Aqua Lifter Pumps for Opae’ula Tank – UPDATE 3/12/17

[Update 3/12/17 – The setup here didn’t work out. The pumps are positioned too low, reducing the flow. I moved the pump-prefilter unit so that it now sits on top of the tank. I’ll be posting photos or a video soon. In the meantime, see the video that demonstrates this placement modification on the 1.5g oblong tank.]

This the is 18g (filled to 10g) tank with AquaLifter pumps attached to both UGF exhaust tubes.

This is the 18g (filled to 10g) tank with Tom Aqua Lifter Dosing-Circulation Pumps attached to both UGF exhaust tubes. The Aqualifter will pump water up to a height of 30″. The input tube passes through a prefilter (Tom Suction Filter for Aqua Lifter Aquarium Vacuum Pump) before it reaches the pump. This prefilter serves as an external mechanical filter for the tank, the first I’ve used in any of my tanks. It also keeps the pump from clogging.

This is the setup.

This is the setup. Tube1 pulls water from the tank to the prefilter. Tube2 pulls water from the prefilter to the pump. Tube3 pushes water from the pump back to the tank. The intake water from tube1 has been biologically filtered by the UG filter. The intake water from tube2 has been mechanically filtered by the prefilter. Thus, the output water from tube3 has been biologically and mechanically filtered. Caution: be sure to monitor the tube connections. There are 5 in the line-up — and 4 of those are potential leak points outside the tank. Two are on the prefilter, and 2 are on the pump. Make sure they’re secure. I keep these parts in a plastic container just in case there’s a leak. However, this precaution is minimal. If I don’t catch the leak in time, the water will overflow onto the counter and floor, draining the tank of water.

Views of the left and right return tubes.

Views of the left and right return tubes. The flow is rated at 3.5 gallons per hour, so it’s a trickle. With two pumps, one for each half of the UGF, the rate is approximately 7 gallons per hour. The theory is that this mechanical filter, added to the UG biological filter, will help to sustain the water quality. Also, the extremely slow flow rate may be ideal for opae’ula. Flow rate has been a problem with UG air filters and powerheads for my relatively small tanks. They’re too powerful and the agitation causes salt creep, a persistent problem in my 10-gallon tanks.

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2 Responses to Aqua Lifter Pumps for Opae’ula Tank – UPDATE 3/12/17

  1. John in Rochester, NY says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now and have set up an Opae Ula tank using your ideas.

    My tank is a “tall” 16 gallon (same footprint as a 10 gallon tank) and I have an under-gravel filter, under about 2 inches of black pea gravel, with two small power-heads up toward the top of the tank. I filled the tank to the top of the glass. I don’t like the looks of a partially filled tank. I bought a “tall” tank thinking that if the output from the power-heads and sponge filter are far-enough away from the gravel below, the Opae Ula won’t experience much turbulence below. I bought those very-low-flow power-heads set on the lowest flow setting. The output from the power-heads is 12 inches from the gravel. I’m also using an air-powered double-sponge filter that I have set to release the bubbles just below the top surface of the water.  There doesn’t seem to be much turbulence at the lower level of the tank. I’ve had my Opae Ula just two days, but they are all hiding. Do you think I have too much turbulence, even though the power-head output is set to the lowest, and the bubbles from the sponge filter and the power-head outputs are all happening a full 12 inches from the gravel surface? Hmm… I’d actually like to SEE these Opae Ula… Maybe I just have to be patient…

    My tank parameters seem OK, ZERO ammonia and nitrite and 20 nitrate… I cycled my tank for almost 4 months before ordering  them.  There is green algae on the glass, on the pile of coral rock I have and on the large lava rock I have in the tank.  I have an LED light that I have on 14 hrs per day.  I’m not using a heater.

    I’m hoping the power-heads work out… Or maybe I could create a “pre-filter” in the under-gravel filter riser-tubes using some filter floss? I could attach some tell-tails on the power-head exhaust tubes to monitor output flow… Putting some floss in the riser tubes would beneficially slow things down coming out the power-heads…

    I like your idea of a drip mech filter… I may have to ditch the power-heads and connect the under-gravel filter to some kind of mech drip arrangement if my Opae Ula remain too shy to come out…

    Keep up your very interesting and valuable research and your enjoyable-to-read blog.

    John in Rochester, NY


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