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Water Movement in the new Planted Aquarium

This article addresses water flow in the new planted aquarium and how to achieve the proper water flow.

Matt Helgeson's Tank
Matt Helgeson's five month aquarium pictured above and achieved by using our setup advice

Proper water flow in a new planted aquarium

When considering the setup of a planted aquarium from scratch, water flow must be one of your most important considerations. Unlike tropical fish, aquarium plants cannot move about the fish tank to find nutrition. Live plants can only utilize the fertilizers and CO2 (for those of you who use CO2 reactors) when these substances make physical contact with the plant leaves. So how do we achieve that and what do we need?

Gallons Per Hour

You should try for ten times (10X) the size in gallons of your aquarium. Seems like a lot? When you consider that pumps and filters slow down considerably from their rating under perfect conditions it really isn't alot, and will allow a gentle swaying of the plants which is what we want.

Flow Direction

We want the flow to come from the back of the aquarium on top, slight ripple but not breaking the surface of the water, and move to the front glass, down the glass to the plant surface (substrate), and then across the plant surface to the back glass and up the back glass to create a circular front to back flow. This will contact the tiny foreground plants as well as the rest with CO2 and nutrients, and keep ammonia pockets from forming in otherwise dead spots which then attract algae.

Types of filters and Combinations

There are many different filters on the market, usually we will be using either a hang on the back (biowheel) or canister filter for the main filtration in the aquarium.
Hang on the back (biowheel): This will work fine in combination with one or more powerheads. Why the powerheads? Because the flow from the biowheel will only cover part of the length of the back to the front, and we need a flow from all of the back to all of the front for the flow to move down the front glass, across the plant surface and back up the back in a circular motion.

Canister Filter Ideally you want a canister filter with a spray bar which spreads the flow out in the back. Depending on the length of the aquarium I recommend powerheads to cover those areas in back not covered by the spray bar.

Powerheads Seico Super Flow Pumps or Hydor Koralia pumps, or Marineland Maxijet Pro pumps (propeller driven) do a good job of covering those areas in the back not covered by your biowheel or canister filter. If you need help with figuring out your flow setup contact me by email.

Aquatic Scapes
P.O. Box 1115
Faribault, MN 55021
Telephone: 507-331-5801
Fax: 507-384-3146

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