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FAQs on Fluidized Beds for Freshwater Aquarium Filtration

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African cichlid setup - fluidized bed?
Fluidized Filter Bed on a Lake Malawi Mbuna Tank 9/16/09

Hello Crew, First, thank you for offering such a wonderful resource to hobbyists such as myself. I've learned more from this site over my past few years in the hobby than from any other sources combined.
After successfully running a freshwater fish-only system for about 5 years now, I've decided to move onto a new challenge: African cichlids. I'm in the process of setting up an Mbuna biotope. The following is my setup as it currently stands (no fish yet): 46 gallon bowfront, Eco-Complete African Cichlid Sand, eheim 2217 with EhfiMech/course pad/Ehfisubstrat pro/fine pad.
I plan to add rock as the next step, but prior to adding any fish I had a few questions: As I understand it, aggression can be managed by "overstocking" the tank. By doing this I would have a considerable bioload
in the tank and I'm concerned about the 2217's ability to handle this alone (even if not overstocked, I heard cichlids are messy regardless). I'm also concerned that performing maintenance on the 2217 will overly disrupt my bio filter (as you probably know, the 2217, while a workhorse, isn't exactly user-friendly as far as maintenance is concerned). I've been researching additional bio-filtration methods and one that has caught my eye is the fluidized bed. I'm considering adding a fluidized bed to handle my biological filtration, and changing out the 2217 media to handle primarily mechanical, and as necessary, chemical filtration. I would be performing a 25% water change weekly as I did with the freshwater setup. Does this sound
like a viable alternative, or do you think I would likely encounter a nitrate problem? Could you suggest an alternative method? Again, thank you for your time. Billy in Boston
< Many of your ideas are right on the money. Fluidized beds are great as long as the power stays on. When the power goes off for any time period the bed collapses and the bacteria can die in a short time when the oxygen is depleted. They do handle a lot of bioload in the tank. Look into a power backup for the filter if interrupted power is a problem..-Chuck> 

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