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Double Sponge Filter Tricks

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These are some of the things I've learned over the years taking care of my sponge filters and thought it may come in handy for some people. :)


If you have any additional tricks, feel free to share!  We all need to help each other.


Most of my experience has been with the XY 2831, however most of the models are pretty similar.  The pieces are like legos.  Pop them off, put them together.


Double to Single


So you can make a double a single if needed, by rearranging the pieces.  Pop off the air lift, pop off the side arm, pop them together and voila.  Nice to know if you have an extra filter around and a small tank.





Even Flow


After buying a sponge filter, take off the sponge and look at the sponge arm.  Looks kinda like a silencer on a gun.  Sometimes all the holes are not open due to plastic pooling during manufacturing.




The plastic is soft, so just use a pair of scissors and put the point in the hole and twist.  By opening all the holes, you have a nice even draw across the sponge.





Bubbles Have Slowed or Stopped


So you say you are losing that air power?  Your air pump must not be working right?  Are you sure?  Pop off your air hose, and drop it in the water.  Still good power bubbles?  Then it's your air lift.  Let's fix it.


There's three fixes that can be done.  Just depends where your blockage is.  I'll list in order of most likely to least likely, however having said that all three have happened to me at one point or another.


Pop off your air lift tube, and take the 2nd inner tube out as well.




Take a new small dollar store toothbrush




and scrub the inside of the lift where the clear meets the black inside.  Sometimes some crud or a snail is lodged there.





Still not clear?


This is what the hole looks like inside the black air lift seat. 




Sometimes the clear plastic lift tube gets pushed down too far and blocks the hole partly or totally.  It shouldn't do that, but sponge filters sometimes don't read their own instruction manuals.  Take some pliers or hemostats and pull that tube upward to expose more of the hole.  On some filters it is easy, on some it can be a struggle.  On the easy ones, sometimes you can wiggle them with your hands and pull up.  On the harder ones if you use your tool to move it back and forth like a wrench on a nut, it helps.



Still not working?


There is one more fix.  See the air hose hole?  A coffee straw is the perfect size for plunging.  Sometimes a tiny snail gets stuck in there.  By plunging that hole, you break up that snail shell and it gets expelled once the air hose is reattached.





Air Pressure


Air pressure to the sponge filter is actually a complicated relation of how long the air hose is, and how high or low the filter is placed.  In short, if the filter is on your bottom rack, and your air pump is high, it has to work harder to push down the air down there.  The same is true in your tank.  If your filter is located deeper in your aquarium, it is harder to push the air there than it is if it is located near the top of your aquarium.


Soooo, if you have more than one filter on an air pump, and you move one to clean it or for another reason, when you place it back in, you may find the ratio of air going to your tank connections is off.  That's just because the placement of your filter is either higher or lower than it was before.



Cleaning the Sponges


Provided you are using a double sponge filter, clean one one week, and then give at least a week for that to recolonize before cleaning the other one.  If you don't, your bacteria colonies may crash and you'll start losing shrimp.


To clean, squeeze the removed sponge in either removed tank water or RO, then replace.  Don't worry about shrimp getting into the sponge arm holes.  The tubes are hollow, nothing dangerous inside, and they'll find their way our with the current from the bubbles.



My Sponge Feels Like Clay, or It's Now Hourglass Shaped


You are either using a sponge as a prefilter, or it's been a super long time since you've cleaned your sponge.  Basically the pores are clogged. Clean the sponge and you'll be surprised how much crud/black water comes out.



I hope this has helped some.  Feel free to add more tips and tricks. :)

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They really do fit like lego pieces. The spongeinator 8000.

Has anyone tried different sponges on these? I have two with no sponges and was looking for a cheap sponge to use. The replacement sponges cost as much as a new unit. I know they're only a few bucks but I'm cheap and enjoy doing DIYs with household items.

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LOL what's the flow like on one of those?

Probably pretty terrible haha. I just tried the "spray bar" setup and it does not work well. Holes are too big and too many just bubbles out big bubbles out of the first hole or so.


Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk

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Love the post Soothing.  Here's a tip I learned in my aquarium club.  If you have a lot of sponges to clean, you can use your clothes washing maching.  Wait until your spouse is out of the house.  Run an empty load to clear out any left over soap.  Then use 1/4 cup of vinegar and run the sponges thru a cold cycle.  Run another empty cycle.  Let the sponges dry fully.  Then they are ready to use. 


We have a front loader now and i won't do this.  They seem to hold soap even after an empty run.  I take mine to the laundrymat and use their top loading machines.

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Another trick, you can attach a water pump to the top of the filter and close that air tubing hole and it will be much better water flow. I've made a test and it takes 29 sec to fill 1L bottle with water, my other sponge filter operated by ait pump (150L/h) do it for 45 sec.

This pump is only 5V and completely silent (very cheap on eBay), I also found 8mm silicone hose which fit perfect fit into the filter tube.

The only disadvantage is that it doesn't have an air bubbles for better gas exchange and it's good to have the second filter operated by air pump or an airstone.


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  • 4 months later...


QEP 7-1/2 in. x 5-1/2 in. x 2 in. Extra-Large Grouting, Cleaning and Washing Sponge (6-Pack)

A good DIY improvement anyone can do with these biological filtration air pump filters is by buying giant sponge bob shaped sponges sold at most hardware stores. The dimensions are 7-1/2 in.x5-1/2in.x2in each and they work pretty well. They're 6 for $10. I don't know the prices everywhere else, I just know they're relatively cheap for the extremely massive increase in surface area for bio filtration compared to the original sponges. They take a lot longer before they need to be cleaned, and the pore size is a bit smaller but it is a definitely good indicator that the inside has a much larger surface area for bacteria to colonize. Just cut one in half and then cut out a hollow in each so it snugly fits over both tubes that the regular black sponges fit over and voilà! You have an improved sponge filter! In my experience they're inert (don't change the pH or anything), there's no leaching of chemicals into the water from them, and they don't break down not even after months of wringing out, rinsing and reusing the things. They're regular sponges, just a lot lot lot bigger, and more efficient. 

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  • 1 year later...

When buying sponges from hardware shops, supermarkets Etc be aware that these sponges are not always aquarium safe, Just yesterday ( as of date of this post ) on another forum a member used non aquarium safe sponges and wiped out all his fish, turns out the sponges were treated with Lysol.


Spend the few extra dollars and buy aquarium safe products.



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