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FAQs about Mechanical Filtration for Marine Systems

Related FAQs: Diatom/aceous Filters/Filtration, Ozone & Ozonizers, Ultraviolet Sterilizers, Wet Dry Filters and Protein Skimmers

Related Articles: Marine Filtration, Mechanical, Physical & Chemical

 Nemateleotris magnifica Fowler 1938, the Fire Goby.  Some fishes and non-fish livestock don't appreciate too much current.

Pump options... Pressurized filters/SW, and the use of under-rock supports     12/15/14
Dear Crew,
I have been reading up on an idea but am not getting the clear-cut answer I need before I move forward. You have always been so helpful; I thought I’d throw it your way J I have a 265 gallon tank I am setting back up after a move. The pump I had before was about 650gal/hour and serviced two refugiums as well. It worked, but obviously there is lots of room for improvement here. I have an above ground pool pump/filter that was used on my salt water pool.
It hasn’t been used in over a year. Its specifications are 1,200 gph (110-120V).
<Mmm; well; just the flow rate doesn't give the whole picture... need (head) pressure at operating and maximum (back flush)... different pump (motor, impeller...) configurations give a mix of both of these>
What do you think about using this?
<The simple statement: "Can work", but with provisos, warnings... that such pressurized filters, even when filled with appropriate media (a rarity) take a bunch of electrical energy/cost to run... and they have downsides; real (like the cost of water to back flush/rinse) and potential (channeling, "going anaerobic"). Another way to put my response: "I am a much larger fan/promoter of non-pressurized" means; like your refugiums, DSBs, the use of filter "socks"....">
I thought I could hook up some restrictions to control the flow and maybe connect my home-made protein skimmer.
Also, I was thinking about placing some egg crate under my rock structures to distribute the weight and protect the glass.
<This is a very good idea IMO/E>
My issue here is that my inhabitants tend to move the sand causing it to show.
<No big deal... can just re-cover when doing regular (weekly) gravel vacuuming/water changes... Make it a bit of a game>
If I placed a sheet of acrylic on top of the eggcrate, sprayed the whole thing black (I have black sand), do you see any problems from this?
<Only a bit (not really significant) of anaerobiosis>
Thank you so much for all your advice.
Sincerely, Alyssa
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Germicidal bleach   8/2/11
Dear Crew
<Jess>
First of all let me say thank you for all your time and efforts. Can I use Clorox Germicidal bleach to disinfect filter socks?
<Yes... the same protocol... freshwater rinsing/soaking, dechlorinating and air-drying should be employed as with any bleach use. Best to have multiple sets of such socks... be cleaning/processing one while the other is employed/in use>
From what I can tell the only difference between the regular and germicidal formula is the sodium hypochlorite concentration, but it has been hard to find information.
<I do think this is "it".>
Thanks for your help,
Justin
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Surface skimming 6/5/2011
Hi Crew
<Joe>
Quick question: can you effectively surface skim a standard, non-drilled aquarium by building a weir, putting the syphon intake of an external filter in this chamber, and having the water-level in the weir slightly lower than the rest of the tank?
<Mmm, not really workable due to the small amount of water difference in volume necessary to make this work. Better to use a commercial surface skimming attachment. See them on the Net... Aqua C makes a nice one...>
Would the water level fluctuate in this chamber only (from evaporation losses), as it does in the end chamber of a standard sump?
<Yes>
Thanks
Yours
Joe
<And you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Surface skimming 6/6/2011

Howdy Bob
<Joe>
Thanks as ever for your input. While the amount of water difference may be small, as long as the water movement is 'sealed' within an external filter, and the weir volume is large enough, I cannot see how this would be much different, to say for instance when you run a sump on its own, and feed the return of the pump back to the first section of the sump (which I have done).
<Is a matter of degree... the transit volume being likely much larger in the case of the level of water over overflow/s to the sump presumably>
Effectively it is a closed circuit, but you still get the benefit of surface skimming. Is there something I'm missing here?
<I don't think so, no>
Apologies to come back to you on this one, but I feel that this way of surface skimming has lots of potential to eliminate plumbing, drilling etc.
<Mmm, how to put this; there are other work-arounds w/ such surface skimming... Have you looked on the Net re?>
As an aside, isn't this effectively what aquariums with hidden backs (Red Sea, Aqua Medic) do?
<Is one of their "benefits"; though such units often have disadvantages (mainly access)>
I'm just making a guess on this one.
Thanks again
Yours
Joe
PS - Is it a good, medium, or bad idea to share snacks of banana and apple with my reef fish?
<Medium middling. BobF>
Re: Surface skimming    6/8/11

Okay Bob, many thanks for your input. (I still think it will work - I think an experiment is in order...)
<Good. Talking about science, there are actual measures that one might employ to prove out the efficacy of design...>
Finally, I am very much looking forward to reading Reef Invertebrates, which
I have recently received from Tim Hayes' outfit Midland Reefs.
<Ahh, a very nice fellow. Cheers to you and he in the UK>
All the best
Joe
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Mechanical filtration options   1/12/10
Hi, folks,
I have a 45 gal tank with fish, LR, sand, and some Zoas/mushrooms. Not much of CUC, except for a few Nassarius and Turbos. No sump, but a canister filter with foam pads and carbon, in-tank skimmer and a powerhead.
Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates have been all zero for the past weeks.
The canister (my second one in a few months) has leaked (just like the first one, but a different brand), and I want to say goodbye to this approach for good. This, however, leaves me without mechanical filtration.
The question is, should I worry about it?
I've seen lots of people running reef tanks without mechanical filtration at all.
<Indeed, I ran my 65g this way (with just a good Remora skimmer and a 29g refugium).>
Theoretically I would like to have a way to scoop all the junk from the tank, but don't trust HOB and canister filters. What would you recommend?
<I would recommend a better skimmer, a refugium/sump, powerheads for better circulation (if you don't already have them), and that, when you do your water changes, you siphon off debris. I would still keep a canister filter
in the closet or somewhere though. They come in handy from time to time.>
Thx!
-Toly.
<De nada,
Sara M.>

Physical Filtration Question/Power Filters 9/3/09
Dear Crew,
<Dave>
Thank you so much for all your time and effort answering questions on this website, I have learned so much through your forums.
<You're welcome.>
I have a 125G FOWLR that I ultimately want to turn into a reef tank. I have about 80 pounds of live rock looking to get another 40 over the next few months. I currently have a Marineland Emperor 280 Power Filter that I am using for the physical filtration. I don't use the bio-wheel. I have read that Power Filters are generally not good for reef tanks. First question is why?
<If the mechanical media is changed/cleaned weekly, they are not a problem at all, I use one and replace the disposable pad weekly.>
I also have a SeaClone 100 skimmer. I have heard that these skimmer's are not highly rated. Mine produces about a half cup of skimmate a day. I will upgrade that to the Aqua C Remora eventually and perhaps run both skimmers.
<The Remora isn't going to efficiently handle a 125 gallon tank, I would go with the EV120 or larger.>
My second question is, if the Power Filters are not recommended, do you recommend another option for physical filtration? What about a HOB refugium or would the two skimmers and live rock with water changes be enough?
<A refugium is always a plus, with or without using a power filter. The live rock will take care of the nitrogen cycle, and an efficient skimmer, sized properly, should take care of dissolved nutrients providing your tank is not overstocked.>
I have been having a bit of an outbreak of hair algae, and from what I have researched some Bryopsis. I bought a Lawnmower Blenny and some scarlet hermit crabs to help combat. Ammonia, Nitrites at zero, Nitrate at ~15.
<A little high here promoting nuisance algae.>
Phosphate currently says it is at 0, although before the water change it was closer to .25ppm. From what I have read the phosphate could be at zero due to the algae absorbing it.
<Yes, can happen.>
Also, calcium is running between 380-400. Lighting should be fine here, just bought an Outer Orbit with Metal Halide and Actinics, display model that listed for $1300, got it for $350, one of the best bargains I have ever found.
<A bargain indeed.>
Based on this information, do you think it is ok to start with any corrals <corals> and are there any hardy ones that you would recommend?
<As long as you have compatible animals in the tank, yes. As for corals, many of the soft corals are hardy and good beginner corals. Do read here and related articles.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/soft.htm>
Thanks for all your help in advance.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Regards,
Dave

Re Physical Filtration Question/Power Filters 9/3/09
Thanks for all the replies Salty Dog.
<You're welcome, Dave.>
I was thinking the Hang On Aqua C Remora Pro, rated up to 120G should get me to where I need to be from a skimming standpoint. It looks like the EV 120 is an in sump skimmer, sadly I don't have a sump.
<The 120 figure would be the max, and in my opinion, in a lightly stocked tank. Recalling my words..."will not efficiently".....
Reef tanks do require very good water conditions, and if it were me, I would seriously consider buying a sump which will help provide this condition, and a home for a good skimmer. Hang-on skimmers scare me,
as there is always a chance for water getting on the carpet/floor and having an angry wife on your hands. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Physical Filtration Question/Power Filters 9/4/09
Good point on the angry wife, I already stained the carpet mixing up the saltwater for a water change.
<Yes, I've learned not to do anything with my tank while my wife is home.
I recall changing tanks a few years back in the Family Room, and throughout the entire process, she was
on patrol, making me nervous.
Mmmm, I should write an article on this subject but I don't believe Bob has a category for such.>
<<We'll make one. RMF>>
Thanks for the info.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Filtration: Addition of mechanical filtration to reef setup. 5/26/2009
Hello and thank you for taking these questions.
<Hi Jake, Mike here.>
I have read many topics on your web site and I am a tad confused when it comes to filtration. I have a 200 gallon reef that I have changed up over the years looking for the 'best method' of filtration. In my opinion I have too much particulate in the water column and would like to remove it. Before I do something stupid with a mechanical inline filter (yes, its in my basement waiting for me to pull the trigger)
<Wow, you are serious....>
I thought I would ask for guidance -- after 18 years in the hobby I am still looking for guidance !
<Heee... me too!>
Ok the current set up: corner overflows drop into sump (45 gallon tank), one down pipe into bio-ball chamber, the other simply crashes in the sump. I use a few inline Pentair canister filters for carbon, Chemi Clean and Purigen. I have a refugium with macro algae and a deep sand bed. With that in mind, my tank tests well but I have difficulties with hard corals. My softies do well, but are often associated with a dirty tank (umbrella, toadstool, hairy mushrooms, elephant ear etc.)
<That is a clue that perhaps something is amiss. How often are you cleaning the canisters and changing the carbon?>
Lighting; three 250 watt HQI MH & four 96 watt PC (50/50) swapped out every 6 months. 15% water change every 2 weeks.
My thought is to add a Pentair inline mechanical filter or perhaps a sponge on top of the bio balls to rid some of the particulate and perhaps clean the water. Just not sure, would like some opinions before I change things up.
<Well, before pulling the trigger on an in-line filter, I would simply add filtration pads over your bio-balls and some in the canister filters, and then change them out every two weeks or so. You can get bulk filter pad at most pet stores for less than $10 USD. I run a similar setup in mine and the water is quite clear. I do change out the pads every two weeks at the most though.>
Many thanks !
<My pleasure>
Jake
<MikeV>

Re: Filtration: Addition of mechanical filtration to reef setup. 5/27/2009
Hi Mike,
<Hi Jake.>
Thanks for getting back to me. I change out the Carbon, Purigen, Chemi Clean and Rowa-phos every 2 months.
<Not too bad. You may want to step it up to once a month.>
I'll try the filter pads, that should take care of the particulate.
<They will.>
I'll need to research more on the general tank health.
Best,
Jake
<MikeV>

Reef Mechanical Filtration 12/21/08 Hello WWM crew! <Hey there Jack!> I have a 150 gal FOWLR with a 55 gal sump/fuge, & 175 lbs. of live rock. Currently I have 4 fish (ocellaris clown, Sailfin tang, flame angel, and royal gramma), many small snails and several hermits). <Do plan on larger quarters for the tang.> In the near future I plan on adding some corals. My tank has been running for 10 months. I recently purchased a Vertex IN 250 skimmer (a good choice?). <My current fave, no real performance lost IMO for the cost! The construction of these is second to none too.> I have an in-tank overflow (from glass-holes.com) with two return pipes which bring 75% water to skimmer and 25% to refugium. Before I had the skimmer I would put pieces of foam in the overflow to catch detritus and other wastes. I would change this stuff out every day and it did a good job of collecting and containing the bad stuff before it got down to my sump. Is it a good thing to keep using the foam in the overflow or should I let the new skimmer do the work? <There is nothing wrong with using some mechanical filtration so long as it is changed/cleaned frequently, as you have done. There is a problem with using it in the overflow box, particularly these (I did design these, do sell them through Glass-Holes.com). These boxes use an internal baffle system that keeps the size to the bare minimum needed to provide the flow. With the foam in the box the slightest constriction/plugging up will keep this box from flowing down to the bulkheads. If you wish to use some sort of mechanical prefilter here I would use a filter sock. Some examples here: http://www.marinedepot.com/ps_searchItem.aspx?IdCategory=&SearchText=filter+sock&parsed=1. Buying several socks (they are fairly cheap) allows you to change them frequently and wash a bunch of them at one time.> Thanks & Happy Holidays! <Welcome, Scott V.>

Sump Sock and Sponge Filter…Do I Need Them? - 08/18/08 Heya WWM, <<Heya Newbie>> I have a 75 gal reef tank with a 1" overflow into a 25 gal Eshopp Reef Sump. There is a skimmer in the sump (in the area after the sock filter but before the baffles and sponge filter). Water is returned via a pump and 3/4" line. Please give me your thoughts, concerns, advice in regards to running the sump w/o the sock and/or sponge filter. <<Not a problem in my opinion (is how I run mine). The filter sock or sponge can be beneficial re removal of particulate matter (be sure to clean/change out at least weekly to remove decaying organic material), but I think using these also removes beneficial planktonic organisms. I've seen successful systems run both ways…the choice is yours>> I've removed the sponge (and wondering if that was good or bad) and contemplating the removal of the sock filter as well. The nicest and most successful reef aquarium I have seen up close and personal uses neither (same setup as me but with a 150 gal tank and two overflows). <<Well there ya go…>> Thanks for always being willing to help!! -Newbie <<Happy to share. EricR>>

Re: ReefresH2O Launches Web Site, New Brand Initiative   4/4/08 Hello, <Jennifer> I had provided a press release and accompanying image to you earlier this week (per the below) to update wetwebmedia.com on the newly launched ReefresH2O web site and branding initiative, in hopes that you may consider including this in a pertinent spot on your web site. ReefresH2O is an advanced ceramic filtration product that offers many benefits to the aquatics market, as its high porosity and surface area allow for highly efficient and effective filtration of the aquatic environment. Should you have any questions or be interested in additional information on the ReefresH2O product line, please do not hesitate to contact me! Best Regards, Jennifer <Is this similar to the Cercona product line? Mmm, do contact me if I can be of assistance in developing your marketing... BobF> Jennifer Parker Parker PR, Inc.

Pink filter pads? Cnid. interaction...  - 03/10/08 Hi Crew, <Barb> I'm sorry to bother you again! I have a 30g Reef. Right now I have 2 Ocellaris Clownfish, 1 Yellow Watchman Goby, a Monaco shrimp, 2 small Actinodiscus colonies and one small Zoanthid frag. Ammonia and Nitrites are at 0, Nitrates are at about 15, spg is at 1.026, I keep the temp around 80 degrees F. I have about 32 pounds of LR. I am running a 205 Fluval canister filter, a Corallife Skimmer and a power head. My question is, the skim in my skimmer's cup is a reddish-brown color, and the filter pads in the canister filter turn pink! This just cropped up in the last 2 weeks or so, but I am not sure what would cause that, a bacterial bloom? <Mmm, not likely> I just lost a Cleaner shrimp, but the fish and corals are all doing great (one of the mushrooms just divided). Any ideas? The tank has been up for just about a year and 2 months. Thank you, Barbara <This material... is it about the same as the food/s you offer? Could be matter from interaction twixt the Mushrooms, Zoanthids... trouble in small volumes... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/index.htm The articles, FAQs on Compatibility... Bob Fenner>

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.>

Filter sponges   1/3/08 Hi guys, <Jason> Had a quick question in regards to filter sponges. I have a slight nuisance algae problem that I'm starting to get under control. After reading your site I removed all my bio balls and phosphate leaking carbon. All that's left in my tank are the sponges from pumps that filter the water before entering. I've always had them removed from the pumps however they were also always perfect homes to my arthropods. My sponges are filled with them. Should I remove these nutrient traps or is it something that doesn't contribute all that much to nutrient build up? <I would switch out/clean half of them per maintenance interval... likely weekly... to preserve their populations, but rid the media of nutrient> I need to finish fixing this algae problem as I cannot keep corals until its gone due to the algae smothering anything I put in. Thanks for the awesome site and all your help in this wonderful hobby, Jason <Welcome... Do read re other means of countering nuisance algae growth on WWM... Refugiums, macro-algal culture, DSBs... Bob Fenner>

I am stumped! Comm. filter mat., water quality concern   11/21/07 Hello Wet Web Media crew! I just want to let you know just how awesome your site is. I spend HOURS browsing your site just to satisfy my curiosity. I recently took a job as an aquatic specialist for a large pet supply store chain. This is a brand new store and it offers the largest supply of saltwater equipment, fish, inverts (including hard and soft corals/ anemones) and live rock ever seen in this particular franchise. I am glad to see that the growing interest in the hobby has caught the eyes of corporate managers. Hopefully, with this expansion, more people can get into the hobby. <I share your opinions here... and am excited by your enthusiasm> The reason that I am emailing is because we are having a problem with our fresh water tanks. Our sumps are collecting some sort of gritty film on the bottom. It is not sand or fish waste? <Perhaps a bit of both> in fact no one seems to know what it is. A marine biologist from our fish supply company even came out to test the water. The tests showed that the grit was not calcium. The strange thing is that the filter pads (changed weekly) become so encrusted that they get stuck to the media baskets. <Mmm... what are you feeding... and "supplementing" or otherwise treating the water with? It's most likely a combination of materials here...> The water quality is okay, but I must say that I disapprove of the water source that is used (local tap water), which is high in ammonia. The store has a RO filter, but it is not working at this time. The actual system water is okay? <Maybe for most all... but I'd get the RO up and going... blend it in here> The pH is 7.8, <This may be a bit high for some freshwater organisms, particularly if the shop imports wild fishes, plants from soft/er water regions... I do hope if this is the case that the centralized filtration can be arrested, or better, that the store has a few sub-systems to adjust water qualities> the nitrates about .5, nitrites 0, ammonia 0. Freshwater salt is used, as well. <Would you explain what this is... or state the brand?> There have been some unexplained fish kills, but for the most part the fish seem to be unaffected. <Mmm, am not a fan of "just" adding salt/s to system water... on a regular basis... w/o an understanding of the current salt content (all natural waters have some)...> Strangely enough, this does not affect our salt water systems. I have an idea? I would like to soak the filter pad in distilled water and test it, and see what comes up. I would also like to use my personal water quality tests to check the calcium, magnesium and alkaline levels in both the fresh and salt water systems. Can you recommend anything else that I should test for? <I would contact the municipal water supply... they will be testing for MANY aspects... and if concerned with any measures, you may contact me, or them (they'll have a liaison/chemist/biologist)... re your concerns> Do you think that soaking the filter pad in distilled water would prove anything? <Mmm, possibly> I have attached some photos for you to see. I would appreciate any advice that you can give us! Thanks! <What is this material physically? Where did the folks get it from? Be chatting Jay. Bob Fenner> -Jay

Re: Reef Start-up 11/8/07 Thanks for the speedy response!! <Welcome.> Great advice, that is what I will do. I will be starting my tank up on Friday I'm sure I will have a few more questions for you in the next coming weeks. <No problem.> For now, have you heard of using panty hose as filter bags for carbon? If so, would you recommend? Jason <Yes, they can be used assuming that they are clean. No lotions, detergents, perfumes, etc. The thing about nylons (and the nylon sold specifically for aquariums) is that they tend to trap air and the water tends to just flow around them. I use and highly recommend this Rio product http://www.petmountain.com/product/cartridges/510039/rio-pumps-rio-bio-bead-cartridge-1-pack-110.html It comes with media, just dump it and use your carbon (use a fairly high quality carbon). It is completely reusable, does not trap air, allows flow through the carbon and costs about five bucks. Have fun Scott V.> Thanks very much for the information. <You are very welcome.> Poly filter media    5/15/07 Hey Guys,       My company is discarding huge roles of polyester filter media they normally use for filtering air surplus). They measure 90'x5'X1"(thick). Would it be safe to use this in my canister and wet/dry filters? <If this is just/100% Dacron/Polyester, sure> My concern is that the material might be treated with a chemical to make dust adhere readily. <Mmmm> The rolls are clean and do not feel tacky. A couple of rolls of this will last forever! Looking on the web, it looks like there are 2 types: dry type & tack type. This appears to be dry, but I'm not sure. Thanks, Wayne <Ask the folks at the plant... is this stuff pure? Bob Fenner>

Filtration/Filter Floss Question 4/16/07 Hello Crew, <Hello Danielle> Is polyester filter floss (such as is available here: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod_Display.cfm?pcatid=4235&N=2004+113808) the same as the polyester fiber used to fill pillows (such as is available here: http://www.michaels.com/art/online/displayProductPage?productNum=nw0200)? If so, is there any reason that you would not recommend the use of pillow filling as filter media, unless otherwise indicated (e.g., "mold-resistant")? I have found frequently-changed filter floss to be invaluable media for my canister filters. <Would not chance Danielle.  Material may contain mold/fire retardant chemicals that may be harmful to your animals.  I'd contact the manufacturer and ask if such retardants are used in the production process.> Thank you, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Danielle

Foaming water (Should I rinse new media?) 4/3/07 Hi, <Greetings.>      I purchased a pretty large size filter media (foam) to silence the splash in the sump of my system, which is about 160 gal.   <A worthy cause, indeed.> I didn't rinse the filter because I didn't think it was necessary.  A few minutes after I placed it in the sump, the skimmer started shooting foam out.   <Hmm... curious. Is this a product marked for marine use?> <<Yikes... RMF>> I had to turn off the skimmer. Now, the sump is filled with foam, as if I added soap to the water. <Maybe you did...> It has been over 12 hours, and all of the fish and corals seem unaffected. Do you know what could have been in the media that would cause this, and is there anything I should do besides a water change? <Well, I wonder what product you bought and introduced. Did you purchase this from a pet store? I can only guess (as you did) that there is something on the foam that has been mixed with the system. I do recommend rinsing *everything* added to the system, whether it be substrates, filter media, pads, artificial decor, etc.>   Thanks for a great service,   Mo <You are welcome, and please get back to us about the product name for our own edification. Thank YOU. -GrahamT>

Re: Foaming water (Should I rinse new media?) pt. 2 4/4/07 <Hello, Mohammad. GrahamT again.> Yes, I purchased it from a pet store, and it is intended to be cut to size and placed in the filter of fish tanks to filter out floating particles.   <Good.> The packaging seemed very sanitized.  I don't recall the brand name, but it is made in China. <What isn't, these days?> I contacted the pet store, and they told me that some media does that, and one brand of filter bag is especially known to do that for some reason.   <Hmm, I'm not sure why they would do it, but if it's not affecting anything, let's not worry, shall we?> They suggested that the foaming will subside in a few days and there is nothing toxic in the filter.  The foaming has subsided to some extent, and all marine life are still unaffected. <This is good news to me. If you do recall the name of the product, please forward it along with a copy of this correspondence for reference. Glad to hear everything is seemingly ok. -GrahamT>

Impossible <Marineland> Filter Cartridge - 3/26/07 Hello. <Hi.> I am a new tank owner and I need to change my filter. Stupid me didn't buy replacement cartridges when I bought the filter. That was two hours away from my home. Now, I can't find the cartridges even on line. I bought a Deluxe AQUA-Tech power filter and it says to use EZ-Change #1 Filter Cartridges. I can't find them anywhere. <I'm not seeing much out there either.  Perhaps not a current model.  Hmmm.> I know AQUA-Tech is made by Marineland and I still can't figure out which filters will work. Can you please help me? <Marineland changed their size designations recently to Rite-Size, complete with color-coding.  So some of the older sizes might have new and improved designations.  I would measure the old filter cartridge and go to a more convenient pet store and try to match the size in the new designations.  Or call Marineland customer service.  Their info is listed on their website www.marineland.com.> Thank you for your time. Jennifer <Welcome. Alex>

Cleaning Filter Sock 3/14/07 Hello WetWeb Media, <Hi> I m writing you to find out if the sock filter I have in my sump can be taken out and rinsed with saltwater from the tank when you do a water change. <Absolutely, but does not need to be done in saltwater, you don't want it to be biologically alive.> Is this a good practice to use? <Yes>  And if so when should it be done and how often? <The more often the better, will allow better flow and remove detritus.> One more thing should I let the tank cycle first and leave it running for a couple of weeks after the cycle before I would do this if it is needed? <Clean it whenever you do a water change, regardless of the cycle.> Please let me know I am stumped on this because I was told you can do this by a LFS but you know how some of those can be. Not all of them are giving the right info. But I don't believe they do this on purpose either they just don't know. You give excellent advice and I have yet to find a web site that is as good as yours. Thanks for all of your help so far.    Jeff <Welcome> <Chris> Foam Block, To Use Or Not To 12/29/06 Hello crew; <Hi Nemo> What is the sole purpose of the foam block in the sump? is this just to control the bubbles? For filtration? or for biological purposes?   <Can be all.> The reason why I'm asking is, because I can live with out it in my sump...at least one less thing to clean and maintain.  But then again I'm hesitant that it may really have a purpose that's why it's there.  My system is a 72g-reef that has 100 plus lbs of LR and a 2 and a half inches of LS, which I think is more than enough to handle a good biological filtration.  It also have a CPR over flow that has a foam filter that flows to the sump that also have a "sock" type filter to catch any debris coming from the main tank. Please advise. <In your case, the foam would be for filtration and bubble control.  Try it without and see if micro bubbles appear in the display.  If so, you will have to use it or be happy with the bubbles.> Thanks. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Nemo How do I clean the foam block in my sump with out killing the good stuff  12/20/06 Hi Crew, <Hello, JustinN with you today> How do I clean the foam block in my sump with out killing the good stuff ++that's living in it ?   <Rinse it liberally in a bucket of waste water from your tank, during your normal weekly water changes.... you are performing them, right? *grin*> I clean it every week with a garden hose and I just found out that I am flushing away all the good stuff in it, is this true? <Yes, I would agree> Also there's a lot of dust like materials (detritus?) in the bottom of the sump that also covers part of my pump...should I be worried about that or should I clean my sump regularly and  there shouldn't be any traces of this dirt or detritus? <I would clean my sump regularly, regardless of detritus buildup, but it doesn't have to be spotless, as the case may be.> How do you really clean your sump and how often ?  or How do you avoid having this stuff accumulating ?   <Simply siphon out the gunk from the bottom of the sump during your water change procedures. Also, when rinsing your biofoam, be sure to rinse your filter socks as well.> I don't have bio-balls in it, only the "socks" type filter to catch all the dirt coming from the main tank.   I try to look around for a much thicker filter but I couldn't find any, seems like every LFS store that I go to carry the same thing/brand.  Pls <Please> advise and thanks for this great site. Nemo 1   <Thanks for the kind words, is a collaborative effort. Happy holidays! -JustinN>

Re: How do I clean the foam block in my sump with out killing the good stuff that's living in it ?   12/21/06 Thanks for your quick response! how do you siphon your sump as it is on the floor level, do you know what I mean? do you have to use a pump ? Thanks again.  Nemo 1 <A small pump can be utilized here, with a length of properly sized aquarium tubing attached if a standard gravel siphon is not possible. -JustinN>

Marine Set-Up/Power Filters 11/11/06 Hello all! <Hello Marla.> I am new to the saltwater hobby and find your website VERY helpful! <Great!> I have a 55 gal. with 70 lbs. LR and a 2" live sand bed.  It has been up for almost a year and all is going great.  Water parameters are all "normal" - everything 0 except Nitrates which are running about 10-20. <Not surprising, you are a little heavy on your fish load in a 55 gallon tank.> I do 10% water changes weekly.  I have an AquaC Remora Pro skimmer with Mag 3 pump and 2 MJ 600 powerheads.  I was running a Fluval 404 filter but as of today I shut it off.  Many different opinions on this, but the common factor seems to be that it's a nitrate factory.  My question is...did I do the right thing by turning it off?  After doing extensive research on live rock and sand (being natural filters) and skimmers, etc.....it would seem that I don't really need to run the 404.  I guess I'm just nervous thinking my tank is maybe still too young to run without a filter and would like your expert opinion.  Will this cause a major change in my system?  I'm a little scared.......oh and the tank inventory consists of 1 coral beauty, 1 tomato clown, 1 sailfin, 1 Foxface, 1 chocolate chip star, 1 bar goby and numerous snails. <Power filters are only nitrate factories if they are not properly maintained.  That is, weekly changing/cleaning of the filter pads.  We need to remove the detritus/waste before it can turn into dissolved organics.  It is not necessary to run one for a healthy tank.  Weekly water changes with a gravel cleaner type siphon hose will remove detritus/waste from the sand bed and help keep your nitrate level low.  I've used one a system for a year and my nitrate level never exceeded 10ppm. Thanks! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Marla

Looking for filter socks  9/18/06 When my new aquarium was set up, they used a large filter sock, about 12 by 18 with a compressible rubber ring and some kind of net reinforced felt material. really nice and works well.  Problem is the aquarium company changed hands and no one knows where the filter came from and no one can find a replacement on line.  Can you give me any leads?  Thanks.  Eric F. <Oh yes... the best... Emperor Aquatics: http://www.emperoraquatics.com/ Bob Fenner>

Cartridge Filters...Too Much Maintenance - 11/12/05 Hi there, <<Hello>> I'm currently working on setting up a fish only tank: 45" x 20" x 26". This tank will be set up as a bar counter in my house. <<Neat>> The tank will be 10" from the bottom of the floor. A wet dry filter was <<wasn't?>> an option as filtration so, I went and got me 2-Ocean Clear filters Model 317 and 375. <<Mmm...be prepared to clean the filter cartridges "at least" bi-weekly. The problem with cartridge filters is even most well-meaning folk tend to let them sit too long between cleanings. Methinks you would have been better served with a couple fluidized-bed filters for this fish-only system. These filters can "ramp up" and adjust to changing bio-loads quickly.>> I'm worried about colonizing bacteria for the filters. <<Me too, since you will be cleaning them so often. <G> >> I'm planning to add an 8"x6"x 26"built-in skimmer into the tank and fill up the pre-filter with bio balls to help colonize some good bacteria. I'm not too sure that this will work..??? any suggestion will be very appreciated. <<This will help but will likely not be enough biological filtration, I have what I think is a better solution... Keep the canister/cartridge filters if you wish, but commit to keeping up with the maintenance...add a fluidized-bed filter (remove one of the canisters if you must and keep it for "backup")...and add a few tens of pounds of live rock to the tank (much benefit to doing this aside from just biological filtration). The cartridge filter will give you the mechanical filtration you desire (though this could also be accomplished with a filter sponge in the overflow...cleaned weekly of course), and the fluidized-bed filter and live rock will ensure good biological filtration with the added benefit of the live rock providing homes/hiding places, food sources, and water buffers...along with more visual interest to the tank.>> Thank you, George Garcia <<Regards, EricR>>

Re: Cartridge Filters...Too Much Maintenance - 11/12/05 Hello Eric, <<Hello George>> Thank you for the advise on this system....I will though keep these canister filters and add a fluidized-bed filter. <<Very good...do keep up on the maintenance my friend.>> Once again thank you for your fast response. George <<My pleasure, EricR>> 

What to do with a dirty filter?? (I have a few questions) (Sung to the tune of "What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor") Hey there oh helpful ones! <Ahoy Angela> We have a 29 gal reef fish tank with mainly inverts - here's the list - Lights are 2 55w PCs -50lbs of live rock, 4-6" DSB -Pair of cleaner shrimp (that won't stop producing eggs).  Is it common for the male to carry eggs as well? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/shrimpreprofaqs.htm>   Both of ours carry the eggs and release the larvae regularly. -Tiger pistol shrimp/yellow watchman goby/firefish goby- These three all share the pistol shrimp's burrow and seem to get along. It's funny to watch the big firefish squeeze into the burrow.  I didn't think they'd all get along in that situation. -50 or so zebra and blue hermits and one little red hermit...I have tons of empty shells for them in the back of the tank so we don't have too many wars. -Various(30+ I lost count) Astraea, Nerite, Cerith snails and 3 bumble bee snails. -2 flame scallops (don't buy these folks, you'll spend all your time feeding them!!) -3 peppermint shrimp -Scooter blenny - he was my first fish in there and feeds well on various frozen foods.  He loves to hunt for pods as well. -Neon Dottyback (for amusement purposes) -Pair of true perc clowns and their anemone (An "African anemone" can't find info on them) -4 Feather dusters, an x-mas tree worm rock, plate coral, trumpet coral, green sea mat, and several reddish sponges that came on the LR that have been doing great. We also have a rock designated for those little purple and green anemones that split all the time that a lot of people consider nuisance (came with the LR).  They'll eventually travel I know. <Sounds like a very healthy, full system> OK now to my real question...I have an Emperor 400 filtering all of this and have never had a problem with this tank (knock on wood) even though it has quite a few animals in it.  I do small (5-10%)water changes 3 times a week, but I have never rinsed out the filters.  This tank is going on 5 months old, still new.  We pulled out one of the filters tonight and there were literally hundreds of those Gammarus (sp?) shrimp and other pod like creatures all throughout it.  The filters look great so I figure they're keeping it cleaned...and I don't want to kill them.  So do we need to change these filters eventually or will we be ok with all those creatures working on it? Thanks for all the help! ~Angela <I would be very careful re changing the filter, or cleaning it... If there is room, consider placing a filter pad (can buy material, cut to fit) on top of the existing "old" "dirty" one... and just periodically removing the new one to rinse, and/or replace. The old one can likely best serve as a sort of biological filter bed. Bob Fenner> Overflow material I have an older acrylic tank which has a internal, rectangular overflow box with notches at the top for the water to trickle over. Inside the box is a fleece filter pad acting as a pre-filter. The pad holds it's shape ( A kind of 'U' shape looking from the top ) by being placed over a sheet of plastic material that I can best describe as a 1/3 " thick sheet of snarled plastic threads. <Sounds like "Bio-bale"... product/s from CPR (Creative Plastics Research). Contact them: http://www.cprusa.com/index2.html Bob Fenner> I am having a lot of trouble finding this material and the sheet I have is getting pretty worn. Do you know what this material is called, where it might be obtained, or an acceptable substitute to use ? Thanks.

Re: Freakin' Flocken <Try the folks at MarineDepot (.com). Ken Wong and co. now are principal importers of Eheim products. Bob Fenner> Actually, that was my first stop.  I didn't see it on their site, so I called them and gave them the additional info of Ken Wong being the importer, but still no luck.  I have seen various filter pads from Eheim, but no bulk poly with 'grob' or 'flocken' referenced in the name. Jeff <Mmm, unusual... and this material is one of my fave tools... do try Ron at CustomAquatic (.com)... another friend in the trade who used to import/distribute Eheim. Bob Fenner> Freakin' Flocken Hi guys! <Jeff> Thanks for all of your continued advice; it's always well received.  My problem is finding a US retailer that carries Eheim Grob Flocken or substitute for cleaning acrylic tanks.  I have found a fresh\new credit card works nicely (but ensure the edges are smooth beforehand) for the majority of algae, but would like to use the poly solution for the rounded corners, etc.  I have searched WWM FAQ as well as internet search engines, but have found nothing but European sites.  Does anyone have insight? Thanks, Jeff <Try the folks at MarineDepot (.com). Ken Wong and co. now are principal importers of Eheim products. Bob Fenner>

Removing Mechanical Filtration I have been having some issues with algae growing on my sand and needing to be cleaned off the glass every few days, as well as off my pre-filter weekly. I use RODI water, do water changes every other week and also use an ozone-injected skimmer. I believe I have traced the issue back to the fact I am using a pre-filter sponge, blue/white floss pad, bio balls, and sump sponge. <Very likely your culprits!> When I wring out the floss and sponges every other day it gets better. From what I have read on RC it would be best to slowly remove my bio balls and ditch the filter media. <I agree...> If I do this I don't understand what will filter out all the crud that these things catch today? From what I read the live rock and live sand. <Well, bioballs are really designed to harbor nitrifying bacteria, and are not really intended to be a mechanical filtration media! Live sand and rock help fulfill a similar role in a "Berlin" system. They provide more complete biological filtration. You can still use some mechanical media, such as a prefilter pad or "micron filter sock" in or near your sump. However, to keep the same problem from happening, you need to clean/replace them very frequently-like every other day, IMO> I just don't see how these will filter out all the crud I see stir up in my sump when I pull the sump sponge out to wring it out?? Should I keep a sponge on my hang on pre-filter? <Well, depending upon the design of the prefilter, you may have no other choice. As an alternative, you can let the detritus settle in your sump and siphon it out frequently.> I'm thinking of ditching the wet/dry and picking up a Berlin. <Well, if you '86 the bioballs and let the live rock and sand do the biological filtration, and use a good skimmer, you're essentially utilizing the "Berlin" method.> Don't really want to mess with a refugium at this point. Berlins incorporate a sock filter and a small sponge. Will I have the same issue with these? Thanks in advance! <If you allow detritus to accumulate and don't clean these media frequently, you will definitely have the same issue! Just pay a little extra attention to cleaning any mechanical media that you use on a very frequent basis, and you should be okay. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

-Mechanical Filtration- There appears to be little consensus regarding the need for mechanical filtration in a reef tank. <How very true> Much of the dialogue on web suggests that mechanical filtration is unnecessary, except perhaps when blowing detritus off the LR every few months. Other sources, including the articles and FAQs on WetWebMedia, are generally proponents of mechanical filtration. As I am considering the merits of adding a canister filter (probably an Eheim) to my system, I would appreciate your thoughts on the subject. <I believe mechanical filtration can be a good thing if maintained properly. That said, I doubt many of us would actually have the drive to do it. Without frequent cleaning (daily or MORE is best) these filter sponges and socks become detritus traps, now isolated from being processed by LR and LS critters and other tank dwelling organisms, are acted on by bacteria releasing all sorts of organic goodies into the water column. It is generally regarded as a better idea to let the system deal w/ this 'stuff' by assimilating much of it into biomass or becoming waste again in the form of fecal pellets easily removed by protein skimming.> My system consists of a 40 gal breeder, 40 lbs LR, Aqua C Remora w/ MaxiJet 1200, and 2 MaxiJet 600s for circulation. If a canister filter would be beneficial, what capacity or turn over rate would be appropriate? <I would not suggest a canister filter for this setup unless you are prepared to clean it out constantly (not a pleasurable experience with most canister filters). If you wanted to experiment with mechanical filtration, I'd suggest using something more easily accessible, like a pre-filter on one of the MJ-600's which could be cleaned daily. I think a canister filter would be a good idea for clean-up after stirring things up to displace built-up detritus, but not for long term, constant use. I hope this helps! -Kevin> Thanks, Stew With? Or Without? >Hello, >>Hello. Hope you are doing well tonight! >>If I don't have to cook, I'll be doing even better. >I have a 30gal Reef tank using a live sand bed, approx. 45 lbs LR and a Protein Skimmer for filtration. I also have an Eheim ECCO running Chemipure to polish the water. My question is, if I want to continue to use the ECCO for the Chemipure and the added water turnover would it be better to run it without the filter pads (so it doesn't filter out any beneficial organisms)?  >>No, because it means the Chemipure will be getting clogged that much more quickly. Save the money on the Chemipure, use the pads, and if you're really worried about organisms, then when you rinse the pad weekly, do it in a bucket of tank water. >Currently, the pads are in there and I remove them every few days to rinse them out. >>Then I wouldn't change what you're doing. >Thanks in advance for your response! Cheri >>You're welcome prophylactically, Cheri. My pleasure. Marina 

- Mechanical Filtration, Or Not? - Dear WetWebMedia Crew: Greetings. I read your Daily FAQs page several times a week. I thoroughly enjoy other people sharing their tanks with us and I thank you for making this possible. It seems that a lot of people have excellent tanks out there, and they work very hard at making them go. I have a very specific question that may not have a yes or no answer: do I absolutely need mechanical filtration on a marine tank? I searched the site and read through the sections on mechanical filtration and tank setup. I came away with the message that mechanical filtration is always advisable. <Hmm... I say it depends on the exact nature of the system. With a FOWLR type system, I'd say yes, mechanical filtration is a must. With a full-blown reef with accompanying refugium, I'd say mechanical filtration may be unnecessary.> I have a 125 gallon tank with 650W PC lighting and no mechanical filter. It is 4 months old with 90 lbs live rock, 4 to 5 inches of sand, a Sea Clone protein skimmer and a single 400g/hr power head directed down the length of the tank. Measurable water parameters are good (ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 0, calcium 450ppm+, pH 8.5, 1.5 meq/L borate and 3.5 meq/L carbonate alkalinity). I have 5 colonies of xenia that grew in the tank from a single original colony, 3 Ricordea, one 4" crocea clam, one red scallop, 10 Nassarius snails, one slipper lobster, and one purple or reef lobster. I originally had about 20 turbo snails but only two have survived and 3 peppermint shrimp that disappeared months ago (I suspect the lobsters). <Me too.> In addition I have 4 Mithrax crabs (3 green and 1 red crab that I was told was a Mithrax crab) and 1 sally lightfoot crab. I like mollusks and crustaceans. The only fish are two A. ocellaris, paired, which I feed very sparingly. I can move them to another tank. I am planning to do so one day being inspired by Anthony Calfo's suggestion to others that they setup a species hex or cube tank with lots of metal halide lighting so that they can keep anemones healthy and perhaps provide their clown fish with a host. <Is the better approach.> I am thinking of doing just that in the next year or so. Meanwhile, the clowns seem happy in this tank although they never leave the end of it that they have adopted. My reason for not wanting a mechanical filter is quite possibly misguided. Ever since reading A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold when I was in my early teens, I have carried around a few ideas about the resourcefulness of nature and a conviction that nature has ways of providing for life that should not be lightly rejected. His explanation affected me profoundly of how he at first was distressed to see dead and dying trees on his land and how he later came to see that it was through dead and dying trees that nature preserved the forest and provided homes for its creatures. Good food for thought. Now, I love this tank. The live rock turned out to be great with over 5 varieties of Caulerpa having emerged, many many other types of algae that I cannot begin to identify, pinhead sized snails roaming the glass, tiny feather dusters everywhere, hundreds of tiny sponges dotting the rockwork, and armies of amphipods marching over the substrate day and night. Plus, there is the overall feel of having a slice of the ocean in my living room. What could be better? <Win the lottery?> Of course, if everything were great, I wouldn't be asking this question. I nursed this tank through a few algae blooms initially. I had budgeted for that when deciding to go this route. Besides, algae blooms in a new tank are difficult to avoid entirely. <And many would say this is just part of a series of succession of fauna in the tank.> Over the ensuing weeks, the water and the tank looked better and better but with no tangs, the macro algae was really starting to thrive. Since I am a diligent reader of your site, I had read the algae management sections and didn't want the Caulerpa to achieve majority biomass status. I didn't want it to out compete the xenia. So I pruned it Saturday. Sunday, the tank looked cloudy. Not to worry. Monday, it was deep orange-brown and I could hardly see six inches! Tuesday, it was almost white with hints of brown and green and still very cloudy. Wednesday it looked like a large tank of DT. Today, I have convinced myself that it almost looks a little better. The animals all look fine, thankfully. I have tested the water and it is the same as always. A very stable tank in terms of mineral parameters. What price the organics? <Well... Caulerpa in particular - is a single-celled algae so that your pruning attempts likely forced it to spill its guts, so to speak. Your SeaClone skimmer is not only undersized for this system, but it's also a poor design... really only good at separating you from your money. A good skimmer should have taken much of this out.> I would need a GC-Mass Spec to even begin to know. I am trying for a tank with a full spectrum of life: phytoplankton, zooplankton, crustaceans and mollusks galore. I am not looking for a quick fix or for ways to add more fish. And, I certainly don't hate algae. I think it is very appealing. However, you have to able to see it to really appreciate it. Just knowing that it is somewhere in that bright green glass case falls short of being truly satisfying. And then there is the nagging worry that I am cooking up a highly toxic brew in the tank: one that might wipe out everything. <Yes... you must use caution when harvesting Caulerpa.> I have been debating the merits of going to the fish store and buying a canister filter which I am sure would at least restore visibility. <Consider a better skimmer instead, perhaps an AquaC or EuroReef.> What stops me is the thought that I am interfering with nature's way of providing for life and that if I am patient and don't interfere that natural mechanisms will restore balance and that my tank will have gained another plateau of maturity. <Well... also consider that your tank really isn't a slice of nature, but an artificial construct... there are other dynamics at work. In the ocean, a problem like this would be solved quickly by the influx of new, clean water.> I am sure that that is possible but I am not sure that I have the patience to wait it out. <I'd perform at least one large [25%] water change, perhaps a second one a day or two after that.> Also, I am worried about the animals in the tank. It will not be easy to remove them given the current level of cloudiness. Actually, the clowns will be easy to catch since I always hand feed them (with a turkey baster - frozen foods such as enriched brine shrimp). As for the others, I don't have sufficiently long gloves and I doubt the wisdom of bathing in a potentially toxic planktonic soup. <It's not 'that' toxic.> I don't know if you sympathize with my goals or if you believe my goals are attainable. <You will find a middle-ground.> But I hope you will sympathize with my predicament (knee deep in the mulligatawny) and extend me a little advice as you have so kindly before. <Do the water changes, trash that skimmer.> Thank you. Respectfully, Karl <Cheers, J -- >

- Mechanical Filtration, Follow-up - Dear J--: Thanks for responding so promptly. <Absolutely my pleasure.> The tank looks much better this morning. Not acceptable, but better. And the animals all seem fine and happy. <Ahh good.> I was a bit surprised that you believe it is possible to do without a mechanical filter. Perhaps what I am trying to do is set up a 125 gallon refugium. Should I remove xenia and Ricordea? The clowns never bother anything except the substrate in their nest area, but in the long run, I am planning to remove them anyway. I live on an estuary of the Chesapeake Bay. We hear about watermen being exposed to Pfiesteria piscicida from time to time. Consequently, I am a little cautious around alga blooms. I realize that most algae are harmless. <Indeed.> It's true that my tank, as much as I would like it to be, is not a slice of the ocean. However, nature is still very much in control and that, for me, is the joy of it. <Uhh... actually, you can override nature at any point... you are in control. Nature is riding in the back seat.> Perhaps you are right about the skimmer. I choose an undersized unit to prevent it from sucking all of the plankton out of the tank. <Do believe this is often more overstated than actual fact. Generally only occurs with the largest, most aggressive skimmers.> Is there a way to keep a healthy, low background level of planktonic life without trashing the water quality? <Time and patience.> I counted on the live rock providing everything needed in the way of diversity but its quite possible that what I have isn't sufficient. Thank you. Respectfully,  Karl <Cheers, J -- >

Removing Bio Balls What the sponges and pads? are they a problem too? If not, How often do you clean them? <I'd remove them and let the skimmer do the work, if you keep them, clean them every couple days. -Gage> Removing Bio Balls I have been reading lot about removing the bio balls from my wet/dry filter. I am about 3 months into the cycling of my 72 gal tank. I have added only one fish and several hermits & snails. Is it the right time to remove the bio balls? I also have a question about the drip plate. My drip plate has a piece of removable felt/ filter paper which hangs over the bio balls should I also remove this?  The reason I ask this is because I end up cleaning it once a week because it get clogged up- the same goes for my sponge in the overflow box that covers the inflow tube. Am I helping or hurting the reef by cleaning this once a week. How often do you recommend cleaning these sponges/pads or should I remove them completely & let my protein skimmer do all the work? If you have enough live rock, around 1-2lbs per gallon, now would be a great time to remove the bio balls.  If this is going to be a fish only tank, I would keep the bio balls.  It would be nice to have the raw water go straight to the skimmer.  Any mechanical filtration in between would need to be cleaned frequently, every couple of days.  Best Regards, Gage>

Filter pad change? 07/23/03 <Hi Johnnie, PF with you today> I have a new saltwater aquarium that has just recently finished cycling and I was told to change the filter pad after it cycled, but I am worried about losing all my bacteria when I change the pad.  I have in my filter an air stone to make it wet/dry and Fluval prefilter stones to increase the surface area for bacteria growth.  The tank has been running for about one month. Is that sufficient time for bacteria to be established in the tank so that I can change the filter?  I was also told that I could put a new pad in with the old one still in there and run it that way for a week or two, it was difficult but I can manage to squeeze it in there. If you have any suggestions I would appreciate it. Thanks, Johnnie <Well Johnnie, I would follow your previously given advice, and the filter that way. I would also like you to go here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm and read up on skimmers, deep sand beds, and live rock. A much better alternative than wet/dries for most applications. Have a good day, PF>

- Cleaning Filter Socks - Hello Crew, question for you about a filter sock. <Ok.> I have a 30 Gallon sump which houses my protein skimmer.  I was having a problem with microbubbles, some from the skimmer and some from the water flowing over the first baffle/divider (goes from the bottom of sump up about 8 inches )where the water enters the skimmer, first chamber.  So I decided to empty the sump, drill three 1.5" holes on bottom of this baffle so that water would flow under and not produce any bubbles when it comes crashing down over it.  Well low and behold, the water that enters the sump comes in through three 1.5" pipes and the force it enters with creates bubbles that shoot downward to the bottom of the sump.  Now with the holes drilled in the baffle, the microbubbles just flow right through, CURSES!!!  So I decided to use a filter sock to catch the water coming in.  Problem solved.  I need to add some sort of filter/sponge material to the end of the skimmer output and I will be bubble free.  The question, finally: Can I just wash the filter sock out with a hose or do I need to get a new one every time. <I would keep two around - one in the sump and one out being cleaned. Best way to do this is to rinse off the big chunks and then let the item soak in a weak bleach solution for an hour or so and then rinse well and let soak in RO/DI water over-night, then sun-dry until needed.> How often should I clean it? <I'd shoot for every week, and not wait more than two weeks.> Once I do clean it, say with a hose since it has a lot of pressure/force, can I just squeeze out the water and give it a squirt of Amquel to remove the chlorine ( from hose water used to clean it).  Any better suggestions? <You got 'em.> Thank you for this and all the help from the many questions I have asked in the past.  

AGA Overflow prefilter 6/12/03 Greetings Kev & Crew, First off, thanks again for all the great info & support regarding my lethargic Blue Linckia and my other general questions.  By the way, the Linckia seems to have made it. <excellent to hear!> Moving about quite a bit the last couple of days. Phew!!!  I also received today, the first of the two books I ordered (complete with Anthony's personal dedication!).  Thanks much, Anthony. And I do appreciate the informal style of writing.  Thanks for that approach, also!   <very welcome my friend... and your Reef Inverts books is just s few weeks away. Very different in layout and topic, but more than appealing I hope to you <G>> Anyway, today's question is in regard to the pre-filter sponge on the AGA corner over-flow.  How often should the sponge be cleaned and/or replaced?   <I hate using them at all in systems with low bio-loads. Best to send all raw overflowing water into a skimmer chamber first (actually... see the sections in your copy of my BOCP1 regarding specifics)> Instructions with the kit say to "periodically" clean and backwash.  I understand the concept of "backwash" but don't know how to accomplish it, other than hosing it out from the inside.  It's got six weeks on it at this point in time.  The kit came with 2 sponges: <personally... I would not let it go longer than one month... and even consider weekly rinsing with fear/concern of nitrate accumulation> (3 1/2" tallx3 1/2"dia.) I am thinking rather than cleaning the first one, perhaps using it as the bacteria source / biological filter in setting up a quarantine tank (20G high)?  Your thoughts?   <I think the risk of nitrates are worse than the benefits of a small amount of nitrifying bacteria. Rinse often or disregard. Skim and then prefilter water downstream more safely/effectively (skimmer exports rather than traps and lets it degrade like in pre-filter) before the return pump> Thanks much. Greg Berkeley, IL <best regards, Anthony>

Re: AGA Overflow prefilter 6/12/03 Hey Anthony, Thanks for the info. <always welcome my friend> I would rather eliminate the sponge also.  The follow-up question regarding doing so is that I'm not using a skimmer, as I'm on the EcoSystem method, i.e.; bio-balls, mud & Caulerpa chamber, more bio-balls & return.   <while I have seen a few nice systems with this methodology, I feel that is more often than not is less than ideal for most aquarists in the long-run. I will not use bio-balls unless necessary (high fish/feeding load)... and I really am not thrilled with Caulerpa as a vegetable filter medium (there are far better, safer and more stable macroalgae like Chaetomorpha, Gracilaria and Ochtodes for example)> Is it still OK to go with-out the pre-filter sponge with this set-up or should I keep it and clean it weekly?   <hmmm... are you doing large and/or frequent water changes too (weekly)? If not... then I am really not comfortable with your long term prospects with the mud/Caulerpa system unless the tank has a staggeringly low bio-load. Please do then keep the sponges and rinse them weekly> As I told Kevin in my first e-mail; I'm a neophyte reefer having just set up a 75G this past April. <welcome aboard, my friend. Its a beautiful hobby full of kind and empathetic people. Enjoy the journey!> Kudos' on the book.  Just one problem with it.  As I said, I received it yesterday but couldn't put it down until 5 this morning. Good thing the honeymoon was over years ago!! Greg Binder Berkeley, IL <heehee... funny. Redeeming/inspiring to hear too! I'm hoping you've married an incredible patient/understanding wife <G>. Kind regards, Anthony>

Clearing up floating particles... Hi there, I've been reading your site for a few weeks now and I have a question (well lots actually, but one for now). <The secret's out! Ask away.> I moved from a 90 to a 180 gallon FO with ~180 pounds of live rock.  I'm using a wet/dry sump and an Aerofoamer 830 for skimming. <With 180lbs of live rock, you can safely remove all the bio-material in your wet/dry all at once, and at anytime. You have more than enough bio-filtration in the tank itself, save your self from potential nitrate accumulation down the line,> I've also got an Eheim canister filled with filter materials.  My problem is little bit's of floating particles in the tank that aren't going away.  The tank's been up for about a month now. <Most likely those particles are bubbles from your skimmer. Although it may seem counterproductive, try removing all the mechanical filtration from your tank, you may find that it will actually help.> I'm thinking of buying a Vortex Diatom filter or Magnum 350 just to clear up this problem.  Am I looking in the right direction and if so, is one of these better than the other for just this purpose? <Eh, save your money. If the particles are in fact bubbles, place a sponge under the outflow of your skimmer. If not, try removing all the mech. filtration. Bottom line: There is no need to add an additional mechanical filter.> Thanks for your help, and for all the information on your site. <Keep on reading! Hope you get this cleared up (no pun intended) -Kevin>

Filter Bag or not? Hello crew, have another question to run by you. I just finished the majority of my plumbing with exception of one obstacle. I have a 120 gal FOWLR tank with a euro-Fil 30gal sump. It comes with a filter sock attached to a bulkhead. the problem lies between the sump and the bottom of my drilled tank. I have minimal clearance and would like to plumb it with hard pvc vs. flex. The only way to get to the sock would be by using flex so I can open the lid to my sump. My question is can I do away with the sock (to avoid constant cleaning) and put in some live rock in that compartment? <I prefer the bag, would do both rock and bag, use flex. Not a vital choice, but the bags are decent mechanical filters. Either way will work. You would be surprised what makes it into a filter bag.> Then it would go through my heaters and pre-filtered skimmer pump then to a baffle then to a second compartment which will have another filter and carbon on its way to the return pump to tank. what do you think? <There are no hard and fast rules here. Do what works for you. I personally use the bags and the rock. There are good and not so good points to each plan.  Craig>

Durso Standpipe = Detritus? Hello WWM Crew, <Hi Maurice, PF here tonight> I have a 125 marine fish only tank and I've just cleared out my prefilter (mesh rolls) from my overflow boxes after reading some FAQs about the build up those things collect and what a nitrate heaven they are.  The water now runs straight to my sump over a bonded filter pad (which is much more accessible for cleaning) then over the bio balls. <Remember to clean that filter pad. Have you thought about using a PolyFilter instead? It would help pull pollutants out of your system> Now to my question, since I've removed the prefilter rolls from the overflow boxes, I now have a nice waterfall going, so I was planning to build a Durso standpipe (that I read about on your website, good idea) <I read about them here too, mine was a life saver.> in each of the overflow boxes to remedy this problem, however my concern and question is: with the water level raised being drawn from such a high level, won't you get a build up of gunk, settlement and detritus built up on the bottom? <I wouldn't think so. Depends on how high you build. You can make them lower if that's your concern. Nothing is written in stone as far as methods/procedures go.>  If yes how would you prevent this, if no why not? <I've not noticed any build up in my system, nor have I ever heard about this happening to anyone else.> Thanks as always for the great site and advice. Maurice <You're welcome, hopefully this clears up your fears.>

Fine Particulate Filtration Media Thanks, Scott. <No problem, Rob> I forgot to mention that I have a 25 micron pleated canister filter in the filtration loop?  Do they make a filter that I could add that would pick out smaller particles? Rob Stein. <You may need to check out some catalogs or etailers... The ones that I have used, and the once that I see most often, are 100 micron. You may want to check a source like Aquatic Eco Systems on line to see if they have a bulk source of a finer grade. Hope this helps! Scott F>

Media Replacement And Skimmer Choices? Gracias sir! <No problem!> "Do a little research on the WWM site about these fishes" I'm in there now...digging ;).  As far as the foam media in both the H.O.T. and Fluval is once a month "regular", I see that everyone pretty much agrees on once a month for the carbon but could the same be said for the foam media as well? <Good question! I really like to get in the habit of weekly cleanings on these sponges. You will be amazed at the amount of yucky stuff that accumulates in 'em after just a few days, then breaks down. It's a bit of a pain to change them so often- but a great habit!> As far as the skimmer is concerned I looked at my tank today and then looked at the skimmer and said to myself "hmmmm that thing is a bit small isn't it" but if I can get my $75 out of it for a while and upgrade in the future I think that's probably what I'll do. Thanx again. Kevin <Well, Kevin- you could nurse along a second-rate skimmer for a while...But if it were me- I'd curse and kick and scream and then buy a better skimmer from the start...Better off in the long run, IMO! Good luck! Scott F>

Media Replacement And Skimmer Choices (Pt. 2) Thanx again!  Now changing the foam media on a weekly matter will in itself help keep down the Nitrate levels in the tank would it not? <Yep! That's the best reason to do this! It's a viable "nutrient export" mechanism, as you're literally removing undesirable substances directly from the system. If you are a serious fish nerd, like me- you'll get a few of these foam media inserts and rotate 'em out several times a week...Scary- but really an easy way to keep nasty stuff from ever accumulating to begin with!> Also have you heard of the Back pack skimmer (doing a search right now on them but your opinions also appreciated)?  They seem to be sold in abundance at one of my local shops. <Yep- The CPR Bak Pak is a great hang-on-the-tank skimmer, IMO. Productive, simple to clean, and reliable. Another fine choice is the Aqua C Remora Pro. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with either of these models, if serviced regularly! Good luck! ScottF>

Cotton Sir what would happen if I put cotton in water which contains micro organisms? What is the effect of adding cotton on micro organisms? <As long as the cotton isn't dyed there shouldn't be any effects at all. Ronni>

Re: Mechanical Filtration Hey WWM Crew how are you? <<Not bad for a Wednesday!>>Just wanted to get your thoughts on mechanical filtration given my current sumpless setup. I have a 46 gallon tank housing 60lbs live rock, 4" sand bed, a few fish, <<Doh, to me a few is 2, and what size?? More info here would help>>a couple LPS, a leather and polyps. I am using the aqua c remora skimmer and am running a magnum 350 canister for chemical and mechanical filtration. <overall, sounds like a nice setup!>>Optimally I should be changing or cleaning the filter pad 3 or so times weekly. Honestly this just doesn't happen and when I do my water changes every 2 weeks I clean out the canister and change the filter pad then. Of course by that time it is pretty cruddy. Having said that, am I doing more harm then good? Would I be better off running the canister 1 week a month for the chemical filtration and that way the filter pad will not get fouled. <<hmmm... What is your water quality? If good, then something must be right, eh? If not, then the a culprit may be the canister filter>>I read that running chemical (carbon) 1 week a month might be a better idea than running constantly anyway. <<I believe the 'usefulness' of carbon depletes rather quickly (a few days) so if you are changing it twice monthly, not a bad approach as it will continue to act as a bacterial filter>>Will my protein skimmer pick up the slack? I believe I read that mechanical filtration can hinder the efficiency of your protein skimmer. I'm just a bit concerned about not running mech. filtration because of what I see on the filter pad when I change it, it is pretty dirty and where is all that going?  <<On the other hand, what is happening by leaving that in the filter much longer than suggested/recommended?? I believe that any piece of equipment needs to be maintained properly to function at peek effectiveness>> As always, thank you for your time and expertise. <<Well, maybe my opinion, but, anyhow, your welcome! Don>> Angelo

This Sponge Is No Fun! I recently changed the sump foam/sponge block that sits in the bottom of my wet/dry filter (just before the water makes it to the pump). Well, without thinking about it, I threw the old sponge out in the trash after I added the new one. About 24 hours later... the ammonia level spiked in my tank. <Yikes! Sorry to hear that!> At this point I have lost my powder brown tang and I am nursing a sick porcupine puffer back to health. This tank has been setup for 1 year and 5 months now. My setup: standard wet/dry 100 gal filter, Prism skimmer, 55 gal fish only tank. So here's my question. Should the foam/sponge block in the bottom of my wet/dry be treated as if it were a big bio ball/block and not removed right away? Example: rinsing it out a bit when it starts to get nasty. Thanks for your time, Steven, Florida <Well, Steven I'm a bit concerned that the system relied so much on the sponge for biofiltration as to have an ammonia spike following it's removal. I think you may want to make a few adjustments to the setup to allow nature to do some of the work for you. I'd consider adding some live rock to your sump or system to accomplish some of the biological filtration. Perhaps the addition of a deep (3 inches or more) live sand bed in the main tank to assist with denitrification. If you want to continue to use a sponge, or other filter media in the sump, clean it very frequently (I mean, like 2 or 3 times a week), so that it does not become a "biological filter", or, for that matter, a source of organic accumulation. By letting nature do some of the work for you, your system will be less susceptible to other traumatic events such as this one in the future. Make these minor adjustments, and I'll bet your system will be back up to speed in no time! Good luck! Scott F>

Mechanical Filtration Hello: <Hi!> Thank you for the wonderful site you have put together.  My question is as follows: I have set up a small (20 gallon) saltwater tank for my son.  I have about 22 pounds of live rock in it, a Brown Star Polyp coral, a flame angel, two clowns and a sally lightfoot crab.  I was recently advised that, with the live rock, I should remove the Penguin 170 filter and hook up a protein skimmer.  I have done that, and have hooked up a Bak Pak 2R on the back of the tank. <Good moves> I am concerned, however, about not having any mechanical filtration to remove the detritus.  Are my concerns valid? <No. The tank will take care of itself. When you do your weekly water changes gently siphon out any obvious detritus resting on the bottom of the tank>   Also, although I was only able to observe the skimmer for about 30 minutes last night, there are many bubbles being injected into the tank.  Is that just normal at startup? <Maybe. I would contact CPR and ask for their suggestions on this matter. I'm sure they will have a solution> Thank you for your response. <My pleasure! David Dowless> Scott.

Mechanical Filtration Thanks Steven. I am just wondering about your thoughts on the sponge in the Aquaclear idea as the only source of mechanical filtration for this tank. Nothing in the sump but the skimmer. I assume some sort of mechanical filtration is needed with my system, but I could be wrong. <The sponge would be fine, but you need to clean daily to keep it acting as a mechanical filter, otherwise it will become biological. I do not use a mechanical filter, just an area in my sump that acts as a settling chamber. -Steven Pro>

Re: mech. filtration.. Hey guys!, I shall try my best to improve my "English" here at Steve's request. <It will save Bob and Barb a tremendous amount of time. If you read the daily page, you will notice that they fix all that stuff. They spend hours each day correcting, pasting, and posting the Q&A's.> I am looking at removing my floss I use in the main tray of my wet/dry. I keep reading that the skimmer needs unfiltered water entering it and I am looking to remove my bioballs as well. I have an AquaClear 500 running for carbon and surface movement and am wondering if I could add a sponge filter to this that I would clean regularly then toss all media out of the sump. 130 gallon FOWLR tank good skimmer (hoping darker skimmate with media removal) 200-220 pounds of live rock (Fiji, Florida, Indonesian) 1/2 inch crushed coral substrate Blue tang Naso tang Queen Angel Picasso trigger Red Coris Wrasse Lionfish (will be weeding out a bit down the road) your thoughts on this plan. <With the amount of liverock you have, you should not need the bioballs. Please remove slowly, though.> One last knucklehead question. I am now using R/O water. I always used to add 1/2 tablespoon of Seabuffer per 5 gallons of water for my top off with tapwater, tested pH after 12 hours and gotten 8.2 readings and am getting the same with R/O. With this water aerating in my bucket for a few days, this level does not drop correct? <This should be fairly stable.> Or am I supposed to be adding this buffer daily or something? <No need> Thanks as always for your time and my English sounds better then it reads Steve...lol......riot.... <That is why Bill Gates made the spell checker button. -Steven Pro>

Mechanical Filtration Situation I have a 90 gallon FO /Wet Dry / AquaC EV120. I'm having serious problems with particulate matter circulating throughout the tank. The tank has a built in overflow with 2 foam prefilters, and 1 floss filter in the drip tray. I clean the filters every week, yet I can't get that crystal clear water that we all know and love. I clean and reuse the floss 3 or 4 times and then replace it; the foam prefilters are also cleaned each week, but have not been replaced in 5 years (Is this a problem?). I recently added a 180 micron mesh bag over the gate valve for the skimmer. Help!!! Any comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated. <Well- the presence of particulate matter in the water can be really annoying, I know that! If it's fine particulate, I'd use those micron bags, but I'd place them so that the water flowing down from the overflow into your sump passes through them (i.e; around the standpipes from the overflow). And, quite frankly, I am not a huge fan of those sponge prefilters in the overflow. They function as a mechanical filter for about 3 days, then they become a nitrate factory! Frankly, I don't use them in my system...I really think that it's all about placement of the micron bags- they work well if placed in the correct area. And you also need to clean them regularly (like 2-3 times a week or more) or they will also become problems. Finally- I suggest that you look into what is causing the particulate matter to appear. Is there some sort of additive that you're using, regular Kalkwasser additions, or buffers...some type of dry additive that's not mixing? Invertebrate "target foods"? Check water chemistry to confirm that it's not some kind of organics-fueled bacteria bloom. Maybe even microbubbles coming in from somewhere (check plumbing for possible leaks)? Keep searching for answers...I'll bet you'll "stumble" on the cause soon! Good luck! Scott F>

Mech. Filter Hey what's up? <Ummm.....a duck's butt when it eats?> Just wanted to get your opinion on running a 55g reef tank without a mechanical filter? Pros and cons. <With enough LR and LS, no problem really. Depends on fish load, type and mix of corals, water change habits, feeding habits, skimmer size and type, etc. Many skimmers use powerheads that employ sponge filters that should be retained and cleaned regularly.>  Also does a dirty mechanical filter pad cause algae problems? <It can produce nitrates and contribute to an algae problem.> I am currently running a Magnum 350 canister (sumpless system) which is pretty good at getting dirty really fast. Thanks, Angelo <Keep it cleaned out Angelo! Craig>

Light Foam on Top... and trim the sideburns Hello, I'm getting a light film on the top of my water and I am wondering if this is something to worry about, Or will my filters eventually get it. I have a 120 gallon saltwater, with live rock and two large canister filters and the main filter is an EBB & FLOW w/ protein skimmer. The film almost looks oily with fine particulate matter in it. Thanks for your time in this matter and thank you for having this page. Thanks again, Tim Calaway. <<Hi Tim! Yes, proteins have an affinity for the surface, that's why many people use skimmer/overflow boxes that skim this thin layer of water off with all of it's rich organics. You can skim it off with a clean glass or cup held just at the surface to pull the scum into the glass. A clean, white, scent free paper towel will also soak up some. Maybe think about an overflow or skimmer box. Craig>>

Skimmers, Overflows I have a 180 Oceanic Reef Ready tank with two 1" overflows down to a 26 gallon Lifereef sump, skimmer. Ok, I understand that the idea is for the skimmer to get raw water, and therefore it should be located before any sponges, etc in the sump so that it can pick up the solids. However, wouldn't the prefilter in the overflow box located above the skimmer be inhibiting this and pick up nitrate producing solids before the skimmer can remove them? <Yup> Should I remove this prefilter on the skimmer side?<I would. Your skimmer is going to function better. Prefilters need frequent cleaning so that they do not become biological.> Also, I have the nylon bags over the PVC pipe under the Overflows, presumably to catch detritus. I understand these should be emptied daily (which won't happen, it takes forever to get them on and off and I am too lazy). I am not catching anything in these anyways. Should I just take them off? <Sure, if they are not going to get cleaned frequently it is just going to cause problems in the long run. -Gage Thanks again, Marc

Mechanical Filtration Anthony, <cheers, mate> I don't know whether you can keep your who has written what straight or not (I know I wouldn't be able to), so a quick reminder. <much appreciation, my friend> We wrote back and forth a week ago about removing the foam prefilter from the overflow and moving my skimmer from the sump to a unfiltered tank that remained at a constant level. I made my own tank for the skimmer out of acrylic (Plexiglas) and glued it together and all. It was surprisingly easy. I might have a new hobby.  <and a very necessary service too! Do make your skills known to the local aquarium society and I suspect that you can fill your tanks with traded livestock easily <G>> Anyways I now have a couple new questions: 1) Due to my vertical clearance the overflow from my skimmer tank to the sump (where I have a wet/dry) is only about 2 inches. You said that I should definitely filter the water so the bio-media does not get the "raw water". In my situation, if you understand it, what type of filtration do you recommend? Under ideal circumstances what do you recommend? <a flat drip tray just above the bio-media (perforated with 1/4 inch holes or larger) can be covered with a piece of bonded filter pad (or two... alternate rinsing). Marineland makes a staple "blue bonded filter pad" that performs VERY well in even high load applications. Used for their lobster tank food service divisions as well. Commonly available and can be rinsed and reused many times. I like it just fine>  2) The LFS has what they call a micron bag.  <WAAAAY too fine. It will clog faster than you can shake a stick fish at it... not made for this purpose. Micron bags are polishing filters... best as a last stage media bag> I have seen these both used where water falls through to a water level below and where the bag is submerged almost completely in water. Is one configuration better than the other?  <I do not like having such filter bags submerged at all> I would think the first case would cause more bacterial activity due to oxygen exposure!?!  <agreed> Are these bags a bad idea due to the thickness for bacterial growth?  <not for that reason here> Should a filter be thin? <nope... thick and medium fine for this application> 3) I don't know where you live, but I know Bob is in San Diego like myself. I'm interested in a "forum" or "meeting" where I could meet you guys and others who I could discuss "issues" and the like with.  <I'm in PA but love Cali and visit when I can. I'm speaking in San Francisco June 20th, driving to see Bob in Sacramento 21rst. And may make it to San Diego in July. Indeed a couple of extra visits to Cali likely by years end. It would be a pleasure to meet you> Are there any public non-commitment meetings or something? Where, when, how? <Big trade and reef aquarist shows are easy places to find me and very educational places for you to be as well. MACNA (Dallas/FT Worth this year) is one of the best. Hundreds of hardcore aquarists and industry professionals all getting together for three days of lecture, new product exposition and fellowship. Not to mention beer drinking and brain picking with garoos (gurus) like Bob Fenner... if you are man enough to try and keep up with his beer swilling talents! For a few hundred bucks... you get an education more intense and succinct than what you can find most anywhere else, a mini vacation and some great memories! Do check them out> 4) I almost forgot. What is the max gph in plumbing taking 90 degree angles and couplings into consideration? I read a recent post by Bob to a Karen that has me thinking. <you are thinking about Karen? Does she know this? What the hell do you want me to do about it? I mean.. I guess I could ask... say a good word for you to gain her favor. What are your intentions anyway, young man?!? Are they honorable? Someone else told me that you were a silly freak... Oh, wait a minute... I said that. Just made it up. I'm really not sure what I can do for you with this Karen... however, you have given me so much information to expand upon with the "max GPH" question: Hmmm... max GPH though a 90 degree elbow. Now... would that be a 90 degree airline tubing, NY city sewer pipe, 1", 2", 3", 4" PVC pipe...heehee. Throw me a bone here, bud! Ha! You see... this is what you get for asking the wise guy on the crew <smile>. I can be of some help seriously, though. Whichever you choose... add 1 foot of head (when comparing to pump max flow charts) for ever elbow, tee, valve and 10 foot of straight run> Thanks again, Mark <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Mechanical Filtration Anthony, Sorry, I originally typed the max GPH question, then erased it and re-typed it... seems that I inadvertently left out the important part... duhh! My 75gal tank is plumbed with 3/4" pvc and has 5' head (excluding the 6 90deg angles, about 5' overall horizontal run, "T" that splits off with vinyl hose for UV and ties back into the return with another "T"....... Maybe I should just retract this question :) <heehee.. no way. I had fun with it <G>. 3/4" pipe is a good hefty size and undoubtedly can handle far more flow than your overflow can handle. Indeed, your overflow will be the limiting factor. Determine what that flow is and compare that to a pump operating at 14' of head (approx your situation) to size a pump for this system. If you simply want to know how much water can be pushed through this line... I cannot say exactly. The answer, no doubt, is several thousand gallons per hour. I notice that you did not mention and slip unions or gate valves? The shut-off valves are crucial in an emergency and to swap, clean or replace pumps. Do have and do add to the head estimate for exh valve> Thanks, Mark <best regards, Anthony>

Anthony's recent postings on pre-filters, etc Anthony, <cheers, friend> I have read with interest your recent postings about pre-filters, wet/dry filters, tanks with built-in overflows, etc. You have mentioned several times that for someone with a small to medium bioload the ideal is to get rid of the bioballs in the sump and buy more live rock.  <indeed, in an effort to temper the inevitable nitrate production of mechanical filtration that goes biological and the man-made biological media. All when live rock is more than adequate to handle the bio-load complimented by careful feeding, due water changes and good skimming> That, and a protein skimmer, should be adequate filtration. <debatable if it can fairly be called filtration... but yes... as very efficient nutrient export nonetheless> However, my tank is one with a heavier bioload due to two messy (but lovable) puffers.  <Ahhh yes, a horse with a different color altogether> I understand your point about the skimmer needing raw water to skim the waste before it starts to decay in a prefilter somewhere,  <exactly and still applies to most every setup that wants to reduce nitrates and noxious concentrations of dissolved organics> and I hope to figure out a way to do that sometime soon with my setup.  <might be very easy... do advise me of your skimmer and available space behind and below your aquarium> Currently my overflow water goes to the top of my biotower (with a prefilter and bioballs, of course),  <Hmmm... if your skimmer is fed by a pump... you could have a 2 gallon pitcher/tub drilled with an overflow and mounted just inside the stand and slightly above the biotower... it would catch all raw water coming down first and then overflow/plumbed into the biotower... a brief diversion of the water flow. SO any hang on skimmer or model with a dedicated pump could receive water from this vessel... to be pumped from it and returned (skimmer effluent) to it. Just one possibility>  then heads down into the sump (15g tank) where the skimmer is before returning to the tank.  <indeed... you could be getting much better performance out of this skimmer> I have removed all the sponge filters that were in the overflow and also attached to my skimmer and return pumps. Was this a good move?  <all but the last sponge on the final return pump. A course foam block here that you rinse regularly is a nice polishing block for fish tanks (not for reefs as it traps and kills plankton)> Should I also remove the fiber prefilter at the top of my biotower so that the raw water simply goes through the bioballs to the skimmer without any prefilter?  <absolutely not... this prefilter is necessary as long as you run bio media. Media clotted with organic material performs very poorly. A great prefilter is necessary for bio-balls. Unfortunately, this definitely means that the downstream skimmer will be compromised> I guess my ultimate question is this: What is the ideal set up for a tank with a heavier bioload? Is there any way a tank with a heavier bioload could do without the bioballs? <honestly... you have it very easy if you are more disciplined than I am <smile>. You can have an insanely successful aquarium with small frequent maintenance events. If you can do it... almost daily rinsing of the most convenient downstream prefilter (likely the one over the bioballs). To make it better/easier have an extra bonded filter pad to rotate between cleanings. Daily faithful rinsing of a good prefilter and a small weekly water change are priceless for water quality and tried and true. If this is possible with your lifestyle, preference or work schedule... then there's not much else to talk about. This incredibly simple methodology (with simple foam block filtration!) has produced results for the likes of the Nancy Aquarium in France with a long list of marine fishes aged to well over 20 years captive and many over 30 years captive!! That's good enough for me. Strict prevention of accumulated particulates and dissolves organics handles by water changes... yes, "Dilution is the Solution to Pollution"> Thanks so much for your help. Chip <my pleasure, Anthony>

Mechanical Filtration Hi Anthony, This one is aimed at you since I am questioning a reply you made to another reader.  <Okey Dokey!> I have a 75gal reef tank, operational for about 2 years and soon to be upgraded to a 150gal system.  <excellent... a 150 gallon with a 75 gallon refugium <wink>> I use a lot of live rock, sump, etc.. The tank has been fine up until the last couple months or so where I notice the ph is falling on or somewhat below 8.0, and minor algae problems are becoming more prevalent.  <there is some correlation between the two> The skimmer doesn't seem to be as effective either based on the skimmate production (Aqua C in sump model - also 2 years old).  <nice skimmer> Based on an earlier reply, I can see I have a couple of problems that I do not want to repeat in the design of my new tank. The 75gal tank has 2 mechanical filters, one is a filter pad attached to the pipe in the overflow, the other is a 25 micron bag that the overflow flows into as it enters the sump.  <ughhh! besides limiting the ability of any skimmer to produce, such mechanicals are LABOR intensive as you know!> Both filters are significantly fouled and need cleaning after a two or three week period.  <you are lucky to even get that!> I had planned on both filters for the new tank, which will have twin corner overflows. Based on an earlier reply you made ( to Jim, 5/30/02), are these pre-filters a mistake?  < a big mistake in my opinion. Vertical towers are just awful...many design drawbacks and few benefits. If you'll have anything... have a modified horizontal skimmer box for the captured/drilled overflow holes on a high back wall (this spreads the collected surface area thinner by far than a tower which will improve skimmer performance by concentrating the proteins)> I assume that the skimmer itself would be responsible for collecting all that is now caught in the pre-filters?  <yes... essentially but not all in the first pass... yet letting little or none degrade into nitrogenous byproducts in the system like in mechanical and biological filters> The 25 micron filter bag also controls bubbles coming from the water splashing down the sump, I would assume I would need to figure a new way to control these also if the bag is not there.  <yes... but so many easy tricks with run/drop of plumbing, baffles, etc> I also have at least a 1 inch fluctuation in the sump every day, especially when the weather is warmer and the fans are on. This is also what you say is messing up my skimmer.  <Wow...enormously!!!> I will look into a sump within a sump system as you describe, and am considering as the new skimmer either the Euro Reef or a new and bigger Aqua C.  <both excellent> You mention putting the skimmer's pump in a container within the sump, but that appears to be a problem with the Euro Reef as the pump connection to the skimmer itself appears to be quite short (at least per the picture of the unit as seen on their site). Do you see any problem putting the complete skimmer (pump and all) into the container in the sump?  <my fault... yes, indeed that is quite fine and rather assumed. I simply did not explain it well> Also are there any of the auto-top off float switches you recommend? <yep... infrared is top of the line... attenuated/styro bobbin-styles are reasonably good... and ball floats are usually lowest grade or least reliable> And are these better than the dosing type systems that are also advertised as working at topping off water levels? Some of these are quite expensive.  <Yes... better than peristaltic (dialysis) pumps with trudge on regardless of fluctuations daily in humidity and subsequent fluctuations in evaporation. A float switch on a solenoid/pump will only ever replace the evap FW as it is triggered> Would they even be necessary if the sump within the sump system was used, and the larger of the two sumps (the one without the skimmer) was allowed to fluctuate somewhat? <not as necessary but still important! A fluctuating sump means a fluctuating salinity and skimmer performance is seriously influenced by salinity!!!> It is amazing, and somewhat frustrating that what is accepted as "proper" 2 years ago in a reef set-up is far from correct now.  <sometimes frustrating, but sometimes simply the wheels of progress <smile>> My 75gal tank is utilizing a 3-4 inch crushed coral sand bed, pre-filters, in-tank powerheads, and mixed hard and soft corals - all of which are frowned upon today, but which I thought were the way to go back then. The "moving target" dynamics of this hobby are quite amazing. <heehee... you are so correct!> Thanks Anthony, Steve <thank you, my friend. Best regards! Anthony>

Particulate Filter Hi Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Thank you for all the advice in the past, your advice has been a blessing for the creatures I try to care for. I just installed a 18 gall rough tote sump on my 55 gal reef. I used a "critter keeper" to house my pump and I wrapped in poly fill batting. Do you think this is an OK solution for my bubble problem?  <the premise is good, but do be careful that the batting is not so fine that it clogs quickly.> I think the bubbles are coming from my AMiracle protein skimmer, which is right next to the return pump. Any advice on what I can do for a particulate filter?  <on the draw side of the return pump, use a stem embedded in a coarse foam block (that is rinsed frequently if nitrates are a concern)> My wet dry had a drip plate with a filter pad on it and this accumulated a good amount of gunk. <use bonded filter pads (like Marineland blue) that can be rinsed and reused for the plate...do be sure to keep up on this as organics are a great impediment on bio-media/balls if allowed. Anthony Calfo> Thanks for your advice. Jeremy

Pond filtration hi, Just wanted to ask for your opinion on the Emperor Aquatics bag and bio pond filters. (http://www.emperoraquatics.com/pondbagbio.html) thanks <Of products of their kind, they are superlative. I have used these bags as "first lines of particulate and filth (fish, invertebrate wastes) in aquaculture, live-holding facilities for many years. They really work. Bob Fenner>

Fix or Replace the UGF? Dear Bob, I am still trying to track down a copy of CMA - but in the mean time - - - - <Look in the "CMA Input" section of the site... some folks have written in recently on finding extant supplies...> I have read most of the FAQs at WWM but have a situation I don't think is covered, if it is I will search some more. I started a 50 gallon fish only tank 3 months ago. Per LFS recommendation, started with UGF under 3" of crushed coral and a little Millennium 1000 HOT filter that has a bio section and small mechanical/carbon filter. Using CF lights. Tank has cycled and we have 4 fish: Yellow Eyed Tang, Golden Maroon, Humu Trigger, yellow tail damsel. Nitrites and ammonia are zero but nitrates are 80+ppm and green algae growing fast, both on walls, decorative shells and in the water. Change 10 - 20% water weekly with RO and have been vacuuming the coral. Water continues to be a bit cloudy and greenish. We tried a UV sterilizer (loaner from LFS) to try to stop the bloom but it did very little. <Your filtration is incomplete and too puny... You have no skimmer? No live rock? Please go back and read through all the sites with names with these terms in them...> My research tells me the UGF may be a problem waiting to happen as far as clogging and nitrates. Someone recommended we just take out the UGF and go with external wet/dry and skimmer. I want to take a bit more conservative approach rather than rebuild from scratch. One other constraint, this tank is in our living room so I am trying to keep most of the equipment out of sight and quiet. My proposed plan: 1. Add an Eheim external filter. I have been looking at just the mechanical and the combo wet/dry. What would you recommend? <To read through the WWM site...> 2. If that does not resolve the cloudy water, or you feel it is necessary to avoid the impending nitrate problem (if there is one), add a protein skimmer. Leaning toward the Bak Pak or Remora Pro. <Ah! Now you're talking, keying... do put this on ASAP... you'll be amazed at the gunk it removes...> 3. Finally, add a UV sterilizer. <Nah, put your funds into live rock here instead> Thanks for your help. Steven Berg <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Sock filtration hey bob, I just bought a 75 gallon reef ready tank (by reef ready I mean the tank is pre-drilled), I don't want to use a wet/dry, but just a sump with live rock for biological filtration...do I need lights on the live rock in the sump?? <This is better, yes... and have on alternating with main tank lighting or on continuously with Caulerpa culture> ...do I need an extra powerhead in the sump for more circulation over the live rock?? <Probably not. Enough circulation will likely be provided otherwise> ...I saw a "Berlin method flirtation" sump being sold on FFEXPRESS. it was called the euro-Fil and instead of a drip plate the water enters the sump through a micron prefilter bag...is this a good sump??? <Yes... a very useful/used method in the wholesale livestock business... the "sock" removes a bunch of the larger "gunk"...> ..is the micron bag where the chemical filtration could be placed??? <Better outside... about the last phase before the water is returned to the system> ....FFEXPRESS also claims that their AQUA C spray injection protein skimmers are the most efficient today, what are your thought, my friend???...thanks again, Jeff <These are very good units... actually made by a friend (and WWM sponsor) Jason Kim, who owns Aqua C... right up the street from where we live in Southern Ca. Bob Fenner>

Need Help with Filters/Marine Mr. Fenner: I am currently reading your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" which is a very good book.  <Yes, thank you> I have a question on filters. I am working on setting up a 75 gallon fish-only system with live rock. I'm probably going to use 75 pounds of rock. I'm also going to use aragonite substrate. My question is this: What kind of hang on filter would you recommend? I don't want to use a sump, mainly due to the funds involved. I might consider a canister filter as well. My LFS told me to use 2 AquaClear 500's, but others have said this isn't a good idea. <I'm with the "others" here> I'm also going to use a Remora or Remora Pro skimmer. Do you like these models? <Yes, good choices for your size/shape and type system. Please see my collected FAQs on Hang-on Skimmers... even Canisters, archived on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com> Thanks for your help! Dave Hopkins <Be chatting my new fish friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Need Help with Filters Mr. Fenner: Thanks for your quick response! Well, I know now that the AquaClears are out. I was considering an Eheim Plus canister. It's rated at 164 gph. Would that be better? <Yes, immensely> I also have 2 maxi-jet powerheads rated at 160 gph each. Is that enough circulation? <Hmm for how big a system? Anything above five times of the capacity of the system per hour is getting there... the more, the better> Finally, I want to get a goby someday. I like to watch them sift sand. I've read you shouldn't buy these because they will eat all the beneficial organisms in the sand. What do you think? <Many, many choices here... see the scarce coverage of this group (and their relatives) posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com site. Bob Fenner> Thanks again! Dave Hopkins

Marine tank set-up Dear Bob, I am preparing to set up a new Marine aquarium. I have been doing endless reading into the subject and find I still have an incredible amount to learn, some I imagine only from experience. I have decided on the following for my set up (so-far): <Sounds good... and the fields are indeed so vast we are all "learning"> Aquarium-Clarity Plus 60gallon flat-back hex Lighting-All-glass 36" power compact lighting strip Heating- 2 Second nature Acura 1000 100W heaters Skimmer- CPR Bak-Pak2 (Local aquarium owner recommends it) Powerheads- (for water circulation) Aquaclear Hi-spec model 2000 (2) Filter-here's where my question is... <Sounds good so far> This tank will be a fish only tank to start with the idea of being able to convert to a reef tank down the road as I learn more. The filters I have questions about are the Fluval MSF 404 or the Eheim Model 2226 Pro series. Which of these filters is better? Is the Eheim worth the extra $30 in durability and construction or will the Fluval be fine? Are both of them appropriate for a fish only tank? Also I've noticed that Eheim filters do not have storage for carbon (at least Eheim doesn't recommend filling them with carbon) Why is that? For my chemical filtration would I then add carbon pouches to the tank? Any help on this subject would be greatly appreciated...Thanks in advance!!! John <The Eheim is vastly better... not even a close comparison in terms of design, engineering, manufacture, dependability, energy consumption per flow, utility... thirty dollars never better spent.> P.S. if any of the other components in my set up do not fit or work well please add that in the response also. thanks. <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner, who apologizes for late responses... been traveling in the Cooks>

Salt water set-up I have a 125 gallon tank right now set up with fresh water fishes. I am in the process of moving into a house where I plan to stay for awhile. So I have decided to try the salt water fishes. I have two wet-try filters on it right now and I do bi-weekly 25% water changes. I would only like to have 4 or 5 medium size fishes in the tank. What kind of filter media would you suggest. In fact please spell out everything you would use (ON A BUDGET) to get my tank up and running. Thank you., Randy E. Francis >> I would buy, and fit my own mechanical filter media, the Dacron/polyester "batting" material from a yardage store for one of the filters... pull the plastic wet-dry media altogether in both... make the one with the batting into a denitrator (with a plenum/space under two grades of substrate... rig the other up as a Berlin/Mud/Caulerpa Algae Filter with its own small fluorescent lighting on constantly... Check your pumps for moving water about through these...as they may well not be the best choices and be your largest single expense... Further explanations on pulling the plastic media, mud/algae and Berlin filtration, denitrators/plenums may be found in materials stored at the URL: www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner

 



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