KNOW-HOW: SETTING UP EXTERNAL FILTERS
Lots of people are daunted by external filters, but they’re easier to set up than you might think. Here are the essentials you need to know…
A step-by-step guide to setting up three different popular canister filters.
EXTERNAL CANISTER filters are great. They’re big, which means they can house a lot more media than internal filter types, and that in turn makes them more efficient and versatile. They’re also conveniently placed out of view, underneath or beside the tank where they’re not an eyesore. Over the following pages we’re looking at three different canister filters, and the parts of them that seem to cause confusion.
The Aquamanta EXF 200 is the smallest in the EFX range and suitable for tanks from 100 l (comfortably) up to 200 l (at a stretch). Once out of the box, there are a few things you need to do to get it up and running.
Aqua Medic Aqua Fresh 50
This small and visually appealing filter is robust and capable of filtering between 75 l (comfortably) and 150 l (at a stretch). However, it has no priming facilities, which makes it tricky to start. With limited media inside, this product is likely aimed at planted aquascape keepers.
As this filter has no priming mechanism, in order to start it you need to syphon water through it. Attach one hose to the tank, and lower the other one below the water level, into a bucket. Start a syphon action (you can buy handpumps to do this) until the filter and all hosing is filled with water. Reattach the hose used to syphon and turn the canister on.
Alternatively, you can use a funnel to pour water down the hoses until the canister and hosing is filled.
Note that to access the impeller you will need to remove the pump unit from the canister and this requires a screwdriver.
JBL Crystalprofi e902
The e902 is a terrific all-round canister filter with a flow that makes it suitable for tanks of between 90 l (comfortably) and 300 l (at a stretch). Because of its low wattage (11w max consumption) it’s also one of the most economic filters on the market.
Insert the hose connection assembly into the slot in the head, with the central lever in the ‘up’ position. Push the lever down to lock it into place and open the valves.(Lifting this lever locks the valves, retaining water in the pipes and stopping syphoning when disconnected.) 9
5 Place the three media baskets back in the canister – carbon at the bottom, biomedia balls in the middle and foams on the top.Ensure that all three trays are aligned so that the downpipe runs neatly through all three.
2 Turn the head upside down and find the impeller well chamber. Twist the cover of the well anti-clockwise and gently pull it away – be careful not to pull out at an angle as you risk snapping the impeller shaft, which may be attached as shown in the photo above.
Now gently push the head unit down. If it doesn’t sit flush, remove and replace the baskets and try again. DO NOT force the head unit down.Once it’s sitting comfortably, secure the head unit in place with the clamps. 8
3 Remove the impeller and inspect for damage such as cracks or broken vanes. Reinsert the impeller and replace the impeller well cover, making sure that the ceramic shaft fits neatly down the middle of the impeller. Twist the cover clockwise to lock it in place.
6 Find the plastic grid in the packaging.Place the grid on top of the top media basket (the one containing the block of foam and fine foam pad), so that the canister filter’s downpipe is exposed.
7 Next position the canister’s head unit on top of the body so that the protruding ‘spout’ underneath the head aligns with the downpipe.Don’t try to push it into place at this stage. Just concentrate on aligning it the right way round.
4 Remove the three media baskets. One contains a mesh bag filled with carbon – leave this as it is. One a block of foam – leave this. The third contains biomedia balls in a plastic bag. These MUST be removed from the bag before use. Briefly rinse them under a tap to remove dust.
1 Unclip the four clasps holding the lid in place. To do this, pull them outwards from the bottom and then slide them in an upwards direction.Once you’ve loosened all four clasps, you can remove the head.
Place the black sponge on top of the metal stand, and the white sponge on top of the black sponge. Hold both in place with the metal spacer and then replace the lid, clamping it back down. 3
This filter comes without valves, strainers or water-return accessories, so buy these to your taste (aquascapers tend to use glassware for filters like this). To connect the hoses, push them over the inlet nozzle (at the bottom) and return nozzle (on top) using the provided hoseclips to secure them in place. 4
1 Open the filter by pulling the fastening clips away from the canister. The metal clasps will now lift away from the holding attachments on the filter head.
2 Once you’ve removed the head, arrange the media inside so that the little metal stand sits on its legs at the bottom of the canister.
9 Once the assembly is locked, push the two smaller levers to the ‘open’ position.This will open the valves inside the assembly so that water can flow through it.
Attach the head, making sure the wide spout fits flush with the aperture on the top basket. Use the clips to secure the head to the canister body. If the head isn’t sitting flush, remove the baskets and check alignments. 6
8 Now firmly push the hose connection assembly into place.Ensure that you push down the central lever on the assembly FIRST so that it locks into position.
5 Place the basket of biomedia balls in the bottom of the filter. Place the two plain blue foam baskets above, making sure they align. Finally place the basket with the corrugated blue foam on the top.
To attach the hose connection assembly, there are three levers. Ensure that the two levers on the canister body are set to the ‘closed’ position, and the central lever on the assembly is in the ‘lifted’ position. 7
4 Remove the four media baskets from the canister body and check them. Two of the baskets should contain plain blue foam, one a block of corrugated blue foam, and the fourth contains the biomedia balls.
1 Remove the head unit by unfastening the four clips holding it. Pull them away at the bottom and then slide upwards until they release.
Turn the head unit over and then remove the impeller well cover by gently twisting it in an anticlockwise direction. 2
3 Remove the impeller and inspect for damage such as cracks or broken vanes. Reinsert the impeller and replace the well cover, twisting clockwise to secure it.