Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs about Wet-Dry, Trickle Filters 1

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

Related FAQs: Wet Dries 2, Wet-Dries 3, 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,

Wet/dry questions What type of wet/dry filter do you recommend and how do they work if you don't have a pre drilled tank?<you will have a prefilter box. that you can purchase with the wet/dry I currently have a 200 gal wet/dry for my 180 (its drilled though. but you can still get a prefilter box for a non-drilled aquarium) and the manufacturer is Sea Life Systems> Thanks again I think I will leave the fish in the wild. Hate to kill something because I was stubborn.<agreed my friend...get something more appropriate... oh and BTW you wanted a Pomacanthus imperator. correct? if so make sure you purchase a Red Sea specimen. they are much better looking and much hardier than their Indonesian counterparts, good luck, IanB>

Wet/dry Questions Craig, Thank you for your reply ! This is a FOWLR tank by the way. I am now having a new tank built 48 x 20 x 28 100 gal or so) with the center prefilter. What size return line do you recommend for a deeper tank, I was thinking 3/4" but most pumps @ 3' that push 1,000 gph or more use 1" lines, I could reduce the line to the return. what do you think?   <Don't be fooled by the pump outlet size Darrin. These pumps reach their full flow rate with much larger plumbing, up to twice as big in diameter as the outlet size. I would run 1.5" - 2" pipe (with a 1" pump outlet) to or near the top of the tank and step down to several 3/4" outlets from there.> Size of pump you recommend? <This depends on your desired fish and needed flow. Match your flow to the needs of your inhabitants. For instance, most Tangs require/prefer strong currents. There is a good calculator on Reef Central to help with sizing.> What type of skimmer do you recommend & brand? <There are several good choices. Our favorites are Euro-reef and  Aqua-C.> I would like to rely on the skimmer as complete filtration only in time. Thanks! <It wouldn't hurt to have micron filter bags on the overflow lines at the sump to mechanically filter larger particles, other than that a good oversized skimmer will do well. Sounds like a good time! Craig>

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

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

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

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

Bioballs in reef tank <<Greetings...>> I have a 450 gal tank that started out as a fish only tank with bleached coral skeletons and bioballs in the wet dry. I have since changed the tank over to a reef tank using about 350 lbs of live rock. The reef tank setup has been running for 3 months, no problems at all and a very light bioload. I do not have a nitrate problem, and have read much on this web site about removing the bioballs slowly as they are a nitrate producer. The tank is set up with top line equipment, 2 Iwaki 100 pumps, EuroReef skimmer, chiller etc. I intend to keep the fish bioload very modest as my plans are for a coral, invert tank. I don't want to mess things up. Are there any potential problems I may run into by slowly removing the bioballs? <<Not if you remove them slowly - and of course that doesn't mean "in slow motion" - that means a handful or so every couple of days.>> Is it necessary to do so as my fish bioload will remain low? <<I would - the wet/dry will really be able to crank out the nitrates otherwise.>> Thank you. Paul

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

Re: Wet dry filter (as) with sump Hello, <<and hello to you,>> I am taking your suggestions and using a 24x10x18 sump instead of a wet dry filter. <<ok>> I am going to add live rock, but should I also add live sand? <<Your choice, if you run without, it would be much easier to vacuum out accumulated detritus.>> With the live rock in the tank do I need to feed that sump any or just have lights? <<Some people just leave out the prefilters, and that would 'feed' the sump. Also your call on the lights. If you leave them out, the sump and live rock will grow more cryptic items, not always seen - would be interesting.>> If you suggest to add live sand, should I put sand sifters (Nassarius snails, etc) in the tank and again should I feed it? <<If you decide to run sand in the sump then by all means, some Nassarius snails would work well.>> Thanks, Daniel <<Cheers, J -- >>

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

To Hang-on Refugium or Not? Hello Bob (or who ever might be helping me out today) I have a 30 gal reef setup mainly LPS, and soft corals. I have about 40 # of live rock and currently running a wet/dry trickle for filtration). Everything has been okay for the last 5 months; Ammonia=0, Nitrites=0, Nitrates=never above 10. Anyhow, I been considering adding an Aquafuge hang on refugium (maybe with some "Miracle" Mud) and I have a few questions. Should I convert the wet/dry to a sump or can I continue the use of my bio-media? <I would definitely convert to a sump system.> Would using both just be counterproductive? <The more water in your system, the better.> Also, for lighting I'm currently using a 175W 10000+ K MH. Is 6W per gal to much? <Depends on your corals. It seems like a lot for a 30, but depends on brand of lamps, too. If your corals are doing well, I would not recommend changing anything.> Thanks in advance, Mark <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Wet/Dry or Sump Hello, I have been reading about sumps and wet dry filters. I just obtained a wet dry/sump for my 55 gallon tank. I am somewhat confused. What I have been reading is that the bio-balls should be removed and replaced with live rock. Is that necessary? <No, but is better in many situations.> Is that best? I have about 75 lbs. of live rock already in my tank. <Then you do not need the benefits of W/D filtration.> I thought the bio-balls were a good place for the right bacteria to grow and help filter. Am I behind the times. <A little bit.> I was planning on using my wet dry/sump to put a protein skimmer and move my heater into it from my tank. <All you need is a sump.> I currently have a Emperor 400 and I thought that the wet/dry sump would replace that. <Your liverock is capable of replacing both now.> Also, I have read that the overflow hose is or should be 1" and the return line should be 3/4". Is this true? <Depends entirely on the gph.> My LFS told me to use 1/2" return and that the spray bar that I am going to make for my return should also be 1/2". I haven't got my TENECOR WET/DRY 75 FILTER yet, but I am trying to get ready for when it gets here. I have a Rio 2100 (672gph) for my skimmer and a Rio 3100 (700gph at 4ft) for my return. What are your suggestions! <To get your pump to perform at 700 gph at 4 feet of head pressure you will need to use at least 3/4" line, preferably 1".> Thanks, Daniel <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Rinsing Wet/Dry Media Hello again fellows, I read yesterday on the Daily FAQ that someone was being advised against rinsing their filter media with fresh water, as it kills all of the microbes. I rinse my media from the wet/dry trickle filter in fresh water. Is this wrong? <Yes> If so, what should I rinse it in? I don't have another tank set up, but I could use the water from my water changes. <The water change water will work fine, but far easier/better to prefilter the media well and not need to rinse at all.> Also, does dried seaweed, like Seaweed Selects pollute the tank just as any other food? <Yes, if it goes uneaten and allowed to decay.> Thanks as always! John <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Rinsing Wet/Dry Media Thank you Steven. Just a clarification. In my wet/dry I have four trays. Top is a white poly filter, second is a blue colored fine filter with about 3/4" carbon, the third is the another blue filter with a carbon filter pad, and the last has nothing in it at all. <Ok, not at all what I had in mind. I thought you were talking about rinsing bioballs or other similar media. This seems to be more of a mechanical/chemical filter.> I never rinse the carbon with freshwater, only the filter pads, and foam prefilter on the overflow. Is this what you mean by pre-filtering the media? <It is fine to wash the prefilters because you do not wish to encourage bacteria to live there. These trays are more for mechanical filtration, fine water polishing. In fact, the more you rinse these, the better. Daily would be great.> Thanks for the clarification, John <I hope I understood what you have this time around and that my advise is applicable. -Steven Pro>

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

Built-In W/D Hi Bob, I've found a tremendous amount of Saltwater info on the internet - much of it yours. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us. Here's my (1st) loooong question. I read all night about the demise of the Wet/Dry Trickle Filter concept with BioBalls (after buying a used set-up having this, just today!#$@&^). It's a 60 Gal Acrylic with the Trickle Filter integral to the entire back of the tank. I think I understand the Nitrate Making Machine concept, but I'm wondering now what to do with the W/D Trickle Filter (sump?) after I remove the Bio Balls. <Just leave it empty.> Do I just fill it up with Live Rock, or Live Sand and operate the rest of the equipment as though there were still Bio Balls in the sump? Your FAQ's mention many times to get rid of the balls and add LR, but I don't know if adding them to the sump (on back of the tank) is OK or not. <Just add to/decorate the tank with liverock.> Does it help to add to the Tank (where the fish are) and the sump? <Depending on layout, you maybe able to create some sort of lighted refugium in the back.> Is the integral Wet Dry Trickle Filter at least a "nice to have" for mechanical filtration, and water movement, as long as the Balls are removed? <Yes> I'm really not planning on a Reef Tank at this time, as I know that they are not for beginners. <Really not that difficult. It more depends on what you want to have, fish vs. corals.> I'll probably stay with fish for years...We'll see how it goes I guess. Also, do you have any recommendations for where to buy the Live Rock / Sand? <Check the message boards for various recommendations.> I really don't know what the hell I'm doing yet. P.S. I joined the Forum, but for some reason cannot access it yet as a Member. <I will CC Lorenzo and Jason for their input.> Thank you very much in advance, Jeff Leeper <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Wet/Dry Media I was looking at using shotgun wadding, the plastic, (non-biodegradable, clear) kind. <I have never done any reloading myself, so I don't know what this stuff is/cannot recommend it.> Someone also suggested the plastic scouring pads made by 3M. <I have seen these used in pond filters. They will work, but not the best. They will trap debris and probably channel the water too much.> I was in Home Depot last night and saw a plastic filter media used for filtering in air conditioning systems. It comes in sizes up to 36". Have you seen this material and what do you think of using it in a wet/dry? <I have seen and used various HVAC products for prefilters to W/D's, but not for the media itself. Again, they tend to trap too much particulate matter.> Thanks, Skipper30217. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

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

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

Wet/Dry? Love the site...learning lots daily. Quick question regarding nitrates and removing bio balls. Nitrates are high...even with 12% weekly water changes. 65 gal. hex...pair of perc clowns, coral beauty, bicolour angel. and that famous "giant pink wig" Caribbean anemone...colt coral, zoanthids. Wondering about removing the bio balls and having the water flow through filter bag. Will this help with the nitrates or will I need more live sand...1 to 2 inches now. <Somewhat helpful if you clean the filter bag very frequently, almost daily, but adding more sand would be better.> If I put live rock in the sump will that help also? <Yes> I read over your site and am a little confused with the removal of the bioballs. Do I need to go with a deep sand bed? or is the current set up cool. <Under 1" or over 4" is my rule of thumb, which I picked up from Anthony. You may also want to check your source water for nitrates.> Aloha for your help. POG <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Wet/Dry Prefilter I just added a Rio 2500 & an inline chiller to my 125 gallon FO tank that already has a Rio 4100 pushing the circulation. Here's my problem, the wet/dry can't handle the water returning through the two returns & starts to overflow above the filter floss. As a partial fix I replaced the old floss (that was used for about 2 months) <Way too long to go without replacing. I replace all prefilters at least monthly, if not every other week.> & the water is flowing fine. I am considering drilling about twice the number of holes in the lid just below the filter floss to allow for a higher flow rate inside the wet/dry. What's your take on this? <If you keep your prefilter cleaned, you will probably need to take no further action. -Steven Pro>

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

Wet-Dry Filter Hello Anthony! <greetings, Thanassis> I finally bought the wet-dry filter we have been discussing about. It is an EHEIM 2229 Wet-dry (circulation cap. 550 L/hour). This filter is proposed for larger aquariums (mine is only 200 lit) , but I thought that it would be nice to have this big size in case I upgrade to bigger tank in the future.  <very wise> On the other hand I have been told that it would be better to have it half-filled with filter media , since my present aquarium is much smaller than the capacity of this filter, otherwise it would built a too big number of bacteria colonies,  <not true... bacterial colonies only grow in size to the load put upon them> which would mean a "too much of biological action" in my aquarium and which is supposed to be bad for the water. I do not know if this can be correct. <not correct... I'd play it safe and fill it with media... better water flow through media that way too> I installed the filter and it is running properly. I filled all three canisters with sintered glass (EHFI Substrat) , which is recommended by EHEIM, but I filled just the half of each canister for the above reason.  <a very coarse foam block stuck onto the intake strainer (inside the tank) as a bulk prefilter often extends the life and cleanings of the media inside such external filters> I am running at the same time the already existing external filter , an EHEIM 2224, where I have the bioballs and Substrat and which has proved to be insufficient for my system, "modest" as you wrote, and may be the reason of often illnesses of my fishes. My dealer told me it would be better to run both filters at the same time forever, but what I am thinking is to run them both for two months and afterwards take out the material of the 2224 and put it in the wet-dry filter (both bioballs and Substrat). What would you advise? <the wet/dry filter is a better environment for biological media...agreed> Best regards, Thanassis <kindly, Anthony>

Wet-Dry filter & Oodinium!!!! Hello Anthony! <Cheers, again, Thanassis> "a very coarse foam block stuck onto the intake strainer (inside the tank) as a bulk prefilter often extends the life and cleanings of the media inside such external filters" Yes, this is exactly what EHEIM also recommends and is included in the package of the Wet-dry filter (I have it on already). They recommend to keep it on for 6 weeks and then take it out. I consider of cleaning it and put it back. <yes, agreed... I like to rinse and reuse it constantly> Well, whenever I realized that my fishes started to have Oodinium (especially the Blue Tang) I immediately treated it with OODINEX, an ESHA product, which is a light medication (can be used also to invertebrates) and the signs of the illness went away on the third day of the treatment. This time this is not the case. After a 4-day treatment with OODINEX the spots did not disappear, but on the contrary I realized today (it is the 4th day) that they have become more. I have a copper-based medication in my stock (the CUPRAZIN from Waterlife), <Actually... I do not feel that copper if effective at all on Amyloodinium (velvet). The parasite buries into the fish too deep to be killed by copper before the fish does! Formalin based products have been shown to be effective as well as consecutive daily dips (5-8).> afraid of a serous problem if I put CUPRAZIN inside it. but I afraid to use it, since OODINEX is still in my system. <Polyfilters will clear this promptly when that is the only concern> On the other hand I feel that I have no time to take the OODINEX out with my skimmer or carbon, because this would take at least two days, and it would be too late for my fishes.  <Overnight with the Polyfilters> I am thinking of taking the risk and put tomorrow morning CUPRAZIN, because otherwise I could lose my fishes.  <still... I don't think this will be very effective... better off to do aggressive freshwater dips> In the instructions of OODINEX it is only mentioned that it should not be used at the same time with any other treatment, but there is no indication for waiting two or more days in order to make another treatment. <indeed...most medications do not stay in solution for even a few days> Do you have any experience with the above medicines? What should I do? Perhaps by the time I receive your answer I may have already taken some action on this (now it is 02.32 a.m.), but still I would like to have your advice. Thanks and best regards, Thanassis <best regards, Anthony... PS. I recently sold one of my books through Amazon.com to an aquarist in Cyprus. Is that close to you?>

Nitrate Factory? I have read and re-read many times the term "nitrate factory" when someone is referring to using bio-media with their LR/LS type tank set up. Presumably, the nitrates are being produced by a factory working bacteria using nitrites as the raw material. Since the production of nitrates from nitrites is a good thing there must be another mechanism to produce the extra nitrates. If the bacteria are solely responsible for producing the nitrates, then why is there any less nitrates produced by the bacteria on the live rock and sand? What difference does it make if the bacteria resides on man made bio-media or natural rock and sand? It is almost universal (at least on this site) to remove the bio-media once you have established the LR/LS--I am trying to understand why more nitrates are produced by bacteria laden bio-media vs. LR/LS. thanks pc martin <Please read through WetWebMedia.com on the Marine Section re "Nitrates", "Biological Cycling" and other linked/related FAQs files. Bob Fenner>

Running Wet/Dry Filtration along with Live rocks Hello Bob. <Hi there> I am new in setting up a salt water system. I am still in process of cycling my tank. I have a 75 Gallon (Jebo) tank, 150 lbs of Hapai, Tonga and Fuji live rocks. 40 lbs of live sands. I have AquaC-EV120 Skimmer under the stand and another simple one (Kaco) on the top. Water comes down the over flow channel inside the tank to a good size Wet/Dry unit, then through AquaC skimmer and pumped back to the tank. After 5 weeks, Ammonia is zero, Nitrite is at 5.0, Nitrate at 10 and PH at 8.2. My question is: what are the good or bad things about combination of Live rocks & Sand with Wet/Dry filtration system? <Mmm, none really... given there is some sort of "balance" between the aerobic and anaerobic driving/capacity of each> I plan to have fish and corals in my tank in near future. Current lighting is 220W. Do I have to increase wattage for corals? <Not necessarily... depends on the type of "corals" in question, the type of lighting "watts" you're referring to.  You would do well to "spend" some time and money buying and reading over Eric Borneman's and/or Anthony Calfo's books on Aquarium Coral husbandry ahead of investing in livestock or other mechanicals. These works can be searched through the e-tailers listed on our links pages on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance. -Albert

Re: stupid question (migrating out of Wet Dry to Sump) Anthony, This may seem like a really stupid question, but better safe than sorry.  <there are no stupid questions, my dear... just ugly suits> I'm expanding my sump area to accommodate a ton of live rock and the much needed protein skimmer.  <excellent... but keep up with detritus in sump> I'm going to keep the trickle in line for a while and probably slowly wean onto a full Berlin system and reef out.  <agreed> I just bought a 50 gallon Rubbermaid bin for the new sump area. Is this acceptable as a sump or is there some chemical danger about Tupperware that I may be unaware of? <nope...Rubbermaid and food grade plastics as a rule are safe> I know it's probably fine, but again, better safe with my track record. Thanks, you rule. -Pat <better safe than sorry! Anthony>

DSB & wet/dry questions Mr. Fenner, <You got Steven Pro today.> Just picked up a copy of your book, and have to say, very well written! <I am sure Bob will appreciate your kind words.> Enough flattery and on to the questions. Here is my setup. I have a 125 tank, 40 gallon wet/dry sump, AquaC Ev-120 Skimmer, and about 160 lbs. Of Fiji Live Rock. It is a new setup and I have had the Rock and the skimmer in place for about a week. I started this with the wet/dry in the system as my initial intent was to have a fish only but am drawn to the reef. So, here is my question, since I am still both cycling the tank and curing the live rock in my main tank, should I just remove all of the bioballs at once in the wet/dry and use it as a sump? Or should I remove them slowly. I don't think it matters as I have no animals to hurt from a spike of any kind. <I would wait until the rock is done curing (ammonia and nitrite drop back down and maintain a level of zero). Then you can remove all of the bio-balls. Make sure you do not get another spike (unlikely), but best to be cautious before adding your animals.> The second issue is of the substrate. I have about a 1/4 inch of crushed coral, about 2 inches of the Carib-Sea medium coarse Aragonite reef sand, and about a 1/4 inch of Carib-Sea Live Sand in that order from the bottom to the top. Is this OK? My impulse is to pull it all out and just go with about a hundred pounds of live sand and create a 4-5" DSB? Or should I go with about 3-4" of the finest dry aragonite and then top off with about an inch of live sand? Any thoughts or suggestions? Would you pull the current substrate, add to it, or leave it as is. <I would add 4" of fine grain size aragonite sand and then place 1" of lives and on top.> Thanks a million!!!!! Adam <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

New tank start up with wet dry. Bob, I am setting up a new tank which consists of a 100 gallon w/dual overflows plumbed out the bottom which lead to a large (rated for use of up to 240 gallons) wet dry filter. I am also using a protein skimmer. I have read your Conscientious Marine Aquarist and also The New Marine Aquarium by Michael Paletta. In reading both of these and speaking to three well known and reputable dealers in my area I had decided to use the aforementioned hardware along with 50 to 100 pounds of live rock. <Sounds like you've been studying> I intend to initialize this system as a fish and hardy invert tank with hopes of progressing to a full blown reef if I am successful. Unfortunately now I do not know if I made the right choice in filtration after reading the answers to the many wet dry e-mails you have posted on your site. Should I forget about using the bio balls in the wet dry as I cycle my tank? Should I use only a partial amount or all of them? Should I go ahead and turn this filter into a sump? All of the local people I have spoken with suggested using the bio balls. Am I headed for uncontrollable nitrate levels? <For now, practice using the gear "as it is"... you can easily remove the plastic biomedia, make the sump into a refugium later. No worries> Please help me. I lay awake at night and ponder these issues. My wife thinks I've gone over the deep end ( pun intended ). <You're making my day. Enjoy the process my friend. Bob Fenner> Thank you for being so dedicated to the hobby and making yourself available. Best regards, Kevin Miller <Be chatting.>

Trickle Filter Questions Hello Robert, <You actually reached Steven Pro. Anthony Calfo and I helping out for a while.> I just recently found out about WetWebMedia.com and think it is very helpful site. I wanted to ask you two quick questions. I have a 125 gal. saltwater-fish-only setup and don't intend on starting a reef of any kind (strictly fish). I currently run a home made wet/dry filter with 6 gallons of bio-media. I wanted to know whether it is better to have these bio-balls in here, or am I better off taking them out. My tests for nitrates are way less than 10 ppm, possibly 1 or 2 only. If your suggest keeping them in there, should I cover the balls all the way to the top, or middle, low etc. <It sounds like things are running pretty well as is, so I would leave things alone. AS far as covering the bioballs, I am guessing you are referring to covering them with water by raising the levels in your sump/trickle filter. It is best to leave as much of the bioballs exposed to air as possible. -Steven Pro> Thanks for your help. Hamilton.

Convert a wet/dry to a Sump/Refugium I have a 72 gallon tank w overflow on one side. The tank has 2 holes cut out on the bottom - 1 that goes into the wet dry (Amiracle) and the other is a return hooked up to my Rio powerhead. I am going to silicon a piece of plastic to separate the power head from where the bio balls used to be. I am going to add Aragamax Oolitic Select Sand:0.5-1.02 mm live sand or Aragamax Sugar-Sized Sand: 0.2 - 1.2mm diameter to the bottom of the wet dry about 2 inches. On top of that I will add some live rock and some algae. <Sounds like you've been thinking, investigating here for a while> The Rio powerhead is a 2500 and it about 4 feet below the tank. Please see attached word doc for full pic and pic of actual wet dry (except mine does not have the extra plastic separator - that is what I am going to add and it does not have the external overflow.) The red indicates = what I plan to do Blue indicates water. Please answer these 2 questions and any other incite you have. 1-Will this setup slow down the flow of water too much. If so what should I change? <No to slowing down water flow too much... should be fine with the arrangement, pump you have> 2-Is the sand choice ok? <Yes... might want to build a series of "baffles" along with the plastic separator and silicone you already plan... to aid the sand staying in place...> Thanks a million. Brad <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: Convert a wet/dry to a Sump/Refugium Thanks - you're the 'fish'. Sorry to bother you again :( Re. Silicone/Plastic separator - What is the minimum I can wait before I add water?? <A day, 24 hours> What is you're recommended - I want a second opinion from the manufactures. The smaller the sand the better in a Sump/Refugium?? <Not necessarily... depends on what is "elsewhere", your desires... like is the substrate to help add alkalinity, biominerals? Maybe to act in part as a denitrator? Or is this all to be "done" somehow else> What critters should I put in sump?? <I would just place a few small pieces of live rock...> What is the minimum number of inches I should fill it with sand??? <Minimum? A couple> Is it better to have many small pieces of LR or a few big ones in my sump??? <Smaller> Sorry to have so many follow-up questions :( Thanks :) Brad <Read the WWM site over on these topics. Bob Fenner>

Re: nitrates high! Dear Bob, OK now I'm REALLY confused. I quote you from the site you referred us to: "by using a typical wet-dry you will find a surplus of nitrates produced... and need to find ways to rid the system of the same... Instead, more "balanced" filtration approaches like using live rock, macroalgae, a mud sump... won't." Where do you describe the "mud sump"?  <Oh... let's see... do need to write a complete "piece" about these... How about here: http://WetWebMedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm Please read through these FAQs and use the Google search feature on our site (WetWebMedia) with the words "mud", "sump", refugium, Leng Sy...> Isn't our crushed coral what they call a deep sand bed that has denitrifying bacteria? <If deep enough, not too-circulated, depending on grade, composition...> Would rustling through it disrupt this even if there is detritus in it? <Yes, to some degree> Everything I read said the trickle, while expensive, was the safest way to go (aside from a totally LR system).  <The "safest" way to go about what? Live aquatic closed-system filtration? Depends on many qualifying criteria, but not the "safest".> If we remove the Biobale, how will the ammonia be broken down?  <By nitrifiers elsewhere in the system... once going (cycled) there are plenty> How will LR do anything different from the Biobale? What's the best course to transition? <All this posted on our site... Please read: http://WetWebMedia.com/liverock1.htm  and beyond in the "Curing LR" FAQs sections> Last night, we vacuumed out a huge amount of black gunk under the Biobale. Hopefully we did not kill any helpful bacteria (or that gunk wasn't anaerobic bacteria). Nitrates are still sky high. I'm reluctant to change much more water since it's now approaching 50% in 3 days. <Not clear to me here... what is approaching fifty percent?> If we go out and buy lots of cured LR, won't a lot of that die in the transition and make matters worse? <Some die off, but likely no problem.> Then, we REALLY need a protein skimmer, right? Even, then, isn't that too traumatic? <Do you not have a skimmer currently? You very likely would/will benefit from ones use> In answer to your light question, our light is 4x20 watts (2 actinic, 2 full spectrum). Can LR survive OK on that? <Yes> We planned to be fish only (except our hermit and cleaner shrimp). It gets hot and we did not want to go metal halide/chiller. <Do try at least "some" live rock... you will not be disappointed I assure you> I can't seem to find a place that sells macroalgae. Where do you get that stuff. I've been hearing about some Caulerpa ban??? Regardless, I'm sure our little tang would love to snack on it. <Do check with the etailers posted on the WWM Links Pages> You just can't win. Sorry to always be so discouraged. Even if our system crashes, it has be 8 months of happiness (in between the crises). Thanks, Allyson <Ah my friend. You are on the brink of clarity. Do keep your eyes on the prize and study. Bob Fenner>

Re: algae? Thanks bunches. It's very reassuring getting advice from THE GURU, as it were. <Hmm, well, at least starting to look like one... make that "Oooommm"> I've taken out the bio balls, increased circulation, and put a bag of charcoal in the sump and plan a 15% water change for tomorrow with RO water. <You do mean activated carbon> Hopefully my rust/BCO will start to decline! Linda <It will my friend. Now, back to meditation with me (or is that hibernation?) Bob Fenner>

Re: algae? > hibernation?) Bob Fenner> > My only complaint so far is that with the bio balls gone, the tank makes more noise as the water splashes into sump. But it's kind of peaceful, it's right in front of my desk at work, so I stare at a wall of fish as I > daydream...Ohmmmmm <<Maybe a piece of foam or lengthening the return device (spray bar, drip tray?) into the sump would quiet things down. "All is water". Bob Fenner>

Need for Wet/Dry??? Hi Bob, I wanted to send you a quick note and get your opinion about the need for a wet/dry filter. I've included photographs of my two fish tanks. Tank #1 is around 220 gallons with fish only currently holding: 2 Tangs, 1 Passer angel, Niger Trigger, Lion, Snowflake Eel, and 1 dwarf angel. I will probably add a French angel who I hope will eventually grow very large. On your recommendation to use macro algae, I built Tank 2 (around 300 gallons) which is connected to tank one by water only. The water is cycled around w/ a pump running around 1200g/hr. The second tank is abundant w/ macro algae (currently just in the center... but is rapidly growing) and has a few anemones and fish. I notice the Nitrates measurably dropping now (after a month or so) and I will eventually add a few corals, more inverts, and grazing fish to keep the algae in check. As you can see, both tanks have a lot of large rocks in them.  <A very nice arrangement...> Tank 1 has around 150 pounds of lace rock and tank 2 has roughly 300 pounds of lace rock (they look big, but they are all hollow and thus lots of surface area). As you can see on the picture of tank one, I've got a wet/dry running on the top/left that I'm not sure is really necessary. I'd like to remove it and rebuild my U/V filter (the monster on the top/right) as well as a book case or something equally attractive. <A good project> So the ultimate question is, in your opinion of course, do you think the bio load that I've described w/ the amount of porous rock you see in the system is balanced enough to warrant the removal of my Wet/Dry Filter? <Remove half of it (the bioballs first) and see if you can detect any appreciable waste accumulation... likely not... in fact, the opposite will occur> the system has been running w/ tank2 for about a month w/ zero ammonia and nitrites. Nitrates are on the way down. Thanks in advance! I love your site! <Thank you my friend. Bob Fenner> -Jeff

Re: more help please dear bob thank you very much for your help u r an inspiration to us all, I hope as I get older (I'm only 18) my knowledge will be the same as yours. <You will become yourself my friend> as always I am very grateful cheers Alex ps would you definitely get rid of at least one tang and the porkfish is there any more or will they be fine <S/b fine. Bob Fenner> ____________________ dear bob how long would it take for the filter to reset itself (trickle filter) when I move it. <If the media kept moist, almost no time... not detectable> would it help if I put a Fluval 404 onto the tank which is from another marine tank which has been setup for over a year, <Yes> should I put the fish in or ask my LFS to store them (at my own risk). I will move the fish in a carry box and put an airstone in it when I arrive home, and I will follow the instructions in your faq, if you could please answer the question on the filters I would be very grateful, sorry to bother you again but no one around here knows the answers, so I am turning to you in the hope you do, anyway thanks for your help no matter what. thank you again, Alex <You will soon know the answers and share them with others. Bob Fenner>

Wet dry system with too much ammonia HELP Dear Mr. Fenner, We recently bought an 80 gallon freshwater setup from a lady who had used it for saltwater. We are using the wet dry filter with bio-balls, with a layer of floss on top of the bio-balls. We are having serious trouble bringing down the ammonia levels and were wondering if we should use some kind of media or charcoal on top of the bio-balls. We have a 55, a 29, and 10 gallon tanks as well, but this is our first wet dry system. Any help would be greatly appreciated as it is a beautiful set up and our fish are eyeballing it and then asking us when they get to move into their new home. Thank you, Carol and Mike <Just pull the bioballs... take them out and your system will cycle, settle in. This is all that's needed. Bob Fenner>

Question regarding w/d use as refugium Hello, I have a multi-part question for you. I currently have a 55 gallon fish-only tank that I'd like to take over to semi-reef. The livestock is a yellow tang, a regal tang and a small (6") Naso. I know, I know. I'm getting a 90 when we move next year. Maybe even bigger. :)  <Ah, good> There is also a coral banded shrimp, two cleaner shrimp, about six snails. I can't keep hermits for more than a month at a time, they just vanish. I swear I think my regal kills them.  <It's possible> I've seen him pick up shells and swim to the surface and drop them. I don't know what he thinks he's doing, but I'm sure the hermits don't like it much. Whoops. Tangent. Sorry. <No worries> I am currently running on a w/d filter, a few powerheads for water movement, and a skimmer (Big Mombassa). I've upgraded my lights (2x65w Smartlight PCs). I realize this isn't enough for anything other than mushrooms and some polyps, but that is really all I want to do right now. <Fine> I have slowly been removing the bio media from my w/d nitrate factory. How quickly can I remove the media?  <If the system is otherwise stable, live rock cured thoroughly most folks can remove all at once w/ impunity> I've been removing about 15 balls or so with each water change (once every other week). Oh- I suppose I should mention that I've got about 40-45 lbs of live rock in the tank. The substrate is just crushed coral, but it's been in there for three years- quite thoroughly live now. <Yes> My nitrates are a big problem. BIG. Usually over the 100 mark. Water changes don't even seem to help. So what I want to do is remove the bio media from the w/d as mentioned, add some sand to the sump (I honestly don't think I need for this to be live sand, it'll get populated rapidly. <I agree... do consider adding a light to the sump, some rock, macro-algae> My wife is afraid to look in the sump because of all the "creepy-crawlies" down there. One thing that truly confuses me about this- won't it end up sounding like a waterfall in there? Is there a way to soften that? <Yes, inside and out... covers can be made with sheets of Styrofoam... you can insulate the cabinet... and a diverter can be made of PVC piping to spread the flow about...> I've seen you mention use of Ehfi-Mech in the sump, as a de-nitrator. What would be the proper way to use this?  <If you can afford it... but the live sand, some rubble will accomplish the same ends> Should I just add a few inches of sand, and put a box of Ehfi-Mech in there as well? Sounds almost too easy, as if I'm missing a giant step or six. <No, you've about "got it"...> And, of course, I'd like to get a few pieces of live rock in there, and lots of macroalgae. I've seen two different ideas on lighting something like this- the most typical is getting one of those small PC units and put in on a reverse daylight program. The other was just a small regular florescent, running 24/7. Which way do you think I should go? <The small PC left on all the time> The largest question: am I on the right track with this? Is there anything I'm overlooking? <Not as far as I'm aware... it's obvious you've been doing your homework> I truly appreciate any thoughts and advice you can offer. John <Press on with this project my friend. Your nitrates are soon to be near zero, and your livestock happier and healthier. Bob Fenner>

Re: Question regarding w/d use as refugium Hello, Mr. Fenner, <Howdy> And thank you for the quick response! <You're welcome> I have started this refugium project, and realize that I do indeed have a few things confusing me. heheheh- I thought I had it all figured out. <Don't know anyone who does... including myself> I read somewhere online that using play sand (sand for sandboxes, etc) is okay for a project such as this. Is this true? <Well... actually only a few types are advisable... you likely want to avoid the ones that are silicates... and use one that is carbonaceous (made of calcium carbonate) of all about the same grade...> I bought a 50 lb bag today for under two bucks, then before I added it starting thinking... just what's IN this stuff? <Question of the hour> Another thing- I went to purchase the PC lighting today (would you believe that Home Depot had NO PC fixtures that aren't for outdoor/motion sensor applications?), and I realized that I had utterly no idea what kind of wattage I'm looking for. I'm looking to light my sump, which is at most 10-12 gallons. And it's only 1/3 full at any given point, so I am thinking that 60 watts of light may be serious overkill on this. What would you recommend? <Sixty watts would likely be okay...> I think that's about it for now. I truly appreciate the help. /john <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

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

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

Wet/Dry Filter Question Hello, I have set up my 90 gallon tank and getting ready to add live rock to start cycling process. When the water comes into the overflow box down to my filter, should I put a blue pad on the shelf before the water hits the bio balls, or would my beneficial bacteria simply grow on the blue pad. <Good question, and a good idea to place a pad of Dacron/polyester foam as you suggest.> I have it there now, but I wanted to double check before I add my rock. I was told I needed to add a blue pad to my filter. What do you think? <The "blue" is just an add-on to "batting material", Dacron polyester... if you find yourself using a bunch of this look into buying it "in bulk" at a yardage store... same stuff. Bob Fenner> Thanks again!!! Regards, Fred

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

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

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

W/D Hey Bob, I have made a couple of alterations to the system I am going to run. I will still have the 72 Gallon tank, but I will have a SeaLife System Model 100 and a removable protein skimmer. I am going to use a Magnum 350. Do you think that the Magnum 350 is enough to push this filtration. <No... I would have/run a separate dedicated pump of over-pressure and flow...> The Oceanic tank has a overflow box built inside the tank. In my last email I asked about any other power heads. Will I still need them if I am not using any Coral or live rock.  <IMO/E yes... you will want more circulation, aeration> Or do you think I will need any. Please tell me what you think I should do and if the stuff that I am going to purchase is any good. Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I greatly appreciate it. Thank You. D <Keep investigating till you are satisfied you know enough. Only you can decide for yourself. Bob Fenner>

Re: W/D Hey Bob, I have written you early today and I needed to make a correction in my questioning. I used the word Magnum 350 and I was trying to say Mag Drive 350. I just thought I would make that correction for you. Thanks, D <Oh, instead of the canister filter from Bob Sherman this is a pump? Yes a good choice... no need for other fluid-moving device. Bob Fenner>

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

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

Wet/dry books Would you recommend any books on how to plumb a wet/dry filter? <Actually... there are a few that have some worthwhile illustrations and descriptions... but the best source is "Oz's Reef" all the way around... for an amazing mix and depth of aquarium DIY info. and it's free, on the Net... their/his link is on the www.WetWebMedia.com Links Pages... Bob Fenner>

Wet/dry overflow (necessarily flooding?) I have a question concerning wet/dry filters. I have read and been told they tend to overflow. I don't want to drill the tank. What steps can I take that will prevent the sump or tank from overflowing. Thank you, any help you could provide will be very appreciated. John Bugby <A good question... and no, wet-dries, sumps, refugiums need not cause (much) risk of overflowing, flooding... Take a look through the FAQs on "Plumbing", "Sumps", "Overflows"... on the Marine Index of our site: www.WetWebMedia.com here... I would look into overflow "boxes" like those made by CPR (link on the WWM site) instead of drilling the tank.... and practice with the water level in the sump/wet-dry by hooking the whole thing up, turning the power off... and permanently affix a "not to be filled higher than this level" mark on the sump/wet-dry... Bob Fenner>

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

Wet/dry media, skimmer placement in relation to media Hi Bob. I hoped to get your opinion on a couple of items. If a person was to use a w/d trickle filter on a high bio-load saltwater setup, do you see any advantages to using either the colorful plastic bio-media that comes in most filters, or in using DLS media? <Yes, some, absolutely, given enough circumstance for thwarting the over-driven effects of nitrification... i.e. anaerobic/hypoxic denitrification in the way of a deep sand bed area, plenum set-up, purposeful/functional denitrification rig, sufficient macro-algae/photosynthate mass...> It seems to me that the DLS would have greater surface area per volume (I could be wrong).  <At some point, times in its use... but this "Double Layer Spiral" (DLS) mix of netting, batting (polyester) turns into a bunch of "wet toilet wad" over its cycle time (when installed till replaced/serviced)... all in all plastic biomedia (mock-ups and downs to Pall Rings of sewage treatment technology) are more consistent in their functionality> Also, I notice that when DLS is used, you get a proliferation of little shrimp and what-nots living in the media.  <A very good benefit, but what happens when you move, switch out the DLS? Better to skip both these materials and move ahead to live rock and macro-algae lit-sump technology... perhaps with some core/Siporax/EHFI-mech media, with polyester/Dacron ahead of it in a sheet to remove particulates...> I would think that this would benefit the health of system at least by providing a kind of "refugium" that is providing natural food to the aquarium, and that there could be other possible beneficial effects of this little ecosystem in the bio-media. (?) Also, I know that it would be ideal to place the fractionator "upstream" from the bio-media, but its not near as easy to setup that way. Most manufactured products wont work that way, and even DIY isn't that easy to do from my experience. My question is; how dramatic is the decrease in the effectiveness of the fractionator if it does end up having to be downstream of the bio-media? <In my experience, all "things" else being equal (impossible), not much...> Or is it that big of a deal at all? <Ah, wish I had said, written that. In most all cases, "no big deal". Now I have... partial credit?> Thanks. Dan <You're welcome. Bob Fenner, www.wetwebmedia.com>

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

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

Wet/dry filter for salt water aquarium I would very much appreciated if you could tell me whether can the bio-balls in the wet/dry filter be submerged (fully or partially) in the saltwater or they all have to be above the water level. Thanks. <Most all and the systems they're to be operated with are intended to be "moist"... i.e. suspended in the air and periodically wetted with system water... but there are some advantages to submerging this media... and even proponents of its total removal (I'm of this camp)... for reasons discussed on our website: www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Rock and wet-dry filter media Bob: I've got a pretty heavily stocked, fish-only 75 gallon system, running on a DIY wet-dry filter and an Aqua C EV-90 skimmer. I recently purchased a 44 lb. box of Fiji live rock, and it's now being cured in its own tank. It will be quite awhile before I have the chance to buy much more live rock, and 44 lbs won't itself be enough for filtration purposes in my system. On the other hand, the bio-balls are a major nitrate factory, so I'd like to take out as many of them as possible. QUESTION: When I add the 44 lbs. of live rock, how much of the wet-dry filter media can I safely remove? Does about half sound right? Thanks. jwl  >> Wait till no ammonia, nitrite are showing in your tests... then you can start to remove the wet-dry media... about a half every couple of weeks maximum... IMO Bob Fenner

"Mulm" Bob- In my sump tank there is currently no live rock or Caulerpa, which will be placed in the sump shortly. But there is something "gathering" on the bottom. It is brownish/red. It does not seem to be a form of algae because it is not growing on the tank. It is in particle form, meaning that when it is disturbed by a different water flow it mixes all over the tank before it settles down. Do you know what this is? Should I siphon it out or just let it be? Thank you, Rob >> This is likely a mix of a bunch of things... organic and not, biological and just gunk... Sponges, algae, all sorts of microbes, worms, crustaceans.... and I would NOT remove it, unless it gets to be "too much".... And I would add some live rock and Caulerpa, and a continuous full spectrum light source... and you'll soon see why... Bob Fenner

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

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

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

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: