he does give a lot of practical and useful advice, but he should be a bit more careful as he is influencing a lot of people.
 

Splaker

So now.... I've changed out the old filter... the new foam is collecting/building the good bacteria.. What to do with the other side now? Wait a week? 2? When will there be enough bacteria? And I ordered more foam.. Seapora (SEAPORA 56065 24" by 15" Dual-Density Bonded Cut to Fit Filter Pad for Fresh Water & Saltwater Aquariums, Aquaculture, Terrariums & Hydroponics!: Amazon.ca: Pet Supplies) which is thinner and has a coarse and fine built into it.. That is what I plan to try for the whole setup.

What's the general protocol with switching out media?
 

MomeWrath

So now.... I've changed out the old filter... the new foam is collecting/building the good bacteria.. What to do with the other side now? Wait a week? 2? When will there be enough bacteria? And I ordered more foam.. Seapora (SEAPORA 56065 24" by 15" Dual-Density Bonded Cut to Fit Filter Pad for Fresh Water & Saltwater Aquariums, Aquaculture, Terrariums & Hydroponics!: Amazon.ca: Pet Supplies) which is thinner and has a coarse and fine built into it.. That is what I plan to try for the whole setup.

What's the general protocol with switching out media?
I would wait a month before swapping out the other side. Let the new stuff you put in there get good and strong before you ask it to carry the whole load.
 

Splaker

I would wait a month before swapping out the other side. Let the new stuff you put in there get good and strong before you ask it to carry the whole load.

Thanks... I figured I'd have to wait... problem is, the new one is a bit too small for the chamber (the sponge came as a 4.7" x 12" and the chamber seems to be a little bit wider than 5") . But I think it's still filtering! I hope! The other side still has the original media (OEM) that the seller included.. that was seeded.. It's due for a rinsing I think as the bio-wheel is not moving at all. This is also largely due to the fact that the new media I inserted is a single sponge with some added ceramic rings. The flow is much strong on the side with the new sponge. The original media is "stuffed" with two pads and a bags of media rocks.. so it's not even set up properly (as JayH has pointed out). So in other words, the whole thing needs to eventually be changed out with the new sponge I am receiving from Seapora.

What I think I'll do is rinse out the OEM media place it back in there, then cut out a piece of new sponge to replace the small sponge (in the other chamber) and let the OEM media seed the new sponge. Then in a month I will replace the OEM. This is all beginners errors I suppose... anyhow, not sure I'm crazy about this marineland filter. As JayH has pointed out the flow direction and the inability to actually use much of the "ample" space in the chambers is frustrating and counter-intuitive. Many people stuff these filters but they shouldn't be...

The other thing I thnk I will eventually do is buy a Seachem Tidal 75.
 

Similar Aquarium Threads

Replies
2
Views
234
SFGiantsGuy
Replies
8
Views
584
Colbyxxs
Replies
5
Views
473
Cichlidude
Replies
23
Views
2K
ProudPapa
Replies
4
Views
755
Hill Dweller

New Aquarium Filter Threads

Top Bottom