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Thread: Mbuna flow requirements

  1. #1
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    Default Mbuna flow requirements

    In general, most sites say the you need 4-8 times your tank's volume to provide enough flow to keep your tank healthy. But I can't find anything that talks about how flow requirements differ based on what type of filter you're using. It seems logical that if you have a trickle filter (Jebo style), the flow requirements would be much lower than a power filter, since the trickle provides so much more aeriation and has much more area to put bio-media and carbon.

    I have a huge trickle filter, but the flow is only around 2x my volume, which is stressing me out a little. I was told that I shouldn't worry about it because I'm getting much more aeriation with a 2x trickle filter than one would get with an 8x power filter, such as an AC or penguin, because the trickle sprays the water over such a large wet-dry area. For now, all my water parameters are flawless, but will this be a problem as my 15 mbuna grow to adult size? I was told that with 50% a week water changes, I'll be fine without getting a second filter. I want to believe this is true, but I'm looking for some other opinions.

    The main question: how much less flow do you need when you're using a filter that gives you so much more aeriation and bio-filtration per volume? Because the sponges take up so much space on top of my tank, my only option for a second filter would be an under-gravel, which would be a pain in the rear to install since I'd have to remove all the gravel; so I'm praying that the trickle action will be enough over the long run.

    Who thinks I'm doomed if I don't get a second filter?
    Two mbuna tanks (a 180G and a 75G).

  2. #2
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    LOL! How come when I ask a question nicely, I get no responses, but if I arrogantly pronounce something to be fact, I get tons of information from everybody? I guess non-trolls always finish last?
    Two mbuna tanks (a 180G and a 75G).

  3. #3

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    I'm not familiar with your trickle filter, I just use power filters and a couple canisters. I stock my tanks more then some sites suggest, so I over filter. A backup filter can't hurt, unless you just can't afford it.

    From my observations in my tanks, I think the Mbuna (mostly) seem to like to swim in the currents from powerheads and filters.

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    This was the question: if you use a filter that has 10x the surface area for bio-filtration than your average power filter, doesn't that change the flow requirements? For example, the AC 500 has a tiny little area for bio-growth, so it makes sense that you probably need WAY more flow than filters that have very large surface areas for bio-growth.

    Can anybody deny or confirm this?

    And Woot: it's not the money that's a problem, it's just that the filter I have is huge and takes up the entire length of the tank, which means the only kind of second filter I can fit in there is an undergravel, which means I'd have to take all the fish out and put in new gravel (which would really suck! haha).
    Last edited by P-Did; 07-27-2004 at 11:41 AM.
    Two mbuna tanks (a 180G and a 75G).

  5. #5
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    Is this a DIY filter? Is it a sump system? Is it above the tank? Whats the brand name? What size tank? What size pump ? Got a photo of it?

    Does it agitate the surface of the water? Does it extract water from the surface and where does it discharge?

    These aren't necessarily questions I need to have answers to but questions you can ask yourself.However if it's a cool DIY project I wouldn't mind seeing a pic.

    Once you reach 100% saturation of oxygen in freshwater thats as good as it needs to be.What you have sounds like it would be great for biological but maybe not so hot for mechanical.

    As long as the fish aren't at the top gulping for air it's probably alright.

    Adding a UGF will give you more bacterial.You don't really need that.A relatively small amount of bacteria can handle the nitrogen cycle if it is getting enough oxygen.Theoretically it is possible to not even have a filter as such on the tank if you have a big pump in there circulating water.There is already bacteria growing on every surface in the tank.

    If you have a large surface area for bacteria to grow on (such as a UGF) and allow it to get dirty from dead bacteria and fish waste it will create a nitrate problem.
    Last edited by z rock; 07-27-2004 at 03:23 PM.

  6. #6
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    Here's an overhead shot of the filters. As you can see, the filter takes up the whole back end of the tank leaving no room for a 2nd filter. The filter is made by Jebo, and some guy ordered these systems and put his own brand name (LifeTech).



    Here's where the water is released:



    It seems like there's tons of tiny bubbles (I even turned down the bubbler because there were too many bubbles making it look cloudy), so I don't think O2 will be a problem. My only issues was that a lot of sites say you need up to 8x your volume in flow and this filter gives me around 2x. The water conditions have been perfect, but I'm wondering who thinks I'm going to have a problem in the long run when theses 15 juvies grow big in this 60 gallon setup. And if so, is there a solution that doesn't require using any space on the side of the tank?
    Two mbuna tanks (a 180G and a 75G).

  7. #7
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    Ok...I solved the problem by getting a submerged powerfilter since I felt the only thing my setup was lacking is some good mechanical filtration to get more of the lettuce bits and poop floating around. Thanks z-rock for the insightful advice.
    Two mbuna tanks (a 180G and a 75G).

  8. #8
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    Thats a interesting filter.I've never seen one like it.Does it have a rating for the GPH or anything on it?

    Does it gravity feed back into the tank? Is the pump that supplies it in the tank?

    I have a Mag 250 by Marineland.Sometimes if the water is not high enough it will suck in air through the fittings on the discharge and act like a venturi and make a bunch of fine bubbles.I thought I was gonna have to silicon the joints on it so it wouldn't swivel but the problem went away.

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    It uses a 450L/Hour powerhead to get the water up to the trickle area. It gravety feeds back into the tank. I put ammo-carbon and bio-donuts (that's what I call 'em) under those giant sponges.

    I just added an 1100L/Hour powerhead with two submerged sponges so that I can get the extra mechanical filtration that I was be missing out on due the low flow rate of the above filter. It was a good $20 investment I'd say if cichlids like current as much as people say they do.
    Last edited by P-Did; 07-30-2004 at 03:49 PM.
    Two mbuna tanks (a 180G and a 75G).

  10. #10
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    450L/hr=118 gph Thats not a whole lot of flow considering if you had 2 Emperors or AC 500's you'd be up around 800GPH.I've got a 55g with a Tetra 60 and a penguin 330.Thats around 500 gph.It stay's filtered well.
    It needs to move the surface around to get rid of co2 or the ph will be dropping.

  11. #11
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    Yeah...now I'm up to about 400g/h with the new submerged filter I added today. It seems like the flow was awfully strong and throwing my fish around, so I put it behind a rock so the flow would spread out in different directions.

    As for getting rid of CO2, I think the spray action on the trickle filters does that job better than anything, wouldn't you think? AC 500's have almost zero wet/dry action so you need a lot more power with those to get the same effect. Now that I added the extra submerged filter, hopefully I'm safe from any problems later on. Thanks again for the input z-rock.
    Last edited by P-Did; 07-30-2004 at 08:34 PM.
    Two mbuna tanks (a 180G and a 75G).

  12. #12

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    The beneficial bacteria for biological filtration need food, oxygen and surface area to grow. The amount of water flow (providing exposure to ammonia) is only the food part of the equation, but for some reason, it is the only thing usually discussed in the filter size rule of thumb. Wet-dry filters work well because they provide lots of oxygen to the bacteria, which is sort of a different issue from the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water for your fish. I always felt that one reason that the Eheim canister filters are better is that they provide more media to grow bacteria than other filters with the same water flow specs.

    Trickle filters are really fantastic filters because they provide lots of oxygen and usually lots of media for the bacteria so you can have a significantly slower flow rate and be just fine. From the original question, it seems that P-did already knows all this. I just have no idea how you would ever go about figuring out how much less is okay. But if your water parameters test out okay then I wouldn’t worry too much about some flow rate rule of thumb.

    Now the use of ammo chips and carbon is a whole other topic.

    Kevin

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    I just have no idea how you would ever go about figuring out how much less is okay. But if your water parameters test out okay then I wouldn’t worry too much about some flow rate rule of thumb.
    Yeah, I was searching for a while for a site that goes into this, to no avail; I was curious because it seems that most people go with power rather than substance when it comes to filtration, so it seems that the rule of thumb can't possibly be consistent across all systems. So I just went ahead and added the submerged power-sponge filter to cover all bases and bring myself peace of mind.

    I'm was also wondering how much current is good, and how much is dangerous. Like I said, when I added the submerged filter, it seems like the current it was generating was too strong as it would throw my fish across the tank; so I put it behind a rock to break the current up, and a nice side affect of that action is that the current going in different directions would kick up a lot of the debris from under the rocks so that the filters suck them.
    Two mbuna tanks (a 180G and a 75G).

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    That Jebo is a built in to the tank filter system isn't it? They might have designed it to be more for a planted discus tank than for a overstocked mbuna situation.
    You probably could look into getting a canister if you decide your not happy with the in tank filter.A canister wouldn't take up any room,or at least you could run the hoses on the sides and they wouldn't be too obtrusive.
    I would still use the trickle thing though cause it is pretty cool.

  15. #15
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    Yeah, if the sponge filter doesn't cut it as a second filter, I'll go canister. I'm hoping it doesn't come to that as there's not really enough room to get those hoses through. I'd probaby have to cut an extra hole. So I'm hoping the trickle + the submerged sponge will be enough for 15 adult mbunas. We'll see...
    Two mbuna tanks (a 180G and a 75G).

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