Switching From Hmf To Hob...

Magicpenny75

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Why? Why am I doing this after spouting on about how great my Hamburg MattenFilter is?
Well...two words: Surface Scum
One of the reasons the HMF was attractive to me was its inability to overflow/flood/otherwise destroy my living room. This was the primary reason I chose this method over a canister. I had a sump on a reef tank and I worried constantly about a malfunction. I wanted to take no chances since my hobby already resulted in our entire house being practically remodeled after an RO/DI tank overflow (I left it running and went to work). To this day even using the python sends me into an anxious state.
Another reason was the quiet operation and the fact that I wouldn't need an air pump (mine is water pump driven) and I wouldn't have to listen to falling water or worry about splashing to ruin my lights.
Since then, I have added a surface skimmer (another thing to plug in and maintain twice a week) and yesterday I added an air stone because the scum on the tank surface was thick enough to make large stable bubbles...the kind you can pull into an oblong shape and they stay that way. Gross. The air stone worked, but now I have overspray, something else plugged in, and the pump sitting on the pony wall behind my tank, in the dining room. Ick. I am not a fan of apparatus, and I refuse to let tank equipment dominate my living space.
This led to a discussion with the hubs about what could be done. Tank is starting to look cluttery and we both really...really..really...hate...air pumps... My return pump, a QuietOne 1200 delivers about 364 GPH. That is the rate that was suggested by SwissTropicals, and since the HMF has such a huge surface area, it's probably just about right. I have the output turned toward the surface, and it keeps a little circle clear, but at the other end of the tank...scum city.
So after spending another night obsessing over the tank instead of enjoying it, he insisted that I order a new AquaClear 110. The flow rate is around 500 GPH on that one. I'll hang it on the end of the tank since I don't use lids, and I'll install an old Koralia Nano lowat the other end to push water back towards the filter. Hopefully the 9" spillway will stir the surface enough to cut out the white-film-factor! I'm going to cut the HMF foam (20 PPI) into a section that will fit in the AQ case, add another layer of 30PPI foam on top of that, or two of each if there is room, and then the biomax rings on top of that. I'll also use part of the HMF to create a pre-filter for the intake tube.
The only thing that concerns me is the relatively tiny area of filter media in comparison. Turnover is higher...but will this eliminate the snowstorm in the tank at feeding time?
sorry for the novel. Work is slow...and sometimes typing out my questions helps me answer them.
 

JayH

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If the output from your HMF pump is not enough to break up all the surface scum, why do you think the HOB will do the job? Wouldn't it have been easier and cheaper to add a wave maker to stir up whatever water the HMF pump can't get to? I think your concerns about loss of filter surface area are well placed.

The other alternative is to just run both the HMF and the HOB.
 

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I'd suggest the Seachem Tidal 110 from Kens Fish. It has a built in surface skimmer.

The media basket is so much better than the 3 sided AC "basket" the biomax bag starts falling out as soon as you lift it up and try to let some of the water drain out.

The Tidals also have built in overflow bypass, no worries about flooding out. And they're self priming. I'm planning to replace my other two AquaClears soon.
 
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Magicpenny75

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If the output from your HMF pump is not enough to break up all the surface scum, why do you think the HOB will do the job? Wouldn't it have been easier and cheaper to add a wave maker to stir up whatever water the HMF pump can't get to? I think your concerns about loss of filter surface area are well placed.

The other alternative is to just run both the HMF and the HOB.
I tried the Koralia at the other end and it only helped a little...less than the surface skimmer.
My thought was that the water fall output will push the surface under rather than just riffle it.
I'm going to try running the AC behind the filter wall to get it seeded. I might just leave it there depending on the results... The one short end where the HMF is now is the only space available to install any filter. I have two viewing sides, and the back is occupied by my lights.
IMG_20190909_195402760.jpg
 

Islandvic

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The AC110 should provide plenty of surface agitation.

I like mine a lot. It's been running for around 1 1/2 years without any major issues.

It comes with a large sized block of sponge foam. No where in the literature or online does it state its PPI, but I guesstimate 20ppi. Water flows through it very easily, but will still catch tons of muck. I'm still amazed what comes out of it when I clean it!

You may want to try leaving the stock foam block in the basket and layer your 30ppi foam on top. The original foam block in mine hasn't degraded and has held up fine so far.

You may even try placing a few layers of Polyfil batting over the last layer of foam to polish the water. After using both the loose fill and the batting version of Polyfil, I prefer the batting. It's easy to cut to shape and the fibers dont dislodge much. I find the batting is also easier to layer because it lays flat, versus the loose fill that will stay "fluffed up".

Here are some pics I took last year of my AC110's media basket. It's set up different now, but you can get an idea of how much media you can cram in there...




The background noise is not the AC running, but an air pump from what I recall.

I think the foam block in the above pics is about 3/4" shorter than stock, from when I shaved it down to have additional room for media. Yours will be slightly taller.
 
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Magicpenny75

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The AC110 should provide plenty of surface agitation.

I like mine a lot. It's been running for around 1 1/2 years without any major issues.

It comes with a large sized block of sponge foam. No where in the literature or online does it state its PPI, but I guesstimate 20ppi. Water flows through it very easily, but will still catch tons of muck. I'm still amazed what comes out of it when I clean it!

You may want to try leaving the stock foam block in the basket and layer your 30ppi foam on top. The original foam block in mine hasn't degraded and has held up fine so far.

You may even try placing a few layers of Polyfil batting over the last layer of foam to polish the water. After using both the loose fill and the batting version of Polyfil, I prefer the batting. It's easy to cut to shape and the fibers dont dislodge much. I find the batting is also easier to layer because it lays flat, versus the loose fill that will stay "fluffed up".

Here are some pics I took last year of my AC110's media basket. It's set up different now, but you can get an idea of how much media you can cram in there...




The background noise is not the AC running, but an air pump from what I recall.

I think the foam block in the above pics is about 3/4" shorter than stock, from when I shaved it down to have additional room for media. Yours will be slightly taller.
Thanks! Once the foam gets established and gets a good layer of bio-stuff growing, the 30PPI Poret does a great job of polishing and providing biological filtration. I consider it the K&N Filter of aquariums...they work better when they get a little dirty. I do plan on keeping the ceramic rings as well. The batting would be a good final polish and economical to swap out every week. And I'm going to do the Corey Hot Rod and add a prefilter. I have had lots of AC's in the past and they all ran quiet after the break-in period.
 

JayH

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Have you considered moving the outflow of the HMF up higher and maybe getting a nozzle for the end that would flatten the stream? Or get a spray bar and hook the output up to that. You could run a spray bar all the way across the rear of the tank.

The tank looks great, by the way. Those lights do an excellent job.
 
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Magicpenny75

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Have you considered moving the outflow of the HMF up higher and maybe getting a nozzle for the end that would flatten the stream? Or get a spray bar and hook the output up to that. You could run a spray bar all the way across the rear of the tank.

The tank looks great, by the way. Those lights do an excellent job.
Thank you. I like the lights but I have to keep them on just about six hours max or we start burning leaves.
The return pump is a 1/2" MPT so the pipe that goes through the foam (you can see in the photo- the white thing) is too big to attach any kind of locline or aquarium fitting that I've seen...especially without clamping down the already barely-adequate turnover rate.
@Skavatar , I did consider the Tidal, but I had concerns about the fit and the flow rate, since I'm only going to use the one filter. I know I've restricted myself to pretty minimal options. AquaClear has always served me well. Also I had already ordered it by the time I started this. I don't know the brand of my aquarium, but it has a wider rim than the ones you buy at the chain stores. The Aqueon lids for a 75 gallon won't sit down in the frame. It's about an inch wide at the top. I measured and an AQ7 won't even fit, nor would the WhisperEX70 I already own...not even close.
So, it showed up yesterday and I put it together this morning and hung it behind the HMF. When I rinsed everything, I was not impressed by the flow-through of the included sponge. My Poret foam the water runs directly through even the denser foam right out of the box, and when I rinsed the AQ sponge the water rolled off and didn't seem to want to go through. So the new plan is to replace all media (after some more reading on aquariumscience yesterday) with 20 and 30 PPI Poret, because pound for pound it has the greatest available surface area. More than the ceramic rings for sure.
Who knows...I may regret all of this in the end...but we are all learning every day, right? And there is more than one way to skin this cat.
 

Skavatar

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sounds like a good plan. there's nothing wrong with just using the Poret foam.
 
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Magicpenny75

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This will be interesting to see. I did some math. The volume of the HMF vs. the AQ110, factored out by the surface area of teh foam...20PPI for the HMF and split between 20-30PPI for the Aquaclear. I come up with 67 SF of surface area for the Aquaclear, and 231 SF of area for the HMF. How does that play out against flow rate through the material I wonder. If the Aquaclear is moving 500 GPH and the other only 360 ish?
 

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as @Cichlidude would say, the flow would be reduced by the intake, and all media in the filter. you could be looking at as little as 50% of the rated flow rate.
 

JayH

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How does that play out against flow rate through the material I wonder. If the Aquaclear is moving 500 GPH and the other only 360 ish?
Most filter manufacturer pump ratings are for the pump only, and under optimal conditions to maximize flow, not for the pump as situated in the filter with media in place. Generally speaking you can figure on getting maybe half the specified maximum flow when it's operating in the filter with typical media in place. As for their "For tanks of ... size" ratings, those are best ignored as they're almost always wildly optimistic.

The pump for your HMF is operating much closer to its rated volume because it isn't pushing water through any media. As long as there's enough water behind the HMF to allow the pump to continue operating, the only thing it's fighting is gravity. So it's doing about a 12"(?) lift of the water and that's it. This will slow it down some, but probably not to a significant extent. I strongly suspect your 360 GPH HMF pump will end up pushing more water per hour than the Aquaclear will. Combined with it's massively larger surface area, my guess would be that you're going to lose a lot of filtering capacity. This is why I've been suggesting that you stick with the HMF.

The return sticking through the HMF looks like regular PVC. I'm not familiar with the term MPT in this context aside from its use as "male pipe thread". If it is just PVC pipe, that opens up an entire world of fittings, including ones that allow connection of standard tubing.

There is also the option of simply dropping in a larger pump that maybe allows for more flexible fittings in addition to moving more water per hour. Based on what I've seen of pump prices, this is almost certainly going to be cheaper than the Aquaclear filter and will allow for a more direct approach to resolving your surface scum issue.
 
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Magicpenny75

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I don't think making the switch from the HMF to HOB was a mistake, but I definitely lost some filtration. The first thing I noticed, when the fish could see out that end of the tank again, they stopped congregating in the end away from the filter, and seemed to appreciate the view and the additional 6" of length they got back.
The second thing I noticed was the water immediately started to get cloudy. Just a little at first, a little more, and then by this past Friday night it was looking downright murky in there. The Enabler was totally in the "just get a canister and be done with it" camp, but I had to say, "No, we have too much stuff that needs our finances right now (increased medical costs and a senior in high school) and I have a rubbermaid tote stuffed to the gills with equipment. Let me figure something out with what I have."
First I was going to use an old Aquaclear 50 powerhead I had, but the suction cup attachment was gone. Reorganized the tote, found out I have a carp ton of pumps and wave pumps that are useless for driving a little old sponge, some Greek columns I wonder why I spent money on, some decaying plastic plants...and somehow three pieces of Quench gum in a bag. No idea where that came from (trashed).
So I took the Quietone 1200 pump that was driving the HMF, cut another big chunk off the corpse of the HMF foam, drilled a hole in the middle, rigged up an output pipe on top with the pieces that used to poke through the filter wall, and voila---instant sponge filter. And here is what the tank looked like the next day, and today it is totally clear...and now it is time to hands-off and let this thing settle into itself.
Also got some Easy Green form aquarium co-op to try to help my plants along a little.
Angel Tank 092819.jpg
 

bigdreams

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What's causing the surface scum in the first place? Maybe you need to deal with that first? Air bubbler should help with the surface biofilm. Like others said, a circulation pump aimed up towards the surface will churn it enough to keep it clean. Honestly, I find using a plastic cup to skim the water surface works, all the scum falls right into the cup. If I have a lot of floaters I tend to get build up. I would watch how much and what food I am putting into the tank.
 
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Magicpenny75

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The scum was due to not enough surface agitation. The aquaclear solved it. I had tried the cup method and it's just not what I'm willing to do on the daily. Anyway, the additional sponge I added has taken care of it. Here it is this evening. I'd say it's probably clear enough, and the surface is also clear.
IMG_20190930_184559238.jpg
 
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