View Full Version : Automatic waste remover, and uneaten food too

09-20-2003, 12:41 AM
Hello people,
I am going to start my discus tank soon. However, since I work and study part time, I will not have a lot of time left to take care of them.
Instead, I came up with this setup;
The power head will be connected to a timer, which will run the power head several times a day. PVC pipes will route the power head's input to the bottom of the tank.
So the power head sucks some of the waste off from the tank bottom and leaves them on the filter media. When it stop running (on timer), we would have the waste isolated from the tank's water. Right?
Then I will come home later at night and remove those collected waste and do a water change. Of course there will be another filter running full time, a sump with bioballs.
The downside of this setup that I can think of is that the discus might be stressed by the sudden water movement created by power head.
Now I need some comments from you guys here.

09-20-2003, 08:28 PM
Seems like more than you need to deal with to me. If you're going to be doing water changes everyday anyway, why not just siphon the waste then?

09-21-2003, 12:30 AM
Well, I was thinking of doing only small water changes everyday, maybe 10%. Since I don't have a place to age my water.

09-21-2003, 03:00 AM
Do youself a favour and wait till you have the room to age water, unless you have the same ph after 24 hours of agitation. I killed lots of discus by not aging water.

09-22-2003, 11:28 AM
Not a bad idea. The worst thing you can do is try and it not working. Im kind of curious to see if it will work.

About the aging water, Id recommend it. It is not that difficult depending if you have the space or not. I have my water barrels in my closest. You can buy nice sized containers at Walmart or Home Depot that may suit your needs better (30G). Just throw an airstone and a heater in and do a water change 24 hours later. To make it even easier, get a water pump and put it in the container to pump water into the tank. ;)

Here are some ideas:

09-22-2003, 03:55 PM
Discusrite, do not be dismayed by nay-sayers. You are on the right road to success.

As others mentioned - do your self and the discus a favor; set up a water barrel; even if it is only a rubber garabge container[ new of course].

I have modifyed your draft with a suggestion of my own. My overhead filters has this "tube" installed. Very effective and quite.


09-22-2003, 04:30 PM
even i hav exact same kinda setup! i was facing similar prob. of water flow so wat i did was i drilled some holes on the pipe, this holes helped 2 cut down the force of the water... try it out might help u + try adjusting the power head to cut down the flow of water!

its all physics finally

09-22-2003, 10:43 PM
i also used to use this kind of power head, but not now anymore as i do w.c daily.

i did not have a suction pipe connected to the power head, but i place the top collector at the other far end from the power head. the water free flow down fr the collector and when it reach the bottom, it will sweep all the waste towards the power head. 1 thing to take note is the volume of water collected must be large enough to reach the tank bottom.

09-23-2003, 03:47 AM
Ahhhh: so many smart people out here I feel humble. To be in your company.

So: where is discusrite ... ???

Wonderful ideas/ suggestions/practial respnses.

For furthor dialoge: send me a pm or click on my profile and send a e-mail.


In Canada: in the high rockey mountains: where the water is so fresh. I can not use it!!!

Thanks for the insite. Good to see free-thinkers.

Dave C
09-23-2003, 09:08 AM
You could just use a Magnum HOT or 350 filter with micron insert. It will polish your water in a short period of time but you can run it 24/7. You can extend the output hose to push water from one side of the tank and have the input at the other side. It may not have the pizzazz of calling it DIY but it works amazingly well.

09-23-2003, 10:59 AM
cool I kinda like the idea

but why put it on a timer
if youre going to be doing daily WCs anyway why not just manually turn the waste remover on at WC time...and instead of putting the output from it into your top filter just run it out to your waste water drain.

You will accomplish two things at once....removing waste and water at the same time.

Also the way you have it now...the waste will be collected in the top filter for easy cleaning...but in a way it is still in the system. Even after the power head turns off I would be abit afraid that the moist and now very dirty filter media in the top filter would become anaerobic and drip toxic water back into the tank......

09-24-2003, 10:31 AM
Knobby - interesting point, you have brought up.

As it stand ... the timed setup ... is just an expanded A/C style filter. However; rather than having the tank water continiously flowing through the filter meadia; the timed pump only intermitinly flows water.

Points to consider:
1- will the debre become fungused or grow bacteria ?
2-will the filter media become anaerobic ?
3- will ,[ when the pump turns on], the flow of water through the filter media, cause any negative impact on the aquarium ? [flushing bacteria or fungus or anaerobic bacteris into the aquarium]??

Any comments ?


09-24-2003, 11:41 AM
Aye I am here. Thanks for the encouragement, :)

I would like to have water storage too, but my problem is not getting a container, but a place to place my container.
I will test my water over this weekend or next, see if I can get by without aging water.

And another note, my concern about sudden water movement frightening the discus is from the power head sucking in water, not water falling down.
The way I see it, discus swimming along the bottom looking for fallen food. Then Mr. Powerhead wakes up and start sucking dirt and waste and water, and... well, that might scare Mr. Discus a little. . . . . . . I don't know.

Fungus and bad bacteria. I've never thought about them. Don't know anything about them too. How long does it take for them to grow? If it takes longer than a day, then might not pose a problem, as I will clean it everyday.

09-27-2003, 01:14 PM
Hi Discusrite,

I have the same problem as you do - not having a place available for a storage tank/container. Well, at least not unless I wanna sleep on top of the container. LoL. I guess the tap water here in HK is not too lethal, as my 4 discus are all alive after a good year of not having aged water from water changes.

About the automatic waste remover, it sounds like a good idea! On the safe side, I would watch out for stagnant area near 90 degree corners and below the pvc pipe - waste could accumulate in those area and not getting removed. Fungus, algea, bacteria, and disease can feed on these waste.

Next is the ease of removing the whole system for cleaning. Sooner or later waste will attach to interior of the pipe. Transparent pipes may help you identify when is time to get the system cleaned.

Lastly, do remember the sketch you showed us is in 2-D but your tank is really 3-dimensional. That means it will draw in water (and waste) that is nearby to the tube. Unless you get water current flowing in the tank to "push" waste from far corners to the suction tube, those waste will need to be removed during water change. In my opinion the sudden start/stop of the powerhead shouldn't be too bad, unless it is extremely strong.

Good luck, and let us know how the system works out!

-Keith 030928

09-27-2003, 03:23 PM
I am maybe just a worrywart

but if I was going to try something like this, I would set the timer to come on either during or right before I knew I was going to be home. That way you could clean/change the dirty filter media as soon as possible after the cleaner was done running.

either that or just run it manually while you're doing a water change like I said before. The down side to this might be finding a balance between flow rate and cleaning power ith the output of the powerhead going straight to a drain. Too strong a pump and it will remove water too quickly...too weak a pump and it might not clean effectively

09-29-2003, 10:55 AM
I would also opt for the timer because it would give the discus a chance to eat any food on the bottom of the tank. I wouldnt worry about fungus or bactera because you will be rinsing the filters daily.

About scaring the discus when the pump turns on? The first couple times or first week or two it may be a problem be they will get use to it. Some discus will be more frighten than others (some are scared all the time! Must be the females! LOL!).

Your storage containers you could perhaps put under the tank. Depends on your stand I guess. If your talking about room, you should see my spare bedroom. LOL! Out of a 10x12 room, available walking room is around 3x8! ;D The rest is tanks, containers, desk, shelves, etc!

10-06-2003, 02:24 AM
Knobby a few suggestions. Let the power haed be as powerful as possible. 400gph +.

second - let the power head be movabile. use a flexiable line.

Third - move the powerhead as neccessary.

Fourth - let the top media be as large as possible . ues a 5 gallon bucket.. and run the pump continiouslly.

My discus seem annoyed whEN i SHUT OFF THE PUMP ... LIKE WHat is going on.

BTW - it is a 750 gph pump.

Distrubute the return water to the tank bottom and direct the flow towards the pump pick-up.



10-07-2003, 08:38 AM
Smokey if a person was going to leave this setup run continuously or on a timer then yes use a good strong pump since it wouldnt be removing water from the system.

My suggestion that you would need to find a balance of power was if you only run this cleaner manually at water change time....if it was too strong a pump it would remove water too quickly and your wc would be done long before you could get the tank clean...

btw....anyone built one of these yet? lol