DIY Mattenfilter using fountain pump

Mattenfilter is an effective and affordable alternative to more expensive and complicated option, canister filter and hang on the back filter.  Compared to the regular sponge filter, it has larger surface area.  Using an air pump is a popular option for providing the water flow but I don’t like the noise from the air pump.  Power head is much quieter than the air pump.  Most power heads rated 150+ gallon per hour which is much more than what I need it for my 20 gallon tanks. I found some smaller fountain pump might be just enough and cheaper too.  Here is what I did:

  1. Measure the interior height and depth of the aquarium.  For my 20 long tank, it’s 12 in x 11.75 in (W x H) and 10 Gallon tank, it’s 9.75 in x 10 in. The height is measured from bottom to the rim of the tank
  2. Cut the sponge 1/3 inch wider than the depth and the same height as the interior height.
  3. Use a pair of scissor to drill and cut a small opening at one corner of the sponge
  4. Cut a piece of 11 in long vinyl tubing (1/2 in ID and 3/4 OD) and attach it to the fountain pump using the 1/2 in adapter.
  5. Connect the other end of the vinyl tubing to an L-shaped elbow adapter and finish up with another short piece of vinyl tubing as the output of the pump. Tip: Adjust direction of the outlet perpendicular to the curve of the longer piece so that the direction of the output is parallel to the water surface

Cut the sponge to size 1/3 inch wider than the interior depth. I use a scalpel to cut the sponge.

Viewing from the back

Side view of the mattenfilter

The sponge will bulge if the sponge is too wide.

Materials I used:

Tips for cycling the fish tank

Properly cycling your fish tank is critical for starting up your aquarium. Introduce fish prematurely can cause ammonia spike which can be lethal for your fish. Here are some tips for you to properly cycle your fish tank:

  1. Starting your aquarium for matured aquarium: Adding any materials (water, filter and substrate) from and old aquarium can speed up the cycling process.
  2. Having live plant in aquarium
  3. Adding beneficial bacteria from commercial product
  4. Monitoring water quality frequently
  5. Make frequent and small water change
  6. Adding few small and hardy fish first then adding more fish gradually (no more than couple fish at a time weekly)
  7. Feed fish sparingly
  8. Considering adding ammonia neutralizer

Aquascaping is a constantly evolving and learning process

Restarting my old hobby

I was cleaning out my basement. I found out that my 10 gallon and 55 gallon tank were sitting on shelf. The were hided behind a pile of cardboard boxes fully of junkies.  Next to it are buckets of gravels and Rubbermaid tub full of aquarium equipment.  I still remembered how I got into this hobby.  It seems to be forgotten for a long time because of the busy live after moving into my new home.  Now that kids are all grown up and the pace of live seems to be slow down quite a bit. I was thinking about restarting my old hobby.

Setup 10 gallon tank

I wanted to have keep planted shrimp tank.  I started out pool filtered sand as substrate, a main wonderstone rock and a few plants.  Staurogyne Repens on the foreground and  Vallisneria spiralis (Italian Val) as the background. I tied up Java moss on a piece of rock and tree branches.  The branches is from a dead oak tree.  That’s my initial set up.  Couple weeks later, I introduced some ghost shrimps to cycle the tank.

A month later, I introduced the Red Cherry Shrimp and Otocinclaus Catfish.  I replace the Wonderstone rock with milk quartz. The pH seems to drop a little. I also added Alternanthera Reineckii Mini to add color, Marimo mass over rocks and water wisteria to the left corner.  Hopefully, it will cover the equipment after it’s fully grown.

The plants were growing well at all with sand substrate.  Another month later, I re-scaping the tank over with organic potting soil with sand over the top. Adding a few other plants: Red flame sword (Echinodorus), Alternanthera Reineckii Cardinalis, four-leaf clover (Marsilea quadrifolia) and Monte Carlo on the foreground and the top of the milk quartz.  

One month later, I removed the “moss tree” as it was too close to the light.  It was full of hair algae. The potting soil substrate really works. My plants are growing well.

Now, it seems to be a little bit over grown and requires a little pruning.

My red cherry shrimps are shriving. They have been producing babies.