FAQ

  • HOW DOES THIS FILTER WORK?
    • Our Big and Small Block filters work off the same air lift principle used by sponge filters. Air enters the filter through soft and rigid air-line tubing into an air stone. The column of air that leaves the air stone draws water up through the sponge filter at the base of the filter, then past the bio media and finally into the moving bed chamber where it exits at the top. The column of air that leaves the air stone also drives the moving bed media, causing the tumbling effect you see through the window. The combined surface area of all three media (sponge, bio and moving bed) provide ample room for beneficial bacteria to grow and perform the nitrogen cycle so essential to a healthy aquarium.
  • WHAT IS A MOVING BED FILTER?
    • Also known as an MBBR (moving bed biofilm reactor), a moving bed filter utilizes media (usually plastic) that has a density close to that of water. As the biofilm (beneficial bacteria) grows on the media, the media develops a neutral buoyancy, which permits it to freely tumble in the column of air. The air provides an abundant source of oxygen for the aerobic bacteria to efficiently complete the nitrogen cycle, converting ammonia to nitrite and then into nitrates. The tumbling effect of the moving bed media also helps to keep it clean and assures that only strong, healthy bacteria are present.
  • WHY ISN'T MY MBBR MEDIA TUMBLING?
    • If you've just set up your filter, it will take at least a week before you get full movement of the media. It may start tumbling after 2-3 days, but full movement will most likely take at least a week. If you'd like to speed things along, we suggest using some sort of stick or rod that will fit through the slits on the upper lid and moving the media around. That will often times help to get the media going.
  • HOW IS THIS FILTER BETTER THAN OTHER FILTERS?
    • It depends a lot on what you’re looking for in a filter…it might be easier if we do a pro vs. con of a Big Block filter in general and then you’ll have a better sense whether our filters are right for you.

      • PROS:
        No moving parts– not having anything electrical or moving (like an impeller or bio-wheel) eliminates the possibility of your filter breaking down at any moment.

        Power outages – During a power outage, most filters will stop working. Hang on the back (HOB) and canister filters will shut down and don’t always restart once the power comes back on. If the power stays off for a period of time, the beneficial bacteria could die and once the power does come back on, all that nasty water that’s been sitting in the filter is now pumped straight back into the aquarium. In the case of a Big Block filter, even if the air pump shuts off, the filter and the media are contained in the aquarium and should start right back up when the power returns; no putrid filter water going into the tank.

        Visual Inspection – There’s very little guess work involved when it comes to the condition of your filter and filter media. A quick glance through the filter window will tell you straight away if the filter needs cleaning.

        Internal – Since our filters sit inside the aquarium, you don’t have to worry about finding enough space at the top of the aquarium to hang an HOB filter on. Or you don’t have to find the space and money to install a sump system, which does have its own problems (leaks, overflows, etc.)

        Easy maintenance – Other than the sponge filter, the bio media and the moving bed media really don’t require any cleaning.

        Consolidation – Our design incorporates many aspects of tank maintenance into one unit. Not only does it have three different types of filtration built in, but it also serves as a breeding cone (for fish such as discus and angelfish) and also allows for a heater to be installed neatly within the filter.
      • CONS: 
        Size – We’re not trying to kid ourselves, our filters do take up some real estate in your aquarium. But, if you have the space, it’s cool to look at and provides great filtration.

        Concealment – Not very easy to hide in the aquarium. If you have a planted tank, our filters are probably not the easiest thing to hide in your tank. That being said, we’d love to see some creative ways you folks can incorporate our filters in your planted aquariums.

        Low mechanical filtration – Due to the lower levels of water circulation as compared to HOB, canister or sump systems, if you need a greater amount of water circulation than our filters provide we recommend installing an appropriately sized circulation pump.
  • HOW OFTEN DOES THE FILTER REQUIRE CLEANING
    • It will really depend on the conditions in your aquarium. Factors such as number of fish, fish size, fish type, feeding schedule and amount/frequency of water changes; these will all play a part in determining when to clean your filter. The good part about a Big Block filter is the viewing window, which allows you to decide when it’s time to clean the filter.
    • HOW DO I CLEAN THE FILTER?
      • We recommend removing the filter from the aquarium and rinsing each component in aquarium water that you’ve removed from the tank. We like to fill a 5 gallon bucket half way with water from the aquarium and use that water to rinse out the sponge. You could also use the same water in the bucket to rinse out the bio media and moving bed media. Do each separately until you’re satisfied that they’re clean. Don’t use tap water to clean the sponge, bio media or moving bed media as any chlorine present in the tap water could kill off your beneficial bacteria. You can scrub down the housing, end caps and other items with a sponge. Reassemble and you’re done!
      • DOES IT COME IN COLORS OTHER THAN WHITE?
        • Not at this time, but we’re working on it!
        • CAN I ADD A HEATER TO A NON-HEATER MODEL?
          • Yes, but you’ll have to purchase a replacement upper cap to accommodate the heater’s cord. We can also provide you with the modified mesh separators necessary for the addition of a heater.
        • CAN I SERVICE THE FILTER IN THE TANK?
          • We don’t recommend it. Removing the upper cap while the filter is in the aquarium will release the moving bed media into the tank and create quite the headache as you try to catch them all.
        • CAN I ADD FISH IMMEDIATELY INTO THE AQUARIUM ONCE I HAVE THE FILTER SET UP AND RUNNING?
          • That depends. If you are using bio media that has already been cycled, you could probably add fish at that time. If you’re setting up a brand new aquarium, you should definitely hold off on adding any fish until you’re sure that the aquarium is fully cycled. There are many test kits available on the market that will help you determine whether the tank is cycled or not.
        • WHAT IS THE WAIT TIME FOR A CUSTOM FILTER?
          • Typical build time for a custom unit is 1-2 weeks. Back-ordered filters have the same lead time...1-2 weeks.