Introducing the Versafilter

If you’re like me, you’re always thinking of new, novel, and efficient ways to accomplish something related to your tank maintenance. A few months ago, I redid one of my tanks to house dwarf Tanganyikans. I wanted to change the substrate but not all of it. I subsequently replaced 1/3 of the gravel with sand. I thus emptied about 20 pounds of the gravel and replaced it with fine white sand. Once complete, I liked the look, but the more I thought about what I was wanting to do with the tank over the long term, the more I realized this mixed substrate was a bit impractical.

Typically, when you make any kind of substrate change, you will stir up a lot particulate. This is okay except that you really only have two options with respect to clearing that particulate (unless you do a HUGE water change) – you wait for it to settle or you let your filter(s) do the work. The problem with the former is the time it can take. The problem with the latter is that you probably should replace the filter media you’re currently using with floss and/or other mechanical filtration. Choosing the filter option is fine, unless you’re running a canister and you don’t want to break it down to replace what you have in it. This was the case for me. I didn’t want to replace what was already in my canister just to clear the water. Replacing media in a HOB or sump is a little less problematic because both are more easily accessible.

In a previous post, I showed a small internal filter that I built to add some water polishing or additional filtering capability to my canister. As I continued to think about replacing all my gravel with sand, I realized this small internal would take a while to completely eliminate the particulate and return the water to the sparkling clear condition it was in. This made me think about a way to build on that small filter and construct something that would clear the water really quickly.

Thus, several criteria were required for this new filter.

  1. It had to be reasonably compact so it could be used in a variety of tank sizes.
  2. It had to be versatile to not only accommodate several media types but accommodate all of them concurrently. In other words, it had to be multifunctional.
  3. It had to be easy to change whatever media is being used.
  4. It had to be capable of handling a high flow rate.
  5. It had to be easy to clean.

Mission accomplished! I call it the Versafilter. A good, high flow rate pump will maximize its capabilities. I’m using a Sicce Syncra 3.5 with a listed 660 gph flow rate. Contact me for dimensions and/or questions about its construction.


Four bottle, internal filter side view. Photo courtesy of the author.


Four bottle, internal filter top view. Photo courtesy of the author.


Four bottle, internal filter bottom view. Photo courtesy of the author.

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