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FAQs about Wet-Dry, Trickle Filters 3

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 4, Selection, 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,

Converting A Wet/Dry - 01/02/06 I know that you get this all the time but here goes...you folks are to be commended on your insight and help that you provide to amateurs like me. <<Yeah, but we still like to hear it <grin>.  But seriously, we're here because we want to be here...to help...to make a difference...>> I realize I am probably being redundant but here goes, I have a Coralife 75 Wet/Dry system on a 65 gallon tank. <<Mmm...can't find any info on this...only thing close I found is a Pro Clear Aquatics Pro Series 75 Wet Dry Filter like this one: http://www.petco.com/shop/product.aspx?sku=946230&cm_ven=lnk&cm_cat=82&cm_pla=946230&cm_ite=946230&SiteID=rhg4V7cAWWM-S0gU8kvgc4SrDgRMn1Dkaw&CMReferringUrl=&CMReferringUrl= >> It is divided into 3 compartments and I was thinking about converting it into a sump. <<Ok>> I realize I will have to upgrade the present skimmer that came with the system, that is a given, but my question is would I put the rock into the center section? <<Should work fine, yes.>> My tank is over 8 years old and is not drilled and not reef ready by today's standards.  It has a catch basin in the tank that pulls to an outside catch tank that is then fed down into the wet/dry. <<Ah, the standard siphon overflow...>> Also would it be better to get an outside pump to pull the water back into the tank? <<Not sure I follow...but a submersible pump in the last compartment of the sump to "pump water TO the tank" is a good/reliable method.>> I realize that I will have to move the heater down into the lower area and since this is an 8+ year old system would it really be cheaper to take another tack? <<Cheaper?...I doubt it.>> If so, what?  You folks are way cool in the advise that you give and if there is something that I missed in your notes please feel free to point me in that direction. <<If you haven't been here there should be some info about converting your filter to a sump:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/wetdryfaqs.htm  And more good info here as well:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumprffiltfaqs.htm  Be sure to follow the indices in blue at the top of the pages.>> Carol <<Regards, EricR>> 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 Wet-dry to sump change 11/3/05 Hi WWM Crew. I have been looking through your site regarding the use of bioballs, and I have subsequently decided to get rid of mine due to super high nitrate levels that are not being controlled by water changes, but I have a few questions. I have a 110 gallon tall tank that is drilled with an overflow and wet-dry. There are 100 lbs of live sand in the tank as well as what has to be close to 100 or more lbs of live rock (but I am not completely sure, as I have accumulated it over the years). The live sand was put in approximately 1 month ago when I switched from a 75 gallon tank to the 110 (I think it is between 3-4 inches in depth, as it is a 110 tall).  The wet-dry contains bio-balls in the left compartment (intake from the tank), and the right compartment contains a CRAPPY JEBO skimmer that came with the tank as well as the return pump to the tank. I am getting a new, better skimmer--either an Aqua C EV 120 or a Euro-Reef CS6-2. I was told that the Euro-Reef is a better, easier to work with skimmer, but this will not fit in the right compartment of the sump with the return pump; the Aqua C would fit in this space (but is supposedly not as good of a skimmer and harder to adjust).  My question is this: Should I remove the bio-balls from the left sump compartment and replace them with the Euro-Reef skimmer, and then either add some live rock to this compartment or the right compartment with the return pump (or add no more live-rock, as there would likely not be a light on this)? or put the Aqua C skimmer in the right compartment with the return pump and replace the bio-balls with live rock in the left compartment (again, there would probably not be any light on the rock). <Either will work. Am partial to using whichever compartment is easier to maintain a more or less constant water level in> If it is a better idea to get the better skimmer and put it in the left compartment where the bio-balls currently are, will there be a problem if I add some live rock to this compartment around the skimmer? <Likely not> or would it be a problem to add the live rock to the compartment with the return pump (not sure if there will be a lot of crud from the live rock that would get sucked into the pump and returned into the tank, as it is an open compartment with no other barriers?)  Of note, the tank currently holds a snowflake eel (he's medium size and has grown VERY slowly over the past 7 years--gets fed once per week), ~4 in yellow tang, ~3 in blue tang, ~4-5 in maroon clown, ~3 in flame angel, a bubble tip anemone and some snails. I also plan to add 1-2 short spine urchins, a bunch of small hermits and Nassarius snails for clean-up, and maybe 1-2 cleaner shrimp (from what I have read on your site and seen from my eel, I don't think he will eat these). <Likely will in time> Some of the snails have been dying, presumably from the high nitrates, and I don't want to lose the anemone, which is currently looking great. Given that you have much more experience than I do, please let me know what you would likely do. Thank you so much for your time and the great website. ~Jocelyn Blake  <Welcome. 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 Oxygen In The Wet Dry - 09/30/05 Thanking you all so much for all your answers to my son's questions... ( he's been e-mailing you under my name - he's actually only 13 and just starting his aquarium!) <<Ah!...a pleasure...>> In reference to the towel over the wet/dry filtration system... we of course would be blocking a lot of space where air would normally be available to this area but would not block all air and a towel is also quite "breathable" - the idea is to lesson the noise not block O2 from getting in and around the system. <<agreed>> I've also thought recently of putting up some foam pieces behind the filtration area in the back of the "cabinet" which the tank sits upon so the noise does NOT filter up along the back of it all against the wall... does this sound feasible? <<Quite...you might also consider putting some type of damping material "under' the filter.>> Yours in under water dreams, Clare B. <<Take care my friend... EricR>>

Noisy Wet/Dry - 09/29/05 Hey crew, <<Hey Clare!>> I have a 75 gallon SW tank, and it is an older model, and makes a whole lot of noise <<?>>.  I have a wet dry filter<<Ah, yes...can be very noisy.>> (125 capacity) and we decided to put a towel over the wet dry filter, this really helped with the noise. I was just wondering if this was OK to cover the filter or if you see any problems with it? <<Mmm, interesting question... But as long as you're not blocking air/oxygen from entering the filter (else, I'm sure you are already aware, you defeat the purpose of the wet/dry), using the towel to dampen noise shouldn’t be a problem.>> Thanks, Clare <<Welcome, EricR>>

Moving Wet/Dry Filter  9/2/05 Hi, <Kia ora, Good health!> I will be moving my fish only tank to a new location in Nov. It has a wet/dry filter with a protein skimmer. The tank will be down for approx. 4 hours. I know the beneficial bacteria in the filter has  a short lifespan (I believe they start dying within 2 hours of  stopping the water circulation) <Mmm, slow down... but if they're kept moist, some air exposure... no problems> and would like to know the best way to try and  preserve the bio balls during the move to help prevent any problems with the  tank recycling at the new location. <Cover the filter itself with a moist towel... freshwater or marine... drain the water out of the filter itself...> I've moved the aquarium before when I only had a Fluval filter  and didn't have any problems with recycling, maybe because it  is a closed filter. I just would like your advise to be on  the safe side. Hopefully this move will be just as easy. Thanks,     Rich Aylward <I hope so too. 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> 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>

Wet Dry Filter Modification - 08/17/05 Dear Sirs, <<No need to be so formal (and, a few "Madams" here as well)... EricR at your service.>> First time using and visiting your web site but it seems very informative. <<Seems so to me too <G>.>> I have a Life Reef LF2-300 Wet Dry Filtration System (Twin Towers), with Calcium Reactor/C02 Monitored and Controlled, Protein Skimmer, 57 Watt UV Sterilizer and External Canister Filter (For Carbon), used on a 180 Gallon Tank with Metal Halide and fluorescent lighting.  The tank currently has a 2" layer of coral sand <<Mmm...would consider reducing this to less than 1", or increasing to more than 4".>>, some...very little live rock and a dozen various small fish. <<No idea what "various" might be...>> I have come to the conclusion (visible brown algae) that I would like to modify my Wet/Dry Filter due to nitrate concerns.  I was wondering if it would be an improvement to add LS about 4 inches to the bottom of the sump area and slowly remove about half the bio balls in each tower over a few weeks? <<Maybe, but you haven't given me much info to go on (actual fish load, nitrate levels).  Wet/Dry filters usually work very well for FO/FOWLR systems (rapid response <higher oxygen levels> to increasing bio-load/over-feeding) where a higher residual nitrate level is tolerated (around 20ppm).>> The filter is 41 inches long and 13 inches wide.  The sump area below the towers looks like it would support about 3 to 4 inches of sand.  I was thinking that doing this might give me the best of both worlds, the ammonia to nitrate efficiency of the wet dry, but tone it down a little with half the bio balls, and also give me the de-nitrification benefits of the living sand to off set the efficiency of the Wet/Dry. <<Okay, think about that last sentence...all a bit self-defeating, don't you think?>> Could a set up using a moderate amount of bio balls in a wet dry with a 2" Coral Sand substrate and ample living rock in the tank with a bed of LS in the sump of the Wet/Dry work? <<Mmm, if your nitrates are truly high in this system (30+ppm)...firstly, look at your feeding habits, water flow, etc....if these are in alignment, I would suggest adding the 4" sugar-fine sand substrate to the sump and removing ALL the bio-balls (one tower one week, the second tower the next).>> I know that I also need to improve my circulation, and increase my water changes while watching the feeding amount. <<Ah good...you already know then...>> And I plan to increase the living rock content to an appropriate amount. <<Be sure to maintain good water circulation "all around" the rock.>> But I want to also fix my filter that I know believe has/will become a nitrate factory. <<Do consider my suggestions/food for thought...then "modify away" if you deem necessary.>> Your insight would be appreciated. Regards, James High nitrates with a wet-dry? Of course! - 8/13/05   Hi there,   <Howdy, Ali here>   I have enjoyed your website and reading through all the advice. I've told everybody even the LFS. But despite all the reading I wanted to see if  you can help me with my situation. <Sure> I have: 29gal. mini reef 30"x12"x18", approx. 52 lbs. Live rock, 30lbs.  live sand,  Coralife PC one 65watt 10,000K daylight and one 65watt  actinic, ProClear Aquatic System 125 wet/dry with 266 Bioballs in Biotower, CA  2200 return pump at 685gph, Aqualine motorized protein skimmer in sump. Two  Lifetech powerheads 295gph each on timer one for 6hrs in one direction then the  other in opposite direction for 6hrs and so on. <I'd keep your powerheads on simultaneously and take them off of the wavemaker device.> Adding Kent marine's Essential Elements, Tech-I, and Purple-up according to directions on each bottle. <All are unnecessary. A good two-part calcium/alk. supplement would be all you truely need. B-ionic or C-Balance, do a search on these.> temp. avg 78,  LFS tested water parameters and all was where it  should be except for NITRATES >200ppm said one LFS. So I was told to do a  water change and I did a 30% water change. Next day LFS tested water and  this time Nitrates where at about 40ppm. Did another 30% water change and I  tested my water for nitrates and still high>40ppm. I was also told to siphon  the sand which I did before the water change. LFS said that it could be the  Bioball sand advised to take some out but you guys have said to remove them  all out slowly and replace with LR. <Unfortunately my friend, you have been receiving bad advice from your LFS. This is not uncommon so please don't feel singled out.> Livestock: 1 Pair of (not mated) Gold Stripe maroon clownfish one  is 1.5" the other approx 3", <Not a good choice for this size tank. A healthy pair of clownfish do make for a really pretty, calming yet humorous display. Unfortunately, the maroons not only get big - but very aggressive. Look into a pair of A. percula, A. ocellaris or some neat skunks.> 1 diamond watch goby, 2 Brown colored BTA purchased together because both were and still are occupying the same rock so I bought the rock and the Anemones. Clowns have gone into anemone and enjoy it. 1 blood shrimp. I have read the articles and seen the FAQs but concerned for my tank crashing with the high nitrates. <Unless you enjoy doing daily water changes, remove the wet-dry system ASAP. Look into doing a tank renovation, with a 3" fine grade aragonite sandbed layer (CaribSea Aragamax Select works perfect for this, and given your tank dimensions 1 x 30 pound bag should get the job done.) Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/reef2.htm  >   I have read about turning the wet/dry to a sump Refu. but not sure how to do it with the DSB and the pump in there as well as where to place the live rocks with this kind of "generic" or  "standard" wet/dry? And how do I position the light for the LR and the  DSB in the wet/dry because at the top of the Bio tower is where the water  from the tank comes in? <With a little creativity, you can make all this work Felix. If that is not possible, consider removing the entire wet-dry filter unit and purchasing a standard Berlin style sump or utilizing an empty aquarium.> If I make a DSB in the sump would I still need to siphon  that sand as well? <No need to do this Felix> Also the bottom of the wet/dry has white spots or fuzz  along the walls. <These are harmless critters. Don't worry about them. :) > Sorry about the length but I wanted to make sure I gave as much information as possible. Please let me know what my next course of action should be. If left  any missing info please let me know so I may provide it for you. Thank you so much for your time and keep up the good work thank you Felix <Good luck and make sure you read the provided links Felix, all of the set-up, filtration, sandbed, answers you are looking for are thoroughly explained. - Ali> 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.> Conversion of Wet/dry Trickle Filter into a Refugium and Sump Gentlemen Greetings again - and Thank You.  Its amazing how much progress I have made reading the FAQs/articles and following your advice (My fianc? thinks I am genius). <Perhaps you are> As I mentioned previously, I am setting up a 60 gallon FOWLR with 75lbs of Live Rock and 60lbs of Live Sand. I will be using a EuroReef CS1 skimmer, a Rena Filstar XP2 canister filter (chemical & mechanical) and a sump/refugium with a DSB. I will not have a DSB in my main tank because I believe with only 60 gallons I will be to taking too much space from the fish and live rock (Don't laugh!). I will be using about 1-2 inches of Live Sand in the main (an article in FAMA stated that most denitrification occurs in the first couple of inches - my goal here is aesthetic) Water will come into the refugium/sump from the main tank using an overflow box and a drip plate in the wet dry. My goal of having the refugium with a DSB is mainly nitrate reduction. I would like to convert my wet dry to a refugium (for algae) using a DSB and a sump (to place my Euro Reef and heater). I will be using a AMiracle Maxi-Reef 200 trickle down filter witch has a 12X12 sump area. I would like my DSB to be where the bio balls were originally and I would like to place some Live Rock there. My DSB and main tank sand will be CaribSea Fiji Pink Aragalive and m y return pump will be external and attached to my sump. My concerns are the following 1) Since the Wet Dry has a wall between the biological area and the sump (and a small opening) I would be restricting the flow of water to my skimmer and return pump . Do I have reason for concern - any ideas? <This wall can be modified... cut, drilled if this proves problematic.> 2) Even though I will be using the foam filter in the opening between the biological area and the sump I am concerned that sand will come into contact with the skimmer and return pump. Any advice on this? <Not likely an issue... again, a modification/dam can be inserted if need be> 3) Do I need a plenum for the DSB and if so what is the best type to use for this purpose? <No need for a plenum> 4) Can I get away with a 4 inch DSB? I plan to use 65 lbs of LR in the main and 10lbs in the refugium - is this a good ratio? Any advice on a better way of creating a DSB in the biological area? <This will work> 5) Finally, as you have advised I am using a skimmer and powerheads for circulation for curing my Live Rock. Should I be also using a filter for mechanical (foam) with chemical (carbon) or is it unnecessary? <I would use these if you have them> A couple of emails ago Bob blessed the general concept of my sump/refugium but I don't think I gave that much detail about the setup and some of my perceived concerns. Thanks again - My future fish also thank you. <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Modified Wet-Dry Hello again, Bob.  Thank you for the quick response to my original email. The advice was well-taken and much appreciated. The Mag-Drive 7 works fine as you predicted! <Ah, good> I have now purchased an AquaC Urchin w/MaxiJet 1200 pump. But it won't fit into my sump where the old protein skimmer existed. The area of the foot where the pump housing attaches makes it just about an inch too wide. I have removed the last of the bio-balls out of the center chamber (there are three chambers - the sump, the bio-ball area, and the return water area) which left only the plastic tray with filter media on top.  I completely removed the tray and filter media, and put the Urchin in there where it fit easily. I don't think this should be a problem because I still have filter media in the bottom of the overflow in the display tank so in essence, the water is still being filtered prior to going into the sump and protein skimmer.  Also, I added a small egg crate piece between the original sump area and the Urchin (that just fit into the grooves where the plastic tray sat) and placed a small piece of filter on it. I've hung the bag of activated charcoal over the plastic that divides the first two chambers. It's almost directly in front of where the drain hose from the overflow dumps into the sump so there's good water pressure there.  The lid to cover this area doesn't fit now though (Urchin is too tall) so I am going to have to devise something to keep the water from evaporating too quickly. So, I was just wondering, do you think this setup work out okay?  <Hard to visualize (am still a bit sleepy), but a couple things... I take it the second chamber where the skimmer resides has a "wall" to keep the water depth constant... a good idea for function's sake... and do take care that the carbon filter bag is secure, lest it block the outgoing pipe. A top for the previous wet-dry can likely best be made by visiting a "plastic shop" (look in your Yellow Pages), searching through their scrap bin for a suitable piece of sheet, and cutting it (tape over the areas, draw the lines with a pen...) with simple hand and power tools. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Modified Wet-Dry Hi Bob, Thanks for the quick response.  I guess it IS hard to imagine, so I've attached a picture of the filter in its original form and will describe how it was, and how it is now. <Ah, good> It's hard to tell by the picture (because the white top cover is on it), but the acrylic divider separating chamber 1 and 2 only comes up as high as the bottom of the PVC pipe. <Yes>   The 2nd chamber is the largest.  It has two removable trays - one holding up the bio-balls, the other holding the filter media. The acrylic divider separating chamber 2 and 3 does not go all the way to the BOTTOM of the sump. <Yes... unfortunate... The first chamber, were it larger, would be better to situate your skimmer (for constant water height mostly), or the second chamber, if the overflow were at the TOP> It ends at the top of that white sponge that you see on the bottom.  Basically, I've removed the skimmer, both trays, all media and the big white sponge - everything that wasn't glued down.  Now, the only thing in chamber 1 is the bag of charcoal draped over the divider (about 2" away from the pipe opening); (I think if the bag should fall off, it will fall to the bottom of chamber 1). <Okay> The water in chamber 1 flows over and through the charcoal bag and into chamber 2.  Chamber 2 has the Urchin flush against the acrylic wall dividing the 2nd and 3rd chamber.  But the Urchin towers over the top of the filter unit by about 5 ". <This is okay> The water in chamber 2 comes approx half way up the length of the Urchin.  Well past the MaxiJet. <Do be "religious" re water volume in your system... to assure that this level stays about such...> The water from chamber 2 flows into chamber 3 through the bottom where the acrylic divider ends (where the white sponge was).  From there, gets returned to the display tank by the return pump.  Clear as mud, right? <Not... is crystal clear now, thank you> LOL.  Am I correct in believing that it doesn't matter whether the protein skimmer is in the first or second chamber? <Mmm, actually... would be better, as remarked, if it were in a part of your sump that had constant, higher water height... as you'll find... for skimmer function> Thanks for the suggestion for a new cover.  I know of a couple of plastic stores in the area so I'll check it out. <Real good, and not to toss a sliding spanner into your works here, but I do wish (and can conceive of this next...) we could go back, trade in this modified wet-dry and start with another larger, more flexible container...> I appreciate all your help! Best regards,
<Glad to share. Bob Fenner>

Thank you so much for the comments. So far, the Urchin is doing a good job! It's been in for a little over 24 hrs. and about 1/4 of the cup is full.  <Ah, good> Please recommend which container(s) I should be considering so I can at least keep my eyes open for a 'good deal'. <Most anything of size... even "totes" made of polyethylene... these are mentioned over and over on WWM> Although I don't believe I can trade mine in, I could always put it up for sale on 'craigslist' or something like that. In fact, that's where I got the Urchin for $95. Quite a savings, I thought. <Yes> I appreciate your responses so much. I know you must have a ton of email everyday from people like me <Luckily not too much... a small part of one percent of the tens of thousands of people who peruse the site write in> and I feel very fortunate that you have so kindly taken the time to respond to my questions. I will try not to take up any more of your time unless absolutely necessary! <No worries. I look forward to this interaction. Bob Fenner> 

Sumps and refugiums, human behavior, WWM Hello- Sorry to bother you again but I was wondering about sumps and wet dry filters.  I have decided against a wet/dry, and wanted to get a sump/refugium.  If it is going to be a 55 gallon tank with as many fish as I can get while keeping the bio-load reasonable compared to my filtration.  How much live rock should I keep in the sump and how much should I keep in the display tank keeping in mind that I want a total of 55lbs of Live rock? <Ten or so in the sump/refugium, the rest in your tank> Is a sump better than a hang-on-back refugium? <Either can be superior to the other> also how much live sand should I keep in the sump? <This is posted on WWM> I am planning on keeping 60lbs of live sand in the display tank.  Finally I was wondering if you could recommend a good sump for a refugium for the 55 gallon tank. Thanks So much for your time, your advice is greatly appreciated. Will <Keep studying Will, and looking about for your possibilities, store-bought and DIY. Bob Fenner>

Sumps, Wet-Dries Hi Bob Thanks for your advice re below.  I have read the bio-ball FAQs and am a bit confused? <Okay> 1) If I take the bio-balls out then what is the point of having a sump? Is it just to remove the ugly site of skimmer and heater? Could I have then just purchased an external canister filter and put in some filter floss, noodles and activated carbon? <Mmmm, all you list is of value, plus added volume, aeration, another isolated spot to separate livestock... Canister filters not nearly as valuable> 2) If I slowly take out the bio-balls and then add some live rock and increase the volume of water - I could probably submerge a few pounds of LR. Can I mix both bio-balls and live rock during a transition period? <Yes> Wouldn't I get a massive build up of detritus in the bottom compartment where the heater is sitting? <Mmm, not really, and not a real issue/problem... some of this mulm, which is mainly beneficial, can be siphoned out every few months> 3) Is there a point in having a spray bar any more? What should I do to now to replace this? I guess it could also have the added benefit of reducing noise? <Drip trays are far better than spray bars... don't clog, restrict flow, and never break down> Thanks Simon <Bob Fenner> 

Wet dry drain hose Can you tell me the specifics of the drain hose for the wet dry filter. I'm talking about the hose that connects from the overflow to the wet dry drain hose. I am trying to find a company that sells the individual pieces. I found one company, but I don't know what the hose is made from specifically and that company has a wide choice of products. Thanks. <Try Drs. Foster & Smith or Premium Aquatics.  Both sell replacement hoses.  James (Salty Dog)>

Oceanic trickle filter 150 I just purchased a 150 gallon aquarium. It has 2 overflow boxes one on each side. In the bottom of each overflow box, there are two pre drilled holes. Each one is a different size. The tank come with an Oceanic trickle filter 150. I have no idea how to hook up this filter. Could you please draw me a diagram and help me out? I am totally clueless. <Mmm, you need more help than this... I encourage you to either have a/the shop come by, hire a service company, or join a hobbyist club, have someone who knows what they're doing locally come by and check out what you have, help you with your options... The small hole in these tower/overflows are for return lines, the larger ones for directing water into sumps, pressurized filters... elsewhere> I have tried all of the aquarium shops where I live and no one has seen a filter like this before. I found your website while looking for instructions on this filter and thought maybe you could help, because I haven't found anyone else who can. <You might try Oceanic, the manufacturer... but as stated, this will only get you "part of the answer/s"... How to say this to a new friend...? You may be aware of steps A, B, perhaps some of the C's... but know that there is much more of the alphabet to consider... If no other source of help is available, read until you understand what you're up to... After "doing this" for many years I assure you the only way to be successful, satisfied is to understand what your choices are, the rationale behind them... not to "cook book" one set of ideas. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Wet-Dry modification, reef system set-up Hi. I took the information given me and I appreciate it. Was wondering about that Biowheel. Yes, you said 1/4 of media a week removal....but that BioWheel is big......will it cause a rise in levels? <Not likely... in an established system, plenty of other biological filter media, organisms> And then water will trickle through all the trays but then will it just splash down where that BioWheel used to be? Will that be o.k.? <Should be> Should I put some type of media in there? A sponge of some type? What could you recommend?  <You could, but it will have to be attended to... rinsed, cleaned frequently... perhaps daily> And with hardy corals, not very demanding, 1,040 GPH in my 90 is not enough? <Should be> I understood that 10x [turnover] is sufficient. Yes of course some do 20x, but there are corals that don't like it like that either. <Yes> Without blowing everything away, I can pick spots of stronger and lesser currents. Correct me if I'm wrong on this....do I need more flow? Thanks. Renee <You should be fine... good to find your understanding/realizing there are micro-habitats w/in systems. Bob Fenner> 

WET/DRY Hello everyone! <Ughh...noon is too early to be awake> I want to make this simple but enough info that you can help my particular inquiry. I have a 90 gallon...with 100lbs. Of live rock. Crushed coral substrate. 10 fish- royal Gramma, 2 ocellaris clowns, 1 flame hawk, sailfin blenny, ruby-headed fairy wrasse, coral beauty, Red Sea purple tang, hippo tang, mandarin. All doing very well. Beginning to stock with very easy, hardy corals. That's all I have a desire to keep. Starburst polyps doing great. <I'm assuming Tubastrea spp.? They need daily feeding if so> Also have 10 gallon refugium. Indo-Pacific Sea Farms has been a great help in stocking this with algae and critters. It has a deep sand bed. First very fine then fine. About 4 inches. Algae are Halimeda, Ulva, Gracilaria, Red kelp. My equipment consists of a Turboflotor skimmer, UV, and a Tidepool wet dry. Which leads me to my question...  I bought Mr. Fenner?s book (The Conscientious Marine Aquarist) and was reading about filters. I am wondering about the feasibility of SLOWLY taking out the bio balls and bio-wheel to avoid future build up of nitrates. (I think this is why Mr. Fenner does not think too highly of wet dry filtration for reefs). <You're correct. The wet\dry in an aquarium likes yours is redundant, and can contribute to high nitrates in the future, though with your DSB it may not be a problem. If you plan on adding corals and no more fish, I would remove it, but if you are going to have a heavily stocked mostly-FO tank, you may consider leaving it> I would leave the pre-filter trays in place of course and still use the sump, etc. My pump does 500 gallons per hour and I have two rotating powerheads each doing another 270 gallons per hour. My nitrate is zero....yes the tank is young....6 months. <I would seriously up the water flow in your aquarium...possibly build a manifold\closed loop...Anthony has written tons of good info about manifolds on his forum @ Reef Central> I cycled my tank with live rock and initially that nitrate just hung out at 30. But after much patience it dropped after a couple of months to zero. I do regular cleanings once a week of the substrate and 10% water change and clean most all pre-filters. I am purchasing from IPSF the Surfzone Live Sand Activator Plus. Would adding this each time I took out say, four cell-pore media balls compensate enough that may tank would not go through a mini-cycle? I certainly don?t want to crash the aquarium, but do want to try to get rid of these if possible. Surely not all my bacteria are in that cell pore material and bio-wheel, right? <With 100lbs of live rock, you should be able to remove 1\4th of your media per week. You're right, not all, and probably not even most, of the nitrifying bacteria\organisms are living in your wet dry - most are going to inhabit your live rock\sand. Monitor your water quality after the removal, but I am betting you won't see any adverse effects> Oh, and when I get that sand from IPSF, how long should I shut off that UV while I wait for the good bacteria to find a home? <I wouldn't run a UV sterilizer in a reef tank at all - but they're fine in FOWLR> Thank you for your time put into this question.  <You're welcome> Sincerely, Renee' <M. Maddox> 

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. I’m 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> 

Wet/Dry question 3/22/05 Okay, about a month ago I bought a 90 gallon tank from a guy who had it up and running for about 3 years. He has a wet/dry filter attached and protein skimmer. The wet/dry filter has the bio balls and I've been checking all my levels since moving it and they are all great except the nitrates! Sky high!!! Surprise, surprise!  <This is quite a classic situation!> Plus starting to get the brown algae and red algae problems. From your site, I've been reading that the bio balls are the problem. So, if I want to go the route that's less maintenance as far as water changes go...... how do I get rid of the bio balls and what do I do instead? Do you get rid of them slowly or yank them all out and then put whatever else in there?? I'm willing to do whatever, but am overwhelmed with all what I'm reading and need some personal direction. Any information would be absolutely wonderful!! Oh, by the way, its a fish only tank. Thanks so much! Kim  <You will need to replace the biological filtration somehow. My suggestion would be with live rock. After the live rock is cycled and added to the tank, you can begin removing the bioballs at a rate of about 20% per week until they are gone. This will give the live rock time to "pick up the slack". Maintaining alkalinity and calcium at normal levels will also help control the algae, especially in the presence of live rock. Good luck! AdamC.>

Wet/Dry Filter question follow up 3/30/05 Oh, one more question. How do I tell how much live rock I need? <The general rule is 1-2lb per gallon of tank volume, but I prefer to say about 1/3 of the volume. Better quality rock like Kaelini or Marshall Islands is more porous (so you need less) than Fiji or Caribbean.> Just what will fit in the wet/dry filter? And, my wet/dry has three compartments. Do they all get rock? Or, just where the bioballs go?? Sorry, and thanks!! <I would actually put the rock in the display rather than in the sump. It doesn't matter where in the system the rock is placed, it will function the same, so you might as well get the aesthetic benefit of having it in the tank. The wet/dry can be converted to an empty sump, refugium, etc. Best Regards! AdamC.>

Knocking Out Nitrates! Hi there WWM Crew. <Hey there! Scott F. here today!>  Hope you don't mind, but I have a question, despite reading so many of the articles concerning wet/dry filters. <That's what the site is all about! Ask away!> I have a 55 gallon tank, with an A-Miracle hang-on wet/dry trickle filter. I'm also using a Whisper dual cartridge filter with carbon. The tank has about 20 lbs of live rock, and the inhabitants (Red Coris Wrasse, Coral Beauty, Algae Blenny, Sebae Clown and a Yellow Tang, with a few snails and a Feather Duster, with some paintbrush macro-algae) all seem to be doing quite well. <Good to hear!> I see so many references to the wet/dry filters producing nitrates, but my nitrates are about 20 ppm and have been at that level for about 6 months. My local fish store tested the water for phosphates and told me nothing to worry about. Yet, I keep getting green algae blooms and I'm going crazy trying to clean the tank every week or so. <Well, wet/dry filters excel at removing ammonia and nitrite, but they do little to keep up with and reduce nitrate, the "end product" of biological filtration. Nitrates and phosphates are a big source of nuisance algae blooms. In a tank with established nutrient export systems (i.e. deep sand beds, etc.), you should achieve nearly undetectable levels of nitrate.> Lighting is a total of 260 watts (2 x 55 watt blue actinics, one 50/50 40 watt, and 2x 55 watt 10000k bulbs). Initially, I was keeping the lights on about 10 - 12 hours per day. For the past couple of months, I have been keeping them on no more than 6 -8 hours per day, and still, green algae all over. <Well, light in and of itself is not the cause of nuisance algae. Light and available nutrients are the contributors.> Would it help to clean the bio balls at this stage (the wet/dry has been up and running well over a year. <I'd consider ditching the bioballs all together, and just relying on a deep sand bed, live rock, chemical filtration media, (activated carbon/Poly Filter) aggressive protein skimming, quality source water, and frequent small water changes to do the job.> The built in skimmer rarely works. <A reliable, productive skimmer really helps. It is your first line of defense against accumulations of dissolved organics. Do consider upgrading to a skimmer that really does the job.> I use at least 2 filter pads at all times, and I either change one and rinse the other every week, or rinse both weekly. <Good practice.> Still green algae blooms. What if I remove the bio balls entirely, and replace them with a good amount of activated carbon? <I wouldn't use carbon "in place of" bioballs. Rather; I'd use it in addition to any other filtration media/method.> Would I be better off removing the wet/dry entirely and going with a canister filter and better skimmer? <Just a better skimmer!> Or can I simply help solve the problem by pre-treating new water when I do my weekly 10 - 15 % changes, by using a phosphate remover before adding the new water to the tank?  <These are definitely helpful practices, but should be used in conjunction with other techniques.> Thanks so much for your help. I'm pulling my hair out with this, and I really don't want to go bald (I'm running out of time). <Hang in there! Try some of the ideas that I outlined here. Do a little research here on the WWM site and you'll find a wealth of information on this topic! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Biological filtration I have a standard wet/dry sump on a 75-gallon FOWLR marine tank. I have my Wavemaster Pro set to run the main pump which allows a timed feeding cycle of 30-minutes. This being a great feature since most of my deposited food floats for the at least a couple of minutes as the fish and invertebrates slowly start to eat it, without the pump off my overflow quickly cleans up the food moving it to the mechanical filter very fast.  My question is, during the feeding cycle of 30-minutes the wet/dry filters biological media is covered totally underwater (as opposed to "being dripped on") since the sump pump is off and the water level decreases temporarily in the main tank. Is this hurting my bacteria colonies on the substrate in the wet/dry chamber by having it "oxygen deprived" for a short period of time twice a day? Appreciate your time in reading this, I truly hope its a unique question, I tried all the keywords I could find to make sure it was not answered yet in the wet/dry and bioballs sections.  <Phil my friend, you have no worries. James (Salty Dog)> 

Wet/Dry Filters/Cleaning I have recently purchased a 125 gallon reef tank and it came with a Aqua Clear Aquatics 200 wet/dry filter. My question is, do you clean the bio balls and sponge? If so, how often do I clean both? Also there are particles of brown stuff building up in the area where the pump pumps out the water, should I clean out the whole system?  <Robert, you do not clean the bio-balls as that is where the denitrifying bacteria will be growing. The pre-filter sponge should be cleaned weekly. The brown "stuff" is either diatoms or rust. If it looks like it is around the screws that fasten the impeller housing to the body, it is rust and the grade of stainless screws being used isn't up to par. Here is a link to wet/dry FAQ's that may answer any future questions you may have about wet/dries. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/wetdryfaqs.htm  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you  <You're welcome> 

Changing to a wet/dry filter I am switching from a hang on filter with a bio wheel to a wet/dry filter. How long should I leave the old filter in place until the new filter develops the bacteria needed to sustain the tank?  <Chris, just put the bio-wheel itself in your sump for a couple weeks. James (Salty Dog)><<I'd overlap the filters for a few weeks. RMF>>

Noisy Eheim Hi, I have a Eheim Pro 2227 wet dry filter, I just recently cleaned it and now when it fills up it makes a loud humming noise then is dead silent when it releases the water??? what could some of the problems be???  <Dana, go to www.eheim.com. I think you can find the info there, or contact them from their site. James (Salty Dog)> 

Wet/Dry Instructions I have a Tru vu wet/dry filter, it is a hanging filter (mighty max). If you could email me graphic instructions so I could get it to work. I bought a 75 gal. hex and it came with the filter but no graphic instructions. I am just starting to set up my first salt water tank, if you could help me. Thank You <Yvonne, we do not have graphic instructions for setting up wet/dry filters per se, but I would contact someone that sells the TruVu brand and ask them for some help.  James (Salty Dog)> Hang On Overflow Box When you use a hang-on type overflow box with a wet/dry sump filter, does that produce any noise problem? <There will be some>  I've read that the tanks that have the built-in overflow are noisy?  I've searched your site but can't find the answer. Please help! <I've had several tanks with built-in overflows and found none that were distracting to me, unless this tank is going into your bedroom, you'll be better off with the built-in overflow as they have fewer problems than the hang-ons.  James (Salty Dog)> Mitch Re: filtration on saltwater and plant tanks Thanks for the quick reply!<You're welcome> In regards to the Zoo Med Powersweeps- if they stop rotating won't they still serve their purpose or will I be better off replacing them with a couple more Maxi-Jets or something different? <They will still pump water but in short time they won't rotate.> Also wondering if it is possible to replace the media in the Eheim wet dry filter as it is filled in the Eheim pro with the addition of the pads and have it work like the pro ( according to the manual you can only use Ehfisubstrat for the wet/dry to function). Probably a stupid question- sorry <No stupid questions, just stupid answers. I don't know that I quite follow you.  You want to replace the Ehfisubstrat with something else?  The Eheim wet/dry will not function as a power filter as such although any media (carbon, etc) will still be useful in that regard, its just that you won't get constant water flow through it as I understand the Eheim wet/dries pulsate up and back.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks again, Karen

- Nitrates and Wet/Dry Filters - Hi, <Hi.> After many years of freshwater aquariums (and the birth of my three sons), I found myself bored and lackadaisical especially when it came to maintenance.  I finally decided it was time to either get rid of the aquarium or make a change.  I decided to convert to SW and did quite a bit of reading.  Lots of good info from The Conscientious Marine Aquarist--unfortunately, did not find WWM until after buying a wet/dry.  My passion for this hobby is back in full force.  Unfortunately, with the previously mentioned 3 small children, I don't always have as much time to read as much I would like and now I need to get some quick, specific answers, if possible.  I have a 55 gal. aquarium, ProClear Aquatics 75 Wet/Dry with built in skimmer and prefilter, 44lbs of live rock, 40 lbs live sand, 20 lbs crushed coral.  Two percula clowns, one yellow tang, one Royal Gramma, two turbo snails, and 2 hermit crabs.  I have been doing about a 10% water change every week and rinsing out the prefilter sponge and filter pad that sits on the trickle plate above the bioballs at the same time.  My ammonia and nitrites are at 0, but my nitrates are high--between 40-80 ppm.  I now understand that the wet/dry is part of the problem, but is there anything else that I need to be doing differently?  I would like to stay with mostly fish, but would like to add more snails, crabs and shrimp.  Most of my snails and crabs died awhile ago--along with a cleaner shrimp. :(  I assumed due to the high nitrates. <Certainly a possibility.> If I do not want to do a refugium sump, can I just pull the bioballs out? <Yes, but best to take out a handful every day or two rather than all at once.> Do I need to add more live rock either to the display tank or to the wet/dry or do I have enough? <I would add more live rock to the sump, and just make sure it stays submerged.> If I have enough LR in the tank already, do I just pull the bioballs and leave the trickle plate and filter pad in place?   Any other instructions? <Take your time... keep up the water changes.> Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for your help, Diana <Cheers, J -- >

Re: wet dry systems with more info Hello again, I am going to go into a little more detail on my system. (sorry)  I have a 55 gallon aquarium on a home built stand with my own style ballast hood.  The lights I have are a 48inch 50/50 and 10,000 K actinic with glass hood.  I have 40 pounds of crush coral as substrate and 150 watt heater.  Once the tank is up and running I will order between 45 and 60 pounds of Fiji live rock.  After the tank is cycled I wish to get (in order of must have to can do with out) 1.Antennata lion fish 2.Yellow tang 3.Black and white butterfly 4.Flame angel 5.Scooter Blenny also a must<Too many fish for a 55 for starters.  Some of these get quite large> Last night I spoke to a doctor who is partners with my father and has many successful reef and FO aquariums suggested to me that I should look at the Magnum 350 pro.  He has one and loves it.<The magnum pro is a good choice for a 55>  The catch is he runs that with a sump for add filtration.  That seems a bit overkill to me.<You can never have overkill in regards to filtration>  Two questions on this... If I went this route would I need a protein skimmer<a protein skimmer is not an absolute must, but very highly recommended> and what type is suggested <An AquaC Remora would be ideal for your tank> and is this a worth while system for what I want?  The wet dries the store is trying to sell me that I told you about comes with  skimmer bio balls a return pump and all for 185$ (hang on w/d).  The store says it is the best but all advice he tells me seems to contradict everything everybody else tells me.  He is the only store around that sells sumps or wet dries.  In your opinion please, what would be the best system based on this info, I am a 17 yr old high school kid with a very busy schedule.  I attend school,  I am a EMT Fire Fighter and an aide at my local hospital.  I have about the ability to build any thing due to my machining skills and I have a multi million dollar machine shop to my dispose due to school.  If it would be easier to build a sump system please send me the link or blue prints.  I can devote about 2 hours a day for this so please help me out I would greatly appreciate it.<I also suggest you go to the wetwebmedia forum and read the "Newbies" section daily.  So much of this will pertain to you>  Good luck.  James (Salty Dog) Thanks again, Brian P.S. If you would like to see pictures of the stand tank and hood let me now. I can also send pictures of the shop I work in if interested.

Wet/Dry of a Refugium? Blundell, When I went to purchase a 58-gallon aquarium, my LFS told me I would be better with a wet/dry system and that a refugium is mostly for a reef aquarium. << I know people say that, but I don't think so.  I really think a refugium can out perform a wet/dry any day. >> The waste load created by the fish and feeding would surpass the refugium. I was told the skimmer needed would be a downdraft skimmer. Are these valid reasons to go with a wet/dry? << The skimmer doesn't need to be a down draft, but a powerful skimmer is definitely a good idea. As for the refugium, I guess you could look around at other tanks and see what looks like it will work best for you.  Personally I see lots of people converting their wet/dry's into refugia. >> Thanks, Gary Gauthier <<  Blundell  >>

Converting a wet/dry into a refugium I need to get some fast advice on my current situation/problem.  I have a 75-US gal FOWLR (only 40 lbs of live rock, currently) and wanted to add a sump/refugium to the system.  My current system is a drilled tank with an overflow to a Tidepool wet/dry w/ BioWheel.  I was planning to overflow the wet/dry to a 10-gal sump w/ refugium and miracle mud (that's the biggest that will fit under the tank and it does have to go under, can't go over) and then use the existing pump that is in the wet/dry to get the water back up to the main tank just by simply moving the pump into the end chamber of the 10-gal sump.  Well, after looking at the diagrams of how my overflow box works that I purchased to bridge the wet/dry to the sump, I realized that the one that I bought won't work b/c it won't reach to the operating water line of the wet/dry.  So, how do I get water from my wet/dry to the sump tank?  Or can I convert the wet/dry open area into a refugium? << Yes, it is very common.  Many people remove the bioballs and just fill that area with live rock and macro algae.  Then add a light on top of it, and you are done. >> I would rather have the 10-gal sump b/c it has more volume of water than the wet/dry (which only has about 5 gal in the open area at operating level).  If I can't use the 10-gal sump, then do I need to put dividers into the wet/dry? << Most wet dry have dividers in them already, but if not, then yes you would want to do so to prevent sand and debris from getting into the pump. >>  I would think that if it was used open without any dividers, the miracle mudwould be stirred up too much.  Any help on this would be a tremendous help! << Well with live rock in there I wouldn't worry about the mud stirring up.  You can always use a drip plate, which I think most wet/dry's come with. >> <<  Blundell  >>

Wet Dry? Hi, your web site is great!  First I have a wet dry filter with Bio balls on a 75 gallon reef tank. My nitrates are around 30 and from reading some of your articles I guess I should take out the balls slowly. But what should I put in there, Live rock or nothing? <You have come to the correct conclusion... I would encourage you to remove the bio balls.  This space can be left empty or you could add live rock if you wish, just keep it all submerged.> If live rock should be in there should a light be on it all day or say 12 hours. I have about 70 pounds of live rock in the tank now. <You have plenty of rock in your display to support the tank.  If you do choose to add some to the sump, I would recommend 12-16 hrs of light on a schedule opposite that of your display.  Electricity is cheaper at night and lighting the what will now be a refugium opposite the main tank helps stabilize pH.> Two more questions: Do denitrator reducers work? I was thinking about getting the coil one but heard they plug up. <Removing the bio balls should solve your nitrate problem. Denitrators do work, but they are fussy to maintain.> Also how much should a protein skimmer produce in a day? Thank you much.  <Just the right amount!  Seriously though, it is hard to say.  It depends on the skimmer, the stocking level of the tank and other factors.  On my 92 gal tank, I have a Euro-Reef cs6-2 skimmer that produces about a pint of dark chunky skimmate and a thick build up in the neck every three or four days.  HTH.  Best regards.  AdamC>

Marine in China Dear MacL, <Hi again Dave, MacL here with you again tonight> Thanks for the reply. <You are welcome, I have been thinking about you since last we talked actually.> My main concern regarding your reply is that I can not get quantities of Live Rock in Shanghai. <I wondered about that. The good news is that any live rock will seed any reef safe non life rock and there are multiple places online that will teach you how to make reef safe rock>  Therefore what is the best alternative as far as filtration goes without this? <I think your wet/dry will work just fine if you use it knowing its limitations.  A wet/dry will get a build up on nitrates unless you keep it very very clean but it does provide you with good oxygenation in your tank so it does have an upside. Just remember that since it does build up nitrates you are going to have to be diligent in your ways to remove the nitrates. I really think you are well on your way to a lovely lovely system. I do know its interesting dealing with the cultural differences of countries. Please let me know how it goes and if you have any more questions don't hesitate to let me know. MacL> Best regards Dave

Wet Dry Conversion >>>Greetings, Jim here<<< First off.. great site!!! very informative.  I have 180G tank, wet/dry/just purchased the AquaC Ev240..yeah!!  approx 75lb LR, small fish bioload, Condy, polyps (not growing). I have read to remove bioballs (nitrate factory) and foam blocks. but here is my concern.  If I remove the bio-balls it's like Niagara falls in the room.  It's been mentioned to add sand & LR rubble to sump (how much?),<<<That's up to you, there is no minimum or maximum but enough to dampen the sound of the water at least<<<< wouldn't adding more live rock to main tank do the same? <<<not if you're trying to reduce noise in the sump>>>  why grow macro algae in sump if it can be grown in tank? (aesthetics?). <<<Pretty much, also some species are invasive and can take over a tank<<<  If I do put sand/LR in sump, lights on 24/7 or dark? <<<no lights needed unless you are growing macros<<< Should I remove drip plate and extend return with PVC w/T fitting down under sump water level so it doesn't crash down and stir up sand? If so, what about gas exchange now?  I can baffle the sump so sand doesn't return to pump returns/skimmer. my goal is zero nitrates-efficient <<<I would go with the baffle idea<<< filtration/skimming b/c I want to move to corals eventually. I have read pages upon pages but all these little things keep popping up? I already wish I knew then what I know now (i.e.. LFS setup).  I want to do everything right for perfect water/less maintenance...love the hobby. thanks for your help.. and this great site! >>>Best of luck, Jim<<< Converting a wet dry filter into a refugium I am in the process of planning out a 75 gallon tank for a reef set-up.  I had it set up at one point, but moved and never got to completing the stocking.  Here I am starting from the beginning again.  my question is as follows.  I have a 25 gallon wet-dry trickle filter system with bio-balls. The system is split into 2 partitions.  The overflow from the tank goes to the filter into a drip tray with pre-filter media.  Then drips into bio-ball chamber.  Then flows into 2nd partition to be pumped back into tank.  What I wanted to do was remove the bio balls.  Replace the bio balls with live bio-rock and make the first chamber into a mini refugium.  Does this make sense. << Yes, this is very common, and I encourage you to do it. >>  In doing this do I keep the drip tray to drip directly onto rock? << Either way. >> Do I keep the pre-filter media? << I would probably take it out, since I don't know what it is. >> I would keep the 2nd partition for the return piece to place the skimmer.  Any help is greatly appreciated. << Removing the drip tray helps because then you can put lights on your refugium for macro algae.  Good luck. >> Thank You <<  Blundell  >>

Wet Dry Filter Conversion (Bob's go) I am in the process of planning out a 75 gallon tank for a reef set-up.  I had it set up at one point, but moved and never got to completing the stocking.  Here I am starting from the beginning again.  my question is as follows.  I have a 25 gallon wet-dry trickle filter system with bio-balls. The system is split into 2 partitions.  The overflow from the tank goes to the filter into a drip tray with pre-filter media.  Then drips into bio-ball chamber.  Then flows into 2nd partition to be pumped back into tank.  What I wanted to do was remove the bio balls.  Replace the bio balls with live bio-rock and make the first chamber into a mini refugium.  Does this make sense.  In doing this do I keep the drip tray to drip directly onto rock? <Keep the rock submersed, that is, underwater. Using the drip tray is fine otherwise> Do I keep the pre-filter media? <No, give it the heave-ho> I would keep the 2nd partition for the return piece to place the skimmer.  Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank You <Glad to proffer my opinion. Bob Fenner>

- Wet/Dry Conversion - I am in the process of planning out a 75 gallon tank for a reef set-up.  I had it set up at one point, but moved and never got to completing the stocking.  Here I am starting from the beginning again.  my question is as follows.  I have a 25 gallon wet-dry trickle filter system with bio-balls. The system is split into 2 partitions.  The overflow from the tank goes to the filter into a drip tray with pre-filter media.  Then drips into bio-ball chamber.  Then flows into 2nd partition to be pumped back into tank.  What I wanted to do was remove the bio balls.  Replace the bio balls with live bio-rock and make the first chamber into a mini refugium.  Does this make sense. <Sure.> In doing this do I keep the drip tray to drip directly onto rock? <Probably, but you want to make certain the rock is completely submerged, otherwise you'll still have a wet/dry filter with a different type of media.> Do I keep the pre-filter media? <Would be better for the refugium if it were to get raw water, so no to the prefilter.> I would keep the 2nd partition for the return piece to place the skimmer.  Any help is greatly appreciated. <Consider also the possibility of just using another, smaller tank and just toss the entire wet/dry... their design is such that they don't always convert well to other uses.> Thank You <Cheers, J -- >

Converting a wet/dry into a refugium Hello, Excuse me if the following seems to be as though I don't know what I am talking about.  I currently have a 55 gallon fish only tank that contains 2 filters that hang off the back.  I also have a 75 gallon tank.  This is where my questions are coming in. This tank is a standard 75 gallon with 1 corner built in overflow box.  Under the tank  (in the stand) is a filter. This is where I may sound as though I don't know what I am talking about. The overflow tank uses gravity to bring water into this clear rectangular filter.  It drains into the first part of the filter, into a drip tray. This then drips onto bio balls.  This then flows into another portion of the tank which fills with the water, and is then pumped into the tank.  My question are as follows.  What type of system is this. << It is a sump, and this type is a wet/dry filter, getting its name from the bioballs which are wet and dry. >> Is this a refugium, is it a sump?  Is this a practical set up? << I don't really think so.  I think they are quite outdated.  I would take out the bioballs and fill that area with sand and algae, making it into a refugium. >> If I am to connect a skimmer where would it go? << Probably right where the water is coming into this filter, before the sand and algae, and before it gets pumped back up. >> I am looking into making this a reef tank and would like to know what I need to get this started.  Thank you in advance for your help. << There is a ton of info on refugiums in the Invert book by Calfo and Fenner.  Also, try searching for refugiums online and I'm sure you can see lots of pics of people doing this exact thing. Good luck! >> Best Regards, Jason <<  Blundell   >>

- Which Pump - Hi, I am running a Del Ray 125 wet dry filter. My tank is a 100 gal, Fish only. My question is what size return Pump do I use. Will a Rio 3100 work or a 2500. <I'd go for the larger pump, perhaps larger even than a Rio 3100.> The flow will also go through a 12X Turbo Twist UV filter. <Would suggest that you loop this through it's own pump... a flow rate of even the 2500 at full bore won't kill much of anything in this unit.> I don't know what will work the best. Please Help. <Cheers, J -- > Wet/Dry Media Question Hello crew, <Hello! Ryan with you today> I have been looking on your site about wet and dry filters, a lot are saying not to have the bio balls .<Depends on the method you would like to use for filtration.  I prefer to skip the bio-media, and go with a complete filtration, i.e. Live rock.  If you'd like to use wet/dry media, simply keep a close eye on nitrates, and be sure to do regular water changes.> I have attached my tank set up with this e-mail, could you please have a look and let me know what you think of what I am doing with my set up so far. <Looks good, but please put this in the body of the email! This is how your question is relevant to others.> I did not include the lighting I use (2 x 4ft fluors 1 super day & 1 actinic blue ) at this point. Also can I place a air stone in the sump for water movement. <Sure, but a skimmer would work much better at adding oxygen to the water.  Have a nice day, Ryan>

Tank Filtration/Wet Dry Dear Mr. Blundell, << Oh please, Adam or Blundell or Fish Nerd, but not Mr. Blundell >> Thanks for your quick reply.  What we are really asking is, do we really need the wet/dry with the Perfecto overflow/return assemblies? << No you don't. >> -  This system doesn't filtrate or circulate the water well at all without major supplementation << I like keeping the wet dry system running, even if it doesn't have bioballs, just for water circulation reasons.  But really, you don't need it. >> -  The wet/dry make a lots noise and has no prefilter for a protein skimmer -  The Perfecto return assemblies blow the sand off the bottom of the tank no matter   how they are adjusted -   The Perfecto overflow assemblies seem to skim just the top water leaving most of the debris behind. << This is normal.  I think a lot of the time we skim the surface and the rest of the tank water doesn't move.  Therefore, I do like powerheads in the tank, and sometimes using a turkey baster to spray off the rocks.  On the other hand, lots of people like their detritus to sit on the bottom and not blow around in the tank. >> We found that with the addition of the Eheim -   Filtration improved greatly -   Water circulated more evenly without sand being kick up and creating drifts. -   The water is not crystal clear, it always has something suspended in it (sand, bubbles) Is this normal with a sandbed?  We usually only see fish only systems with gravel and they are always crystal clear. << Well I like the increased filtration and circulation.  That is great.  As for particles in the water... well it depends on what they are.  I love seeing rotifers all over in the water.  But if it is small sand particles, then I think the water flow needs to be spread out with a spray bar, so you don't get such a large flow of water in one area. >> Should we eliminate the original filtration/circulation system (eliminate the wet/dry,  bypass the Perfecto overflows and return assemblies and add another Eheim)? << Well tough question.  You'd have to pay the money for another Eheim.  I do like any type of sump areas, I think they really allow for excess tinkering (not that we need more reasons to tinker with our tanks or anything). >> Are canisters advisable with large marine systems (will we lose the oxygen we create with the wet/dry)? or should we just stick with what we have ( wet/dry and Eheim) and add another Eheim. << Canister filters help, but live rock and live sand are really the keys to marine tanks.  They filter far greater than anything else. I wouldn't get rid of what you have, just maybe add something else.  You could add another Eheim but for the same cost, I would consider adding more live rock. >> Regardless of what we do to the original filtration system, we will definitely add more live rock and a protein skimmer. << Fantastic, just what I was saying. >> Where we add the protein skimmer depends on what we do to the system.  We know this is not an exact science.   Each system has it's own personality, but we would rather make any necessary major adjustments to our system now rather than rely on the patches we've made thus far and regret it later.  We would like to add more fish in the future (like angels and triggers) but are afraid the filtration is still not up to par. (The nitrates are still at 80 since the beginning.) << That is high.  A deep sand bed and live rock will help there. >> We welcome your input, we hope our intentions are clearer than our previous email << I hope this helps answer your questions, but feel free to write back. >> Thanks Sincerely, Nancy and Rocco <<  Blundell  >>

Moving Filter Media Hello WWM Crew, <Hi! Ryan Bowen with you>     I have a problem I'm hoping you can help. <Do my best> I have a large wet/dry on a 180 gallon tank.  The fish are 1 yellow tang, 1 Foxface, 1 (5") lionfish, 1 (10") puffer, 1 (10") panther grouper.  The problem is that one of the lower tray that holds the bio-balls has collapsed.  Little by little bio-balls are escaping and getting sucked into the pump so I have to remove them. <Yikes.  Replace them with live rock?>     My question is how do I install a new wet/dry?  There is no room underneath the stand for two large wet/dries. I tried just adding one on and eventually overtime remove the bio-balls of the old filter so the bacteria would have to colonize on the new filter, but that didn't work out...  One filter in low on water the other is high, make some adjustments and vice versa I sure you know what I mean. <I'd remove all the bio-balls from the first filter, place them in a clean bucket, then hook up the new filter.  Use the bio-balls from your old filter in place of the new bio-balls, and the bacteria should be able to keep up.  But please, get some water ready for a water change if need be.  Good luck! http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/biological/biofiltr.htm> What should I do? Thank a lot, Melissa

-Eheim Problems - Hello, I just recently bought a Eheim 2227 dry/wet filter thing. <Ok... am only slightly familiar with the model, but I'll do my best.> After installing it all and making sure nothing is wrong with the tubes i started filling the filter. Then turned it on. Now a constant noise is heard from the breathing tube. Like a vacuum cleaner. <Hmm... breathing tube? Is this the intake tube? If so, perhaps there is either a crack in the tube or the intake it too close to the surface of the water so that the unit is sucking in air.> Also the filter itself makes a little noise like a little waterfall. <This I would expect due to the wet/dry design.> I switched the filter on and off and on and off and tried a lot of things reducing the noise. <I'd just go through everything one more time - make sure the intake is not taking in air somewhere.> Is this normal? <Not sure.> My other filter a Eheim classic makes almost no noise at all. <True, these are almost silent.> Please help here........ Richard <Cheers, J -- >

- Eheim Problems, Follow-up - ????? Guess you don't know what filter i am talking about? <I know exactly which filter you are talking about, but perhaps you've missed my caveat... I've never used it, but I'm more than willing to try and help. Please explain - breathing tube. Cheers, J -- >

Bioball Blunder? (Nitrogen Cycle Disruption) Guys, <Scott F. your guy today!> Recently , I went away for a long weekend. When I returned, I noticed my wet/dry was severely clogged so it wasn't working very well. Just enough to barely keep a drip coming trough my filter. After checking the bio balls, I decided they were moist enough, so I removed the impedance and let the tank run full tilt ...I figured I would lose some of my biologics, but being that I have so many back ups (see my specs below) I wouldn't have a problem. A week later, I noticed both my Powder Blue Tang (had for 2 yrs) and my Yellow Tang (had for 7 months) dead with my clown fish grasping for air. <Yikes!> I quickly removed them into my hospital tank and noticed them perk right up... I immediately assumed lack of oxygen!! Or a high level of nitrates!! <Honestly, I've never heard of nitRATES causing this type of reaction. NITRITE, maybe-or ammonia...Did you check ammonia and nitrite?> After testing my fears, we somewhat confirmed with nitrates at approx 18-20. <Not what you'd want in a reef tank, but certainly not "toxic" enough to create the reaction that you're seeing. Bioball-filtered systems often run at nitrate levels between 10-20ppm...> After a closer look with stomach in its proper place, I noticed that one of my anemones is missing (had 2 pink tips located on opposite ends. Now I have one (They haven't moved since I got them) which I have had for a few months! Knowing what they are capable of, I began my quest to immediately find it... I had no luck. It is completely gone, vanished!! Could this raise my levels so drastically? <A death of an animal such as this, if left undetected, could create significant ammonia/nitrite levels in some systems> The other anemone looks fine, and I have since run carbon on the tank for two days and added my fish back and they seem to be fine. My nitrates are back to normal after adding "Biozyme"... Should I be looking for something else? <Well, an unusual "die off" event like this usually has its root cause in some sort of sudden environmental shift. Long established fish and animals generally don't expire so quickly unless something was up. Tangs are notoriously touchy when it comes to rapid changes in environmental conditions. Your hunch about oxygen was an interesting one, although not likely the cause. I would have loved to have seen you test for ammonia and nitrite. Sounds like your biological filtration was severely interrupted, or that some influx of metabolic toxins was released into the system as a result of the disturbance. You want to also confirm that your system was operating at peak efficiency-not "on the brink of disaster"- waiting for some small event to tip it over the edge. If it were me, I'd make an extra effort to perform some small, frequent water changes for a while, and I'd work that skimmer until you produce at least a couple of cups of dark, yucky smelling skimmate a week. Work the nutrient export angle aggressively. In fact, with significant amounts of live rock and sand in your system, you may want to ditch the bioballs altogether at some point, as they will continue to contribute nitrate to the system. gain, nitrate in and of itself is not "bad"- it's just a good yardstick for overall water quality.> I have 1yr old 120 gallon (seeded from a 5 yr old 55) that has 4*96 watt CFL, two powerheads 802 in the tank for circulation, 24 inch CPR refugium (10months old including LR, mangroves, other algae plants , 4 Peppermint Shrimp), homemade wet/dry (5 gallon bucket full of bio balls - 40 gallon sump, 1000 gallon an hour return including a Berlin classic protein skimmer), at least 150 pounds LR , 5 pd.s of GARF grunge on top of a one inch crushed coral bed 3/4 of the tank 1/4 live sand. other fish , 2 Percula Clowns, 1 Sixline wrasse, 4 cleaner shrimp, approx 50 hermit crabs, 50 assorted snails, 2 Bar Gobies, 1 Algae Blenny, 1 Damsel , 3 Spotted Cardinals, 2 sand sifting star fish, 1 Brittle starfish , 1 Decorator Crab ... I think that about does it. Unless some freeloaders came with the rock... Timothy M. Blind <Well, Timothy, your system sounds pretty well managed and not overstocked. I think that this was some kind of one-time event linked to the disruption of the biological filtration. It seems too coincidental. However, it's important to regularly monitor your environmental parameters to be able to spot trends that could hint at some problem down the line. Stay on top of those good husbandry techniques that you've developed, keep changing the water, and don't be discouraged. Hang in there! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Bioball Blunder? (Pt. 2) Scott, <Hi there!> As a worried parent of-course I checked all my levels!! But I didn't have anything else that was out of whack so to speak. I do understand that tangs are less hardy to any changes in the environment but the fact that my rock solid clown fish were grasping for air is what really scared me....I still do not feel comfortable with the tank, maybe it comes from having so much time invested to a stable environment. <True...These kinds of events are highly unusual and very unnerving!> The only thing I forgot to add in my prior email was that I use RO water rebuilt with Osmo prep marine. <Sounds fine> calcium approx 450 ammonia approx .2 <Whoaahh- Ammonia should be undetectable. Are you sure? You should have no visible ammonia reading. Do recheck- or have this correlated by someone with a different test kit.> nitrite as close to zero as it has ever been.... <As in "zero"...or something more than zero? Again- not what you want to see> I will be continuing to do water changes but i am still so confused , like you said, I should be able to run without the bioballs considering the low bioload in the tank and the fully functional refugium. <Exactly...Which is why I think that your ammonia and nitrite levels may be an artifact of expired reagents or human error (i.e.; a misread of the results). You sound like a good aquarist; really on the ball with things, and if you've had continuous low-level ammonia and nitrite, something is really wrong> I guess I will chalk this up to even in perfect systems we can not duplicate the natural environment <Not to the point of it being indistinguishable from nature!> and we can't watch the tank all day long.... <Yep- I wish we all could!> On a separate issue, I was reading an article on star fish and it was stating that they can very methodically remove the "Live Part " of your substrate is this true? <Some starfish do eat the infauna that reside in sandbeds. Yep.> If so , can you suggest something that would burrow into the substrate without removing all of the beneficial organisms. < Yep! A small wooden dowel, strategically placed in by you to break up any solidified sections of your sand bed! Quite honestly, I don't really see the need for sand sifting stars and cucumbers in a well maintained system. This is not to say that including them is wrong...I just don't believe it is essential for success, myself. Many of the smaller worms and other creatures that reside in the sand bed will "aerate" the sand bed in a manner analogous to their terrestrial counterparts. I don't like disturbing any more than the top half inch of sand. That's my personal take on this issue!> Thanks again for your time, Tim <My pleasure, Tim! Good luck the rest of the way! Regards, Scott F> Timothy M. Blind

Live Rock vs. Bio Balls in wet/dry filter - The full Grok Dear Bob & Crew, <Scott F. your Crew member tonight!> I'm hoping that you'd be able to shed some light on the highly debated issue of what filter material works best in a wet/dry filter. My system is 175 gallons with about 2" - 3" of fine grain (sugar-sized) aragonite sand, some live rock, but it's mostly a fish tank. I use a sump with a twin pump Euro-Reef skimmer (with ozone). Tank turns over about 9X per hour. Live Rock - The live rock proponents say to ditch bio balls and fill your wet/dry chamber with live rock fragments because bio balls create nitrate. I'm thinking, well duh, of course bio balls create nitrate ? as the natural result of the biological filtration process. They say that the bacteria growing inside the rock consumes nitrate. Does this only happen when the rock is submerged, or will this also be true in the oxygen rich air/water exchange area of the wet dry? If only when submerged, would it be beneficial to ONLY pack the submerged portion of the wet dry with rock? <Personally, I am of the opinion that denitrification will generally take place at a more significant level in rock that is submerged. For this reason, I'd use live rock as a filter adjunct in either a submerged area of my sump, or just in the display itself. I have always been a big fan of ditching all media in a "trickle filter", and just letting the live rock and sand in the display or an attached refugium do the work. Then, the sump is simply the "nerve center" of your water processing system, functioning as a place for chemical filtration media, the skimmer, etc.> Bio Balls - The bio ball proponents site the ball's superior surface area ? thereby it's greater capacity for supporting bacteria ? makes it superior. That the only reason balls create more nitrate (if in fact they do) is because of its superior ability to process ammonia and nitrite. <Essentially- they are so efficient at fostering bacteria that process ammonia and nitrite that the bacteria which break down nitrate simply cannot multiply fast enough to keep up> Further, at least monthly water changes need to be performed anyway to replenish nutrients, so nitrate shouldn?t really be an issue if you keep up with your water changes. <Nitrate can certainly be managed with frequent small water changes, use of aggressive protein skimming, chemical filtration media, etc., but natural denitrification processes are your best friend, IMO. That's one of the reasons why deep sand beds are a very popular method to help accomplish this> What I'd like to know is: Which is more efficient at converting wastes, balls or rocks? <Both are efficient, but live rock has an advantage, IMO, in that it is more flexible in the ways that you can utilize it...> Will using LR in the sump lower nitrates (lower or no nitrates being preferable all things being equal)? <It can assist in lowering nitrates..> Any other benefits of using natural filtration media like LR (does is help buffer water for instance)? Which would you guys use and why? Is the benefit worth the conversion from balls to rock frags? <As above, I'd be more open to the idea of going without media, and just using live rock in the display, along with a good bed of live sand...Talk about easy...And very natural!> As always, I much appreciate your thoughts and advice! J.D. Hill <Hope that my thoughts are of interest to you, and that they inspire you to research this topic more thoroughly. Good luck! Regards, Scott F> 

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>

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

- DIY Wet/Dry - Hello Crew! I just recently found your site and have been having a great time surfing through it.  I am having trouble finding an answer to my questions though. I am a BIG advocate to DIY and I am planning to build my own acrylic aquarium, it will be 6' X 2' X 2' or 2.5' high.  Which comes to 180 to 220 gallons.  Building the tank itself isn't the problem though, since I have worked with acrylic before, just not in building aquariums. I want to also build my own wet/dry system and that is where I have the questions. I don't have any place for a sump, since I also built the stand myself (I can't seem to stop building [smile] ) out of oak and I made so my 75 gallon sits below.  I'm thinking of making a built in system, perhaps like the commercial versions?  I'm considering actually hanging it on the outside of the tank to save room, since I am also going to build a custom background out of foam, epoxy, and sand (I did this in a 175 I had to sell when I moved). How much bio-media do I actually need and are some systems better than others? <No preset amount - perhaps as much as you can fit - there is no ideal design for a wet/dry that I am aware of.> For example, would I be better off with a series of bio-wheels (I've got an idea how to make these as well, hah, hah) instead of bio-balls? <Probably six of one, half a dozen of the other - no clear advantage of one over the other.> If so, how much would be needed? <As much as possible.> I have several ideas on HOW to do it, I just don't know how MUCH I will need! <Go nuts.> Obviously you need some details.  It will be freshwater system with Cichlids, mostly Africans. <Wet/dry may not be your best option then - wet/dry filters are very, very efficient at producing nitrates... potentially more than will allow your fish to stay healthy. You might want to consider other filtration options.> I also already happen to have a Rio 2500 sub pump, which I hope will be big enough, as well as several Penguin 1100 powerheads as well.  I am trying to figure out the most efficient and easy to maintain system as possible. <Might be efficient, but perhaps not easy - I see a lot of water changes in your future.> That is why I wish to utilize a trickle system. <Consider perhaps something where the bio-media that you choose is submerged 100% of the time, skip the wet/dry action.> Any help would be GREATLY appreciated, thank you, <Well... if you figuratively pay yourself for your time, you may find you could have just bought all the right pieces off the shelf... am always alarmed by folks who want to build their own tanks - do not skimp on materials or figure that one thickness less than what is recommended will do. More than all that - good luck.> Jim <Cheers, J -- >

- Wet/Dry Clarification - J- Thank you for your quick response to my questions, but I am confused with some of your suggestions.  I hope you don't mind another battery of questions. {smile} Why would a wet/dry system INCREASE the need for water changes?  I know that biological filtration produces nitrates, but they are better for the fish than the nitrites. <Uhh, not really... nitrates are not toxic as nitrite and ammonia, but their accumulation to high levels will present as much a problem as anything else.> By the way, something I didn't include in my earlier email was that I will also be using mechanical filtration prior to the bio media, with carbon after the bio.  Sorry, I just left that as a given. <Makes no difference with this part of the discussion... wet/dry filters produce nitrates in bulk - mechanical filtration, carbon will not address this issue.> And why would a totally submerged bio system be better than a wet/dry? <Because the exposure to oxygen in the air is what makes the wet/dry filter so efficient at producing nitrates. Submerging the bioballs would counteract the dry part of the wet/dry filter but still provide a medium for the de-nitrifying bacteria to live on.> Or are you talking about a De-nitrification Filter? <No.> I've only recently heard of these and only in reference to saltwater systems.  Do they work in Freshwater? <Have no experience with this... couldn't tell you.> And I understand that the more bio filtration the better, but I'm trying to get an idea of "the norm" so to speak. That way I won't be making it more complicated than necessary.  I'm just trying to get a ball park of the low end needed.  I mean, is it a cubic foot of bio-balls, or 5? <I am aware of no formula for calculating such things.> I'm simply limited on space by attaching it to the back of the tank. <All the more reason to consider live rock.> One reason I assumed bio-wheels were more efficient than bio-balls was how much smaller the wheeled versions tended to be for the same size tank. <Do believe that's what they want you to think, but not certain this is so...> For example, there is the "Tidepool" wet/dry system.  It simply has one large wheel, as compared to a cubic foot or more of bio-balls. <Perhaps, but I'd be willing to bet the overall surface area is about the same.> If the wheels are that much more efficient, it would make sense to go with the wheels, especially given my space limits. <Uhh... it's still a wet/dry and in my opinion something to be avoided.> I appreciate your concerns on DIY, but I enjoy the challenge and it's a labor of love.  And I want it to fit the stand I spent so much time designing and building.  I liked the Prairie Style design so much, I'm making matching end tables and TV stands. (I guess it's the designer in me). Besides, I'm limited on how much I can spend and the $ saved means there's that much more available for buying more fish anyway! Hah ha <Well... do figure out what your time is worth... what you make at your day job... once you add this time up, you may find that the price of outright purchase is more worthwhile, warranted, and with proven design.> Thank you AGAIN for any help you can give.  Have a great day. Jim <Cheers, J -- >

- Tide Pool Filter - Hi' my name is Ryan I just bought a tide pool bio-wheel used and I need instructions on hooking it up right. Can't seem to get a suction on the back hanger, without having air bubble in the tube running to both things. <I'm not sure I follow exactly... "the tube running to both things" - what does that mean? It seems to me that you might not have the correct means for getting water out of your tank and into this filter. You should be using an overflow box if you aren't already - trying to run with filter with a direct siphon will be a source of great trouble.> Please help if able to do so.              Thanks Ryan <Cheers, J -- > Hair algae from wet/dry 2/5/04  Hello,  I have a 55 gal reef tank that has been set up for about 14 months. I have a wet/dry with one layer of bio-balls and some nylon mesh below about four inches of crushed coral as a medium. I have a Turboflotor skimmer and currently have mesh bags of carbon, Phosban and Purigen as chemical filtration. Additional mechanical filtration comes from my pre-filter and filter pad on the drip plate. I have about 80 lbs of live rock and 50 lbs of live sand. There is a striped cardinal fish and a royal Gramma. I also have two banded coral shrimp, two lettuce Nudibranchs, a few Mithrax, blue leg and scarlet hermits, misc. snails and two Caribbean starfish. There are two ivory corals, two bubbles, a Galaxea, a pagoda, a cup, a pipe organ, a gorgonian, a long tentacle plate, some zoanthid polyps, pulsing xenia, three flower anemones, and two yellow tree sponges. The problem is that I have had a hair algae infestation for about the last 6 months. I do water changes of about 10-15 gallons 3 to 4 times a month. I recently removed each individual rock and scrubbed the algae off. I knew this to be a temporary fix, but figured if I stayed on top of the water changes that I would keep nutrient levels low enough that it wouldn't get the upper hand again. It is coming back thick as ever and I don't know what to do next. Water parameters are as follows: Ammonia <0.01 mg/l, Nitrate 1<5 mg/l, Nitrite 0.02<0.05 mg/l, PH 8.2, Alkalinity 9 dKH, sp. grav. 1.024, and temp 80. I am beginning to think that the crushed coral is building up nitrogen that the algae is binding so it is hardly detectable. I would think that the Phosban is removing any phosphates.  <I agree with your assessment that the algae is taking up the nutrients as fast as they are introduced. See comments below about your filtration set up.>  My question is: Do you think that my filter medium is the primary cause of the problem, and if so what should I do to fix it?  <I do think it is a major contributing factor. The highly aerobic nature of a wet dry favors the accumulation of nitrate, and unless you maintain them meticulously, filter pads accumulate detritus. Detritus in filter pads rots instead of being re-processed.>  I have a refugium in my garage that I have considered adding to the system. Do you think that my current filtration should be removed altogether and replaced with the refugium?  <I would definitely remove your current mechanical filtration/wet-dry set up. They are not necessary with the amount of live rock you have and are certainly contributing to your problem. When removing the wet/dry, remove each component (filter pads, bio balls, gravel) one at a time, about a week apart so that the bacteria in the live rock can increase to handle the load. While doing this, please monitor water quality and continue water changes. I am a fan of refugia, and it would probably be beneficial.>  One last note, my Turboflotor doesn't seem to pull all that much gunk out. It does good after I clean it which is about once a month. Do I have to step up the maintenance on the skimmer?  <If it works best after cleaning, you may want to do so more often. Also be sure that the air inlet tube is kept free of salt build up (letting it suck up some hot fresh water occasionally helps a lot). If working properly, a Turboflotor should be a very appropriate skimmer for a 55.>  Thank you very much for your time and any input. Sincerely, Quinn Whitten <Always a great pleasure! Adam>

Re: Tap Water, high nitrates is this my wet-dry filter? 1/26/04 Thanks very much for the advice,  my skimmer (with some adjustment)  is  turning out a very nice dark green yuck.  As to the live rock, I am going to buy on line from one of the places recommended from this site.  I live outside of Buffalo, NY, <I have visited two local stores in the Tonowandas.  I am very much in favor of supporting locals and one of these guys is probably equally capable of supplying your needs.  Do try negotiating with them to buy entire unopened boxes of rock, most store will offer a significant discount for this.> the water here is very, very hard.  I use a Type I DI water (reagent grade) and RO water from the LFS, and tap water.  I did 2 very large water changes, which did indeed drop the Nitrate level, still not as low as I want <Unless your water contains other objectionables, you may want to forgo RO or DI in favor of free Ca and Alk supplementation from your tap water.  If you feel that purification is important, RO may be better since you will exhaust DI cartridges very quickly.> .... so on my wish list is the live rock, which I should be getting very soon. <Be sure to cure VERY thoroughly before placing in an existing system to prevent repeat cycling.> As to the Nori seaweed, yes my domestic cat LOVES it, she comes as soon as she  hears me open the bag.  I have another question in my learning saga.  What is  a fresh water dip???  I see it mentioned all the time, I am guessing that  this is indeed fresh water (without salt), I am guessing that the temp. would  have to be on par with my tank, but what else??? <Weird cat.  Good question.  See here for lots of info on dips and other disease treatments: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm > I teach students part time...I teach them the instruments that we use at a hospital, this would be chemistry analyzers, hematology etc....I have found that my fingers and brain do things so automatically that when I have to "explain" things to my students I find that I must now also "think" what I am doing.  The very, very basic principles  which are now longer basic to the user who has been doing these things for over 20 years, and darn it, it is HARD. <Small world!  I work in open heart surgery. Running blood gasses, etc. all the time.  I definitely understand what you mean about becoming so comfortable with a topic and discussing it with others who are too that you forget that not everyone has the same comfort level.  Thanks for bringing that to the front of my mind for the purposes of answering these crew questions!> So to a very new marine non-expert, what exactly is a fresh water dip, in what kind of container, with how much, or  little water, heated, etc.? <Much too much to cover here, and it is presented better in the link above than I could ever hope to do.  Please don't be intimidated, though.  A proper FW dip is easy and quite beneficial for certain maladies.> I ask, because my new surprise is the possibility of  ick for my maroon clownfish.  Which I never quarantined, which I now have a QT tank, he had a very large disagreement with my other larger clown over the  anemone, (which is now gone as it drifted into my uptake on my power filter.....) he lost with some damage to his side fin.  Several weeks later, his fins  are all becoming ragged and I see, I think small white spots around his head. <Keeping anemones should be reserved for more experienced aquarists.  They have dismal survival rates, and as you learned must be protected from pumps, filters, heaters, etc.  I will also assume you have learned your lesson concerning quarantine.  Clowns can be quite aggressive.  It is best to introduce them at the same time and to have a significant size mis-match so one will immediately submit to the other.  Your clown probably has fin rot and possibly Brooklynella.  Ich is possible too.  You will find lots of info in the FAQ's.  Good ID of the disease is critical to successful treatment.> Once the anemone was gone the clowns became more aggressive.  I have a picture on my cam, that I am taking to my LFS (not too local as it is a 45 minute drive).  I am setting up my QT tank now...  I see lots of answers to my questions over the QT but can you tell me how to go about doing the fresh water dip?  I also bought today SeaChem Cupramine, not treating anything until I am sure what I have, nor did this fish store have a kit for testing the Cu+.  Sorry for the additional questions, have been online for many hours last night and tonight trying to find out some of these questions. <Do ID the disease before applying copper.  I consider copper to be a last resort medication and it can be particularly hard on some clowns.  In addition to any other treatment, I strongly favor hyposalinity in quarantine.  Over a period of several days, lower the salinity to 1.012-1.014 and hold for two-three weeks.  This can be done in addition to any medication and/or freshwater dip.> THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all the help and such a great site!  Without this site, I would have made  so many more mistakes then the ones I have already made.<Glad you have found WWM to be of benefit!  Please do let us know if we can be of any more help!  Adam>

Wet/dries for 300g+ commercial installation 1/24/04 I work in the aquarium svc business, at this point mostly with 4' & 6' glass fish-only aquariums using wet/dries, and decorated with coral skeletons/shells  & artificial decorations.  We generally make our own wet/dries from 20 & 29  gallon aquariums using  PVC, eggcrate & bio-balls.  We have had good success using one Mag 5 or similar pump per standard overflow (All-Glass "Reef Ready" tanks) and with a sump capacity that is about 20% of the size of the tank (so that  evaporation doesn't become much of an issue). <All sounds quite appropriate.> We're preparing to handle sales and maintenance of 300-600 gallon acrylic  systems, and I'd like your input on a couple of things: a) Should we still stick with 20% size wet/dries? It appears that our competition is using smaller ones (re: less expensive), but we haven't maintained any  of the systems they installed so we're not sure how well this works. <I would consider 20% a minimum.  My greatest concern would be that the sump can handle the volume of water that will flow into it if a pump stops.  As a general rule, I suggest the largest sump that is practical.> b) Can you recommend a source of inexpensive rigid-sided rectangular tanks (made from plastic?) that we might use instead of glass aquariums to construct the wet/dries?  If we stay with our current wet/dry design and just enlarge it,  in most installations we will probably be looking to make wet/dries with  dimensions similar to 75 & 125 gallon aquariums.  (Anticipating that in some installations the wet/dries will still need to fit under the tank in a stand.) <Several types of water holding vessels come to mind, including fiberglass, acrylic aquariums, polyethylene tanks (often used in the back of trucks).  An internet search using key words like "water tank" combined with poly, polyethylene, fiberglass, etc., should yield a good starting point of hits.> c) Any input you can provide concerning the various acrylic tank makers would be helpful. <I can't really be of much help here in terms of specifics.  The "big boys" of the industry (Tenecor, Sea-Clear, etc.) haven't gotten there by chance.  Just stick with well known companies.  FWIW, your acrylic tank supplier is a great place to check with for sumps.  Adam> - Setting Up a Wet/Dry - Hi, I hope that you can help. I just purchased a new aquarium with the holes drilled in the bottom and it came with an Aqua Clear Aquatics Wet Dry pro 200 filter. The directions are horrible. I have no clue how to set it up. Can you point me somewhere to help with the setup headache? <Hmm... trouble. Aquanetics is no longer in business...  and they're probably the folks who wrote those instructions. Other than how the filter unit itself if assembled, the plumbing should be fairly simple - the overflow in the tank should have a bulkhead fitting, and to this you will attach PVC pipe of appropriate size and plumb this from the tank to the input side of the wet/dry. From the wet/dry you'll need to, with the aid of a pump get the water back up to the tank. Again, some PVC plumbing work and you should be done. Hard to say more specifically as I'm not familiar with this unit. Do inquire at the store where you bought this stuff... they should be able to provide some help.> Thanks!  Van <Cheers, J -- >

- Setting Up a Wet/Dry, Follow-up - Hi J <Hi.> Thanks for your reply! <My pleasure.> I really appreciate it. <I'm glad I can help.> The store wasn't much help, but I got it figured out. The skimmer is what I was having trouble with setting up... it's built into the filter. I do have another question that you might be able to answer... I rinsed everything really well before putting it in the tank and I got some cloudiness, which I somewhat expected. I added the salt on Tuesday night and it's still a little cloudy. I did I do something wrong? <Hard to say.> I thought that the filter would have cleared it up by now. Is there something I can do to correct the problem? <Perhaps this is either air coming into the system somehow or dust from your gravel/sand if that's been put in the tank already. Give it some time - it should clear up.> Thanks for all your help!  Van

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