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Prologue:  BOB tin Virginia asked a load of questions about diatom filters.  This page is the result of those letters.  LA

BOB, Virginia, March 14, 2011
I ordered 5 pounds of diatom powder and a filter bag for the Vortex and I was wondering if you had any diatom filters that you want to get rid of? If not I'll order one this week.
Did they work well? I just found out about those things last week. I had hazy tank problems for a while off and on and I figured it would be a neat little gizmo to try out. If you have one that still works that you don't want anymore I'll pay you for it!  Let me know ok? Thanks!

A:  Just an excellent filter.  It will clear a 10-gallon tank in 10 minutes.  A 55 may take an hour.
Always use the diatomaceous earth or you will clog your filter bag.
Coat the bag in a bucket before you try to filter a tank.
Do this in lieu of screwing the lid off and adding the powder in the jar.
Screwing the top on and off will wreck the seal in short order.  The diatomaceous earth is very abrasive.
We had a dozen or so that we rented out to customers a couple decades ago.  Customers may always be right but they're not always bright.  The filters are a little complicated. LA
PS  I don't have any to sell because we got rid of them at our last basement cleanup day.
 
BOB, Virginia, March 14, 2011
Thanks for the instructions on how to prep the filter bag. This makes more sense. I'll order the filter soon. Do you have any vendors in mind. One vendor is charging a little more than $100 and some others are less. Is one Vortex model better than the other? Which one would you recommend?
 
A:  It's all coming back to me because I looked them up on the internet.
Get the hang on the tank model.  If you tip over one of their jars, you have a mess on your hands (floor, actually).
And get the "H valve" that lets you move from tank to tank without losing the powder on your bag.  When this happens you blow diatomaceous powder all over your tank.
Do not use yours as a gravel cleaner.  This will plug your bag prematurely. 
You can clean your clogged bags with a Clorox bath.
Avoid scrubbing with a brush.  LA
 
BOB, Virginia, March 16, 2011
Hi Larry, I now have five pounds of diatom powder, the magnum HOT filter, and the diatom bag. Is it possible to convert the magnum filter into a diatom filter? How would I do it?
My main fear is getting the powder in the aquarium because I read that the diatom powder is dangerous to the fish. I'm still not sure how the H valve would come into play. I've never seen these types of filters before. If I had one right in front of me I would understand better how these things work. The diatom powder from what I understand accumulates on the outside of the bag, so i'm guessing that the water is pulled through the bag but I'm lost after that as to how the whole thing works.
Sorry to bother you so much but I know you like diatom filters and they fascinate me. I'm just having problems finding all the answers to my questions at the moment. I was also thinking about putting some type of filter bag over the diatom bag to help keep the powder out of the tank.
Hope to hear from you soon!


A:
 The magnum H.O.T. is a diatom filter if you add the diatom powder to your H.O.T. with the micronite cartridge.  Most people use their micronite cartridge without the diatom filter.  This results in a clogged cartridge after six or so uses. The H valve keeps the water circulating so your cartridge stays coated with powder when moved from tank to tank. 
I prefer to not blow loose diatom powder into the fish tank because it is temporarily unsightly -- not because it is harmful to the fish.. I think their gill rakers strain out the powder.  LA
PS 
When clean, your H.O.T. runs at 250 American gallons per hour.  The longer you run it, the slower it gets.  The slowness doesn't hurt your filter or its effectiveness.  Your filter just runs faster if you use it mainly as a water polisher.  When using it as a continuous flow filter, fill that "wire basket" full of carbon.  Always fill that basket with something or the floss cover becomes clogged and crushes the basket.  I've had one of their 350s running continuously on a turtle tank for more than a decade.  It gets hot when it gets clogged, but no harm done.

 

BOB, Virginia, March 16, 2011
Well, that reply certainly made me happy! Thanks! So I guess what you are saying is to use the diatom powder on the micronite cartridge before inserting it into the filter canister before filling with water? Should the cartridge be wet or dry when applying the powder? I know you said to pour some powder in a bucket and apply the powder that way to the diatom bag. Looks like I will be using the cartridge instead of the diatom bag then? I'll order the H valve tonight. Thanks for all your help! I also appreciate the info about keeping that carbon basket filled. The magnum didn't get the best reviews because I think some people just can't figure out obvious stuff like how to close the filter properly. Many people were whining about getting air bubbles. I haven't had a bit of problem with mine and I loved the design and possibilities that this filter offers. I thought that maybe this would work with diatom powder but wasn't sure. I bought this filter mainly for it's polishing capabilities. When I'm running the filter with the diatom powder should it stay running continously or should it just run long enough to clear the tank? Thanks again!

 

A:  Just spoon the powder in dry.  Don't breathe any of it.  It bothers people, not fish.  You can leave the filter running continuously if you prefer.  Machts nichts either way.  I also like the H.O.T. since it's easy to move from tank to tank -- especially when you use the H valve that continues circulating the water so the diatom powder does not fall off the micronite cartridge..  It's also easy to seal because it has an O-ring that lasts a long time.  Failing to line up the O-ring correctly lets air into the filter.  LA
PS: 
It is engineered so it's nearly impossible to put together incorrectly (much easier than a computer).

 

BOB, Virginia, March 16, 2011
So I just put the powder all over the dry filter, reassemble everything and add water before I clamp the top down? How in the world did you get the H valve hooked up?  I still searching for an H valve to order now. Thanks. This is going to be a fun project. I like interesting stuff like this.

A:  Yes.  Forget the H valve since you're not going to be moving it from tank to tank to tank to infinitum.  LA

BOB, Virginia, March 16, 2011
My basic questions are:
1  How much diatom powder to use with the micronite cartridge?
2   How did you connect the H valve to the unit and what size hose did you use? The water exhaust has a short elbow type swivel tube with a big square piece at the end (which I guess maybe comes off?) and a long intake stem. I think the purpose of the H valve is to connect the two together when moving the filter from tank to tank. So how did you connect the long and short tubes together and is the H valve on there permanently or is it taken off after the move to another tank?
3 What about if I didn't use the H valve and simply hooked up a short hose to the exhaust end and ran into a bucket until the water clears and the powder sticks to the cartridge and then remove the hose? Would that work?
Not too many questions this time I hope, but important one's though.
I don't have much space behind the tank so I take the whole filter off the tank and set it on a table. This way I can easily swap out / clean filters, fill with water from the faucet and assemble the thing back together again and hang back on the tank and plug it in. It starts immediately.
Anyway, I really appreciate your help on this and I'm sorry for having so many questions.

A1:  1.9 American tablespoons (not Canadian tablespoons).
A2:  Forget the H valve since you have no room and are not moving it to multiple tanks.
A3:  The bucker technique works well.  LA

 

Other Diatom Filter notes:

 

Diatom filters should be used intermittently as water polishers.  Don't use them as long term filters.  The diatom powder efficiently collects anything loose in the water and eventually clogs.  This can cause the motor to heat up and possibly burn out.

 

If you've ever participated in an Aquarium Show or a Fish Show, you've seen diatom filters at work.  When you spend the time and petrol needed to move a 29-gallon tank to a show, you do not want to present 29 gallons of hazy water to the general public (or judges).    Aquariums that get moved (even brand new, never used) aquaria start out cloudy.  The diatom filters are especially popular at these show times.  Most club members freely share their filters after their own tanks get crystal clear.

 

One popular diatom filter which showed up between the Vortex and the Marineland filters was the System 1 from Aquarium Products.  I haven't seen these lately, but that doesn't mean they're not still around.  Their biggest flaw was their jar seal.  Screwing and unscrewing the top with even a trace of diatom powder eventually abrades the seal.  This allows air in and defeats the system.

 

When the System 1 first appeared, it's simple plug and play performance made it more popular than the Vortex.  The jar seal problem turned out to be a very big problem (at least for me).  Like other diatom filters, System 1 was obviously meant for short filter times (as the manufacturer instructed).  LA


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