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Hi all!
Just setup a 55 with some of the black sand (Tahitian Moon i believe) and love the look. I am a bit concerned though about the HOB filter, a whisper 30-60. A few questions have come to mind.

What kind of foam does everyone use to make a prefilter to keep sand out of the intake?

How low can you go with the intake without having a problem with being too close? I will have multies so sand is likely to end up anywhere and everywhere. Right now I am keeping the short tube on the intake until I get some foam on it.

Should I go with a second filter. This is giving me a 6x filtration and a lot of current, but for some reason a second filter seems like a good idea for redundancy and extra water movement.

I washed the sand out first and let it settle before the filter was started up so no issues there. But I would like the intake a bit lower for when my tangs take up residence.
 

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What kind of foam does everyone use to make a prefilter to keep sand out of the intake?
There's a prefilter for the mag5 pump. I got mine here.

You can also consider these, but I haven't tried these myself. They say they fit Whispers.

How low can you go with the intake without having a problem with being too close?
Depends on the fish and how much digging they do. Sounds like you better keep yours pretty high until you get the sponges on them. Some fish will carry a mouth full of sand up high in the tank and spit it out , so no level is really high enough.

Should I go with a second filter. This is giving me a 6x filtration and a lot of current, but for some reason a second filter seems like a good idea for redundancy and extra water movement.
I would for those reasons.
 

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I'd get a second filter definitely. My multies take sand up to the top of the rock stack in their tank, so regardless of how high the filter inlet is, you're going to be getting some sand.

I say just get a foam prefilter(I got some for my powerhead and use it on my whisper) and then just buy a few impellers(2-3$ apiece from petblvd.com) and replace them when the filter starts to make noise. :)

Try not to have too much current, my multies have trouble with the powerful current in their tank, but the filtration is built-in and cannot be changed.
 

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The sponge filters for Aqua Clear filters can easily be cut to make pre-filters for HOBs. Use the small ones, or cut a bigger one to the size you need, make a slit with a razor blade and then wrap it around the intake. Done this for years and never had any issues.
 
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