Hugo Kamishi Bio Sponge fil­ter

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Pfknewgear -

A few years back, a com­pany called Al­garde broke my heart. I down­loaded their lat­est cat­a­logue, a cat­a­logue that had been a steady part of my life for decades, and two fil­ters were ab­sent. The air-driven Bio­foam 45 and 200 mod­els were gone.

Since then, my lo-fi fish­keep­ing world sort of fell apart. I mean, the Bio­foams had their flaws (call it charm if you like, but charm doesn’t cause some­thing to split down the mid­dle and stop work­ing) and were as ugly as bull­dogs eat­ing mince, but they were a breed­ing tank sta­ple. They were the fil­ters I’d reach for in a pow­er­cut, proud of my re­source­ful pre­pared­ness as I rooted about for bat­ter­ies to stick into a tem­po­rary air pump. Bio­foams were as much fish­keep­ing her­itage as func­tion­al­ity.

So, when I vis­ited whole­salers ALF a few months back, I per­formed a merry jig when I spot­ted th­ese Hugo Kamishi ver­sions on a shelf. Snatch­ing them up in both arms and snarling at staff that I was tak­ing them, I’ve cov­eted them ever since.

If you’re newish to fish­keep­ing, you prob­a­bly have no idea why th­ese are so good. I mean, they look like prim­i­tive fil­ters from the hobby’s dark ages, right?

Well, yeah. Kind of. They’re also the hobby’s best kept se­cret. If you’ve tried to spawn a fish, for ex­am­ple, you’ll have soon dis­cov­ered that a gutsy in­ter­nal can­is­ter fil­ter is a great way of suck­ing up weak-swim­ming ba­bies and emul­si­fy­ing them. If you’ve put to­gether a hos­pi­tal tank, you’ve prob­a­bly been per­turbed at the way your pow­er­ful pump is buffer­ing about your dy­ing pa­tient.

Air driven fil­ters have a few ben­e­fits. They are cheap, and cheap to run — a good sized air pump with a net­work of air­line and valves can run sev­eral at once. They are light on flow but heavy on bi­o­log­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. They take up sur­pris­ingly lit­tle space. And my favourite fea­ture — their sur­faces pro­mote the growth of tiny or­gan­isms feed­ing on biofilm. Yep, the slimy skin that grows over the foam pro­duces all kinds of aufwuchs, which shrim­plets and fish fry will graze on. The Hugo Kamishi de­sign even has a cor­ru­gated foam, in­creas­ing the sur­face area. Small de­tails, big im­pact.

De­spite look­ing like a rigid, moulded piece of pipe, the Hugo de­sign has some features. The neck can be ex­tended, al­low­ing for a to­tal height of 34.5cm. Or you can squish it down to 23cm, for a shorter tank. The de­fault po­si­tion is to have the foam jut­ting for­ward from the up­lift, but you can ro­tate the up­lift 360°, al­low­ing you to po­si­tion the foam ei­ther side of it. And the 90° bend that sup­ports the foam can also be ro­tated through 360°, mean­ing that you can have it flat, up­right, or pretty much any­where you choose. The re­turn noz­zle also ro­tates through 360°.

Re­mov­ing the foam to clean it is as easy as pulling it off of the cen­tral sup­port, wash­ing and re­plac­ing.

What’s my favourite fea­ture of air driven fil­ters? Their sur­faces pro­mote the growth of tiny or­gan­isms feed­ing on biofilm. Yep, the slimy skin that grows over the foam pro­duces all kinds of aufwuchs, which shrim­plets and fish fry will graze on.

To clar­ify, this is un­likely to be your main fil­ter on a com­mu­nity set-up. Rather, this is the do­main of the fish-house keeper and hob­by­ist run­ning a dozen projects at once. My own his­tory of work­ing with fil­ters like this goes back a long way — in my public aquar­ium days we had sim­i­lar fil­ters in our sea­horse and oc­to­pus rear­ing tanks. On a per­sonal level, th­ese de­signs have been with me through nu­mer­ous tricky spawns.

In ad­di­tion to the sin­gle sponge, Hugo also makes a twin sponge de­sign. Same height, same foam size ( just two of them) but slightly less in the way of ori­ent­ing features. Which is pretty ob­vi­ous when you think about it. You can still tilt the foams down through up­right to flat, though.

Sup­pli­ers ALF run a ‘click and col­lect’ ser­vice on this one, which means that you can buy it on­line from home and ei­ther col­lect it from your lo­cal re­tailer (as long as they are an ALF stock­ist/par­tic­i­pa­tor), or have it de­liv­ered di­rectly to your home. NATHAN HILL

RO­TAT­ING RE­TURN The re­turn noz­zle can be ro­tated through 360°. COR­RU­GATED FOAM The de­sign of the foam in­creases the sur­face area.

AD­JUSTABLE NECK

De­pend­ing on the height of your tank, you can ex­tend this from 23cm up to 34.5cm.

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