Return to: Featured Discus Fish
Over the years I have tried many aquarium filtration systems, from expensive wet/dry to simple air driven sponge filters. I must admit, for the hobbyist that has one or just a few tanks, the hang on the back filters are by far the easiest and will last the longest. Some of my hang on the back filters are still running after 40 years. So, for about a $30 investment they have paid for themselves many times over.
There are several brand names to pick from, the one I use are Aqua-Clear. They come in several sizes with different flow rates. So, for the sake of simplification, a 30 to 50-gallon tank I would use the Aqua-Clear 200, and tanks over 50 gallons I would suggest the Aqua-Clear 300. The 200 pumps 200 gallons per hour and the 300 pumps 300 gallons per hour.
I do modify the filter slightly, and you can too without purchasing any additional parts to make this modification. Both Aqua-clear models come with a sponge which is meant to fit in the back compartment of the filter. It is designed to allow the water to filter though it before returning back into your aquarium. Unfortunately using the sponge in the back of the filter allows food and other debris to get sucked into the filter getting trap and clogging this sponge. This require additional frequent cleaning of the sponge so the filter continues to run efficiently. It is just a simple design flaw, easily corrected. Instead of using the sponge which is supposed to be in the back of the filter I use it as a pre-filter over the front intake screen inside the aquarium. Using scissors cut an incision into the smallest rectangular end of the sponge, just enough so you can tightly slip it over the intake screen inside your aquarium. Water is pulled through the sponge mechanically by the filter motor. Beneficial oxidizing bacterium will cultivate and live in this sponge so passing water will be cleaned as it passes though the sponge and returns into the tank. By using the sponge over the intake will also stop any food and other solid debris from being filtered out during feeding, which can clog the filter and reduce the amount of food available for your fish.
Since the back-filter compartment is empty you can put more carbon into a larger nylon bag or sock and stick it in the back of the filter. This will give your Discus fish aquarium nice polished clarity along with keeping harmful ammonia and nitrites levels from building up in the tank. It is a good idea if using carbon to change it on a regular schedule, I recommend to customers they change the carbon every 14 to 21 days. Any longer than this can lead to unexplained deaths or other problems in the aquarium.