The Deltec VF6000 is one of two new auto filter roll models from the German company best known for its protein skimmers. These fleece or vleece filters were first teased by Deltec at InterZoo 2018 but have recently begun becoming available in the general aquarium hobby.
Automatic filter rolls are a relatively new product category in the hobbyist and consumer aquarium space, although large versions have been around in much larger sizes for commercial applications. The ClariSea filters have been the go-to choice for most aquariums up to around 100 gallons and for many reefers today it’s their first experience with an automatic filter roll.
However, the Clarisea filter has been available for some time now, leaving room for competitors to improve on the design, which is precisely what Deltec has done with their VF Series automatic filters. The biggest issue with most auto filter rolls is changing the rolls, and the need to ‘thread’ the roll through the filter in the first place, and this is the biggest improvement to the Deltec VF4000 and VF6000 models.
Before we talk the Deltec VF’s particular design, it’s important to address the big step up in build quality and subsequent price jump. Whereas most consumer Auto Filter Rolls are made from thin acrylic, which users have to assemble themselves, the Deltec VF4000 and VF6000 are built of sturdier PVC and come pre-assembled. With everything in life, the Deltec models are almost twice the cost of the Clarisea and comparable price-sensitive models at $699 and $799 respectively.
But more important than the higher build quality is the unique method Deltec employs to deploy and spool out the water filtering fleece material. Instead of the U-shaped filter design which needs to slide along two, non-removable spindles at each corner, the Deltec VF filters used a V-shaped design and a single, magnetically removed spindle for the filter material to slide against.
We can’t overstate how much of a difference this makes to installing a new filter roll and changing an old one, it’s this design detail that makes the biggest difference to the overall user experience. Another notable improvements is how the new and used rolls simply rest in a groove where they spin in place instead of using manually adjusted and removed wing nuts where rolls and motors may be attached to flexible acrylic.
Another upgrade to the Deltec VF filters is how the motor powering the used roll is completely enclosed and waterproof, protected from splashes and moisture whereas others are vulnerable, and rely on their high placement to avoid exposure. Furthermore Deltec also saw fit to make this component a simple drop-in in case it should need servicing or replacement, a nice touch indeed.
Besides the price, the biggest compromise to the Deltec VF filters is their size – most automatic filter rolls are trying really hard to squeeze into tiny consumer grade sumps. Meanwhile the Deltec VF are unapologetically twice the size, so you’ll need a bigger, more capacious sump to install one, but it might be worth it to get the extra flow capacity, which brings us to an important question about these newfangled devices.
How in the heck are these things rated anyway? The ClariSea Gen 2 SK-5000 and Deltec VF 6000 are rated for five thousand and six thousand liters respectively, but the VF 6000 can handle way more water flow than the ClariSea. We imagine that manufacturers are rating these things when the fleece filter is completely clean, but this doesn’t seem like the proper way to rate them.
Automatic Filter Rolls spend most of their time operating with the exposed part of the filter mostly clogged, usually just on the cusp of new material becoming spooled when the float switch is activated. Therefore it seems more useful for these auto filter machines to be rated when they are dirty, and the maximum water flow that can pass through before the float switch is tripped on.
Another important thing to consider about these new Automatic Filter Rolls is how much noise they produce, both from the water coming into the device and flowing out into the sump. We’re happy to report that the Deltec VF6000 is extremely quiet when water comes into it, which in our case is helped along with the use of a continuous siphon drain to feed it raw water, so no bubbles or gurgling.
However, the Deltec VF filters have two flat channels on both sides of the device, and at a high flow rate they create their own noise by the splashing and gurgling right after passing through the filter fleece. Thankfully, we have experience in silencing small amounts of gurgling and since it wasn’t too extreme, simply cutting some gutter guard to size and sliding it right in between these channels completely silenced the noised produced by the splashing, and now the entire device operating at a high flow rate is dead silent.
Our experience with the noise created by the Deltec VF could be an artifact introduced by our intentional placement with the outlet at the bottom just barely at the water’s surface. We feel strongly that just like filter socks, it’s important to elevate these automatic filter rolls out of the water as much as possible so that gravity can pull as much water volume through.
To elevate the automatic filter roll we built a simple platform from half inch PVC parts and pipe which is sturdy, inexpensive and doesn’t block any water flow circulating through the sump. Since auto filter rolls are still new to our lineup of aquarium gear, the best practices for their installation are not well known, but hopefully will be in the future.
We’ve really enjoyed the first wave of practical, consumer grade automatic filter rolls like the ClariSea for years, but have been wondering for some time how their designs could improve in the future. The Deltec VF6000 brings precisely those improvements, especially in the department of installing and replacing filter rolls, a maintenance chore which reduces the maintenance previously required of using mechanical filter socks.
Although it might take up more room than a typical 8 inch filter sock, we’re very much looking forward to not having to replace or clean socks on this system any more. The only thing left to discover is how long one roll of filter fleece will last compared to changing filter socks. [Deltec USA]