How Do I Set Up A Saltwater Canister Filter? - Linda S, OH

When setting up a new tank, choosing filtration can be a daunting task. Hang-on-backs, internals, overflow boxes, canister filters, sumps – it can be an overwhelming experience for a new aquarium keeper. Canister filters are one of the most popular choices for fish keepers of all skill levels, and for good reason. They are typically quiet, easily maintained, minimize the amount of equipment visible in a tank, and are extremely versatile. What most aquarists don’t realize, however, is that canisters often come optimized for freshwater tanks. Luckily it is easy to convert them to powerful saltwater filters with a few simple changes.

Most canisters, such as the innovative Cobalt EXT, come with media trays featuring various filter medias. These typically include a coarse sponge for large debris removal, ceramic rings, balls, or bioballs for bacterial cultivation, carbon for organic waste removal, and a fine floss for water polishing and particulate removal. While this setup is ideal for freshwater tanks, saltwater enthusiast may find it lacking or unable to keep up with their saltwater tank demands. Luckily optimizing a canister is easy.

For most saltwater tanks, ceramic rings, balls, pellets, bioballs, or any other media designed to harbor bacteria is largely unnecessary. This is because the live rock found in saltwater tanks provides the exact same bacteria harboring ability, but at levels far superior to anything available on the market. To optimize a canister for saltwater, start by removing the ceramic rings or bioballs and replacing them with a high quality phosphate absorption media, such as Cobalt Blend-Tech Advanced or Cobalt Anti-Phosphate resin. Phosphate is a key contributor to most common saltwater problems, including hair algae, cyanobacteria, bryopsis, coral tissue necrosis, and many others. In addition to changing out the ceramics for a phosphate absorption resin, supplementing the carbon with a synthetic organic waste remover will yield impressive results in saltwater tanks. Cobalt Blend-Tech Total Organics or Cobalt Anti-Nitrate resin are ideal choices for this. Additionally, Cobalt Blend-Tech Total Reef combines a carbon blend, organic waste removal resin, and nitrate absorption resin to create the perfect filter media for saltwater aquariums.

By following these few easy changes, a canister filter can provide excellent primary or supplementary filtration for a saltwater tank or reef aquarium. We’re happy to answer any questions for you or your clients, and we are always available to help you choose the right gear for your aquarium!

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