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Installing the new Fluval-G Filter-Part 3 - Media and Set-up
Fluval-G3 Media Preparation and Install
Preparing the Media and Setting Up
The media are the heart and soul of any filter. The better they perform their job, the better chance the fish have to survive and thrive. There are three distinct filter types, mechanical, chemical and biological. The Fluval addresses the needs of each in its own separate area. Assembly of the filter is exactly the opposite of the way the water flows.
Stage III Biological Filtration
The biological area is the lowest chamber, and uses two baskets in the Fluval-G3 to support what is termed the Fluval-G Nodes. These come in two sizes to allow efficient packing in the basket while ensuring the needs of the bacteria they are meant to support are admirably met.
Maintenance of the biological area requires the full disassembly of the unit, this protocol to fully empty the filter chamber was shown in the first of the series:
Installing the Fluval-G 3 Part 2 – Preparation
The Fluval-G Nodes have a life expectancy of approximately six months before all the little crevices, crack, tunnels and cave are filled up with dead bacteria and the ability of the nodes are inhibited by blockages and dams to easy water flow through them. In a later article I will discuss the best way to maintain these nodes and ensure the biological activity is powerfully maintained without a lot of effort.
To prepare the nodes, all they need is a rinse. In this case, where the product is new and sterile, I will rinse them in clear running water, usually comfortably lukewarm. I mixed both sizes together when I rinsed them, but they can be dealt with separately if you prefer. I wanted the mix to be even so started that with the rinse. Once any transport dust is removed, and the water runs free and clear with no debris being produced, the media is evenly distributed to the two baskets. They didn’t get full, but there is pleny of surface area for the bacteria to thrive and remove ammonia and nitrite production when mature.
The baskets stack, and are easy to slide into the filter chamber with the handled that are conveniently provided on both baskets. The last picture above shows the silicone gasket mnore or less in position. This is extremely important top prevent water from getting where it is not wanted. Do not forget to place it into position before replacing the motor assembly. The gasket is very strong and durable and, unlike rubber, should not require any lubrication over time to keep it supple.
Stage II - Chemical FIltration
The chemical cartridge is the next cartridge that required attention to prepare it for the new installation. The chemical cartridge is a very versatile basket that, in the case of a new filter, comes supplied with very high grade activated Fluval Carbon. This is a very fine granule that is contained by the cartridge’s careful construction. The slots in it are designed so that very fine resins or granules are contained in it without leakage. The smallest opening is facing in, while much larger slots can be seen from the outside. This allows freer flow of water through from the outside and no leakage the other way.
The cartridge is held in a (red) cup and is easily removed by depressing the two black tabs to release the cup from the head. The cup will only re-assemble in one way, Line up the single arrow with the single arrow and the two arrows with the two arrows on the cartridge assembly as well. It is clean and clear.
The actual chemical cartridge is wrapped in plastic and inserted into the cup. This packing plastic must be removed and discarded. Once gone. the carbon needs to be properly rinsed. Like all carbon media, it can develop some dust during shipping and must be removed before it can be used.
In addition, carbon has a huge internal surface area and it takes time to expel the air trapped in its internal matrix and expel it with replacement water. During this period the carbn generates a huge number of tiny bubbles. I tend to submerse carbon after it has been rinsed of particulate dust to eliminate, as much as possible, trapping and manufacturing air pockets in any closed canister filter like the Fluval-G series. Once the carbon has been properly rinsed and hopefully waterlogged, the cartridge is replaced onto the cartridge head and placed into the right hand side cartridge area.
Stage I - Mechanical Filtration
The Fluval-G is designed to reduce bypass of particles as much as possible. The first stage of the filter, the mechanical stage is a compact high capacity, long lasting pleated pre-filter cartridge. The material is used to provide a much higher degree of straining than other filters can achieve by sing the more common and cheaper foam inserts. The concept is to stop the waste particles at this stage and keep them there.
It is not vey difficult to disassemble the pleated cartridge, just like the chemical cartridge it is designed to be disassembled for regular maintenance. Thisis the cartridge that will need the most cleaning over time since it traps extremely fine particles and does clog relatively rapidly. The pleated unit is inserted into the cup by lining up the notches in the base and the cup and sliging the actual filter material up and out. In this case, a gentle rinsing is all that is necessary, the material is not damaged or otherwise contaminated during shipping, so a lukewarm rinse is all that was necessary to prepare it. Once re-assembled, it was replaced into the left side of the filter cavities. Again, there is only one right way to insert it. There is a square notch at the top right hand corner of the insert that slides over the small post in the center. Since it can only go in one way, it is hard to get it wrong.
As shown above, the cartridge locks into the filter turning the top handle clockwise one eighth turn to secure in its holder. The same thing applies for the chemical chamber as well, although the notch in the cover is on the upper left side to fit over the central post, the same locking technique is used.
Once the chemical cartridge is properly seated and locked in, the cover can be closed over the area.
Installing the Water Delivery System
It was now time the measure and install the water hose system. The hoses attach with hand-tightened plastic “nuts”, there is no need for wrenches or any tools. You want them to be firmly hand tightened, but never forced to a point where they could be broken.
It is easiest to measure with the AquaStop removed, In my installation, I needed to cut off a bout a foot or so. The hoses should fall as straig as possible, without any kinks or too much bending. The more bends in the hose, the more resistance and less free flow there can be. Also, by removing the excess hose from the system, there is no chance that the hose could droop below the filter, loops and such are not giid for the filter. My tank is an old Tropiquarium on its designed stand, so there is no danger of dropping the filter too far below the tank. The filter should never be farther than four feet of hose from the aquarium, otherwise the pressure from the weight of the water will be too great for the system.
Once the hoses were cut, they were inserted into the AquaStop and the input/output apparatus. The hoses slide onto the barbs of the units and then are hand-tightened up over the connectors to secure them tightly.
My installation already had an AquaClear 30 filter running alongside the original Fluval 105, so there was at least a little bit of ongoing biological filtration that continued uninterrupted through the change. I mounted the input to the left of the AquaClear and the output was directed parallel to the back, one sending its output back toward the AquaClear and Electronic heater, the other in the opposite direction.
Starting the System
Now that everything was set and in place, all that was
needed to do was to pump the starting button a few times to get the water to
flow and then plug the unit in. Finally we have a priming system that seems to work well and the very first time. I started the system empty, and that always seems to be the best way.
It first offered a screen stating it was initializing and
then required some default information to be entered. You need to tell it what
language you want it to communicate its finding to you. As you can tell by this document, the choice
for me was English.
The system didn’t flow at full speed right away, it seemed to surge a little, gushing air bubbles and then flowing stronger, then air bubbles again. Once the water started to flow though, it never really stopped.. I am guessing that the air trapped in the chemical cartridge was being exhausted at a strong enough rate that it overcame the unit’s natural ability to exhaust trapped air right at the beginning. I did help it somewhat by unplugging it, then pressing the starter a few more times and plugging it back in. That seemed to do it.
The system showed a few alerts right off the bat, low temperature and EC was seen as too high - both started flashing alerts immediately. Since my system was already well established, it was not a shock that it did register the EC right away, and found it too high for its settings. I have been told that in cases where the water was brand new, it is possible that EC will not register, but rise gradually as dissolved solids become more prevalent.
Since it recognized the fluid to be fresh water, the default for this filter was 200 – 500 EC. These are Africans and require hard alkaline water, so I am pretty confident the setting is somewhat low as suggested by the website – www.fluval-g.com. My EC immediately registered at 1531, so the alert has been flashing ever since. I did readjust the heater to move the tank’s measured temperature to 78 where I had thought it to be set. The heater needed to be adjusted up a bit to bring the temperature sensor measurement withing the band I set for the tank. Setting it was easy, but needs a whole other HubPage to do the computer of this system justice.
All in all, a pleasant experience and one of the easiest filter installations I can remember in a long time. The Fluval 105 was successfully moved to my ~20 gallon community aquarium, kicking the Elite Hush out of service. Both tanks got a great upgrqade, and I look forward on reporting on the progress of the Fluval-G3 for my African Aquarium.
The most up-to-date reports will be mounted on my blog at:
and in a forum topic at: