Filtration for large freshwater tank (120x36x24) ?

jake37

Exodon
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Mar 6, 2021
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I'm trying to decide on the appropriate filtration for a large freshwater tank that is 12 feet long 3 feet wide 2 feet high. This tank will be heavily planted (attached is my current 120). My initial thought was to use a sump with a series of poret sponges from 40ppi to 10ppi which should provide both biological and mechanical filtration but a shop keeper strongly recommended using a 'close' system which is basically a large canister filter. My thought is the sump would be easier to clean than the canister filter and he really couldn't explain why it was advantages to use a canister filter but he did have me look at a tank they setup for the local hockey team (nhl team in my home city). The concern i have is their tank was a bare tank (well substrate but no plants) with a couple of very large fishes while my tank will be heavily planted and I would think the sump would deal with the debris from the plant better esp if i can trap most of it int he first compartment. With my current 120 i use prefilters to keep most of the crap out of the filter and it seems to work well though i have to clean it once or twice a week (the prefilter) - i have an fx6 on the 120 with a 2117 (initially i had 2 2117 but since the tank is vastly over populated (11 adult angels, 5 clowns, 6 yoyo 5 zebra loaches, 10 sterbai, 27 cardinals, 12 kuhli, 6 pleco (2 lemon bn, 1 regular bn - very large for a bn, 3 l204), 1 gold ram, whatever i forgotten to mention - i thought adding the fx6 would help. I like to get the filtration right the first time on this tank since it will be a pia to change later. I will likely order it from customaquariums unless there is a better place (i don't like plantedaquariums tanks since i have to go through a shop and getting the details is a pia because of the middle person).
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Rhyno8

Dovii
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Sounds like it’s going to look awesome not many monster planted set ups. Just a thought why not two corner Hamburg matten filters you wouldn’t have all the plumbing and what not to deal with just a big air blower. My experience with sumps is there as simple or as complicated as you make them. Cleaning is easy.
 

jake37

Exodon
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Mar 6, 2021
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I have corner filters on several of my tanks (29,29,40); I was concern that this tank at 300+ gallons would be too large for reliable filtration from such. Also I had some concern about cleaning. With my smaller tanks sliding the sponges out can disturb the substrate around them and cause some substrate to slide behind them (really need some sort of guard at the bottom to prevent such). The sump would provide 5 to 10x the total filtration. That doesn't mean the corner idea wouldn't work - I'm just raising my concerns.

Sounds like it’s going to look awesome not many monster planted set ups. Just a thought why not two corner Hamburg matten filters you wouldn’t have all the plumbing and what not to deal with just a big air blower. My experience with sumps is there as simple or as complicated as you make them. Cleaning is easy.
 
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Rhyno8

Dovii
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I have corner filters on several of my tanks (29,29,40); I was concern that this tank at 300+ gallons would be too large for reliable filtration from such. Also I had some concern about cleaning. With my smaller tanks sliding the sponges out can disturb the substrate around them and cause some substrate to slide behind them (really need some sort of guard at the bottom to prevent such). The sump would provide 5 to 10x the total filtration. That doesn't mean the corner idea wouldn't work - I'm just raising my concerns.
Totally valid points. Would a guard be possible? I’m only thinking you bio load won’t be huge and between the matten and the plants you’d be well covered for bio especially with the substrate. I used to have a tank with nearly identical dimensions it was 120x40x24. Great size would look awesome planted. My only concern with a tank that big planted would be plant matter plugging up the overflow depending on its size.
 

jake37

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Mar 6, 2021
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A guard is possible - i was thinking of something similar to a shirt collar (those plastic inlets) but a bit more durable that could be bent around the bottom and approx 1 to 1 1/2 inch high. It could then be glued between the two glass supports that hold the sponge (my thought was on the outside). The substrate would then rest against it and you could push away the substrate that is above the guard when removing the sponge.
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Stocking will be lower than the 120 per gallon - basically it would be everything in the 120 plus 3 more clowns 5 more zebra a few more pleco 10 more angels and double the tetra (but probably not cardinals - i'll probably move the cardinals and sterbai corys to the ram tank). Oh and I'll add 3 more sae (I have one in the 120).

Totally valid points. Would a guard be possible? I’m only thinking you bio load won’t be huge and between the matten and the plants you’d be well covered for bio especially with the substrate. I used to have a tank with nearly identical dimensions it was 120x40x24. Great size would look awesome planted. My only concern with a tank that big planted would be plant matter plugging up the overflow depending on its size.
 

Rhyno8

Dovii
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Mar 15, 2017
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A guard is possible - i was thinking of something similar to a shirt collar (those plastic inlets) but a bit more durable that could be bent around the bottom and approx 1 to 1 1/2 inch high. It could then be glued between the two glass supports that hold the sponge (my thought was on the outside). The substrate would then rest against it and you could push away the substrate that is above the guard when removing the sponge.
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Stocking will be lower than the 120 per gallon - basically it would be everything in the 120 plus 3 more clowns 5 more zebra a few more pleco 10 more angels and double the tetra (but probably not cardinals - i'll probably move the cardinals and sterbai corys to the ram tank). Oh and I'll add 3 more sae (I have one in the 120).
With that level of stocking I honestly think you’d be throwing money away spending up on a sump, you could use it on lighting instead. If you want to go a sump though I’d look at getting an overflow on the larger side Like a coast to coast just to reduce the risk of blocking. I’m sure some more experienced guys will chime in. Keep us posted with some photos when it all comes together.
 

DThompson

Plecostomus
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Feb 22, 2018
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The advantage of a closed loop filter like an Ultima is the smaller footprint and you can backflush it to remove the debris it catches very easily. No manual labor pulling filter socks or sponges. The Ultima is both mechanical and biological filtration. And you probably will only need to backflush it like once a month. The backflush is also great for doing water changes.
 
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jake37

Exodon
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Mar 6, 2021
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What is an ultima and i presume backflush means runs it in reverse but doesn't that mean running a hose from the filter to a drain that can accept the debris (you wouldn't want to plug your sink drain?)
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Also does a tank of this nature actually require a filter ?

The advantage of a closed loop filter like an Ultima is the smaller footprint and you can backflush it to remove the debris it catches very easily. No manual labor pulling filter socks or sponges. The Ultima is both mechanical and biological filtration. And you probably will only need to backflush it like once a month. The backflush is also great for doing water changes.
 

nzafi

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I have an 8x4 535g tank which I run 2 corner HMF filters and an ultima 1000. The ultima is amazing from ease of maintenance stand point. The backflush take ~5-10min to clean max and you can do it one or two a month if you want. You might want to have multiple intakes to prevent plant matter from clogging the intake.

The HMF are awesome filters. In a 12ft tank you will need to make sure you have other powerheads that help with water movement. You are only running them at 3-4x turnover and towards the middle of the tank you will have little flow.

My tank is currently offline, but when I set it back up I will be getting rid of the ultima filter most likely and just sticking to the HMF filters. Your filtration really needs to be based upon type of fish, how much flow you want, etc. Neither the HMF or ultima are really high flow filters, but you can easily supplement with powerheads.
 

jake37

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Mar 6, 2021
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Slow down - i'm a newbie. When you say multiple intakes - for your design i'm not sure where you would have multiple intakes as the filter would only take one - unless you mean having multiple tubes to the filter and then join them before going into the filter.
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When you say backflush - do you mean run the filter in reverse so it sends the water out and you pipe it to a drain somewhere ?
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Would the following work:
Have a large corner matten filter (well sponge); with a hole drilled under the corner - pipe the water out through hole - drawing water through the sponge and then pipe it in the opposite side using an iwaki pump. Would a canister filter be needed for this water (i guess this would make the hamburg almost a pre-filter) but then there would be no reason to flush the filter - but it might create a headache with constant cleaning of the matten filter. Not sure a filter would even help with this sort of design.

I have an 8x4 535g tank which I run 2 corner HMF filters and an ultima 1000. The ultima is amazing from ease of maintenance stand point. The backflush take ~5-10min to clean max and you can do it one or two a month if you want. You might want to have multiple intakes to prevent plant matter from clogging the intake.

The HMF are awesome filters. In a 12ft tank you will need to make sure you have other powerheads that help with water movement. You are only running them at 3-4x turnover and towards the middle of the tank you will have little flow.

My tank is currently offline, but when I set it back up I will be getting rid of the ultima filter most likely and just sticking to the HMF filters. Your filtration really needs to be based upon type of fish, how much flow you want, etc. Neither the HMF or ultima are really high flow filters, but you can easily supplement with powerheads.
 
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