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FAQs about Diatom/aceous Filtration for Marine Systems

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Related Articles: Marine Filtration, Mechanical, Physical & Chemical Filtration

Keep the DE out of your tank itself. Macolor niger school, adults... Red Sea.

looking for filter       12/4/14
I am in need of a specific type of filter( pic 1&2.) When I set up my tank, the store set up my refugium with a rigid filter. They went out of business a number of years ago and I have not found another filter like them since.
Needless to say, I am in dire need for new ones and was hoping someone there would know where I can get them. Otherwise, I am forced to use the cloth tubes(third pic.)
Sorry it is so disgusting, but it is the only one I have and I am trying to preserve it for as long as possible. As you can see, it is in truly in deplorable condition. Any help would be appreciated.
Thank you,
6" tall 4.5" across
This one is the only substitute I can find. I do not like these.
<Mmm; I would contact CPR re... a link to something like this: http://www.cpraquatic.com/pdf/sockitcombo.pdf
I think the product you show is Albert Thiel's old platinum line... the folks at Emperor Aquatics may have some of their filter socks still about... Bob Fenner>

Re: looking for filter       12/5/14
Thanks Bob,
I am hopeful that I can find them.
<Me too... there are a few other places to look for such Dacron/polyester bags (of quality)... If push comes to shove, you might consider the yardage store... for material; and making your own. BobF>

Diatom Filter... cleaning, operation    1/23/11
THANK YOU FOR TAKING MY QUESTION. I am a beginner. A friend gave me a tank and a Vortex DE filter. All her fish died, and after reading parts of your sight....Now I know why!!! (DE filtration for polishing only!!!)
<Yes... a good product w/ appropriate use...>
I am interested in setting up the tank and will have to purchase a filter....But my question is..... how do I work and clean the Vortex filter.
<Best to diluted bleach (chlorine) soak all parts but the motor>
It is filthy (Black crud in tubes) I figured that I would just run it to try to clean the tubes, but I can't get it to suck H2o.
<W/ some practice, knowledge. Read here on Vortex Innerspace Products site:
I have both the intake and out take (is that even a word) :) In a bucket of H2O. Am I doing something wrong?
<There are a few ways to fill the lines (prime)... do read on the above re>
Do I Fill the tank ( where the filter is) essentially priming the pump?
<You can start a siphon... from the intake out through the discharge... w/ the motor turned off>
And if in fact I do get it to work...can I run small amount of chlorine mixed in H2O through it?
<Better to do this outside the system>
I'm sorry to bother you but I have tried to research how to "work" th pump and cannot find any information on it other than how "well" it "works".
Thank you for your time. Judi
<Do write back after reading if what you need to know isn't clear. Bob Fenner>
PS I tried putting the bucket of water above the pump.
<Ah good>
Re Diatom Filter... cleaning, operation

Cheers Judi. BobF 

Discontinued Vortex filters
<Hi Steve>
I've been surfing the Web looking for a Vortex filter. Plenty of sites are selling them but one site [ http://www.diatomfilters.com/index1.html ] has a notice for all the Vortex filters they offer: "DISCONTINUED DUE TO MANUFACTURER ISSUES". This is for the D1, XL and Freedom filters which they have on sale. The XL and Freedom models also note: "PLEASE NOTE EXPECTED SHIP DATE DUE TO BACKORDED APPROX the 2nd WEEK of MAY" so maybe any "manufacturer issues" have been resolved. In some discussion forum I read a message that Vortex was having bad seal leaking problems. Have you heard anything about this and do you have any alternative suggestions?
Steve Galbraith
<I have owned and used many of these "Innerspace Products" over decades time... and they do have some issues... funky too-easily slipped off hose connections, too easily broken glass jars, too easily tipped over... BUT, if used as directed/intended they are very nice ancillary (read this as periodic... for minutes to an hour or so) filters for removing particulates, even chemicals with activated carbon added to the DE media...
I don't think they have bad seals, nor are there any real alternatives in my estimation. I do know that the gentleman who developed/invented these units, makes and does most all the other work involved in their production and sales is pretty much a one-person show... and may well have fallen behind in demand. I'd wait and get one when they're available. Bob Fenner>

Diatom filters, function 4/1/2009
I have been reading on your site about diatom filters. It seems they primarily "polish" the water. What does this term mean? Can they be used in place of partial water changes? If so I can't understand why every
aquarium owner doesn't own one!
Thank you,
<Hello Kathy. The thing with diatom filters is that the catch much finer particles than, say, filter wool. So when they "polish" water, this means that they remove much more of the silt, and much more quickly, than
ordinary filters, resulting in very clear water. The downside is that the diatom media gets clogged with silt very quickly. So in general people use diatom filters only occasionally, rather than running all the time because this latter approach would be expensive to run in terms of media and electricity. Now, diatom filters only remove silt. Whether silt is there or not does nothing much in terms of water quality; all silt does is make the water look cloudy. Diatom filters don't remove nitrate or phosphate, so in short, no, you can't use one instead of water changes. They're a luxury item for aquarists with deep pockets. Cheers, Neale.>

XL Vortex Diatom filter oil - 07/13/08 Hi, <Walter> I am an owner of an XL Vortex Diatom filter. Love it, works great for my 4 tanks and small pond. Thanks to your site, I was able to learn how to get replacement powder from a pool supply store. Now, I am looking for a convenient way to get the P-301 motor oil for the XL or a suitable replacement. Can't find information on the net or the product on the local pet shop. Any help is greatly appreciated. Walter <Can be ordered to/through them: http://www.diatomfilter.com/index.htm But have used "3 in 1" and sewing machine oil... Bob Fenner>

XL Vortex Diatom Filter Motor Oil - 07/14/08 Hi, <<Hello>> I am an owner of an XL Vortex Diatom filter. Love it, works great for my 4 tanks and small pond. <<Indeed…a great filter for "polishing" your water>> Thanks to your site, I was able to learn how to get replacement powder from a pool supply store. <<Ah good>> Now, I am looking for a convenient way to get the P-301 motor oil for the XL or a suitable replacement. <<Mmm…likely "any" lightweight machine oil will suffice (3-in-1 Oil, Marvel Mystery Oil, etc.)>> Can't find information on the net or the product on the local pet shop. Any help is greatly appreciated. Walter <<You can get the Vortex product here if you wish (http://www.bigalsonline.com/BigAlsUS/ctl3684/cp18654/si1381542/cl0/diatomspecialmotoroilp301). Cheers, EricR>> <<Dang Eric! Are you also wearing a plaid shirt, shorts and striped Underoos? RMF>

Vortex XL Diatom Filter, op., bubbles  - 1/28/08 I have a Vortex XL diatom filter which I use weekly to polish the water in my 75 gallon freshwater tank. Sometimes the filter pumps out masses of very fine bubbles into the tank. The bubbles don't appear to interfere with the quality of the filtering operation. At times the bubbles are intermittent, and at other times are produced steadily. Is this normal? If not, any recommendation on how to eliminate the production of the bubbles? Mike C. <Yes... there is some place where air is being entrained here... Likely at either of the too-simple attachment points for the tubing going to/from the pump unit (the black nipples)... Either get/use new bands here, replace the tubing, and/or "lube up" a bit with some Silicone based material to prevent air from being pulled in. Bob Fenner>

Diatom D-1 Filter Problem 8/29/07 I've been using a Diatom D-1 Filter for 25 years without a problem and excellent results. <Are spiffy periodic-use devices... though take a few uses to get into their routine...> Within the past 6 months, I've been using a new supply of Vortex Filter Powder... and have been experiencing a problem. The problem is that the filter powder cakes-up on the filter bag and stops the water returning into the tank...or it becomes a trickle. Thinking that the D-1 Filter itself might be the problem, I bought a new one...the same problem occurs. When I use the approximate one cup of powder recommended by Vortex, the problem is severe...it starts out fine, but the problem develops shortly...it helps if I use a lesser amount of powder, but not much. Also, when I back flush the filter after using it, the powder gives the appearance of being flakey. Can you help? Thanks, Curt Denny <Mmm... well, all DE/Diatomaceous Earth is about the same... and you've done what I would given the same circumstances... Unfortunately the only item left likely to be defective is the motor itself... This is likely the cause of trouble here... IF you and I had a service co. with a few D-1's I'd just try switching out the motor/tops... Likely the most reasonable course of action is for you to buy a whole new filter, use the old one for parts. Bob Fenner>

Powder for a Diatom Filter   5/14/07 Hello. I recently purchased a Vortex Diatom  Filter. I checked through your Diatom Filter archives and  noticed a post where it was mentioned that the powder for the  Diatom Filter  can be purchased at a swimming pool supply store at a much better price. <Oh yes> I think it was Bob Fenner who replied to the  effect that the powder sold in swimming pool supply stores is  basically the same as the powder sold as "for use with Diatom  Filters". <It is> I contacted a swimming pool supply store via e-mail to  inquire if their Diatom powder is pure. Their response was "This is pure D.E.- 100% with 5% Crystalline Silica to make it easier to  pour."  Is the Crystalline Silica  mentioned in the response potentially harmful to tropical  fish? <No... most is retained by the "bag" sleeve, the bit that gets through is almost entirely chemically inert, settles out physically... removed by gravel vacuuming maintenance...> Would I be able to use it in my Diatom Filter and  not incur any adverse effects on my aquarium fish? Thanks for your help. Ric V. <You should be fine here. These products are identical. Bob Fenner>

Cleaning Filter Media He there: <Hi! Scott F. with you today!> I am new to marine fish keeping and new to your site and I absolutely love them both. <Awesome! Welcome to the hobby/obsession and WWM! We're thrilled to bring the site to you each and every day!> My question has to do with the filters in my tank and live rock. I have a 75 gallon tank with about 15 inches of fish and 50 pounds of ocean rock (nonliving) so far. I know now that I am not supposed to rinse my filters out with tap water, but I am planning on adding about 10 pounds of live rock soon, and maybe 10 more pounds later. I am hoping that my non-living rocks will eventually become living and have somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 pounds of live rock. <A good plan. Yes, given the passage of time and a good husbandry routine, you're inert rock will become "colonized" with a variety of interesting life forms.> My question is in regards of how often should I clean out my filters once I have live rock in the tank and how should I do it. Thanks for your help and thanks for your site. A.J. <Well, A.J.- if you're referring to filters that use some sort of mechanical filtration media (like filter pads, etc.), then you need to keep them clean! Mechanical filtration pads can become victims of their own success, trapping excess organics and detritus if left unattended, which can degrade water quality as the trapped material decomposes. I'd clean any mechanical media very often (like weekly, or more frequently if you find it necessary). Most media can be rinsed in freshwater without any problems. After all, you're not worrying about damaging any bacteria; the purpose of mechanical media is the removal of gross particulate matter, not biological filtration. If you are referring to bioballs or other biological media, then the answer is that you really shouldn't ever need to clean them. Biological media should be largely left undisturbed. I hope that this is the information that you were looking for. If you have any additional questions, feel free to write us again! Regards, Scott F.>

Marine Set-up Questions Thanks for the advice on drilling my tank. I got my wet dry set up and running. I got a few questions that I couldn't find in the FAQs. My first question, are there any advantages/disadvantages to placing the heater in the tank or in the sump? <The tank provides more steady, evenly dispersed heating... and is a real bonus location should the pump/circulation mechanism to/through the sump fail... But heater/s in the sump are far less conspicuous and less-easily broken> Second, I want to use diatomaceous earth in my aquarium. Should I buy the swimming pool or food grade? <Mmm, you don't want to "add" DE to your tank... perhaps for use in a designated filter... either source will work for this> And finally, I probably need to replace my compact fluorescents (it's been about 6 months).  Are there any differences between the various brands for the bulbs?  <Some... best to chat over this issue with folks on the various marine aquarium BB's> I noticed some people selling no brand name bulbs on eBay which are even cheaper than www.thatfishplace.com or any of the LFS. Thanks for your help. Thomas <Yes... worth investigating here. Lamps are actually made by very few companies on this planet... and relabeled by many others. Bob Fenner>

The cost of crushed shells (actually diatom skeletons) Greetings, I am a big fan of the Vortex Diatom XL.  I've used it in fresh water and marine setups and I highly recommend it. I have been using Diatomaceous Earth bought from a swimming pool supply store and it seems to work fine but I have two questions.  Is the DE sold by Vortex somehow safer/better?  If not, why would anyone pay $25 for a 10lb bag from Vortex when they could pay $25 for a 50lb bag elsewhere? <Not in my opinion, experience. The products are equivalent if not identical. Bob Fenner> Regards -JC Wow!  Thanks for the insanely quick response. btw - I love your site, it's addictive. -JC <Me neither! Bob Fenner>

- Diatomaceous Earth for DSB - Is there a down side to using diatomaceous earth as a marine substrate or for a DSB? <It's all down side as I see it. These are the same diatoms that promote Cyanobacteria... likewise it is so powder-fine that you'd be hard pressed to keep it out of the water column, creating a cloudy mess. Also, because it's not calcium-based, it won't contribute anything to the alkalinity of the system. I'd stick with fine-grade aragonite.> Thanks <Cheers, J -- >

Diatom Filter Mishap- the Secret to Easy Recharges - 8/29/03 I was "trying" to use the Vortex Diatom filter and things didn't go as planned. The contents of the jar with the white diatom filter powder went into my plant tank. To say the least it is a white snowstorm in there. What are the ramifications of this? <no worries... simply run the powder-less diatom filter with bag/cartridge in place on the aquarium and periodically stir up the substrates in the aquarium to keep it in suspension. It will mostly all be pulled out within an hour or so... keep stirring (gently) to keep it in suspension> Will this cause big problems? I cannot get it out of the tank. A water change probably would do little good as it is settling on the fluorite. Gravel siphoning is out of the question. Is this stuff harmful or harmless? Thanks for your help. Ken <you needed someone to show you the "trick" to charging these filters that is not printed in the directions. Simply assemble and run your diatom on the tank without (!) powder at first. Make sure everything is seated properly and running smoothly. Then take a small plastic bucket or large drinking cup (like a one liter soda cup) and dip it into the aquarium... then with the cup, scoop up the inlet and outlet tubes of the diatom filter and lift them slightly out of the aquarium so that the filter in essence is running on the water in the cup. You can then pour your powder charge into this cup and swirl it around until the cup water runs clear and all powder has been drawn into the filter bag chamber. At that point you can lower the cup with filter tubes back down into the aquarium and pull the cup away. Very fast, clean and easy way to charge filters with diatom powder. Best regards, Anthony>

Diatom Powder Hi, I was wondering if you knew of any kind of mesh bag or any other container I could put diatom powder in and then use in the back of a hang on emperor penguin power filter without the powder getting in the tank.  I need to deal with the floating particles in my tank, but can't afford a diatom filter right now.  Thanks, James <Mmm, only bags, sleeves made specifically for the task... as the diatomaceous earth (DE) is so fine it will pass through most all others... And if so employed, high head or draw pumps really need to be employed... as (depending on whether you're pushing or pulling water through the DE) it takes a good deal more "push" or "pull" to get the water through this media. I would just use the polyester bags from Emperor Aquatics in a sump setting (on the discharge water side as it enters the sump... if I were looking for added mechanical filtration. If you find you'd like to periodically "polish" your water with DE filtration, either rent one from a LFS (many do this) or save up as you state and buy one for yourself. Bob Fenner> James Hall

Re: Diatom Filtration Bob: I thought I'd add my 2-cents' worth to your advice today about diatom filtration. You are absolutely correct that DE would never work in an Emperor (or any other open filter). Even if there was a bag fine enough to hold it, it would simply float around inside the bag. DE filtration requires that the water be forced at high pressure through the compacted mass of DE. Additionally, a large portion of the water drawn into an Emperor bypasses the filter medium in two ways: some directly through the pipe to the Biowheel and some that simply flows around or above the cartridge. <Agreed> I would personally suggest that the questioner consider a Magnum 350 with the micron cartridge. This does a pretty nice polishing job in and of itself, and it can be used with DE for even better results. The written instructions I sent you several months ago about how to do this are located at: <Ah yes. Thank you> www.wetwebmedia.com/diatomfltfaqs.htm The instructions are based on a pictorial still available at: <<Link no longer available. RMF>> The advantage of the Magnum over the Vortex (an outstanding product, I am told by many) is that it is multi-use. I use it to vacuum gravel in my kids' FW tanks. I would not recommend this for sand, because it pulls quite hard and will suck up a lot of sand. I sometimes use it to pump water out for water changes and if I get the tip anywhere near the bottom, I have a tube and a Magnum full of sand. The Magnum also makes a pretty good mechanical/chemical filter with the usual caveats about frequent cleaning. A nice thing about this one compared to other canisters is that it is clear, so you can easily see when it needs to be changed. I'm quite satisfied with mine. The unit (with the cartridge) can be had for under $100 on the internet. In fact, the price is exactly the same as for a Vortex XL. <And much more "user friendly" as we will likely concur> I'd also recommend keeping an eye on any diatom filter-they clog up quickly. <Yes> Best Regards, Steve Allen <Thank you for this input. Bob Fenner>

Vortex Diatom Filter Hi there, I've been reading your site for a few weeks now and I have a question (well lots actually, but one for now).  I moved from a 90 to a 180 gallon FO with ~180 pounds of live rock.<good>  I'm using a wet/dry sump and an Aerofoamer 830 for skimming.<sounds fine> I've also got an Eheim canister filled with filter materials.<ok>  My problem is little bit's of floating particles in the tank that aren't going away.  The tank's been up for about a month now.  <maybe a water change or siphoning the gravel will clear this up, could also be diatom bloom> I'm thinking of buying a Vortex Diatom filter or Magnum 350 just to clear up this problem. <have not used it myself, but its worth a shot :)>   Am I looking in the right direction and if so, is one of these better than the other for just this purpose?  <would give the vortex a try> Thanks for your help, and for all the information on your site.<your welcome, IanB>

Diatom XL Gents: I have a diatom filter, Vortex XL and I purchased the motor oil and various other parts for this filter, but for the life of me I cannot find out where to oil the motor.  Can you be so kind, if you know, to advise me how to oil the motor? Thanks a million Rick <If memory serves... there are two ports in the vertical face of the black motor housing... one near the top, the other the bottom (near the white paint print of the name?). These may seem like simple openings in the casing (because they are)... which lead to bearings at top and bottom of the motor aperture... best to drip/drop a bit of oil in each with the unit turned off, leaned back (letting gravity do the work) every few hours of use or recharge cycle. Bob Fenner>

Re: Diatom XL Bob, Thanks, but my motor don't have any ports that I can see.  I even unscrewed the top of the motor (It's like a dust cover on the XL) and I for the life of me can't find any oil ports at all.  Any other suggestions? Rick <Mmm, oh yeah! Keyed in Vortex Innerspace products... the maker... and yes!!~ they have a nice website: http://www.diatomfilter.com/ with manuals re this and many other items. Bob Fenner>

Re: Diatom XL Bob, I went to Web site and emailed them 2 X's and it didn't go through.  I am wondering if they are still in business? <Yikes, I think so... at least the wholesalers are still selling their products. I'd give them a call. Bob Fenner> Rick

- Diatom Powder and Magnum 350 - Hello, wonderful site i must say i have been doing tanks for about 5 years now and have done many different things. I recently set my 55 gal. back into a salt water setup. I am running a aqua clear 500 and a magnum 350 for filtration. The magnum is set up so the water return goes into a under gravel filter for a reverse effect. On the other side is just the hang on 500 and i have a 801 power head on order from eBay for that side of under gravel filtering. I have 20 pounds of sand and 40 pounds or brown medium gravel in the bottom on top of the under gravel filters. I do not have any live rock my ph is 7.9 the temp is 80. I have not tested any other levels yet due to the tank has not established. I have all new carbon in both filters, but the tank does not seem to become clear. It has the typical white milky look to it, although it has only been going for 24 hrs now, usually those two filters can turn that problem over in a matter of hours. <Yeah... I think your problem here is the reverse flow set-up on the under gravel and the sand you've placed on top of it... you'd just be blowing sand all the time. This arrangement would work better with just coarse gravel.> Now I have seen some articles on using the diatom powder in a 350 magnum. No i know that you can never replace the real filter but is this really effective in any way shape or form for me to polish this water? <I'd give it a little more time - if you didn't rinse the sand or gravel, you should expect the tank to stay cloudy for at least 24 hours or more. As for using diatom powder in a Magnum, I'm not sure their media cartridge is the appropriate size - you may end up blowing diatom powder into the tank, making it more cloudy.> And if so what do i need to set this up with the powder. I am thinking that i need to get the polishing filter instead of the carbon insert that i am using with the blue sleeve over it. <Yes, the pleated filter is what you need in this circumstance.> The lighting is 2 VHO white bulbs and 1 VHO purple with ice cap ballast. I hope this is not to much information and i hope there might be a solution for this clarity problem although it maybe just a time factor, just i have never had this problem this long in a set up in this tank. Thanks Tony <Cheers, J -- >

Diatom Powder in Magnum 350 Noticed the FAQ about using diatom powder in a Magnum 350. I have done this myself and it works great. You must use the micron cartridge to do this. Actually, the cartridge alone does a fairly nice job of water-polishing, but the diatom powder does improve on this. Here's a good way to do it for salt or fresh water: 1. Set up the Magnum with the micron cartridge and nothing else. Fill it with water (salt or fresh). 2.  Fill a bucket (16 qt Rubbermaid works fine) with salt or fresh water. 3. Pour a cup of diatom powder into the water & mix gently. 4. Place the bucket right next to the tank--I use a step ladder. 5. Place the intake & output lines of the filter into the bucket and turn it on. 6. After a minute or two, the water in the bucket clears as the diatom powder sticks to the micron cartridge. 7. Turn the filter off and quickly place the input and output into the tank; turn the filter back on immediately. (A small amount of diatom powder will probably enter the tank this way. The quicker you move, the less powder escapes. You can move the output & intake into the tank while the filter is running, but you have to be very fast so as not to empty the canister of water.) 8. Polish away! It's a good idea to keep an eye on things--diatom filters clog easily. Hope this helps someone. Steve Allen <Thank you for this. Will post. Bob Fenner>

Diatom D1 filters Sirs; Hope this question is acceptable.  I need to replace the jar on my Vortex diatom D1 filter and am having a difficult time finding someone who sells them.  Any suggestions? Louis Elsner <the old models used to take a Bell style canning jar for replacement. We now use safer plastics. Seek a replacement here my friend: That Fish Place- Customer Service Number 1-800-733-3829 Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Green water problem What is a polishing Micron filter? I have been feeding my fish flake food and pellets. I have been alternating every day. Tim <Hi Tim, Look up diatom filters like the System 1 pressure filter, Whisper Diatomagic, or the Marineland cartridges at most any of the WetWebMedia company sponsors. I use an old Magnum 330 from the 70's, it uses a diatom paper filter w/o the diatomaceous earth or carbon. There are other better models. You might try switching to different types of food than two prepared commercial foods. Check out feeding and nutrition on WetWebMedia.com, fish do not live on flake and pellets alone and they may be contributing to your bloom. Don't overfeed! Craig>

Diatom Filter & Saltwater I am new to SW and was wondering I have a Diatom XL filter that I had been using for my Fresh Water tank. Can it be used for saltwater? <Yes> I know it is excellent for FW but unsure about saltwater. Will it remove too much stuff (nutrients, Chem. Salt, etc.) as you probably know it filters down to 0.08 microns. So it even removes ich. <A good bit of it. Bob Fenner> Any help is thankful Eric

Diatom Filters Hi Bob, What is your opinion on diatom filters for a reef tank. How often should I use mine. <Mmm, our old and even older service companies used to use the ones made by Vortex Products pretty often... with gross clean-ups, doctor's and restaurant tank accounts... can be used weekly, or more/less often... with an eye on how clogged the unit is/getting... and a brief note here: do add to the connections of the flexible lines if the filter type you have employs them (notorious for slipping off)> What exactly gets filtered out with these machines. Do they remove phosphates and nitrates? What about trace elements? <Won't remove any of the above... unless you incorporate/add chemical filtrants along with the D.E. (diatomaceous earth, white powder...) that is the stock media... Please also see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm Bob Fenner>

Diatom Filter Dear WWM Crew: <cheers, mate. I noticed your addy says "Austin".. are you a Texan? Regardless... are you going to MACNA in Dallas/FT Worth this September? Not to be missed by reefkeepers... Bob, Steve and I will be there... it must be good <G>> http://www.dfwmas.com/M14_registration.html> I have a question concerning the use of a Vortex diatom filter. <and oldie but a goodie!> First some background on the tank: I have a one month old 75 gal tank RR tank with a sump, supposed to be mostly FOWLR with some shrimp, snails, hermits, and invertebrates that came with my Florida live rock. The liverock has a lot of small feather dusters and I also have a large Hawaiian featherduster. The rock also has many clams (the kind covered in coralline algae, hard to tell apart from the rock!)  <wingnut oysters and the like> and encrusting sponges.  <all very interesting and beautiful! Actually these encrusting/demo-sponges are some of the very few sponges that can fare well in captivity with our current knowledge of aquariology> The place I got the rock from also included some sponges, two gorgonians and a clam with a couple of Christmas tree worms.  <I really hate when companies do this. I'm going to uncharacteristically step out of line here and ask point blank if your vendor was Tampa Bay Saltwater. And let me say for the benefit of all readers that I have no personal problem with this company.. there sure haven't done me any wrong. But we get so much mail here and it makes me sad and concerned for the industry to hear of so many Florida wholesalers sending along "free" anemones, ball and tree sponges, colored gorgonians (red/orange/yellow) and filter feeders (bivalves like flame scallops, worms like the Christmas tree species, etc) to new aquarists that do not yet know that these are inappropriate animals for even some of the most advanced aquarists. It is a shameless waste of our precious reef resources if not merely life itself. Most of the non-photosynthetic sponges and gorgonians and filter feeding animals like the scallops are doomed to die in most aquaria within months if not weeks. And with all due respect, in the aquariums of new aquarists or young tanks (no mature refugium or natural plankton growing) they will die even quicker. Acckkk! Thank you for letting me vent. But such vendors are not doing you any favors by sending you an animal destined to die... their collection does not serve the greater good when there are so many other hardy and beautiful creatures to collect instead. And so... as consumers, we need to be informed and spread the word: if such companies will not stop collecting these animals, then we will take our feet and money to another collector that will do more responsible business. I assume that the extra sponges you were sent were red or orange most likely (finger/tree) or perhaps yellow ball? They will likely be dead in less than twelve months (slow starvation)...really less than six if you are a betting man. Same for the gorgonians if they are also "colored" (non-photosynthetic yellow, orange or red). I sure do not fault you at all for this, my friend. If the above is true and you want more information about keeping the above creatures alive... please do follow up with me. Be warned though, we are talking tedious feeding in tank (daily), a slightly expensive feeding set-up (zoo and phyto reactors) and/or a separate tank altogether> The rock itself had quite a few small corals on it. I only have an AquaC EV-120 skimmer in the sump and two powerheads, no other mechanical filtration.  <nice skimmer... have you got it fine tuned to produce daily skimmate yet? Also, unless those two skimmer are huge... you likely need much better water circulation (700+ GPH circ would be nice... double that with rock and reef invertebrates) The water always seems to have some particles floating in it. There are also a lot of particles that have settled on the rock. I sometimes blow them off with a turkey baster  <yes... clearly a lack of circulation. Better water movement will keep this sediment in suspension for that nifty skimmer to remove for you. Else it is going to degrade sitting on the rocks and feed a horrifying algae bloom soon> but I wouldn't mind filtering them out by using a diatom filter and stirring them up while the filter is operating it. >nice filter... but not sure that is needed. The spike stirring make cause more harm than good and diatomaceous earth imparts silica which can contribute to unsightly brown algae blooms. Modern diatom filters use pleated cartridges to eliminate this concern> I used one of the subject diatom filters many years ago and it was great for cleaning the water.  <agreed... fantastic for fish only tanks... especially with messy fishes like Cichlids!> So good, in fact, that I am wondering if its use would be detrimental to my tank given all the filter feeding life in it.  <yes... a very wise thought my friend> On the one hand I am sure it will get the particles out and leave the water very clear but on the other, that means that whatever food is floating around for the filter feeders will also be removed. Do you think occasional use (or perhaps one time use if I can borrow one somewhere) followed by the addition of DT's Phytoplankton and other food supplements is a good idea? <the DT's is a start... and is perhaps the best bottled choice... but works best like most bottled supplements in a narrow range of application (less than six months old, always refrigerated and whisked in an electric blender to reduce particle size prior to feeding...ughhh! tedious). I prefer a phytoplankton reactor. Many good designs on the Internet (and described briefly in my book). Also a great thread a few months ago on Reef Central (do a search for Phytoplankton). Know that phyto at best even if accepted is a limited food source. These filter feeders you have feed also (and perhaps more so) on bacteria, epiphytic matter, mucus, zooplankton, etc. What they really need is a fishless refugium that is mature and has been set up for a couple of years!> Thanks for your help. Henry <with kind regards, Anthony> PS: I am sending this e-mail to both of your addresses because I've had other e-mails not reach you in the past. Let me know if you get them both. <yes... sorry for the delay my friend... we think we have the e-mail bug under better control>


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