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FAQs on Marine Filtration 5

Related Articles: Marine FiltrationMarine Aquarium Filtration, by Adam Cesnales, Central Filtration Systems,

Related FAQs: Marine Filtration 1, Marine Filtration 2Marine Filtration 3Marine Filtration 4, Marine Filtration 6Marine Filtration 7Marine Filtration 8, Marine Filtration 9, Marine Filtration 10, Marine Filtration 11, Marine Filtration 12, & FAQs on Marine Filtration: Designs, Installation, Maintenance, Troubleshooting/Repair, Brands/Manufacturers, DIY, & By Type of  System: FO System Filtration, FOWLR Set-Ups, Reef Tank Setups, Reef Filtration, Small Tank Setups, Large System Filtration/Circulation/Aeration, & By Aspect and Gear: Biol.: Biological Filtration, Denitrification/Denitrifiers, Fluidized Beds, DSBs, Plenums, Algal Filtration, Mech.: Marine Mechanical Filtration, Power Filters, Outside Power Filters, Canister, Cartridge Filters, Undergravel FiltersWet-Dry Filters, Phys.: Ultraviolet Sterilizers,   Ozone, To Skim or Not to SkimBest Skimmer FAQs, Chem.: Nutrient Control and Export Chemical Filtrants (e.g. Polyfilter, Chemipure, Purigen), Carbon, Mud/Algal Filtration Phony: Magnetic Field Filtration, & Troubles: Bubbles, Noise,

Marine Filtration gear Is a sea clone protein skimmer a good brand? <Most of us at WWM think it's pure trash!> can you set up a salt water fish only talk with just one hot magnum 250 filter and live rock and live sand and a protein skimmer? nothing else? <Depends on how big the tank is. If you have enough live rock and a good protein skimmer, you can set up any size tank from very large to very small...without using the magnum at all> or would I have nothing but problems? <No problems> would it be better to go with a sand filter or under gravel? <No> I do not have the money to buy 1 $400.00 wet dry filter <Not needed. But this hobby is expensive and the initial outlay for tank, filtration, etc., is only the beginning. Just something for you to consider> thanks for your help. <My pleasure! David Dowless>

- Marine Filtration - Good afternoon crew member of the day. <It's JasonC this time, greetings.> This is actually a positive message since I am experiencing no problems with my tank.  I am just looking to maximize my filtration performance.  I have a 55 gallon tank with 35 pounds of live rock, a fighting Conch, three bumble bee snails, one turbo snail, and four medium size fish (two clowns, a Pseudochromis, and a Bannerfish). I use the live rock for filtration along with a SeaClone skimmer (I found out after purchasing it that it is garbage)  and a Fluval 304.  If I put the surface skimmer attachment on the Fluval canister filter to replace the current intake tube that is one inch off of my sand bed, do I need to place powerheads in the bottom of the tank to circulate the waste/debris in the tank so that it will eventually reach the skimmer attachment of my Fluval? <It wouldn't hurt, but isn't a necessity if your circulation is already good.> I currently see the waste and very small amount of food that gets by my fish during feeding go into the intake but am worried about after changing to the surface skimmer attachment that this waste may just lay in the bottom of my tank. <You might want to find something that will eat it, or perhaps the filter was getting it before the fish could.> If I do need powerheads, how many and what size would I need and do I place them near middle or bottom of the tank. <Hmm... this is one of those things that I could go on about forever. Best to get at least two and face them directly into each other. I'm also a huge fan of large amounts of circulation, so I would get something in the range of a Maxi-jet 900 or 1200.> To revisit the skimmer topic.  The SeaClone produces very little waste (less than a quarter cup a week of light tan waste) and I have tried to tune it various ways over the past year to get more performance out of it. <As they say, you can't squeeze blood from a stone.> I thought of purchasing a Aqua-C Remora but was curious to see if with the population of my tank, if you think I will see a lot more waste in the Remora's collection cup. <I would expect it just because the Remora is a much better design.> I would hate to drop $200 and not see a performance benefit from the upgrade in skimmer. <There would be other benefits.> I plan on adding maybe two fish to my tank so with that bioload, should I stick to the Remora or go to the Remora Pro. <I'm sure the standard model would suffice.> Again, after the disappointment with the SeaClone, I would rather start off with the proper model of Aqua-C than have to change later. <Unless you plan on getting a larger tank later, I wouldn't worry about it.> Thanks again from me and my fish for all your help. Amy <Cheers, J -- >

Staying on Course! Hi Scott and Crew! <Hello again!> Just wanted to say thank you again for the expert advice!  I do have a Bak Pak 2 protein skimmer and an Eheim canister filter in operation on the 55 gal so I'm hoping the algae will go away in the future. I will be patient though as (I've read) tampering with the system too much can be more harmful than good. <So true!  Stay with it! Just make sure that the Bak Pak (a very good skimmer, IMO) is producing regular (like a couple of times a week) yields of dark, yucky skimmate. Keep the skimmer clean, too, as it will really rock when it's clean! Also, remember to clean and/or replace those mechanical filter pads and carbon regularly in the Eheim. That will go a l-o-n-g way towards reducing the accumulation of organics in your system, and discouraging the growth of nasty nuisance algae> I'll be skimming through the archives for articles on deep sand beds for better filtration - I had no idea that a deep sand bed produces better filtration! <Yep- those sand beds really help with denitrification. The results are quite amazing!> Learn something new every day from this site!!  Just wanted to say thanks again and keep up the wonderful work!! Christy <Well, thanks, Christy! We're really glad to be here for you! I, too, am learning new stuff every day! What a cool hobby! I'm stoked! Take care! Scott F>

Filtration quandary Hi, <Greetings, JasonC here...>    Let me first say thank you for taking the time to help out.  About 3 months ago, I converted my 125g breeder into a salt tank.  Well, not much of a conversion really, I just added some salt and live sand.  Currently I have two Fluval 404's as my filtration, but plan to change that soon. Here in lies the problem.  On my last marine tank I used the AquaClear aquatics Pro150(also a 125g), and didn't really care for the results.  The skimmer was IMHO less then adequate, and the rest was just another "nitrate factory".  The local fish store has set up a 90g reef, and a 125g FOWLR running the ecosystem filters, and seem to be having good results with that.  I've seen that AMiracle has put out their own version which is a good deal less expensive.  Are these filters all they claim to be?? <The concept is sound. Whether or not AMiracle has delivered on those concepts is not known by me. I'd go with the Ecosystem myself. Often times a penny saved becomes two pennies spent elsewhere.> With the addition of a good skimmer of course any recommendations?).  If I would be better off setting up a DIY sump, could you direct as to where to get step by step instructions on doing so? <Not all that many steps, but perhaps you should read up on all your different options. Here's a good place to start: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reeffilt.htm > My current set up in detail is a 125g(standard dimension) with a 3/8" deep live sand bed. 4 bits of live rock (about 15lbs), two Fluval 404's and two AquaClear 802's for agitation.  Current stock is one 3" panther grouper, and only future plans are a Naso tang, and maybe a tesselata eel if I get brave enough to have one again. <You might want to rethink your stocking plans as those groupers grow quickly and will eat most anything they can fit in their mouths.> Thanks in advance. Jason <Cheers, J -- >

- Re: Filtration and Messy Eaters - Hello "Crew!" <Hi... it's JasonC... again!> JasonC kindly responded to my question about filtration and Triggers/Groupers earlier, but now (I DO apologize) I'm investigating other filtration options for a yet-to-be-set up 125g with a Huma, Niger, and Grouper.  After reading through WWM FAQs on filtration, I noticed that it seems possible to filter your tank using only live sand, live rock, and a good skimmer. True?  <Quite true.> If so, I am wondering if this system can work with the copious amount of waste produced by Triggers and the like? <You would need to take additional measures... perhaps some prefilter mechanisms to aid in the process.> And if this is a possibility, how much sand? <You should continue the reading - check here for the FAQs on Deep Sand Beds: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm > What kind? <More reading: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm > How much live rock? <One pound per gallon will usually suffice, but I am fond of saying, as much as you can afford.> What about circulation? <Yet more reading: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm > Sump size? <As large as is practical.> And, finally (Ugh!) if this is a viable setup, how big should the triggers be and in what order should I introduced the proposed livestock. <Again... I would obtain these fish in a size large enough to avoid being eaten by the grouper. Probably in the 4 to 6" range.> I already have the Grouper (V-Tail, about 6 inches in another tank) Any advice or direction you can give me will be greatly appreciated. With so much information out there and so many differing opinions I've decided I need to settle into a slot and follow that course through so I thank you for your generous advice and patience. <Do spend more time reading through our site... most of these questions have been answered multiple times and the answers are recorded there for your perusal.> Most sincerely, Michael <Cheers, J -- >

Bioballs and Ceramic Rings (Coral Chips, Too) Good day. <Hi there! Scott F. here today> As far I know these two media act as biological area. Besides that, is it by using  ceramic ring able to improve the water quality in marine tank. <Well, mainly biological filtration. Both are generally made from inert materials. Some mechanical filtration occurs if water entering the chamber where they are contained is not pre-filtered first> I have another question, about "coral chips" hobbyists love to use for marine and freshwater tanks. Are they able to improve the water quality - reduce cloudy water or just add carbonate hardness / maintain ph ? <Good question- depends on how/where they are used in the system. Sure, they can provide some carbonate hardness and dissolved minerals. They can also act as a mechanical filter to remove detritus or cloudiness from the water column if used in a filter of some sort. Granted, this material will need frequent cleaning if used in this manner, or you will accumulate undesirable quantities of organics...> Thank you for you advice.. <Very good/interesting questions! Thank you for stopping by! Regards, Scott F>

Filtration Hello Crew, Yet another filter question. Is it possible if one had enough liverock, and enough water movement, to use that as your filtering system along with a very good protein skimmer, or even two protein skimmers on a 125gal.   I would want fish and some hardier corals.   <That would be called a slightly modified Berlin system. Yes...It really does work!> I have a 55gal now that houses a 8 inch lionfish, that is begging me to move him to his new 125gal that I got for X-mas.   My husband surprised me with the tank, it was marked down, but it's not predrilled and we can't find anyone that will drill this tank for us. <If acrylic...no problem. If it's made of glass, drilling might be a real problem> Not real sure of the fish I will add, of course they will have to be bigger than "Elvis's" mouth (the lionfish)   <Forget shrimps...in fact, any crustaceans...and fish that will fit in Elvis' mouth> I was thinking on the lines of maybe a Tang, maybe an Angel, although I will make sure I choose types that will go well and not bother the system or each other and of course I will have crabs, and snails.     <Nope...You're on the right track!> Is this thinking totally out of line?  or can it be done? <Sure it can be done! Keep reading and learning. All will soon be clear(er)> Thank you, ya'll have a wonderful website, and are always very helpful, I tell everyone I know about your site.. <Fabulous! I'm glad you're enjoying it and learning something along the way! David Dowless>  

Re: AMIRACLE VS TIDEPOOL? Hi. I was wondering your thoughts on AMiracle 150 Slim line versus Marineland Tidepool for a 55 gallon aquarium <I have never been too impressed by the Tidepool filters. The material is rather thin plastic and too flimsy for my comfort. -Steven Pro>

System Modifications... Sorry but still need a little clarification.  So the current wet/dry on the back of the tank could house the skimmer when all the media is removed? <Oops! I didn't forgot that your wet-dry was the hang-on type...Just use the hang-on skimmer as you planned. I'd still keep a few bags of carbon in their, however.  :p  > Also I missed the answer on the bio load capabilities with all but the Percula and Coral Beauty returned to the store.  Really appreciate your time! <No problem...I think that the Percula and the Coral Beauty will "keep things going", along with the new additions of rock, until you get your animal load back up to where you ultimately want to be. Sorry again for the confusion! Scott F>

Playing In The Tidepool! Howdy gang! <Hey there! Scott F. with you today> Discovered WWM.COM a few days after setting up a 70 gal marine tank,  (what luck!),  I got a Marineland Tidepool 1, receiving a Mag-drive 950, as soon as it shows up, to replace the Rio 2100, for water return thru 1/2 " ID check valve & ball valve. Water is input to the Tidepool 1 bio-wheel thru the SOS overflow. Question, what media do y'all recommend for the three media trays? I am now using the following; first (top) tray has Matrix media (SeaChem) with blue bonded filter pad on top, 2nd tray (middle) has a product called "aqua chargers" made of a "bio-flex" polymer that's self cleaning"?", pre-colonized with a high density nitrifying bacteria blend with a blue bonded pad on top, & the last (bottom) tray has blue pad with a layer of activated carbon topped of with another blue bonded pad. <Ya know what, Scott? I'd keep things really, really simple, and not even use the BioWheel assembly. Basically, let the tidepool become your water processing center for your system. Live rock and sand in your tank will become your filter. The sump will handle the water inflow, and contain your heater, protein skimmer and a bag or two of activated carbon. That's it...easy! The beauty of the Tidepool, or any sump, for that matter, is the flexibility that it offers the aquarist. As far as the media trays...I'd only use one of them-and use the blue bonded pads for removal of gross particulate matter...and change them a few times a week so they don't become nutrient traps. I am not a big fan of plastic filter media in sump systems...keep it simple and natural...IMO> The tank was set up on 12-14 & has started to cycle with two damsels. After spending a few days studying this site, I ordered a Remora Pro skimmer to help with the live rock I am going to/should have already, put in the tank. The main concern is the aqua charger (bio-ball like) media, what is the opinion of the staff on what to replace this type of media with? <As above. The bacteria contained on these media are/will be/have been colonizing your system, so I don't see a huge advantage in using these types of "precolonized" media. BTW, the Aqua C Remora is one of the best HOT skimmers on the market, and was a nice choice.  However, if possible, you may want to see if you could exchange it for an Aqua C Urchin Pro, which is an "in-sump" model, you could really take advantage of the sump, IMO> This web site is definitely worth its weight in live rock (gold) when it comes to information! Thanks ever so much! Scott <Good luck with your new set up! Keep studying and learning-sounds like a neat system you have planned! You'll be fine! Feel free to write us any time! Regards, Scott F>

Playing In The Tidepool (Pt. 2) Hey Gang,  Thank you for the fast response in regards to the media selection for the Tidepool. <Glad to be of service!> Question; should I leave the bio-wheel in place until I actually receive the live rock? <I'd say that it's a good idea to wait until you get some live sand/rock in the system, considering that these materials ARE your filter! Good call.> Also, in regards to the Aqua C  Remora Pro, there's not enough clearance under the tank for the Urchin model, but, I did order the skimmer box attachment for the Remora Pro w/mag 3. Would the placement for this skimmer box be effective, being placed next to the overflow skimmer on the Tidepool system? <Should be just fine> I have a friend that is doing some really cool dive videos set to a local bands musical endeavors, www.chasmania.com is the site he has put together. Let me know what ya think! <Sounds way cool- Kinda like the home surf videos my friends and I used to make (but I'll bet that these are nicer!). I'll check it out!> Happy Holidays to the entire staff at WWM.COM, y'all are truly a blessing to the hobby. Your friend in Denver, Scott <Hey, Scott- thanks for all of your support, and Happy Holidays to you and yours, too!. I'm sure that your system is gonna turn out great!  Regards, Scott F>

System Review Hi guys, <Scott F. your guy this morning> Your thoughts on the following would be appreciated: I have inherited via yard sale a 180 "reef ready" Oceanic tank (rear corner overflows) together with a "trickle system model 250" and oceanic "plus series model 6 venturi skimmer"; all appears in good working order; a Fluval 403 was apparently used for carbon media. I would like to set this up as a fish only or fish /limited invertebrate system; A couple of concerns: I don't like the idea of the foam prefilters in the overflows (too much of a pain to get to); can I provide adequate mechanical filtration by layering 25 micron pads in the top trickle tray? <You can, but these do need to be cleaned and/or replaced quite often to avoid a buildup of organics/detritus. Some people like the micron filter "bags" that are placed at the bottom of the overflow standpipes where they enter the sump. Perhaps a bit easier to reach and to clean. Still others never use mechanical filtration and let the sump serve as a sort of "settling basin" for detritus, which can easily be siphoned out> Should I be replacing the current bio-balls with live rock? <I would. Much more efficient and "natural", when combined with a properly constructed deep sand bed, and with the added benefit of not being a "nitrate factory"!> Is this a decent skimmer or should I replace and if so, what with? <I have heard mixed reviews about this one. As long as it pulls a few cups of dark, yucky stuff from the system a few times a week, it sounds good to me. Do check the WetWebMedia. chat forum to hear other hobbyists' experiences with this skimmer. Other worthwhile skimmers to examine would be Aqua C, Euroreef, and Tunze> Is ozone a worthwhile addition for my purposes? <Worthwhile, but certainly not mandatory> Overall, I am concerned about the ability of the trickle filter to do an adequate job, mechanically; perhaps I should replace it altogether? <Depending on the types of fishes you plan on keeping, and the population density, you'll be surprised how well this system can do with little or no supplemental mechanical filtration. Do use the pads or "bags" in an easy-to-access location within the system if you feel better about having this type of filtration. No problem with them if properly maintained.> I am one of those people who is not happy unless the water is pretty near invisible with excellent parameters; I tend to load fairly lightly, but I like to overbuild where filtration is concerned; any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks, Steve. <Well, Steve, we think alike! I'm sure that your system will be just fine if you make the changes you are considering. Best of luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Protein Skimmer Only Hello crew again. Thanks for being there. <You are welcome.> I am about to add a protein skimmer (either EV-120 or Euroreef) for my 75 marine tank and working on how to put it in the Marineland Tidepool-2 BioWheel sump. My fish friend (they're also fishy!) told me that I should do away with the BioWheel and put the pump for the in-sump protein skimmer pump in the area where the BioWheel currently resides. <I agree.> Do you think it's wise to get rid of the BioWheel and only go with a skimmer (and perhaps a little carbon filtration)? <If you have a sufficient amount of liverock, you don't need nor want the BioWheel.> Here's what one friend said: "Hey there. I know it sounds crazy but it's true. Any kinda filters, BIOBALLS, and things like this trap nitrates. I had to learn the hard way. I also have a 75 gallon tank. I used to have a wet/dry sump. My nitrates were out of control. I did a lot of research, and posted a lot, just to come to the conclusion that I should have never listened to the local pet store (figure that). Everyone told me to get the bioballs out of my tank and just go with a refugium, so I did it. I chambered it all up so that I could separate all the macros from the skimmer compartment and to my amazement, two weeks later I had absolutely no nitrates. A lot of people say that if you have a refugium you will not need to skim anymore, but I just do not feel secure yet about it, so I'm still skimming." I don't know what a refugium is, but what do you think of this theory? <He is close but not exactly right. The bioballs produce nitrates as the end product of denitrification, not trap. A refugium can be a means of nutrient export. Growing and harvesting certain macroalgae is a very good way of removing nitrates, phosphates, and many other things from your water. Do search through www.WetWebMedia.com regarding additional information on refugiums.> I have a 75 gallon fish only marine tank (someday I'll add a few pounds of live rock and anemones). The tank is drilled and doing well, with a 950 gph pump. <If you do not have any liverock, you will not be able to remove the BioWheel. Also, let me caution you now against adding anemones. They are very challenging and not to be recommended casually.> What do ya think? Steve <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Wet/dry versus Tunze? Dear Crew, again congrats for the excellent site. <thanks kindly> I am in the process of upgrading my tank: to 150g with a Turboflotor 1000 and sump. <a good skimmer but labor intensive to perform consistently> I was reading about trickle filters and I have seen some people describing them as nitrate factories and NOT suited to reef purposes. <that is quite correct for most systems. They are only warranted for reefs with expected heavy bio-loads (overstocking, large fishes and/or deliberate overfeeding)> I am currently torn between two decisions: Do I set up a wet/ dry tower trickle- with a cheaper deal from a reputable shop who would give me a great discounts on halides - with a view in time to replace the bio-media with live rock eventually, OR, do I go for a more expensive Tunze system- here I feel I am being ripped off-, which, as I understand -am I right ?- is a similar system but with a cartridge pump before the media? <I don't follow your question, my friend. First of all... the pyramedia is the first thing that should go. You need live rock (and want a lot of it!)... but the trickle filter (in any form) is quite unnecessary and even a slight disadvantage if you are keeping tang sized fishes and smaller> What do you think of the Tunze system, one of my suppliers raves about it -but he is a distributor so mmm...- as I can't really find much on the site. <Good heavens! They are one of the finest brands in the world! Top shelf products across the board and odds on favorite to be better than any trickle tower you are being offered. Tunze is outstanding German engineering... they match the stereotype IMO> In the sad eventuality that detritus builds up in the trickle tower- I will be a scrupulous cleaner-, <you do not need a trickle filter even if it doesn't produce nitrate (and it will in time). A reef tank needs the bio-diversity of live rock which you do not have with Pyram media> would I Hoover it off and also clean the bioballs as you suggest? <Massimo... leave your balls alone. Think: dirty balls! Er... I mean... that is to say... bio-balls should be so well protected by a proper prefilter that they never need cleaning. Cleaning will disturb or kill biological faculties growing on them. I never disturb my balls... they have their own eminent domain.> Note the trickle system offered to me has a sponge media also at the end of the tower-. <sounds like another overpriced piece of crap to me. You can build this whole thing for about $50-70. Just see DIY sites like www.ozreef.org and beyond on the 'Net> Are there real enormous advantages to the Tunze cartridge, that would make me forget about the halides mega discount <you mean from the new dealer holding you hostage to buy an overpriced trickle just to save $ on a still profitable MH outfit? retro cap and coil metal halide kits are about $75 cost by the way... reflector, bulb, ballast, harness)> (about $500 that the trickle dealer would be offering me, and the impression of being stung by the other dealer?) I have seen his tank and he has very good invert tanks anyway with the trickle so... <even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes. Retail operations do far more water turnover that you can or want to. No dice here...> If I went for the trickle, which I am inclined to do, what do you reckon of magic mud in the sump to get rid of some nitrate <ughhh... another overrated methodology (not to mention the joke "miracle mud"). My advice is to set up a deep sand bed refugium. It will be more effective. Whichever you choose... be sure to keep it fishless> and would I better put a light in there so that I can grow Caulerpa... but what about the adverse chemicals that Caulerpa produces against corals?? <too long to explain here in a simple e-mail... do research more on the scourge Caulerpa (and all or the horrendous toxins it produces... caulerpenes... that inhibit coral growth). Try Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria instead. Anything but Caulerpa, please!> Thanks, Massimo <best regards, Anthony>

LifeReef The more I learn the greater the awareness of my ignorance. I was thinking that maybe LifeReef (and Jeff) could help me design an end-to-end system. Do you have a knowledgeable opinion of LifeReef's products and if so, could you share it? <I have never used any LifeReef products and I am unclear what an end-to-end system would be. If I had to guess, I would say a wet/dry, protein skimmer, sump combination of sorts. You can read much more of this and alternative types of filtration on www.WetWebMedia.com -Steven Pro>

Filter, Substrate, and Live Rock confusion Thanks to all of the "Crew" for helping us poor inexperienced marketing victims.   <I assure you...We are all in this thing together. WWM Crew sometimes has trouble separating fact from fiction as well. No one is immune> I am extremely grateful for your help and without it would probably have little chance of being successful in this challenging and rewarding hobby. <Thanks for the compliment! Helping others is why we're here!> I apologize for the lengthy e-mail, but would rather give you all the data at once rather than ask you to invest your time over and over again. <Thanks for this consideration>   When I initially set up my 29G tank I succumbed to much misleading information from a LFS and the evil marketing geniuses - (I have since found a much better LFS). <Good!> I have received several suggestions from the "Crew" but unfortunately am somewhat confused about how I should prioritize the implementation. <I'll do what I can to clarify> Husbandry history (slightly embarrassing):  filled tank with substrate and water (Crystal Sea synthetic) then aerated and filtered for one week with no livestock.  Took advice of LFS and added 6 damsels.  Measured Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and Ph every two days.  Changed 10% of water weekly and vacuumed substrate.  Never detected the ammonia spike (lost 4 damsels).  The complete Nitrogen cycle was very long (about 8 weeks for Nitrites to fall to zero).  Diatom bloom lasted about one week.  After much aggravation over ammonia readings that did not make sense I discovered the test kit was outdated and have purchased new reagents.   <Ha! I was going to suggest that something was amiss...> Currently feeding flake food once or twice daily and frozen brine shrimp once or twice weekly.  All inhabitants appear to be healthy; however, the damsels are "twitching and dashing" at different times of the day. <Egads! It's possible the stress of the ammonia has incited an ich flare-up.> Current inhabitants:  two 1.5 in three-stripe damsels, one 1.5 in percula clown, one cleaner shrimp, five turbo snails.  Current tank issues (after thirteen weeks): ammonia still detectable (0.016 ppm), consistent diatom growth (how much is too much?), Phosphate at .02ppm (Phosphate in make up water is .01ppm). <Do not add anything else living to the tank until ammonia and nitrite is flat out zero. At the least a low level is very stressful to the inhabitants. This will increase their chances of becoming infected with ich and other parasites. Ammonia also burns their gills, etc. > Current tank set-up:  29G, tank is aerated, 150watt heater, Penguin 170 power filter with bio-wheel, 22watt fluorescent hood, 2 inches of substrate that is 50/50 crushed coral/gravel, miscellaneous decorations for cover, one piece of Tufa (spelling?) <Close enough. I know what you're tanking about!> rock approximately 14in X 6in X 6in with three large cavities resulting in lots of surface area (will this rock "magically" become live?).   <No...But in the coming years it will grow Cyanobacteria and hair algae like you won't believe. A! I've personally had the experience> Make-up water is from tap (Phosphate 0.01ppm) that is aerated and heated to 76 deg F 24/7. <Is 76 degrees the same as the tank temperature? It should be whatever the tank temp is...> Any advice on prioritizing the following changes or making better selections would be greatly appreciated:  Add an Eheim ECCO 2233 (rated for a 55g tank), add a CPR protein skimmer (should this be a BakPak 2 or BakPak 2R?), change substrate to 1 inch deep aragonite (CaribSea product? size?), reduce lighting cycle to 8 hours (no direct sunlight on tank), add a hermit crab (no Sea Cuke?) <With a 29 gallon...I'd probably leave the cuke out> to stir substrate and scavenge <Get a brittle star> will changing the bulb in the light fixture have any effect on diatoms? <Unlikely...I have 420 watts of VHO over a 5' tank and I still get diatoms...and the tank is more than a year old!> add power head (or recirculating pump with one pickup and multiple discharges, is live rock an absolute requirement to achieve good water quality? <Absolute requirement? No. But it sure helps. As a side benefit the fish will appreciate the critters and algae that will grow on the rock. In my tank, I have 100 lbs. of LR and a protein skimmer for filtration. That's it. You only need like 30-50lbs for your tank. If you decide to do this, please read at WWM to learn how to add LR to an up-and-running tank. Order on line...Even with shipping it will beat the heck out of LFS prices> is "Crystal Sea" synthetic salt a good product or simply marketed very well?. <I use Instant Ocean because of its outstanding reputation among professional and research oriented aquarists> Again I apologize for the lengthy e-mail, but thought this would be preferable and more accurate and concise than sending three or four different emails. This seems to be a lot like owning a boat - its never large enough, there are more gadgets than useful tools, and experience comes only after wasting large sums of money. <Bodda Boom Bodda Bing! Ladies and gentlemen...We have a winner! You are absolutely correct my friend. Then recoup some of that lost money by selling those gadgets on EBay! HAHAHAHAHAHA! David Dowless>

Eheim wet/dry-Using well water (LR use, set-up) Two more questions: <Okay> I'm setting up a 75 gal fish only saltwater tank (I have freshwater experience). From my researching, live rock is obviously the wave of the future (and present). <Yep!> Considering all factors (including expense), would you use live rock for a fish only set up or just go with the wet dry filter? <Both wouldn't hurt. The fish will appreciate it and the water chemistry will benefit. Order the live rock online...you'll save a lot of money> I'm aware of the nitrate problem with the wet-dries, that fish are more tolerant of this than coral, etc.. Just give me the pros and cons and which way YOU would go. <All is clearly stated in my last email> Second question: After reading all I can get my hands on, and talking with fish store staffers,  I think I have become just overwhelmed by too much information and too many opinions. If YOU were setting up my tank with live rock, specifically what other equipment would YOU put on the tank? <Skimmer for sure (buy one of the better brands. If you buy cheap, you get what you pay for> (some suggested brand names would also be appreciated) A sump necessary? <If you have a wet/dry it will be a necessity> (again, it's a fish-only tank and probably always will be) Thanks for the info below, particularly that about the Eheim wet-dry. You saved me on that one.

Going Big! (Filtration) Gentlemen, I have printed out and read every FAQ on your site. Tons of info. So much so, I had to read much of it at work! I have maintained a salt tank for many years, many years ago, so I am familiar with most parts of the hobby but there is so much that is new in the last 20 years. <In the last 2 years, for that matter! Scott F. here tonight!> The wife and I are going to buy ourselves a large tank as a Christmas gift. I am looking at a 220 or a 265 gal. I am planning on LS and some LR. By some I mean several piles. Not a wall like I see in most reef tanks. <That will be a nice change from the usual aquascapes!> My question to you is, of course, filtration. I have two friends who have sumps (on FW tanks!?). I despise the water trickling sound so I have ruled them out. I know they are supposed to be the best but call me anal! Could you please tell me what canister filter and protein skimmer you would recommend for this setup? <Well, I still think that you ought to consider the sump for this system. It's really the most simple, flexible setup that you could use. And, there are many ways to construct sump-based systems that can ensure quiet operation. Canister filters are efficient, but they require considerable attention to maintenance (i.e.; media replacement, cleaning, etc) to avoid having them turn in to nutrient traps, thus degrading your water quality. Also, in the absence of a sump, your protein skimmer will have to be installed somewhere either in line or hanging on the back of the tank. Just something to consider... Please give a sump more thought!> I would not be opposed to more than one canister if recommended and am in fact planning on it. In a lot of FAQ you referred the writer to web sites or other FAQ lists. I have read them ALL. Please be specific with brand name and model number as I am on information overload and this is what I will probably purchase.  This is how much I trust in your knowledge O fish God. <Yikes! I'm certainly not worthy of worship! Anyways, you may want to consider some larger units. I like the Eheim 2260, which can handle up to a 400 gallon tank. If it were me, I'd even consider two of 'em. This way, you can alternate cleaning the units and changing out media.> Side note while I have your ear. I currently have set up a lame 20 gal salt soon to be a QT with 2 small fish and a shrimp. It has been running for 6 months just fine but last week I notice that there is red algae growing towards the end of the day. Light on at 9 off at 9. Red, as in blood red. Looks nice enough but why, and is it bad? Any info would be appreciated. Where did I put that darn credit card! <Could be Cyanobacteria, which thrives under higher nutrient levels. Not bad, in and of itself, but its appearance is indicative of organic accumulation. A lot of times, this stuff will go away on its own, or with more attention spent on water changes (with quality source water), tuning your protein skimmer, and monitoring water quality. Just re-read the many FAQs that you've printed on the topic of algae control, and you'll be fine! Best of luck to you! Oh- and the credit card is in your drawer in the upstairs bedroom... :)>

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

Ecosystem Method Any information about this system would be welcome. If you could send me info with diagrams on how it works and the type of lighting needed I would be very grateful. <Please see the following: http://www.ecosystemaquarium.com/index.html http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltfaq2.htm> With thanks, Janet <Have a nice evening! -Steven Pro>

Filtration question and a couple of other thoughts There seem to be so many schools of thought on how much filtration is right!  Some say live rock and skimmer alone is enough, I hear others talk about these immensely complex systems with compartmentalized sumps or bio wheels and bio balls...  now there's talk of activated carbon... I'm so confused! <Everyone has their own opinion on filtration, my feeling is that more is better.  Depending upon how in depth and complex you want to get, you can come up with some pretty extravagant filter setups.  Carbon is good.> Am I OK with just a good skimmer (Aqua C Remora) and live rock? <Probably, what size tank, and how many pounds of live rock?> My water parameters seem fine:  Ammonia 0, Nitrite O, Nitrate 20 PH  8.2-4 I keep the tank at about 82F. <All looks good, nitrate is a touch high.> I change 10% of the water per week. I do not test for anything else, but it's a modestly stocked FOWLR tank.  I do have a couple of patches of green star polyps and Phyllangia that were hitchhikers on the rock.  I  have a hang on tank Whisper filter that I've removed the cartridges from months ago.  I just keep it running for extra circulation.  Do I need to stick a bag of activated carbon in there? <I would add carbon here.> I know you hear this a lot but extra Kudos never hurts:  I read your daily FAQ's religiously and I've learned so much!  I am immensely grateful for this excellent resource that I'm sure has averted many a tragedy in my living room! <Excellent, check out the filtration section on the link below, there is all kinds of good info there. Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm> Ana M. Saavedra

Re: filtration Hello all, thanks for the great site. I have a 75 gallon that I converted from fresh to marine last Nov. I now have a 3in sebae clown, 3in pork puffer, 2in coral beauty, and a 1 and 2 in damsels, also a banded shark egg waiting to hatch. Now that's done to the questions. I run a Fluval 404 and an emperor 400. Is both needed or can I eliminate the hang on for better looks? <I wouldn't unless you replace the bio-wheel with another type of wet/dry filtration, over a few weeks. You have a substantial load...to be increasing here shortly.> My water levels are always good. I have an evaporation problem or may not be considered a problem. I have to add 4 to 5 gallons of water a week. Is that a problem? <Not really.> I would like to drill the tank and plumb for better looks is this advisable? <Better to purchase a pre-drilled tank. Many factors to complicate matters drilling existing tanks, IE: tempered glass, etc.> The fish I have now have been in the tank for about 7 months. But had the early mistake of getting in a hurry. I plan on purchasing a skimmer and a UV sterilizer. Do you have comments or suggestions on either? <Aqua-C and Euro-Reef are favorites.> I have been using well water and have been told that this is bad. <Not if the water tests alright. Well water isn't categorically bad or good.> Are there any good inexpensive RO units? <Too many to list. Check out the vendors that sponsor WetWebMedia.com. test your water and buy unit for your water.> Thanks again for the great site and any info you might have. Daryl H. <You're welcome Daryl!  Craig>

Worth the money (marine aquarium filtration) I have a 70gal saltwater tank fish only with live rock <Okay>.  The filters are red sea protein skimmer, wet dry trickle system and a UV sterilizer. My water is pretty clear, but I always think there is room for improvement, so do you think that the Ocean Clear Canister Filters (model 325) is really worth the money and would you really get a get improvement in your tank? <If memory serves me correct, Ocean clear filters do not have an automatic siphon. Jeez...these things are a real pain to maintenance...and very messy! If I were going for an inexpensive filter, I would get the Fluval 404 or spend the real bucks for an Eheim. If your water tests are almost perfect every time you test (never even a trace of ammonia or nitrite), your fish are living for years (not months or weeks), and you're not having any identifiable water quality problems including cloudy or discolored water, you may not need a new filter. But redundancy in equipment is sometimes a good thing to have...>                              MIKE WHITE <David D.>

Moving On Up! Hi Crew, <Scott F. here tonight> I have a small hex 25g reef tank, 30kg live rock (is this too little), some soft corals - (mushrooms / leather / xenia), 2 false clowns and 1 eibli angel. This has been my first venture in to fish keeping and I am completely taken with it. <Hard not to be, huh?> Yes, I do regret already buying a tank this size and am planning to trade up to the Aquamedic Percula 120 (any comments on this set-up?) in January 03 and use this tank as a Quarantine tank, so it's not money down the drain. <No experience with this system, but bigger is definitely better!> The main filter is a Fluval 404 and I have a mini internal Fluval which I keep some Polyfilter in and add circulation (too much current?) and a 6w UV. The lights are 1x15w Power-Glo, 1x15w Marine-Glo, 1x15w Life-Glo. I know there are lots of pro's and con's about a UV, but my rationale was that with a small tank, I didn't want to risk killing any fish due to a disease outbreak. <Many hobbyists never use UV and enjoy healthy tanks. It's all about husbandry> The levels in the tank are as follows: Nitrate-0, Ammonia-0, Phos-0.3,Salinity 1.022, Temp 77.0 (fluctuates by 0.2 max), Nitrate-5, dkh-6.2,Calcium 460. During the purchase as these items, I initially purchased a Aqua-medic Mini-Flotor Skimmer, but this took up far too much room in the tank. Thereafter, I was suckered in to purchasing the Prizm deluxe skimmer by the same shop. While this worked great for the first month, it is now churning out clear wet foam. <Unfortunately, an occurrence we hear of too often with this skimmer> Additionally,  I have now started seeing some hair algae growing on the edges of the rock. <Keep up those water changes and make that skimmer work harder!> My questions are as follows: Have you any experience with the Aquamedic BioStars Wet/Dry-Skimmer? Would this be a good replacement for the Prizm (I guess anything would be a good replacement for the Prizm). I am looking for an external hang-on type. <Not familiar with this model- but Aquamedic makes fine products> If I purchase the above, should I transfer some of the substrate from the Fluval 404 to the above to kick start it? <Probably not a bad idea> I don't plan to increase the number of corals until the new tank is up and running next year. <A sound decision> In the meantime do I have room for a Royal Gamma in this tank? <Yes- but no more fishes, okay?> Are the lights suitable for the health of the corals. They are all flourishing and growing. Very difficult to get hold of Power Compacts in the UK with external ballast and I don't really want to add any more heat in the hood. <For hardy, undemanding corals, such as mushrooms, this can work> I am using Kent SuperdKH as my buffer, but struggle to get me dKH above 6.2, what should I use instead (in fact all my additives are Kent - Liquid Calcium, Iodine, S&M...I'm sure the fish shop is in on a deal with Kent / Hagen!) Any suggestions for alternatives that are available in the UK? <I subscribe to the theory that says if you're going to add something to your system, you'd better test for it. IMO, regular (small, twice weekly) water changes will replenish many of the compounds that you are adding.> Think your web-site is great. Before I spent my money on the hardware I purchased a number of books, with retrospect I should have saved the cash (used it for a better skimmer?) and just read through your FAQ's. <There's certainly nothing wrong with having some good reference material! Thank you for visiting our site!> Thanks in advance for your help. Regards, Sandeep <Good luck with your new system! Scott F.>

Starting Over It's me again. Thanks Scott for your reply. <Glad to help!> I am now thinking of re-starting my system (the only way). I read that UGF leads to CO2 poisoning, should I continue using it, does adding powerheads for circulation helps? <Well, undergravel filters have their pros and cons, and are still used with success in a variety of systems. Really depends on what you're trying to achieve.> If not, what type of filtration is recommended? Just to remind you, mine is a 25g tank and I have a Sander piccolo skimmer (works fine).   <Wow- so many possibilities here. Keep the protein skimmer cranking away, removing lots of dark skimmate weekly, and you can try many different methods. I tend to favor more "natural" methods, such as deep sand beds, live rock, sumps, etc. You can read all about these techniques and systems on the wetwebmedia.com site. Choose one that works best for you, have fun putting it all together, and enjoy!  Let us know if you have further questions! Scott F.>

Canister vs. "Open Air" Wet/Dry Filtration Bob, <Hi Darren, Craig here for Bob while he recuperates from last night's fun> I've read so much of your online articles, responses to FAQ's and books that I hold you in the utmost regard as one of the foremost experts in the field. I have a "preference" question for you. I am a longtime plant tank enthusiast and have decided I should finally expand my horizons to saltwater. I have done a fair amount of research on live rock, live sand and coral tanks that I now feel ready for the "leap". However, one area still nags me. I have been a Eheim 'follower' for all of my freshwater tanks, and feel a loyalty, if not a substantiated belief that they are the best canister systems available, for freshwater. For saltwater however, I have gotten a fair amount of pushback from stores and "experts" on using the 2227 or 2327 (Eheim Wet/Dry Canister) as my choice opposed to open-air "bio-ball" or other filtration methods. In your truly expert opinion, which is your preference for a 75 gallon tank that I plan on adding live sand, live rock and "beginner to moderate difficulty" corals to? With my current plant tanks, I average 2 hours of maintenance per week per tank, so time spent on care is not an issue. If you could elaborate on your preference, and pros/cons, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance, Darren Sealock Belmont Shore, Ca. <In my not so expert opinion, I would stick with an Eheim and avoid the bio-balls/media/filters. A simple canister for carbon and perhaps PolyFilter/media bags is all you need if you have sufficient live rock and deep sand. The bio-medias produce excess nitrates which is the reasoning behind LR/LS and carbon use, re: the natural reduction of nitrate levels. You might even use the canister you have if it's sized to a 75. Lose the sponges, foam, etc. and use carbon. Not to worry, have fun! Stick with your loyalty. Craig>

VERY new to Marine... Bob... my wife and I just recently had a disaster with a freshwater setup. It was a 35gal hex with a very large powerhead/undergravel filter, plus an Eheim rated at 400 l/h ( 116 gal/hr). <Arrggg, sorry to hear about that!> The tank was old and split down one side.... big mess.. anyway.. we decided to buy a new tank, build a stand, and possibly go with saltwater. We will probably be moving out of the state in about 1 year or so, so I don't think we want to do anything huge.. but we love the colors.  <If you are making a long distance move, best to be conservative with whatever you do, it's a bear to move a marine tank. Can be done, but many considerations and you will find marine fish are more animated and personable than FW fish....this makes it all the more difficult.> My wife and I have somewhat agreed on a 55 gal rectangle Oceanic aquarium. I just don't know if I have enough filtration. I was planning on using the Eheim that I have and use as much undergravel filtering as I could (I just like it), maybe 3 inches of "stuff" on the bottom.  <You will need a protein skimmer and the Eheim is probably not large enough to filter the larger tank with a marine bio-load. You don't want the undergravel or just 3" of "stuff". More in a minute....> I'm ignorant. We're looking for something that is pretty, but easy. I know nothing is easy, but I'm quoting my wife, and I'm going to be doing the work anyway so just give it to me straight. What can we do? Is the Eheim enough? It currently has some charcoal and some sort of netting inside it. What should we put inside the filter..  <Many more considerations than this to be made...> I would be happy with Damsels or something simple. My wife's eyes bugged out when she saw all the colors of fish compared to fresh water... I've heard horror stories of how salt water is so hard, but then again... so is flying airplanes (remote control) and I've mastered that... SO..... where do I start... Thanks.. RK <Richard, I strongly advise that before you purchase anything, you go out and purchase "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert Fenner. There are other good books that can help as well, but just this one book will save you untold sums of poorly spent cash and save any prospective marine pets needless suffering. I'll bet there was some reading and basic info on RC planes too before you purchased one and got it in the air.... Do take your time, NOTHING crashes faster and harder than a speeding marine tank. They are a lot of fun if you take your time and avoid the mistakes. Craig>

Question regarding aquarium purchases from overseas Can you or your staff recommend any overseas dealers where I can buy marine filter equipment and lighting? I've been looking at some online dealers for my Power compact lighting and a Berlin system sump, but it's so expensive. I was hoping that If I were to buy from Canada or Japan I may be able to save big bucks. Have you heard of any people doing this before, and if so who can I contact? <Good question... as far as I'm aware there is no better deal to be had than just buying (even imported) products of these kinds w/in the country... A few problems of freight, payment (many co.s don't take credit cards), suitability of electrics... Not worth "bringing in yourself"... But, I could easily be wrong... Do ask this question on the various BB's... of other hobbyists who've tried/done this. Ours: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ Bob Fenner> Thanks, James

Aragamax Troubles Does CaribSea very fine (sugar or smaller) Aragamax always make the tank so very cloudy?  <Yes> I used 30 lbs of it (made live at LFS) in my new aquarium (I read and investigated thoroughly and determined that a more shallow LS bed with this very fine LS would function better than deep very fine sand - less chance of dead zones - this stuff is very fine indeed) and I had milky gray white scum everywhere.  <"Dead zones" are the anaerobic areas needed for denitrification. They aren't dead, they are by necessity, without oxygen.> The cloudy water cleared up overnight but if you disturb the sand it goes cloudy again. Also - the filter media (sponges and sheets of filter material from LFS) are hard to remove without white gray residue sliding right off and back into aquarium. Any suggestions?  Try slipping them into a plastic bag or baggie to get them out with the most gunk. Keep rinsing your sponges in *used tank water* (to keep them bio-active).> Is it always like this? Does this stuff eventually precipitate out or get removed via filters and skimming leaving only clean sugar sand that can be disturbed without major clouding?  <Yes, in time, not to worry.> I get the feeling the LFS should advise customers to rinse the stuff thoroughly with distilled or RO water until it is clear - before adding to tank.  <Then you wouldn't get the benefit of this product, which includes all of the fine material as well as the larger sand particles.> I am thinking about this now to clean filter media and water: turn off pumps to sump, remove media, then run a filter like Magnum or something on sump water only until clear. Then start pumps again. That would remove milky gunk from system. Any other ideas??? It is a real mess. <The magnum idea works great for the stuff in the water itself, run your pumps and powerheads to help get it settled while the magnum is running. It will clear overnight (mine did). Think of it this way, you just added a long time good dose of Aragamilk. It clears up! Craig>

Stocking and filtration question Anthony, Missed your return phone call the other day regarding the new book, figured I'd post it just in case other's have the same question. Original phone conversation concluded that a check or money order is an acceptable form of payment {for the new WWM/RT book Reef Invertebrates], using the print and send form.  <correct> I'm guessing that we should make the check out to Reading Trees?  <correct again unless you would like to mail 32 one dollar bills in which case it will go into the "Save an Exotic Dancer" fund <G>> Looking forward to reading it.  <thanks kindly... we really are working hard to produce a unique and important reference series> Bob's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" is a constant source of knowledge, which is almost daily referred, since I took a step backward and currently learning how to properly take care for my fish and tank. "Reef Invertebrates" should arrive about the time that the tank upgrade is planned.  <awesome!> As for the upgrade, if I can run my stocking and filtration plan passed you.  <pleased to share an opinion...> Currently, 30 ga tank, 2 ocellaris clowns, 1 ?" and 2",  <male and female (or soon to be) respectively by size. Big girl> 1 yellow damsel, 1", 2 feather dusters, 3 hermit's and two turbo snails. Filtration consists of under gravel, skimmer, bio-wheel (wheel removed), 20 lbs of LR.  New tank: 75 ga, upgrading to a remora pro skimmer, adding 50lbs of LR, Live sand, 4" DSB. <all excellent upgrades> Thinking refugium (might be added later).  <please do... the sooner the better. Unlit, rubble filled and fishless would be fine for generating killer zooplankton> Fluval 404 canister, LFS carries all Fluval accessories (think some recommend the Eheim canister).  <very reliable and well made> As for the canister filter? is it better than ?.say the bio wheel.  <I think so> I understand it has it's advantages by being hidden, ability to change media as required etc?.  <also more reliable design, time-tested, larger surface area for media (you can even double up the course foam blocks too in the second one)> Currently I use the bio wheel to add carbon filtration to the tank. Carbon is run occasionally? <nope... small amount of carbon at all times and changed frequently. Once weekly is better than a larger amount monthly. Helps with water clarity for live rock and corals.> to cleanse the water, but often I remove the carbon filter pad and just have water movement.  <understood... do consider adding a sump to the new tank, leaving the carbon out of the canisters (extra foam block instead) and lay small sack of carbon in the sump to work passively. Easy to replace too> Thinking about using my penguin 160 on the 75 and just running carbon all the time, to small? <nope... a fine alternative if you cannot do the sump> (Using the funds saved by not getting the Fluval towards the refugium). I understand both the canister and bio wheel may be a nitrate problem? <yes... but minor compared to a wet dry or fluidized bed filter. No worries here... water changes will take care of it> any worse over the other? Better way for carbon filtration? Power heads? Each corner for water movement.  <powerheads if you must... but a large external return pump from the sump would be much better. Else, there are some great options for moving water... Gemini water pumps, Reef Tecs, etc... many alternatives... Straight power heads suck> As for the fish, thinking about adding, 1 flame angel, 1 long nose butterfly, and 3 to 5 blue/green Chromis, 2 cleaner shrimps, and some addition inverts? the long nose and flame grow to about 5"?  <smaller indeed... especially the flame> and not sure how they would get along?  <some concern about aggression from the flame angel (can be tough)> The butterfly requires a dedicated 20 ga, not sure about the flame, will they have enough elbow room?  <indeed... the 20 is too small for the butterfly> Also, is a 75 large enough to house another pair of clowns?  <you'd be amazed how territorial some clowns can be... it may be a risk> Don't want to disrupt the happy couple that I have now, so if there is a chance of a fight, I'd rather not take it.  <if they were mine... I wouldn't add the second pair> Future plans consist of upgrading lights and slowly introducing coral. (once the 75 and refugium is established).  <excellent :)> About that time, will be looking to add "Coral Propagation" to the book collection. <with my sincere thanks too!> Looking to use the 30 as the QT for adding the fish to the 75. Think the site recommends a 1 month min for flame, long nose and possible the Chromis.  <agreed> Can they QT together or would it be best to add one at a time?  <always best one at a time... but any QT is better than none> Any particular order be better?  <indeed... Chromis, then butterfly and definitely save the flame for last> Again my fish, as well as myself, thank you and the crew at WWM for saving many a fish.  Thanks, Dave <quite welcome, my friend! Best regards Anthony>

Re: stocking and filtration question Wow, Sir Anthony, Such a fast response.  <heehee... WetWebMedia... where you get more than you pay for <G>> Was glad to find out that at least I'm headed in the right direction. Beginning to understand, that I need to face some fears and put on the plumbers hat. Fears mostly due to lack of knowledge, and don't want to find my tank emptied one weekend when I get back.  <very much understood and agreed... and will be easy to do. Do run your plumbing diagram by us when you are ready> If I can, let me run this past you so see if I at least understand the principle. For a 75 ga, you mentioned that I would need approx a 2" diameter hole, either one large one or possible several small...(I will have to check and figure my water flow rates to size accordingly)....  <exactly> the hole can either be placed about 3 inches down from the top  <hmmm... specifically you want a top hole as close top the surface as possible. The tank driller will let you know how high is possible. Its usually about 2-3" on center down from the top or can be placed in the bottom of the tank in some sort of baffled area in the corner of the tank.  A sealed overflow tower specifically (see some oceanic displays for a visual idea)> to prevent water from draining beyond this point if something wrong should array. (seems this way can be a maintenance issue). The (feed) from the tank should be pumped to the refugium (not sure what size), if higher than the tank, or gravity flow if the refugium is lower.  <correct> The refugium should be divided into three section and baffled (I understand this part).  <hmmm... this depends. If upstream, then no baffling needed. If downstream... then many people divide in three: first is a skimmer chamber, second is a refugium and third is the sump proper> and then either gravity flowed to tank, if higher, or pumped, if lower.  <I don't follow here> Gravity flow from the refugium back to the tank is recommended so the little micro organisms don't have to fight to survive the pump.  <correct... although impeller sheer ultimately is not that big of a deal> I guess the return in the refugium can be place several inches from the top to limit the possible amount of water that can be returned to the tank? <hmmm... nope... makes no difference. A drilled overflow hole/bullhead will drain the same amount of water from the tank regardless of where its drilled: it is the amount displaced by a running pump (1/2-1" of surface water usually)> If placed below the tank?? Does it all come down to sizing your pump to return the water as fast as it is gravity fed??? Is there some sort of check valve to keep both tanks honest?? Here lies the problem in my understanding... <wow... you are making it way too complicated, bud. You simply need to see one of these simple and effective systems up and running. Do seek a LFS or local hobbyist with such to peek at a running system. It will make most or all clear immediately> Just can't seem to be brave enough to just let the water go...and rely solely on a pump... <honestly... well designed systems are fool proof and as leak proof as a tank without a sump> lol...I've seen some diagrams online, which has the tanks side by side, the water is pumped to the refugium and the return is some sort of "u" siphon back to the tank.  <that is dangerous and a major leak waiting to happen. NEVER use U-tubes or U-tube siphon overflow boxes> This seem the easiest to construct since I would not need to build a platform to raise the refugium.  <Ha! I wouldn't fall asleep in a house with this sort of set up> Not quite sure how the siphon business works (Think a trip to That Fish Place in Lancaster viewing some works in progress is in order),  <Bada boom bada bing!> but I have some time to investigate, and want to do it right the first time. You mentioned "Reef Invertebrates" helps break it down a little. I guess a sump would work along the same principles....and if below the tank would be tied together somehow (saved for plumbing 102, at a later date) <really all a matter of gravity overflow through drilled holes with a simple and single pump powering all> As for the stocking, seems like the flame angle might be a bit of a problem. Saw one at a LFS, what a beautiful fish, but the only "gotta have fish" are the clown's and long nose (reason for the 75ga) . I chose both the long nose and flame because of their similarity in diets. Would a tang (blue) be a better selection to make this a happier community.  <nope... they are sensitive, Ich prone, grow too large (12") and are too aggressive> Trying to find a somewhat larger (mid-size) fish to compliment the long nose in the 75. (any thoughts??)  <many... Rabbitfish although mildly venomous (spines) are well behaved and excellent algae grazers> Didn't have much luck when I started the tank with a yellow tang (4 years ago), mostly diet issues and kind of swore off the species....(think I'm a bit more on the wiser side...at least for round two). Thanks again...for all you help, Dave k <Best regards, Anthony>

Maintenance Dear Sir, Thanks so much for all of your help in the past and for providing such an informative website for all to utilize. I have been to your maintenance FAQ section and cannot find anything specific on the topic of cleaning a wet/dry filter. <Ok> I am wondering, other than the obvious pre-filter maintenance, how often I should actually clean the wet/dry sump and foam water polishing block in the bottom of the filter? <The foam block and prefilter should both be cleaned as often as possible. It is amazing how much material can be removed from your system with daily cleaning of these mechanical filters. The sump should be siphoned clean of settled detritus whenever you do water changes or debris accumulates.> I know not to immerse the bio balls in fresh water and a clean, salt water dip is ok to remove detritus matter, but what about the rest of the unit? Thanks so much! T. Michael Basciano <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: converting from undergravel to Berlin Sorry to bother you but I'm not sure I understand your response to my question. I asked about the steps for replacing an undergravel filter with live sand. Your reply talks about sponge filters but did not mention live sand. Was that intentional? <No, do go back and look for all the arrows (<...>) for additional information. The basic point I was trying to make was that you cannot just remove all the crushed coral and undergravel plates all at once because your tank and its bioload are relying on the nitrification capacity of your undergravel. If you yank it out without something else there to pick up the slack (the sponge filters) you are going to have a tremendous ammonia spike and probably wipe out your tank. That is why I suggested using the sponge filters as a temporary solution. Get them seeded so you can remove the UG and crushed coral and add live sand. Then later, as the sand becomes fully seeded and you have the appropriate amount of liverock, you can slowly take out the sponge filters, one at a time over a month or two.> Thanks, Jack <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Ichy Filter Problem! Dear Bob, <Scott F. here for you> I have a 29gal. salt tank (I know too small).  <Not always!>  I 'm running an Emperor 400 and an Amiracle skimmer. I have been having trouble with ich, but only on my percula clowns (tank raised). Besides the 2 clowns I have a scooter blenny and green clown goby, both of which are unaffected. The filter produces fine bubbles, even turned down to the slowest flow rate, could this be the cause?  <Nope!> The blenny and goby are on the bottom and not exposed to the bubbles. I was told this filter would be fine for a fish only tank, true?  <With good maintenance and a light bio-load, sure> I do have inverts so I can't treat the tank. I have lowered my specific gravity to 1.019 and it still occurs. I treated a previous percula in a hospital tank only to have it reappear. These are the 3rd and 4th clowns to contract ich. (They are all from the same tank at the same store) I was told to let the tank go fallow for a month but I hate to remove the 2 unaffected fish, especially if the fine bubbles could be a stress source. Your thoughts on this matter would be greatly appreciated. Thank you--Caryn Heffner <Well Caryn, the fine bubbles are not causing the ich outbreak, but ultimately could be harmful to some inverts, such as corals. Anyways, you really should let the tank go fallow for at least a month. When the tank is fallow, the ich parasites cannot find a host, and the majority of them should die. Plus, it's much easier and less problematic to treat your sick fish in a hospital tank. Keep in mind that ich, once it is in the main aquarium, may never be completely eradicated, but you can reduce the parasite count to level that will be much less dangerous to your newly-cured fish. See wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm for more information. Good Luck!>

Filtration Question Hi Bob. <Steven Pro, part of the www.WetWebMedia.com crew, in this morning.> I have got a question for you. First, I will tell you what equipment I have. I have a 60 gallon tank with a 40 gallon sump, 2-250 watt metal halide lights, 40 LBS of live rock, no fish yet 2 gallons of bio balls and FB900 Lifegard fluidized bed filter. The question is will my filtration be strong enough to handle a heavily stocked tank. I don't want to use a skimmer if possible and what are your opinions on fluidized bed filters? <You have me thoroughly confused. What is your intention for this tank? The 2-250 watt MH's make me think you want a hardcore SPS and clam reef tank (or else a fish tank with a algae problem). I would lose the bioballs and the fluidized bed sand filter. Both of these have their place in fish tanks, but are problematic in reef tanks. I would also strongly urge you to add a skimmer. Please search through our site, www.WetWebMedia.com, for additional information.> Thanks, Tony Wise <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Filtration Question Hi Bob, <Steven Pro here now and previously.> Tony again. You said I should get rid of my fluidized bed filter and bioballs if I go with a reef set up. <Correct> My question is why and what are the problems I would encounter? <They are both very effective biological filters (aka nitrate factories) and are unnecessary and detrimental in reef aquaria. -Steven Pro>

Re: Filtration Question Hi Bob! <This is starting to get annoying. In your first email, I clearly stated that you were not talking to Bob, "Steven Pro, part of the www.WetWebMedia.com crew, in this morning." Then in the second email, after you again said "Hi Bob" I again corrected you saying, "Steven Pro here now and previously."> I have two more questions for you. I have a Super Reef Devil skimmer powered by a Rio 2500. My skimmer sits outside of my sump. The reason I took it off was it would work good for about a week then in a matter of hours it would start to run very wet and fill my 5 gallon overflow bucket. It did this 3 times. Any suggestions. <Yep, your pump is too large and/or the skimmer is not adjusted properly. A.E.Tech's recommends the Cap 1800 or Rio 2100 tuned to 300 gph. You can check out their webpage here http://www.superskimmer.com/> Two, is my skimmer up to the task of handling my 60 gallon tank. <Yes. -Steven Pro>

Re: Filtration Question Sorry Steven. I was skimming the e-mail just for the answers to my questions and reading nothing else. I apologize and thanks for you help. Tony <You are welcome. Just be sure you did not miss anything else. -Steven Pro>

Converting from Undergravel to Berlin I have an established 85 gallon tank with 6 fish, 2 corals, 2 anemones, some live rock, and a big algae problem. After having tried all the usual fixes, I would like to try taking out the undergravel filter and replacing the crushed coral with live sand. <Ok> Are you aware of any articles on the steps to follow in doing this? <There is no definitive article on this as all tanks are different. You mentioned some liverock. The amount of liverock you have may lessen your tank's reliance on the biological filtration of your UG. You should have about 100 pounds of liverock to effectively filter this tank.> What do I do with the animals and rock? Can I do it all in one day, or do I have to do 1/2, and let it rest? <I would suggest doing this all in one day, with some preparation beforehand. Assuming your tanks needs the undergravel filter, I would add several large sponge filters (they are cheap and readily available) or other biological filtration to the tank. Let these work and get seeded for one month. At that time, you should be able to safely removed the crushed coral and undergravel filter.> I'm concerned that if I remove the undergravel filter and the crushed coral and vacuum out all the debris, I'll lose all my bacteria and the aquarium will cycle and spike before the new bacteria becomes established in the live sand. <Agreed, that is why in my recommendation above you will supplant the undergravel's capacity with sponge filters.> I'm concerned about the conversion upsetting the water chemistry and harming the fish before the system stabilizes. Is this a real concern and if so, is there anyway to deal with it? <It is a real concern, see above, and please use the google search engine on www.WetWebMedia.com for additional enlighten.> This aquarium is the only place I have to keep my fish, etc. Thanks in advance for your advice on this problem. <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Wet/dry cycle Hi Bob <<Hi Robert!>> I just got my wet/dry filter up and running and I must say, getting the water levels right was a hoot. My question is, how long will it need to cycle to get the bacteria bed growing before I turn off my cartridge filter? Thanks Robert <<I would give it a few weeks to become "seeded" and functioning. Unless your cartridge is the wet/dry type it likely doesn't do as much as you think compare to the W/D, but do be safe! Wouldn't hurt to test water w/cartridge and after it's off in case you need to change some water. W/D will tend to produce nitrates, so watch for this. Just proceed slowly, let caution be your guide. It can't hurt to have them both running until all is set. Enjoy! Craig>>

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