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FAQs on Marine Filtration 6

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 5, Marine 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,

McCosker's Flasher Wrasse.  Wakatobi image of a male. You want some flashing? Gimme some decent water, will ya?

More Bio-capacity for My Fish Hi guys, Thanks for helping out my decision to get a vortex filter.  I ended up getting one and I attached a 2 litre Coke bottle to the intake (I cut the bottom off) and use it as a vacuum.  It works GREAT! Here's my question du jour:  I have a 180 gallon FOWLR tank, with wrasses (bird, dragon, lunare), puffer, Picasso trigger (my peacekeeper - no really), lion, and panther grouper, and a yellow tang.  My sump is a 35 gallon that I've added about 8 gallons of bioballs to.  I've got a Mag 24 as the return and an Aerofoamer 848 (the big one - it's overkill but it works really well) and ~150 LB live rock.  Because I'm using bioballs, the sump is less than half full.  I would like to get away from the bioballs because of the nitrate problems, but I'm concerned about not having enough filtration with my messy fish.  I was considering a big Rubbermaid tub and putting some more live rock, macro algae, and even clams for filtration.  Would this be a good idea? <Sure, and to replace the bioballs.. perhaps also a DSB instead for denitrification along with the rock. For messy eaters use aggressive mechanical filtration and skimming to remove particulates, initial cause of nitrates, then DSB, LR to deal with remaining.> Also I've been thinking about adding ozone to replace my 25w UV (it's too small).  I've heard it does a better job than UV and also improves the function of the skimmer.  I know it can be dangerous and again might be overkill, but would it be a good idea?   <As long as it's before the skimmer the majority will be blown off there, ad with skimmers so equipped, it does improve performance. Needs careful adjustment...> I would like to add another 180 gallon tank to this sump so anything I buy now is to support both tanks (my fish are small-med now, but as some grow, I'll need to move them over to roomier accommodations. <To the 35 gal sump, or with additional volume/bio-capacity in a large Rubbermaid container? Make sure you size your sump capacity to your overall volume in case of overflow/power outage, and lastly, flow rate through the sump and the ability to handle that much flow in a 35 gal sump. 2400 gallons or thereabout to start, probably more when you add another 180. Do plan needed flow rate and sump size to save $ and labor/set-up upfront. I would be looking at around 100-120 gallons with a DSB (6" aragonite) myself to handle two 180 gallon BIG MESSY FOWLR tanks and accompanying waste products.  Sounds like a blast though!  Craig>

- Keeping the Water Crystal Clear - Hi <Good morning, JasonC here...> I have a 54G salt water tank with a panther grouper, 2 tomato clown fish, Snow flake eel and a porky pine puffer. I have sixty LB of live rock and sand bottom. I have AMiracle wet/dry filtration system, a C-Clone protein skimmer. I feed them squid, and mixed flake foods. I have had my tank running since early OCT. I do frequent water changes and all my water parameter check out perfectly. But I am still unable to crystal clear water there are always "Particles" floating around in the water; it has seemed that my tank has never settled. Am I doing something wrong? <Hard to put a finger on it... there are a couple of possibilities. You might try putting some form of physical filtration in your return line, a sponge or filter pad that would capture and retail some of this particulate matter. Additionally, your skimmer is not really a very efficient skimmer... you might consider an upgrade at some point to something like an Aqua-C Remora. The last possibility I can think of is that these 'particles' are actually air bubbles, and aren't really such a big deal.> Or should I be doing any additional maintenance to the Tank? <Probably not... just the regular stuff.> Thank you in advance.  Mike Dabah. <Cheers, J -- >

How to tell if a plastic is toxic? I went today to Home Depot trying to get a plastic bin for a) making and aging salt water b) using it as treatment tank for sick fish and also for quarantining new fish. I've heard there are some plastic that can be very toxic to fish, even if just used to mix the water and salt (brief period) but none of the buckets and bins were labels as water/food safe or gave any other indication. How can one tell which plastic is good and which is the bad one? thank you, Luke <contact the manufacturer or be conservative and simply avoid any that do not say food-safe, my friend. There are so many plastics available and most nearly every one is safe. Anthony>

Filtration Configuration Scott, <Hello again!> Thank you very much for the response.  Since I wrote you initially, I have received the wet/dry.  It is an Amiracle MR200.  I would really like to use it since it has the overflow box hoses and skimmer, but I was wondering if I could hook it into a 30 or 40 long tank somehow, making the 30 or 40 long tank a refugium and then pump the water back into the main tank from the refugium.  Could I go from the wet/dry to the refugium? <Sure...Consider yanking the bioballs from the wet/dry, however...> I am not sure how I would do that. <Lots of ways to go, if you're creative...You could try feeding from the sump into the refugium via submersible pumps...Check out the DIY site OzReef for some cool ideas...> It is fitted with a 1" prefilter bulkhead and a 3/4" sump bulkhead.  My intent (best laid plans...) was to put live rock in the first chamber where the water comes in, put the skimmer in the second chamber, and then have the water go through the refugium and back into the tank.   <Sounds pretty good to me, but I'd reverse the rock and the skimmer here. The most nutrient rich water (directly from the display) is what should feed the skimmer. Then, the skimmer return water could pour out over the live rock. If you could somehow position your refugium above the display tank- that would e optimum!> Also, any ideas on the size return pump I should get (and brand).  The Amiracle literature said that the overflow box was capable of handling up to 400 GPH.  I was told by someone not to use a Rio pump.  It can emit electrical current and cause problems, like hole-in-the-head, with my fish. <Well, IMO, Rios are not the most reliable pump out there...They are abundant, commonly used- but I am not convinced of their long-term reliability. I'd look into a Mag Drive or an Eheim for greater reliability, if you're looking at a submersible pump> Thank you very much for everything, Paul <Have fun planning and assembling this setup, Paul...Take the time to research it right, and you'll be great! Regards, Scott F> Jumpin' Into Sumps! Hi, <Hi! Scott F. with you today!> I am setting up a new 135 tank to be a reef tank, and I am trying to figure out to best filter it.  I plan for my main sources to be live rock and sand in the tank, but I also intended to run a filter underneath it. My original intent was to run a wet/dry filter, but after reading bad things about using bioballs, I decided to go more towards just a sump with a protein skimmer. <I like sumps. They are very flexible, and can be applied to reef, FOWLR, and breeding systems with equal effectiveness> Anyway, I purchased a wet/dry filter with the skimmer.  The size is 24Lx12Wx16T.  It is a two-chamber unit, and my intent was to put some live rock/sand macro algae and critters in it along with the skimmer. Since buying it, though, I have been told that this is too small for my use (even though the filter is rated for aquariums 100 - 180 gallons).  After being told that, I thought about using a 55 gallon tank that has been baffled, but that seems really big.  I am really confused.  Is this filter too small? <Well, it might be on the "small side" of useful, if that makes sense. In other words, you probably could benefit from a slightly larger sump, for 1)Greater capacity during drain-downs (as in power failures, etc. and 2)flexibility, such as being able to add a skimmer, chemical filtration media, areas to settle out detritus, etc. As long as you pump can do the job, your system would certainly benefit from the added water capacity that the 55 will afford...>   If it is, is the 55 gallon too big? <I don't think so, as stated above> If the wet/dry is okay to use, what would be the best arrangement?  Should the live rock go in the first compartment? Would the next compartment have the live sand/macro algae?  Where would the skimmer go (sorry, I don't know the brand, but it is a large venturi, and it was being run by a Rio 2100 pump)? <I'd put the skimmer in a position where it receives a steady flow of the most nutrient laden water right from the tank, which will provide maximum skimmer efficiency. Then, you could go for some live rock or chemical media, such as Poly Filter or carbon. Finally, you could add some "purposeful" macroalgae (like my faves, Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria) in a lighted section of the sump (you can use an inexpensive PC or fluorescent fixture for this). The sky (and your creativity- and budget(!) are the only limits here...> I apologize for all the questions, but I have never done this before, and I am trying to figure out what to do before I do it. <No apologies needed- that's why we are here! I'd make use of the vast resources available on the WWM site regarding sumps. You should also visit the SIIICCKK (as in "great"!) Aussie DIY site, OzReef, for tons of practical ideas on sumps. Finally, there was a nice multi-part series in the on line mag Reef Keeping on sumps, that you may want to check out as well.> I have a nice 55 gallon reef now, but I don't have any filtration underneath it, so this is new to me.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Paul       <Well, Paul, there are just a few simple rules to follow when designing and setting up sumps. Once you follow the basics, there is no limit to the cool things that you can try to take advantage of the flexibility that sumps offer. Have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Fluidized Sand Beds VS.. Wet Dry Trickle Filters My question/s are as follow. I am setting up a 40 gallon reef tank and I have heard some good and bad about Fluidized Sand Beds most of the fish stores don't believe in them.  my question is What would u prefer for my 40 gal. reef set up a fluidized sand bed or a Wet Dry trickle filter and why?   <I would not use either as they can get funky fast if you don't care for them properly. I would stick to the tried and true methods: Live Rock, DSB, skimmer, carbon, and a sump. A refugium will help also. Please search for these terms using the Google search at the bottom of the WetWebMedia.com homepage. Much info on this site about these topics.> Thank you for your time <You are welcome, Don> Mike

Fluidized Sand Beds VS.. Wet Dry Trickle Filters >My question/s are as follows. >>Aye, hello. >I am setting up a 40 gallon reef tank and I have heard some good and bad about Fluidized Sand Beds, most of the fish stores don't believe in them.  >>Ha ha!  Like faeries, right? >my question is What would u prefer for my 40 gal. reef set up a fluidized sand bed or a Wet Dry trickle filter and why?  >>Actually, either will work just fine.  There are those who argue that either methods are actually "nitrate factories", but the simple fact is that without utilization of a good deep sand bed or refugium (which can house a DSB) along with sufficient good quality live rock you'll be hard pressed to experience DE-nitrification (the end cycle that occurs in anaerobic areas of a DSB that turn nitrates into nitrogen).  So, what I really suggest is not worrying about which of these two methods you use, but instead be sure that you have something in place to denitrify.   >>Here's a very good link (w/links within) that will help clarify.  Best of luck!  Marina >> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm

Re: Fluidized Sand Beds VS. Wet Dry Trickle Filters >thank you  for your advice but what method would help denitrify my tank.   >>You're welcome, Mike, but I think you're missing the point here.  NEITHER a wet-dry nor a fluidized sand bed will denitrify, that's not what they're designed to do, and it's impossible because they create entirely aerobic environments.   The bad things I heard about a sand bed is that sometimes sand will go into your tank or not enough flow is going in. how can I adjust it. >>I'm going to suggest you do lots more reading, can't recollect which links I sent you at the moment, but I'll give you my best synopsis on deep sand bed and refugia methodologies first. >>DSB (deep sand bed), either on its own or used in conjunction with a refugium is just that, a deep layer of fine sand (we're talking sugar fine at least) that is sufficiently deep (on the order of 4"-6") to create an anaerobic layer.  Within that layer you'll be fortunate enough (assuming you've got sufficient and quality live rock to help seed--or have utilized purchased sand for this purpose) to culture the bacteria that will metabolize nitrate into its constituent components, ending up with nitrogen.  Earth's atmosphere is 80% nitrogen, so you can see the benefits of ending up with this substance.  A DSB can be utilized *within* the tank, or within the refugium, which is a separate container that's tied into your system via plumbing.  The difference between a DSB and refugium is that in the refugium you'll grow macro algae.  The reasons to do this are twofold; to help foster "pod" growth (pick a pod), and the algae will take up certain nutrients.  Many folks put their refugium on an "opposing" light cycle to help control the pH fluctuations experienced in artificial reef systems. >>Now, you CAN use a DSB *in* the display, but most folks do *not* set up a refugium in their display--the whole point is to let "go wild" in growth, which is generally unsightly and NOT the point of a gorgeous reef display, yes?  Ok, so, I'll link (or relink, whichever the case may be) and hopefully these will help you understand more of the functionality as well as mechanics of DSB's and refugia.  Also, please build a library, this is money VERY well-spent.  I'll suggest that the MOMENT Anthony Calfo's and Bob Fenner's new book comes out you buy it.  I know that there is information specific to DSB's and refugia in there.  I am of the firm belief that success in this endeavor will be elusive as long as one relies on verbal communications and the internet for information.  Hardcopy information is almost invaluable.  In the meantime, here you go--> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Plenums.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/denitrification.htm >>Be sure to follow the "links within links", for more information.  I hope this and the links help answer your questions.  Best of luck!  Marina

Re: Fluidized Sand Beds VS.. Wet Dry Trickle Filters >I am completely aware that a wet dry nor a sand bed will denitrify but what kinda of device can or will >>Your awareness eluded me.  Please read the links, as the information is far too vast for me to give you more than a synopsis (which I did give you yesterday) here.  Marina

Changing Filtration, skimmer and fish stocking I wish I had found your site sooner! After reading many of your FAQ's about skimming products and filtration, I think I have made some bad purchasing decisions. My question is....Should I change, or upgrade my current skimming/filtration set up? This is what I have: 120 Gallon Marine FO tank with 4-6" of live sand and 50 lbs of live rock. A Magnum 350 Pro Canister System with two Bio wheels/Emperor 400 with two Bio wheels/Seaclone 150 Skimmer/ and two AquaClear 3000 power heads for upper/lower water movement. After reviewing your site, the SeaClone is not well liked. I am producing about 1 full cup of dark waste a week out of mine, with little return of micro bubbles into the tank (after many hours of fine tuning). Should I replace this with a better skimmer? <It would be desirable to produce/remove more waste than one cup of skimmate a week.  As you know, the crew likes Aqua-C, Euro Reef and ETS skimmers for increased efficiency. You can see these skimmers at several of our sponsors.> If so, what would you recommend? Also, I have noticed that you are fond of the Eheim Canister filters over the Magnums. Are they that much better? Would it be worth replacing the Magnums, and are the Eheims more forgiving with the electric bill? <The Eheim filters use less power per canister volume and hold much more media than Magnum filters. This may require upsizing as Eheims also use less flow rate for a given volume than Magnum canisters.> If so, which Eheim would you recommend for my tank? <I would use the manufacturers recommendation.> My system has been set up for 2 months with good ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, ph, etc. levels. I have a 3" Maroon Clown, 3" Picasso Trigger, 3" Yellow Tang, and one 4" Porcupine Puffer (they all are doing great). I am using a 6 month old 55 gallon for quarantine of fish with a similar filtration/skimming (Emperor 280/Prizm Skimmer/Magnum 350) set-up. I have a 3" Fuzzy Dwarf Lion, and a 4" Marine Betta in quarantine for the 120 now. I plan on adding more Semi-aggressive fish into the 120 in the future. Will I be ok with this filtration? Will I be overstocked? I don't need to have any emergencies due to the money I have invested in these fish so far. Thanks, and a great web site! <Seems alright, but quite a few filters/bio wheels which may contribute to a nitrate problem down the road. No problems or overstocking at this time, pay special attention to feeding your Betta and Fuzzy lion as your other fish may be quite aggressive and these fish are shy and retiring by comparison.  Enjoy!  Craig>  Brent                 

Eco Aqualizer Good evening crew, have any of you fellas seen the Aqualizer or do you know if it works, I currently use UV on a regular basis and I run ozone through my tank for a 24 hour period once a month, I have just been reading Bob Goeman's article on the Aqualizer and for the price and what he states that it will do it seems to good to be true? As always your collective thoughts, mutterings or belly laughs are always greatly appreciated. Yours magnetically, Paul, Manchester UK <Met the two young fellows who have made this product a few months back at the MACNA XIII do in Dallas/Ft. Worth, but know nothing re this technology other than their promotional materials, Bob Goeman's "fantastic" (as in fantasy) review in FAMA this month. Bob Fenner>

72G REEF to Fish only I am in the process of switching my 72 gal reef to a fish only set up. I was successful with the reef but it became to expensive and time consuming. <I understand> I was curious of your opinion of using a wet dry filter  along with a protein skimmer  or would using just a good protein skimmer only is okay? I have a limited funds so I have a choice of getting a wet/dry & protein skimmer or just a really good protein skimmer. <I would go with as skimmer only and stay away from the wet/dry, or put in a sump with no 'dry'> Which out of sump protein skimmer would you recommend? <The AquaC Remora Pro gets good marks from most here. Check here for more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimbestof.htm. Hope this helps, Don>

What do you have in your tank? > >I don't want to bug you, > >>But here you are!  LOL!  I am only joking, if we didn't have questions to answer we'd have to fill this space with something else.  No worries, eh? > >but I was wondering what kind of filter you would recommend  for a 50 gallon salt water tank. This is my very first tank and I don't want to spend a w hole lot of money (over $300) but would like to get a good filter.  I bought a Fluval 404 but would like to hear your opinion on a good filter. > >>There is no reason why you can't use the Fluval, and I'd also use a generous bit of good quality live rock (on the order of 1-2lbs/gallon).  The ONLY other thing I personally feel you really should have is a good protein skimmer (a.k.a. foam fractionator).  Two popular brands are the AquaC Remora and the CPR BakPak.  You'll be *very* glad you invested in a good skimmer. > >I would also like to thank you for your help on my last question. > >>Even though I don't remember your last question, I'll say you're welcome.  Marina > But I was wondering what you guys or girls are running in your fishes tanks, or what is most popular >>Well, I don't have any tanks right now.  However, if/when I get to a point where I can afford my *own* tank I'll be going the route of refugium w/DSB, very-most-excellent protein skimming extraordinaire.  The tanks I've most recently had experience with are at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, and, needless to say, it would be difficult to reproduce the filtration there.  HOWEVER!  What they use is basically what we use, HUGE protein skimmers (last one I cleaned was 7' tall & 20" diameter), and, believe it or not, big wet/dry units.  However, we also do water changes with fresh, filtered seawater almost every day, too. >>Try searching our site, you can now get Bob's last book (The Conscientious Marine Aquarist), or wait for the new book (linked on site).  Also, check out http://www.reefs.org/library  as well as the RDO site, we also have forums there.  My nick there is "Seamaiden", on the WetWeb site I am Sea Maiden.  On both sites there are LOTS of people who have good advice, and you'll get a MUCH broader "sample" base from which to glean information.  Good luck, Lee!  Marina

High Rate Sand Filters Hello, my question concerns the use of high rate sand filters on large public aquaria.  Are these filters capable of providing sufficient biological filtration? (in aquariums in general, tank size and bio-load aside). <Mmm, not really... or at least not reliably. Some "other" media than sand is used in some of these applications... but the high, variable pressure, backwashing exercises... conspire to disrupt nitrification. There have been "popular" resurgences of this technology in pet-fish uses... the mass-merchandiser PetSmart used to have closed-circuit pressurized filtration...that have proven disastrous> Should other sources of bio-filtration be eliminated to prevent "competition"? <Not necessary or advisable. Fine to have more nitrification, denitrification...> The main question I have is this: When shut down, how long does it take the sand filter to go anaerobic, and after this has occurred, what should be done to safely operate the filter again? <In most circumstances, several minutes to an hour or so... need to backwash before returning to recirc.> Would a long backwash do the job? <Oh, yes> Currently, most of the tanks are run w/one or two Hayward s- series sand filters, skimmers (no O3), and reverse flow undergravel.  Bio towers are present, but not in use. Any info you can give me on the use of sand filters on aquaria would be great.   Thank You, Byron <Much to state... if it were my facility and not a high-density, high bio-mass (hundreds to thousands or more pounds of animals) I would dump the sand/gravel out of these units, or remove them altogether. Too much potential trouble, too expensive (electrical, pumps) to operate. Bob Fenner>

SW Filter recommendations >I don't want to bug you, >>But here you are!  LOL!  I am only joking, if we didn't have questions to answer we'd have to fill this space with something else.  No worries, eh? >but I was wondering what kind of filter you would recommend  for a 50 gallon salt water tank. This is my very first tank and I don't want to spend a hole lot of money (over $300) but would like to get a good filter.  I bought a Fluval 404 but would like to hear your opinion on a good filter. >>There is no reason why you can't use the Fluval, and I'd also use a generous bit of good quality live rock (on the order of 1-2lbs/gallon).  The ONLY other thing I personally feel you really should have is a good protein skimmer (a.k.a. foam fractionator).  Two popular brands are the AquaC Remora and the CPR BakPak.  You'll be *very* glad you invested in a good skimmer. >I would also like to thank you for your help on my last question. >>Even though I don't remember your last question, I'll say you're welcome.  Marina

Filters Thanks for your advice about removing the media from my Eheim Professional and Fluval 404, and getting a better skimmer. <Excellent> No spikes in ammonia or nitrite at all. Nitrate remains a little high, but that was why I removed the media, so I suppose regular water changes will lower that. The skimmate gets darker by the day, which I'm taking as a good sign. Ph has gone up from 8.1 to 8.3 (readings always taken at the same time of day ... early evening) ... is there a connection? <The darker the skimmate the better. Removing dissolved organics will stabilize the system overall> I now have two largish canister filters which are useful for water flow. However they are a bit noisy, the water pouring in to the Eheim sounds like a constantly flushing toilet! Can I put anything useful in them which might return them to their previous quiet state. I thought of putting the well-washed media back, and then washing it once a week in cold water to prevent biological activity. Or I could put lumps of living rock in them, although it will be in the dark. I've also got a Poly Filter to hand. Would you recommend using that. I don't use carbon at present. <This would be a good place to use carbon. I would put carbon in both filters and then change on an alternating schedule, every other week or two. Sounds like you are on the right track, good luck! Don> Thanks Brian

Emerging Reef Tank OK Scott, here is the update. <Lay it on me, man!> Since we last emailed each other, I have replaced the skimmer with a Prizm Protein Skimmer with a surface water skimmer and a chemical filter basket containing phosphate remover. <Make sure that you change chemical media regularly so that they stay effective, okay?> I sold the trigger and the puffer to a good home. <That was an excellent move!> I preformed a 50% water change with the tap water filter and the best sea-salt I could find.  I went through again and scrubbed down the tank, heater, filter, and rock to make sure all the algae is gone.  Here are some things I had questions about as I prepare for coral: My power compact lighting is on from 7a-10p on the average day.  A friend recommended this to me but I think it's too much light.  I know that the exact amount of light depends on the type of coral, but how does that sound for what I have now (2 damsels and about 15-20lbs of live rock)? <I don't think that it's too much light for your current animal load. As you correctly theorized, the intensity and duration of the light depends largely on the needs of the animals. It's pretty hard to have "too much" light for most shallow water reef animals, IMO> I also removed my power head because I read on a different website that hair-algae preferred areas with high circulation.  Was that a good idea? <I would disagree with that notion, myself. I think that the appearance and domination of hair algae is largely a function of excessive nutrients. In fact, the control of most nuisance algae blooms can be initiated with better water circulation, among other things.> Lastly, I have a twin BioWheel (BioWheel 330, I think) wet/dry filter. I already that a wet/dry filter like a BioWheel is bad for coral. Any truth to that (hope now, after dropping money on the protein skimmer, I really don't want to go get a new filter)? <The BioWheel is not "bad" for coral at all. The reason why I am not a big fan of BioWheels and other plastic media is that, although they tend to do a great job at breaking down ammonia and nitrite, they don't break down nitrate (the "end product of the biological filtration process) very well, and nitrate will tend to accumulate. Accumulations of nitrate can have a negative effect on overall water quality, which is not a good thing for corals!> How does all this sound in terms of removing algae and preparing for coral? Kenneth <Sounds good so far. Remember- think "nutrient export" here...Keep at the sources of algae problems, and how to reduce them: Water changes, use and regular replacement of your chemical media, and aggressive protein skimming (try to collect a couple of cups a week of that dark, yucky stuff you here us talk about all the time. Maintain the highest possible water quality, consistent and diligent maintenance, and you'll be on your way to a thriving coral community! Good luck, and have fun! Scott F>> PS:  You don't know what a huge help you and your website have been so far.  Thanks for the continued support!

Filtration Schemes For New Tank I have a 90 gallon tank, which I am setting up for a fish only marine tank. Which of the  following 2(two) filtration setup are best. *2 HOT Magnum *SeaClone Protein Skimmer*Merlin Fluidized Biological Canister or *Tidepool II Bio-Wheel Filtration (wet/dry) *SeaClone Protein Skimmer *Merlin Fluidized Biological Canister <Well, if it were me, I'd go for the Tidepool, without the BioWheel; using the sump as a "nexus" for your water processing, and as a place for supplemental chemical filtration (Poly Filter, Activated Carbon, etc), heater, and, most important- a quality protein skimmer. Use a good quality skimmer, such as an Aqua C, Euroreef, or Tunze, and make sure that it produces skimmate regularly. I would not use a supplemental canister or other mechanical filtration system with this tank. I'd utilize live rock, aggressive skimming, supplemental chemical filtration, and water changes to keep water quality high. There are lots of different possible filtration systems that you could utilize, but I think that simple arrangements work the best! Good Luck with your setup! regards, Scott F>

Filtration Techniques... Hi there, <Hi there! You've got Scott F. today!> First, I'd like to say that I love the website!  I come at least three times a week! <Only three times a week? Sheesh! LOL...Glad you like it!> Also, Bob Fenner, your book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, it really is like a second bible for me! <The CMA is a real treasure> Anyway, on to my question.  I have an 80 gallon tank and my filtration consists of 45 pounds (soon to be 90) of live rock, a Seaclone protein skimmer (from aquarium systems), two powerheads cycling 400 gph, UV sterilizer, and a Tetratec power filter with a heater in it (up to 100 gallons).  My LFS is saying that I should get a wet dry system, but do I really need it? <Well, I'm not a big fan of "wet/dry" filters for "reef" systems, as they tend to accumulate nitrate over time. I'd rather yank the bioballs and use the "wet/dry" filter as a sump, which can be the "water processing center" for your tank. You could put your skimmer, heater, activated carbon, and even mechanical media in there...A sump gives you versatility> I'm doing a fish-only system and it seems that I have chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration. Also, the owner of the LFS tells me that I should change my water once a month.  Isn't it more frequent than that? <I'm a serious water change geek...I push two small (5%) water changes twice a week. This really lets you dilute excess nutrients before they begin to accumulate in your system> He also tells me that I should have 135 pounds of live rock.  Is 90 pounds enough?  I'm so confused! Please help!  Another thing- if I have live rock as my biological filter, do I even need my undergravel?  A true fish fan- Big Al <I would go for a little more, if you'd like-certainly not mandatory to do so, however...Use cured live rock, and add it gradually. With regards to the undergravel- I'd discontinue using it...Like the "wet dry", it can be counterproductive to what you're trying to achieve. My favorite John Tullock quote is "More biology, less technology" (or was it the other way around?)...Anyways- you get the idea...let nature do most of the work, and you'll enjoy a healthy, stable tank. Good luck! Regards, Scott F> Built-In Filters I have read that you like Tenecor's Simplicity Plus, and Advance Aqua's Uniquarium, but I haven't really seen any discussion about advantages/disadvantages to either one.  I am more curious about your comparisons of the built-in filtration in each. It seems that the Tenecor would be the better choice.  Thoughts? Tim McLaren <Well, Tim- both are well made, and come from reputable sources. My only real criticism of these systems is that they do not allow a lot of flexibility, as far as the installation of protein skimmers is concerned. You may be able to install a HOT skimmer, like the Aqua C. Remora, or maybe a Tunze unit, if you can figure out the mounting. I'd remove the plastic filtration media, if it were me. I'd use the back compartment as a "sump" of some sort, and place carbon and/or PolyFilter pads in there. The only other disadvantage to these units, IMO is that they tend to make the inside of the tank a bit more "narrow", which may or may not be aesthetically displeasing to you (I don't like tall narrow tanks, myself...Other than that, either one seems to be as good as the other. Regards, Scott F> Tim

Order of Filtration Equipment Hi guys, <Hey Dave> Maybe you can clear up some confusion I have regarding the order in which filtration equipment should come in a typical marine/reef tank. <I will do my best.> It seems as though you suggest that the protein skimmer should handle 'raw' water.  I assume this to be water prior to mechanical and biological filtration. <Yup> If this is correct, I would assume that the overflow from the tank should first pass through the protein skimmer and then flow through the trickle filter, etc. and then be returned to the tank. <Yup> If this is the case, why are most of the sumps designed so that the protein skimmer (located in the sump) is the last piece of equipment instead of the first? <Because they are poor designs.> Am I missing something here? <Nope> Any Suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I am looking at moving up to a 125g tank and purchasing a sump/ps system.  Thanks. Dave <The manufacturers designing sumps which include the skimmer as the last piece of equipment are using older/flawed designs.  The hobby has evolved ahead of them.  Here is the explanation from Anthony that cleared it up for me "waste that is exported first by a skimmer cannot contribute to nitrates (since its locked up in skimmate remotely)... but raw waste allowed to go through a trickle filter first is converted before the skimmer even has a shot at it!".  Research your sump and skimmer thoroughly before making any purchases, these are important pieces of the equation.  If you go with a commercial model it may be necessary to modify it with a compact skimmer like a Tunze sump model or an aqua C Urchin in a small skimmer box that catches water before it goes to the trickle filter.  Best Regards, Gage>

Pick the filter! - 3/13/2003 I have a 90 gallon tank, which I am setting up for a fish only marine tank. Which of the following 2(two) filtration setups are best. <kind of like a game show :) > *2 HOT Magnum *SeaClone Protein Skimmer *Merlin Fluidized Biological Canister (rate for 250 gal. tank)                         or *Tidepool II Bio-Wheel Filtration (wet/dry) *SeaClone Protein Skimmer *Merlin Fluidized Biological Canister (rate for 250 gal. tank) <So, the real question is if you should have the Tidepool or the HOT Magnum, along with the fluidized bed and skimmer.  It would probably be more of a personal opinion, but I would choose the HOT Magnum.  Here's why:  Both set-ups have the skimmer which helps a whole lot for any marine tank.  Both also include a fluidized bed that is more than sufficient for the tank size and will provide the biological filtration.  So, the bio-wheel isn't really needed for biological filtration reasons.  The Magnum at least makes a good mechanical and/or chemical filter, so it would get my vote, at least in the scenario given.  And that's my final answer :)  Have fun and enjoy!!  Scott V. >

Re: Polishing (as in water filtration) Hello Crew: Tried to find this out on the site by myself, but I could not get the answer.  I have a very simple questions, what exactly does it mean to "polish" your water and, if I am contemplating a H.O.T. Magnum for a 58 gallon reef tank, does it filter and polish at the same time or do you have to switch out the media?  Thanks for your response. Scott <Polishing is simply micro-filtering particulates to clarify water. It is usually done with a pleated paper filter media, also designed for diatomaceous earth used in FW and swimming pools to polish FW. Yes, this requires changing the media from carbon or other media basket (the standard basket included with a Magnum) and using the pleated paper filter *without* diatomaceous earth in your reef. My recommendation, after all that, is to perhaps look at some of the better canister filters with larger media capacities, run carbon in it, and not worry about polishing water. Better to rely on regular water changes, live rock, deep live sand, efficient protein skimmer, and carbon changed out every two weeks - month. You won't ever need to know about polishing with the above.  Best wishes!  Craig>

New reef setup Hey guys, <Hi, Rocky, Don with you this AM> I recently bought a 100 gallon Uniquarium with the intention of making a reef tank.  I have been reading up on this site for over a month now (thanks, the info is invaluable), but I still have some specific issues I need help with.  The tank has an area in the back that is 4 inches deep, and is subdivided by acrylic baffles into 8 compartments which are each between 6 and 8 inches wide.  This area is for bioballs and activated carbon, but I was wondering if it would make an effective sump, given the dimensions.  If so (or if not), what would you put in each compartment (from left to right) in order to have the most effective filtration possible?   <Hmmmm, I don't know if I would modify the compartments. Risk of breakage, voiding warranty, etc. I don't think the compartments would be that beneficial filled with sand/mud. But hey, for a few pounds of sand/mud, you could try! BTW, this is designed to be a sump of sorts> Could I/ should I modify the baffles and put a layer of live sand or miracle mud in there?  The only things I am sure are going in are heaters and a skimmer on the back.  Please help me find the most effective way to utilize this area. <Again, I don't think I would start chopping this up. Use it as is for the skimmer, carbon, maybe some filter sponge for the tank/QT. The skimmer should be the first to contact 'raw water' from the tank. After that, you can order things the way you want.> Also, I bought a 20 gallon to use as a refugium, with live rock, sand, and Caulerpa harvested from my old 40 gallon.  How much sand and rock do I need to make the system beneficial?  If I need to go bigger, please let me know.  This is the first of what I am sure to be many e-mails, but I really appreciate the help.  You guys are awesome. <20G on a 100G is 20% volume, right on recommended size. With that said bigger is always better <G>. Seriously, the more volume you add the easier it is to keep the system stable and when bad things happen, they don't happen quite as quickly. You don't mention what the old 40 is going to be used for. Might I suggest the old 40 be the refugium and the 20 be a quarantine tank (or vice-versa)? By QT'ing all new additions, you are able to increase your success rate dramatically and keep those nasty diseases out of your main display. Something to think about. The sand bed in the refug should be from 4-6" of oolithic (very fine) sand. I do not have any rock in my refuge but that is my preference. Have fun with your new setup. See here for more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaq2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm> Thanks, Rocky <BTW, thank you for the kind words and come back anytime to use the WetWebMedia search engine or to drop us a line. Keep reading, learning and have fun!>

ECO-Aqualizer What do you know about this?  Does it work?  ANY INFO WOULD BE AWESOME <Sorry- I haven't heard of this...Sounds like the "Neural Neutralizer"  device from an old episode of Star Trek! (But hopefully it is not as dangerous!). You may want to put a post on the WetWebMedia chat forum to see if any of your fellow hobbyists have utilized this product...Sorry I couldn't be of help here. Scott F> Question for Bob F -- SeaClear Hi Bob. <Hey Trey> First, I've got say what a fantastic resource this web site is....Thank you all!!! <Welcome> My question is about SeaClear System II aquariums. I read a post where you called them "bunk" and I was wondering what you didn't like about them? <Two items: the inadequacy of the filter components and the difficulty of working on them (for other readers, these systems have integrated... part of the back of the tank itself...compartments for filter media, pump, skimmer...> What do you think is a good alternative to the self contained system? I know wet/dry filters cause a lot of nitrates and I was going to try and balance that out with 4 inches of live sand and Cell pore media. <Sump, refugium, skimmer set-ups. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm re filtration...> I'm just getting back in the hobby after ten years and thought they looked like a pretty cool design. All self contained with a spot for a protein skimmer and a heater. No drilling, no external plumbing, etc. <... yes, except they "don't work" worth a darn, and are a pain to get into, work on...> I'm planning a fish only, 50 gallon, with 4 inches of live sand to help withthe nitrates. I'd like to keep all tank raised fish with little or no rock collected from natural sources. I'm thinking about False Percula Clownfish, Orchid Dottyback and a Neon Goby and few other tank raised fish with a clean up crew down the road. The whole idea is to have a complete marine tank that's not collected from nature. Any thoughts you may have on the SeaClear System II ( or alternatives ) and my choice of a tank raised fish with man made rocks would be great? Thanks!!! Trey <Read, keep good notes on going through "Marine Set-Up" section above. Bob Fenner>

Tank raised Clownfish/nano reef Hello again. Please forgive my ignorance, for like I said, I am new to this. Thank you for the link, it was helpful. I just wanted to say that a little more input would have been greatly appreciated. I surf your website an awful lot and probably could have answered my own questions in time, but chose to ask you guys instead. I am assuming you don't approve of my filtration method from the reply you sent me. <The only problem I see with it is that there is nothing removing waste from the system, I like mechanical filtration.  If I recall you have a good amount of live rock and live sand which will handle the majority of the filtration.  Skimmers are great, but there is really no way to fit one onto the eclipse 12 without cutting into the top.  I'm guessing you do not want to do that.  I would turn the eclipse filtration back on, remove the bio wheel and use either the filter cartridges supplied by eclipse or cut some other filter media to fit.  The filter chamber is good when you want to use carbon and things of that nature. 10% to 15% water changes weekly.  Be sure to heat and aerate your water before adding it to the tank.  It is too easy to swing the PH and the temperature in smaller tanks.> It's an eclipse twelve. I removed the filter after having an abundance of diatoms & algae and have since seen a drastic improvement. <diatoms are fairly common in new setups, they usually pass in time.> I hope I didn't come across as rude, those aren't my intentions. <Nope, we are all friends here. Sorry if I came across short.> Any help would be greatly appreciated by me & my new clown. <Hope the above is more helpful.  If space and finances allow it, I would consider a larger system, they are easier to maintain. Something in the 40 to 50gal range would be nice.  Have you checked out nano-reef.com, good info there as well.  Best Regards, Gage>

Planning for a 180g  3/3/03 Obviously I have a question, otherwise I shan't be writing you.<Let's have it!>  I am planning to purchase a new large (in my eyes) aquarium as a fish only system with an overbuilt filter for conversion to reef in later days.  Hopefully it will be a 180 gallon aquarium.<Yes, this is a large aquarium.>  I have had an earlier experience with marine systems that ended disastrously, and I'm am planning for that not to happen ever again.<It's a fact that planning can stop a disaster!>  I have money but not endless amounts, so I am planning to make my own custom filter and this is where the query lies.  Can I use lava rock as the medium for optimal bacterial growth?<I don't think you should do this.  A better way is to add "dead live rock" available at most LFS at a cheaper price to the "filter".  To seed this dead rock add some real live rock.  Let this run for some time and you will have a live rock filter.>   I once read a man did this for his pond, and I was wondering if it would work on a marine aquarium as well.<It may work, but would leach minerals out into the water.  This could cause an algae outbreak.>  I want to have this, mechanical filtration, and a skimmer.  Would this be enough for a fish only system?<Lots of people keep tanks w/ only a good skimmer and lots of live rock.>  Thanks for your help, the site is amazing and thanks for keeping up to good work.<Thanks!  Good luck to you!  Phil>

Marine Filtration how's it goin Phil,<It's going good!> Have a few questions for ya<Shoot!> 1) Can I use sponges or some sort off porous rock in my sump as  biological filtration instead of liverock?<Sure, you could but won't be as good as liverock LR).  You may want to try and get some "dead" live rock, some LFS sell it cheap.  Add a few pounds of LR and it will seed the dead rock.  A cost effective answer to the problem!> 2) If I use about 2inches of fine crushed coral and a inch of live sand will it perform decent biological filtration or what do recommend for FOWLR?<I'd like it if you didn't mix two types of sand.  It can and will most likely cause problem down the road.  IMO live sand is better than crushed coral.  In a FOWLR I believe it would be best to go with live sand.> 3) Can I get away with not using any other filtration than a strong protein skimmer with a 40gal sump and the biological filtration described above with liverock in the tank?/ what else can I do that's cheap to help with water quality besides water changes?<You said this tank was going to be between 100-125g right?  I cheap power filter that does quite well is the AquaClear 500.  It's for tanks up to 100g.  Maybe try adding a small 10-20g refugium, with some microalgae.  This will also help.> Thanks a lot you've been a big help lately<No problem man, good luck w/ the new tank!!  Phil>

Mud or calcium reactor - Yes! - <Greetings, JasonC here...> I have a 120 gallon reef with both soft and hard corals.  I have a top off system that I only use Kalk in.  My question is, which would you recommend, adding mineral mud to the existing sump, or adding a calcium reactor? <Well, that's two separate issues in my book - but my simple answer would be yes.> Which has the most bang for the buck? <They each have different types of bangs for the buck.> I have read articles about Leng Sy's systems, and it is very intriguing to me. <Indeed, and if you really want to know, I would do both the Miracle Mud and the calcium reactor.>  Thanks in advance.  Your web site is a wealth of info for me! <Cheers, J -- >

Natural Marine Aquarium 2/27/03 Respected sir <cheers, Monty> Well sir today I read in your daily FAQs  question that you can run your aquarium without filter which was replied by Don. In my 30 gallon tank the stock which I am adding  as follows:-2 clown,1 damsel and cleaner shrimp. But I am using power filter. Waiting for your reply. Monty <the power filter is very good for convenient use of carbon and extra water flow. I would keep it, but also be sure to add some fully cured live rock (isolate in a separate tank for 4 weeks). Good mature live rock is what allows marine aquariums to operate without many filters or any at all in some cases. Kind regards, Anthony>

Marine tank with no filter Hey crew: <Alfalfa, Rich, Don here today> Can I run my aquarium without a filter?  I only have 4 damsels and I am using a protein skimmer, a DSB, and a bunch of LR.  I ask because I read that you can (It had to be on your site, Bob's book, Mr. Tullock's book, or an aquarium mag. <Sure, can be a challenge depending on bio load. I keep a power filter in the tank and run it only when I do something to stir up the water. Just watch ammonia, nitrite and nitrate closely after making the change> Thanks, Rich.

Filtration confusion Hello. Just discovered your site today. My question is in regards to filtration and lighting. I'm setting up a 30L. I want to have a flame angel, a couple of clowns, a lawnmower blenny and an anemone. <I would lose the anemone, very difficult to keep. Clowns do not need an anemone to thrive> I've heard so many different opinions on filtration, especially concerning wet/dry systems. I heard that a protein skimmer along with a good canister filter would be more than sufficient for this tank. My LFS tell me that wet/dry trickle is the only way to go. I've read some of your FAQ's, and see that you recommend a sump with live rock. I have a problem... I built my own tank stand and used 2 x 4 studs. (overkill!!!) This only leaves me with 12.5" x 15.25" on either side of the center support studs. This doesn't seem to be nearly enough room for a sump. I guess you learn as you go! This is the main reason for my interest in the canister set-ups. What would you suggest for good filtration? I guess the only good thing is that I haven't purchased anything yet. The second question I have is about lighting. I think I need at least two tubes (fluorescent), but I guess I don't know much about that either! I like the blue actinic bulbs... what's actinic?... but shouldn't I have two bulbs (a white and a blue tint)? Also if more than one is necessary, have you heard anything about Coralife's twin tube ballast and starter kit? When your crew gets done laughing at me, I would greatly appreciate your expertise. Thanks in advance, Dave A. <No worries, Dave, we all have/do go through this. IMO, protein skimmer is a must. See our site www.wetwebmedia.com and use the google search to find best skimmers for opinions. Less than 1" or more than 4" sugar fine aragonite sand substrate (deeper helps with nitrate reduction). Live rock in the tank (25-30#). The canister filter require cleaning on a regular (every day or so) basis or they become a nitrate trap. Same with bio-balls in a wet dry. A sump is nice to add additional volume to the tank, a place to put heaters, skimmer, carbon, etc. Could you redesign your stand? Hope this helps, Don.> --- Dave Adams

Adding a Sump and Refugium Hi guys greetings from sunny South Africa , <Thanks Werner, Right back at you from snowy Nebraska, USA> just some advice needed here I currently have a 300litre marine set up , the problem is when I purchased the tank I wasn't planning on having a sump or refugium . What can I do to add these to my setup without completely starting over again this tank is over 2 years mature and would hate to do this ??? <I would suggest an upstream refugium. Drill the refug tank for an overflow to return to the tank and use a small in tank pump to deliver water to the refuge. Or CPR makes a hang on refugium that has gotten positive comments. The sump would be more difficult. I can only recommend that you drill the back of the tank for bulkhead fittings to drain to the sump below and use a pump for return. This would require an empty tank. Hang on overflows will fail and your tank will flood eventually. For peace of mind and to keep your money in your wallet (cleanup/repair from flood) I believe the drilled overflow is best. At www.wetwebmedia.com  click on Marine Articles and follow the links to plumbing/sumps for more info. Don>

Kent Marine Bio-Rocker versus Eheim Canister Filters Hello, <Hey Roland> I'm looking into purchasing a new filter for my 120 gallon goldfish tank.  I was looking at the Kent Marine Bio-Rocker and I like the concept of it, but I have some reservations about it. <Wet/dries are nice for goldfish> First, I would like to know if you have any experience with the ease-of-use (leveling in order to get the rocking movement correct, flow rate, etc.) of the Bio-Rocker.  Second, I'm concerned about the amount of noise generated by the water movement through the filter.  I currently have 2 AquaMaster 600 power filters and I consider them somewhat noisy.  I would like the next filter I purchase to be as quiet as possible.  I would also like your comments on the ease-of-use and quietness of Eheim canister filters. <Well... I have not used either, but as far as noise is concerned the Eheim canister will most likely be quieter than the bio rocker.  The bio rocker is a wet/dry, so you will have the noise of the overflow, depending on how you have the over flow set up, and the noise of the water trickling (should not be too bad).  Overflows that have not been designed well tend to sound like toilets flushing.  Eheim is a good name and after using Fluval and Filstar canister filters my next purchase is going to be an Eheim. (not that there is anything wrong with the other two)  I have heard nothing but good things about them.> Your response is greatly appreciated. < I would post the question on some of the chat forums to get multiple opinions and go from there. Best Regards, Gage> http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ Sincerely, Roland Graham  

Filtration Upgrade I just ran across your site today and I have to say very well done and very, very informative great work!!<Thanks!>  Quick question for you guy's I currently have a 35 Gal. hex which at the moment is set up for fish only salt water.  The tank has been established for about 3 years now no problem's.  Current filtration on this tank is as follows.... 250 H.O.T. Magnum with carbon canister, 802 Powerhead running of an under gravel filter outlet (not sure if the under gravel is necessary it was put in when I set up the tank and it has been that way since) <Meltdown waiting to happen!!!>, (2) 201 Powerheads buried in my pile of live rock, Fluval 203 canister filter, a small (8 IL Quarts, I believe) Aquanetics UV sterilizer (running off the Fluval).  Now to the question :) I have been thinking of getting a larger tank in particular a 50 gal. pentagon, now how much MORE filtration would I need to accommodate for this (I would imagine I would need to get a skimmer).  Any thoughts would be welcome. TIA Kevin Conner <Well Kevin, if you have a lot of live rock and a good skimmer and a Deep Sand Bed, you may not need a filter.  I like to have a little Aqua Clear around for carbon/little extra filtration.  Other wise a filter doesn't need to be used.  You have a good filter, you may just want to use it w/ a good skimmer!  Hope this helps!  Phil>

Re: Filtration Upgrade So you think I should be ok with my current setup and an added protein skimmer, on a 50 gal. tank?<I see no problems!!>  Great! thanks for your advice I had a feeling I had "over filtrated" my current tank but that's a good thing I suppose. "Meltdown waiting to happen!!!"  Don't like the sound of that what do you mean by meltdown? to much sedimentation on the bottom of the tank? thanks again <Say the UGF gets backed up with some waste/uneaten food.  It rots and decays.  Over time this will/does and it affects your nitrates/nitrites, causes them to rise!  Not a good thing!  They are a real pain to clean.  In your 50g tank you don't need the UGF, just have a good skimmer, a lot of live rock, and a DSB.  Deep sand beds are over 3-4 inches!  You could have an Aqua Clear 200 on the tank for carbon.  Keep your Magnum and use it as filter if you want.  Like you said you can't have too much filtration.... well maybe.. but you don't have to worry about it!  Hope this helps!!  Good luck on the 50g! Phil>

Dilemmas... mainly marine filtration Thanks for the help with the wrasse identification question. Unfortunately, with further web research I'm 99% sure the wrasses I inherited from my buddy is a cleaner wrasse of some sort. <Yikes! Unfortunately, these fishes are still imported all too often...> I don't want a fish that's gonna die literally any day. I'll do my best to keep it though. <Well, yours might be the one in a million that can adapt to prepared foods; now that you have this guy, do your best to try as many different food items as you can...don't quit on him- you owe him the effort, okay?> My question today is concerning my filtration set up. I have a Emperor carbon-based filter, 2 powerheads (301s, one on each side) 40 lbs or so of live rock,  and a 60 lbs crushed coral bed. The lady at the LFS store told me the other day that my carbon-based system can actually kill my fish by creating too many bubbles and eliminating many valuable aquarium minerals and such. Is this true or she trying to get me to spend even more money at her store?  <This is one of those strange types of answers that you'll get from time to time. The real "downfall" to carbon-based filtration is that you need to change it often to maintain its efficiency. Mechanical filtration in general is maintenance-intensive; don't get lazy! Problems arise in these types of systems when maintenance is neglected- then they function as nutrient "traps"...a problem that can degrade water quality tremendously. As far as the "bubble" issue- that's likely to be caused by cavitation or other issues with the filter itself- not the carbon media.> I do bi-weekly 10-15% water changes and change carbon every other month. <Good- but in a mechanical-based system, or any system, for that matter- I'd use 2 small (5%) changes per week...they'll help prevent organics from ever having a chance to accumulate.> Should I eliminate the carbon-based filter and just depend on my bio-filtration and powerheads? (tank 75 gallon saltwater, running about 3 months, snails, hermits, pep shrimp, 1 clown that has taken a home in or near the bubbles). <Well, I'm a big fan of just utilizing simple biological means, such as a well-designed sump, and aggressive protein skimming...Easy and efficient!> Would adding another powerhead help? she also mentioned maybe running the carbon once a month for about a week and repeat monthly. I'll eventually add a sump system, but it could be a while before I do so or maybe never. <Well- something to consider for the future!> Your opinion would help out a great deal. Thanks much <Hope that this helps! Regards, Scott F>

Marine set-up Hello Mr. Fenner, <Hi Greg> I have a 55 gallon tank w/ a 10 gallon sump and I'm planning a FOWLR tank. I have a Berlin Red Sea Skimmer and my plans are to have it in the last chamber of my sump where the return water is. I plan on hanging the skimmer on my main tank with a 500G/h submersible pump in the last chamber of my sump pumping water up to my skimmer and into my tank. However, I read in the Berlin instruction manual that I should skim the water before passing it through to the biofilter. What's a biofilter? Is it live rocks? <Can be. A biofilter is an area of a system that encourages biological filtration, aka cycling. Principally the populations, metabolism of nitrifying (and possibly denitrifying bacteria). Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/biological/biofiltr.htm> I also have a Magnum HOT "Pro-Series" w/ a bio wheel. Is that a biofilter? <To a limited extent, yes. The "wheel" does support some nitrification, but should not be relied on as a sole source... too limited, changeable> Where do you suggest I hang my Magnum? <likely in the middle back> I also plan on getting a second filter, probably an Eheim. Would you recommend that? <Not really. Please see WWM re marine filtration, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm> As far as substrate, which is better, crushed coral or live sand? How much substrate should I get? How many powerheads should I use and how powerful should they be for a 55 gallon tank? Where would you suggest I situate the powerheads and which brands, in your opinion, are best? <The above are posted on the many articles and FAQs files posted on the Set-Up Index on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm Do take the time to read over the materials archived here... A good grounding in basic science and application thereof will serve you well in making choices. Bob Fenner> Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Greg Marine filtration Mr. Fenner, Sorry to keep bugging you, but I've read through your entire site, specifically on filtration, and I'm still baffled. It sounds like you condone having a second filtration unit <Yes> and I think I've read that too much filtration is not a bad thing. <You are correct> Why wouldn't it be a good idea to add a second canister filter to go along with the Magnum? <Not so much bad but not as good as an investment in other types of "open" (as in open to the air) filtration, like a sump/refugium, or even another hang on power filter. Please see here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marcanistfltfaqs.htm re rationale, other choices. Mmm, and though I've done my best to lay out our sites in something of a logical order, I do encourage you to secure (perhaps a local library) a recent "marine aquarium" book to serve you as a systematic introduction to our hobby. Do consider this. Bob Fenner> Regards, Greg Marine filtration (cont.) I have and I will pick up your publication this weekend :) Thanks again..... <Ahh, know you will enjoy and gain by its reading. Bob Fenner>

Filtration and flow I set up my salt water tank about 2 months ago and its specs are: 75 gallon tank with about 100 lbs live rock and a few pieces of soft coral and at the this time no fish.  I have a power head and a red sea prism deluxe protein skimmer.  That is all.  My fish guy says that is all the filtration I need but I am not so sure.  He swears by the red sea skimmer.  Is that a good set up or do I need a different skimmer or additional hardware? <the skimmer should produce a cup of dark smelly gunk every day or two. If not, it may need to be adjusted, see the manual. If you decide that the Red Sea isn't for your tank, then see here for more comments http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bestskmrSelfaqs.htm. You don't mention what the sand bed is like? Nor do you mention the gph rating of the powerhead. I would think the rock and a skimmer producing good quantity of good skimmate, should be OK. Water flow depends on what species you decide to keep. Some are low, some moderate, and some high flow. I would suggest 10x to 20x turn over. For your tank 750gph to 1500gph. You certainly want a plan and this would call for more research. Don> Brett A. Podolsky

The Filtration Situation... Can you please help me with some filtration questions for my 30-gallon reef. My filtration currently consists of: AquaC Remora Wet/dry filter (bio-balls recently removed) Hang-on overflow w/ prefilter My goal is to improve skimmer efficiency and to add Chemi-Pure. <Always a good goal> My skimmer currently produces very little skimmate (about 1/4 cup after 1 week).  I also have a lot of small particles in my water. Should I place the skimmer in my sump (aka wet/dry)? <No- I'd make the adjustments from it's current position...Yes, skimming is often more productive when the skimmer is located in the sump, but this is a fine skimmer, and can be productive in a hang-on mode, if properly adjusted> Should I remove the pre-filter on my over-flow? <Well, prefilters can remove gross particulate matter before it gets to the skimmer. But they must also be cleaned frequently to avoid becoming a nutrient "trap"> Should I remove the filter above the bio-ball area (on the drip plate of the wet/dry)? <As above> Should I remove the polishing block after the bio-ball area? <I really don't like these "Foam Blocks"- they generally are left untended by most hobbyists, and are best omitted , IMO> If I leave the skimmer on the display tank, should I place the skimmer's pump in my overflow box? <Sure, that can work...this way, you'll be getting the most nutrient-laden water into the skimmer> Should I replace the drip plate with a micron sock? <Micron socks are good at removing particulate matter...but again, they MUST be cleaned a few times a week, or they will become nutrient traps...> If I remove the filters listed above, how can I add Chemi-Pure without it getting clogged?  My original idea was to add Chemi-Pure to the drip plate of the wet/dry or to place it on the eggcrate that supported the bio-balls.  Without the pre-filters I'm guessing I'll have to purchase a canister filter? <I'd put the Chemipure in a high flow area of the "wet" section of your filter...Remember- it's a chemical media, not a mechanical one...it should be placed after any mechanical filtration for optimal performance> If I get a canister filter it will definitely be an Eheim.  Do you know the difference between the 2200 series and the Ecco series? <The Ecco filters seem to be a "value-priced" version of the 2200's. They are both fine filters, IMO. However, I'd probably go for the 2200, if I could afford it> Thanks for your time and excellent advice, Jeremy G <And thank you for stopping by, Jeremy! Regards, Scott F>

Re: Magnum Pro 350 Bio-Wheel System - Do I Need It? Hello & Good Day! My 50gal Marine Tank is now 14days old!  Woohoo!  It has 55lbs LR and a DSB.  Tank is still completing its cycle.  I'm currently using a Seaclone PS and Magnum Pro 350 Bio-Wheel System ( that's what I get for going to the LFS before finding you guys ).  Once my Aqua-C Remora shows up and is installed, the Seaclone will be relegated to Quarantine Tank duty.  With all the reading in the FAQs I'm under the impression that I don't need the Magnum Pro either.  Is this true?  I'd be more than happy to get it off my Main Tank and keep it in the dugout for Q-Tank Duty as well. Scott <You don't need it Scott, but with your new system, let it run on your system for a while until your rock and DSB are up to the job on their own. Then keep it running on the QT so you have a cycled filter for any new additions in the QT. (Likely to be a few with that new tank, eh?) You gotta keep the bio-wheel going or it has to start over again. Make sure you keep the sponge pre-filter cleaned weekly on your Remora....and have fun!   Craig>

Re: H.O.T. MAGNUM "PRO SERIES" I'm considering purchasing a H.O.T. MAGNUM "PRO SERIES" for a 55 gallon FOWLR tank with a 10 gallon sump. I've also got a Berlin Red Sea protein skimmer (hang-on). So, I guess my question is, would the (1) HOT Magnum pro-series be enough filtration? Greg <Mmm, for what sort of livestock? I don't encourage you to use a canister filter as your primary or sole filter on a marine system. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm and here re canister filters: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marcanistfltfaqs.htm and the linked files (principally the FAQs) linked (in blue, at top). Bob Fenner>

Aloha from Kona Hey guys. been awhile since I wrote you for a little info.. just a quick question, I think it is overkill but. in the process of setting up a small liverock/reef tank. Maybe 10 or 20 gal. Water changes will be with ocean water( I live a block from the beach) ..live rock sand from the same spot...no fish just cool live rock and a few banded shrimp .. I have a magnum canister filter(mag350) that I am not using and was wondering if it will be too much for the tank size I was thinking of. <not at all> Is it possible to over filter a small tank with a filter like this?. <nope... no worries... more is better for circulation (if not laminar) and filtration here> Not set in stone with this filter but since I have it .... Thanks guys Pete ps: Anthony.. Brah' surf has been HUGE!!!! <Ha! Its not the size of the wave that counts... but the motion of the ocean. Best regards, Anthony>

The Best-Laid Plans....(New System Setup) Hello all, <Scott F with you tonight!> First off let me say that this is a GREAT web site! So much information its mind boggling. <Seriously. I surf our site all the time myself!> Speaking of mind boggling, I am new to this hobby and would like some info. I would only like to buy things once and not "move up". <A great way to think! but, of course- the brilliant plans you make will start to look dated once you get it set up, and then, that 300 gallon tank that you're thinking about as you lie awake at night will be even better...always works this way!> I am in the process of buying a 180 gal "reef ready" has overflows built into the 2 back corners. I have read the bigger the better so I am starting big. What I would like to know is which way is the best way to go regarding filtration. I have one store trying to have me pay for their next trip to the islands to get fish and another is just the opposite. <Unfortunately, a common situation!> The expensive way is to get a huge wet/dry with an ocean clear mechanical and all the pumps and accessories that go with it. The other store (the one I am buying the tank from) is saying I just need to set up a refugium. He said it was a very cheap way to go and it would be a lot better for the fish in the long run. What are your thoughts? Would I need anything more for the refugium setup besides that? Please help as I am very confused now. I do not want to kill any fish at all. Thank you in advance! Dave <Well, Dave- the refugium is a cool addition to your tank- but it is not the "whole picture", as far as filtration is concerned. I'd look into a nice large sump, with a compartment large enough for a powerful skimmer, your heater, a few bags of carbon...then- link a refugium to the sump...now you're cookin'! Simple, natural, and effective. You won't need lots of fancy filtration components; just let nature do the work for you! Execute regular maintenance and use good husbandry procedures, take it slow, don't skimp on quality- and you're bound to be successful! You should check out Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation" for some really cool ideas on setting up efficient systems, and husbandry in general. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

The Best-Laid Plans (Pt. 2) Hi Scott F, <Good morning!> Thanks for the quick response! I forgot to say that this was going to be a fish only and maybe some live rock setup. Later on down the road (it's a long road!) I will probably add some anemones. That is the reason for the 180 tank as opposed to the 220 I was going to get. I want to be able to afford lighting later. <Good thought!> You mentioned getting a large sump and a skimmer. When you say sump do you mean a wet/dry? <Well, a "wet/dry" is essentially a "sump" that has a compartment to hold biological media for water to trickle over. If you remove the biomedia, then you've got a plain, old sump!> Another place I called was going to set me up with a large wet/dry with a built in or added on red sea Berlin skimmer, and he was going to add a mechanical (Ocean Clear) onto that. He stated that a refugium is for a tank that is already established. You stated to link a refugium to the sump. I don't get what you mean (still way to green/novice).  Is there a picture or something you can show me? <Well, for more information, check this link out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumprffiltfaqs.htm There are other photos and info. on sumps throughout the site. Do a keyword search on sumps using the Google search feature> Anything you can do to make it real simple would be appreciated. Would I be ok to start off with the wet/dry and skimmer and the mechanical (ocean clear) and then add a refugium in later? Will I be able to keep everything and then just add on the refugium or will I have to remove something like the mechanical later. <Absolutely! You could simply purchase (or build) a sump, or you could purchase a "wet-dry" system and remove the plastic media. There is no reason to add lots of extra components right off the bat...just take it slow and keep it simple> You see I don't want to have to spend extra money if I don't have too. The tank and stand alone have almost drained the budget. <Yep- I know that feeling!> Thanks again for your help! Dave <My pleasure, Dave- just keep doing some research using the information we have here on the site, and feel free to shoot us an email again any time.>

Marine system filtration I am a complete beginner with reef systems only having a 10 gal freshwater tank 30 yrs ago. I currently have a 90 gal tank with 90 lbs Kaelini rock and 1- 1and a half inch aragonite sand that is curing now for 3 weeks. I have 2 VHO and 2 MH lights which are off. I have an AMiracle sump, a couple of sponges, fine filter pad and an ASM g2 protein skimmer, which until today was a little light in producing skimmate. is this skimmer useful? <I am not familiar with this brand. Usefulness should be determined by its production of skimmate. I would experiment with the skimmer placement, water level, amount of air entering venturi. etc> values sg- 1.025..ph- 8.5..is that to high? <Slightly. If this is as high as it get, no worries> ...having trouble lowering it..nh3- 0..nitrites- trace and nitrates- 10. I have been changing 35 gal of water weekly and anticipate being able to start stocking by next weekend. my water when looking width wise is clear. when looking length wise through tank I notice a yellow/green  slight tinge. will this turn into a problem when I turn on the lights? <Sounds like lots of nutrients in the water. The lights combined with nutrients will make algae grow like crazy. when you get ready to fire the lights up, do it one at time and gradually lengthen the photoperiod over a few weeks (maybe a couple of months...and keep the water changes coming, tweak the skimmer...and do some more water changes> does it have to be removed and how? <Carbon in the sump will help. This sounds like nutrient accumulation...water changes are in order> I do not have qt tank yet but was reading about them...your site makes it seem easy...how do you sterilize sponges used in qt tank and stored in sump?... <If it were me, I would simply buy a new one each time I stores the Qt. These sponges are insanely cheap> I have many other questions but thanks for now... <No problem! David Dowless>

Need more filtration Hey Crew,<Phil here!!> I need a bit of help trying to lower the nitrate level in my tank.  I have a Aqua one AR620 tank which is a tank with built in filter at the top and in built lights.  I am running a marine setup with fish, corals and live rock and have recently swapped the noodles that originally came with tank for Matrix.  The level has dropped a bit but I still want more filtration as I am having to perform a water change once a week and I only have 3 fish.  The tank is roughly 80 litres (I think that's about 20 gallons) and a protein skimmer is out of the question as the top is fully enclosed.  I am not a very experience marine aquarist and would like to know more about live sand.  Would it be useful? the fish shop where I live is useless and I can tell them more about it then they can, which is a bit scary.  Anyway thanks in advance for your help. Regards, Amon Masters < Well I'm upset to hear that the tank can't have a protein skimmer!  I believe they are a MUST for every tank.  20 gallons is rather small for a new aquarist!  I'd say the smallest you should have is 29 gallons, even nicer is between 35-55!!  What type of fish do you have?  Filter?  You have corals, what type of lights?  How many pounds of live rock?  The more I know the better!!  E-mail me back and I'll be able to help more!!  Phil>

A few questions on reefkeeping Hello crew (Anthony), <whassup> I was wondering what type of glue to use when converting my EBB-N-FLOW sump to a refuge. I need to separate the pump and want to keep the water separated. If the pump is actually in the same part of the sump it might start to suck in the algae. Also how much water flow will be needed? <wow... the question is extremely general bud and has so many fundamentals missing. For the sump integration, silicone glues glass of course. Plastics have specific welds per nature of the plastic. The refugium flow and design will depend on exactly what you are trying to accomplish and what you'd like to keep to do it. My advice is to spend some time on the Internet reading about different types of refugia and simply resist Caulerpa as the old literature has recommended> I am taking your advise on buying the Aqua c Remora protein skimmer. since the on side of my sump has a leveler I can hang this off the end of the sump  I can't fit the "in sump" Aqua c protein skimmers. <no worries... all good> Next question - I don't like the vibrating noise from the Rio 2500 in the sump. Could I use a Quiet One pump to return to the tank? <some people will disagree... but I absolutely will not recommend these pumps for saltwater. They are excellent for FW, but have a not-so stainless steel shaft and housing screws. Saltwater and metal don't mix. Do consider a proper Iwaki pump instead> If a refuge is suppose to have low water current <nope... too often they have inadequate flow. Some will have moderate flow, some strong... again dependant on the needs of the creatures cultured therein> can I "T" off this pump and have more of the water go to the Remora protein skimmer? <probably> Or, if I bought a heavy duty pump instead of the quiet one? <yes... Iwaki> Does the Remora need to use the pump that comes with it? <nope> How much better is the Remora than the CRP BakPak? <considerably better IMO... not so dependent on adjustments to work well> I understand they are two differ types of protein skimmers, but how much better will the Remora perform against the Backpack? <worth the money spent> Thank you again, upon your answers I will start to modify my sump. Will this shock my system by turning the algae filter off? <do so gradually (empty livestock)> Your have been the greatest of help for me and I appreciate this very much. I want to inform you and one of your sponsors that I will be using them in the future. I have seen the add and went to the site and needless to say "great prices" So maybe forward this to Fosters and Smith and let them know I found out about them on  your website. <thanks kindly... and please do tell them for us. It means more to them when a stranger tells them we're great than when we do <G>. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: a few questions on reefkeeping I was asking about the type of glue for the acrylic and where to purchase it? <ahhh, yes. Acrylic weld, A bit dangerous to work with. No idea where to buy it. I'm a glass-man <G>. Many folks that fabricate with acrylics have their own formulas too. Visit the message boards for a consensus on what and where best to buy it:) > For the sump I was going to use live sand and add some algae plants. What else will I need to add? Maybe a few pieces of live rock? <very little> Should I add some sand sifting starfish or will they uproot the algae? <do add a few... brittle stars are reasonable. > Will the sand need to be vacuumed out or just leave it alone? <little or no vacuuming needed with good flow> So good water flow is best. I should just see if the algae is getting tossed around by the current. I think I can gauge that the water will not be to strong. <correct my friend> With this refuge system I should use no mechanical filters, just pumps for current and  the Remora? <correct... sort of. The skimmer is best run from a primary skimmer well if not the display or overflow directly. That lets it catch all raw water first.> would a canister filter be useful to run for additional current and to put carbon in? <yes... especially for the carbon. But keep a foam block on the intake to reduce the killing of plankters> I should leave all sponges off the filter so that some of the waste gets into the refuge to feed it? <I don't recommend using any pre-filters unless you clean them daily. They destroy skimmer performance and contribute to poor water quality very quickly> Last question (haha) maybe more to follow) <heehee.. there might be a good aquarium society locally to learn this stuff better and in person/hands-on <G>. We're here to help you, my friend... but at some point you do need to read, and research more at length. Many of these questions are very fundamental and there's no glory for either of us with WWM reciting answers to stream of conscience questions. As they say... teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime <G>> will a 32 watt compact light do the trick or will I need more light on the sump refuge. <depends on the needs of the species you keep. This will likely be too weak for most plants and algae though> I have a problem with the ballast on this filter. It doesn't seem to light the second 32 bulb  Would the complete 64 watt package be better or will I get to much bad algae growth. <algae grows more from nutrients... not only light> Basically how much light do I need for the Gracilaria to grow good. <no great rule of thumb... but likely over 5 watts per gallon for good algae growth> I hope it grows good and fast so I can feed some of it back to the Angels. <agreed> Ok, I know I have consumed much of your time this weekend. <no worries... we truly do want to help you succeed> I just want to thank you for all of your help. Most pet stores in Wisconsin don't deal with high end filtration. So, in turn they don't have the knowledge to help me. <understood... we just need to help you be resourceful and net savvy. For starters, have to looked into chatting with the folks at the Wisconsin Marine/Reef club? Great gang... see more info here: http://www.wisconsinreefsociety.org/home.html such aquarium societies are the very best place for fast, accurate and local information and help. You are always welcome to write here... but its nice to have local support and fellowship too. Seeing these systems in person is so much more educational!> I thank you very much for your time and help. Paul Ps. thank god for saltwater fish as a hobby..... the temp is only 2 degrees outside..... at least my tank makes me feel like I am in the South Pacific.....I knew I should have bought the 240 gallon so I could snorkel in it. hahaha <agreed, my friend. I'm in Pittsburgh... the low tonight is literally 1 F. The high tomorrow is 14 F. Kind regards, Anthony>

Re: Big Tank..... Big Filter Thanks for all your help in the past. I'm coming much closer to finalizing my plans for the 300 gal. I'll be receiving in a couple of weeks, and without your assistance I don't believe I'd have designed a very effective system! <That's why we're here! Do keep the questions coming!> The tank will be constructed of glass (96"x24"x30")with two narrow supports at each end (5" each) and two wider supports across the middle area of the tank (10" each). The total width of all supports is 30" leaving 66" of open access at the top. Three overflow boxes are being constructed on the outside back of the tank. I have noted on this site that it would be ideal to skim as wide a surface area as possible to capture the maximum organic waste for a given volume of water. So, each box is 22" long (utilizing the entire available 66" width of open surface area) and will feature two 2" overflows (Durso standpipes in the box). Thus if all were utilized (I may not run full flow in this neotropical cichlid habitat, but I may want to "go" reef in the future) I will have six total 2" pipes providing flow to the sump/filter. <Good idea to overbuild for the future.> The return flow would be distributed through eight bulkheads inserted into the glass support braces in the top of the tank. Back siphoning would thus be no problem, and I could fix nozzles to the bulkheads to better direct flow if necessary. <Do realize that the nozzles will siphon until they reach and pull in air. Also be aware of the stress the bulkheads, pipe/hose etc. will put on your braces, in the horizontal plane, the weakest feature of glass. You may want to consider a manifold *above* the top altogether, eliminating this stress.> My questions are: 1. What would you suppose the flow would be per 2" pipe if I drained them all into a 6" horizontal pipe tilted a bit to drain into a sump? The 2" pipes would each have on elbow (45 or 90 degrees) leading to the 6" pipe. <The passive flow rate for 2" pipe? They can probably reasonably handle approximately 1500+ gph or so each, depends on design. To get a real number shop overflow boxes with 2" pipes, they will be rated at GPH. The WetWebMedia.com sponsors will carry these.> 2. Would I be better served to utilize a wet/dry filter or another form of filtration. I am planning, at the moment, on a 75 gal. sump. The drain would first flow into a micron bag, then over the bio chamber (bioballs in use in this freshwater tank), then a couple of baffles with a chemical chamber, returned via two Iwaki pumps (trying to get enough flow and be able to service one at a time without disturbing the bio-media). I have received two different sorts of advice in the past, one favored wet/dry while the other supported a pond/pool type of filtration (I believe Aquanetics was noted; if so please specify). <This choice will need to be made for your FW inhabitants, but perhaps with an eye to the future again. Either of these options would be suitable depending on capacity. They both work essentially the same way.  For cichlids I would go with a larger system. Neither of these would be necessary for a reef tank in the future. Deep sand beds, live rock, carbon filtration and protein skimming is the way to go there.> 3. Would the micron bag work best submerged (except for the top in or so) or hung above the bio chamber (the stand is 39" high and should accommodate either approach). <No matter. Position for ease of maintenance.> 4. Any benefit to skimming in freshwater? Probably not, huh? <Nope.> 5. U.V. filtration needed? After sump or in? Any recommendations? <Not needed.> 6. Heating via submerged Jaegers in the sump or a fireplug model? <I use Ebo's myself. A personal/esthetics choice.> 7. Return flow will need to have a couple of elbows (maybe three for each of the two return pumps) if I am to hard plumb the returns. Is there a distinct advantage to flexible tubing? I thought I saw it might be quieter, but I think I'd prefer hard plumbing the system with PVC for stability. <Perhaps a piece of flex tube after the pump to isolate that vibration. I prefer hard plumbed pvc, oversized to reduce the friction of turns, ells, etc. Flexible tubing can overcome this, but do be aware of pipe size. For instance, a Mag 18 with a 3/4" outlet only produces this rate and pressure with a 1 1/2" pipe. The hint? Oversize plumbing substantially. Pumps are easier to size/replace!> 8. Is there any way to keep floating plants without them all flowing down the overflows? <Mesh at the top of the overflows or tie them where you want them.> 9. I guess I'm most concerned with the filtration type issue. <Don't be. They both work the same, one uses aerated bio-balls as a wet/dry and the bio-wheel pond system uses a wheel for wet/dry biocapacity.  Some of the pond systems would offer a sump of sorts and more filter capacity as they are designed for larger outdoor systems. Cost/size/capacity are the main considerations.> Sorry about the length of the questions. Thanks in advance for all your help! <No problem! Hope this helps!  Craig>

Re: fluidized bed filter Dear crew,         I have been searching types of filtering methods when I found fluidized bed filters.  Wanted to know if you new anything about them.  Holden <Yes, there are materials archived on our site, www.WetWebMedia.com re fluidized bed filters, filtration. Please go to the homepage, insert the term in the search tool at the bottom (or search the marine index re) and read on. Bob Fenner>

Re: bsf filter? Hello I am presently setting up a 220 gallon community tank and am busy investigating filter options for the system.  I found some articles on the web about below sand filters and am somewhat confused and interested. What exactly is a BSF filter?  Can I build/fabricate one? (it sounds simple)  Do they work as well as the articles I read claim they do? thanks  JB <... a BSF filter? Do you mean a DSB (Deep Sand Bed) filter? Never heard of a BSF... Please read through our many marine filtration pages, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm following the links... which will lead you to DSB filters/filtration. Bob Fenner>

BSF is U/G filters/filtration hello, got your message, thanks for the info, will read some of these books and see what I can learn. Here is the info on below sand filters I was referring to, there is 8 articles but they don't do a very good job at explaining exactly how the system is made or set up. Below Sand Filtration For Freshwater Aquariums Natural systems of aquarium filtration were first described to North American hobbyists by Lee Chin Eng in 1961. www.wattronix.com/hf_article1.htm thanks  JB    PS: they say it works in marine tanks also. <Ahh, "below sand filters"... most commonly called "undergravel filters". Please put this term in the Google Search tool on the bottom of our root web homepage: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ Bob Fenner>

Re: Filtration in a fish only tank Dear crew,              I have been successful in keeping all my freshwater fish and a pond now for 2 years.  I have always seen the saltwater tanks and been amazed by the fish.  For the last two months I have been reading every book and every website that I can find.  I have settled on the size tank, which will be an 85g, and it will be fish only.  I cannot figure out what type of filtration will be best.  The livestock I would like to have is 1 yellow tang, 1 blue tang, 2 clownfish, and 1 porcupine fish.  Decorations would be light, some live rock and some fake corals.  My stand, lights, and hood I can make myself, so I looked into building my own wet\dry filters, but heard they could lead to problems.  Could I use a Whisper power filter 4, a Skilter 400, and 2 300gph power heads?  I would really like the advice on filtration. <You could run your system minimally with the gear listed. I would get at least another power filter and greatly upgrade your skimmer selection. The various types of set-ups and alternative modes of filtration, product reviews are posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for your perusal. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with this information. Bob Fenner>     

Marine filtration, gear Hello all! <Hey Eric!> Thanks to a lot of reading and research on your wonderful site, and the help that you all have graciously provided, I am very close to purchasing the hardware I need to complete my setup, but if you would, I have a few more questions.  Here goes. Eventual setup: - 75G tank., with 20G sump. - 75-100 pounds of live rock. - 3-4" Substrate seeded with, a pound from a friends tank - A high quality skimmer. - 2 powerheads (300GPH a piece). - Stocked with: relatively few fish, concentrating more on corals (eventually) - 700-800GPH return pump Questions: 1.  I'm torn between wanting to get a mag 9.5 submersible, or an Eheim for the return pump.  The Mag 9.5 seems to be liked by many, but it scares me a little that I've heard reports of leaking and metal screws used in construction.  I would just flat-out go with an Eheim, since I've heard nothing bad, and everything good (aside from price, but I'm not real worried about that).  What I want to know is, which specific submersible Eheim model will give me about 700-800 GPH at 4" of head?  I even went to their official web site, and they aren't real clear on this, when it comes to GPH past 0ft of head.  In can't find any GPH at # of ft. graphs/charts for Eheims anywhere.  If you know for sure which submersible Eheim pump will deliver 700-800 GPH at 4" (approximately), I'll just go with that. <I haven't been able to find the same info, so I use MagDrive. I haven't had any problems with leaks (I use them submerged) and their screws are a non-issue. They are stainless. MagDrive flow rates are reliable and available. Eheims are great, but you need info to use them.> 2. I'm building my own 20G sump.  Taking the above setup into account, do I need to have a trickle plate of some kind to add oxygen to the system?   Is it really necessary?  I was planning on making a pvc pipe/eggcrate assembly of some kind to put in the first compartment of the sump, but from the systems I've seen all this "trickling" is what's causing all the noise, not the pumps themselves.  I haven't heard a single pump that I thought was too loud.  I'll make one and deal with the noise if it's best, but I'd rather do without if I can. Thank you again for all your wisdom.  You're the best! Eric N. <I would use a micron bag or some kind of mechanical filtration in a skimmer box to make sure I'm removing particulates while skimming the surface water from the main overflow(s). This should improve skimmer performance, reduce noise.  Make sure you vent your overflows (air sucking noises, gurgling) and drill siphon breaks in the returns just below desired water level to prevent floods.  Have fun!  Craig>

Filtration planning... David and WWM Crew, I wish I had some way to pay you guys back for all your support and help! I'll of course get the new book when it comes out ... but that's for me. Got a P.O. for WWM Crew ? -- I'll send some brew. ;`) <HEHEHHEHE>>> If I go Sump only and do a HOT Refugium would their be another benefit of a sump other than being able to lose the powerheads and the increased system capacity? <Well you can use an in sump skimmer (many possibilities on this one), heaters will go down there, easy place to pour top-off water and do water changes, etc> -- As the refugium of the same size would do that (system capacity), handle mechanical filtration -- it just wouldn't turn over the tank like a sump or eliminate the need for powerheads. <You couldn't put "stuff" in it like I mentioned> I like the idea of sump w/HOT Refugium as it will be more visible and can use the main tank lighting as well. <Sounds like "da bomb" to me! Let me make one more suggestion: Before you start improving the economy by spending all of this money, I want you to really research how you want to set up this sump. Boring things like, "What size bulkheads do you need to use?"; "What size pump is best?"; "How many overflows and what size should they be"; etc. Really plan this thing in a thorough manner (remember it will never be perfect) but design your set up in the most flexible way possible. Then the system will be able to evolve with your needs as you gain more knowledge> I just want to make sure I am pointed in what someone with exp. thinks is the right direction. <Please get lots of input from many sources and study, study, study...> Also, would you recommend using LR in the sump instead of using Bioball? <I would probably get rid of the Bioballs unless it's a fish only system. You could put live rock in the sump but my sump has "stuff" in it e.g.. heater, skimmer, skimmer box, etc> Then maybe just doing a macroalgae/sand bed combo in the HOT refugium? <It'll work> Does it sound heh. <It sounds pretty good to me!> Thanks Again Crew! <No problem I'm glad to be of service! David Dowless>

Marineland Magnum Filter Please comment on Marineland's reply to my original message.  The Magnum 350 pumps 350 gallons per hour which is more than most canisters.  How come other brands of canisters pump the same or less and are rated for 150+ gallon tanks? <I generally don't like any of the Marineland filtration products. IMO none of them perform efficiently, all are expensive to run, they offer little or no flexibility in use/setup, and because Marineland has proprietary equipment, you can only replace media/parts with other Marineland items. Why do they do this? Because it creates a permanent customer base! Pretty smart...Huh? The discrepancy in ratings that you sight is due to the fact that the filtration you will get with the micron filter is less than the filtration you would get with other types of media or combinations of media. Remember that flexibility issue? The only thing that you can do with this filter is run the micron sleeve. Other filters you can use various media types or combinations; an important thing to consider. Before purchasing this item, please look closely at the cost of replacing the micron filter (about $8.00) and how often this will need to be done (probably weekly depending on bioload). I had an Eclipse system for about 3 years and it got expensive buying those filter cartridges...and the y didn't really provide much quality filtration> It seems the Magnum 350 with the fluidized bed should be plenty of filtration without needing to supplement with another filter. What do you think?   <If you use a good filter the fluidized bed will actually be overkill IMO. However, there would be no harm in using both methods (other than nitrate production) and redundancy is good in aquaria. Do yourself a favor...Check out either a Fluval 404 (about the same price as the Marineland item), or Eheim (more expensive). DrsFostersSmith.com have really good prices on these items. As always, all of the above is my opinion but...I am speaking from experience! David Dowless> Please email reply.  Drew

Filtration System for my new aquarium Gentlemen, I've appreciated reading your responses to some challenging questions from my hobbyist peers.  Hope you can help me with mine. <Will try> I'm in the process of constructing a 900 gallon acrylic aquarium (112"Lx38"Wx45"H), slated for marine fish only.  I had originally designed the filtration system to include undergravel with coarse media to prevent build-up of detritus and to allow waste to easily pass through the gravel and find its way to my external mechanical filtration (pool DE system). <Mmm, diatomaceous earth filters require quite a bit of pumping... and lots of maintenance. I encourage you to consider either cartridge type pleated filters or "rapid sand" (that I would not pack with sand...) instead... or better, fluidized bed filtration... run separately (in terms of plumbing) from some sort of mechanical filtration. But am getting ahead of you and myself... you state this is intended to be a FO system... What sizes, sorts of fishes? I'll let on here that it's my intent to steer you into not only considering other, better filter modes, but to direct you in the likelihood of your "going reef" in time to having gear that is amenable to other/their needs> Second stage of planned filtration will make use of a 240 gallon acrylic refugium (96"Lx24"Wx24"H) (sand bed, live rock, high intensity lights). <Neat> The marine biologist on staff with my aquarium manufacturer, upon learning about my filtration plans, expressed concerns that the undergravel and refugium will work against each other and could lead to water conditions that might be harmful to the aquarium inhabitants.  Do you share this concern? <Not so much... but do warrant against UG use here... too many other troubles, too much disruption and work trying to keep the bed clean, stable. I would leave the UG out completely> Can you help me understand the root of this conflict?  Should I eliminate the undergravel and go with a sand substrate in the aquarium as well? <Oh, yes> While the aquarium itself is almost complete, construction has not yet begun on the refugium and I would appreciate your guidance on the physical design. Do you have an opinion about the optimum size and dimensions for a refugium for an aquarium this size? <Bigger, biggest, best> How much live rock would you recommend for the refugium, assuming a normal to heavy fish load in the main aquarium?     <... depending... on how much life of what sorts in the main tank, and LR there... not that much... Assuming you use crushed coral sand in the main tank, maybe a third full (a couple hundred pounds) with macro-algae growth over it (another third of depth) with likely the last, upper third air/void to accommodate transit volume (for water if/when the power goes off, pumps are off...)> I look forward to your reply. Thanks and regards, Steve Walker <Much to consider... do look into fluidized bed filters as adjuncts (to the LR) to your biological filtration here... and larger cartridge filtration (like from the pool business or Aquanetics (.com)) and a suitable (low operating cost) saltwater resistant pump (like a Sequence series)... Bob Fenner>

Re: Filtration System for my new aquarium Bob, Thanks much for the reply. <You're welcome> The tank will ultimately be home to a few large angels (6-8" ea), tangs (4-6" ea), a trigger or two, and wrasses (Harlequin tusk). Probably also an assortment of smaller stock - damsels, etc.  I am intending to aquascape the main aquarium without the use of live rock in an effort to economize. <I see> Here's part of my problem.  I've already constructed the main tank to accommodate flow from the base (intended to put UG plates over 3x1.5" bulkheads on base).  If I use coarse substrate, shouldn't I be able to avoid detritus build-up and associated maintenance/problems? <More so than with finer... but still...> I had intended to use the UG more as a means of transport of gunk out of the tank rather than for biological action - leaving biological action for the refugium. <How will you remove the accumulated detritus from in-between the gravel, the space under the plates?> Assuming I should scrap UG, should I construct some screen boxes to rest just above the sand for intakes? <Yes, a better plan> How deep should I make the sand bed? <Four plus inches> Does 200 lbs LR still seem like a good target for the refugium? <Yes> Would I be better served to invest in LR for the main tank instead? <I would place at least some there... for food, decor> My aquarium manufacturer contact was making reference to 'anoxic' conditions that might result from UG + Refugium.  Not sure how 'anoxic' applies to this circumstance and he had difficulty explaining it.  Does this mean anything to you? <Think they're hinting at the difficulties of getting water through all the gravel in the main tank. Another reason to skip the UG> The refugium will be situated such that the waterline (the top of the tank) will be at the same level as the main tank.  Is the void/air area you described in the distribution of space within the refugium important? <Ohh, no. Instead, there's a need to not fill the main tank (likely an inch or two) all the way... to allow for the water "piling up" in the refugium> I am intending to showcase the refugium as a second aquarium in the same room as the large aquarium so am concerned about aesthetics (do I need to have a void?). <No... thought this would be a "conventional" gravity fed sump/refugium. If at or above the main/display tank, no empty space needed to allow for water in play> Can't thank you enough for your council. <Glad to be here. Bob Fenner> Steve Walker Filtration System for my new aquarium Bob, Again, thanks for the reply. 1) So now you've got me thinking about moving away from DE - but first I have to ask - would you concede any benefit to the DE filter for its ability to remove waterborne parasites? <Mmm, not much... depending on the relative size of the DE filter, sleeves, flow rate... and the system they're servicing... too much of the parasite fauna likely not to get sucked into and through the filter>   Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  Now, would expect simple mechanical cartridge filtration to offer significantly less back pressure than a DE filter? <By far my friend. Our companies installed hundreds of large marine systems... gave up early and often on DE... they're fine for swimming pools, some spas in terms of removing very little particulate matter from an axenic (poisoned, sterile) system... terrible in biological applications... really only useful as temporary "polishing" filters> What level of filtration (micron) do you recommend for the FO system? <Nine or better> 2) Is the fluidized filter bed targeting N3 removal?  What's the benefit? <Time to start sending you to WWM. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fluidbedfaqs.htm> 3) What type of flow would you recommend for the 900 gal aquarium (how many turns / hour)?  How large of a sequence pump do you think will be required (assume no DE)?  How many turns / hour should I achieve in the refugium? <Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pumpselmar.htm and beyond> Your advice is helping me think through some nagging design issues. Best regards, Steve Walker <Take the time to peruse the Marine Set-Up selection of our root web. Very worthwhile experience. Bob Fenner>

Re: Filtration planning... David or Crew, Greetings once again! Ok. Just a couple more quick questions and I'm off to the design board. Would you: A sump that basically acts as a mechanical filter and settling chamber with a high flow rate back to the tank (5-10 times turn over per hour of total system capacity) in place of powerheads and an external Eheim filter. <5X turnover is too low. Shoot for 10x+> as well as a Refugium on its own plumping and pump to help lower nitrates, create food and help control algae with a low flow rate (2-3 turn overs of refugium per hour). <Sump and dedicated refugium would be the best options IMO> refugium or 2(a). A combined sump/refugium with low turn over rate to handle the mechanical filtration and some bio/ with the benefits of lowering nitrate, creating food, etc... <Will work but no the best solution IMO> The reason I ask is that I have limited space under the stand for my 90gal. I basically have room for three boxes. Two could be sized 11" long by 9" wide and 20" tall (the far ends) and one large area that could be 15" wide x 19" long and 20" tall (the center). I could also split this area up in the middle and create two kinda odd T shaped boxes... 1 a refugium and 1 a sump. It seems to be my understanding that it is desirable to have high flow rate/volume through the sump and very little through the refugium. This seems to call for two separate systems. Is there a way to create a bypass in a system with just one main pump that would allow me to have a high flow rate through a sump compartment with a diverted area for a refugium that would have a slow flow rate but return back to the tank? <A large HOB refugium (CPR) would also suffice and be less work. These combined refugium/sumps can work...many people use them but I'm not a fan of this method. It's simply too easy to get sand into your system pump and a myriad of other potential problems. A tank with a sump and without a refugium will also succeed> Thanks Guys!!!
<You're welcome! David Dowless>

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