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Multiple sponge filters or just one bigger one?


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If my one sponge filter seems to be overwhelmed, do I have to get another one or can I just replace the one I have with a bigger one?
 

Background: I have a 20 gallon tank with a medium aquarium co-op sponge filter. While trying to solve the mystery of my cloudy greenish tank, I decided to just see if cleaning the sponge filter would help. Well that thing was DIRTY! For reference the last time I cleaned it was 2 weeks ago.

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Given the limit of the 20-gallon tank (wide or tall?), I'm not sure how well a larger sponge filter would fit. Either option would be valid though; either option would increase the overall surface area for bacteria, and the overall mechanical filtration. If a larger sponge will fit, go for it. If not, two sponges isn't the end of the world. It does sound like you might want to explore increasing your filtration, though.

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you could go with a larger one, and that would probably work. my take on filters is that i personally prefer to have a filter (of any type) in each or corner , or each half of the tank. that way i get better circulation. my method may or may not filter better, but it does get better circulation in the tank which i believe helps the filters do their job.

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I've got two sponge filters in my 20 long. One would probably be enough, but I like having a spare sponge seasoned and ready to start a quarantine or whatever. Mine are the Aquatop 25 sponge filters (40ppi) from my LFS, and I've only had them clog up when I slack on maintenance for a few months. Two weeks is really quick for any filter to clog. What's your stocking like?

 

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@Baphijmm I have a 20 gallon tall, the only reason I didn’t want another one is because I don’t know where I would put it. I’m finally happy with the way the tank looks. 
 

@lefty o I do see your point. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to move stuff around again, but it might be inevitable. 
 

@drewzero1 I have 6 panda corys and 8 ember tetras. But now that I’m thinking about it. The last time I cleaned it I added stuff, I moved stuff around, etc. I probably should have been on top of it more for a few day after. It looks like I might have to get another one, I just don’t know where to put it. My plants are FINALLY cooperating with me, so I didn’t want to disturb them.  

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It might just be that your tank's mechanical filtration needs are more than a sponge filter can provide (it's really not their strong suit). Have you considered other types of filter? I used to have a sponge filter for bio-filtration and a HOB for mechanical filtration, which seemed to work pretty well. I have a sponge and a canister filter on my 40 and that seems to be a good compromise for not taking up too much space in the tank. If you like air-powered filters as much as I do, there are also other types of sponge-adjacent filters with different trade-offs: rocket, corner matten, undergravel, etc. (Okay, maybe not undergravel if you don't want to reconstruct the whole tank. 😆)

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On 4/25/2022 at 7:24 PM, SinfulBetta94 said:

@Baphijmm I have a 20 gallon tall, the only reason I didn’t want another one is because I don’t know where I would put it. I’m finally happy with the way the tank looks. 
 

I totally understand the frustration.

The way I usually handle that issue is to go ahead and clean the filter constantly, every 2-3 days. After a few times it should equalize the bit and the tank/filter work a bit better together. If you're still having issues you might be running too much flow and just clogging it that way.  (you can run a sponge on one size, add an air stone on the other to keep circulation, but lessen the load on the sponge itself.

A secondary option, go out and grab a cheap HoB and run that for a day or two and then remove it.  That should help as well to let the sponge clear out the chunks if the tank is just filled with mulm or something that is clogging the sponge. 

Lastly, depending what is clogging, you might be over feeding? You can try keeping track of what the fish eat when feeding and what is left over after 10-15 minutes and adjust accordingly.

On 4/25/2022 at 6:13 PM, SinfulBetta94 said:

For reference the last time I cleaned it was 2 weeks ago.

I've never had "the luck of" letting a sponge run for a long time. Maybe it's just me and what my tanks look like and how I feed but I stick to weekly/biweekly cleanouts these days.  Try weekly at the least (just for the sponge itself, not even changing water) and see if that fixes the issue as well.

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On 4/25/2022 at 11:44 PM, nabokovfan87 said:

I totally understand the frustration.

The way I usually handle that issue is to go ahead and clean the filter constantly, every 2-3 days. After a few times it should equalize the bit and the tank/filter work a bit better together. If you're still having issues you might be running too much flow and just clogging it that way.  (you can run a sponge on one size, add an air stone on the other to keep circulation, but lessen the load on the sponge itself.

A secondary option, go out and grab a cheap HoB and run that for a day or two and then remove it.  That should help as well to let the sponge clear out the chunks if the tank is just filled with mulm or something that is clogging the sponge. 

Lastly, depending what is clogging, you might be over feeding? You can try keeping track of what the fish eat when feeding and what is left over after 10-15 minutes and adjust accordingly.

I've never had "the luck of" letting a sponge run for a long time. Maybe it's just me and what my tanks look like and how I feed but I stick to weekly/biweekly cleanouts these days.  Try weekly at the least (just for the sponge itself, not even changing water) and see if that fixes the issue as well.

I didn't consider it, but I do run an airstone inside all of my sponge filters. (Can't stand the blub-blub of bigger bubbles, or the splashing/mess.)

Feeding is also a consideration- not only amount, but ingredients too. I haven't looked into it in a while (haven't had extra $$$ for fancy food) but certain foods can be significantly more wasteful either from leftovers breaking down, or inefficient digestion.

What's your mulm situation like? Do you gravel vac?

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On 4/26/2022 at 12:44 AM, nabokovfan87 said:

I totally understand the frustration.

The way I usually handle that issue is to go ahead and clean the filter constantly, every 2-3 days. After a few times it should equalize the bit and the tank/filter work a bit better together. If you're still having issues you might be running too much flow and just clogging it that way.  (you can run a sponge on one size, add an air stone on the other to keep circulation, but lessen the load on the sponge itself.

A secondary option, go out and grab a cheap HoB and run that for a day or two and then remove it.  That should help as well to let the sponge clear out the chunks if the tank is just filled with mulm or something that is clogging the sponge. 

I was definitely thinking I should try cleaning the sponge every couple days to see if that helps and I was also thinking about getting a temporary HOB. 
I’m don’t understand what you mean about “running too much flow” through the sponge filter.

On 4/26/2022 at 12:42 PM, drewzero1 said:

What's your mulm situation like? Do you gravel vac?

I feel like my mulm isn’t bad, when I've been doing water changes recently I suck up what’s laying on the top of the gravel, but I do properly gravel vac occasionally. This tank is only 4 months old though (3 if you don’t count the cycling). 
 

This was Sunday when I was trying to get a pic of the Endler I got. I originally tried cleaning the filter because I’m not having any luck clearing up that water.

97E4A9BC-573D-4CA0-AB91-4B8710090B63.jpeg.7aab013756b1a4110969a5c3f02ce6a0.jpeg

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On 4/26/2022 at 10:55 AM, SinfulBetta94 said:

I’m don’t understand what you mean about “running too much flow” through the sponge filter.

If you have the flow higher, you're pulling more water through the sponge. If you're pulling more water, then you're pulling more muck. So that rate of flow is directly tied to how often you need to clean the sponge if your have very chunky bits in the water.

https://youtu.be/0QMRhOJlmy0

On 4/26/2022 at 11:04 AM, Brandon p said:

More water changes wiki goo a long way.

Yeah. Cloudy water like that (assuming it's not just a photo with a blurry lens) is going to mean you need to run some fine filter pad via HoB a few days or change water just to clear it up.

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On 4/26/2022 at 1:59 PM, Tihshho said:

I could be wrong, but it looks like you have green water. How much/often are you doing water changes and I'm guessing you're dosing ferts for plants? And how long are you running your lights? Is this tank by chance getting any direct sunlight or in a room that gets a lot of sunlight?

Yes, the water is green and cloudy. Because of the green water, I’ve been changing almost 50% the last couple weekends, but I’ve also been taking out a little (no more then 25%) here and there during the week. I cut down on the ferts to try to help. My light comes on at 4 pm and goes off at 10 pm, with no direct sunlight. 
 

On 4/26/2022 at 2:04 PM, Brandon p said:

I agree with at @Tihshho. More water changes wiki goo a long way. Also how are you cleaning your sponge filter. I don’t see debris in the water. 

I took that picture the day before I decided to try cleaning my sponge filter. And cleaning my sponge filter was a “well I haven’t tried this yet” kind of moment, and when I did clean it I was shocked by how dirty it was.

 

On 4/26/2022 at 3:37 PM, nabokovfan87 said:

If you have the flow higher, you're pulling more water through the sponge. If you're pulling more water, then you're pulling more muck. So that rate of flow is directly tied to how often you need to clean the sponge if your have very chunky bits in the water.

https://youtu.be/0QMRhOJlmy0

Yeah. Cloudy water like that (assuming it's not just a photo with a blurry lens) is going to mean you need to run some fine filter pad via HoB a few days or change water just to clear it up.

Thank you for explaining 🙂

The cleanliness of the tank glass and the possibility of a blurry lens could be slightly contributing to how the water looks, but 95% is how the water actually looks 

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On 4/26/2022 at 4:35 PM, nabokovfan87 said:

You might just want to find one of the UV sterilizers for the water.

I wouldn't say it's bad enough to justify investing on one of those yet. Generally the cheaper sterilizers don't do much, so making the investment to a quality UV would be a big leap without taking care of the lower hanging fruit.

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On 4/26/2022 at 4:38 PM, nabokovfan87 said:

Black out the tank, 50% water change daily?

If it's still hazy like in the original picture blackout would be still further down the line. I generally don't blackout or recommend blackouts unless the tanks are neon green. partial (10-20% water changes) every day or every other should work. But before fluxing params, cutting back lighting, feeding, dosing and doing a weekly generous water change (40-50%) should be enough. 

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What I have found works most often for hazy green water that is not thick pea soup is….do nothing.  It will clear or always did for me. In this thread (I think this is the one that he showed it)  @gardenman shows how this do nothing method can work. I find nature will often right itself. Edit yes green water discussion starts page 3

 

Edited by Guppysnail
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I certainly do not want to needlessly add to the chatter on this thread.  I can see @SinfulBetta94, you have been presented with plenty of enthusiastic responses.  I agree with @Guppysnail , that the green water may well clear up without intervention on your part. 

I also agree with @drewzero1 that your sponge clogging so quickly may indicate you have issues with particulates that might need a different approach if that is a persistent problem.  You may well be correct that disturbing the substrate could have been the culprit for a one time clogging though.  Were it me, I would play the wait-n-see game.  If the sponge filter doesn't clog so quickly next time, you can probably just clean it more frequently for a few weeks and then be fine moving forward.  However, if the problem persists, I would suggest the easiest fix would be to swap out the sponge filter for a similarly sized box filter.  Put some of your sponge or gravel in the bottom, and then filter floss in the top.  The floss will be obvious when it needs a change, and it is much better than a sponge filter at filtering out small particles. 

Whatever you decide, I do want to say: That's a very nice looking Endler!  Good luck. 

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