Filtration question... no rdg... using WWM... SW choices
Since you probably answered this question a 1000 times already I will make it short.
80lbs of base rock
25lbs of live rock
reef dynamics 180 skimmer
dog face puffer
What filtration set-up is best wet/dry or refugium?
<See WWM re wet-dries... gone over and over: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i6/trickle_filters.htm
and the linked files at the bottom.
And refugiums are worthwhile for most marine systems, though not alone in such a system as yours, considering the type, size of fishes stocked. Bob Fenner>
Overflows, Sumps and Pumps (Oh My!) – 08/16/12
I've read a lot of your info since March of 2011.
<<Excellent…do keep reading!>>
You have helped me a lot and that is an understatement!
<<Ah! Is redeeming to know>>
I have a 55 gallon tall tank, 30’’ long, 24’’ high, and 18'' wide.
<<Ah yes…the ubiquitous 55>>
The glass is tempered, so no drilling.
I'm thinking of putting an overflow on the tank. The tank has some corals, a few sps, lps and Zoas and mushrooms, plus a couple of fish. I want to get a CPR overflow, but don't know which one. I would like to get the one with 2-1.5’’ holes, I think it is a 1500gph, but am afraid it might be too big for a 55 gallon.
<<Is more than you “need” in my opinion. Going with a smaller setup (2-1” or 1-1.5”), and even then sizing/regulating your return pump to provide flow equal to half the return’s capacity for redundancy/safety, will be enough circulation yet a whole lot less headache re noise/bubbles/plumbing issues et al>>
I also need to know what size sump
<<As big as you can fit…for many of the reasons just listed. But for sure nothing “less” than 15 gallons>>
and what size pump?
<<For the size overflow I have recommended, something that will give about 300gph with whatever head-loss your system will provide>>
As you can see I'm a little afraid of an overflow onto the floor with all the water and I don't have the extra money for costly mistakes I'm going to make.
<<Understood…but many benefits to be gained by adding a sump. Though there are those (some here) who would say they would do without rather than rely on a siphon-style overflow>>
Believe you me, I have made a few even with all the info I've read here and other places!
<<Mmm, me too…even after many years in the hobby>>
Also if I don't go for the overflow which I really want, how many power heads should I put in there and where is the best places to put them.
<<Enough sized to provide flow at some 500+ gph…and positioned near the top to provide a “GYRE” type flow pattern>>
So what do you say guys, can you help a lady out?
<<Hope I have… Do research WWM re the terms I have used (gyre, head loss, etc.), along with sump plumbing and design, and then come back with more questions if you wish>>
<<Happy to share>>
I know you gentlemen
<<Ladies here too!>>
are very busy.
<<We’re here to help…>>
Turf Scrubber vs. Refugium in Fish Only Tank
SW UG Filter question, 2/18/10
Filter Feeding Animals As Filters (SW) --
Upgrading Filtration 12/10/08 Hi, <Tina.> I have a question about maybe upgrading a canister filter. I have a 90g euro braced acrylic tank. Here is what I have. 175 lbs live rock, 60 lbs live sand, Aqua C remora protein skimmer, magnum 350, Rena xp3 canister, Hydor Koralia 3. Here is my problem/question. Here is the situation. Started tank with live rock & sand almost 2 years ago. Happily added fish & LPS corals over a year. Nitrates went up to 20, did water changes, talked to www crew, too many fish, took out 1/2 of them, nitrates now at 20 after 20g water change down to 10 over a week back up to 20. Fish load: 1 jaw fish, 1 flame angel, 3 green chromis, 1 6 line wrasse, 1 anthis,1 tomato clown, 1 Pseudochromis. other stuff LPS, 1 clam, 1 anemone, 2 shrimp, snails, tiny starfish. November had a problem with hair algae & dying off of a clam, some fish, and most of my snails, again www crew solved the problem. (you guys are sooooo smart.) Anyway today my Rena stopped working after only having it a year. I don't know if I should fix it (have a call in to Mars to see if they know what's wrong there) or upgrade. I know canisters can cause nitrates but I clean it weekly & have only the sponges & white filter in there, I also clean the tubes etc every 6 months. Do you think it is causing the high nitrates or still too many fish? <Your bioload sounds fine from a filtration standpoint. The canister filter is really not doing anything for you at this point, your skimmer and live rock can handle the job.> I started off with the LPS corals but am selling them off because I want sps corals, but I know there is no point until I get rid of the rest of the algae & get the nitrates down to 0. <Not zero, but low and under control.> All my tests except the nitrates are where they should be. Also do I have any time to spare? Without the Rena running (completely took it out, don't want stuff building in the filter or tubes) is my tank a ticking time bomb? <No, but do be sure to supplement the flow the canister was providing.> Should I run down to Petco & buy a canister or do I have some time to order something better? I have thought about either another canister (maybe Eheim), a wet/dry, a sump with live rock, or a refugium. <One of the latter two, or both! If you do go with a sump, consider drilling the tank rather than using a hang on the back overflow. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ovrflowboxfaq4.htm> To be honest I really thought that the 175 lbs of live rock & 60 lbs of sand was supposed to be my filter but the nitrates suggest otherwise, unless the Rena is the problem (I do 20 g water change weekly). So better filter? <Yes, in a sump/refugium form.> Maybe more live rock & sand & adding more Hydors for circulation & no canister? <Bingo.> Give it up totally and admit I don't know what the heck I am doing? <Don't give up, keep reading and learning.> Any help you can give will be much appreciated. Ya'll are fantastic! <Thank you.> Thanks in advance Tina <Welcome, Scott V.>
Re: Upgrading Filtration, esp. canister f' 12/10/08 Hi, Scott thanks for your quick response to my letter about the Rena filter & upgrading. <Hello Tina, you're welcome.> Turns out the Rena xp3 just needed a impeller. <Not uncommon.> But now you have me thinking instead of investing in a sump can I just take the baskets/media out of the Rena & fill it with small pieces of live rock? Big enough of course not to obstruct the flow. <You could do this. Once you go sump you will never go back!> I don't know if you have to have a open sump to off gas or not. <It is better to have an open top. The increased surface area is one of the benefits of a sump.> Or if it needs light. <Only if you are growing a macroalgae in there.> Frankly I am not brave enough to drill a hole in a $700 tank filled with who knows (or wants to) how many $$ of live stuff with no other home to save them from one little oops! <Understood. If you use the hang on the back units do be sure to use two, with each one capable of handling the overflow duties on its own in case the other fails.> I have asked for a refugium for Christmas, we will see if Santa loves me or not ha ha! thanks again Tina <We will see. Talk soon, Scott V.>
Fluval fx5... SW filtr., English, using WWM -- 07/16/08 hi thanks for your time, I am interested in purchasing a fluval fx5 <Are much improved models over previous... but... not the best technology for the vast majority of home-hobbyist marine systems. You have read our input re on WWM?> for my saltwater 125 gallon tank witch <Which> is glass, I am very familiar with overflow boxes, wet/dry filtration ect. <... no such word> I just don't like the fact that there is more of a chance to get water damage If I were to have a problem like a loose venturi hose or power outage. (I have a 60 gal. acrylic with built in overflow boxes that I am much more comfortable with) since its glass I don't want to drill holes. I had this tank set up about 2 years ago with the overflow boxes, wet/dry & skimmer before. I want to set it up again but with a fluval fx5. I would have about 50-70 lbs. live rock about 2" live sand, <See WWM re this as well> 2 main fish like tangs and a school of damsels and a few small wrasses.(6 line or so) with decorative shrimps. <Mmm, may be consumed by the Pseudocheilinus...> I would also run a turbo flotor multi (hang on) skimmer, along with the fluval fx5. Do you think that would be adequate? <Nope> please let me know I would be very thankful. <... Please run your writing through a grammar, spell-checker before sending it to us... Your answers/input and much more related, useful information is archived on our site. Please learn to/use the search tool, indices there. Bob Fenner> Re: Thinking about changing my filter methods. 7/15/08 Ok I have read and read and read your fabulous website. I think I have put together a new solution to my filter needs. OK how does this sound. I am going replace my old wet-dry system and protein skimmer with a new larger sump, with a refugium (using a DSB and some macro algae and some rock rubble), and a fluidize bed filter. I am also considering using my old sump as a place to place rock rubble in. I am going to continue to use my protein skimmer as long as I need it. My goal for this new system is to help minimize maintenance and allow me to do smaller water changes every other week and to lower my nitrates. Again I have a heavy bio-load and my fish are messy eaters. What do you think of this set-up? any improvements? <Mmm, particulars re lighting, RDP... choices of macro-algae... All covered here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm the second tray. BobF> -Garrett Arnold Question regarding Steve Tyree's Sponge Filtration Concept - 7/1/08 Dear Bob/WWM crew, <SB in Bs> I am very interested in integrating Steve Tyree's sponge filtration model in my current aquarium. However, I consulted the opinions of several experts and they all said that though sponges filter feed from the water, they excrete ammonia as metabolic wastes, therefore contributing ammonia to the aquaria. They all agree that algae is better choice for nutrient control in aquaria. What are your opinions regarding this? Thanks. Best regards, SpongeBob in boxers <Mmm, most all animals produce ammonia (or analogs urea, uric acid) to degrees via amine catabolysis... Sponges don't make much, and there are (in well-enough) arranged set-ups mechanisms for dealing with such... Of SteveT's many semi-novel ideas the cryptic zone (low, no light, circulation) use of Poriferans is worth investigating. Bob Fenner>
Filter size? 04/07/2008 Hi everyone, <<Hello, Andrew today>> I am new to the salt water game. I have bought and have been reading the Conscientious Marine Aquarist. On page 40 of the book it states that I should cycle my water 5 to 10 times per hour. <<Hmmm.. a preference i feel, i would shoot somewhere in the region of 25 time per hour in a reef>> I have a seventy two gallon bow front glass tank. The store where I bought it initially told me that an SP4 was much too large for my system, but since I brought the info in the book to their attention they are unsure if a Rena SP4 canister filter is too large and will cause too strong a current, as I do not have a refugium. <<I presume you mean the Rena XP4, and not SP4..The rating of the XP4 is 409gph. With a tank your size, i suggest you have about 1800gph. So, you would need to get some powerheads into the tank to raise the current flow up>> At present I am running a borrowed SP3, a SeaClone 150 and two 402 powerheads. The next purchase I am going to make is a canister filter, I just need to know which would be better for the size of my tank? <<If you're aiming for a reef system, you could just use 1 - 1.5lbs of live rock per gallon of tank water and this will act as your filtration, and not need an external filter. The SeaClone skimmer i would stay away from, and choose something like a Deltec or Aqua C Remora skimmer. Far better skimmers in my opinion.>> I ultimately will have a reef system. Thank you for your time, Brad Knowlton <<Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. A Nixon>>
Filtration Question 3/5/08 Hello everyone, <Hello.> I really enjoy your site and find your information and suggestions right on the mark. My question to you is, can you recommend books that discuss the science of water quality and filtration in the home aquarium? <Reef Invertebrates by Anthony Calfo and Bob Fenner covers filtration and what is does for your water quality.> I am very interested in learning about the science and in building my own filtration systems; not to save money, but rather as a sub-hobby to the aquarium hobby. Any thoughts would be appreciated. <For the fabrication aspect of it I would contact some plastic suppliers. Most have literature on acrylic fabrication that they will send you. Fabricating your own filtration and other equipment is definitely a worthwhile hobby to pursue. Unfortunately, I know of no one resource that covers the filtration and fabrication of (Bob may?), >>Ah, no... hence, in part, my urging to have you produce such a work. RMF<< it is something that is something that it coming to fruition, slowly. What you seek can also be found cruising the net and using common sense processing what you read (remember everyone is an expert online). Have fun, Scott V.>
Mechanical Filtration 2/20/08 Hello! <John.> OK, yet ANOTHER "active filtration" question: I just thought of a theory (imperfect as it probably is): When you think about it, the "problem" with canister filters being nitrate factories (due to the accumulation of crud inside them) may not really be A problem. After all, the way I see it, the crud that used to be in your tank has only moved to a different place - inside the filter. Either way, it is STILL part of the makeup of your water - correct? <Yes, the problem with canister filters and other mechanical filtration media.> Doesn't this mean that moving it from one place (all over your LR) to another (inside a canister filter) shouldn't technically do ANYTHING to your nitrates? <Not if you leave it there. Hopefully the filter will be cleaned often and the detritus removed.> The reason I ask is because I am DESPERATELY seeking a way to eliminate all the mulm I see all over my LR between "turkey bastings". I felt that if I had active filtration (instead of just the tons of LR I have in the back chamber of my Aquapod 24) then at least I could export this fluffy grey gunk out of the tank and periodically clean my filter out. <Exactly what you need my friend.> With just the LR, all I'm getting is biological - no mechanical. <Do consider a protein skimmer, it will remove much of this out of the water column. This is what makes these such a powerful filtration tool.> Regards, John <Thank you for writing, Scott V.>
Freshwater to Marine, Overflow and Filtration 2/13/08 Hi, <Zach> I have been reading through the posts and have tried the search but am still having a hard time. I have a 30 gallon bowfront (undrilled) that I am currently using as a freshwater aquarium and I would like to convert it to saltwater. I am confused as to whether or not I should try drilling it myself and just add a sump (I'm afraid I'll shatter it), do I really have to drill it to use a sump or can you refer me to a post that would explain how to run a sump without drilling? <There are many such posts throughout WWM about using siphon type overflow boxes such as CPR. If you are not comfortable drilling or cannot find a shop to drill for you, it would be the way to go. Do consider running two in case one fails.> I was also wondering whether or not a wet/dry or canister filter is ever going to be capable of doing as good a job as a sump? <Adequate filtration can be accomplished; it will just take more maintenance on your part cleaning the filter frequently to maintain good water quality. Obviously you will lose the extra water volume and its benefits going with a canister.> Should I just bite the bullet and get a H.O.B. "sump"? <I would opt for a true sump or the canister, perhaps in addition to a hang on the back refugium.> Thanks a lot for your time and my apologies for probably asking a bunch of questions you've probably already answered elsewhere. Zach <I have included some pertinent links for you to read through below. Keep reading and all will be clear, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ovrflosel.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/refughangonmodelfaqs.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/pbholestools.htm
Natural Methods of Marine Filtration hello <Hello! Ryan with you today> we would like to set up a 350l reef tank with invertebrates and some (not many) fish. <Smart girl! Fewer fish keeps things simple and easy.> the confusion we have is that we have asked a lot of marine stores, read books and looked on the internet and we seem to get conflicting advice as to what is the best way to setup. <Commission talks, you know! I'll be as impartial as possible for you.> we were wondering if a DSB of 4" (in tank) using CaribSea Aragamax sugar would be ok with a small amount of live rock. <No, not really. 4 inches is a problematic depth- Too small for a true deep sand bed, yet too deep for a small one. It'll trap debris and not process waste properly. Either 5+ inches, or less than an inch is about right.> We have been told everything from this is ok to we don't want a DSB we need a plenum (because the DSB will compact to concrete) to we want all live rock and not to bother with DSB or plenum!!! <Yes, the DSB is great, but enjoyed best remotely (not in the display aquarium.) From looking at the FAQ on your site it seems that there isn't too much danger in a DSB and we have heard that the actual "plenum" is hard to keep clear of matter as some gets through the mesh and then you have to pull your tank apart to clean it. <Yes, plenums are great when under a skilled eye...But can be problematic for beginners. I'd skip either in favor of refugia in your case.> we have a filter as well for nitrification but we need to find the best way for denitrification. <the live rock, healthy circulation> Is there any rules that a DSB cannot be disturbed? can you not have critters that dig into it a little? <The opposite, in fact. The worms, clams and stars that inhabit your sand will help to keep the bed fresh.> if so what should be avoided? <For the benefit of the sand bed? Really, I can't think of any commonly purchased animals that are a detriment to the deep sand bed filtration system.> if we have a mixture of DSB and live rock, how much live rock? again we have been told anything from 1 piece to 40kg!!(a bit of a difference) <Hmm...sorry to sound so Americanized, but approx. 2 pounds per gallon of seawater is my preference.> also if we put other rock into the tank with the live rock, will it become "live" <Yes, in most cases> it is so hard when you try to get as many opinions as possible and you end up in more of a mess than when you started. We want to be able to understand WHY the system works, not simply work to a formula. <I thought you'd never ask! http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm. Control nutrients, and become the talk of all your salty friends.> I suppose everyone has there own "best" system, but it would be nice to know the science behind it if you could help us in this we would be extremely grateful. <It's actually quite simple, and I'd encourage you to take the natural approach to any difficulties you may have. I trust these articles will be helpful to your understanding of natural filtration methods: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reeffilt.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marmechf.htm Just remember one thing: Natural fixes are permanent, artificial fixes are typically just buying you time! Ryan> thanks in advance Lyndsay Jumpin' Into Sumps! Hi, <Hi! Scott F. with you today!> I am setting up a new 135 tank to be a reef tank, and I am trying to figure out to best filter it. I plan for my main sources to be live rock and sand in the tank, but I also intended to run a filter underneath it. My original intent was to run a wet/dry filter, but after reading bad things about using bioballs, I decided to go more towards just a sump with a protein skimmer. <I like sumps. They are very flexible, and can be applied to reef, FOWLR, and breeding systems with equal effectiveness> Anyway, I purchased a wet/dry filter with the skimmer. The size is 24Lx12Wx16T. It is a two-chamber unit, and my intent was to put some live rock/sand macro algae and critters in it along with the skimmer. Since buying it, though, I have been told that this is too small for my use (even though the filter is rated for aquariums 100 - 180 gallons). After being told that, I thought about using a 55 gallon tank that has been baffled, but that seems really big. I am really confused. Is this filter too small? <Well, it might be on the "small side" of useful, if that makes sense. In other words, you probably could benefit from a slightly larger sump, for 1)Greater capacity during drain-downs (as in power failures, etc. and 2)flexibility, such as being able to add a skimmer, chemical filtration media, areas to settle out detritus, etc. As long as you pump can do the job, your system would certainly benefit from the added water capacity that the 55 will afford...> If it is, is the 55 gallon too big? <I don't think so, as stated above> If the wet/dry is okay to use, what would be the best arrangement? Should the live rock go in the first compartment? Would the next compartment have the live sand/macro algae? Where would the skimmer go (sorry, I don't know the brand, but it is a large venturi, and it was being run by a Rio 2100 pump)? <I'd put the skimmer in a position where it receives a steady flow of the most nutrient laden water right from the tank, which will provide maximum skimmer efficiency. Then, you could go for some live rock or chemical media, such as Poly Filter or carbon. Finally, you could add some "purposeful" macroalgae (like my faves, Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria) in a lighted section of the sump (you can use an inexpensive PC or fluorescent fixture for this). The sky (and your creativity- and budget(!) are the only limits here...> I apologize for all the questions, but I have never done this before, and I am trying to figure out what to do before I do it. <No apologies needed- that's why we are here! I'd make use of the vast resources available on the WWM site regarding sumps. You should also visit the SIIICCKK (as in "great"!) Aussie DIY site, OzReef, for tons of practical ideas on sumps. Finally, there was a nice multi-part series in the on line mag Reef Keeping on sumps, that you may want to check out as well.> I have a nice 55 gallon reef now, but I don't have any filtration underneath it, so this is new to me. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Paul <Well, Paul, there are just a few simple rules to follow when designing and setting up sumps. Once you follow the basics, there is no limit to the cool things that you can try to take advantage of the flexibility that sumps offer. Have fun! Regards, Scott F>
Filtration...what to do? Hello to all, Your website is very informative, I have just gotten a 60g Hex and I want to set it up as a marine aquarium. I have been bombarded with filtration suggestions...one gentlemen suggested a Fluval 404 with a protein skimmer, another said an Emperor 400 BioWheel, protein skimmer, and some live rock should be plenty. (The Fluval is not a consideration after reading your faq section )...I am on a budget and am desperately seeking some suggestions even as far as stocking the tank. Help! Thanks, Lori <Much to discuss... do take the time (cheap and easy by comparison) to read through much of the marine filtration articles and FAQs sections posted on WetWebMedia.com first... determine about what sorts of system, types of livestock you'd like to have... what you want to do with them (optimize growth, color, reproduction, just have a nice system)... and your options. Do write a synopsis of what your real options are, perhaps just a table of possibilities and the gear (even sizes, brand names) that could go into making your system. Strive to understand the underlying principles (can I say/state it? the actual science) of what the various types of gear "do" and how they "do it"... ahead or instead of adverts or blank statements of "do this/that" to have a successful aquarium. Clear your mind, and study my friend. We will be here to help you. Bob Fenner>
Biological Filtration Upgrade Hi Bob, Just got back from a week of diving (including a 1000Â¹ dive on a research sub) and IÂ¹ve dedicated the last few vacation days to cleaning/overhauling the ole fish tank. In reading Aquarium Sharks & Rays, one of Scott Michael's suggestions is to use sand filters in lieu of more traditional filters like wet/dry bio balls, undergravel, canister, etc., due to the nutrient spikes concomitant with large predators. <Many larger, public aquariums rely on this technology... expensive to run for power, throwing away a bunch of water for backwashing... but can work> I have several filtrations systems on my 600 gallon shark tank. I was considering keeping bio balls in a trickle filter but replacing a canister filter (full of ceramic pieces) with a fluidized sand filter. <Okay> Two reasons: First, I think ceramic pieces in a large canister filter setup is relatively inefficient for the amount of space it takes up under the stand (18" in diameter and about 30" tall). Is this correct?? <For large predator tanks, yes... more nitrification to be had by fluidized bed methods... more still by a wet-dry tower with air blown up it> Wouldn't the same size fluidized sand filter provide GREATLY increased area for bacteria. Second, cleaning accumulated debris out of the ceramic pieces involves a multi-hour canister removal/replacement, which can't be good for the bacteria colony. With the way sand filters are constructed, aren't they generally self-cleaning? <If packed correctly, and managed properly (principally regular backwashing) yes... many times/cases folks just use too much, too fine silica sand as media... bad news packing and channeling...> I'd much rather my protein skimmer be responsible for collecting and removing algae and other debris rather than a dedicated bio filter. <Need both types of filtration> I'd like your thoughts on this strategy as well as any recommendations of suitable manufacturers and/or retailers (600 gallon tank. Will probably be driving the unit with 1,500Â2,000 gph). Believe it or not, even in a city as large as Dallas, we're pretty short on high tech aquarium suppliers who would carry this kind of equipment. <Check with Aquanetics... link on WWM for pumps, all-plastic filters... Euro-Reef or RK2 for a skimmer. Bob Fenner> Thanks once again!!
Filtration systems Bob, I am in the "research" phase of establishing a smaller saltwater aquarium (25g-30g). For the most part, I understand equipment, compatibility, water quality, etc. but am a little confused (no, a lot confused) about the filtering. I would like to use live rock (Bio?)<Yes, and more> to do the filtering but, do I need anything else and if so what would you suggest. <Hmm, yes... at least some skimming is advisable at the start... the first few months... you will see decided changes in the qualities, amount of collectant... and some periodic chemical filtration like monthly use of activated carbon... along with perhaps some boosted macroalgae growth (intense lighting, sufficient water quality)> Please be specific as I am that confused. <Keep researching till your confusion fades... you have an obvious talent for communication... and will be able to discern your path... Do look for Walter Adey's works on the Net... and read them over as well as the scant coverage of "Setup", "Components" posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com... seek to understand the underlying principles and you will know how to proceed> I do know that I don't want a wet/dry system if it can be avoided at all. <Easily. Bob Fenner> Thanks for the help. Thom Walters
Marine filtration Hi Bob, question number 2. How would you go about filtering a 120 tank (84" x 18" x 18"). At present it is fairly heavily stocked, but it is about to undergo renovation. Stock at present is: Emperor Angel 4.5" Queen Angel 4.5" Yellow Tang 3.5" Regal (hippo) Tang 3" Foxface 4" 2 Humbug damsels 1" each Royal Gramma 2" 6 Line Wrasse 2" Midas Blenny 2.5" Algae Blenny 3.5" Maroon Clown 3" Soon to leave are the queen, damsels, maroon, and midas. They are going to friend, who really likes them, so I am selling them to him, and am going to replace them myself with other species (although I will be substituting the queen for a flame .... not another large angel). Presently the main filtration consists of a Berlin classic skimmer, and a Lifeguard Fluidized Bed (for 300 gals). At present there is no LR or LS in the system. I am unhappy with water quality in general, especially constantly high nitrates ... sometimes more than 50ppm, despite biweekly 25% water changes with nitrate free water. How would you suggest I filter my tank ? Thanks, Matthew (Co. Cork, Ireland) >> Thank you for writing... I would definitely be adding the live rock... and allowing it to make your sand live.... And checking to assure your lighting will be adequate for the live rock's photosynthetic component... Save your money and thank me later for not buying and doing all those water changes... and get a nice needle wheel type skimmer (foam fractionator) like a Turboflotor, and place it in one of your sumps.... The other, I would stock with some more live rock, a continuously on light (small fluorescent will do) with some Caulerpa Algae... You will soon be of more of the "sailboat" mentality of aquarium keeping (as opposed to fighting the declining water quality "motor boat" ways...) my friend, Bob Fenner
External vs. Internal Filtration Bob, I am compiling opinions of which of the two methods are preferred. I like the fact that the internal keeps everything inside with less danger of water leakage but I am not sure that the filtering of the water is maximized. The tank is 48" wide, 24" high and 24" deep which allows for about 4"-5" in the back for wet/dry filter and protein skimmer. What are your thoughts? Charles Early >> External in almost all cases/scenarios... much easier to manipulate... and in modern installs, almost no problems of leaking. Bob Fenner
Filtration Bob, is the undergravel filtration a bad type of filter to use? Every one who I have talked to says that the undergravel filtration that runs by 2 802 aqua clear powerheads is a bad set up. They all say that the undergravel filtration will give me nothing but problems. The also say my hang on filter aqua clear 500 is a piece of junk. I decided to first put on a millennium wet/ dry filter first, then later put on a protein skimmer. They also say my millennium wet/dry is also a piece of junk. Bob is this true about what they said about my filters? >> <Well, as the saying goes, all are entitled to their opinions... but do demand "facts" of these folks as to their commentary reasoning. First, no, undergravel filters are not necessarily bad... in fact they have been and are the paradigm around the world... most everyone does use them... they do have shortcomings certainly, and are not for the lazy who won't do minimum maintenance to make sure they don't just become collectors of filth... And as far as hang on type power filters I am not a big fan of the Hagen AquaClear (tm) line, but there is really nothing "wrong" with them... they're underpowered, but they do work, are reliable, easy to clean, quiet, energy efficient... Tetra's Millennium wet-dry I don't care for either... it does work, but is puny size/function-wise, and not easy to use... Yes, there are better filters by other manufacturers... but these will/do work for what they're designed for. Small "beginner" systems. Bob Fenner>
Filtration - enough not enough Dear Mr. Fenner: Your book is great. I'm on my second reading. just in case I missed anything. I am putting together a 75 gal. F/0 tank. I have a Marine Tidepool II with an Amiracle cross current protein skimmer in the sump and a mechanical pre-filter in the overflow. I will have a crushed coral substrate. Do I need anymore filtration than this? <Probably not> I have been posting on the forums on the web and many people tell me I should also add a canister filter and a UV sterilizer. <These would help, incrementally... but they're not necessary... and to put all in perspective, you would do better devoting the same resources to live rock, maintenance... even other filter gear like an ozonizer...> I understand the concept of UV sterilization but isn't that more a concern of reef keepers than with fish only tanks? <Not really... the benefits of using UV accrue with all types of systems... lowered overall microbial populations, higher Redox, dissolved oxygen... more stable pH....> I'd rather spend any extra money on fish rather than more filtration, but if I need more I will get it. Any input you can give me, will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your help. Susan Krueger <Be chatting, Bob Fenner, who thanks you for your message and kind, encouraging words>
New S/W Setup I am about to set up a 75 gallon reef tank. It is my first venture into saltwater and therefore I have a lot of questions. Your web site is great and has given me considerable guidance so far. The one issue that I still am not entirely clear on is filtration. This tank will use live rock, probably 90 lbs of Fiji rock. I will of course have a protein skimmer, currently considering one of the Berlin models ( most likely the hang on version). For pure mechanical filtration I will use either a Fluval or Eheim which will turn over the water 5 times per hour. Now the questions. Will the canister filter contribute to the production of nitrate? <Not if set up, run correctly... can provide both aerobic and hypoxic/anaerobic conditions for culture... read through the FAQs associated with mechanical, biological filtration on the site... invest in Ehfi-mech, Siporax or such (one time purchase)...> Should it be eliminated. Do I need a wet/dry filter? <No, but having a sump is very nice... flexible... increases safety margins...> Should it be a sump type or one of the wet/dry canister filters? <Sumps> And since I am at it I should ask if you have any thoughts on the rock, skimmer or the canister filter. <What you have listed is fine... the Eheim is a vastly superior product> Thanks for the time and assistance - I am going out tomorrow to look for your books. Paul <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>
Are Refugiums and Sumps Mandatory? 11/3/05 Greetings, <Hi Brad!> Brad B. here. I've been reading a lot on your web site to try an educate myself, answer questions and get ideas. I'm trying to be a good steward and have a basic question. First, here's my scoop: 46 g bow front marine aquarium / 60 lbs of live reef sand / mix of rock and live rock - a good coverage of LR but not all that much weight as I chose specimens with good color and surface area but light (save $$) / two Emperor 280s (fiber media plus activated carbon cartridges) / AquaC Remora skimmer with MaxiJet 1200 / two AquaClear 50s and two AquaClear 30s for circulation / Coralife 36" with a 96W Actinic, 96W 10,000K white, and two lunar LEDs on a timer - Actinic = 12 hrs and White 10,000K 8 hrs... okay... Can I expect good success (such as getting/keeping nitrates near zero) with a low fish load - inverts - corals given the above stated setup without adding a sump or refugium? <Brad of course it is possible to get away without a refugium or a sump. Though I will say a refugium is in my opinion a great asset to any marine tank, not only as a nutrient export device as a breeding ground for detritivores and micro-fauna. The sump is a great place to hide equipment and improve the aesthetics of the display. And both the refugium and the sump increase your water volume and thus your margin of error. Having said that yes, as I stated above these are not mandatory. However the heavier maintenance because of the lack of these devices will fall on you. You may need to perform extra water changes; and yes I would understock your tank as far as fish.> I want to/did invest in good stuff but want to keep it simple as possible. Many thanks! <Welcome Adam J.>
SW starting up 8/5/05 Hi, this is my first time writing to you, I just sold a 37 gallon salt water tank, I want to go with a 50 gallon (36x15x20-25?) nothing too big, and this was directly asked by my parents to keep it this size. I already have an XP3 canister, I'm using this to keep my filter, live rock, and live sand in a 30 gallon bucket. We're going with a ten inch high canopy with retrofit lighting (compacts: three 96watt: two 96 watt actinic and one 10k white), is this suffice for a 50 gallon reef tank? <For many types of life, yes... there are other routes...> I say reef tank meaning soft corals, mushrooms, polyps, Leathers, etc. etc. nothing too light dependent. What do you believe to be the best filtration system? A sump? <... this is posted on WWM... I am a big fan of sumps.> I was looking into an ecosystem 60 (a hang on the back refugium?) Do you have any experience with these? <Yes> Do I need a protein skimmer? <I would have one, yes> Which one of those two filtration system (refugium ecosystem 60 or a sump) are more efficient? Do they both have pro's and con's? <Yes... and these are posted...> Are they both enough on their own? Or will something have to be added later on? <Depends... on what you keep, want to do with it...> I know power heads will be must. If a sump is the best way to go, is it a wet/dry system, without bio-balls and live rock? Is a refugium underneath to much for such a small system? I want to do this right the first time; it's too expensive to make mistakes in this hobby. <Agreed... which is why we've invested thousands of hours of our lives assembling input for your perusal... WWM, please go, read there. Bob Fenner> Thank you very much, Jessica Rose Reef: Research, Equipment, Research, Circulation, Research - 8/4/5 Hi, my name is Travis. <Hi Travis, Oh no, they set us up the bomb! ;) - Ali here..> Let me take a moment to explain my situation. I started out with a small tank and a big Oscar about 6 months ago. The Oscar got moved to a bigger tank, and he outgrew it. Then he moved to another bigger tank, 75 gallons, and he got ich and died. Six months ago when I bought that Oscar, I had never owned a fish. Now all I think about are aquariums. Anyway, after the Oscar died, I decided that Oscars were not my bag. So what do I do after failing at my first attempt? <Grab several cups of coffee and start researching?> I decide to go with a reef tank. I know, go ahead and laugh, I'm an idiot. So I've got this 75 gallon tank. I put a layer of crushed shells mixed with aragonite sand in it. I then build up the back with lava rock as a base for my live rock that I'll eventually get. I fill the tank with water and mix in the salt mix, and that's where things get complicated. In my effort to get everything right from the start, I will not buy a single live organism until I know everything is set up exactly perfectly. <Good, however your current set-up needs to be looked over and altered, continue to browse this site along with www.reefcentral.com for proper reef tank filtration methods and do some reading. I highly, highly recommend you pick up Bob's The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and read, read and read some more.> I had a Marineland 350 BioWheel filter and a Marineland Magnum 350, both of which I was planning to use on this saltwater tank. I was given advice against BioWheels, so I moved that filter to my other freshwater tank, and I returned the Magnum 350 to the store so I could afford more important items. I then bought what I thought was a good protein skimmer, a Prizm Pro Deluxe (a.k.a. garbage). So the skimmer did not do anything other than fill the collection cup with water and leak, so I returned it. Then I read some more, and decide I need a reverse osmosis unit, as my tap water is high in nitrates (about 30 ppm out of the tap). I also have a "wavemaker" unit that is pretty much 3 295gph powerheads plugged into a power strip designed to alternate them. <Run your powerheads without the wavemaker. This type of 'wavemaker' decreases circulation within the tank, do a search on this as well...In a nutshell a wavemaker "stops" circulation and then turns it 'on' again. Not a very good method and unfortunately many aquarist fall victim to purchasing these devices. A better option would be to purchase, say for example 4 MaxiJet 1200 powerheads and position one powerhead in each corner of the tank. Position the nozzles so they are all pointing to the center of the tank, causing the currents to collide with each other and essentially creating chaotic and random flow/circulation without 'stopping' the circulation.> Now you know what I know, and here is where I get to my questions. What do I need to buy to get my system set up. I will help by suggesting things that I think I need, but am not sure about: I have no stand, but the tank is resting on a very sturdy dresser that is the perfect length. Do I need a real stand? <Here is a picture of one of my old reef aquariums from 4 or 5 years ago... A standard 50 sumpless gallon tank placed on an underwear drawer: http://reefcentral.com/gallery/data/500/8980ProjectReefOLDTANK.jpg So, no you don't 'need' a stand if you are going sumpless, however if you plan on ever adding a hang on the back overflow box, you will need a standard aquarium stand in order to place your sump underneath.> I now have no protein skimmer: what is the best model for my size tank? <Best hang-on skimmer the market now would probably be the AquaC Remora Pro> I do not have a plenum, sump, or refugium: which would be best to keep my nitrates low? <3-5" FINE grain sugar sized aragonite substrate (CaribSea Aragamax select) along with high quality live rock, good quality skimmer, lots of circulation and a low fish bioload.> I plan to only house coral, and coral safe fish/inverts that thrive in average to moderate lighting, because metal halide is out of the question: how many watts do I need? I saw a 90 gallon glass tank with a pine stand/canopy in the paper for $300, is this a good deal? Is there anywhere that can just tell me step by step what I need to do to set up my tank, and what brands of what equipment are good? <The internet, especially this site and reefcentral.com have a ridiculous amount of valuable information. You need to be assertive and take action - READ, research, then do it again. Don't expect everyone to do it for you.> I have no local fish stores, so it's all pretty much internet for me, and I never know what or whom to trust. Also, please while answering my queries keep in mind that I would like my tank to look nice and function well, but I would also like to be able to afford to put a fish or two in it sometime this century. <Good luck Travis, I'm sure that if you continue your research (how many times have I used that word?), purchase the proper equipment and utilize the proper husbandry techniques - your new reef tank will be a long-term success. - Ali>