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Filter wool and filter flow

Postby LeeAberdeen » Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:22 am

Cleaned the secondary filter on my main tank yesterday, a Fluval 406, and couldn't believe the difference in flow after the filter wool had been changed. It had only been in there two weeks, but when I changed it the flow went from a trickle to like having the tap full-on, probably about 5-6 times as much.

I'm now wondering if it's better to dispense with filter wool altogether, and just have a top basket of a normal biological media, probably Matrix or Eheim Substrat Pro instead? That's what's in two of the trays, with biofoam in the bottom one, with the filter wool at the top. The filter wool's just there as a final polisher, but after only two weeks it was filthy and if it's going to block the flow so much, maybe it's counter-productive? I'd already dispensed with the polishing mat for the FX6 which is the main filter, and the flow on that is so much better too.

What does everyone else do? Do you 'polish' or see it as unnecessary?
75g - Mixed - Yellow labs, Jalo Reef, Red-Top Hongi, Rubin Red
150g - Mixed all-male - Protomelas Steveni 'Taiwan Reef', Jacobfreibergi Eureka, OB Fire, Aulonocara Sunset, Fryeri Blue Ice, Chromobotia Macracanthus
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Re: Filter wool and filter flow

Postby Fishnut71 » Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:51 am

It simply comes down to how much water clarity you want. You've essentially set up your canister to be a polisher, and polishers are not meant to run long term. Filter floss in high density will capture more free floating particles, and ultimately will trap so much that nearly all access are clogged and the result is a decrease in flow....just basic physics. That's why most manufactured HOB filter pads are designed to only trap larger debris, so they don't clog up in a day.
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Re: Filter wool and filter flow

Postby DJRansome » Mon Jun 01, 2015 7:28 pm

I use a fine filter pad, but not floss.
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Re: Filter wool and filter flow

Postby fmueller » Tue Jun 02, 2015 9:11 am

I love filter floss. In fact, it is the only medium I use in all my canister filters. How much flow vs filtration you get depends very much on how densely you pack it. It's a bit of an art, but you'll get the hang of it after some trial and error.
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Re: Filter wool and filter flow

Postby Fishnut71 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 9:24 am

fmueller wrote:I love filter floss. In fact, it is the only medium I use in all my canister filters. How much flow vs filtration you get depends very much on how densely you pack it. It's a bit of an art, but you'll get the hang of it after some trial and error.
Me too :thumb: I use poly-fill(pillow stuffing) from the craft stores
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Re: Filter wool and filter flow

Postby LeeAberdeen » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:22 am

fmueller wrote:I love filter floss. In fact, it is the only medium I use in all my canister filters. How much flow vs filtration you get depends very much on how densely you pack it. It's a bit of an art, but you'll get the hang of it after some trial and error.


So how would you advise me to pack it? I buy a job lot of filter foam dirt cheap online and have been cutting it to size and laying it three or four-deep, but maybe that's too much? Does it need a gap for some flow to get through or do you cover the filter tray entirely with it? In my other tank I only lay it one deep, and it still blocks the flow.

Not sure about using it as "the only medium"? How does a polisher provide more than mechanical filtration, especially as you're presumably changing it regularly and disposing of BB as you do so? You'd have to change the pads alternately to avoid losing too much BB in one go which, if you had lots of them, would mean opening the filter every week or so? Just sounds like an eggs-in-one-basket scenario to me?
75g - Mixed - Yellow labs, Jalo Reef, Red-Top Hongi, Rubin Red
150g - Mixed all-male - Protomelas Steveni 'Taiwan Reef', Jacobfreibergi Eureka, OB Fire, Aulonocara Sunset, Fryeri Blue Ice, Chromobotia Macracanthus
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Re: Filter wool and filter flow

Postby Fishnut71 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:46 am

LeeAberdeen wrote:
fmueller wrote:I love filter floss. In fact, it is the only medium I use in all my canister filters. How much flow vs filtration you get depends very much on how densely you pack it. It's a bit of an art, but you'll get the hang of it after some trial and error.


So how would you advise me to pack it? I buy a job lot of filter foam dirt cheap online and have been cutting it to size and laying it three or four-deep, but maybe that's too much? Does it need a gap for some flow to get through or do you cover the filter tray entirely with it? In my other tank I only lay it one deep, and it still blocks the flow.

Not sure about using it as "the only medium"? How does a polisher provide more than mechanical filtration, especially as you're presumably changing it regularly and disposing of BB as you do so? You'd have to change the pads alternately to avoid losing too much BB in one go which, if you had lots of them, would mean opening the filter every week or so? Just sounds like an eggs-in-one-basket scenario to me?

So, are you referring to filter floss or foam matting?

I believe when fmueller stated "it is the only medium I use in my canister", I'm sure he meant that its the only medium he uses for mechanical purpose, and not the only media in the canister
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Re: Filter wool and filter flow

Postby LeeAberdeen » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:55 am

I guess you'd call it matting, really, or foam. It comes in big old sheets, anyway.

I'm sure you're right about meaning to say the only sort of mechanical filtration - it doesn't make much sense otherwise.
75g - Mixed - Yellow labs, Jalo Reef, Red-Top Hongi, Rubin Red
150g - Mixed all-male - Protomelas Steveni 'Taiwan Reef', Jacobfreibergi Eureka, OB Fire, Aulonocara Sunset, Fryeri Blue Ice, Chromobotia Macracanthus
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Re: Filter wool and filter flow

Postby Fishnut71 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 11:12 am

Matting and floss are two different things. Floss is the stuff you find as pillow filler.

I'm guessing the foam you purchased has very small pores designed more for polishing or to be placed after foam that has larger pores.
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Re: Filter wool and filter flow

Postby LeeAberdeen » Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:28 pm

I never mentioned floss, only "wool", because that's what it was sold to me as.

Yeah, it's more of a polisher, and has small pores.
75g - Mixed - Yellow labs, Jalo Reef, Red-Top Hongi, Rubin Red
150g - Mixed all-male - Protomelas Steveni 'Taiwan Reef', Jacobfreibergi Eureka, OB Fire, Aulonocara Sunset, Fryeri Blue Ice, Chromobotia Macracanthus
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Re: Filter wool and filter flow

Postby Fishnut71 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:46 pm

If you want to keep using this "wool" matting, then you will want to have a few larger pore foam/matting ahead of it. The larger pore matting will catch the larger debris and will only allow the fine debris to move to the wool matting. This will allow more time between filter cleaning.
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Re: Filter wool and filter flow

Postby fmueller » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:15 pm

Poly fill comes in matted form and loose - sort of like candy floss :-)

It is sometimes hard to tell what you will get, because for its intended purpose of filling a pillow, it really doesn't matter if it's matted or not.

I don't like the matted variety, because it is impossible to pack without leaving gaps. The loose stuff is much better, and when I say I use it as the only filter material, I mean the only filter material, period. Not just mechanical. Bacteria will settle on any surface, and this stuff has a lot of surface area. There is no reason it would provide only mechanical filtration. I've written up my thoughts on this issue in more detail on this page under "Filter media and filter maintenance".
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Re: Filter wool and filter flow

Postby LeeAberdeen » Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:29 am

fmueller wrote:Poly fill comes in matted form and loose - sort of like candy floss :-)

It is sometimes hard to tell what you will get, because for its intended purpose of filling a pillow, it really doesn't matter if it's matted or not.

I don't like the matted variety, because it is impossible to pack without leaving gaps. The loose stuff is much better, and when I say I use it as the only filter material, I mean the only filter material, period. Not just mechanical. Bacteria will settle on any surface, and this stuff has a lot of surface area. There is no reason it would provide only mechanical filtration. I've written up my thoughts on this issue in more detail on this page under "Filter media and filter maintenance".


Interesting article. I think in this hobby, we all tend to think what works for us is the ONLY way to do it, which is clearly nonsense or there wouldn't be more than one way of doing it. Your system works for you, great, but I definitely won't be following suit, especially as one of the main reasons for doing it seems to be cost, and within reason I couldn't care less about that. I think if it was widely considered to be a good method of filtration, I'd have heard of others doing it before.

The idea of only opening a filter every three to four months, to me, doesn't work, especially when it's qualified with "because I am lazy". Are you doing it because it's the best way, which I've never heard anyone else suggest, or because you can't be bothered? The notion that you do it "so as not to disturb the bacteria doing their job" I can categorically state as nonsense, because cleaning a filter doesn't affect them if it's done properly, otherwise we'd all be having mini-cycles constantly. I clean all of mine once a month, and the water's well murky at the bottom, even without overfeeding. The idea of doing that with only filter floss in there, with its ability to become quickly clogged, seems even worse. You can stack it how you like, but there's still going to be an element of clog to it which is going to affect your filter flow. If cleaning filters messed with the bacteria as you suggest, that would be reflected in ammonia readings which remain unchanged.

I've decided I'm going to take the foam/matting out altogether and replace the top tray with afagrog. That works for me. Hope your system continues working for you.
75g - Mixed - Yellow labs, Jalo Reef, Red-Top Hongi, Rubin Red
150g - Mixed all-male - Protomelas Steveni 'Taiwan Reef', Jacobfreibergi Eureka, OB Fire, Aulonocara Sunset, Fryeri Blue Ice, Chromobotia Macracanthus
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Re: Filter wool and filter flow

Postby LeeAberdeen » Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:44 am

I forgot to say, but it also defies logic to claim beneficial bacteria in the filter is so fragile as to be killed by a mere filter clean, then to be throwing out at least two-thirds, maybe all, of your filter bacteria when changing your floss. If your 'logic' about BB being badly affected by filter cleans was correct, it would also apply to you when you throw out potentially all of your media? If, on the other hand, you're right about tank fixtures and fittings containing a compensating amount of BB, so that losing filter BB doesn't matter (which I've never read anywhere else), then why bother mentioning it?
75g - Mixed - Yellow labs, Jalo Reef, Red-Top Hongi, Rubin Red
150g - Mixed all-male - Protomelas Steveni 'Taiwan Reef', Jacobfreibergi Eureka, OB Fire, Aulonocara Sunset, Fryeri Blue Ice, Chromobotia Macracanthus
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Re: Filter wool and filter flow

Postby DJRansome » Wed Jun 03, 2015 7:06 pm

I only clean canisters every 3 months or so...sometimes I start to clean one because the flow has decreased only to find a hose is clogged with MTS and the filter really is empty and not much to clean.

Polyfill sounds perfect to me except for throwing all of it away on occasion. Not much different that pot scrubbers which a lot of people use. Definitely covers mechanical and biological. I don't use chemical anyway.

So Frank do you think some anaerobic action get's going in the canisters after a time? I always do wonder why I don't have a lot more sludge.
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