Shilling Hikari Aquarium Sponge Filters for Amazon

Hikari Sponge Filter from Amazon

Shilling Hikari (Chinese) Aquarium Sponge Filters for Amazon while attacking industry professionals

This “Aquarium Opinions” article deals with an article that is a clear example of what is destroying our aquarium hobby and industry. I have to admit that I was floored when I was sent an email from a friend in the industry that has also worked for my mentor in the aquarium industry as to this article and the author’s attack upon my friend and mentor.

Article in question:
wwwDOTfishlab.com/sponge-filter
“Sponge Filters: Cheap Mechanical and Bio Filtration for Your Aquarium”

We have this author promoting Hikari Sponge Filters, which is nothing more Hikari placing their name on the Chinese XY-380 knock off of the AAP/ATI Hydro Sponge Aquarium Filter.

If this author had really done his homework, he would have known this as pointed out by my friend. I might add that my friend [Steve] did this in a polite & respectful manner.

Instead the author of this article makes a ridiculous attack attempting to point out that the AAP Sponge Filtration article [by Carl Strohmeyer] has had an update that included “Hikari” being added to the content in what appears a way to divert attention from his shilling for Amazon. This diversion is known as a “RED HERRING ARGUMENT” which this guy sadly uses quite effectively.

What is worthy of note is that the author AAP & “Aquarium Answers” aquarium/pond keeping articles updates his many articles DAILY to make sure content is a clear and accurate as possible, NOT to discredit shill articles such this one attacking him [regular followers or those who do their homework would know this, so his attempt to discredit is laughable].
Sadly he continues to try and discredit Carl since Carl obviously recommends the AAP Hydro Sponge Filter which he sell on his professional based web site as attempt to cover his own alleged shilling of Cheap Amazon Sponge Filters via well known aquarium industry destroying Amazon [which is all this article is about with every outside link going to Amazon].

He posts a link that he claims shows that Carl only had two updates in the last year which it does not, and in consulting for this “Aquarium Opinions” blog post, I spoke with a “techie” friend who also stated that the web site used in a libelous way to discredit Carl cannot detect all updates since it only crawls a web page limited times. I also spoke with Carl himself, who stated his HTML edit logs showed multiple edits per year for this particular article. Stupidly on my part, by bringing this point up, really only buys into his libelous attempt discredit Carl, all the while to divert from his own alleged credibility issues as a poser who clearly know little about the aquarium industry, unlike Carl who has given so much to the industry/hobby and taken very little out [I know for a fact he makes less than minimum wage from his business].

The author of this article later states that he could not find the patent, even though Steve provided him a link that had the name of owner of the patent. I will admit that I am not Internet savy [I am not a poser here], yet it took me little time to find the patent [which I do believe is recently expired, however these knock offs have been around for at least 15 years, well before the patent expired].
In my opinion, this shows even more alleged credibility and honesty issues for the author of this article, as while it is obvious that he has little to no knowledge of the aquarium industry and products there in, it appears that he is quite tech savy and uses this to attempt to divert attention from his shilling of Chinese products via Amazon over USA product sold by professionally sources.
Sadly this alleged shilling author then attempts to discredit this blog Steve shared about the history of the AAP/ATI Sponge Filter just because Carl & Steve both collaborate on this blog-site [another ad-hominem attack]. Again this shows this author’s lack of knowledge and respect for the true pros in this industry.

This attack upon Carl & Steve is no different than attacking a friend and eye-witness to President Kennedy who wrote a bio about Kennedy just because he is the author of the bio. Ditto Carl, he personally know the inventor of the ATI/AAP Sponge Filter and is a known and credible expert on the subject.

Here is a quote from Steve in the comments section:
“Ian, this is not my article, however I do in fact know the author the respect he has in the industry and community.
Your comment that it is not reliable information is really nothing than an Ad Hominem argument.
If you read his bio, you would know that he arrived at what he sells via decades of experience & research. So why should he not sell what he recommends? This goes for all his articles.

As for the Hikari, I did a quick re-read and he does mention this sponge filter.
Moreover I know that this is well known in the industry as a Chinese knock off [via the XY-380 filter] that infringes on the patent, so supporting this over and American made one really makes me respectfully question your intentions too, especially when you link to Amazon which again is well known within the industry for the harm they are doing to the industry.

An article that addresses what Amazon is doing to our industry (there are more, including one I co-wrote):
https://aquariumopinions.com/2013/08/27/purchasing-aquarium-pond-equipment-via-amazon/

As you said, I mean no disrespect, but I simply pointed out a fact, & you used it as a way to attack someone who has given much to this hobby and industry, often in ways many except those close to him could know”

See this screen shot of this Amazon promoting article in response to my friend’s comment above where he clearly avoids the REAL question and instead attacks based what appears to be a lack knowledge on the subject while he promotes patent infringing Chinese made product over USA made product:

Shilling Hikari Sponge Filter

I will lay my cards out on the table in the next few paragraphs, unlike the author of this alleged shill piece who in my opinion is very rude and condescending to both Steve & Carl.

The person [Carl] in the Aquarium Sponge Filtration article being questioned for his integrity in this alleged “Amazon Shill” article is highly respected in this industry. He [Carl] has and continues to give most of his free time helping others with their fish problems for free.

Carl’s knowledge is well known and many in the industry, including Disney World, consult with him regularly.

Yes, he supports himself with sales of products, but only products he would use and recommend professionally, as do I. I also know for a fact he makes very little from his online business too.

Attacks made upon him such as by the author “Sponge Filters: Cheap Mechanical and Bio Filtration for Your Aquarium” accusing him as unreliable because he sells a certain product is a common Ad Hominem attack that Carl himself addresses as this is a common tactic when someone does not know the subject matter.
The fact the author of this article attacks Carl in this way also proves he is nothing more than a poser using this tactic to cover for his alleged shilling of Cheap Chinese Sponge Filters for aquarium industry killing Amazon.

My relation is I began working for him around 1983 and later took over his aquarium maintenance route when he had to move to Oregon to protect his family from a predator. He also stood up for me in an incident that cost him his largest account, so obviously money is not his main motivator. Carl has also helped me financially too and has given me tips on blogging [admittedly setting me up here too]. So for this author to attack Carl’s credibility is beyond disgusting.
As for Steve, he is an expert in photography and also has worked for Carl and writes some blog articles, sometimes with Carl [I do not collaborate].

Since I have a policy of not linking to pages that sell products, but not for Ad Hominem attack reasons, I will not link to Carl’s excellent article on the subject, but it is readily found online.
However I will link to other articles such as this one by yet another friend, this time a techie who Carl helped and built this website to make more simple versions of the information Carl has provided for years to this hobby and industry for free:
What is an aquarium sponge filter?

Here are related articles as to purchasing via Amazon, which include one from this blogsite:
Buying Aquarium Products via Amazon (& Chewy, eBay)
Purchasing Aquarium & Pond Equipment via Amazon

In summary, I would ask readers to look at where links go when reading articles such as “wwwDOTfishlab.com/sponge-filter”. If you see links to Amazon, you will know this is likely nothing more than an Amazon Contributor. Does this mean the article is bad? No, but unlike the authors Ad Hominem attacks, this is simply a program by Amazon meant to provide Black Hat unnatural SEO to keep Amazon at the top of searches.
What is also worthy of note is that the real expert in the subject is clearly attacked by the author of the article in question when it is so obvious he is highly knowledgeable and well respected in the industry & hobby.
Just think about the many who cite his material from Steve, myself, Nippy Fish, Fish Beginner, the Spruce, and many many more.

What is also noteworthy, it the author of this web site has many other articles, all very general in natural, and in my opinion, very well written too, making for a good “hook” for less experienced readers.
He seems to have enough knowledge to appear to know what he is talking about, but to a pro who has not just kept four aquariums, but professionally maintained 1000s between myself & Carl, it is easy to spot that much of the information is borrowed and very incomplete [example Columnaris].
As an example, in one of his “Fish Lab” articles, he notes AAP Wonder Shells, but it is ovious he has little knowledge of this product and worse, he links to Amazon yet again for the product. This link is but another glaring example that he knows little of the industry since Amazon is NOT AN AUTHORIZED source for this product!!! When someone buys this product from Amazon, they are getting clearance product and not the full line at that. The problem with clearance product is that that AAP Wonder Shells loose their charge of mineral Cations over time and are therefore a less effective product.

G

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YouTube & Facebook for Aquarium Keeping Information

While Youtube and Facebook along with more traditional online forums have made getting help and information much easier, and arguably more “fun”; it has also allowed for the resurrection of long discredited information/methods to suddenly become popular again.
I think part of this phenomenon is that hobby seems to want to run in ever tightening spirals of repeating poor or downright incorrect information when it comes to social media since it is so driven by popularity.
Additionally, many in these tight circles no longer respect mentors or those who existed even a few years before they got into hobby with their Facebook pages and Youtube channels.
So it seems many are more interested in just being the teacher, while they refuse to learn from others or simply take the time read good research.
I guess it is easier to watch a 10 minute video, and then produce your own and presto, you too are an expert. Actual research that takes the time to read the many good articles such as found on web sites such as Aquarium Answers or Aquarium Article Digest is simply asking too much these days.

Often correct information is interwoven with incorrect information in our social media version of the “telephone game”.
Telephone Game/Chinese Whisper; Definition

Often the term TL;DR is used [too long, didn’t read], which is a poor excuse for lack of education. This often then leads to personal attacks or bans when someone comes along with some experience they do not have with good information to back them up. In the end all these people want is to become the biggest fish keeping YouTube channel or Facebook page, so if anything other than ‘love’ is forthcoming, bans or personal attack are typical.

An example as per the sudden Youtube revival of feeding beef heart. Experience from respected fish keeping author Martin A. Moe & others seems to be, but a foreign language to these people who should know better as the use of beef heart was LONG AGO discredited as a fish food source.
Here is a Quotation from Martin A. Moe:
“Fish are cold blooded and all digestion reactions take place at 70 to 80F, the temp of aquarium water. Thus they may not be able to efficiently digest or use the types of fats present in the flesh of warm blooded animals. They are much better off with the flesh of animals that are similar to their normal prey.”
So BEWARE please do not make this mistake.

Another recent phenomenon is the reemergence of persons, especially in aquascaping circles confusing Planaria with Detritus Worms.
Often these get it half right such as correctly attributing the identification of Planaria, but then applying causes, treatments, and what they feed on to Detritus Worms. Keep in mind that these worms are not even from the same phylum with Detritus worms in the phylum “Annelida” while Planaria are from the phylum “Platyhelminthes”. The only thing in common is they are both from the kingdom “Animalia”, but hey, so are we, so beware if a human suddenly shows up growing in your aquarium pretending to be a worm!!

Planaria or person in aquarium

Ref: Aquarium Planaria; Wiggly Detritus Worms, in Tank Water, on Glass

There’s circle of people who seem to feed on each other without much outside information or any mentoring whatsoever.
These people seem to not be willing to acknowledge there is information beyond what they know and will actually personally attack people in the industry that have more experience in one year than they have had in their combined lifetimes.

The regrettable part of a few of these people is in their lack of practical aquarium keeping experience and failure to truly look beyond their circles. They instead lash out in personal attacks of those with more experience that just try & bring aquarium keeping into the 21st century with subjects, such as aquarium Redox Balance and the importance of lowering oxidative stress in fish.
Instead we suddenly see persons incorrectly being told they need a RO/DI system when all they need is a well designed RO system instead of the lower quality RO/DI systems that will cost more long term. Even then, often all that is needed is just enough RO water to “cut” the tap or well water when used for freshwater applications.
Ref: Use of RO, DI, Softwater in Aquariums

There seems to be a sort of solar system where there’s a tight inner circle of Youtubers and FB groups/forums, which operate while refusing to learn little from outside their circle.
On the outer perimeters, we have vastly more who do attempt to provide quality information and are genuinely trying to help others, while they expand their channels, but still let pride get in their way and will still unfortunately defend the more hateful Youtubers.

This is not to say these channels do not provide correct information, but it is often mixed with incorrect information along with failure to follow simple scientific information and go even a little beyond their small circles and seek input from long term experts in the field of aquarium keeping.
The hook is often many are friends with each other, posting back & forth compliments in each others Youtube videos or FB pages.

There’s examples of people with entertaining channels with excellent presentation, especially when there’s couples as in one entertaining Youtube channel out of Canada. This is an example of this “outer circle” of honest, helpful persons, but also seems to have some real issues in who he wants to associate with and procedure. As well it is obvious this Youtuber has little mechanical aptitude and he reminds me of another aquarium maintenance person that sold herself to my then employer as an experienced aquarium professional, but in reality could not solve most issues that would arise.

There’s further examples of popular Youtube channels, which provide interesting generally very thoughtful information and certainly has a lot of potential for educating others, but yet again still fails to follow scientific method.

Another example of genuine person who clearly wants to help others, but also clearly has little in depth experience, resulting in him mostly just reading off the box.
In a video forwarded to me one time, it was obvious that a stand built was not at all safe, especially here in Southern California.
There’s talk about the AquaClear filter and compares it to others such as the Whisper, not at all knowing how these work and clearly demonstrating any practical long term experience in stating the Whisper/Tetra does not provide bio filtration, which is incorrect.
They also miss that especially in a planted aquarium where bio filtration is less needed, that the Whisper/Tetra actually provides vastly superior mechanical filtration. I should note in my aquarium service, which I use many HOB filters and generally do not promote the Whisper/Tetra [I prefer the newer AAP Tidal HOB filter], I am just pointing out the flaws in these circular reasoning and obvious lack of experience.

Finally a popular Youtuber who I will name just because she has made rude comments and blocks persons that might know something she does not and that is Rachel O’leary. What is unfortunate is she has a nice educational Youtube channel in so many ways, but it is also obvious she runs in small circles, is “bought and paid for” in these circles, and has little in depth experience as to the “mechanics” of aquarium keeping and CLEARLY has no respect for those who might know something she does not by her actions.
An example is a video she made about the use of Sponge Filters where she claimed the Swiss Tropical was her favorite, but never explained it. Many aquarium professionals already know that these square sponges simply do not have the capacity and are simply not as versatile as the AAP Sponge Filter. I know a mentor told me he made a polite comment as to his vast experience with thousands of these filters over the years and she never allowed this comment among the many ankle licking comments that showed little knowledge of this subject.

Outside of Youtube and Facebook, there are still some forums and websites also putting out bad information

There’s an example of the aquascaping crowd at “The Planted Tank” that will actually recommend a cheap discount/economy Fluval LED over an AAP Aquaray Grobeam. While they seems to be a highly intelligent people that many can learn from, they struggle with some of the of most basic of information by making statements that Aquaray claims to have “magic patented emitters” when in fact TMC makes no such claims. As a user of the AAP Aquaray products, which FAR exceed any Fluval LED, I know what they claim is that the Osram Oslon NP emitters are indeed patented and that they have licensed emitters from specific Cree bins. These emitters simply produce better more usefil spectrums and are more efficient.

Then they make another simple mistake that easily proves the point of efficiency in that if you do the simple math, the AAP Aquaray Grobeam requires much less energy to produce an equal PAR.
Fluval Fresh & Plant 2.0 A3990 which uses 32 watts of input energy with a PAR output about 70 µMol•m²•sec at 400mm which comes out to .46 watt of input energy per point of PAR.
While the 30 Watt AquaRay GroBeam 1500 produces a PAR of about 150 µMol•m²•sec at 400mm using 30 watts input energy which comes out to .20 watt of input energy per point of PAR.

Ref: Aquarium LED Reviews; Fluval LED

The Planted Tank, Bad math for LED aquarium lighting

There are so many other factors that set these two lights “light years” apart.
In the end they might claim they has no ax to grind, but since in reading many of their posts, I have to rule out that they are this stupid, rather they clearly DO HAVE AN AX TO GRIND, which is unfortunately typical in a small circle within the aquascaping crowd that actually think planaria are detritus worms and vice versa, believe the hype/lies put forth by a popular retailer that a DI unit is needed for their water quality over just a good RO system, and many, many other myths.

Recommended Reading; Common Aquarium Keeping Myths

There are more negative examples, which out of respect of these people and my sources will not mention… with the exception of Dennis Wong [Xiaozhuang Wong] who although clearly is intelligent, instead trolls experts with very personal attacks and failure to learn from the most basic of aquarium keeping history, in particular when it comes to aquarium lighting. Besides Youtube, found in these FB groups: “High Tech Planted Tanks”, “Low Tech Planted Tanks” & “Aquascapers Collective”.
Refs: PUR or RQE, YouTube Video Fail- Guide to lighting a planted tank
PUR, PAS, PAR in Aquarium Reef/Planted Lighting; LED Wavelengths

SUMMARY:

As with all my posts, I have really little gain other than knowing that people have the best aquarium with the least hassles, with as little expense as possible.
I’m certainly in no place to judge the intentions of the majority of these Youtube, Facebook, forums, etc., but at the same time when I spot information or persons not respecting others in the hobby and industry as I have, I feel it is important that I make such posts.
I also know how extremely invaluable the mentoring I have received and continue to receive, and when I see the more hateful Youtubers attack those who have given so much to this industry and hobby, I will also “cry foul”.

My goal is that some of these persons will learn to reach out and READ, not just watch others Youtube channels or Facebook forum snips.
I think the majority of those who maintain Youtube channels and FB forums have a lot to offer and can offer much more if they simply move away from the haters, read more, respect mentoring, and realize that just maybe, many have come before them that have taken the time to apply scientific method and more to ideas/concepts that were proven to not be the best.

G

Must Read Aquarium Information Websites

This is certainly not a complete list of aquarium help/information, but these are ones I CAN vouch for their sources.
Admittedly two websites (Aquarium Article Digest and Aquarium Supplies & Resources) have cited/interviewed me among others as their source of information.
This does not take away their credibility, as I know one website in particular (Aquarium Article Digest) uses dozens of resources and even guest authors (whom I do not know).

The other websites I recommend are based on what I view as simple yet good information.

I should also note that I started this website only recently to counter all the misinformation I find via customers who make me aware there-of.
I am far from an expert in websites (as the amateur quality of the website design shows), and in fact I am rare online. Much of my time online is ONLY after I have a client tell me about the “lasted thing they read online”, for which I investigate.
For this reason I am not always aware of all the good websites either, only the “bad” ones I am made aware of by my clients.

Since this blog over all often has a negative tone based on the reasons I get online in the first place (to explore strange advice my clients repeat to me that they found online), I felt having a positive post about websites I can recommend was long overdue.


Aquarium Article Digest

This article is especially excellent for its articles on lighting, such as “LED Aquarium Lights, Lighting Information“.

 


Aquarium Supplies & Resources

This article has a great listing itself of many top notch articles in this article: “Unique Aquarium Articles

 


Sponge Filter; Information

While not a flashy website, I found the articles simple and “spot on”

 


Aquarium Medications

Great accurate article about the use of aquarium medications and treatments, as well as where to get them.
Again I found this website spot on with the article about Furan 2 interesting since this is a product I often find useful.

 


Fish Beginner

A client stumbled upon this neat little gem and told me about it.
I especially like this article from this website:
Aquarium UV Sterilizer Use; Choosing & Maintenance– This article includes simple but accurate information about choosing a replacement UV bulb

Fluval FX 6 or 5 OR Fluidized Filter

Fluval FX5 Aquarium Canister FilterFurther Revised 1-18-2014

Canister Filters have been around for many years, long before I got my start professionally (working for an aquarium service company in 1986).
Eheims, Fluvals, Marineland Magnums, Rena Filstar, are just a few of the brands I have and still use.

Unfortunately these filters can occasionally be a nightmare in priming or loosing their prime due to connections, air bubbles, etc.
I managed these problems well since a leaky filter is something my clients pay me to NOT have.
However I also get many calls (as did my previous employer) from non-clients who request one time service calls for canister filters purchased elsewhere that they simply cannot get started or re-started.

This brings me to the point of this review; while canister filters are awesome for their capacity (assuming proper set up), these filters often can be be nitrate factories for high bio load fresh & saltwater aquariums.
As well, these filters are easily the number one cause of aquarium “headaches” based on my experiences with regular clients and one time service call customers.

One of the problems (among many) is the motor on the top which often gets an air bubble in the impeller well resulting in the filter stopping.
The Fluval FX5 addressed this problem with a bottom/side pump, which is by far the main improvement this filter offers in my experience (I emphasize experience, not just opinion).
The Fluval FX5 has many other features as well including what Hagen (the manufacturers) calls “Smart Pump™ Technology”. Personally I find this feature more of a gimmick as well as most of the other so-called features which are not much more than any other canister filter, except this filter retails generally for over $300 compared to much less for otherwise comparable filters.

As with ALL other canister filters, changing this filter is often a chore, despite some of the claimed “new features”.

TMC Fluidized Sand Bed Aquarium Filter, connected to pump, sponge This brings me to my comparison with a Fluidized Sand Bed Aquarium Filter.
These filters when properly set up (also assuming manufacturer) have a bio capacity that the Fluval FX5 or any other canister filter simply CANNOT match.
As well the simplicity is mind boggling when compared with ANY canister filter, since the filter is essentially self cleaning due to the abrasive action of the the sand in liquid suspension.

These filters also beat a wet/dry filter hands down on bio capacity and for planted freshwater aquariums are a no brainer when compared to a wet/dry since these do not “scrub” CO2 nearly as much as a wet/dry filter can and does do.

Part of the problem these filters have not “taken off” in my opinion is the fact that the aquarium hobby is very anecdotal and unwilling to think outside the box much of the time. This includes how to set up a Fluidized filter.

The picture to the above left displays a top of the line TMC V2 1000 Fluidized Filter mated to a water pump (SunSun JBQ 3500), then a Hydro Pond Sponge Filter attached to it. The Hydro Pond #4 by its own rights can handle an aquarium over 100 gallons, so when added to a Fluidized Filter that can handle 20 lbs of fish bio load (this is a lot of fish for an average aquarium under 200 gallons), you have a filter system second to none.

The negative of this set up is the large and sometimes obtrusive Hydro Pond #4, for which I generally prefer the vastly smaller Filter Max Pre-Sponge Filters (4 inches by 2.75 inches).
The other somewhat negative is the general lack of chemical filtration, however this is easily overcome by placing filter saver nylon bags of your favorite chemical media (such as carbon) behind the sponge pre-filter in the area of highest flow.
As well the use of products such as NPX Bio Plastics can be added directly to the Fluidized Sand Bed Filter which then aids in nitrate and Phosphate removal.
So you can see this second negative really is not a negative.

Back to positive, the ease of rinsing the sponge filter is so much easier than the cumbersome task of opening up a canister filter, and changing a small nylon chemical filter bag (if needed) is simple as well.

As to the Fluidized Bed Aquarium Filter itself, I have many types and have found TMCs V2 Fluidised Sand Bed Aquarium Filter by far the best due to the excellent fluidation and ease of adding additional sand or other media (this is where the popular Lifeguard model fails in my experience).

The other feature I like about the TMC over other designs is the ability to add Oolitic Fluidation sand which during its action in the chamber aids in buffering water for essential mineral cations and pH; this is a major plus for Liverbearer fish, African Cichlids, and of course any saltwater fish or reef tank, often taking the place of a Calcium Reactor when calcium needs are low to moderate.

The final feature I like is, as noted earlier, the use in planted freshwater tanks (using standard silica media) where this filter does not strip CO2 the way many other Hang on or canister filters can do. This makes this the filter of choice for any planted freshwater aquarium.

In summary; while the expensive Fluval FX5 is an improvement over older Fluvals and some other canister filters, for my money it is an over priced piece of equipment that is more than 50% more than a Fluidized Filter, Pump, and Filter Max Pre-Filter combination that can easily out perform it, all the while being a simpler filter system to maintain.

See Also:
Aquarium Fluidized Sand Bed Filter Review

Sponge Filters for Aquarium , Sump, Pond