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Too much filtration?


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Hello all, 

I currently have a newly planted 40 gallon breeder stocked with 6 ember tetras. I have a Marineland penguin 200 hang-on back filter and I fear that A). there is too much filtration and is sucking up any food before the fish really get a chance to eat it. B). the HOB is providing too much flow in the tank. Is it possible either of these are a problem? If so, should I switch to a sponge filter or is there any way to slow the flow of the filter? I already have a prefilter sponge on the intake. Thanks!

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I'm an honest believer in there not such as thing as too much filtration. The topic of flow though, that is more of a concern. If the fish are able to swim around and not be blown around by the current then when it comes to flow you're fine. If the fish are stuck in a whirlpool, or they are fighting the current constantly, then you will have a concern. In terms of food getting pulled out, you might want to consider feeding smaller amounts more often. If you're feeding to the point more than 50% is going into the filter, then you're either feeding too much or too big of foods that the fish cannot pick off. If the food is being pulled into the filter within seconds, then the discussion of flow might again be the concern. 

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On 9/19/2021 at 11:35 AM, Tihshho said:

I'm an honest believer in there not such as thing as too much filtration. The topic of flow though, that is more of a concern. If the fish are able to swim around and not be blown around by the current then when it comes to flow you're fine. If the fish are stuck in a whirlpool, or they are fighting the current constantly, then you will have a concern. In terms of food getting pulled out, you might want to consider feeding smaller amounts more often. If you're feeding to the point more than 50% is going into the filter, then you're either feeding too much or too big of foods that the fish cannot pick off. If the food is being pulled into the filter within seconds, then the discussion of flow might again be the concern. 

Since the filter is placed in the middle of the tank in the back, when the fish travel across the front of the tank they do fight the flow a little bit but they don't seem to be constantly struggling. I am only feeding finely crushed up xtreme krill flake and Aquarium Coop's fry food. I find that at the water's surface, the food gets blown around so much that it makes it hard for the fish to get to as they are constantly trying to chase it but I would say that 3-5 minutes after feeding, the tank doesn't look like it has been fed.

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I also don't think there's a problem with too much filtration...filtration does aid in the oxygenation of the water besides filtering. I have a spray bar on two of my tanks, so when it's feeding time, I just shut my power strip off for a minute or so and let the fish have their feeding frenzy, then flip it back on. That way no food is wasted and they seem to consume every morsel.

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I lay some filter floss across the spillway to reduce flow. I actually think it just make the flow more gentle, but that’s what you’re after in this situation. If that doesn’t work then go for a sponge filter. The aquarium coop ones are a great deal. 
You can also turn off the feeder during feedings. 

Edited by Patrick_G
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On 9/19/2021 at 11:51 AM, Tihshho said:

Personally, I'm not a fan of letting food float, but that's a whole other story. When it comes to crushed flake or small pellets introduce the food under the water so that the fish don't have to get to the surface to eat, but can pick at the crushed flake or pellets within the water column. 

Alright I'll definitely give that a try. Do you think that will cause the food to get filtered out that much quicker though?

On 9/19/2021 at 11:53 AM, Patrick_G said:

I lay some filter floss across the spillway to reduce flow. I actually think it just make the flow more gentle, but that’s what you’re after in this situation. If that doesn’t work then go for a sponge filter. The aquarium coop ones are a great deal. 
You can also turn off the feeder during feedings. 

Thank you! I'll try to optimize the HOB before having to switch to a sponge filter. I definitely want to give them a try at some point though. 

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On 9/19/2021 at 1:59 PM, William Lynch said:

Alright I'll definitely give that a try. Do you think that will cause the food to get filtered out that much quicker though?

If it's the right quantity of food, I don't think so. Having the food under the water means the flow will move it around the tank. Closer to the surface will be more flow due to the HOB flow style, so having it being pushed around by the current mean the smaller fish are going to have to fight the current to get food. 

How full is the tank with water? Is the outflow pushing the surface of the water, or is the water level lower than the output so the HOB flow is pouring in? Water level is another method to control the rate of flow. 

Another thing to consider is placement of decor and plants. Both will obstruct the flow so that the tank doesn't end up being a whirl pool. 

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On 9/19/2021 at 12:07 PM, Tihshho said:

If it's the right quantity of food, I don't think so. Having the food under the water means the flow will move it around the tank. Closer to the surface will be more flow due to the HOB flow style, so having it being pushed around by the current mean the smaller fish are going to have to fight the current to get food. 

How full is the tank with water? Is the outflow pushing the surface of the water, or is the water level lower than the output so the HOB flow is pouring in? Water level is another method to control the rate of flow. 

Another thing to consider is placement of decor and plants. Both will obstruct the flow so that the tank doesn't end up being a whirl pool. 

Currently, the water level is a little lower than it usually is by around half an inch. The flow isn't quite pouring in but I have noticed a difference in surface agitation and noise. 

I do have larger stem plants planted so when they grow large enough they will be interacting with the outflow but they just aren't large enough yet.

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On 9/19/2021 at 11:06 AM, Guppysnail said:

Slicing a coop medium prefilter down the side and gluing or wrapping fishing line around the entire unit to secure it to the out flow works great for the penguins. Unplug it if you are worried about it sucking up food plug it back in when done. 

CARE forum advice for the win! 😀

On 9/19/2021 at 11:17 AM, William Lynch said:

I do have larger stem plants planted so when they grow large enough they will be interacting with the outflow but they just aren't large enough yet.

Now that’s something I find annoying.
A youtube aquascaper, MD Fishtanks, solves the problem with  a variation on @Guppysnail’s advice. Instead of a piece of coarse foam he cuts a piece of clear plastic bottle and places it so it redirects the flow across the top of the tank instead of right on the plants. 

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I used a couple different things. 1st I used some aquarium silicone to glue a piece of quilting mesh to the cover so it hangs into the outlet. 2nd I have a thin piece of fine sponge on the spillway after the biowheel. The quilting mesh keeps the sponge from falling out and the sponge basically stops the speed of the water. It doesn't get clogged because the water has already passed through a layer of filter floss and fine sponge. (instead of the regular cartridges). 3rd I have a coarse sponge intake.

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I'm with the can't have too much filtration group.  A. Filter Check the filter. If the filter isn't full of uneaten food than there is no problem.  Food in the filter could also be an indicator of over feeding.  In the real world fish do chase their food.  B. Flow  It depends on the fish of course, but if the fish are using all of the aquarium than flow is not likely to be a problem.  If the fish appear to be sheltering behind plants and decorations most of the time than flow might be an issue.  

I use flake food primarily.  Dropping the food into the filter flow will show you where the currents are strongest, and deliver food to everyone. My tetras seem to enjoy a little fast flow occasionally.  If you find that there is a problem, than the others here have given you some solid advice.

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On 9/19/2021 at 1:29 PM, William Lynch said:

Hello all, 

I currently have a newly planted 40 gallon breeder stocked with 6 ember tetras. I have a Marineland penguin 200 hang-on back filter and I fear that A). there is too much filtration and is sucking up any food before the fish really get a chance to eat it. B). the HOB is providing too much flow in the tank. Is it possible either of these are a problem? If so, should I switch to a sponge filter or is there any way to slow the flow of the filter? I already have a prefilter sponge on the intake. Thanks!

Piggybacking off this-I was gifted the same type of filter and have the same flow issues. I do have tetras and snails in the tank so they are used to slightly higher current water so I don't worry too much about the speed. I did get a buffer that was 3D printed for the flow output and it kind of disperses it. I did have. the sponge technique and it helped! I find an issue finding a prefilter sponge to fit mine. I did use filter floss and tied it around instead. My issue with the filter is more of it sucking the water up correctly. You can do it from the bottom or top of the filter intake on mine and I can never quite identify what  is going on with it when it doesn't want to suck it up correctly. Either way my neons are living and the tank is clean! 

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