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Having trouble with filtration setup

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:32 pm
by Fawad
Hi, I need some advice regarding my filtration situation.
My Tank is roughly 10 gallon, and my turtle has gotten quite large now, He's roughly 6" in length. Single turtle.
I was previously using a rudimentary air pump internal filter with a layer of filter foam covering the whole floor. but I had to clean the entire tank every week as it kept getting really dirty and it smelled as well. So I decided to shift onto an external canister filter (Sunsun HW304b). I removed the filter foam from the floor of the tank, so the floor is empty now.
The new canister filter got clogged after 1 week and I discovered that the finest filter layer inside was completely clogged. Had to remove it. so now it has just the 3 main filter layers that came with the canister. I also put some bioballs at in the bottom below all the filters.
So my main issues with this current setup:
- It does not filter out poop. i have to physically remove it using a small fishnet thing everyday. (seriously what do you guys do about this?)
- It does not filter out coarse food remnants and a lot of gunk that just remains at the bottom of the tank.
- Water gets greenish (ammonium-ish) after 4-5 days and i have to change it twice a week.
- I've basically removed most of my underwater decor and stuff to avoid gunk getting stuck on them. still the water starts getting cloudy in 2-3 days.
This is just too much effort and its very taxing. I would really appreciate some advice regarding the setup. Do I need a larger canister filter? what am I doing wrong? I am out of ideas at this point.

Re: Having trouble with filtration setup

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:59 am
by litefoot
Photo not clear do you know what type turtle you have ? Looks as a hybrid Asian water turtle , maybe the ocadia family , not real sure. Will tell me what setup it really needs. If so may be at adult size already there don't get as big as RES's.

I like an over sized filter/pump myself. ( BUT) With that filter rated 525gph for a 100-150 tank you have taken that to a new meaning. All it's doing is pushing the water around and not able to do it's job efficiently in a 10 gallon tank ! Looks like 6-8 gallons of water in your 10 gallon tank , kind of way over kill with that filter. More water volume a must for a 6" turtle and control the waters parameters so that filter can work ! Matching a filter to a turtle needs is more important than just over sizing. A 60 gallon plastic tote part filled to prevent escape or stock tank with that filter and the 6" turtle would be a nice match. Much cheaper ( 1/4th cheaper ) than any glass tank.

I deleted a longer post to this. I know about "money" and "time" been doing this some 56 years. I'm an old man and on a fixed income along with my third round with chemo. I have this down to a science. You have lots of reading to do for this living anamil in your care. Matching things are important , learn water cycling to volume and the needs for an adult turtle. Can be done very cheap by letting nature do most of the work. Then like me once every 3 months clean filter along with what %'s on water changes needed to maintain the cycle and all will be good ! You know how we all just love doing maintenance ! Other than initial setup ( be creative ) , electricy and my maintenance time Piggley ( 5 1/2" male RES ) cost me about $10 a year to keep !!! YES ! That's for something like a rare treat like Koi wheat germ pellets or supplements only. I have done many years of research on turtles. If applied correctly works ! Planning , research and good observing goes a long way.
Note: no filter not even the most expensive or the largest is designed to pick up ""solid"" waste , all has a strainer on the inlet. But ""dissolve"" waste yes , if using a cycle. Make's life/maintenance easy !

Do you know exactly the waters flow path in your filter that will help greatly on setting it up for a turtle that size ?

Re: Having trouble with filtration setup

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:04 pm
by Fawad
Thnaks for your input litefoot.
ok so I've had this indian tent turtle for about 2.5 years now so i think it is at adult size now. I was never really a turtle person but I've always had love for animals, I have dogs and cats. A friend of mine bought this turtle off a pet store and decided after 3 months of keeping it that she couldn't handle it anymore and decided to 'gift' it to me against my wishes. I've taken care of him ever since (she kept him in a small plastic tub, no heating no UV light, Just water), I had to read up on turtle care with UV-B and UV-A lights and tank heating plus filtration. I tried to learn about the whole nitrogen cycle thing, but it just seemed too complex at the time so I simply cleaned the tank every week. (I've attached pictures of my previous setup, same tank, simple air pump filter, turtle was much smaller back then so it was easier to keep clean).

Now that he's bigger, The water keeps getting dirty very quickly, even after trying multiple filtration setups (tried a simple air filter, tried an in-tank filter but the water current was making him unhappy and it didn't keep the water clean either).

The canister filter i have (sunsun HW603B) Has a flow rate of 106GPH(400L/Hr) and It said in the description it could handle tanks up to 20 Gallons. The water in-Flow is from the top and out from the bottom, It has 3 sponges (coarse, medium, and fine), I added bioballs at the very bottom. (I think i mistakenly wrote the wrong model name in my original post)

From your suggestion, i gather that a larger tank setup would be helpful in my situation, but the main issue is that I simply do not have space in my room to keep a 60 gallon tank. this is currently the maximum tank size I can fit. I can maybe get another glass tank made with more height to it but it wouldn't be substantially larger than this.
Do you think a smaller canister filter would be better (the one i have has a flow rate valve, so perhaps I can reduce the flow), Or a different one? As for the nitrogen cycle, I got bioballs and added them to the filter a week ago, so i think it might take some time for the bacteria to grow perhaps? But what do I do about the solid gunk getting trapped at the bottom of the tank near the heater? should i simply ignore it? would sand at the bottom help with trapping solid waste, or would it muddy up the water even more? Is there any way at all that I can sustain this current size of tank and make a monthly cleaning/water change interval possible?
Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Also, Good luck with your chemo, get well soon! I wish you the best of health!

Re: Having trouble with filtration setup

PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:05 pm
by litefoot
Thanks' !

Also thanks' for the filter correction , the 603 much better for the tank size now. Still very high gph but this one has a valve ! Turtle that size need 3-4x's the flow of what fish need being how messy turtles are. Use the 603 only , use the valve to crank it down some. Get rid of that bubble sponge filter just taking up swimming room. Even adding bio to that filter it a very small amount and you have nothing really in tank for the beneficial bacteria to hold on to. Starting a cycle is easy if the bacteria can hold onto something. Some may not like this but I would get another box of bio rings and use it as a gravel bottom will be able to hold lots more nitrifying bacteria in such a small tank. Also gives your turtle something to play with. Or lots of volcanic rocks which holds lots of good bacteria too. Do not get a high tank turtle swim side to side plan on a long tank one day. Play with the nozzle some on placement so no dead spots in tank so poop don't get trapped behind heater . Or move heater location. Try a DIY nozzle , get a (Y fitting ) split the reduced flow ( cranking it down some ) until it works better. Use decorations to change flow up too. Placement ( nozzle) is key on water flow in the tank ! I would say no sand for a beginner lets get the water parameters down first. A cycle takes 4-6 weeks to start and is simple. Most go wrong when trying to maintain it. I have a thread on the nitrogen cycle a few post down from this one under equipment review.

Back to the filter : SunSun uses this flow pattern // inlet tube /channel goes to the very bottom first. Then passes up through the bottom basket first then to the others on top of that one and out. DO Not use the fine pad they only clog up fast. This is what I would do : very bottom where dirties water come in , bottom basket , use the coarse or medium pad only not both just one . All other space on top of it fill with bio rings/balls nothing else. That with bio rings as gravel will give your small tank a good chance to start and maintain a cycle. Read my nitrogen cycle thread for proper way to maintain a cycle ! The key is %'s on water changes ! For you may only be 1/2 gallon to 1 and a 1/2 gallons on water changes no more. Or what your reading are on the nitrates and adjust (%) to that. May have to do that twice a week until your cycle is set. That can be done when you vac the bottom. Give it time so a cycle ( good bacteria) will work for you. Can be done I did it that way decades ago and worked !

PS: never use tap water to clean filter media "ONLY" use the tank water you vac out. Just let dirt settle in a bucket and use tank water to rinse media. Tap water "KILLS" the good bacteria you have. You don't need to pressure wash media just a rinse. That grayish brown stuff is your good bacteria !

Note : photo is the 304b you stated earlier but the 603b water enters from bottom too , just a little differently !

Re: Having trouble with filtration setup

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:45 am
by Fawad
Can you please tell me what you mean by "bubble sponge filter" is it the coarse one? yellow/blue? I've removed the very fine white pad that came with the filter as it got completely clogged in 5 days. currently the blue(coarse) yellow(medium) and black(fine) are inside along with bioballs. Should i remove the black one? and only let blue and yellow remain?

I just read your nitrogen cycle thread. it's quite helpful. will order some bio rings. I've been using tap water along with slight detergent to clean, but will avoid that now.

I'm currently using these "bio-balls" i ordered off aliexpress : ... 66477.html

I do not have any experience with bio rings or bio rocks. but I've looked up some links at aliexpress for bio rings, would you please give them a visit and see which ones are best so I can order ASAP (can only order from aliexpress, these things are not available in Pakistan locally, I've tried searching a few aquarium shops, all they have is cheap filters/heaters/decorations): ... 33085.html ... 67345.html ... 51388.html ... 32098.html

Also, would you happen to know what quantity would suffice? they offer 500,1000,1500grams options..

Re: Having trouble with filtration setup

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:51 am
by litefoot
Understand being in Pakistan with the availability of supplies.

Those white pads are polishing pads and yes clog very fast. As you found out . The normal pads with that filter are Black /fine , yellow/ medium , blue/coarse. Experiment ! Try only the blue / coarse pad on very bottom were the dirtiest water comes in filter then all bio rings or ball’s on top plus the bio rings or balls in the tank first for a week and observe. Then take blue / coarse pad out and replace with the yellow / medium pad on bottom , see any difference in water. You can even place blue/coarse pad on bottom “and” yellow/medium pad on top of it then fill filter the rest of the way with bio balls or rings. Which combo give better results. Don't forget to crank down that filter some with the valve . None will be perfect “until” the good bacteria starts to hold and work for you. Experiment ! Will take a few weeks to get a good cycle going then maintain it.

1)Bubble sponge filter // in photo on left front, round black sponge with the air line attached to the green middle. Those are sponge filters use in shrimp tanks , if you want they do work but to me just takes up swimming room. Your call , either way ok.
2) Aliexpress not much on choices. The cheap ones (rings) are ok …33085 .
Only problem I have with the black ball type with sponges in them , are if you use them at the bottom of tank they try to float some. You have to pop them open and squeeze the air out let them let suck up water then pop back together. But they don’t always pop back together they are cheaply made. Rings will sink and stay , plastic ball tends to float . Use the plastic balls in the filter since you have them.
3) For the tank a small box 500g is about one pound should be good for the tank to help. If for just the look you can add more down the road.
4)The balls you have use them in the filter , amount will depend on if one or the two pads are used.
5) Do not use detergent either !
6)On the rings or balls do not waste the extra money on the activated type. Any good seeded bacteria with them will be dead by the time you get it. Just a marketing gimmick !
7)Watch the size on any of the ball type you buy , come in 3/4” to 1 1/2” in size. All work the same. Most ring type are about the same size.

Or just for a different look for in the tank volcanic rock does look better but maybe being in Pakistan cost more ?

To be honest any color pads “not used” in the filter placed in the tank , will work to hold the good bacteria ! Like what the bubble sponge shrimp filter is doing. Place a rock or a piece of slate on top of them to hold them down , low tec but works ! Be creative to hide them but don't block the water flow to them !Experiment with that first, try what you have already ! In my DIY filter days I used plastic kitchen pot scrubbers from the dollar store and worked.

Look in photo gallery for threads / links for photo's and or a few videos on Piggley . You can see results with a turtle media setup in filter like we are talking about along with a well cycled tank provides . Give you across the board all numbers at (0) when testing. Yes I'm an old timer and can tell without testing what the water needs but a good drop test kit get all more exact. All 0's. Cycled and maintained ! There are several ways to do this but for me this is basically free letting nature do most all the work ! With no chemicals either. Use of carbon yes but I have a different method for that.

Re: Having trouble with filtration setup

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:02 am
by Fawad
I have already Removed the bubble sponge filter. I get what you're saying, will need to experiment a bit with different types of setups. I shall get back to you in a few days, and ask for further advice! :D .
It's not exactly a matter of price, its mostly a matter of availability.
These things are simply not available in Pakistan, the aquarium shops don't even know what a volcanic rock or a bio ring is, let alone having them for sale! I had to order most of my stuff from aliexpress (china), the only water heaters available here were the glass or metal rod heaters which kept bursting after 2-3 months usage. The best filter they have here is that bubble filter, they do not have any canister filters available for sale at any of the fish shops I've visited, so I had to order that, along with the PVC water heater, from aliexpress as well.

Will order the biorings 500g that you have suggested. I'm also thinking of placing a layer of filter media at the bottom of the tank to trap some extra bacteria. I have a sheet of bio filter which i can use for that purpose. I shall also have a look at various threads and the videos that you have suggested! I doubt the nitrogen test kit would be available here, but I'll try and look for it.
Thank you for your advice, I hope I didn't annoy you too much with my beginner level questions! really appreciate the input.

Re: Having trouble with filtration setup

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:16 am
by litefoot
Thanks' , we all have a learning cure to deal with.
Sounds like you have a plan that will get more beneficial bacteria in the tank.
Ali has some test "stripe" kits , not as accurate as a "drop" type but may help. Can be done without a test kit but takes longer for beginners not being able to tell what the water actually need's and when. That looking come's in years not overnight but will happen. Take's more patience without a test kit. When it works you will be able to see the difference when it's up and running ! This is a very long time hobby ! Captive turtles can live 40-50 years in a good habitat. Before Hurricane Katrina took my other turtles most were in there 30's and one was little over 40 , I raised from babies. Way over 20' tidal surge then 9' of water sat on top my in ground pond for almost two weeks. But have great memories of the good ! Life started over so just Piggley and me now. He's inside with me next to my chair and we have a great relationship. Being old I have Piggley in my "will" to the grandkids , they love him too ! Madalynn (12) wants him now and she knows most all I do so he will have a good home. She named Piggley for me.

Keep forum posted !

Re: Having trouble with filtration setup

PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:00 pm
by Fawad
Hey litefoot, thought I'd give you an update. Thank you so much for your advice, I got the lava rocks and the filter bio media that you suggested, and have been replacing water according to your instructions, and it has really helped me get a nice cycle going. I'm needing considerably few amounts of total tank cleanings (just once in the last month). this has made life much simpler. turtle is also happier in his current tank setup.
I'm so sorry to hear about your turtles that you lost in katrina, that must've been really difficult, I'm glad you have such fond memories of them. I wish you and Piggley many more happy years, It's good to know that you've got your grandkids interested in your hobby as well, it must build a very nice bond.
Good luck with your treatment! thanks again for the wonderful advice!
take care!

Re: Having trouble with filtration setup

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:03 am
by litefoot
Thank you , that’s very kind of you !

One thing I found in my time is to build a trust with your pet and not have it only see you as a food source. That opens the door for them to share all their personality’s with you. Turtles are smarter than most think ! They see what you do for them and in there own way discover who you are. That’s why some pet owners say it’s not normal for your dog , ferret even a turtle to act that way. The ones who understand have great relationships with there pets.

I thank "you" for discerning the advice given here and applying it. As you have seen already your turtle is happier ! He knows , yes , knows you care for him. Your tent turtle does not need a very large tank as a RES just one setup well as you have now. He appreciates what you are doing . It will open up to you even more and you both will have a great time together. Turtles are great pets when they open up to you. I read to Piggley and he listens from his dry dock. We watch TV together. We have lots of play time. I even have a trailer on my bicycle for him on bike rides to the park. Rides are sometime short being stopped all the time by kids and some adults. Gives me time to explain how to care for a living animal . I’m the turtle man to my neighbors. Many videos on the internet shows what they can do with you. A few comment “ did you see that strange video” . Just hard for those few to understand. You are on your way for a memorable relationship with your tent turtle. It will become part of your family. Make the most of it !