Best Filter Sock Alternative: Automatic Roller System

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If you've been running a saltwater FOWLR or reef tank for any period of time it is very likely that you are intimately acquainted with filter socks.  Usually placed below the outflow pipe from the overflow into the sump, filter socks are the first mechanical line of defense to remove particulates from the water, which not only removes biological waste, but also helps keep the water shine.  However, filter socks must be changed out every few days, and many people are looking for the best filter sock alternative. 

While filter socks are reusable--most people place their filter socks in the washing machine once they reach a critical mass of dirty socks--they are both annoying to change out, and somewhat gross to touch to boot.  In fact, moving away from filter socks to an automatic filter roller is one of our first suggested areas of improving your reef tank automation through technology

So what ends up happening when you get tired of changing your filter socks?  You end up leaving them in the sump for too long, that's what. The best case scenario is that your water just doesn't look as fresh.  However, if you go TOO long without changing the sock (say, longer than a week), the biological waste caught in the sock will begin to break down, causing your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels to rise.  This is counterproductive to say the least.

What if there was an alternative to using filter socks?  You could save yourself the hassle and disgust of handling those fish poop factories by purchasing an automatic filter system.  Of course, as with most things in this hobby, with great convenience comes a somewhat hefty price tag.  But if you were in reefing for its "budget options," you've already made some terrible mistakes!

ClariSea SK-3000 Automatic 4" Aquarium Filter

Automatic roller filters are the wave of the future when it comes to aquarium maintaince.  ClariSea's SK-3000 model is one of the few models currently on the market, but I expect that more are to come.  It couldn't be easier to use.  Simply install the system in your sump--the filter material is wound around a drum, which runs into the water.  At 20 microns, it polishes the water far more than the common 200 micron filter socks that most people use, as 20 micros clog so quickly that it would be very difficult to change out the socks fast enough.

The ClariSea system actually works specifically through the clogging of the pores in the filter.  As the filter roll clogs, the water level in the filter system rises, tripping a switch in the automatic roller, which then rolls the dirty part of the filter material out of the water.  This then drops the water level again, resetting the system.

It is a clean and elegant system, and there are automatic backups in place to avoid any potential concern of overflowing.

Want to see it in action? Check out the video below:


If you are tired of changing filter socks, and are willing to drop some money on a more automatic system, you should consider getting an automatic filter roller system, and be on the front line to advancement in the reef tank industry.