Aquatics Unlimited: Articles: Fast Flow Canister Filters
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Fast Flow Canister Filters

for the week of 3/18/99

Represented by the Magnum® and Lifegard® lines, fast flow canister filters are designed to cause a substantial current in the aquarium, and catch a fair amount of solid waste before it settles to the tank bottom.

Advantages. By definition, fast flow filters are excellent mechanical (trap solid waste) filters. They catch fish droppings and excess food effectively enough to keep an aquarium visibly cleaner, and can reduce the number of water changes needed. In addition, many can be outfitted with activated carbon or other adsorptive media to perform chemical (removal of certain dissolved chemicals) filtration, although less efficiently than slower flow units. Their rapid flow outputs also can provide significant aeration to sustain the fish directly and to encourage biological (bacterial breakdown) filtration elsewhere in the aquarium.

Disadvantages. Since they catch so much solid waste, fast flow filters clog rapidly, reducing their ability to filter mechanically, chemically or biologically, as well as their ability to aerate. They need to be cleaned regularly (often every 2 to 4 weeks), and certainly should not be allowed to slow to a halt. Backup aeration is encouraged so that dissolved oxygen levels remain high even as filter is slowing.

Best tanks to use fast flow filters. Fast flow filters can be used on almost any aquarium, but are ideal for tanks containing larger fish with great solid waste output. They are also excellent for active, schooling fish that enjoy the current created.

Sizing. A fast flow filter should turn over the volume of the tank somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 to 10 times per hour. Thus, a 30 gallon aquarium filter should be rated at 180 to 300 gallons per hour. Too slow a filter will be unable to keep up with solid waste, and too fast a unit may actually create too much current for the tank's residents. Several filters may be combined to reach the required flow rates on larger aquariums.

"Tip of the week" appeared regularly in 1999 and 2000.

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