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Hey everyone, Well, it's finally here. Construction day. I have a few hypotheses that'd I'd like to test out, but obviously I'm a sample of one. I do have a bit of experience battling these stinkin' things and I feel like it's the right time to dive in and figure out the best way to solve these issues. The goal being, after these tests are completed I can provide a guide for others with a tier of mods to make on their HoBs and to resolve the issues they have as best as possible. Tier 1 being the least effort and subsequent tiers requiring a bit more effort. One thing I am specifically not going to do is to jam a bunch of sponge in the pump area as a method to try to stop mulm from going into the pump area through the swiss cheese that is the skimmer and the pump housing cover. Let's get started with Tier 1 (sponges) and I will sketch out the concept for next steps. I want to reference this video as a premise, but obviously the goal being we want to make this visually look good. Problem Statements: 1. There is an excess of openings on the intake and this forces most of the intake of the filter to be provided via the skimmer, pump housing cover, and minimally from the inlet pipe itself. The reduces the viability of something like an intake sponge and causes many issues for nano fish, flat bodied fish, or plants being sucked into the intake. 2. The flow path of the water itself in the pump is not well defined and the water constantly avoids filter media and filtration. 3. The pump is incredibly strong and might be too strong in some instances. the flow into the HoB filter basket can cause bypass simply due to the flow strength. (more on this later) 4. The filter basket design is very restrictive and tolerance on sponges is often undersized, which caused bypass when you do manage to get the water into the filter media basket. 5. Because of flow strength, media order, and bottom to top flow design, it's difficult to use something like purigen because of the high flow / bypass that forces lighter media off the top of the media basket and into the tank itself fairly easily. I want to attack these 1 by 1 and demonstrate each of these, but I will do this in a follow up post. First up we have the easiest thing we can do. Simply cutting new sponges that allow water into the basket itself. For the Tidal 35, this alone has resolved most of the bypass issues and has given me a few notes. Let's take a look at why this helps and what is really going on. If we look at the filter box itself and the basket, this is what we see. There is a bit of space below the basket itself. If Seachem feels like it, they can resolve issue #3 by adding some baffles in this space. This also means we might be able to use something like eheim mech (thanks pondguru for the idea) to diffuse the flow itself. The basket does have "baffles" or sort to hold up the sponge and this is partly just due to manufacturing and wanting to have a clean edge and encourage flow internally. It also gives the sponge itself a flat surface to rest on, somewhat. What I have realized is that by adding more media or adding crushed coral in the basket, this compresses the sponge into these grates and emphasizes the bypass even further. From the typical "pond foams" that you can purchase for filter mods with the bumps you'll end up with something that is slightly thinner in profile and this might also be easier to compress when loaded with heavy media. So, if we take a look at what is really going on internally we see the standard foam (right side above) which sits flush against the openings. If we swap this foam out with "bumpy foam" you see a bit of room for the water to flow into the filter basket. Realistically this does not fix anything, but it really does give you a bit more time for the basket to do it's job. Right now, after a deep clean I can see bypass almost immediately with a stock sponge. Normally I prefer to run 2 sponges, but there is often an issue with the seachem products. As mentioned above there is often some gaps out of the box. (Issue #4). Second to this issue, as you add more layers of sponge, each layer needs to have a slightly larger dimension outward. the media box itself opens up as it increases in height. This means that cutting sponge can be tricky, but it's very easy to achieve this. Once you get the hang of it, there isn't much difficulty and it can easily be done with a pair of scissors in between a water change. Here's the setup. I am setting up a NEW 29G aquarium in the living room, and I have the video above as a template. I also have my own experiences and testing, mods, and attempts to fix this issue previously on 5-6 versions of this product. I've used everything from the 35 to the 75 for a few years on each model in a variety of tank setups. Right now I have a newly purchase Tidal 55 for the new tank. I am going to be modding the filter and adding those parts into the existing setup one by one. I will have 1 stock filter, 1 modded filter, and be able to adjust things to test what really works well and what fixes issues (or adds more). I also want to reference this post as a deep dive into a lot of my struggles for those who want to see other photos and read a bit more about my past testing / current setup I will go ahead and record a video of the pump now, then add in the sponges and show the difference in flow. If there is an improvement, I'll continue to monitor things as the week progresses. One thing I will note as a final thought, is when I pull apart the filter, I try to pay attention to how clogged the sponge is and where is the much appearing at. Last time I cleaned it, there was a very defined grate/input pattern on the sponge and it was limited to the input side of the basket. The sponge itself was not clogged and it was only in the basket for a few days. all of the water was bypassing over the back of the basket and pretty much stopped going through the sponge/media. Let's get to it!
So I got a Tidal 55 as I had seen very positive things about it and it helps me sleep a little easier knowing a late night power outage won't effect it like it would for the bio filter in my Aquaclear 50. So I've had the Tidal 55 up and running for about 2-3 weeks now and I have to say I like almost everything about it but I feel like it does a terrible job of actually pulling floating debris out of the water column (which is kind of the whole purpose of having a filter, right?). Anyone else have any experience with this? I have coarse sponge attached to the surface skimmer and the intake tube (which I really wish was longer! I had extensions on my AC that got right near the substrate). Having the debris floating has been so bothersome I'm thinking of going back to my AC and just dealing with repriming. I could keep the thing running the entire time I did water changes too with the intake extension. I have to turn the Tidal off for even a small water change.