Sponges For Hob...

Splaker

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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: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00CI05OI8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1)

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

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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

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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

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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?
 

A201

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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

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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?
 

Splaker

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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

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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

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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...
 

Magicpenny75

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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

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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.
 

86 ssinit

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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.
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JayH

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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.
 
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Magicpenny75

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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

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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

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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.
 
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