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Rack Filtration

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To preface, let me say I run my rack with individual sponge filters. with 2 larger air pumps per rack. However for my next rack I would like to make a more centralized system. I know sumps are a good option for this but drilling holes, or having to construct rather tacky looking pcv contraptions for overflow, and learning a whole new form of filtration, constructing it... All sounds like quite a bit of a mess. What I do know are canister filters, and as much as Cory likes to hate on canister filters I love them for my larger display tanks.

So my idea is this. With an fx4 12 10 gallons. How could this be done? my idea is T shape joints to split intake and outflow into each individual aquarium. I can't find anything online about it and was wondering if anyone has done this before or would just like to theory craft the franken canister with me.

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I’m not a canister filter hater, but I just don’t use them. I’ve just gotten a single air pump to run everything. I went with this…


I’d have gone in for the Linear Piston Air-pump from ACO, but my LFS let me sell them fish I breed for store credit. They run all of their tanks on this.

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On 5/2/2022 at 2:45 AM, DreamScape_Aquatics said:

an fx4 12 10 gallons. How could this be done?

Thats an interesting idea, seems like the motor/pump would have to be powerful and I`m no help with this. Would this even be practical? I can`t wait to find out.😕 

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I've toyed with this idea on my 30 high/20 high tanks on a metal stand. Use one Cascade 1200 canister filter to run both tanks. The filter would have the capacity and the plan would be to have it draw water from the bottom tank and return it to the top tank where it would overflow back down to the bottom tank. It's that overflow back down to the bottom tank that's prevented me from doing so. If something goes wrong there, you flood the room until the filter intake in the 20 high runs out of water, then the pump motor burns out from running dry. Any overflow I can imagine still has potential to clog/become obstructed in some manner and that would lead to problems. It's one of those "good in concept" ideas, which might be bad in practice.

An FX4 certainly could handle twelve ten-gallon tanks, but if something goes wrong in the water redistribution after being filtered, things get messy, and wet. Possibly very, very wet and some fish could end up very, very dry.

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Neat concept, but you're reinventing the wheel with this. Putting tanks on a solo filtration system limit what you can keep as well as introduce risk of crosscontamination of diseases and pathogens if something happens in a single tank. Not only that, the plumbing setup for this will be complicated and you'll need to set it up so that you're not going to overflow any specific tank, this is why sump systems are used for applications like this. 

If you're OK with keeping species that use similar water and not deviating from that then a one stop filter could be done. Ideally, you'd just have a sump which the outlets feed from the sump to the tanks and everything overflows into a sump. You just need to balance the flow as to not overflow anything, and ideally have a secondary overflow incase something gets clogged. Be prepared to find babies in the sump depending on your overflow design. One thing I would greatly recommend is to add a UV filter or a few to handle the return water back to the tanks to prevent pathogens & other nasties from getting into the stocked tanks.

As someone who likes complicated things, engineering, and using tech I have to say keeping rack setups simple has been my goto method for years. My first fishroom everything was run off of a hybrid of air or powered filters. When I redid it in the same space I went with a plumbed auto water change system years ago to which I had a sump that was used for collective drainage and then a feed setup that was tapped to a custom manifold where water temps were set with a shower valve, a set of solenoids to each row, a primary one for on/off and another for purge water to get temps up, and then the feeds went into the tank. This was neat, easy at the time to trigger with a DIY controller I made to my home network, but at the end of the day it didn't pay off. If I were to go with larger scale system (such as pushing 50 or more tanks) then I would consider it again. Anything less for me I found easier to deal with manually. Plus, it meant that I was less reliant on the system which meant spending time with the tanks meant I knew more about what was going on in them. 

Since then, my new fishroom in a new home has back peddled design wise and is based off a central air system where all filtration is handled by sponges. This allows me to bulk order stuff when setting up a new set of racks and everything is plug and play. I don't need to make a run to my local hardware store or keep the copious amounts of spare niche parts to keep the system running. Also, it means that I can pull tanks, play fish rack tetris (of moving tanks or racks around) without killing a primary system for the rest of the room. I also don't have to figure out plumbing behind the tank or contort myself to get fittings loose or attached. Being able to unplug a heater, turn off an air valve or two per tank and drain a tank to just slide it to move, sanitze or replace has been awesome. 


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