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FAQs about Wet-Dry, Trickle Filter System Selection; Yes/No, Makes, Brands & Models

Related Articles: Trickle Filters, pt. 1 By Bob Goemans, Physical Filtration, Denitrification/Denitrifiers, Nitrates and Marine Systems

Related FAQs: Wet Dries 1, Wet Dries 2, Wet-Dries 3, Wet Dries 4, Set-Up, Pumps, Plumbing Issues, Bio-Balls FAQs, Bio-Ball, Wet-Dry Media 2, Other Filter/Media/Elements (other than bio-balls), Modification/Conversion, Operation/Maintenance/Repair... Biological Filtration, Biofiltration 2, Fluidized Beds, Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, PhosphatesDenitrification/Denitrifiers,

For fish, wet/dries are alright, not so for most reefs.... unless attention is given to their "over-driving" nitrification effects. 

Trickle filters; and CMA     11/3/14
Much has been written about these being a nitrate factory and not to use them in a reef setup.
<Mmm; they have their place, applications. The excess nitrate trend/ing can be addressed in a few ways effectively>
I've read Bob Fenner's book and for a fish only system he states it is fine. I recently tore down my 125 and getting ready to move into a 220 gallon. The old system was a deep sand bed
<This is one of those ways>
and lots of live rock with metal halides and compact fluorescents and skimmer with refugium filled with live rock and macro algae.
<These help as well to take up and convert NO3>
Seemed to work well as it was set up for 7-8 years but I had a light bio load and admittedly lazy on my water changes. Turning over a new leaf now and not going to over engineer this setup but I like the fact there is a
great increase in oxygen flow with a trickle filter although everyone says it is a nitrate factory. So the conversion happens faster with a trickle filter going from Nitrite to Nitrate... so?
<Indeed; so?>
The Nitrate is less toxic but it still needs to be converted. If there is plenty of live rock and skimming with a light bio load why would it not be a good idea to include in a reef system?
<Just as you state>
I'm not a novice. I've been keeping marine fish since the 70's who took 10 years off in the 80's and 90's to find a much improved hobby.
<Me too>
Seems to me that a combination of live rock, deep sand bed, refugium, skimmer and a trickle filter could exist in a single reef system with a light to medium bio load on fishes. Comments are welcome but looking for
answers not just opinions without facts.
Mike Murphy
<Just have anecdotal accounts (but several) to bolster the above opinions.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Trickle filters
; and DSB maint.     11/3/14
Thanks for the quick response.
Did not expect to hear from the man himself. So should I go out and buy the new updated book or can I pretty much still rely on my old copy which I think was the second printing with the Flame Angle?
<Heeee! CMA is the only work I've ever penned that went beyond one edition.
The Second has a true Lemonpeel on the cover>
Read it cover to cover many times. So has my son who is now an avid hobbyist.
Forgot to mention when I broke down my deep sand bed in the 125 none of it had a hydrogen sulfide smell it was all sweet smelling from top to bottom.
Had a plenum and 200lbs of live rock. Was that normal?
<Mmm; yes; well-designed, properly maintained DSBs don't go anaerobic>
Thinking of washing the aragonite and reusing maybe adding some new also before recycling the tank again but some warn of Phosphate bonding and release.
<Small concern really. You could try "acid washing" a sample (any dilute, low concentration organic, inorganic acid will work); see by testing if there's any HPO4 released... More of a concern is the loss of easier solubility in such recycled substrates. Adding a modicum of new is a very good idea>
My son has done this without issues but his tank was not setup as long as mine. Keep up the good work and information.
<And you; BobF>
Re: Trickle filters
Probably hard to improve on the success of the first printing when it comes to basics.. About the only really new thing that has improved is lighting.
<And some types of filters secondly...>
The halides are on the way out with the introduction led's however even they wear out over time but the savings in electricity and less heat generated is the upside. It is pretty amazing the strides the hobby has
made in 30 years or more. If I have learned anything you can really over engineer the filtration setup with every gadget on the market the basics still hold true.
<Oh yes>
Funny how a lot we have learned over the years has been by accident when it comes to biological filtration and the like. If you ever get out to Indiana let me know we have an active Marine Aquarium Society that would love to have you as a guest.
<Do ask them when/then and have them contact me. I do get out about a dozen times a year speaking to hobby groups>
You could sign autographs like celebrities do!
All joking aside I have not read a more enjoyable book that is put together as well as yours. Thanks for the contribution to the hobby.
Mike Murphy
<A pleasure to share. Bob Fenner>

Wet/Dry or refugium? 5/17/09
Hello ladies and gents,
I currently have a 55 gallon FOWLR tank, it consists of 1 aqua clear 70 HOB filter, 1 aqua clear 70 power head, 1 aqua clear 50 power head, 1 UV sterilizer, and a Coralife super skimmer 65. It has a 3" sugar size oolite sand bed and 40 pounds of live rock. I have only one valentini puffer, and one porcupine puffer (3") and one long tentacle anemone,two hermit crabs and one turbo snail, along with the various serpent starfish that has hitchhiked on the live rock and are surprisingly still in there. The tank has only been set up for two months. They were moved from a ten gallon that has been set up for 4 months that has 2.5" inch sand bed and 15 pounds live rock with numerous hermit crabs.
<Even the 55 is much too small for the porcupine.>
I want to turn the ten gallon into a refugium, since I already have the overflow and pumps for it, the problem is we used quick cure (malachite green) in it and I don't know if it is safe to use?
<The tank will be fine to use.>
Should I go this route or just set up a wet/dry and leave my ten gallon just a breeder for puffer food.
<If you have all the supplies a refugium is the way to go IMO.>
When I move later this year me and my wife will be setting up a 300 gallon for a puffer, <Ah, good.> which we will employ both the wet/dry and refugium, but till then I would like your expert opinion on which would be a better filtration for my fish till then and easier to move. If I did use the ten gallon as filtration for my 55 then I could use the aqua clear 30 off it for filtration for my other ten gallon quarantine tank. There are just too many decisions to make, but that is why I love this hobby, because there are just endless possibilities. Well, sorry for taking up so much of your time, but any opinion you give will greatly be appreciated.
PS I attached a photo so you could see why I want somewhere to put all my equipment! Thanks!
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Wet/Dry Filter... Lots to learn!   7/19/07 I would like to know what wet/dry filter system is the best for a 75 -80 gallons, and do I need a skimmer, if so which do you suggest? I want a great looking reef tank. <Oh boy! You have a lot of reading to do! Wet/dry filters are becoming/have become a thing of the past especially for a reef systems as they can be Nitrate factories. Refugiums are usually favored. And yes, I would highly recommend a protein skimmer. I use an AquaC and am very pleased with its performance and they are known for their outstanding customer service. Info on tank set up: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm Headings for refugiums is bright blue, skimmers is black. Here are a few select articles but there is much more than what I'm giving you here... See the related links in Blue. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/proskimrart2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/protein_skimmer_impressions.htm > Thanks, <Welcome! Mich> Mark A. Powell

What's a Refugium, Why do I want one over a wet-dry?  - 04/12/2007 Hi guys, <Hello and Welcome to the show.. 'err...site.> I have been reading your comments and I have obtained a wealth of information. <Awesome!> However I have an ongoing issue with green hair algae <Let's see if I can help you out...> 1) my water quality is excellent, <This is god but in the future we do prefer specifics, just so that we an verify your analysis and sometimes an outside source may see an obvious yet big problem that the tester/owner overlooked.> the tank (55gals) is not exposed to sunlight, and I do water changes once per week. <Good.> 2)Also, I have a wet dry filter, UV sterilizer and a protein skimmer. <Wet-dries are notorious for trapping detritus and adding organic (nitrates/nitrite/phosphate) to the tank, or I should say trapping them not adding them> I was considering getting a refugium. <A very good consideration...a change I would make.> Is the wet/dry better than the refugium? <In a reef-aquarium, no the nutrient export/macro-algae refugia is vastly superior.> If not can you tell me why?.... <Lots of articles, FAQ's posted re which I do suggest giving a read through. But in general; the term refugia refers to a safe haven (a separated and secluded area). Refugiums can be used to house anything that would not normally thrive or cohabitate with those animals intended for the display tank. Refugiums can range from any of these: **Are for microfauna/zooplankton to reproduce **Culturing Macroalgae for food or nutrient export **Growing out propagated coral fragments **Safe haven for smaller fish/inverts. that would get lost in he display The most common way it is used however is as the nutrient export via macro-algae and for providing a place for the microfauna to "get their thing on" There are a multitude way of adding one and plumbing it to the display, the best route for you probably would be to replace the existing wet-dry with one, though plumbing a new vessel is not out of the option list.> thanks in advance for the help. <Welcome, Adam J.>

Wet/dry filters? (Reading to do) 2/18/07 Hi, I've recently decided to start up a saltwater tank. <Welcome to a beautiful hobby! GrahamT here with you today.> I've had fresh water many years, I believe it's time for a change. I have a 40 gallon tank that I purchased with the heater, a whisper filter, and a few other decorative things. The guy at the LFS said it was everything I needed, just make sure to cycle the tank. <Would disagree with that on some levels. A whisper filter alone is not enough to maintain a system with the level of maintenance most novices hope for. Remember, the more/proper equipment you have, the easier your system is to maintain.> I don't want anything fancy really, just a few damsels, and maybe a clown fish for the kids. Right now I only have 2 mollies in it from my fresh water tank, that I acclimated to salt. I test the water weekly, everything checks out. <We need to see numbers to agree with your analysis. Did you see the expected spikes in ammonia and nitrite?> I went to purchase my first saltwater fish and I was told that I would not be able to keep them alive without a wet/dry filter and he wouldn't sell me a fish unless I bought one. <Interesting. I used to refuse sale of difficult species to customers that didn't care if they lived or died, but that's a little different, IMO.> What I want to know is the difference between the wet/dry and the one I was sold. Is he right, and should I really not buy any fish without one? Or is it something the less hardy/ more expensive fish require? I was told by the man who sold me the fish tank and whisper filter that it should hold the bacteria just the same. Please help me decide, I'm confused. Thank you for all your help: Your sight <site?> has saved some of my fresh water fish in the past. Justin. <Justin, I would advise you to let the system stay empty (and remove the mollies to the LFS) until you do some reading and decide what you think is the right course. This hobby is very rewarding, but most hobbyists quit in the first year due to failure brought on by misinformation or just plain lack of knowledge/understanding/research. Do some reading here on WWM and let the system run. Nothing bad will come from it's sitting empty, only good. One thing I recommend even more so than the wet/dry being offered here, is Liverock. More important in the long run than the wet/dry or trickle filter. Most hobbyists have converted their old wet/dry filters to sumps without any media at all in favor of liverock. Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm and let your head swim for a few weeks. Good luck and write back often! -GrahamT> Wet/Dry Help!  10/26/06 I currently have a 75 gallon with a porcupine puffer, lion fish, tomato clown, pygmy angel, purple tang and marine Betta. <Too much... crowded...> A couple anemones <Incompatible...> and a starfish. I'm not sure how many lbs. Of live rock and 1/2 inch of shell substrate. I have 2 Eheim 2026 canister filters with 2 Chemi-pure medias, ceramic noodles, blue course <coarse> filter, and a white fine filter in each.  My skimmer is a Red Sea Prizm Deluxe. My nitrates and phosphates always test high, <Too crowded, under and mis-filtered...> all others test 0. I have been reading your FAQ'S and am not sure if I should convert to a wet/dry or not, <I wouldn't> and if  so what kind would you recommend? Maybe  just add some live sand? Or more live rock? Any suggestions to achieve the best water quality and conditions would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks for your help and your site is very educational. <Mmm, no maybe's about it... More reading needed. Bob Fenner>

Re: Wet/Dry Help!  - 10/28/06 I apologize if this is a duplicate email, my email was acting up and I'm not sure if it was sent. <No worries> I appreciate your response, you stated it's "too crowded, under and mis-filtered". How or what, to fix the filtering is the question. <Various approaches and their rationale are posted: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm> I plan to add more live rock and can I mix the live sand with the shells? <Also posted... yes> Will this help with the high nitrates and phosphates? <Likely so. BobF>

Re: Wet/Dry Help - 10/28/06 I appreciate your response to my "wet/dry help" question. <<Hmm, don't know who that was.  It is helpful if you include the previous response with your follow-up questions>> You stated it's " too crowded, under and mis-filtered" but would not recommend a wet/dry.  How to fix filtering is the question? What to add, or change? <<I this is a FOWLR tank the addition of a fluidized-bed filter can be beneficial...if this is a reef tank then live rock/DSB/vegetable refugium is the best approach>> You also recommended more live rock, adding live sand (can this be added with the shells? How thick?) <<Merely seeding the existing substrate with a cup or two of live sand from the LFS or another hobbyist's marine system may be all that's needed (I have no previous information/description of your system to go on here), or, if no substrate exists, an inch or less of fine aragonite will do...unless you want to employ a DSB in which case 4+ inches of sugar-fine aragonite will be called for>> and more reading (which I have started).  If I had the computer before the fish tank I'd be in "good shape"! <<Indeed, a useful "tool" in the ongoing learning process.  EricR>>

Re: Wet/Dry Help!   11/5/06 I have read your Q&A's on Marine Set-up and would like to ask you if I'm on the right path for my tank as below. My conclusion for a good system- a sump good skimmer, fluidized bed filter, and chemical media and a few powerheads for circulation.  Now my question -I  understand a sump controls the Ammonia & Nitrite. <Mmm... actually, most captive aquatic systems rely on biological filtration (mainly bacterial) in any part of the system> Since mine test 0 would you recommend the sump in place of the canisters? <I don't generally recommend canister filters for hobbyist marine systems. Sumps are far more flexible, useful> (dumb question) or could I add the fluidized bed filter in addition to the canisters and leave both or one for the chemical media? <You could. I wouldn't> Add a few powerheads and  upgrade the skimmer to a better quality Aqua C). As  I have already established the addition of more LR & LS to be beneficial.   What are your opinions? Thanks <Again... they are posted, and the rationales supplied for various "arguments" for this and other possible filtration gear... on WWM. I would read a bit more there. Bob Fenner>  

Wet/Dry for my needs? Actually, filtration for reef wants (Bob's go)  1/11/06 Hey guys another question, I have a 55gal with 60 lb live rock (50/50 mix of Fiji/Marshall island) 2-3 years old. I have a 1200 Remora Pro C protein skimmer and 2 Emperor 280s with a Red Sea Wavemaker Pro with 3 powerheads.  and for lighting I use power compact lunar AquaLight by CoralLife. I have a DSB about 3-6 inches deep depending where it settled and wavemaker moved it around. Inhabitants include 23 snails (astrea, bumblebee, turbo, margaritas), 17 hermits of various kinds, a sally light foot, blood shrimp, emerald crab, mandarin goby, regal tang, percula clown and Banggai cardinal. I want to start with corals but before I do am I good to go? <Mmm, don't know... the gear you have can work for some cnidarians, not all> should I upgrade to a Wet/Dry system? <I wouldn't> Are they maintenance free like they claim? <Hardly> I retire out of the military in 3 years <Why is it so common that folks in public service focus on this? What sort of life, "career"... where you long to stop doing it?> and plan on building my dream tank when I get out (225 gallon wall) and want to get used to raising all forms of life without spending thousands <Good idea> but would love to start with simple corals and work my way up like I have with fish. I attached a pic to look at so you can best advise. Thanks Jeff <Please take the time to read through WWM re "Coral" Selection, Systems... Your answers are there. Enjoy the journey, planning and anticipation. Bob Fenner>
Re: Wet/Dry for my needs.... wants (Travis' go)  01-10-06 Hey guys another question, <Jeff> I have a 55gal with 60 lb live rock (50/50 mix of Fiji/Marshall Island) 2-3 years old. I have a 1200 Remora Pro C protein skimmer and 2 Emperor 280s with a Red Sea Wavemaker Pro with 3 powerheads, and for lighting I use power compact lunar AquaLight by CoralLife. I have a DSB about 3-6 inches deep depending where it settled and wavemaker moved it around. Inhabitants include 23 snails (astrea, bumblebee, turbo, margaritas), 17 hermits of various kinds, a sally light foot, blood shrimp, emerald crab, mandarin goby, regal tang, percula clown and Banggai cardinal. I want to start with corals but before I do am I good to go? <You should be fine with the easier, soft corals and polyps.> Should I upgrade to a Wet/Dry system? <A sump wouldn't hurt, but a wet dry would be a waste of money.> Are they maintenance free like they claim? <No, you will actually end up removing all of the bio-balls and the filter pad. They end up being over priced sumps.> I retire out of the military in 3 years and plan on building my dream tank when I get out (225 gallon wall) and want to get used to raising all forms of life without spending thousands but would love to start with simple corals and work my way up like I have with fish. <That is a great plan. Your current set-up will support your plan at this stage.> I attached a pic to look at so you can best advise. <Very nice set-up. Travis> Thanks Jeff

Canister Filter vs. Wet-Dry Filter   3/20/06 Hello, <Hi Joe - Tim answering your question today!> I have racked my brain researching what filter I should get for my 75 gallon tank. I plan to have a fish only saltwater tank with no invertebrates. Despite the internet research, the 4 books I've read and the local fish stores - I can't decide. The wet-dry seems to be the best, but at double the price. The canister seems to be the economical choice but will it be enough? The research I have done leads me to believe that a fish only tank will be ok with a canister filter but if I add invertebrates then I'll need a wet-dry filter. Please let me know how far off I am. <Joe - please read this and the links on this page for all the information that you seek http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm > Should I get a protein skimmer too? <You should definitely get a protein skimmer, irrespective of whether you opt for a fish only or full reef system. Do research skimmers before making your purchase as there are considerable differences in quality with correspondingly minor differences only in price!> Thank you in advance for you time. < Always a pleasure - I do hope that I have been of some help!> Respectfully, - Joe Wet dry Vs live rock - 21/03/06 Bob, Thanks for your advice!!!!   <John here with you this fine grey China morning.> Big fan of "The Conscientious Marne Aquarist"...great info!!!!   <Me too.> I was hoping to get your opinion one more issue.  The company I'm talking to build my filter is really "pushing" the wet dry over the Berlin style sump. <Do they offer both?> They come very highly regarded through all the boards and I know the quality of their products & design is top notch.  Hence the reason I am going through them. I have a lot of experience in FO systems and this is my first venture into a reef....I just want to make the right decision.  They keep stressing the fact that poor design and operation of wet dry filtration by numerous users in the past is the reason they fell out of favor. <If by "poor operation", they mean not religiously scrubbing every surface clean every day or two, perhaps.>   I plan on setting up a reef and want to know if it is a good idea to run both wet dry and live rock as a form of biological filtration? <I wouldn't. I've experienced algae problems myself from over-zealous aerobic filtration.>   From what I have read, I was under the impression that wet dry's are considered nitrate factories and should only be used with FO set ups. <Perhaps things are not so black and white... but still, I would personally opt for a (modified) Berlin set-up for a light-to-average stocked reef tank. Your thoughts please. Thanks so much! <You're welcome. Best regards from Shanghai, John.> John    

Filtration/Canister vs. Built-in Wet Dry  - 04/02/06 I am looking for a filter that is easy to clean and quiet. Up to this point I thought getting an Eheim Pro canister filter, but yesterday I saw the Tru-VU tanks with the built in wet/dry filtration in the back at the fish store. I asked one of the workers how quiet is it (could not hear due to how loud it was in there) and how easy it is to clean. His response was that it is much better than canister filters and easier to clean.  <Your dealer is correct.  I might add they are more versatile also.  James (Salty Dog)> Please help! <<Both are inappropriate for all but minimally stocked, fed marine systems. See WWM re... believe me, you'll go with other technology. RMF>> -Shaun

Re: Confused on filters....  4/6/06 Hey James -- sorry about the confusion.  <No problem, part of life.> Your second reply was "I'm not real fond of the built into the back wet/dries.  They just don't seem to have the filtering capacity as a under the tank wet/dry sump.  I had a 180 Tenecor with the built in feature.  Was easy to clean and service, but all they provided was three modules, each with its own prefilter sponge.  The prefilters had to be cleaned twice a week as the small surface area clogged up too fast.  I sold it shortly after.  I would opt for the Tru-Vu with the center overflow which you can drain into a wet/dry sump.  The sumps are much more versatile as it gives you a place to put heaters, skimmer, etc". That's why I restated the question --- I was curious what you personally would go with if you were building a tank from scratch and wanted efficiency, quiet operation, and a streamlined look. If there is a particular article I should read to get that answer please point the way. Otherwise, if you could make some suggestions that would be fantastic.  <Mmmm, first, I would opt for a tank with bulkhead fittings in the back for return (clean) water.  I would want an overflow built into the tank for waste water into the WET/DRY SUMP.  Most sumps have trays for placing filter pads which are easy to change.  Eliminates the "don't feel like doing it syndrome."  For a return pump, I would look for one with a minimal amount of current draw vs. gallons per hour.  Some pump manufacturers advertise about their pumps quietness, do look for this.  A good place to take a poll on your questions would be on our Wet Web Media Chat Forum.  In this regard you will get responses from aquarists who have actually used products and their pros and cons about them.   http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/  Place your query in the Equipment/Dry Goods section.> Thanks again for your time,  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> -Shaun

New System, Wet-Dry Or Not? - 06/22/2006 Hi Rob <Actually, Sabrina with you today.  Bob's system was unable to view your email in a format that he could respond to, so it's been passed to me, as my system is able to view/respond to your email.> I am a beginner to this hobby and have some questions I like to ask before I start killing life with ignorance. <Glad to hear it.  Welcome to the fish world!> I got your email from a friend that said you could help.  Hope I'm not a bother. I have an established fish and invertebrate 55 gal tank, with about 55-65 pounds of live rock and sand. Currently I'm using a 404 Fluval and a hang on skimmer.  I would like to start putting soft corals then move on to hard as I advance.  I was told to get a wet/dry filter for my new "project" but some people are telling me not to get it.  Could you please inform me as to the best course of action in this matter?   <Actually, there are as many opinions out there as there are fishkeepers.  I, for one, like to keep a tank VERY lightly stocked and use only a skimmer, live rock, and deep sand bed (DSB) for filtration.  Some folks like to use a sump for a refugium, or have a refugium plumbed elsewhere in the system.  Some use wet-dry systems.  Some use canisters.  My only major word of caution with the canister is that you be *diligent* about cleaning it, lest it become a "nitrate factory" with the accumulation of decaying organic material that it will trap.> Thank you very much <My real advice?  Begin reading, and you will understand why there is no one be-all, end-all answer to your question.  Start here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm .> David Shin <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Nitrates...Suitability of Wet/Dry Filtration for Reef Systems - 07/31/06 Hi, WWM folk. <<Hello Daniel>> Thanks for all your help. <<Welcome>> Here's my current situation for my 9-month young reef tank:  50 gallons, 55 lbs LR, 3-4 inches crushed coral.  Fishes, Bubble-tipped anemone, shrimps, snails, and a few corals (pulsing xenia, green zoas, yellow button polyps).  I noticed that the green zoas, which are the newest addition, have slowly dwindled in size and number over the past 2 months. <<Mmm, generally fairly hardy once acclimated.  Perhaps an environmental issue you've missed...>> I'm embarrassed to say that usually I've been only following pH, ammonia, and nitrites, all of which were appropriate: pH 8.2, zero NH3 and nitrites.  Today I checked my nitrate and it's off the charts! <<Aha!  There's your culprit.  But don't beat yourself up too bad.  Is not uncommon for hobbyists to gear their attention toward what is perceived as the "greater evils" of water chemistry.  I have known many aquarists who don't measure nitrates unless/until a problem is perceived.  Perhaps a "once monthly" check in the least, will now become part of your routine>> I've done a partial water change already today (10%). <<30% would be better...done a couple/few times a day apart as needed to bring your nitrate reading down (needs to be <5ppm)>> I have a skimmer running in series with the drip plate/bioballs combo. <<Mmm, a source of controversy re their suitability for reef systems, but this may be your source for excess nitrate...especially if your system is a bit "overstocked">> I've read conflicting statements about the bioball-nitrate connection, and I'm wondering if you think this might be a good time to take the bioballs out of the system... and if so, what would you do with the chamber they're in? <<As you have noticed, there is debate over whether this type filtration produces more nitrate than others.  My take on this is this...the wet/dry type filtration with plastic media is VERY efficient at converting ammonia to nitrite to nitrate, but that's where it stops.  Whereas live rock/DSBs can take this further to convert nitrate to nitrogen gas, thus allowing the nitrogenous compounds an avenue of escape from the system...rather than continually "building" as with the wet/dry plastic media system.  The point here being that a reef, with its lower tolerance for nitrate can't be as easily "adjusted" through simple water changes and is more quickly affected, as say a FOWLR/FO system with a higher (<20ppm) tolerance for nitrate.  Therefore a careful "balance" between live rock and stocking density is the better way to go for a reef rather than the plastic media of a wet/dry...in my opinion.  So yes, remove the plastic media.  You can replace this more live rock...or utilize the space for chemical media (carbon/Poly-Filter)>> Should I vacuum the substrate? <<Might help considering the course nature of the crushed coral.  It would probably be of some benefit to replace this with a finer-grade media of the same depth to increase its efficiency as a DSB>> Thanks in advance. Daniel <<Regards, EricR>>

Lifereef filter system... no sale    10/3/06 Hi there, Just a quick one.  I was just wandering <And wondering?> if you had any knowledge or experience of "Lifereef Filter Systems". <Just observational...> In particular a LF2-75/125.  I am purchasing a oceanic reef ready 135 gallon tank, that comes with that filter set up.  I found their website Lifereef.com <See it...> and of course they said theirs is the best out there.  But they all say that.  I was just wandering if you ever dealt with this particular company.   Thanks for your time. <Well... tis a blast from the past... wet-dries with mechanical foam material galore... Got a garage, tools and solvent? You're in the biz! Honestly... I'd skip ahead a few decades and look into, get better gear. Please start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm Invest some time in educating yourself now... sorting through the myriad of possibilities... "Chat" with other hobbyists on some of the BB's in the hobby... maybe even read a book or two!... and save yourself a good to great deal of self-assigned hassle and troubles by investigating for yourself before you commit here. Bob Fenner>

Wet/Dry or Wet Behind the Ears? Hi Bob,  <Michael here, answering his first question, I'm not nervous, I swear!>  I am new to the wet/dry filter setup.  <My personal type favorite filter for fish only systems>  I currently have a 240 gallon tank (freshwater) and would like to get a wet/dry filter. Oh, the tank has a built-in overflow box in the center and a bulkhead in the back? Need advice on pump selection, media and avoiding the flood. Any other advice would be appreciated.  <I have had good luck with Amiracle wet\dries in the past and recommend them. They also come with all necessary tubing for connecting to an existing overflow box, and internal locations for various medias. Should you choose another brand wet\dry, get one with a drip plate rather than a spray bar, as they tend to clog quickly. In a 240 gallon tank you're going to want to turn over the volume 2-4 times an hour, and I'd recommend an external pump for that. Eheim and Iwasaki both make quality external models. As for media, the wet\dry should come with bio balls, but if it comes with any type of bale or floss media, discard it and purchase bio balls. Other types of media trap too much detritus in my experience. M Maddox> regards, Mark

Reefs tanks and trickle filters 5/2/04 I hope you folks can clear something up for me.  I often see postings to the effect that trickle filters are bad for reef tanks because they produce nitrate. <in some ways this is true> This doesn't make any sense to me.  It seems to me that the bio-filtration of a trickle filter does not create any nutrients, it only changes their form.   <correct... but unlike live rock and live sand which can complete the process with denitrification, trickle filters can only nitrify... and produce lingering nitrate> Any nitrate it produces would otherwise have been ammonia or nitrite, which I believe to be more toxic than nitrate.   <not correct my friend... some organics are used/assimilated directly by reef invertebrates and do not even enter nitrification by filters. But when such filters are employed, they are in direct competition with those inverts and filter feeders. The option here is utilization by the animals... or nitrification by the trickle filter: hence the "nitrate producing" argument> So it seems to me that while a trickle filter may not be necessary for a reef tank, one should not be concerned about it's nitrate production. Am I right? <nope... but thanks for asking :) Do read more about this popular topic in our wetwebmedia.com archives. Anthony>

Filtration I have a 40 gallon FOWLR tank. It consists of 30lbs of live rock and approximately a 2-3 inch sand bed. I have been using a AMiracle SL-5 hang-on wet/dry filter. I have been reading up on how wet/dry filtration can lead to high nitrate levels. Im thinking of changing my current filtration system to an Aqua C Remora skimmer and doing away with the wet/dry all together. Would I need to add a power filter (i.e. AquaClear) for some mechanical/chemical filtration? I have a moderate/high bio load. Any suggestion would be much appreciated.  <Brett, personally [I think] this nitrate buildup from using a wet/dry is blown way out of proportion. In a properly maintained tank the use of the wet/dry should cause no significant nitrate buildup. I think part of the problem is not using a filter pad on top of the drip plate can lead to this as the detritus/waste settles on the bottom of the sump and never gets cleaned. If a pad is used and changed weekly I don't see any problem. Overstocking lends its hand also, along with infrequent water changes. I've used a wet dry in one of my tanks for three years and never had nitrates go above 10ppm. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks  <You're welcome> 

In Search of Wet/Dry Filters 8/11/05 Do you know an efficient wet/dry filter series for a 90 Gallon (with built in overflow box) tank to be set-up this month? I've been looking for a good wet/dry filter that comes with the pre-filter, bio-media, pump, etc. I would appreciate the help, thanks. <Well, there are a number of excellent manufacturers of wet/dry filters and sumps. Some of the brands that I have seen and been impressed with are CPR and Amiracle. There are many other fine manufacturers of acrylic sumps out there. My best suggestion would be to check some of the larger e-tailers and see what they can offer. HTH! Regards, Scott F.> Wet-Dry filters, WWM inconsistencies? 9/1/05 Hi Bob, <Gary> First let me thank you and your crew for providing such an incredibly invaluable resource of knowledge and experience that I am able to draw upon as a novice aquarist. I was hoping you could please clarify an apparent contradiction of your assessment of wet/dry filtration.  In your FAQ section regarding this subject, you state that you are not a big fan of the wet/dry filter.  However, in an article that you wrote on wet/dry filters you had the following to say: Wet-Dry/Trickle Filters: "Are strongly suggested for all serious marine aquarists with medium to larger systems; and definitely for all wanting to try their hand at keeping corals, live-rock and other reef invertebrates. A giant step in biologically improved water quality was taken with the introduction of wet-dry (aka reef, trickle) filters. Fishes and invertebrates live longer, healthier lives and maintenance is greatly reduced with their use. "Properly constructed and operated wet-dry filters perform several important functions (the same one's as all other biological filters) better than all other filter modes. <Mmm, where did you see this? There are other author's content posted on WWM> Could you please clarify this apparent contradiction and advise as to what filtration device and method you would recommend for a 55 gallon fish only marine tank? <For a FO tank of this size, shape, likely outside power filtration (hang-on), a skimmer, and some live rock>   What other equipment should I use in conjunction with this setup. Thanks! Gary <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishonsetup.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

How would you guys rate the MegaFlow sump filters?  9/1/05 Hey guys, How would you guys rate the MegaFlow sump filters? <Here: http://www.all-glass.com/services/pr_megaflow_sump_filters.shtml> I am considering equipping my Oceanic 55 gallon pre-drilled with overflow fish-only marine tank with this filtration device. Thanks, Gary <They're a bit better than the usual non-engineered U.S. made wet-dry (I do like the minimum/maximum water line sticker), but still inferior to what one can make themself... functionally... depending on choice of livestock, maintenance... There are discussions of other filter moda on WWM if you'd care to peruse them. Bob Fenner> Eheim Wet Dry and broken tank  10/3/05 Hello, <Hello Scott> Many on WetWeb do not like Eheim Wet/Dry's. Why? If you are one of the couple who like them; then would you still be willing to list the reasons that others do not like them please? <Eheim has a reputation for producing excellent long lasting products.  The only reason I can see that discourages people from buying them is the cost.  You can get into a sump/overflow with pump much cheaper than the cost of an Eheim Wet/Dry.> <<RMF doesn't like these units because they work poorly, don't have much "carrying capacity" and are a pain to work on>> Secondly - the center brace broke on my 55. I want to tell you how I repaired it. WetWeb does not note my repair solution, and since this was my first time fixing one, I hoped you might tell me what you think please:     -- The tank is about a year old. It broke due to my own error attempting a modification. I slipped and broke the brace. So the plastic brace is not old,  fragile and brittle. The break occurred at the rear of the brace - a centimeter or so from the rear wall of the tank. Instead of using  glass and silicone to create a new brace as WetWeb recommends, I used a heavy metal L-bracket with a 1 inch bend on one end. I clamped the tank back together to hold it while I worked. I placed the metal bracket on the top-side of the brace. I scuffed up all areas with sandpaper for better adhesion. I chose "Gorilla Glue" for bonding (it's waterproof - not animal safe I imagine; but this is an outside repair and none got into the aquarium).  I then placed the metal L-bracket over the damaged area with the "L" portion of the bracket hanging down the back. I used 3 screws to hold is down (It came with screw holes) along with the glue. The screws acted like a clamp while it dried. After drying I pulled hard on the tank and it wouldn't budge.  I later decided to keep the screws in permanently, so I coated the small bit protruding from underside of the (now repaired) plastic brace with aquarium silicone. No problems with it as of yet. When the brace is broken, I noticed that even with a full tank it is very easy to push the center back together. The pressure is not as great as I would have thought; so I'm satisfied with this. The "Gorilla Glue"  brand is supposed to be one of the strongest on the market. What do you think? <Sounds OK, I guess time will tell.  This question should be directed to the tank manufacturer for their input.  In the future don't send a query with two separate subjects.  Most of these queries are placed in the FAQ's by subject and need to be sent that way.  James (Salty Dog)> <<... a poor idea/fix... this brace needs refitting with Silicone. RMF>> Thanks for any assist; Scott Which Wet/Dry and What Size   12/28/05 Hello, <Hello Craig> First off, compliments on the your site, tons of great info. <Thank you> I currently have a 90 gallon freshwater tank that I am planning to change over to saltwater, probably keep it simple for a first timer like me and go fish only.  My filtration to date is a magnum 350 and a Rena xp3.  I am planning to replace the magnum with a wet/dry.  My question is a two parter.  1.  I see different wet/dry filters sized for my size tank with different sump sizes and different sized amount of bio balls.  What should I be looking for for my tank? <Which every you choose just buy one that is capable of handling a 90 gallon tank.  All manufacturers do list the range of tanks each particular filter will handle.> Question 2.  What makes a wet/dry filter better over another? <Usually just workmanship, they all work the same. Some offer compartments (drawers) for chemical media.> Two LFS in my area say oceanic sumps are the best followed my all-glass Megaflows.  I don't want to break my bank on these but also don't want to buy garbage. (if possible) I was looking at a ProClear Aquatics 125. Have you heard  or had personal experience with this brand. <Heard of them, no experience with them.> Also, my tank is non-drilled. <If you are on a budget consider the Marineland Tidepool.  It has three drawers for chemical media and is reasonably priced around $160.00.  You will need an overflow for it.> Thanks in advance, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Craig

Sump Brands, Refugium VS Wet-Dry Hi, great info on site! <Hello Chris, thanks for the kind words.>      My question deals with filtration for a 110 gallon predator tank that will have a sufficient bioload on it. <Okay.>   I have been considering a wet dry filter because of their nitrifying capabilities, but since I need sump space for my aqua-c EV 180 protein skimmer, I am unsure whether the bio wheel tidepool 2 is better than bio ball filters, or if the bio balls are better.   <They are about equal in my opinion both are plastic media which play as a breeding ground for nitrifying bacteria, great at breaking down ammonia and nitrate, not so great with nitrate.> Can you recommend a sump?   <Check out the sumps made by CPR aquatics and MyReefCreations.> Also your site does not recommend wet/dries because refugiums are superior, but is this true for heavy bio load fish only tanks? <Yes in my opinion the benefits of a fishless/macroalgae refugium easily outweigh that of a wet-dry.> would this be the way to go rather than a wet dry for a heavy bio load? <If you have room you could include both, have the refugium come after the wet-dry...though yes in my opinion if I have to choose either or I would definitely choose the refugium.> thanks a lot! Chris <Welcome, Adam J.>

Re: wet dry filters Thanks for the help! <You're welcome> I looked at both sites and saw two particular models that interest me, the tide pool bio wheel 2 and the CPR line.  Is the bio wheel better at nitrifying then the bio bale media or bio balls or is it less efficient for tanks with large bio loads. <I really don't know which is better.  I'd favor the Tide Pool because I like the idea of the three media drawers.>  P.S.  Do you know if the tide pool models are capable of being squeezing in through a tight cabinet space just to fit it in.  I have plenty of room after it fits through the tight cabinet opening. <All I can tell you here is what the dimensions are..26 1/8 x 13 x 16 1/2 high.  You might also want to look at the Mega Flow sumps at Drs Foster Smith.  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you again! <You're welcome> Chris Wet dry filters  12/18/05 Hi, great site, tons of great info! <Thank you> I hope you can answer my question.  I read the filter articles and it sounds like wet dries are sort of obsolete,<I don't feel they are obsolete.  Most people use live rock for their biofilter but the wet/dry sumps do offer excellent air/water exchange providing a high saturation of O2 and also a place to put your skimmer, heater, etc.> however I am going to purchase one as well as live rock, and a protein skimmer.  My question deals with what is the best wet/dry filter for a 110 gallon size tank that is going to be fish only? Possible heavy bioload.  One factor to take into consideration is that I bought a MegaFlow sump filter by all-glass and ended up having to return it because of its poor craftsmen's ship (leaky seams, lots of water every where) so excluding this model, what would be the best or close to the best wet dry filter for a 110 gallon size predator tank? <There are many quality units out there.  The  CPR line has quality workmanship for one.  Do check out www.premiumaquatics.com.  and www.drsfostersmith.com.  Both carry quality units.>   P.S. tank is predrilled.   thank you in advance! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Chris Is a Wet/Dry Needed? I am about to buy a wet/dry filter with a protein skimmer included. My question is: are these types of filters worth it or should I just buy a lot of live rock instead? <that depends on your bio-load/application my friend. If you are going to have a lot of fishes, messy fishes or some other heavy bio-load then a W/D may be a necessary evil. If you are going to have small to medium sized community fishes and will be good about water quality (buy a good skimmer like an Aqua C, do regular water changes, change carbon frequently, etc) then the W/D filter will be a disadvantage by generating excess nitrates. Use live rock instead at almost 2 lbs per gallon > Thanks again  <best regards, Anthony>

Eheim I am setting up a 75 gal. saltwater fish only tank. I am considering using a wet-dry filter, either a SeaLife Systems Pro-150 or an Eheim wet-dry filter. Would you give me the pros and cons of each of these filters? <This information is catalogued at WetWebMedia.com In general, the problem is the same...they will both generate nitrates in the long term...The wet/dry will need almost no maintenance but the canister will need to be cleaned and "reloaded" regularly. Ooops...I'm sorry...Do you mean an Eheim wet/dry? Of all of the high quality products that Eheim makes, their wet/dry is a dud. I wouldn't use it at all. Their canister filters are some of the best on the market> Would either be considerably better over the long haul, e.g. ease of maintenance, efficacy, better oxygenation, less noisy, etc.???   <A wet/dry will be fine if you have a heavy bioload and you don't plan on keeping corals. It will be practically no maintenance and as quiet as your return pump is.. Just the sound of the water cascading over the bioballs. You can also submerge the bioballs to decrease the nitrate effect> It seems from your FAQs that many people use the Eheim canisters but not the wet-dries <Most of us don't care for the wet/dries made by Eheim> Are you familiar with Sealife Systems (they seem relatively pricey)? <Sorry...I'm not familiar with that brand. A wet/dry is simply a tub full of tank water. No need to spend a lot of money> My next question involves water filters- I live in a rural area and have a water well, i.e. my water is not municipally provided. Does well water typically present fewer or more problems in regards to quality? <I can't answer this question with generalities. Every rural well is different. No way to tell what's in the water unless you test it. For the above reason, well water is generally more problematic. If you had municipal water, you could get results of water tests from the water company that would tell you exactly what you're up against...> I have not had any testing done but, obviously, I would not have to worry about things like added chlorine. <Municipalities also filter out many other things that we don't want in our tanks...And to be quite honest...municipalities allow some things like nitrates and phosphates that we don't want...> Are there any sorts of elements that I should be particularly concerned about? <Well...this is not really an easy answer...nitrates, phosphates, silica, metals of all kinds, PH...that would be a good start. Are your pipes copper? Many of these tests could be run with simple water test equipment like we use for our fish tanks.> I guess there is always the (remote?)  possibility of ground water contamination. <I certainly hope that isn't the case!!> I am considering purchasing a reverse osmosis filter from Home Depot for about $200. I would like your thoughts on all of this in light of the fact that I will have a fish only tank but would really like to provide a good quality of water. <Dude. skip the RO. GO DI. RO leaves way too much waste water...An email that I responded to the other day stated that their RO filter took 10 gallons to produce one gallon of pure water!! As a comparison, DI has no waste water...Go DI> By the way, I would like a substrate to go on the bottom of my tank that is black in color. Is there anything available (that would also be pretty easy to keep clean with routine vacuuming)? <Keep the bed really thin like 1/2 inch or less and stay away from the volcanic stuff. The larger the grain the easier it will catch and hold detritus...but it will also be easier to vacuum> THANKS! (yall do a great job and provide a great service) <You're welcome! Come on back now...Ya hear! David Dowless>

More Filtration??? with the use of a wet/dry filter, does one still need to use a canister or other type filter too? Thanks <Good question...It really depends upon the bioload of your tank, your feeding habits, and whether or not you have pre-filtration in your wet/dry filter. A protein skimmer, which can be considered a "filter" of sorts, is a mandatory component of any marine system, IMO. Supplemental mechanical filtration can certainly help remove gross particulate matter from the water. You can use a canister filter as a means to provide additional chemical filtration, such as Poly Filter, Chemipure, Activated Carbon, etc. The important consideration with any supplemental filtration is that you clean it and replace the media regularly, otherwise, you run the risk of organic buildup, and can thus degrade water quality! On the whole, I'd say that most well-run REEF systems could do without supplemental filtration, and that most FOWLR systems could benefit from the extra filtration, if the bioload dictates. In many sump-based systems, no mechanical filtration of any kind is used, and these tanks are crystal clear, with high water quality. In these systems, the sump essentially acts as a settling basis for detritus, and  great attention is paid to regular maintenance procedures. Hope that this clarifies (couldn't resist that one!) the issue for you. Regards, Scott F.>

Amiracle Wet dry/Aqua Clear Wet/Dry: To buy or not to buy! Hello, <Hi!> Thanks for the quick response. I have a couple more questions: How are the AMiracle maxi-reef wet-dry filters, and also the Aqua Clear Aquatics Pro with the protein skimmers included? <I'm sorry to say, but I have no personal experience with either of these items. Check our message boards at WetWebMedia.com. IMO a wet/dry is a wet/dry. If the water holding capacity is about 30% the size of your tank, any wet/dry will be sufficient. It's the return pump that you need to pick carefully. Protein skimmers? Spend the bucks and buy a good one!> Thanks again, Robert Hager <You're welcome! David Dowless.>

Wet-dry on Reef? Dear WWM Crew and especially Anthony, Thanks for taking the time to answer the last convoluted question. <our great pleasure, my friend> I gave up on the idea of a trickle filter yesterday when I spoke to one of the pioneers of live rock filtration in the UK at Watford Aquarium. <excellent... live rock, a good skimmer... the foundations of a sound and simple reef aquarium. Little else needed: good water flow, carbon, water changes... the basics> I am going for a 4'x 2' x 2'system with O.5 Kg of live rock per gallon (Caribbean, individually imported for this large outlet, not bought from wholesalers, and directly seeded by them on their premises), a 24'' x 15''x 15'' sump with aragonite layers, a AP500 skimmer, a Eheim 1260 pump, Tunze Autotopup and Arcadia Series 3 2x 250 TC. I think it looks pretty good, what do you think? <agreed... sounds like a fine set up> By the way I can't believe that at least here in the UK there are still supposedly reputable shops (looking at their fish stocks and variety/type of inverts) that still try to flog trickle filters as reef equipment. <no worries... being an educated consumer as you/we are is good enough <G>> Take this retailer for instance, he sells this trickle obsolete stuff for invert tanks but I have seen his own personal tank full of the most beautiful corals hard and soft, and not a trickle in sight. Unethical or what? <Wow! The proof sure is in the pudding there! Good observation about this chaps sensibilities> A million thanks, Massimo <with kind regards, Anthony>

Re: wet/dry vs. live rock Hello, I am in the process of creating a 300 gallon tank which will be a reef tank having a small number of corals, inverts, etc.  The 300 gallon part is what makes live rock impractical for me as I would have to sell both of my kidneys to afford it. <Hey, what about indentured servitude? You might consider working for the LFS for a while to support your habit... how many of us have ended up decades later... still addicted> I am on a college student budget.  My LFS recommends a wet/dry system with no live rock, which contradicts most all of your comments regarding reef filtration. <"Many roads"> I also think live rock would be much more aesthetically pleasing.  Do I have any cost effective alternatives such as live rock propagation? <Could do> Can I use a wet/dry in conjunction with some live rock? <Yes> Can I make my own live sand? <Definitely> Thank You, Josh <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re: Wet/Dry Thanks David, One more question.  For a fish only tank, any advantage to using an Eheim wet/dry, to a conventional one with bio balls? <Egads! I'm glad you asked! We at WetWebMedia think that Eheim is a fabulous company with many great products especially their aquarium pumps and canister filters. However, the majority also think that Eheim wet/dries are not a good product. They just aren't large enough to do an acceptable job processing nutrients. Look at a picture of the Eheim product and then compare it to a picture of a traditional wet/dry. See what I mean? I wouldn't use this product at all. A wet/dry is nothing more than a tub or glass/acrylic box plumbed with bulkheads, filled with bio-balls, and a tray that holds carbon/filter pad. Get a drill and an acrylic drill bit from Home Depot, a bulkhead or two from fostersandsmith.com or wherever, and a large, large, Rubbermaid tub from Wal-Mart and build this thing. Use a wet/dry picture as your guide and look for plans on the internet. It really is easy! If you're really worried about this project (I know everyone doesn't like DIY) buy a traditional wet/dry. Don't worry about name brands. Just look for the largest wet/dry your tank stand will hold. Trust me on this one...You'll eventually want the added filtration of a large container and the additional room provided in the sump area. It will also help insure your sump against the possibility of overflow. Go super size. Know what I mean?> Mitch <David Dowless>

Kent Bio Rocker I am going to set up a 90 gallon tank.  I will have live rock, as I have learned the benefits of it. <You also need a skimmer> I will also have a lot of large fish <I hope that you will consider changing this mode of thinking to "a reasonable amount of medium-sized fish." As a practicing aquarist myself I realize that sometimes my eyes/tastes is larger than my tank! Know what I mean?> tangs, angels, triggers. <In a 90 gallon, I would narrow this list down. Would you consider removing some of the s's from your list? > What type of filtration to you recommend, to compliment a protein skimmer and live rock? <If you stock reasonably, this will be enough. If fish only, a wet/dry will work> What do you think of the bio/rocker? <Any old wet/dry will do. Personally, I would never spend money for a factory made unit. You can build one yourself for almost nothing using a Rubbermaid tub or glass aquarium (you can easily add baffles with glass but drilling is difficult), bulkheads, some eggcrate, and a few bio-balls. Depending on the size and materials, a wet/dry can be built for less than $60. Plans abound on the internet. IMO, on this particular item, I would DIY. If you want something that "looks" really good, buy something really expensive. The processing capacity of a DIY wet/dry is no different than the capacity of a factory made unit. If you want to spend the money, to my knowledge, a Biorocker is as good as any other> Thanks for your time, Mitch <My pleasure to serve! David Dowless>

- Are Wet/Dry Filters Viable? - Hi <Hi T.J., JasonC here...> My name is T.J., I found your web page looking for information on wet/dry filters. I was thinking of starting a SW aquarium in a 38gal. I have brought a Aquaclear 75 off of eBay. <You do know then that this filter is not a wet/dry.> I thought w/d was a good filter for SW, but I got the impression from your FAQ's that they aren't? I was wondering what you think? <Well... I should qualify that. If you read those FAQ's you will see that wet/dry filters are often referred to as Nitrate Factories as this is due to their excellent efficiency at nitrogen reduction. In reef-type aquaria, nitrates at even medium levels can be fatal to some organisms. In fish-only aquaria, this matters less as the fish can deal with higher levels of nitrate. What this means to you depends on what it is you want to stock your tank with and how diligent you will be with water changes. Personally, I've run wet/dry filters in the past and had no problems at all. You have many choices, I'd suggest more research and planning.> Thank You, T.J. Fitzgerald <Cheers, J -- >

Wet/Dry Im getting ready to change my fresh water tank over to salt water.  Ive been running tanks for about 10 years and know its going to be a costly big job but looking forward to the change.  I currently have a 75 gallon tank with heaters, air pumps and a magnum 350 with bio-wheel.  Could you point me in the right direction for the rest of my equipment.  I was looking at the Bio-Rocker 300 (Deluxe Complete Kit).  Is this a good wet/dry??? Are there any wet/dry systems that have a built in skimmer?  Any help you could give would be great!!!  Mike Adams <I like the Sealife System brand wet/dry filters...the one you described I have no experience with... :(. But I know the Sealife System brand wet/dry filters work well. Good luck with everything, IanB>

-Which wet/dry?- hi there :WetWebMedia.com, what an awesome site ! <I thought so too! ;) Kevin here> just wondering if the penguin BioWheel or Millennium 2000 filters are good enough wet/dry filters for a 100 gal fish only system <Not if you plan on stocking more than a fish or two> , or stuck on conventional bioballs w/d filters ??? <You're not exactly "stuck" on using a wet/dry, that's just one of your options. A better method would be to use live rock and live sand as your primary biological filter and a protein skimmer. Check out Bob and Anthony's new book Reef Invertebrates for excessive amounts of rock and sand info, as well as these links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/livesand.htm I hope this helps. I've also assumed that you're talking about a marine tank, correct me if I'm wrong! -Kevin> thanks

- The Pros & Cons of Wet/Dry Trickle Filters - I've been a big fan of the Live rock method in keeping my fish only tanks for some time. I have definitely have seen an improvement of fish health with live rock. I just hate how you cannot medicate the tank when fish get sick though.  I recently lost a whole tank to velvet within a week ($4,000 down the drain). Prized Fish that I had for well over two years all gone in a week because of a damn raccoon butterfly.  After this happened I started using the quarantine method without much success, the fish would just die in the qt tanks since the conditions were so bad. Who has time to change 50% of the qt tank water daily??? <My friend... I say this with all honesty, perhaps you should try a new hobby - no offense, but if you can't find the time for this type of chore... then what are you doing?> Anyway, even though so many people hate the trickle method and call it a nitrate factory, <By the by... people don't just call a wet/dry a nitrate factory - they ARE nitrate factories.> I did some research and saw that the average fish only tank aquarist uses the wet/dry filtration method with heavy skimming. I've seen some very large and amazing diversity filled fish only tanks in Hong Kong that run on this method. <While you were there, did you do a water test as well? Did you ask them how often they replace the animals you saw? I can tell you that in Hong Kong, they not only pack them in... they also kill a lot of animals. I say this only because many people such as yourself see these systems and  figure that would be a great way to go... but the image you have in your mind is only a snap shot in time - for all you know, those fish could have all been placed there that day, or all died the very next day. Additionally, large systems do not always scale downwards - what works on a large system is many times out of necessity - a wet/dry for instance on a large tank with a zillion fish would be about the only thing that would keep the fish from polluting themselves to death - on a small tank, that same wet/dry could be a waste of time - each system needs to be evaluated on its own.> I could swear I saw a tank with almost every species of marine fish available.  I guess the main benefit would be that as soon as any sign of velvet or ick appears a proper copper medication such as sea chem.s Cupramine could be used to easily rid the parasite. <Not so... copper, Formalin each will toast a wet/dry filter just as quickly - the only advantage being that the bioballs won't absorb the treatments, but that doesn't mean the same formulations won't ruin your biological filter.> Anyway here are my ?'s 1) can a trickle filter be used just as successfully as live rock in fish only tanks? <Yes, but you have to watch out for the nitrates. In fish only systems, nitrates aren't as large of an issue [can go as high as perhaps 40-50 ppm before they cause problems] but in reef tanks they can be fatal to some organisms even at 'low' levels. In a fish only tank, medium sized water changes and reasonable feeding can keep the nitrates under control.> 2) will copper kill the bacteria that live on the bioballs like it does on the live rock? <Yes.> What about Fluidized bed filters? <Yes - the bacteria are the same no matter which filtration method you choose.> 3) what maintenance should be kept up on a trickle filter to keep it from becoming a nitrate factory? <Regular larger than normal water changes. Perhaps 20% every two weeks instead of 10% - or 10% a week instead of 5%.> 4) Is it smart to convert my other prized Fish only live rock tanks to tanks with oversized trickle filters and dead coral decorations? <Not in my view of the world, but it's not really a question that can be answered by 'smarts' - you do what you think works for you and your fish. I can only tell you what I would do and/or would not do.> Can I be just as successful with hard to keep species such as the clown tang in a Tf tank? <I don't think keeping a clown tang has anything to do with filtration, but instead everything to do with knowing the animal's behavior [which you can't really change - and these fish are aggressive], getting a large enough system to house them in, and then putting them through sufficient quarantine before you place them in your system.> I know how important live rock is for fish, I've been keeping tanks for well over 7 years now, but what's the point if I end up loosing entire tanks that I've worked so hard on in one blow because of a parasite? <I can't honestly say I'm sympathetic - you can avoid disease problems almost entirely by careful quarantine - doesn't it seem like a good investment in time? It does to me.> 5) I'm in the process of setting up my main display tank in my living room. The tank is going to be a custom 450-500 gallon acrylic tank. I want to be able to keep a wide array of marine species from docile triggers to many different kinds of angels, tangs, and butterfly.  I have set up a 50 gallon quarantine tank with proper filtration (wet dry) for this tank and plan on quarantining every new fish. <Excellent.> Thus at least I'll be able to medicate the qt tank if necessary on every new fish that develops a disease. <Still... you'll need to be doing those large water changes - perhaps you just need some smaller quarantine tanks.> Since I've had bad luck in the past with parasites in heavily stocked fish only live rock tanks, I am still hesitant to use live rock in this new display tank. <The benefits out weigh the bad side - live rock will help cultivate live foods and fauna for the fish you want to keep.> It will be my largest and most expensive tank yet and I want to set it up smart. <Use the live rock then...> Lets say down the line after I have the tank filled with fish (I plan on having expensive exotics) that one fish brings in ick or worse (velvet) what am I to do? <Quarantine it first... then there will be no story to tell.> 6) I'm sure you guys see large tanks all the time, what methods of filtration are these large fish only tanks using, such as the tank in the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas (20,000 gallons)? <Massive sand filters and protein skimmers - the kind you can stand inside. No wet/dry filters.> I hope I didn't write too much and I hope even more that you understand what I am trying to ask you. P.S. I set up all my tanks with overrated U.V. sterilizers, skimmers, and am extremely anal about good water quality, yet have still had bad luck with diseases... <Think about using the UV on your quarantine tanks and then use the quarantine tanks. I can assure you, the only times I've had any disease problems were when I did not use quarantine.> Thanks for the help! <Cheers, J -- > Filtering Out Confusion (Wet-Dry Filter Selection) You guys are the best!!!!!!!  You always save me just when I start to get nervous, paranoid or confused.  All of you are so very much appreciated and you never ever should go thinking otherwise! <Aw, shucks! Thanks for the kind words! We really love what we're doing here, and are happy to serve!> Firstly.......this may be a bit broad but I'm going to ask it nonetheless, because I truly value your advice opinions and exp.'s..... <Okay!> I currently have a Marineland Emperor 400 with BioWheels, along with a CPR Bak pak dual pak.  I would really like to look into getting a new filter (for my 30 gal tank, live rock live sand, stocked). I am looking into Eheim Professional II and/or Eccho......along with Amiracle sl-15 hang on wet/dry filter........I would appreciate it if you could break the three types mentioned above down for me so I can make more of an informed decision on what I'd like to do.  My primary concern are my seahorses, but of course I care for everyone else in the tank which are.........pep. shrimp......yellow clown goby......bang. cardinal, fridmani Pseu., clean up crew and feather dusters. I can't seem to find or get more information on the products.......and I would really like to speak with you personally about the benefits and differences between them for my system in particular.  No corals or anything here. With a wet/dry.......would I have to get rid of or stop using my CPR dual Bak Pak? <Well, not unless you want to. Skimmers are a vital piece of equipment in any system. I would continue with the CPR.> Because if I understand correctly, wet/dries have a protein skimmer within their sumps, or at least the Amiracle does.....on the sl15. <Well, many wet-dry filter systems include a skimmer, but there is certainly nothing wrong with running two of them! On the other hand, some manufacturers make great filters/sumps, but the included skimmer is a true "underachiever". I've always felt that you should purchase the best skimmer that you can afford for your system. If it were up to me, I'd be looking into the aforementioned Amiracle filter (without bio media), but I'd utilize a capable skimmer, like the Aqua C Remora, or your CPR Bak Pak. A formidable combination!> Can't wait to hear back...................and since I'm so very lost on this wet/dry means of filtration and have never even thought of doing it.......I'm  going to go read up on it in your pages here on the site........but......I'd like for you to help my confused and torn self out.  As always, thank you so very much. <Sorry that I cannot go into all of many aspects of wet-dry filtration and selection, but I think that you are right on the mark as far as outfitting your tank is concerned. The other alternative would be a beneath-the-tank sump, but that involves a totally different setup. For your system, I'd go with my recommendation above. Keep things simple, and I'm sure that you'll be successful! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Time for a Wet/Dry? - First of all I want to say your website is very helpful and I enjoy spending time reading other peoples questions. <And hopefully gaining from their experiences.> I have 2 year old 55 gallon tank, 192 watt PC's with 60 lbs of live rock, live sand, few soft corals, few anemones, few polyps, 2 clowns, royal Gramma, Naso tang and a bi color angel, 25 Astrea snails, 10 scarlet crabs, 2 brittle stars and a purple urchin. For filtration I have a Remora Pro protein skimmer (great skimmer) and an aqua clear 200 (use only for placing a little carbon in it). All my levels are great, I use RO water and do a 10-15 % water change every week. I am interested in getting rid of my aqua clear 200 and replacing it with a wet and dry. <Eek... any chance I can talk you out of the wet/dry and into a simple sump? All you need is really more system volume, some live rock and sand - a wet/dry will become a source of nitrates for you and you can do much better with something a great deal more simple.> I do not really have that many problems with my tank but I have read there are many benefits to a wet and dry and I only want the best for my fish. <If there's nothing wrong with your tank, I wouldn't touch a thing - stasis can be a good thing, on the other hand, a sump would provide benefit, but a wet/dry may cause more problems than it is worth. More reading on that here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm >I also want to put my heater and possibly my protein skimmer in the sump and out of my tank. I have been looking at the Amiracle Slim-Line Model 50 and the CPR SYS 500. Any recommendations? <Would go with the CPR unit, mostly because I'm not a fan of Amiracle build quality - usually a little thin, but would likely work. Not really familiar with or have practical experience with either model.> What do I do about the bio balls? <Toss them - give to the cat for toys.> Some say leave them in and others say take them out? Confused? Help? <Do read that article - some good background for you there.> Donovan <Cheers, J -- >

HANG ON WET DRY Hello sorry to bother again!     What do you think about a hang on wet dry for a 55 gallon salt water fish only tank that measures 21long,5wide 16 tall (Tru vu Mighty max). <personally I would not purchase a hang on the back wet/dry filtration system> is this as good as a sump model  in oxygenation for water and do they do more or less the same in filtration Thank you very much! <I have never tried them before so I don't know if they are equally as efficient as the "non" hang on the back ones. If you decide to purchase this product email us back with your results. opinions etc. Good luck, IanB>

Wet/Dry Anxiety (1/19/04) OK, maybe I'm paranoid, but I have to ask the questions anyway.  I recently purchased a Aquaclear Pro75 Wet Dry system for my 30G reef.  <Most on this site are not big fans of wet/dry for reefs because they are nitrate factories. Read more about this on WWM.> Since the purchase I have heard numerous horror stories about Wet Dry filters in general causing tremendous water spillage problems.  I guess my main question is, what is the likelihood of this kind of occurrence? <I believe most of these are due to the way the water is drained down and pumped back up. Siphons are the usual cause of this problem. If the tank is drilled or uses an overflow, this is much less likely.> Also, are the hang-on Wet Dry systems a safer bet in regard to this issue? <By the nature of their construction, most HOT filters will be less likely to flood.> I know this is a good filter and I've read many good things about them, I guess I could just use a little reassurance before making the plunge. Thanks, John <Hope this helps, Steve Allen>

Wet/Dry Alternatives (1/19/04) If not a wet-dry for reef filtration, what then? thanks, John  <NNR or natural nitrate reduction. Examples:  plenums, deep sand beds, large amounts of live rock; in addition to a good skimmer. Search these terms on WWM and you will find all you need to know. Hope this helps, Steve Allen>

Wet/Dry Bob- What is the difference between a trickle filter and a regular wet/dry? With my setup which would you recommend. Thanks, Tom >> Strictly speaking these are the same type of set-up... Some folks separate either type of wet-dry on the basis of utilizing a drip tray versus a spray-bar arrangement to deliver/spread out water to the wet-dry media... I don't. But the drip tray is superior, costs less, and doesn't stop "spinning"... Don't know or recall your previous e-info., but I'm decidedly not a big fan of wet-dry/trickle filters... unless they're modified... with their media removed, either live rock/and/or sand an anaerobic bed provided (like the original George Smit revelations), or made into Berlin systems with a skimmer, separate lighting... or best into "mud" filters with alternating light/dark, or permanently on lighting. Much more detail on these possibilities... evolutionary approaches to modern marine aquarium filtration on my WetWebMedia.com site. Bob Fenner

wet/dry? you answered one of the Q: by saying to remove the media from the wet/dry if/when you run into a algae problem. why will this cause/help a algae problem, and what other steps can be taken fight algae (UV's, cleaning crews, etc.....) >> The processes, mainly nitrification, that is, the driving of ammonia to nitrite to nitrates makes this source of nitrogen super-abundant for opportunistic algae... it's a principal fertilizer. There are many other approaches to successful algae control... competing photosynthetic life (like macro-algae, live rock, photosynthetic stinging-celled animals), predators (as you mention, some tangs, Mithrax Crabs, Lawnmower Blennies), other mechanisms for limiting nutrient... some of which include utilizing denitrifying organisms... about the opposite of the wet-dry media ones... in a low/no oxygen environment (Siporax Beads, Ehfi-Mech media, live rock, a denitrifying filter bed... like a plenum, mud/muck-algae filtration...). Much more on these ideas stored at the URL: www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner

Lifereef Systems What is your opinion of LifeReef's Filter-systems (sump, skimmer and calc reactor)? seems a bit pricey. Anything comparable but better in price? Also I am looking at Korallin and Knop reactors what is your opinion? and do you have a preference what brand is good for the money? I am looking for one for my 120G reef. Thanks.. >> Their products are "okay" in quality in construction... not much for engineering. Putting a wet-dry together from other manufacturers would be better and using a Knop calcium reactor... not necessarily with their source of aragonite though. Take a look through the hobby magazines, websites of the manufacturers listed there.  Bob Fenner

Wet Dries=NO3 Factories? To whom it may concern, I heard that wet-dry filter systems is a kind of nitrate factory, Is it true ? Önder Bozdoðan. >> >> For the most part, yes. The aerobic processes going on in/on the plastic biomedia really drive nitrification... at the expense/imbalance of denitrification... in most systems... Given enough low oxygen space (plenums, lots of live rock, deep sand beds....) or expedient users of nitrates (e.g. constantly lit macro-algae) there is much less chance of high nitrate (et al. metabolites) build-up/high concentration... Please read through the related materials (nitrates, filtration, plenum, sumps, macroalgae...) on our site: Home Page  Bob Fenner

Wet-Dry? I am in the process of purchasing a saltwater, fish only, aquarium. Around 100 gallons. I was reading some of your comments on the wet/dry filter systems and frankly I am more confused now. Everything I have read up to now has recommended the wet/dry filter. The system I am looking at has a SeaLife filter. I understand you to approve of the wet/dry filter but with modification.. Could you help this beginner out by expanding a little more. Thanks >> I'll try. Wet-dry type filters are fine for very crowded, variable load situations... but are notorious at over-driving nitrification... and requiring mechanisms to thwart the tendency (denitrifying processes like anaerobic filter media, live rock/mud and algae sumps... copious amounts of live rock (with plenty of low flow area within them))... Think about what you want to do by "filtration"... by using a typical wet-dry you will find a surplus of nitrates produced... and need to find ways to rid the system of the same... Instead, more "balanced" filtration approaches like using live rock, macroalgae, a mud sump... won't. Bob Fenner

Wet/Dry? Hello Mr. Fenner I have recently been looking for a Wet/Dry Trickle filter for my 55 gal. reef aquarium. I don't want anything with a built in skimmer or other fancy equipment, since I already have most of that stuff that comes built in on most filters. My favorite so far is the Amiracle SL-100. for around $185.00. I had a lot of trouble finding good info. and prices on other companies. Is it that there are so few models online, or are there only 3 or 4 companies that make trickle filters? Anyway, I was wondering if you knew any better filters for around that price? Also, what kind of Rio pump should I buy for the filter? <Thank you for writing, and so well. There are actually dozens of companies that manufacture wet-dry/trickle filters (many advertise in the hobby magazine "Freshwater and Marine Aquarium"), and the one you list is a good "premium" make/model... but I do encourage you to seek out the possibility of making... your own sump (basically a chemically inert "box" that holds water... and a few bulk-head/through-hull fittings) and skip out on the wet-dry portion entirely... not necessary, and a cause of many problems. Lastly (for this interchange), I would also caution you about the Rio pump line... not a good gamble as too many burn out, short... cause trouble... Not to despair about any of this "no, not really, keep investigating" input here... do keep looking and planning. Read over FAMA, visit the URL's listed in ads there, do read through our website: Home Page for much much more, and, we'll be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Your Book Hi Bob, I am about 1/2 way through with you book - The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. I enjoy it immensely and am taking it to heart. I have a couple of questions for you if you have the time to respond. 1) Would a dealer know if his stock is was caught with chemicals? <Hmm, not necessarily... how to state this? Most retailers don't know much about testing, appearances that indicate their stock has encountered such... and most wholesalers, although they are well aware of such nefarious practices, choose the expedient (how the adverb creeps...) of "passing" the livestock on ASAP... Sad state of affairs, eh? There are a few "bright lights" in the industry though, and I'm rootin' for them... folks who set up their own collection stations, visit and help their collectors to produce the best livestock possible/practical... have just been to visit Chip Boyle in the Cooks... he's an "A" collector... and Quality Marine in LA and Tropical Marine Centre in the UK are unparalleled... there are others, thank goodness... stories about such can be found on our site: Home Page > I am in the Chicago area. Would the fish make it this far if the fish were captured using chemicals? Could you recommend any dealers in this area? <The fishes and non-fish do indeed "make it" to the windy city and further captured in all sorts of ways. Don't know specific dealers there, but would encourage you to contact the local marine clubs... they're excellent, and their members definitely will know where to steer you.> 2) I have recently purchased a 360 gallon tank that I will be setting up in the next few weeks. I bought the tank and the system from West Coast Aquarium in San Diego. Do you know of them? What do you think?  <Wowzah, just goes to show... don't even know the folks in my own town! Not familiar with the company.> They recommend against doing a fish and hardy invertebrate system. They said to do a reef or fish only due to different conditions each requires. Your book states this could be done. <Hmm, interesting point of view... an argument could be made depending on definition of terms here, for sure.> My plan was to have a small area in the tank for live rock. Here is a description of my filter system. I would add a protein skimmer and more lighting. The tank is 84X33WX30H . I want to do this right so if I should stick with fish I will. I would appreciate your opinion.  2 wet/dry biological filters in our production facility so, it is made for your system. It transforms toxic waste substances, mainly ammonia, into relatively nontoxic nutrients through the activity of living organisms, primarily nitrifying bacteria. You also have a UV filter which acts as a good sterilizing agent as the water is passed through a filter tube that contains a short-wave, germicidal ultraviolet bulb. Both your mechanical filter and UV filter are Rainbow Lifeguard products.  <These folks filters, UV's are a bad joke IMO... very poorly designed, engineered... I would switch them out ASAP for something more serviceable.... really> Lastly - Do you know of any Marine clubs in the IL. or on line chat rooms that discuss this hobby? <Geez, there are a bunch... my real advice here is to use your search engines... and decide on your own which offer accurate, significant and meaningful information... and are fun!> Greg >> <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re: Your Book Bob, Are you saying that the wet dry filters are not the right choice or this particular manufacture. <Am not a big fan of wet-dry's... too many downsides unless they are coupled with other gear... sufficient denitrification, methods of nitrate et al. uptake, periodic use of activated carbon... > For a tank this size what would you recommend? <Take a long read through the FAQs associated with the marine filtration sections of our site: Home Page >  Greg >> <Bob Fenner>

Re: Your Book Bob, Sorry to be a pest but I read through home page and there it states that a wet dry filtration is strongly recommended for larger tanks. Your email and book are some what negative on these systems. <As I am presently... for all the reasons previously stated... they're nitrate factories, and the consequences of overdriving nitrification either must be countered or suffered.> I have 360 gallon tank. I plan on a successful Fish and Hardy Invertebrate system. Like the tank on page 37 of your book only larger. Besides a protein skimmer what other filtration do you recommend? If I should go with a wet dry system what manufacture? You stated the Rainbow system was a "joke". Greg >> <Please re-read the sections previously referred to you... I would not use Rainbow Lifegard products... they're too puny, poorly engineered for large aquarium use... I would utilize a sump for several purposes... a refugium, maybe a plenum... for use as a site for your skimmer, maybe a calcium reactor in/out space... and so much more... Keep reading my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Your Book Bob, I am still reading FAQ on your home page. It seems that if you use more live rock, live sand the less you need a Wet / dry? Is that correct? >> <Bingo, Bob Fenner>

Wet-dry filters Mr. Fenner, I hope you can answer a question for me. I have a 125G saltwater tank. It's current filtration is merely 2 Emperor Bio-Wheel filters (the kind that hangs on the back.) We plan to install a wet-dry system with a protein skimmer this month.  <Good idea> I've been doing as much research as possible, but I cannot find one I am truly happy with. Do you have a suggestion as to a brand or type?  <Many... and not to be too-confusing, am not a fan of actual wet-dries, but they can be converted to sump/refugiums... Please see the sections of interest stored on the site www.wetwebmedia.com> Current livestock: lunare wrasse, lionfish, emperor snapper, humu humu trigger, Koran angel, and a black/white damsel. Crushed coral substrate. It has been set-up for 6 months, and doing well. However, it has suddenly gotten cloudy (white, not green.) We are hoping the new filtration will help. Any other ideas? <It will, definitely... especially the skimmer. You won't believe the gunk it will remove...>  Thanks! Tracy <Bob Fenner>

Wet-dry manufacturer: Filtration choices Hey Bob, I hope you had a good holiday. I have a question about filtration for you. I am considering a CPR wet/dry or a Eheim wet/dry system for my 55 gallon fish and invert tank. What would you recommend? Thank You, Jonathan Pac <The CPR is superior in almost all such applications... the Eheim wet-dry is a not so excellent product in an otherwise exemplary company. Bob Fenner>

Wet/Dry Filter Question Hi Bob, I was wondering, what you thought about those Built-in Skimmers that come with some wet dry sump? <Some are good, some okay, others puny junk> In Particular, I have a Sea Life Systems Pro 200 Wet/Dry filter that I use on my 75 Gallon Reef.  <This is a working unit> I can't seem to get it to produce foam on a regular basis. My tank has been set up for about 8 months and this is really starting to worry me.  <Don't let this bother you... to be expected in a "cured" system in balance of sorts... Would be more trouble if continued to produce...> I feed 1 to 2 times per day. I have 95 pounds of live rock. The tank is home to 1 Coris gaimard wrasse, a pair of Percula clowns, 1 yellow tang, a mated pair of coral banded shrimp, a pair of blood shrimp, a pair of peppermint shrimp, a scarlet lady cleaner shrimp, 1 abalone, 1 sand star, 10 Astrea snails, 5 blue leg hermits, and 8 red leg hermits. <Surprised the Coris gaimard hasn't consumed the crustaceans, snails.> Corals include 1 umbrella leather, 1 long tentacle elegance, 1 pearl bubble, 1 Briareum, 1 Sarcophyton elegans, a colony of green stripped mushrooms, a colony of frilly mushrooms and some other misc. polyps. I was wondering if it was just me or is this skimmer inadequate. Any suggestions you could give me would be greatly appreciated. <Hmm, with all that you list doing well... sounds like things are fine... I wouldn't change> p.s. looking forward to seeing you at the MACNA XIII. I plan on attending and my brother and father own the company that provides the Business Center for the Hotel so stop by if you need anything. <Ah, thank you. Am going to try to leave the last millennium and "do" my presentation via PowerPoint... see you there. Bob Fenner>

W/D Hey Robert, I just brought a used SeaLife Model 60 Wet/Dry system. I was wondering if this was a smart move to buy one used <New, used matters little to me... as long as it's all there, functioning...> and is this unit any good, far as filtration?  <Yes... a workable unit> I would also like to know can this system be used on any size gallon tanks? <Hmm... efficiently? There is likely a statable range... along with many other variables I'm sure you and I could banter about... Other filtration, lighting, amounts of live rock... But... forty to eighty or so gallons...> I have read up on your information and it has been very helpful. I have just recently got into this hobby, so please bare with me. Thanks <I am here to help you my friend, no worries. Bob Fenner, www.WetWebMedia.com>

Re: W/D Hey Bob, I just wanted to say thank you for answering so quickly. I have a couple of other questions I would like to ask. In my last email I mentioned using that Wet/Dry Model 60 on larger tanks. I would like to run the wet/dry with a 72 gallon tank made be Oceanic. I am going to use a Magnum 500 to go in the bottom of my wet/dry to push the water back in to the tank. Do you think this will be enough filtration  <Hmm, with a few "ifs" and stipulations yes... With enough live rock in place, adequate lighting... a protein skimmer...> and how many fish could this tank obtain with this system.  <This is covered in "Stocking" and the related FAQs files on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com... please go there and read through the Marine Index...> I have been to different stores and have gotten different answers. Some of the stores say this will work fine and some say I need to add live rock or get a Model 100. I also wanted to know if I will need a Power head to go inside the tank or will the Filter circulation be enough to give oxygen.  <I would place at least two good sized (Hagen or Aquarium Systems) powerheads in this size/shape tank in addition for aeration, circulation...> I have gotten different answer on this as well. Please help!!! Thanks <Read on my friend. Bob Fenner>

Wet/Dry... removable protein skimmer advantageous? Hey Bob, I just wanted ask your opinion on my set-up on my 72 gallon tank. Well, I have a Oceanic Bow front reef ready tank. I have a Sea Life Systems Pro Series 150 wet dry with the built in protein skimmer. I am running the protein skimmer with a Rio 2100 and a Mag Drive 500 to return the water back to the tank. <Okay> I also wanted to know if the Sea Life system with removable protein system was better. Please help me because I really need it. Thank You for you help. Thanks, D <Hmm, better? Both will/do work... and no real advantage in being "removable"... Bob Fenner>

Re: Some questions about reefs (Eheim Wet-Dries, overflow mechanisms...) Hi Bob, Today I accidentally ran the Eheim filter dry while I was siphoning water out of the sump. I did not notice that the filter was running dry for over and hour and by then it was to late. I will buy a new Eheim wet/dry filter tomorrow. I hope fish will be okay over night while I get the new Eheim wet/dry filter. Which one is the best one for me to get? <Actually... I don't care for Eheim wet-dry filters... would just use one of their canisters... the bigger the better> After I did this I was so upset that I installed an on/off switch in the sump area which switches everything off in the sump. Now when I need to do something, everything goes off and there is no risk that this will happen again. <Good idea> I have also decided to replace the tank with one that has an overflow built in. The hang-on overflow has lost it siphon once and water start dripping out the top of the tank. Not a funny thing when this happens.  <Decidedly not... built-in overflows are better... more reliable... though not fool-proof either.> Now I check the overflow every day. I have ordered another 6 foot tank, but this one is going to be 2 inches taller and give me another 12 gals of water volume. So after the tank gets delivered, hopefully in a weeks time, I will move everything into the new tank and retire the old one. Is there anything I should know about, when moving everything over to the new tank? <Not too much... please see the notes on "Moving Aquariums" posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com site... The same as replacing a tank.> I purchased 3 green chromes fish and they are great! They eat everything I put in the fish tank. I had to train them at first but now they come running over when the lid goes up and they wait for the food to fall down into the water. My cleaner shrimp just malted and has come back out to play after about 3 days (which was today). I was concerned that he was dying when he disappeared, but I'm happy to say he has not. I also found his molted shell. <Yes... leave it in there a week or so... this animal may ingest it in part... to make its new exoskeleton... it won't pollute your water.> I measured nitrates and they are up around the 5ppm. The algae just keeps growing. I have read the information on your site and I will try a few of these. I do have some questions about some of the things I have read else where. What one person has done to lower nitrates is to dose sugar water into his sump. About 1 table spoon is mixed into 1 gal of water and then slowly dosed into the sump over a period of about 12 hours. The nitrates go down to 0 after dosing but when they come up again, he repeats the dosing. I have found many references to people doing this. Do you know about this? <Yes... these carbohydrate additions boost denitrification... can't be done continuously... and some downsides... potential filamentous algae profusion... which you can see happening> What do you think about doing this? I have also read many times that people that use de-nitrators to control nitrates simply put in a small amount of sugar into the de-nitrator as food and the unit does it's thing. I have a Aquamedic de-nitrator unit which comes with Demi-balls which provide the food and it lasts around a year. Will the freshwater de-nitrator that I have work with saltwater? Is it just the same thing? <About the same yes... and same anaerobic processes involved, with sugars...> After I get my new tank, the only thing that I would have not replaced from my original freshwater setup would be the cabinet. Everything thing else has been replaced or changed. If I knew this was going to happen I would have brought a hole new marine setup and just kept the freshwater tank running with freshwater fish in it. It's really funny how things turn out! <Yes... indeed> While I am in the replacing mood, is there anything that I should have that you recommend, before the new tank arrives? <Nothing comes to mind... but do read over a couple hundred of these messages per day...> Many thanks for your help. I really appreciated it :) <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner> Warmest regards, Lucien

Reef aquarium (balance, algae problems, wet-dries) Greetings Bob!! I just had to e-mail you to let you know that I have finally reached the reef aquarists dream. I have contacted you in the past about algae problems and you suggested getting rid of my wet/dry. Hesitantly, I did it, and I cannot believe the results. I have a 55 gallon plumbed on the bottom to a 40 gallon sump. The sump contains some ceramic beads, a piece of filter fiber, a good protein skimmer, and a Rio pump which returns the water to the top of the aquarium on each end. I have 2 VHO whites and 2 VHO blues and 2 power heads in the aquarium. The tank includes tons of mushrooms, frogspawn, bubble coral, star polyps, bicolor angle, coral beauty, 3 cleaner shrimp, and 2 perculas. Everything is doing great. My mushrooms are multiplying like crazy!!! I am going to have to start giving them away. I have had absolutely no nuisance algae in over 8 months and am only doing 10% water changes every 5 to 6 weeks!! <Ah, good to read of your successes> My question is....how much more life can I safely place in this aquarium? I just ordered (from FFExpress) 3 more perculas, 2 blue tangs I'm hoping they will leave my inverts alone) <They will> , 1 Fungia, 1elegance, and a black banded starfish. <Yikes... you have two Dwarf Angels and two perculas already...? I would not order any more fish life for this size, number of total gallons... perhaps some small invertebrates, frags, macro-algae...> Sorry for the long read and thank you so much for your expertise!! Diane <You are welcome my friend. Again, congratulations. Bob Fenner>

FILTRATION Hi. I have a big question about filtration for my marine aquarium. I am thinking about building a wet/dry filter. Would this work?  <Hi Kevin, Lorenzo Gonzalez doing my poor Bob Fenner impression, as he's on fish safari for a couple more weeks. Wet/dry systems work for many systems, but not all, and they certainly aren't absolutely necessary, nor very popular these days. Great for big-messy fish, though.> What would I use?  <Go to the 'links' page on www.wetwebmedia.com - there's a site called OZ Reef listed there somewhere, they have lots of great DIY articles.> Another thing is that I saw this new thing called a "Skilter". First of all, have you ever heard of this? Does it really work well? As you can see, I need help FAST!!!! Please help!! Thank you very much. <'Skilter' is a brand name for a small, combination filter/protein skimmer. They're really not that new. They are suitable for smaller systems, but not nearly as effective as high-quality 'single-function' components, i.e. a stand-alone skimmer paired with a stand-alone power filter. -Lorenzo>

W/d filters dear bob, I'm new to the hobby. could you recommend some excellent, reliable w/d filters to me? my budget is around $200. <Better to query the listservs in the hobby for users with more actual experience> I'm looking at the Amiracle products v. Tidepool by Marineland v. CPR for my 125 gallon fish only saltwater. <I know all three of these to be acceptable product lines. I would feel comfortable using any of them. Bob Fenner> thanks, Knef

Trickle Filters as Nitrate Factories I am a newbie and just found your site a couple of days ago. I can't leave it alone and can't tell you how much I've learned in a short period. <Glad to hear it.> Anyway I had a question that's been bugging me. I have read several places that trickle filters are nitrate factories. Wouldn't any biological filter stop generating nitrates as soon as the supply of ammonia and nitrites is depleted (which is what I want anyway)? <Ammonia is produced constantly in our aquariums. The thing is when your tank is completely "cycled" the ammonia is converted/consumed nearly instantly into nitrate so that at any given time you get a zero reading from your ammonia test kit. Pretty much the same thing happens with nitrite, too. The main drawback to trickle filters is their incredible ability to nitrify many dissolved organics and turn them into nitrate too. You would much rather see your protein skimmer grab a hold of these compounds and export them from the system instead.> Thanks, Darrell <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Fluidized Sand vs. Trickle Filter In the "planning stage" for a 200 gal. F/O saltwater system. Will have protein skimmer but requesting comments re: Fluidized sand bed instead of a typical wet/dry trickle filter. Thanks, Skipper30217 <My preference of the two would be for the W/D. Fluidized bed sand filters rob your tank's water of oxygen and can get very funky if you lose power. -Steven Pro>

No Wet/Dry? Bob, I have a Tenecor 180-gal reef ready package that I have been running for about three years now with pretty good success. At this point I have healthy soft coral growth and successfully kept a Pearl Coral for about one year now. I want to set up another tank and am thinking about a Tenecor 225 as a fish only tank. I'm thinking Butterflies and Angels. After reading many articles, I have been seriously considering a set up that has no "filtration" other than good skimmers (probably Aqua-C H.O.). The set up would have about a 2inch sand base and about 150-200lbs of live rock (I'm thinking about Tonga branch). The "natural" set up seems to be favored, but before I go set this up and put in some Semilarvatus and Tinkeri Butterflies <Nice> I wanted to see what your thoughts are. Can I sustain such a tank, long term, only using the sand, live rock and skimmers as my filter system or should I stick with the tried-and-true wet/dry system? <I say give the heave ho to wet-dries... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/wetdryfaqs.htm and try our chatforum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ for more input, others opinions... I would NOT use wet-dry. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your opinion, Kevin Austin

W/D in a Reef Tank Hi Bob, <Steven Pro in answering a few today.> After weeks of reading all the very interesting articles on your site, I'm still left with questions. I have just recently setup a 125 to be a reef with a few fishes in time, I currently have a 55 reef (2yrs old) but it started as a FO tank and just recently I started with only a few corals. Although, I've been in this hobby for well over 17 yrs I am not yet knowledgeable on corals. <FYI, Eric Borneman's book "Aquarium Corals" is excellent.> Anyway here's the question, my husband is building me a wet dry *as we speak* and what I want to know is for a 125 reef with a few fish which is better to have my tank water run into the wet dry and thru a skimmer and back in tank without any filter media or bio balls, or should I use something like BioChem zorb pouches and the balls or just depend on my couple hundred pounds of live rock, <Save your husband the work. I am sure there are other projects you can find for him. Just use the liverock and your tank will do fine.> which will be here in a few weeks. I ask this because the lady I get my rock and supplies from, her reef tank in the store is gorgeous and all she has is a 20 long tank under it with a skimmer. <Yes, the way to go.> So I hope after reading this mess of a email you can send some of your great knowledge my way. Thanks very much, Sincerely, ocean lover from Ocean City, Maryland, Robin <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

New Wet/ Dry Filter Sorry this is my second email today but I forgot to ask - Is there any danger(s) in changing a wet/dry filter to a brand new unit with a tank that has been running with livestock over the last four months?  <hmmm... can you move the mature media over? if so... little trouble then> It's a 75 gal with 90 lbs of Live rock, 4 fish and 15 soft corals. I am currently running an Amiracle Proline with a hang on Skimmer. I have come to the realization that this product wasn't cutting it ( not enough production on the protein skimmer -1/2 cup every three weeks) <indeed... if the skimmer did not yield a full cup of skimmate almost daily then it was under performing> even though it designed for an aquarium twice its size.  <size rating has little to do with actual performance> I am upgrading to Kent's BioRocker with their Nautilus TE in sump protein skimmer. Will this change harm any of my livestock?? Sorry to bother you again- Ronald <truthfully, the tank will fare as well or better with a good skimmer and love rock than a wet dry trickle filter (nitrate production). Best regards, Anthony>

Reef keeper Wet/Dry System... Super Garage Model! I just picked up a reef keeper wet/dry filter system. I can't find the manufacturer. The product label says Reef keeper International, Denver, Colorado. It is pretty good shape but will need a couple of parts. Does the above company ring a bell with anyone? Brian <Sorry, but it is not familiar. I did a few searches, but found nothing. -Steven Pro>

Wet/Dry Conversion Gentlemen: I am somewhat new to the saltwater aquarium hobby and could use some help. I currently have an 80 gallon, salt water, fish only tank. It has no live sand, just crushed coral, and maybe 20 lbs of cured live rock in it. I am running a Fluval 404 with everything that comes with it for media, an Aquaclear 500 power filter with Nitrasorb and Chemipure in it and a CPR protein skimmer. The tank is cycled and running fine. Now, I want to convert over to a wet/dry filter and just purchased an Aqua Clear Aquatics Pro 200 Wet/Dry filtration system. And this is where all the questions begin. Are there definite advantages to converting over to a wet/dry system? <There can be, primarily for large fish-only systems with heavy bioloads (big, messy eaters) or for commercial applications.> I am growing tired of having to disconnect all the hoses for the canister filter to clean and maintain it and am told that the wet/dry system is more efficient, easier to clean, and is healthier for the aquarium and it's occupants in general. <I would agree somewhat. I do want to mention for many instances I prefer to use live rock for biological filtration.> How do I phase in the wet/dry system while leaving the existing system intact and not cause the tank to re-cycle? <Merely add the W/D and continue to use everything for one to two months and then you could remove the canister with little worry.> And I guess, most importantly, how do I set the blessed thing up? <According to manufacturer's directions, preferably with drilled holes and bulkhead fittings vs. a siphon overflow system. Do look over the www.WetWebMedia.com site for additional information and tips.> Thank you so much for your help! T. Michael Basciano <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Removing Wet/Dry Your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" is number one. Tank: Currently I had (just put in the live rock Dec. 6) a 120 marine FO tank, w/d system @315gph, skimmer, Magnum 350 Deluxe filter (carbon, filter, micron cartridge), 280w full spectrum, 40w wide spectrum, 140w Actinic and 3 submersible power heads. Question: According to your book, its mentioned that the w/d is not required. At what point would you recommend on having the w/d portion removed? < Hey Joseph! IMO I need more info! For most types of livestock mixes, I would remove that wet-dry nitrate factory portion of the filter... and use the space for more live rock, an ersatz algal scrubber or alternating light/dark (with your main system) "mud" type filter. For a fish-only system you might want to leave the wet-dry part in. Such contraptions do greatly accentuate facultative aerobic processing of nitrogenous wastes (aka nitrification), but I'd gladly trade that part of the stock unit for another sump, ozonizer for your skimmer, or money toward your next set-up! Bob Fenner>

Wet/Dry System Hello, I just wanted to know if I would have to buy any other hardware to get this filter up and running before I buy it. <You need a return pump.> Thank you! The link is here Also are there any other wet/dry systems like this one that also include a skimmer? <Yes, several, but I don't like any of them. Combination filters are generally a compromise situation where the skimmer is not top notch. You are usually better off buying separate components.> thanks <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Wet/dry Thank you for your time. I have a 80 gal tank w/ the built-in wet/dry & venturi tube protein skimmer. I want to add a wet/dry with a Berlin skimmer below ( good choice? ). <What are you keeping? Fish, corals, or both? For fish, wet/dries are alright, not so for reefs. There are more efficient skimmers for the money as well.  For reefs, refugiums, sumps are the most popular choices.> My tank needs about another 1" from the wall for the prefilter to fit behind, short of moving the tank is their another way to get the water below & still not have to worry if the power goes out? <Is this with overflow boxes? I would suggest drilled overflows instead, either through the back or bottom. These feed by gravity and stop when the water level reaches the top of the overflow, so you can set water level. Far superior to add-on overflow boxes which can fail in power outages.> I can't really see any other way. If I have a new prefilter made to fit, does their have to be any certain about of space in the prefilter for the unit to work correctly? <There is no need for a pre-filter with overflow(s), you can use a micron/filter bag in the wet/dry/sump/refugium.> Also, do you recommend work on & inside the tank with the lights on?   <Not sure what your question is here? Lights on or off makes no difference, unless you have high powered lights and low or no water for extended periods while working on the tank.> I have a tang that consumes Nori etc. well, but seems to eat so much that his stomach will protrude from his body when looking head on at him.  Should I remove the Nori sooner than when it is gone? <No, Tangs are supposed to be fat and healthy!> Feeding him formula 2 & angle food preparation with extra vitamins every other day, and on the other days just some clip Nori, is this a good >regimen & should I use Selcon / vita chem on every meal? <Sounds good, the vitamins can't hurt.> Thank you for your advice ! D.Mack <Enjoy!  Craig>

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