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What makes your dream HOB

Ryan F

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I was browsing in Petsmart and saw Marineland has a new line of HOBs the Penguin Pro series. These seem to be an evolution of the Penguin series and I really feel like they should have called them, "Penguin 2" or something like that. They have a couple new features that seem okay and some that make me question the nerms at marineland. 

Anyway it got me thinking what features would make it into the ideal HOB filter? I'd like to constrain the dream features to things you've seen on other filters and could fit into an above average price range (it's got everything you would want you're okay spending 50% more on it compared to a regular old HOB)

*I started looking around and saw that Danner makes an awesome filter that includes a port to plug in a gravel filter. *mind blown* that is something I had seen talked about but never implemented. It's not how I would have implemented that feature. I'd have a valve just below the water line on the intake with a hose barb attachment and you'd plug your gravel vac on to that then turn the valve and it would block the regular intake and draw water through the gravel vac.

*Another nice feature I've seen is a media basket that you can pull out and clip the lid to the bottom to catch drips as you take it to the sink for clean out. The whole media basket concept makes for great flexibility in how you treat your water. You could completely fill it with floss or bio rings whatever you wanted.

*Another feature in the same vein would be customizable cartridges. Give me a little sled that I can pack with floss, foam, or a carbon sack to "build it my way" 

*Pothos holder?

*Thermometer. A little digital thermometer that clips into the side(so it can be replaced if it dies)

*Flow indicator and control.

*Over filter over flow. The biggest problem I have with my HOB is that when it get clogged with junk (because I can't get the water to flow evenly through the floss.) would be to have the filters set up so I can stack them such that when one filter gets clogged the water flows over and still gets filtered by the next filter in series. I saw this once on youtube (maybe even a co-op video) where they were using these ultra course foam filters between large floss filters. When the first filter clogged up the water would flow over the top of that filter and cascade through the ultra course foam and still pass through the next layer of floss. I think this was in a pond filter or a sump for a giant tank. I'd like to have that tech in a HOB instead of just releasing the overflow back into the tank.

*Low velocity output. Either a grate or pattern that results in the water returning to the tank at betta safe speeds.

*Flexible intake pipe that lets me put the intake on the other side of the tank rather than right under the return. Ideally with a standard sized tube that I can find at the hardware store so I can replace it or change it later. 

*intake sponge. I don't think this needs much more explanation on these forums.

That went a lot further than I thought it would. It's way past my bedtime now. Let me know what you think. Once I got going the juices started juicing.

Like a feature? Have something else? Does this homer-mobile already exist? Really interested in making a dream hob? Let me know, I'd be very interested to help facilitate an open HOB. Maybe the Co-op can piggyback and use their sources to "do it better." 

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I like the Marineland Pro on my 20L well enough that I bought another to replace the Aquaclear on my 40B. I'll swap them out this weekend. If the Marineland Pro had a basket for the filter media it would be pretty hard to beat. I do think the spinning water wheel thing is kind of a gimmick. 

I should mention that I haven't used the factory cartridge the original came with yet, just a CoOp intake filter and various sponges inside. 

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Approaching Perfection in Design:

  • Self priming
  • Either no skimmer or a skimmer than can be completely disabled
  • Large, deep media basket with a normal rectangular shape
  • Wide range of flow adjustment
  • Adjustable/telescoping intake tube that easily accommodates a basic sponge prefilter
  • Lid that's designed with noise dampening in mind

Basically, a Seachem Tidal with an Aquaclear media basket and optional/no skimmer.

Nice-to-Haves/Aftermarket Options

  • Adjustable output direction/height, or readily available baffle attachments
  • In-line heater/thermometer
  • IoT enabled with flow monitoring, clog and temperature alerts, etc.
  • Super easy impeller access, or better yet self-cleaning impeller
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Make the Aqua Clears from the same material of the Seachem Tidals (including the black color), and you have the greatest HOB, IMO. The plastic is just too hard / stiff, and I want a HOB that's black to blend in with my black background.

Yes, I know the Tidals are black, but I do not like them Sam I Am. They are also not all black. Too much blue.


Edited by Jeff
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I haven’t used a lot of HOB filters. I haven’t tried the AquaClear or Tidal to compare, but I love my Dymax Slim Flo. It starts automatically after a power cycle, the plastic is good, and it is very quiet. It is also very slim, low-profile, and fits AC foam. The SF-500 model is symmetrical, which as @Daniel has noticed, is important to this particular Nerm.


Edited by Streetwise
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I like getting gunk out of the water column completely, so something that used a filter fleece roll like the Aquamaxx AF-1 as a prefilter where the roll of fleece automatically advances as it fills with debris would be ideal. Most filters trap uneaten food, dead plant matter and fish waste, but keep it in the water column where it continues to decay. A moving fleece roll could get it out of the water completely. I made a prototype awhile back of such a prefilter that I'll post a photo of below. It worked okay but required me to advance the fleece (I used quilt batting) manually. This is kind of how the rotary drum filters for koi ponds work. A fine mesh screens out debris, when it becomes clogged the drum rotates and a spray bar washed the gunk into a gutter and out of the system. Making a rotary drum small enough for an aquarium would be a challenge, but a rolling fleece type design would be doable. An alternative to the rolling fleece type filter would simply be an old school top down type filter box like the old Super Kings or Aqua Kings by Supreme where you could peel off a top layer of filtration material as it became clogged. I used to stack filter material in those HOBs and then every couple of days peel off the uppermost layer. Every two weeks or so you'd get to the bottom layer and then when you pulled that out, you'd replace it with a fresh stack of filter material. (Once again, I used quilt batting.) With the physical gunk removed you now turn to bio and chemical filtration. 

What kind of biofiltration do you do? A drip type? Something like a miniature bakki shower? Submerged bio material? A fluidized K1 type filter? I'd probably go with the fluidized K1 type for biofiltration. Maybe a plant/anaerobic chamber that could be filled with a soil of some sort for growing pothos, or a similar plant with a very low flow of water through it. I'd just have a small section for chemical filtration. Modern activated carbon, the typical chemical filtration material, is so efficient you don't really need much.


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17 hours ago, Streetwise said:

The SF-500 model is symmetrical, which as @Daniel has noticed, is important to this particular Nerm.

This exactly why I still have and use Marineland BioWheels. They do not always auto-start after power failure, but with the motors molded in the chassis, they are less likely to leak, they have plenty of volume for media (I use coarse foam in the bottom Substrat Pro on top) AND the lids do not rattle.

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