Board index Aquaria Topics Tanks and Equipment Matten Filter Questions

Matten Filter Questions

Tanks, hard goods, decor, shipping... everything non-living goes here!

Moderator: Moderators

Post Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:58 am
yoimbrian Level 3 Member
Level 3 Member

Posts: 56
This is a re-do of my thread on local custom aquarium builders....new focus though....

So re-cap:
-Remodel basement, doing in-wall aquarium, with a fahaka puffer as wet pet

So after passionfish's comment on my previous thread, I'm really intrigued to go in tank Matten Filter style (no sump!), however I have some questions.

Reading various articles, it looks like the water velocity is really key (filter surface area divided by water flow rate), and you want to keep it really low so that it acts like mud. To get low velocity in a big tank and still have a decent turnover, you need lots of surface area then. So then comes the math:

-Tank size 96"W x 30"D x 24"H - (bigger than previous thread to have room for in-tank filtration...)
-Tank functional volume, 281 gallons or 1064 Liters
-Recommended turnover rate for HMF is 2-4 per hour, so we'll call it 3
-Recommended water velocity through filter is 5-10 cm / min, so we'll call it 7.5
-Water flow rate through filter = 3192 liters per hour
-to have that flow rate and that velocity, you then need a surface area of 7,093 cm2

If I have one side wall coast to coast foam, that is 4408 cm2 - more than half way there. I don't want to do the entire other side wall coast to coast, so then my options would be a corner or a half wall. For a corner to get that surface area it would need a radius of 11.5", or if I go flat against the wall it would need to take up 18" of the width. Side note, I want some room on the other wall open so I can see into the tank from the utility room (back wall will be 3D background), and I also need open wall for a drain (continuous drip water change), and a powerhead (to get that junk suspended and into the filter). I feel like the straight against the wall option would work better, mostly because having such a large radius in the corner would have a lot of empty (and thus wasted) space behind it, and probably be more obvious when looking at it.

Am I thinking about this right? Because I saw a different thread / video where a guy had a 265 gallon with corner filters, and if I had to guess they were only 6 or 8" radius, so all in all he had less than half of the surface area I am talking about here - but he seemed happy with it...

Then I would have some other questions as well:

-Am I correct in assuming I should NOT have a drain for an auto water changer behind the foam? I've read when it starts to plug the water level behind the foam can go down, so you'd have inconsistent water levels.
-I've read lots of options for foam. For a general display tank the most common seem to be either 2" thick 30 ppi, or 3" thick 20 ppi, trying to strike a balance between filtering out as fine of debris as possible and having the most volume as possible - without plugging right away. Thoughts on this?
-Do any of the fish stores in the area have one of these running?

Post Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:13 pm
batman User avatar
Level 4 Member
Level 4 Member

Posts: 112
Location: Mankato
I think sponges are great and matten is the best way to go. I'm not particular in getting my water crystal clear as I think it looks more natural and provides a good balance with being able to view it. If you are particular, you may still need additional mechanical filtration.

I've always hated using one side of the tank for them too because they can still dislodge and I don't think it looks really good. If you're okay with acryllic, build yourself a cover like an internal overflow box and mount it to the back wall. At 30D, proper scaping, and the right lighting, you won't even see it.

I'm not sure how an auto changer works here. Are you saying it changes the water on its own? Or is it a drain that you control? If it's the ladder, just remove the sponge and clean out the debris as you drain it. I personally like to have twice as much sponge material that is necessary. That way I always have an extra one that is cycled. In this case, I would have two of them and clean them on a rotation.

Post Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:24 pm
Passionfish Level 20 Member
Level 20 Member

Posts: 12180
Location: apple valley, mn
I looked at calculations and then lost my narrative on calculations. Not going to redo the calculations in detail.

Essentially a 24x30x3" Matten side to side and top to bottom with water passing through Matten 2x per hour, in this tank with 10 lb of fish producing 3-5 grams of ammonia per day would remove all the ammonia with a 10x safety factor. Caveats this is based on entire Matten filter having even flow rate which is not likely. Airlifting on back side would be less likely to result in "channeling" than the use of pump. Thicker foam helps to prevent channeling but also slows the velocity of water through the foam requiring greater airlift or larger pump. This is where sumps are superior to Matten. Pump sitting on bottom of sump cannot elicit channeling.

However, in most home fish tanks, Matten is sufficient to metabolize all ammonia produced and fish are healthy. Matten should be 3" thick minimum and reticulated foam should be no less than 20 ppi and no greater than 40 ppi.

Do not like side to side, then set up corner Matten on 2 or more corners. Braces are available for corners, set corner large and increase size of Matten.
Like a complete unknown

Post Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:33 pm
Passionfish Level 20 Member
Level 20 Member

Posts: 12180
Location: apple valley, mn
There are likely many methods for a continuous water change. I like a hole with bulkhead through side of tank about 3 inches from top edge. Plumb hole to standpipe inside of tank with a screen to create a drain. On opposite end of the tank, create a U tube for water delivery. Try to have water leave delivery tube above water line.

If using Matten, stand pipe drain behind Matten and inflow on another side of Matten as far from drain as possible. Incoming water may need treatment. Passing through large tank of carbon is safest method. Incoming water may need to be heated to tank temperature. Use a smaller tank as water bath for coils of inflow tubing to preheat water.
Like a complete unknown

Post Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:55 am
yoimbrian Level 3 Member
Level 3 Member

Posts: 56
Thanks for the response!

So sounds like it is good for ammonia for sure.

What is your opinion then on the solids removal / clarity of the water?

Batman, you reference it may not be good enough depending how picky I am - do you have pictures??

I don't need absolutely crystal clear sparkling water, but I don't want visible chunks floating around either...

Post Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:01 am
Passionfish Level 20 Member
Level 20 Member

Posts: 12180
Location: apple valley, mn
Water clarity depends on food supplied to fish, how often water is changed when using reticulated foam only. Non-reticulated foam at 40 ppi and higher will trap suspended particles. Non-reticulated foam does not have strucural strength to stand alone and could be used as add in air driven block or corner at other end of tank using supports in corner. It will require replacement after a few years vs reticulated foam that lasts for many years before replacement.

I clean my reticulated a few times a year but non-reticulated weekly or once every two weeks.
Like a complete unknown

Post Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:02 pm
batman User avatar
Level 4 Member
Level 4 Member

Posts: 112
Location: Mankato
Yeah exactly what he just said. I like using sponge because of the simplicity. I've had tanks where I've used other forms of mechanical filtration and it can do a better job. But I really am not picky about it being super crystal clear and the difference is minimal. I think the trade off for the amount of work for maintenance and clarity is well worth having sponge. I'm not saying that it's dirty or anything. To me it's still very well filtered. So much so that even a picture wouldn't show you a difference. I don't get visible chunks floating around so I'm happy. No amount of filtration will ever beat proper maintenance. As long as you do your regular maintenance, it will be fine.

Post Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:07 am
yoimbrian Level 3 Member
Level 3 Member

Posts: 56
Ok, sounds good about the particulate.

I contacted SwissTropicals directly with my math and got a response from them. Basically he said the math (3 turnovers / hour and 7.5 cm / min) is more designed for heavily stocked aquaculture overfeeding like crazy to grow fish quickly. In aquariums we are way below that (especially with my plan, a single large puffer is really low bioload compared to what a lot of hobbyists put in an 8 foot tank), so he said that 2 of the 8" corner filters would be more than adequate (and also recommended adding a power head or two for better water movement).

So that'll be my plan: 2x 8" corner filters using 3" thick 20 ppi foam.

I'm interviewing 2 remodeling firms next week, if the bids come in on the low end of what I'm hoping i'll be ordering the aquarium within a month or two.

I'll also be buying one of his filters for my 20 gallon tank, just to test it out (though won't be able to learn too much within a few months, but whatever).

Post Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:26 am
batman User avatar
Level 4 Member
Level 4 Member

Posts: 112
Location: Mankato
Neato. Definitely post pics when you're done. Would love to see what this beast looks like.

Post Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:22 pm
Passionfish Level 20 Member
Level 20 Member

Posts: 12180
Location: apple valley, mn
Please keep us posted on your experience.
Like a complete unknown

Post Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:13 am
yoimbrian Level 3 Member
Level 3 Member

Posts: 56
Was Googling some Matten Filter stuff, saw this old thread of mine I totally forgot about, so I figured I'd update it.....

A lot has changed in the last 2 years!

So while I was writing that thread we were interviewing people to remodel our basement. I got obscenely frustrated because we got quotes for the EXACT SAME specifications down to the point there was very few "we'll pick out cabinets later +/- $15,000" type decisions (and...no cabinets actually), and the estimates had a nearly $75,000 range. Were the cheap ones low-balling to screw us later with "that wasn't included", were the high ones obscenely high profit margins for no reason? idk - i hate remodeling, we got burned so bad when we did the upstairs. So, we didn't remodel the basement. We might do it next year, or the year after, or the year after, or we may just live here forever like this until we die, or we might move, who knows....

I picked a spot in the basement that could fit a decent sized aquarium now, would have a nice spot to sit and watch it, and if we remodeled the entire basement we could actually leave it there without needing to move during remodel. The space had about a 4x4' area, and I found a good deal on a 180 tall corner pentagon aquarium (the 2 back sides are 4' long, then the angled front like a pentagon, and 30" tall). So I went with it.



I then wanted more room on the bottom so I built a Matten Filter box to hang on the back, with two chambers of thick matten filters and 4x air lifter pumps that in theory moved somewhere between 1500-2000 gallons / hour of water total, giving that roughly 10x turnover. I also put a re-circulation powerhead on the bottom of the aquarium to get stuff moving around so it could be filtered out.

For water changed I put in an automatic drip system. So I drilled a bulkhead near the top of the aquarium, and that drained out. Then I had a constant drip of water in, somewhere around 50 gallons / day, so 200% water change per week.

For stocking I (over the course of a few months) added 10x clown loaches, 10x giant dianos, and some discus (started with 8, they non-stop fought with each other to the point only 4 survived the first few months...but those 4 don't fight at all anymore super peaceful now). Since they were all babies, an almost zero bio-load per the tank size.

To put in bluntly, the concept failed miserably. The water parameters were perfect, the matten filter had enough bio that nitrites and ammonia were always zero, and the automatic water change kept the nitrates at undetectable levels as well. But there were small particulates floating around the water always, it looked horrible. You know if you clean the sand and stir up a bunch of stuff and the whole water column has stuff in it? it was essentially that, but always.

The thing that bothered me is I also did a matten filter in my 20 gallon aquarium, a standard side mounted one with a single jetlifter. It works FLAWLESSLY. The water in that aquarium is so obscenely crystal clear you can look through the aquarium and it looks like the fish are floating mid air. Whats so different about the 180?

So, about 6 months later I added an FX6, strictly for mechanical because I was sick of looking at the floaters. It helped quite a bit, and as long as I cleaned it out regularly the water looked OK - not nearly crystal clear by any stretch...but ok.

About 18 months into it the water had been looking worse and worse again, even with the 200% water changes per week was getting a yellow tint. I figured this was because the matten filters were building up so much crud in them they were just dumping all sorts of organics into the water. The way I put it together it was not easy to take out the foams and clean them, which was certainly a big oversight. I tried cleaning them, and ended up making such a big mess in the tank it looked like a swamp that you couldn't see 1" in to. Amazingly all of the fish survived...though I guess if all the nitrates and such are gone, its not really toxic at that point, just like the muck at the bottom of a lake?

So, I decided to scrap the in-tank filter concept all together, and go with an external sump.

My first problem was the way I built the stand there was no room for a sump under the aquarium, so I ended up taking the pipe pretty far into my "bomb shelter" (yup...). The piping actually worked out just fine, but even with 1.5" pipe the flow rate down with the siphon is not as fast as it should be, I don't know exactly what it is but whatever.

For the sump itself I had a ~30 gallon acrylic sump that I figured would work great. And I decided to give the Poret Foam one more chance in this set up....partially because I had it, and partially because I figured I could keep it alive in the transition and not need to worry about the tank crashing. So I basically just stacked a bunch of poret foam right after the inlet to act as an inlet, had an empty place in the middle of the sump (no real reason at the time...just nothing to put there...), and then another piece of poret foam right before the inlet to the return pump.

I also added my automatic drip system to this as well, but adding a bulkhead to the sump.

It's been about 2 months now, and I'm happy with it. It's not as crystal clear "swimming in air" as I'd like, but its certainly acceptable. It also somehow worked out to be the easiest thing to clean ever - in the sump in between the inlet poret foam and the outlet poret foam there is a "dead zone" and it seems muck that pushes through the inlet foams settles in there. So the only cleaning I've done so far is once every week or two just siphon off the bottom of the sump for that muck, which takes like 20 seconds....and that's it.
Attachments
EmptyTank2.JPG
EmptyFIshTank

Post Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:17 am
yoimbrian Level 3 Member
Level 3 Member

Posts: 56
More Pics...

Top pic is recent fish....pretty bad picture but it really does look good in person.
Next pic is the sump in the bomb shelter
Then the overflow off the back of the tank (and yes, that door in the back is 4" sliding concrete with a small crack to look through....)
Then the ORIGINAL filter with the jet lifters on the top
Then the ORIGINAL filter box
Attachments
Fish.JPG
WholeSump2.JPG
OverFlow2.JPG
JetLifters2.JPG
FilterBox2.JPG

Post Sun Oct 06, 2019 2:11 pm
willie Level 8 Member
Level 8 Member

Posts: 1450
Location: Minneapolis
I had a similar experience with Matten filters a decade ago, when I was asked to distribute them in the Twin Cities. The filters work as advertised, albeit it's a function of your expectations. For smaller fish, they do a great job with biological filtration. It takes a while for the filter to get plugged up with detritus, after which it'll also filter out fine particles.

I used one in a 55-gallon tank overstocked with discus. With large, messy fish that need frequent water changes, it didn't work nearly as well. I gave up on the filter after using it for a year. At no time was there a problem with biological filtration, but the stuff floating around the water got to me.

Willie


Return to Tanks and Equipment