Making Fish Keeping Easier
As my personal time has reduced I have found it harder to find time to look after my fish and have had to do allot of hunting around the internet to find ways to do things easier.
If you can stand an air pump / sight a HMF(I will explain it later) with a aqua one free standing sponge filter combination works great. I combined these with JBL bio nitrateX bags and my nitrates stay at around 20-50 for the month. I get about 20 out the tap so not expecting any lower.
The main advantage is quick and easy to maintain the HMF is just a big sheet of foam and despite looking ugly is very effective. The foam sponge just provide a backup. Use a jet uplift and you get allot more movement from behind the HMF sheet and less noise of bubbles over the home made versions I tried.
Using those combinations is a 4 weekly water change doing the gravel clean at same time. The filters I just clean when they get dirty and VAC behind the HMF for debris build up and the front of it at the same time as gravel clean. The sponge can be cleaned any other time. The HMF can be left far longer if you need to as it will drop the water level behind it once it really needs a clean.
You can hide the heater behind the HMF so it will prevent fish burns.
Apart from the air pumps no moving parts to fail so allot simpler to keep working and no leaks!. Those of you who use external filters know the pipes need the occasional clean and that seals give way eventually. Internal filters tend to clog up and stop or have the suckers give up. This is all avoided with the simple solutions.
Moving the water easier
I had to adjust after an op due to recovery time and have kept the system ever since. A water butt I fill up using a hose pipe and tap connector. I put an air pump on it over night, leave it in the room to bring up to room temp.
To drain and fill the tank I use the same hose pipe but attach it to a fountain pump. Saves lots of buckets and slopping of water.
HMF = humburger matten filter basic guide link http://www.seriouslyfish.com/a-basic-guide-to-the-hamburger-mattenfilter/
I opted to just cut my 2inch thick foam so it went across the end of my tank. Not pretty but effective.
Not pretty or cheap to setup but very effective as cleaning time is so reduced. Long term it will pay for itself with time and not requiring parts.
The Geeky Bit
The nitrates stay lower as the bacteria needed to convert them form in the HMF foam and in the JBL bags tucked behind and this means you can change water a little less frequently.
I use peat plates and a gravel tidy to provide an extra home for these and the easier growing of plants but is not vital to the system.