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Old 08-07-2012, 07:54 AM   #1 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Sponge Filters...anyone using them?

Hi Everyone

I have Marley (crown tail) set up right now in Tetra's 1.5 gal cube using the whisper 3i. I'm finding this set up adequate for now, but I may change it. I had to add a gang valve to get the flow out of the filter slow enough for this little guy to deal with it.

Steely Dan (half moon) is 2x the size of Marley and needs a home. I have him in a 1 gallon bowl, but want to put him in a 3 gal set up. I'm considering using a sponge filter set up in Steely's new house. I did some reading and they seem fairly simplistic, yet rather effective at the same time. If I have this correct, you connect the filter assembly to an air pump and let it run.

Is anyone using a sponge setup that can share thier experience? Recommendations on any particular one?


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Old 08-07-2012, 09:00 AM   #2 
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I have used them before. They are really great little filters. I have always made my filters, never bought them. They are really simple to make and do a great job of cleaning. Here's a link to how to make them:
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Old 08-07-2012, 09:24 AM   #3 
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Thank you for the link. I didnt realize it was THAT easy! I'm going to give this a try in Steely's new home and see how it works out for me.


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Old 08-07-2012, 10:31 AM   #4 
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I bought the big version of this. Mine is on a powerhead, but this should work fine with just air. Has lots of area for bacteria growth. There's smaller ones out there if you want, also.
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Old 08-07-2012, 10:34 AM   #5 
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I've been considering a sponge filter for a while now because their biological filtration is superior. That means safer water for your fish. They're also incredibly easy to clean and simple to use.
Just make sure you cycle your tank before adding your betta!
A brand of sponge filter thats reccommended is Hydro Sponges. They come in many different sizes and look nice in the tank.
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Old 08-07-2012, 11:57 AM   #6 
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Thank you for the add'l info. Regarding the cycle, I was under the impression that the cycle will continue to build while my betta is in the tank, as long as I closely monitor ammonia, nitrite, & nitrate, and perform water changes to keep levels low while the filter is

I ask only because I would like to move my fish out of his cramped bowl sooner rather than later. Also, he is going into a 3 gal tank so I'm not guaranteed to get a stable cycle I wasnt going to abandon my water change. Rather I was going to closlely monitor and alter my water changes.

Will that still be okay?


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Old 08-07-2012, 12:04 PM   #7 
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Yes, it will continue to cycle with your Betta in it. Just do 2 50%s per week when you're still cycling your tank. 1 just water and 1 vaccuum. Beneficial bacteria, (BB) is everywhere in the tank including the gravel so you don't have to do water changes. The cycle will be fine in the 3 gallon if you do your water changes and add a live plant maybe.
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Old 08-07-2012, 12:42 PM   #8 
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I'm using a hydro sponge in a 5 gallon tank. The sponge i'm using is rated for a 10 gallon. The only difference is the size of the sponge really. I have it hooked to an ancient air pump rated for 5-10 gallons. The lift tubes get kind of gunky looking and are semi-difficult to clean if you are using tannins. I'm not even sure cleaning the lift tube is a good idea or not since I am assuming the "gunk" is good bacteria. I don't know 100% what it is though. I feel i'm still new to fish keeping and still have a lot to learn.

They make hydro sponges rated for under 5 gallons I think. Jhemco sells them, I'm not sure if any are on ebay or amazon etc. Jhemco has the best selection of them by far. I'm using the regular ones since the pro sizes seem to be for bigger tanks.

Hydro sponges look kind of like little nuclear reactors in the tank. I don't find them ugly but a lot of people don't like how they look. To cut down on noise and size of bubbles I put an air stone inside mine. This supposedly makes their filtering power slightly less or something to that effect. It's doing a good job in the tank.

You can move your fish to the new tank with a sponge filter like Lebron said but you will have to keep an eye on the water quality until your sponge filter cycles. Hold onto the whisper 3i too. You may want to use it for the carbon filter at some point. (Polishing the water, removing medicine, etc. Something a sponge filter can't do.)

I'm using filter foam and those fluval edge pre filters on the rest of my tanks intake tubes. So essentially all my tanks have sponge filters of some kind in them. I managed to cycle a 2.5 gallon aqueon bow tank with the aquaclear coarse filter foam. It's ugly as sin but the size chunk I used holds enough beneficial bacteria to hold a cycle in that tank.

It takes a LONG time to cycle the filter foam, and pre filters though, and it's really easy to break the cycles once you establish them just by over cleaning the foam/sponges in the small tanks. (killed all the bacteria once before I knew not to rinse it under hot water, and went nuts and vacuumed too much of the bacteria out once with my siphon... live and learn.)

I really only swish the fluval pre filters around in old tank water to remove stuff sticking to the outside now. The coarse filter foam I leave be mostly until I notice the output of my filter declining. I squeeze lightly and swish that one in old water before re-installing too. The hydro I swish and squeeze lightly only when I notice it starts to get gunky on the outside and the output from the lift tube declines.

Sorry this was long. I just wanted to share my experience with what I had. I am new to this like I said, so take my advise accordingly. :)

Last edited by Twilight Storm; 08-07-2012 at 12:45 PM. Reason: mistake
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:50 AM   #9 
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First of all, the Tetra 3i is a sponge filter. The name applies to all those filters with an air pump and bubbles. Unfortunately the T3i is very poorly designed; only a small portion of the flow goes over the filter material. Keep the airpump; it's not bad, just not strong. At least it's quiet.

You have a good basic understanding of cycling, GFarra. With enough foam for the bacteria colony even a 3gal can maintain a stable cycle. But, as Madam Desu suggests, for a small tank, it's safer to cycle the tank first.

The filter that xfreejayx recommends is so cheap, it doesn't pay to do it yourself, unless you like to.

Hydro makes deluxe sponge filters. One advantage is they can use an airstone, which actually increases the flow through the filter. The Hydro '0' will work in a 3 gal. You may have to cut an inch off the riser.

And heed Twilight's advice on cleaning the foam.

Not all gunk is bacteria, Twilight. As OFL says, bacteria only grow enough to eat the ammonia and nitrite. The rest is just gunk. Go ahead and clean it.

Last edited by Hallyx; 08-08-2012 at 05:55 AM.
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:55 AM   #10 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Thanks everyone for all the help. I found a foam prefilter by fluval that actually fit the intake tube of the Tetra 3i. So now I have the foam on the intake tube and the cartridge in the filter housing and its all running.

I'm hoping that the foam (although small) gives the bacteria some additional encouragement to clonize :)

Thanks everyone, I'll keep ya posted on progress

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