55 Gallon Tank Using a canister filter as a vacuum

ruthven78
Member
first, I've had aquariums since I was 10yrs old, I'm now 32...heh...but I don't get hugely complex in my care of them....currently have a 20gal tank with a single pleco in it...its about 5" long.

anyways...

I was curious if anyone has ever tried to use a canister filter as a vacuum? I plan on getting a 55 gal tank kit and use the included HoB filter till I can get something better or build a sump. My plan was to augment the filtration by adding a small canister filter I saw at Big Al's. I was thinking I could leave the filter running but weekly I would use the filter to try to vacuum the solid waste from the gravel. I've always wanted to find a way to be able to vacuum up the solid waste w/o removing water and instead do separate water changes...this way I can get all or most of the waste w/o removing too much of the water. I tried using one such device made specifically for it but I didnt like it and the filtration bag system was shotty. Here is a link to the one I was looking at, again this canister would be in addition to the already properly rated HoB for that size of tank.

My idea is to remove charcoal filter when I do this and just use some disposable filter material to mechnically filter out the waste and toss em when I'm done, then replace the charcoal filter. Then seperately use a siphon to do the water change. I will be using larger gravel too, not the typical "pea gravel" so that it won't get sucked up into the canister.

I think the HoB filter that comes with the kit is rate up to 60gal tanks..not sure of the flow. I always like to have additional filtration, on my 20 gal tank I have two filters rate for up to 20gal.
 
Meenu
Member
Have you tried this?
 
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ruthven78
Member
Ive tried a product like it that was a lot cheaper but I was thinking since that canister filter was cheaper and would also serve a dual purpose as an additional filter when not being used to vacuum gravel
 
wooza
Member
I see no reason why it wouldn't work. U could probably make an attachment for the intake pipe that sort of narrows off into a spade shape like the syphons seen in pet stores. You could then just move the intake around the gravel sucking up the waste but not losing any water. However I still suggest doing water changes to keep the water nice and fresh.
 
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ruthven78
Member
oh yeah I'd do separate water changes, I'm just kinda OCD about getting all the solid waste up and en up sucking out a lot of water.
 
yukoandk
Member
HelHello, I've used a Tom Rapid MinI Canister for my 6 gal before. I think you have an interesting idea--you'll be tossing the filter material with trapped debris each time?

About this canister, I observed there was quite bit of water bi-pass. I did make some modifications as well using my own filter media, and as I tinkered around trying to minimize the bi-pass it slowed the flow a little. If I remember correctly, it doesn't have a priming mechanism, so I think I was sucking on the hose at each cleaning. Finally, I'm thinking it will be too small for a 55 gal. I don't think the hose will even reach the bottom, not to mention the small power and gph (don't recall exactly how much) and even slower flow once debris collect inside, however this was the experience after my own modifications to the unit.

So considering both the supposed effectiveness and the effort required, I'm hesitant to give a green flag. But I will be interested to hear if you can put your ideas to use. Cheers.
 
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ruthven78
Member
I would have a separate tube for use as a gravel vac, one with smaller bore to compensate for the additional length. Overall GPH isn't really a concern as it would just take longer with a slower GPH and it won't be the only filter on the tank, the main filter would be something capable of 8-10 cycles per hour. I was thinking the lower flow to keep from getting the hose clogged with gravel, it just needs to suck up solid waste so shouldnt require much suction. The one for sale at Big Al's says it has a self-primer. Instead of filter floss I might use a screen like they do on the Eheim Power Vac.
 
geebo
Member
I have just built a vacuum from a Cascade 500 that I bought specifically for the task, and it works great. I use a fine crushed aragonite bed in my saltwater tank, so I ran into some problems there as the suction is so strong it wanted to pull the particles straight up and into the filter, which sounded rough on the motor. Anyway, if you are using larger gravel, that should not be an issue. Basically, I purchased a standard gravel vac with 1/2" tubing. This is pretty standard tubing size for most smaller canister filters, and hooked the tube up to the inlet and put the outlet tube in the tank for the filtered return. If you run into the problems I was having, a homemade pre-filter from pvc tubing with a coarse sponge to catch any of the runaway gravel will keep you cleaning without ruining your pump! Also if your budget has a surplus, there is a vacuum like this you can purchase called the aquarium gravel cleaning machine, its lik $180 on liveaquaria.
 

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