Here's my Vortex Freedom Filter. All the factory hoses have been replaced with 5/8" aquarium hose.
I've attached garden hose quick-disconnect fittings to all hose ends. Above left is the hose end coming off the filter's pump assembly. Above right is the mating QD fitting on the in and out hose ends.
The faucet has been fitted with a 3/4"garden hose adapter with another QD fitting for easy attachment of the garden hose.
This following pictures show the set up steps I use. The process is simpler in practice than the following description makes it out to be...
1. Place a cup of DE into the pitcher along with both hose ends.
2. Connect the output hose to the filter's output connector. Connect the garden hose to the filter's input connector.
Turn on the water and fill the filter bottle with water. Once the bottle is filled, water will run out of the filter and into the pitcher. Turn off the water when the pitcher is nearly filled and the ends of both tubes are submersed.
Now, disconnect the garden hose from the filter, then connect the free end of the input hose to the filter.
Next, plug in and turn on the filter for a few seconds to start the water flow.
Once water is flowing through both hoses, turn off the filter, and place it on the floor. Next, carefully lift the output hose so that its entire length is above the filter. This will allow any air in the filter bottle to escape through the outlet hose while drawing water in through the intake hose. It is critical that both hose ends remain submerged in the pitcher during this step, otherwise you'll break the siphon.
At this point I take everything over to the tank I'm about to filter then turn the filter back on until the water in the pitcher is running clear. Now, with the filter still running, carefully submerge and tilt the pitcher into the tank so that the intake strainer remains submerged at all times. Once the pitcher is submerged in the tank you can pull out both tubes and remove the pitcher. The main objective is to keep the siphon strainer under water at all times.
you're done filtering.. Turn
off the filter and remover both hose ends from the tank (put
them back into the pitcher to keep from dripping water onto
the floor). Take the whole mess back to the sink, remove the
end sections of hose (which should cause the filter to start
the garden hose to the outlet's quick-disconnet and turn on the
water. This will back-flush the DE and tank debris out the symphony
end of the filter. Shake the filter vigorously while back-flushing
to loosen the DE and debris from the filter bag. When the water
in the filter bottle is clean turn off the water, disconnect
the garden hose, then invert the filter to let the remaining
water drain out.
is the water changer I put together using more garden hose fittings.
The heart of it is a garden hose Y valve. This allows you to
open/close either the drain or fill sides (or both) as needed.
drain side is connected to an Aquaclear 402 powerhead using
some PVC fittings, hose barbs and vinyl tubing. I've zip-tied
a length of airline hose (with one end tied off) to the aerator
hole in the powerhead's outlet to keep water from spraying back
into the tank while draining.
fill side of the Y is more PVC fittings, barbs and vinyl tubing
that ends in a hose-end shower sprayer. This allows for a gentle,
dispersed water flow when refilling.
setup has worked really well for me since I built it. With it
I can do a 50% water dump in my 125g tank in about 25 minutes.
If I add in a secondary Python to help drain the tank I can
get the water dump down to under 20 minutes.
In preparation for an upcoming
vacation I've decided to automate the dosing in my tanks to
eliminate the need for any pet-sitting services (from family
or others). The method I've chosen involves the use of peristaltic
pumps (APT Instruments SP100 OEM).
Here's the setup on my 125g
tank. The reason for 5 gallon buckets is that these pumps will
be adding both ferts as well as top-off water to the tanks.
I've calculated the weekly evaporation rate and the 10 gallons
of solution should leave me 3-4 gallons short of full after
a three week period..which will be just in time for a return
from vacation water change. The white bucket is for macros (N-P-K)
while the yellow is the micros (in this case, TMG)
Here you see close up of the
pump on top of the bucket lid. The lid is mainly to keep solution
evaporation down to a minimum. The acrylic tube serves the purpose
of keeping the draw tube inserted fully to the bottom of the
bucket (as seen in the next picture). Also in the bucket is
a small water pump to mix the solution while it's being dosed.
Here's the setup for my 40g.
Same as for the 125 but with smaller buckets (3.5 gallon).
Here you can see one of the
drip tubes held in place with a rubber-band clamp. The clamp
has just enough tension to hold the tube in place without the
risk of constricting it. The drip tube's end is submersed to
eliminate the possibility of any of the ferts crystallizing and
clogging the opening while the pumps are off.
Here's the permanent setup on
my 20g tank. Since this tank is closed top I don't have to worry
about adding water to top it off so this setup is much cleaner.
Solutions are stored in 500ml water bottles. No acrylic tube
is needed for these since the draw tube is so short. The wrapper
around the rear bottle is to keep light off the micro solution
(CSM+B) since the back of the cabinet is open.
The solution (PPS standard +
Flourish Excel) for the 20g tank is being dispensed into the
Once the vacation over, and
I can dose the open top tanks without concern for top-off water,
I'll mount their pumps inside their stands, too, and store the
solutions in smaller bottles.
As for the actual dosing regimen,
the past three weeks I've been logging the amount of ferts dosed
to each tank while doing no water changes. Using this data
I was able to calculate the total amount of each fert needed
for a three week period. These were added to the bucket and
topped off with water. The total amount of solution is based
on the water added to top off the tanks over the past three
weeks. So in the case of the 125g tank, it took 12g of top-off
water so five gallons of macro solution and five of micros should
leave me just a little short of full when I get back. Of course
these pictures are of my three week trial preceding the actual
vacation so I'll be able to make any necessary adjustments before
Each pump's flow rate was measured
by running it for five minutes then dividing the output by
five to get the ml/min delivery rate.
Well, there probably aren't many
folks who have a spare 1200gph pump lying around, but it so happens
that due to a foul up in an online order I do. Now for the past
several months I've been doing water changes using the water
changer shown above, but even with that it was taking too long
to drain my 125g tank, so enter the mega
changer. Here it is with all the misc components
I got for the project...
After toying with the idea of
using a drop in drain tube I decided to be a little more sophisticated
and plumb the pump into the existing intake lines from my two
canister filters. So after stopping the filters and pinching off
the water lines I was able to insert a garden hose "Y" adapter.
In the picture below the water line is running right-to-left.
IN the picture you can see it installed inline with only the
filter line connected. The open side will be connected to the
A close up look at the adapter...
The pic below shows both filter
lines plumbed with the "Y" fittings and the secondary lines consolidated
using a brass "Y". I used the brass "Y" for this connection mainly
because it's fully open on the inside. Since the pump will only
be used to drain the tank I'm not concerned about any heavy metals
leeching out of the brass.
Here's the water pump fitted
with a gate valve as a secondary precaution should one of the
"Y" adapter ball valves start to leak...or more likely get accidentally
opened by me. The pump gets connected to the water lines with
some 3/4" tubing. You can see the hose barb on the pump inlet.
Attached to the upper end of the gate valve is a quick disconnect
fitting for easy attachment to a hose pipe.
So with all this in place when
it comes water change day, I shut off both filters, close
the ball valves leading to the filters and open the ones to the
pump, connect the hose pipe to the QD fitting, open the gate
valve and plug in the pump.
With this pump alone it takes about 10 minutes to do a 50% drain. If I add the other water changer and my Python I can do about a 70% drain in the same amount of time.
The bottleneck is still the small water lines in the bathroom so replacing the ~60 gallons of water takes 20-25 minutes.
Here's a parts list for the above syte reactor...
3/4x1/2 Threaded T bushing
2" Adapter Male
2" Adapter Female
1/8" ID barb x 1/4
1/4x1/8 brass reducer bushing
1/2" hose barb
1/2" hose barb El
2" PVC pipe 9"
2" clear PVC 9" **
*OSH = Orchard Supply Hardware which is a northern California chain of hardware stores. You can probably find these barbs at a local ACE Hardware store.
** 2"clear PVC can be purchased online at Aquatic-Eco or US Plastics. Clear PVC allows you to see the bubbles within the reactor, but does not offer any functional difference from white PVC tube.
I decided to buy an inexpensive monolight kit from Amazon to use for taking aquarium photos.
The kit came with a pair of 110w flash heads, a 40w slave flash (which I didn't use), along with light stands and a backdrop kit (stand and white background cloth).
Setting up the softboxes.
The two flash heads with softboxes positioned over my 120g tank.
From another angle.
With the backdrop setup with some black curtains I picked up at Walmart. I use this to eliminate room reflections.
First test shot.
The lights were causing lens flares so I placed some aluminizes insulation wrap in front of them to cut off the glare.
Side view so you can see the insulation baffle.
And now some shots...
The lights cover the full tank so I was free to roam end to end without the hassle of repositioning flash heads. All these shots were taken with my lens poking through a gap between the backdrop curtains.
Now the setup over my 125g tank. Since I didn't removethe light fixture from above the tank I had less room to position the flashes. My first attempt had them angled toward the rear of the tank so the flashes cleared the bottom of the light fixture. But this resulted in the back wall being illuminated and showing through.
After a few test shots I decided to squeeze the flash heads under the light fixture and point them straight down. Because this tank is 2' loger than the 120g tank the softboxes didn't fully cover the tank so I pulled the flashes toward one end of the tank and concetrated my piucture taking there.