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FAQs on Marine Filtration 7

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 6Marine 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,

"Lettuce" (coral) do our best to provide high quality, consistent water conditions, shall we?

-Wet-dry to 'fuge- Kevin, Thank you for responding. I was wondering what happened. <Hehe, apparently nobody's inbox wanted to give your email a home. No worries, I did!> Anyway I just want to clarify a few things. I currently have about 125 to 150 lbs of live rock in my 180 gal tank. The sum is a trickle filter with bio balls. I have been hearing a lot about the mud refugiums from a lot of people at my LFS. But I noticed the LFS has what you described. A sand bed with live rock in a specially designed sump for it. <Yep, called a refugium> As you know I can ask 50 people and get 50 different answers. That is why I turned to the gurus at the WWM crew. <Excellent, only about 16 or so different answers! Ha!> I have read a lot about all systems and find that I just get more confused about what I want. I have a fish only system . It is still in the cycling process. I have 5 whole damsels in it right now. <I usually cycle with half damsels, occasionally quarter damsels. Sorry, couldn't resist <G> > I plan on filling the tank with mostly angels, tangs and triggers. <Whoa, do plenty of research beforehand and come up with a stocking list for us to go over, it can be incredibly helpful!> Must not also forget about the clean up crews, crabs and snails etc. <FYI, triggers will chow just about any crustacean you pop in there (hint: crabs!)> I want what ever is going to be the best for my fish and the easiest to maintain.  I love my tank and it is in my living room for every one to admire. So bottom line, in your opinion ( I understand it is only your opinion ) <Ah, but the right one! ;) > which method do you think would be in my best interest. <I would suggest removing the bio-balls (you have plenty of bio filtration in the form of live rock in the display) and thinking about converting that sump into a refugium with a deep sand bed and fast growing macroalgae. Check out the FAQ's, we've been sent more than a few good plans for sump 'fuges. Good luck! -Kevin> Thank you for your time and wisdom Marty

-Tidepool bio-wheel filter- Hi guys! I must commend you on your website! Very informative and helpful! What is your opinion of the Marineland Tidepool 2 bio-wheel filtration unit? <That would depend on it's intended use. No quality problems from what I understand.> What about using a refugium along with a protein skimmer as filtration for a 55 gal. reef tank? <Sounds great, unless this includes the tide-pool.> Thanks for your time. <No problem, if you have any more specifics you'd like to ask about the system (product recommendations, pump and skimmer sizing, etc) hit me back! -Kevin> Doug

-55g Reef: Equipment Recommendations- Kevin, Thanks for the prompt reply. <No prob> I was considering the Tidepool for a 55 gal reef tank that I am in the process of setting up. If the Tidepool would not be a good choice for a 55 gal saltwater reef tank, what would you suggest as far as filtration, protein skimmers, sumps, refugiums, etc? What would be my best choices as far as combinations of the above to use, as well as brand names? <I would suggest some sort of sump (potentially with a refugium built in) with either an AquaC Urchin skimmer or Precision Marine 426 skimmer (if you have enough height inside your stand). Mag pumps mfg by Supreme are a great bang for your buck, and I'd suggest a Mag 7 as your return pump. As far as refugiums go, I would suggest that you build something yourself, maybe even right in the sump. Check out Bob and Anthony's book Reef Invertebrates for piles and piles of refugium options. I hope this helps, and as more specifics arise, hit us back! -Kevin> Again, thank you for your time. Doug

Scum bag, not just an expression anymore 09/09/03 I have been researching wet/dry filters for my aquarium, and during my review of the   Aqua Clear Aquatics brand I visited Aqua Clear's website http://www.aquaclearaquatics.com/      The site lists a new filter called the "Scum-Bag".  Do you know any thing about this product.  It says it works without an overflow.  Please advise. - Very interested. Thanks, A <Well, this is the first time I've ever heard of it. I'd drop on over to the board, http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ and go to the dry goods forum and ask there. Have a nice night, PF>

Undergravel filter  (9-9-03) Hello again, I really could use some direction.  About 4 months ago I transferred several small fish (2-3") I had in my 20 gal tank I also added a few inverts (3 shrimp, 2 brittle stars, 12 blue and red leg hermit crabs and a bubble tip).  My new tank is a 45 gal. It has an under gravel filter with around 3 inches of Florida crushed coral.  The aforementioned was all installed prior to finding you web site, weak timing I guess. There's also an Eheim canister filter and a Remora C skimmer with 2x24" compacts (130 watts total).   I at least had your advice with the skimmer purchase which is working fine.  I realize I should have gone with more lighting and I'm going to try to see if I can add an extra 30 watt florescent bulb but room is an issue with my AGA hood  All inhabitants are doing fine although my nitrates have been a bit difficult to control.  So I just purchased 22 lbs of LR, which is in the process of curing. I'd like to add a few "easy" corals and maybe a clam in the future. What I am asking is should I shut down the under gravel filter like I've been reading if so is there any special what I should do this, i.e. prior to adding the LR, and possibly add some live sand. Or should I keep the filtering status quo.   Essentially what would you do to get back on track?   <I would take out the undergravel since they are just a nutrient sink.  Also do this before you add LR as that will make life much easier.  I would stay away from any clams as you don't have nearly enough lighting.  You could try a few of the hardy soft corals like colt or leathers.  Just keep reading and learning and you will do fine.  Cody.> Chuck

Burying His Undergravel Filter... Hey guys you sold me, the Undergravel filter is history. <Well, the UGF is one of the most venerable tools of modern aquaristics! It has its place, even today. However, with more efficient filtration methodologies developed over the years, the UGF comes up a bit short...> Any thought on how this would work, I have an extra unused Eheim canister filter I was thinking of removing a portion of the current substrate placing it into a nylon bag and then into the Eheim with a filter pad.  Next I'd remove the remaining crushed coral and the filter plate.  Add the cured LR and LS then about a month later remove the crushed coral Eheim from the system. <A very good idea! That's pretty much what I would have recommended. I have seen other people simply leave the filter plate in place without problems, but for the majority of applications, removal is desirable.> Or should I save some extra work and just remove the substrate and plate while leaving the current (standard filled) Eheim and Remora  running? <If you can swing it, this would work, too. However, it would probably result in more "stuff" in the water for a while...> Thanks to all you guys your guidance is greatly appreciated.   Chuck <And thanks very much for your kind words, Chuck! Best of luck on your conversion! Regards, Scott F.>

Filter recommendations Hello, Thanks for all your help so far.  I am 2 months new to the great hobby, and have gotten very good information and advice from your site. I currently have a 75 gallon FOWLR tank with an Emperor 400, and a AQUAC Remora skimmer.  Is there anyway I can keep a couple of corals or anemones with this set up or must I get a wet/dry filter for this setup? <you could go with a wet/dry but I would go with a refugium. (beneficial in many ways) Do search the internet for different techniques on how to set one up or go out and purchase Calfo's and Fenner's "Reef Invertebrates" book!!!> Thanks in advance for your help, Jeff Dokos <good luck, IanB>

The Filter I have a 40 gallon aquarium that I would like to use as a marine Fish Only aquarium, but it is not "reef ready", (i.e. it is a basic aquarium that does not have any built in overflow). <I would try a wet/dry filter with a prefilter box> I am currently researching filtration systems, and the bottom line is that I would like an effective filtration system (that incorporates a skimmer of course), yet does not require apparatus on the rear of the tank.  Please advise. thanks  <you would most likely have to purchase the wet/dry and the prefilter box separate from the skimmer, but I advise purchasing both of them, IanB>

Sand and filtration - 9/3/03 Hi to the Crew on call, <Hello> I have a few questions in setting up a 75 gal reef. <OK. Shoot!!......> I have read the related articles and FAQ as well as advise from 2 LFS. Needless to say, very confused at this point! Can I be successful with a non drilled 75 gal tank without a sump? <Well, maybe without fish but in my experience I believe a sump is more than necessary for oxygenation, a reservoir to hide skimmer and heater etc.> Using just a skimmer and hang on back power filters and internal power heads? <Could be done as I am sure someone out there is having some success, but I think you should always set out on the best course for success. In this case, a sump is probably the consensus view for success.> Is the use of a canister filter without the bio media ok or not recommended? <I don't see why not, but again, you might have to get into it once in awhile to remove chemical media and can be a pain over time. Also, not sure if there is enough water movement to connect skimmers etc to them. Worth a look, though!> Your site seems to be in favor of DSB's while my LFS only uses 1-2 inches and relies mainly on the LR, sump and skimmer. <Go with a deep sand bed 4 inches or more or you can go with under 1 inch. Check around our site for our views on deep sand beds as well as the benefits of using such> I plan on LR and was going to use a plenum <No plenum necessary> with DSB but again the LFS states "useless, nutrient sink" <As if!!!!!> They do have some awesome display tanks with the shallow sand. <Well, I use deep sand beds in my tanks, and have seen many others with some very awesome displays utilizing deep sand beds!!! But I am also one that advocates gaining advice from someone who's tank you respect and enjoy. Nice to get all sides though, and go with what functions best in your situation. Check this out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm check the blue links to the FAQs as well!!> I wish to have as high a bio load as possible without stress to the inhabitants. <Don't we all? -P> Any suggestions will be much appreciated. Thank you.

Sand and Filtration  9/3/03 Hi to the Crew, I apologize if you have already replied, but I have not checked for a few days due to the Holiday and don't know if was taken off the daily FAQ)<its ok> I have a few questions in setting up a 75 gal reef.<alright> I have read the related articles and FAQ as well as advise from 2 LFS. Needless to say, very confused at this point! Can I be successful with a non drilled 75 gal tank without a sump?<I don't advise this, I would setup a sump and use it as a refugium.. especially when setting up a reef aquarium> Using just a skimmer and hang on back power filters and internal power heads?<will not be effective enough> Is the use of a canister filter without the bio media ok or not recommended?<honestly the refugium is the way to go!!!> Your site seems to be in favor of DSB's while my LFS only uses 1-2 inches and relies mainly on the LR, sump and skimmer.<this also works but not as good as the DSB method> I plan on LR and was going to use a plenum with DSB but again the LFS states "useless, nutrient sink" They do have some awesome display tanks with the shallow sand.<yes, it is all personal preference. Honestly the aquarium will probably look the same to the naked eye. but if you looked under a microscope at all the creatures living within the DSB you would be amazed with the difference in the amount of life between the 1-2" SB and the DSB.> I wish to have as high a bio load as possible without stress to the inhabitants.<I would only add a handful of small 1-3" fish at the maximum for this aquarium> Any suggestions will be much appreciated. Thank you.<good luck, IanB>

Sand and Filtration//follow-up Thank you for the fast reply!<your welcome> I guess I am "sold" on the DSB and sump/refugium.<as we all are> As I can't afford a drilled tank can I use the hang on back bulkhead/siphon unit to get the water down to the sump or are there problems with these? <these work fine as long as you keep the water level of the sump/refugium in the (like floods!)<good luck, and make sure the power doesn't go out!!!!!! IanB>

Send In The Marines (New Saltwater Tank!) Hi guys, you have been extremely helpful in the past and I have a few other questions to ask. <Ask away...> I have a 35g tank with one Aquaclear 200 and one Aquaclear 150 along with 150watt heater. I have been planning to set this up as a African Cichlid tank, but I am so drawn to the Yellow Tangs and Clown Fish that I have to ask. can I use these filters adequately for a fish only marine tank? <You could use these filters, but you really need to use a protein skimmer of some sort on any marine tank, IMO. > If this set up won't work, what would I have to change? Cheers. Mike Tol <Well, Mike- I think that you could use the equipment that you indicated, but it needs to be coupled with some excellent husbandry (water changes, etc.) techniques, particularly in smaller tanks. I'd also pass on the tang in this sized tank. I wouldn't even think of a yellow tang in anything less than a 75 gallon tank, myself. They really need a lot of room, excellent water quality, and high levels of oxygen. Do read up a bit on the WWM site. You also should get a copy of "The New Marine Aquarium" by Michael Paletta, and Bob's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist"- both offer excellent information for starting a marine tank the right way! Good luck on your new adventure! Regards, Scott F>

FOWLR filtration 09/01/03 <Good morning, PF with you> I've got a question for you. New tank, several messy eaters in a 90 gallon (not set up yet). Porcupine know about the size) <Unless you want a tank about 4 or 5 times that size, I'd say no> Trigger of some kind looked at a Pinktail but the size) Pinkface wrasse yellow tang maybe some others Thought about two triggers) <I would stop right there, you're already getting close the limit> Anyway, I've already bought 50 lbs of base rock that I plan to seed with about 45 lbs of live rock. My skimmer is a Berlin with a mag5. Would I benefit from wet dry technology with the bioload I could be face with? I so, would the live rock help control nitrates? Please help, I'm ready to set up, but I read so many conflicting opinions. <Well, A DSB wouldn't hurt www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm. A refugium would also be a very good idea, not only pulling nutrients out through macro algae, but also by providing food items for your fish. www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm. A wet/dry will remove ammonia, but it will also breed nitrates. While fish are less susceptible to nitrates, they're still not good for them. Hope this helps, PF>

Starting a fish only marine tank Hi guys, you have been extremely helpful in the past and I have a few other questions to ask. <Good to hear> I have a 35g tank with one Aquaclear 200 and one Aquaclear 150 along with 150watt heater. I have been planning to set this up as a African Cichlid tank, but I am so drawn to the Yellow Tangs and Clown Fish that I have to ask. can I use these filters adequately for a fish only marine tank? If this set up won't work, what would I have to change? <For the tang, you need a much larger tank, at least 4' and 6' would be better. The clowns would be OK. I would add some live rock (25-30#) to help with bio filtration and a skimmer would be a great addition as well. A couple of power heads to get some water movement wouldn't hurt. Don> Cheers. Mike

Beginner Help - 8/18/03 Hi I would like to Know what a sump pump for a marine aquarium does (what's the use of it?) <it is a pump used underneath the aquarium on a trickle filter or empty sump reservoir to return water back up to the display aquarium which overflows water in a circuit which includes the aforementioned. Please use the google search tool at the bottom of the main index page http:// www.wetwebmedia.com   for searches and more information for your new hobby. Best regards and welcome! Anthony>

Filtration for a 55 gal. (8-16-03) Hello. I just finished reading Robert Fenner's book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist", it was very informative. However, I do have a question on filtration. I have had freshwater aquariums for many years and have decided to switch to saltwater. I have a 55 gallon aquarium that I want to set up as a reef aquarium. I will be very slow about this because I take my time with everything to make sure that I do it right the first time. I am going to use live rock and a protein skimmer. What do you recommend as far as filtration? I am leery of the wet/dry filters, what about a sump? Also what about a canister filter? <LR and a skimmer would be ok by itself, but a sump with LR and a skimmer would be even better.  I would stay away from wet/dry and canisters, as they can become nitrate factories. Cody>  Thank you so much for your time.  Doug

Setting Up a 40 Gallon Reef Tank - 8/13/03 Hi,  After selling my 75 gallon saltwater set-up, I'm thinking about going with a small 40 gallon reef set-up and am thinking about circulation, skimming options.  <OK>  I'm thinking about not going with a sump, but maybe just using my old Emperor 400 rated at 400 GPH to handle water turnover (I could use a filter pad with carbon on the other side for filtration).  <Don't see why not. Likely though, the GPH rating will not be as accurate as you might think. Either way, you could use this in conjunction with powerheads and the like. Of course, this always depends on what your future inhabitants environmental requirements are>   Is using carbon OK for reef tanks?  <Absolutely! For lots of reasons. Have you looked through our site recently? Check out some of the articles and FAQs like this one: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chemFiltrMar.htm>  Should I even use the bio-wheels, or just run it without them?  <They can become sort of a nitrate trap. Many thoughts and theories on this, but I believe with adequate live rock you can do away with them.>   I was also thinking about a canister filter rated at 300-400 GPH.  < No need for any biological if you are using live rock, because again, they can become a nitrate trap. No sponges or other mechanical filtration as it will likely clog up. There might be a need to open the canister everyday to rinse the media.> If I go with a sump, I would get a smaller siphon box unit that I've had great success with my 75 gallon (Lifereef makes a great siphon overflow box that NEVER lost its siphon despite occasional power outages). <Nice>  The only thing I didn't like about my sump in my 75 gallon was my evaporation because I had two Mag 9's submersed.  I just don't know if I want to go with a sump for a 40 gallon if hang-on stuff will do the job (though it would be nice to hide the heaters). Do they make hang-on sumps?  <I have seen AMiracle Wet/Dry-Sumps around, but I have no idea how efficient they are. Do a search in google for "hang on sumps" see what comes up and check on our message boards for some reviews. Maybe there is a company that will custom make one for you.>   Good idea or not?  <Could be. Maybe a new market to explore> Any suggestions for a good, compact protein skimmer for a 40 gallon reef?  <Many...... I like the CPR products and I really like the AquaC line!>   What kind of GPH should I be looking at for a 40 gallon skimmer?  <See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/toskimornotfaq.htm Everything you could ever want to know about skimmers> Also, I'm concerned about lighting.  150 watts?  200?  <Depends on what your future inhabitants are and how deep the tank is. We are more concerned with PAR (photosynthetic Active Radiation? penetration which I believe most power compacts and metal halides address very well. Metal halides in this instance might be a bit much due to the excess heat. Check this out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm> Anyway, you've always been such great help in the past, I thought I'd go to the best for advice!  <Thanks for coming. Be sure to read through the FAQs and links above.>   Keep up the great work! Mike <We will. Let us know how it all goes. -Paul>

Canister Filtration Hello All!  I have a question about "re-packing" my Eheim 2250 canister. I have read through most of the posts and seen the different responses for canister contents. Some prefer the Eheim recommended setup others suggest some subtle variations.  I have a 55gal 60# of live rock, thin sand bed, CPR Bak-Pac II skimmer, small Lunare Wrasse (4 in), Niger trigger (same size) a porcupine puffer and 3 blue-fin damsels (about 2 1/2 inches). My canister currently has the following (bottom to top): 1/2 Ehfimech (coarse mechanical filter material), 1/3 EHFIFIX (medium mechanical filter material) a medium square of poly-filter & two Chemi-pure pouches. I was planning to add some more biological filtration to the canister, most likely EHFISUBSTRAT or some bioballs (to help with organic waste filtration)?? I also plan to replace the Chemi-pure with TMC-HR (2 4X8 filter bags). Thoughts and suggestions are most appreciated!!!! <I have heard of many people adding more biological filtration to their canister filters. In your case I don't believe you need any more bio-material, after all you have 60lbs of live rock and sand in your aquarium along with the normal bio-material within the filter. It's up to you, I don't believe it's necessary for you to add this bio-media to the canister filter...if you want more bio-media just go buy some more LR! LOL. That is my opinion on the matter! Good Luck with everything, IanB> Regards,  Ciaran

- Overflow Planning - Hi Guys, <Good morning, JasonC here...> Great FAQs!  Unfortunately I didn't find anything pertaining to my situation (searched the internet as well).  I've been in the hobby for about 30 years, devoting the last 14 to reef aquariums.  I'm in the process of setting up a 375 gal. acrylic tank and have some thoughts about the overflow/surface skimmer I wanted to bounce off you.  I've always used over-the-top suction type overflows in the past and they've served me well (with proper maintenance), but plan to use drilled gravity overflows with this system but with a different twist as I'll explained below.  I didn't want anything inside the tank so I've ordered it without a built-in overflow.  I'm also installing it in a wall to be viewed from front and back so any overflow will be in the end (or ends?).  I have two ideas as follows: 1) Drill a series of holes (3/16 or 1/4 inch) at the desired water height in the end of the tank and build/attach the overflow box to the outside.  <You'd almost be better off putting in a divider at one end that would act as a spill-over and having an overflow the width of the tank, then hide this portion by the wall, rather than trying to add something to the end of the tank.> 2) Install bulkheads (1 1/2 or 2 inch) with strainers at the desired water height and plumb to the sump. <Or you can do this - the quick and easy solution.> Whaddaya think?  Any thoughts on the number of holes/bulkheads? <On one end, two, 1.5". On both ends, one each would be fine.> Whichever system, I'm thinking I should use both ends of the tank for overflow?  <Ideally, but it wouldn't be difficult to use just one end - just add a slight slope to the tank so that gravity helps move the water to that end of the tank.> Thanks much!  E. Russell <Cheers, J -- >

- Filtration Question - Thanks, Don, for the reply, but my skimmer question is not quite answered. <Hello, JasonC here this time...> I've been doing a little more thinking and talking to people, and think I may have an answer I'd like to throw out for your comment.  If my Prizm Pro is not a good skimmer, there will be more wastes in my tank, and my biological filters (live rock, a Fluval 404 canister, Penguin 330) will work harder.  <Uhh... not exactly. Protein skimmers remove a different type of waste than biological or canister filtration, so... no, I don't think your filters will work harder.>  Unless the live rock (110 lbs in 75 gallons) can keep up with the nitrate production, I will have to change water to eliminate nitrate more frequently than I would if I had a better skimmer.  <Again, I think you misunderstand the nature of protein skimming. Protein skimmers don't remove nitrate directly.> Is this right? <Nope.> If so, I just need to watch my nitrate buildup as an indicator of whether I have to upgrade to a better skimmer. <Your thinking is wrong on this.> I could even do the calculation about the dollar cost and time cost of water changes to decide whether it's worth it to get a better skimmer.  What do you think? <Upgrade your skimmer, keep up the frequent, small water changes. Different benefits will result from each practice.>   Thanks, Tom <Cheers, J -- >

- Filtration Question, Follow-up - Thanks, JasonC (or whoever may be there now). <JasonC here again.> If protein skimmers remove a different kind of waste, then my theory is wrong.  But I'm curious: do protein skimmers also remove some of the wastes otherwise dealt with by biological filtration?  Tom <Not really they are really different types of filters. Biological filtration in the truest sense is just the nitrogen cycle, although there are other biological processes that take place in marine tanks. Protein skimming is considered chemical filtration, using the chemical interactions of the charged air bubbles in the skimmer attracting long-chain proteins and other compounds that trapped by the foam in the skimmer chamber.> <Cheers, J -- >

Fluval Questions (8-12-03) Hello and thanks for all of the great advice.<My pleasure!  Cody here today!> I have a problem with my Fluval 304 filter. I have a 55 G saltwater tank with the bottom tray running carbon, the middle running carbon and the pre-filter rings, the top tray the pre-filter rings as well. My problem is that I do not seem to get a strong output. I have cleaned the unit and even run it empty to see if would run with a faster flow. After a couple of days the output will slow to a trickle. If I prime and pump the unit it will speed up for a couple of days and then eventually slow down. Is this the way it was designed or is this defective?  Rob  <Defective.  It should keep going strong unless it is just getting plugged.  These really need cleaned at least once a week to be very effective.  Cody>

Doing It The Right Way! (Planning A New System w/DSB) G'day Bob, Scott and the rest of the wondrous wet web wizards of the watery depths! This is Rob here from Down Under. <Hey there, Rob! Glad to hear from you again! Scott F. with you again tonight!> I e-mailed you guys a few weeks back looking for advice on my plans for my FIRST marine tank setup. Scott was kind enough to reply and let me know that I was basically on the right track. He then suggested I go back and do MORE RESEARCH!!!!!!! And perhaps revise my plans. I have. I also have many new questions, queries and doubts! <Oh, man- I sent another fellow hobbyist back to the books! Part of the fun, though! > So, here goes..... I am planning on adopting the following species: 1 DWARF lionfish (max5"), 2 LARGE tomato clowns and 1 bubble tip anemone as a start, I'll take my time with these introducing the lion first, then the clowns and eventually if all goes well the bubble tip. <Glad you're "easing" into the anemone...No need to rush> All are available (reasonably) locally and all are caught with nets by people I know well. <Outstanding!> Current plans are for a 150 gal (570litre) tank 48"L X 36"W X 20"H nice and wide, good surface area (see I do read your articles!) I will also be using an under tank sump of 56gal (215litres) I am really hooked on the idea of natural filtration so this tank will get about 200lb's (90kgs) of live rock. <Terrific! It will be a very stable system!> Skimming will be by a locally made (Aussie, Aussie, Ausiie OY, OY, OY) venturi unit running from the sump and powered by a 650 g/h (2500lph) pump. These units are made by a bloke in Western Australia who started building his own DIY setups years ago. They have a brilliant reputation and are much, much cheaper than the units imported from your neck of the woods. < Awesome- DO support your "local talent" whenever possible! A good skimmer is such an important investment- well worth it!> Heating will be from 2 - 300W quality units. Lighting will be by fluor's,  160W of HO and 80W of Actinic (still some doubts as to whether this is sufficient, especially with the anemone in mind.....Your views?). <May not be enough...Even though your tank is relatively shallow, you might want to add a couple more tubes...You simply cannot have "too much" light for anemones, in most cases...> All fluoros are very well reflected and powered by remote, electronic ballasts and will be housed in a custom made (by me!) hood. <The best kind, IMO!> Circulation will provided mainly from a closed loop running on the inside top of the tank with various injectors placed at strategic locations and depths. This will be powered by the 1050g/h(4000l/h) return pump from the sump. I will have to run some test's to see if this is sufficient, if not extra powerheads will be employed. <Sounds nice. If you intend to keep SPS or other high-current loving corals at some later time, you may want to consider a pump or pumps that can push 10-20 tank volumes an hour through the system...Like lighting- you can rarely have too much circulation> O.K. I hear you thinking, this guy's got it together! <Yep! Very much so!> Well that's what I thought too! Until I walked into my LFS (600kms away!). <I've heard of "walkabouts" before- but 600kms...? You're seriously dedicated! I'll never complain about the 20 minute drives to good LFS in my area!> You see, I had initially intended to use a wet/dry filter in my sump to back up the live rock and skimmer. However on looking closely at the shops fish and invert display tank (120gal) all they had was lots of rock and a protein skimmer! Nothing else! This was a good looking tank with all inhabitants looking bright, cheerful and full of life. I was stunned and intrigued. On talking to the shop crew (Seth and Kath, they make a good team!) they told me that the secret was all in the substrate. Sure enough there it was, 5-6" of good looking fine coral sand with plenty of activity going on. <A deep sand bed certainly serves as an excellent nitrate reducing "filter"...a nice thing to have> Anyway I checked it out on the web and found out all about plenum bed construction, Jaubert's method, anoxic bacteria and 0 nitrate levels. After much research I am planning on this stage of using a deep substrate level (5") in my main tank and constructing a plenum system in the sump. The main reason for not using a plenum in both is that I want to aquascape the main tank to resemble a section of reef I know well from diving and having to minimize the rock's 'footprint' would be difficult. I really need your advise on this! Is the full biological filtration method just a pipe dream and is it beyond a beginner like myself? <No- it isn't! Embracing natural methods is probably the most simple and effective thing you can do as a beginner, or as an advanced hobbyist! Your idea of using a plenum in the sump is certainly workable. I personally prefer "static" ("plenum-less") deep sand beds, as they seem to work as well as plenum-equipped systems (although there is plenty of debate on this topic among hobbyists). If you are going to go the plenum route, it's absolutely vital that you follow the "standardized" recommendations concerning sand bed composition, depth, plenum height, etc. These configurations were arrived at after enormous amounts of testing by researchers like Jaubert, Goeman's, Gamble, etc., and are not just random numbers. Most of the people who claim that plenums don't work are the ones who "modify" the parameters of their plenum. You may want to check out Plenum guru Bob Goeman's http://www. saltcorner.com site for a lot of good information on plenums...> I am aiming eventually to 'get into' corals so the idea of continuing the biological filtration cycle with the break down of NO3 to NO2 to NO and eventually to pure N is highly desirable. I await your advice with baited breath oh wise and all knowing denizens of the deep! Sorry this is so long winded, got carried away, as usual, if I mention the word "fish tank" one more time I might find myself without a house keeper, bed warmer and long suffering friend! Thanks for your help guys and gals!  Rob <Ahh Rob- I think that you're doing great! It's so cool that you're doing the "modifications" and "tweaking" to your system before the system is actually set up! The time that you take now to research the various concepts will repay you many times over with a successful tank! I think a well constructed sand bed (with or without plenum), protein skimmer, and sump, fortified with aggressive maintenance procedures (water changes, etc.) will greatly enhance your chances of success. Keep in touch, and best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>  

Cloudy Water-Clear Solution? Dear piscatorial guardians: <Wow- Cool title! You can just call me Scott, however!> I am baffled with the abovementioned subject. I've done everything to the best of my knowledge/experience but am still having problems with hazy waters. I installed the AquaC Remora per your recommendation last week and the very next day, the water looked crisp. Then after a few days, the haziness seems to return. I also had this problem prior to installing the skimmer thinking that it was excess DOC's but that should not be the case anymore as the skimmer is producing a healthy (euphemism here :))  amount of skimmate daily. <The good skimmate production is important- at least you're removing much of the dissolved organics present in the water> HARDWARE: 1. 46G Oceanic bowfront F.O. tank - 4 months old 2. Rio 1700 powerhead - 611GPH 3. AquaC Remora w/Rio 800 4. Hang-over the back Power-Filter w/activated carbon - dual spillway <Do change the carbon regularly> 5. 200 Watt Titanium heater LIVESTOCK: 1. Chrysiptera cyanea - pair 2. Chrysiptera hemicyanea 3. Rhinecanthus aculeatus 4. Canthigaster Solandri 5. Cirrhitichthys falco 6. Sphaeramia nematoptera - pair 7. Hermit Crabs (unknown sp.) - 3" pair WATER: 1. pH 8.0 - 8.2 2. SPG 1.023 3. NH4 - 0 4. N03 - 0 5. N04 - 5 ppm 6. TEMP - 80-82 F 7. RO/DI water 8. Instant Ocean Salt <Your water parameters seem in line!> OTHER: 1. 2" Carib Sea Aragonite 2. Various dead coral e.g. Blue Ridge, Cats Paw, Sea Fan for decor. 3. Food - SF Bay Brine shrimp w/Zoecon (weekly soak), OSI Marine Flakes, Hikari Freeze Dried Brine Shrimp, chopped shrimp/scallop (occasionally) 4. Photoperiod - 6 hours I was repeatedly told of a putative bacteria bloom but no reason as to why it occurs. And it can be happening sporadically can it? I've also tried adding Kent's Pro-Clear but to no avail, so it's not any macro free-floating organics. <You mean "micro organics"?> Is this problem indelible? If I could only locate it's provenance... Please advice and thanks in advance.  BC <Well, I'm thinking that it could be anything from a bloom of free-floating algae to some very fine particulate stirred up by your trigger or your puffer...Could even be microbubbles getting in somewhere through the plumbing. It seems to me that your water parameters are fine, and the skimmer is doing it's job. I'd consider a few possible "solutions". The first would be to utilize a "micron filter sock" or pad somewhere in the system to remove some of this fine particulate. The other thought (and unfortunately, it's more expensive) would be to incorporate a U/V sterilizer in your system's plumbing configuration...Check all possibilities and don't give up...Regards, Scott F>

-Mixed methods- Just want to start off by saying thanks for the fast response to my previous emails.  I've learned a lot. <Great, I'll do my best.> But, I have one more that I was hoping you would answer when you have a moment.  I've spent a lot of time researching the various methods of filtration and as a result recently purchased the following: 90 gallon tank with pre drilled holes AquaC ev-120 p/s 90 lbs of Kaelini l/r (spelling may be incorrect) < 1" sand bed sump with 3 departments (first: skimmer placement, second: refugium, third: return pump - mag drive 5).  I did NOT set up the refugium yet. Somehow, I missed the whole topic of Ecosystems when doing my research (I have no idea how this happened!).  Anyhow, I'm concerned that I just spent a small fortune on a lot of equipment that may not be necessary.  I realize there are different opinions out there but wanted to learn what you thought my system would best be used for (large fish, small fish, coral, etc). <I think this would make a nice reef tank with coral and small fish. Since it's a 4' tank, you wouldn't want to cram large fish in there.> From what I can tell, I basically have a "Berlin/Ecosystem" combo package (or am close to having one).  Will this "combo" allow for a greater fish load (within reason of course) <You'll have the biological capacity for a good size fish load, but you shouldn't cram it full of fish> or should I just dump the skimmer, keep the cured l/r and setup an ecosystem? <I would use it all! Refugiums benefit all systems, and this one is no exception. You could build a classic refugium with a thick sandbed and fast growing macroalgae or go the Ecosystem route. Either way should work great for the tank. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks for you advise. Mark

The Bulkhead Question I am DIY-ing a filter for a 30 gallon.  I am considering this to be a practice run for the future and also a good way to understand the mechanics of filtration.  I am making a prefilter box out of Lucite CP.  I need to know for a 30 gallon what is the diameter of the hose I need from the prefilter to the input to my future sump. <1" hose is usually the way to go, and would be my recommendation> This might seem like a mundane question but I need specifics to draw things out. <best, Chris> Patrick Hand

Filtration setup on a fish only. 08/03/03 Hello again! <Hi Leo, PF with you tonight> I am planning of starting a 500 gallon saltwater system (fish only), but was wondering for  the filter what should I use , I was thinking about an overflow that will go trough a pre-filter (sponge, foam of some sort ....), after that the water will fall into the bio-balls, to get to the sump where there will be a Berlin protein skimmer,  with the water  returning from the skimmer  to the sump (maybe through  carbon filter not know if needed?) and  then back to the system. Will that system work or should change something , was looking trough your site and now I don't really know what to do ? Also have an U.V but don't know if should use it and where exactly! Thank you again for  your help.  Leo <Well Leo, I would skip the pre-filter unless you plan on cleaning it out every day or so, it will become a nitrate sink.  As for carbon, here's the FAQ on it: www.wetwebmedia.com/carbonfaqs.htm . I would advise running it for a few days every month with the system you are envisioning. The sump sounds good, but you don't really need the bio balls. Have you thought about a refugium instead? Read more here: www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm . It would not only help filter your water, but would add planktonic life to help support your tank. By placing it first in your system, the detritus laden water would act as fertilizer for your detritivores/macro algae instead of adding nitrates to your system. As for UV, IMO it's not really needed in most cases. Here's some more info for you. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphysf.htm  All in all, it sounds like a nice setup, which I had a 500g tank to work with. : )  Have a good evening, PF>

-New old tank- Hello, <Hellllooo, Kevin here> I have just upgraded to a 5` x 2` x 2` reef setup, I bought this fully setup, it has 70kg of live rock, deep sand bed, Eheim prof II and hang on Turboflotor 1000, complete with hard and soft corals and about 12 fish! All looking very happy.  Now there is a sump, the tank is drilled but its not connected as the guy had a bad back and didn't want to bend for long periods of time.  <Understandable!>  My question is would you recommend re-connecting the sump? I planned on using the sump as an additional DSB and Housing skimmer and getting a calcium reactor? <That would be an excellent use for it> Will this make the Eheim redundant or just keeping it running with filter floss and for UV?? <I'd shut down the UV part, remove the floss and any other bio-material inside, and use it for water circulation and occasional activated carbon use.> Also with reference to re connecting the sump, I know how to go about it but with the hole in the tank on the top left and the sump in In the bottom right, its just how to keep the noise down, i.e. run pipe across the top then down, run it diagonally, down then across, Confused yet? <Sort of... It shouldn't matter how the water drains down into the sump, as long as it doesn't have to flow up. I doubt that it will be very loud.> Sorry for the question  overload.....but its an excellent site and I have referred to you guys many a time. <Good luck with the "new" setup! -Kevin> Thanks,  Carl

-Sump questions- I have been looking into buying a sump for some of my tanks. A sump look easy to but I was looking systems and pumps and thought about the sump overflowing or the water level in the pump going to low. <Both of these issues are not anything to lose sleep over.> If the tank water siphons out using an overflow in the tank wouldn't the return pump in the sump have to pump the same amount of water back to the tank? Even if the flow rate was off by a few gph wouldn't there be problems like the sump overflowing? <Think about it: The overflow can only suck down as much water as is being pumped up since it's running on a gravity siphon. Just be sure you know your overflow boxes max GPH rating (most single 1" ID u-tube style overflows can handle a max of 600gph). As long as you follow the rules, it will be good to you!> I would also like to have a dosing system  to drip into the sump and a denitrator the using water from the tank and drips it back slowing into the sump. <Ah, just install a deep live sand bed (over 3.5" deep) to remove your nitrates. They also do oodles of other good things for your tank.> How do I factor these into picture. <No biggie, if the doser is for top-off water, you'll need to figure out your evaporation rate first. My favorite way to eliminate the low-sump-pump-gurgling problem is to install a float valve or switch to automatically top-off with purified water.> Last question, what brand sumps and pumps do you like. The BioRocker by Kent marine looks very nice and sound good but I have not seen and reviews for them. <If you are using live rock and sand, you will have no need for a sump with a bio filter. In this case a cheap aquarium or Rubbermaid tub will do. If you've got money to burn and want something really cool, get one custom made. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks for all your help, Andy.

Filtration question >Hi guys (and gal) >>Oh my goodness, I really *have* been effective, haven't I?  Hello, Yun.  Marina here today. >Currently, I have a 25 gal with 2 false Percs and a Firefish along with some feather dusters, hermits, snails, and two cleaner shrimp. My filtration consists of an Emperor power filter and a DSB.  I would like to replace the power filter with a skimmer, but am worried that because I have no LR, I won't have sufficient biological filtration.  Living in Hawaii means that I can't  have any LR (can't collect and can't have any shipped in, not even from local e-tailers).   >>Ouch!  Talk about putting a hurtin' on reefkeepin'! >The tank has been running for about 6 months now, so I'm assuming that the dead rock that I have in there isn't sufficiently "live" yet.  Should I run both the power filter and the skimmer (I'd rather not)?  I'm thinking of just trying the skimmer and see what happens. But would like to get advice from some more seasoned aquarists. >>That is actually what I was going to suggest, however, if you think you can do water changes that will make up the difference (handle the excess wastes when you remove one form of biological filtration) then you should be golden.  While doing so, do not vacuum, don't scrape down the tank sides, or anything like that, until everything is stable.  Hopefully, the skimmer's action in removing wastes will take up sufficient slack and you'll only have to test, and not make any huge changes to your maintenance schedule.  The DSB is still relatively young in respects to denitrification, but it should be providing good nitrification for you at this point. >Additionally, I am planning on eventually upgrading to a 120g tank (48x24x24).  What would the ideal filtration system be? >>A refugium would be my preferred method, though you will find many opinions to the contrary.  I cannot say that others are wrong, either, as witnessed by their successes.  Keeping reef really is as much art as science.  So, plan at least on a humongous sump, in which you can place things like a protein skimmer (which, if you get a 'fuge really going well you will want to stop), algal scrubber, mechanical filtration (a filter pad that you can rinse out weekly or so), and can either convert to a refugium, or will be a good addendum to a 'fuge. >Again, I wish I could go with the skimmer and LR/DSB combination. If a skimmer and DSB is ok for my 25, would it still be enough for the larger tank? >>Yes, it will have to be, won't it?   >Maybe if I keep the fish load low? >>Certainly, that will help.  That, and do everything VERY slowly. >Oh, and one more question. For my future tank, I would like to keep tang, but is a 4 foot tank long enough? >>Avoid certain species, such as Nasos, as they require large amounts of space.  If you're getting a 120, though, I thought those are 5' long, yeah?  Anyway, something like a small Zebrasoma scopas would be peaceable, and will get along fine for quite a while in a shorter tank.  Many species from which to choose, too many for me to cover here. >I like the width of the tank as it will be viewable from the front and back. Seeing tang in the ocean, I realize how much swimming room they like. >>Indeed, very observant, and I give you kudos for noticing (you'd be surprised how many do NOT). >In particular, I like the hippo tang, purple tang, and Achilles tang. Which one (ones?) would be better suited for the 120? >>The hippo should do alright, as will the purple, the Achilles can be a bit touchy in terms of ease of care, though I don't see why not.  Do start with the smallest animal you can. >Could I possibly keep more than one? >>Oh my, that is quite a touchy subject.  Here's my take on it, you have a choice with these animals, either put in so many that you have good displacement of aggression, or mix so few, and at such small sizes that it won't become an issue for some time.  Sometimes they can grow on each other.  Do know that failure comes often with these attempts, though.  Mixing very dissimilar species is best, too.  For instance, yellow or purple tang with hippo or Achilles, quite small, early on, and leave it at that. >Thanks for all the great info you folks provide. >>Quite welcome, and I do hope this helps.  That just sucks that you can't even have live rock shipped out to you.  Best of luck!  Marina

-Protein skimmer placement- I have a 220 gallon tank with an Amiracle 30 gallon sump. I have 2 overflow boxes that hang on the back of the tank. They say that you should use raw water to run in to the skimmer.  <Would be nice, not the end of the world if this can't happen.>  If my water is flowing into the sump via the overflow boxes then into my filter pad then bio balls how do I get raw water to my skimmer then get that water in to a filter pad?  <I wouldn't worry about it, most tanks are set up that way.>  I do understand the concept but most of the sumps that they sell are not set up that way.  <In reef aquaria I don't recommend any type of mechanical filtration, so if you remove that stuff, you'll get the "raw" water you desire.>  I will admit that when I purchased most of my stuff I had sucky advice. At that time I did not know about wet web media. Thank god I did learn about you guys (and girls?) though.  <A few!>  I know that the output of my skimmer will not keep up with the incoming water. What do I do? <Turn down the incoming water w/ a gate valve?>  I do have an extra sump laying around could I use that somehow? It is smaller, like a 10 or 15 gallon sump.  <Well, I suppose you could tie it in to this one but it would require lots of drilling for little to no gain.>  I have searched here and the internet but have found nothing solid to go on. be feasible to eliminate the sump totally? <Not really, you need a sump for an adequately sized skimmer.>  A friend was selling his tank and I bought it. He had over 300 pounds of live rock in his tank. Before that I had a little over 300 pounds in mine. So I have over 600 pounds of live rock in my tank.  <Holy crap!>  He had his tank setup for about 6 years and the only filtration he used was a skimmer. I am leery about using that set up since I have never done it before.  <No worries, you could run the pacific ocean on 600lbs of live rock!>  I have looked for a good site explaining the Berlin style but came up wanting more. Know of any good sites or books about it?  <Why yes, check out Bob and Anthony's new book called Reef Invertebrates. See Wet Web's front page.>  What do I do? I am leaving the survival and quality of my tank in your hands ( no pressure). Would it be ok to use 2 skimmers?  <It would be much better to use two so that when one was cleaned, the other would assure that skimming is never interrupted.>  I have a Berlin XL and a Turboflotor, yeah I know, they work though.  <Pick up a Precision Marine bullet 3 or an AquaC EV-240 and I'll show you how a skimmer is SUPPOSED to work! I think you're in good shape for now, good luck! -Kevin>  Talk to ya later.  Kenny

Overflow dilemma Hi WWM crew! <Hi Bob, Don today> I'm getting ready to set up a 30 g acrylic tank in my office.  I want to drill overflow holes at the top-back of the tank, and add an external overflow box.  I'm looking for around 300 gph through the sump, and figured that eight 3/8" holes would give me just less than one square inch of area - plenty (I thought) for 300 gph.  To test, I adjusted my garden hose to get around 300 gph by timing a 5-gal bucket to fill in 1 minute (I'm good with the math like that) .  I drilled eight 3/8" holes in a row near the top of the bucket and let it fill.  The bucket overflowed, so I drilled two more holes.  It still overflowed.  I enlarged  all 10 holes to 1/2", and then it looked like it barely kept up with the 300 gph (and that's almost 2 square inches of area).  Where is my thinking off here??  A one-inch drain pipe (.78") is supposed to be good for roughly 600 gph. <Yes that is the current rumor, but IME it is more like 300 or less per 1" hole. I would over design and put 2-4 1" holes equally spaced across the back. If nothing else, it will leave you room for expansion if necessary and it is a lot easier to drill the holes now and cap them if you don't need them.> I'd like to get your thoughts and advice before I drill  something that won't work.  Thanks for the great job you all do !!!  Bob <Thank you and good luck with your new tank>

Changing filtration Hi, How are you!!   <Fan-gorama-tastic!> So glad to have your website for references!!   <Thank you, I am very happy to be a small part of this.> I have an Eclipse System 12 and plan to run a nano reef in a few months.  I am going to upgrade the lights and replace the filter with an AquaClear150 and add an AquaClear Surface Skimmer.  I was wondering if I would have to re-cycle the tank when I take the old filtration system out and put a new one in.  <You don't mention what type of filter is in place. Could you use the media from the old filter to help seed the new sponge in the new filter?? If so then cycle will be minimal. If not, then have 10-20G of aged/aerated change water on hand so that you can do frequent water changes just in case. I really don't see you having too much of a cycle>   Appreciate all your help!!  Angel <As always, my pleasure, Don>

-Filtration for a 45- Hi, Thanks in advance for your help. This is the 2nd time I'm writing to you and it will definitely not be my last. Short history of tank: 45 gals 75lbs live rock 20 lbs live sand 2 powerheads 201 & 301 Tanks been up for 2 months after 7 weeks added 1 Hippo tang <Hopefully very small> , 2 feather dusters star polyp, 10 hermit crabs, a sally light foot crab was in the live rock. 1 week later added a clown , all livestock doing fine, water chemistry good. My questions: the LFS sold me a Amiracle SL-5 hang on filter, will this be adequate for my tank figuring there is about 35 gallons of water in tank? <With that large amount of rock in there, no external bio filtration is necessary and may lead to nitrate accumulation. The protein skimmer was a good idea though. That money would have been better spent on a single larger hang on skimmer.> If no, what would best suit my set-up? <This skimmer should work fine, otherwise I'd recommend a Precision Marine HOT-1 or a AquaC remora; both excellent hang on skimmers.> Also , should I be adding any snails, shrimp or star fish for a small clean up crew? Have a slight trace of brown algae. <A few snails will help with algae on the glass and rocks, the shrimp and stars won't really do much in that regard. Good luck! -Kevin> Trying to learn, RT

Skimmer, refugium and pump questions II Thanks Anthony. Threw me a curve on your answer to my chiller question in suggesting I run it with a dedicated pump. The specs call for a minimum 600GPH through it in order to avoid cold currents. Why do you recommend a dedicated pump? <reliable delivery of water flow... and compartmentalizing critical features with concern for safety/planning> Is it to increase efficiency by having less flow subject to friction loss through the heat exchanger? <rather less complicated for regulating water flow(s)> I do have it located remotely in a well ventilated space. <excellent> Also, in regards to my refugium question, I do not have a DSB in the display tank and was figuring on a DSB in the refugium to do the denitrification chores in addition to nutrient export. Should I still feed it with overflow water? <not necessary in this case... more so with vegetable filters> As for "reef-ready", I agree, I hate power heads in the tank but didn't do enough homework to figure out what my alternatives were before I bought everything. Figured that I would be saving up my money to get a couple of Tunze Streams to replace four conventional power heads. They look like they can be placed a little more discretely. <yes... excellent!> What have people done to overcome the flow issue in the so called reef-ready tanks? <closed loops. drilling the display and tapping a large dedicated pump for recirc only> My tank is set in a wall niche and I don't have great access all around although I do have about 18" of top edge exposed to a space behind the tank. I guess I could use the 3/4" return bulkheads at the bottom of the overflow boxes along with the 1" drains to increase potential outflow although I'm not sure the top of the weir would pass enough water. <very true/common correction> If that did work, I could then fashion a couple of return lines to run over the edge into the tank. <exactly> When you say you recommend a minimum 10X exchange rate, is that without any sort of additional circulation? <total circ of all> Do you think I could live with 6-8X with a couple of Tunze Streams? Thanks again, George. <so many reefs fail due to lack of proper water flow. Many of the most popular corals and clams actually need closer to 20X turnover... anything less than 10X is scary my friend. It all depends on the coral you keep though and their needs. Anthony>

Water Issue Dear Bob or Able-Bodied-Minion, <Okay> If I add LR and a DSB, how much of each am I looking at? <Depends... on what your desires, goals are, budget, type of livestock...> On a related note, according to Bob's book I get the impression that he's of the opinion that LR and DSB are as good as any wet/dry system. <Mmm, most all considered "they are better">   In fact, I got the impression that one could do without a wet/dry system and get by with a protein skimmer, pump, LR, and DSB. <Could, many folks do>   Would that be an accurate reading?  Thanks. <Yes. Bob Fenner>

Re: Water Issue My goals are to have a nice collection of marine tropical fish in a 75 gallon fish-only tank.  I'm considering a 42 gallon Hex tank by Oceanic in which to try my hand at a reef. <Mmm, keep checking with other hobbyists, reading in the field re your options... if you can fit a live sump (aka refugium) in with some live rock, perhaps a DSB, you will be so much better off in terms of sustainability, stability and ease of maintenance. Bob Fenner>

Skimmer, refugium and pump questions 7/21/03 Really appreciate all of you and your Web site. <thanks kindly> 1) I know you are fans of Euro-Reef skimmers but I have the double 6" CPR in sump unit that I need to make as effective as possible until I can justify redoing everything. <also a good skimmer... just requires more tinkering to keep running> Seems as though the principle of both brands are close to the same and that if I could make an Eheim with pin-type impeller fit, I would have something better than with original Rio 800RV's. <hmmm... not sure I agree here for most folks. If you are very handy, cool. But the engineering/design is one of finesse and R&D. You need to be good at machining/improvising here. I wouldn't bother personally> I'm sure there are other fine points that make you prefer the Euro-Reef over CPR, but I figure any way I can make more and smaller bubbles would be an  improvement. <understood/agreed> Can one buy the Eheim with that impeller, <not that I am aware of> I can't seem to find anything other than Eheims with paddle-type impellers. What would I need to replace 2 Rio 800RV's? <not sure... but I'm wondering how many other folks that can help you/us are on the DIY forums of the big message boards like ReefCentral, OzReef, etc> If I can't make the Eheims work, do you know if MaxiJets with air venturi is better for skimmers than Rio? 2) <won't work well at all... bubble are too coarse> I want to eventually replace two Rio 3100 return pumps with a single external pump. Noise is an issue. How would you rank Iwaki MD100RLT with the competition in terms or noise? <I feel that Iwaki is one of the very best (excluding their heavy duty dual pump model(s))> What do you think of Blueline pumps? <not enough experience to say... but not inclined to favor based on other products/experience and feedback from others> My 175 Oceanic Reef-Ready is rated at 1,500GPH, assuming about 10' head loss if I plumb to the chiller and then split the flow and if I need to bleed a little flow to a 40gal refugium, would the MD100 be too much pump? <FWIW, I feel that the "reef-ready" tanks are drilled with inadequate/undersized drainage. Even if you get 1500 GPH, that falls short of the minimum 10X turnover needed for most any reef. To have to add ugly power heads to the tank to support the return pump disqualifies the "reef-ready" title in my book <G>. We get folks complaining regularly about this problem> Seems like it would be just about at the limit and I could always throttle it back. <true... but it aggravates the inadequate flow issue even more> As it is now, one Rio3100 is plumbed through the chiller and the other is direct to a second return. If I switch to a single pump, should I split the flow before or after the chiller (1/3HP with 1" in and out)? <I'd suggest having the chiller on a small dedicated pump for the purpose. I do hope the chiller is not going to be kept in the aquarium stand too... creates excessive heat, overworks the unit and amplifies electric cost. Chillers need to be remote - near the ceiling or in the next room (above, below, beside) to export the hot air from the unit> Does anyone make true throttle valves for salt water or does everybody just use gate valves? <gate valves are the most popular> 3) Is it better to supply a refugium with water from the overflow or bleed off flow from the return pump? <can be done either way... depending on the purpose of the fuge. If for nutrient export and/or settling, do feed it overflowing water.> Thanks & best regards, George. <kindly, Anthony>

Mighty Max by TruVu 07/20/03 I found a hang on tank product called Mighty Max by TruVu. Have any of you heard of it and what it was originally intended for?  I was hoping to use it as a refugium  if I can figure out what to use for the water flow. I am hoping that someone knows where to find any of the original parts. I want to make it as safe as possible and eliminate the possibility of having any overflow problems. Thank you in advance for your help. <Well, a google search proved fruitless, perhaps someone who sees this in the daily Q&A can help.>

Petco Fish & Filtration >>If I recollect correctly, Petco is still using a centralized filtration system on salt and fresh, yes?  I don't recall seeing anything larger than 20-30gals in their salt sections, either. > Each column of 6 tanks has it's own system and sump, but the salt talks are only 15 gallon so yeah, we suck:( >> If you're working the aquatics department, weren't you feeding him there?  Why don't you try what he was eating before?  > I actually just went and picked up the seaweed mix that we feed him at work.  Our specialist says he eats pretty much anything, cichlid pellets, whatever!  Thank you for the timely and quality advice.  I've fully tested the tanks pH, salinity, ammonia, the Ns, and all seem to be of great quality.  So I'll pick up some live blood worms too I suppose and wait till tomorrow night or so to try and feed him (last time was Monday with a seaweed salad he didn't respond to).  I'll e-mail you sometime near the end of the week with his progress (if any) so again, thanks Marina so much for your time. >> My pleasure, and do try not to worry too much at this point.  I'm surprised that the fish is so eagerly taking all these foods, so in my opinion he's already on his way towards a long, captive life.  It's just a matter of giving him time to adjust.  Marina > ~Rob

Misc. Sump/Pump Questions <Morning! Ryan with you> I have a few more sump/pump questions as I plan for my 125g set-up at home, and my 30g set-up in the office: <Fire away!> 1)  I've read a lot of the FAQ's and on-line supplier's info about the Turboflotor 1000.  Is it strictly meant to be in-sump, or can/should it be located externally with an external pump? <Can be hung on a tank as well as on, inside, or along side a sump.  Some of these setups are much easier than others!  In sump is my personal preference, but space does not always allow it.> 2)  I've always had submersible return pumps, and want to go external in my new set-ups. <Good choice, check on the message boards at Reefcentral or WetWebFotos for lots of reviews on different models.> Is there a certain height (from the bottom of the sump) that I should drill my bulkhead hole, so that it lines up with the intake to the external pump? <Just make it look clean.> Or do you just set the pump up on something to get it to the same height as the bulkhead opening? <Also possible.> Or can/do you use a flexible pipe or tubing to allow for any height difference between the two? <yes.  Do what works best for what you're working with-and keep it as simple as possible.> 3)  I'm setting up a 30 gallon Sea Clear acrylic tank for FOWLR in my office.  I am planning to drill for one 1" overflow bulkhead and two return piping bulkheads near the top of the back (wanting around 300 GPH flow rate). <Great.> As I like to keep as much "stuff" out of view as possible, instead of a skimmer box, is there a problem with placing a threaded overflow strainer into the bulkhead (sometimes called "bulkhead screens"....conical-shaped, about 3-4" long)?  It would be placed horizontally so it would still take the water from the surface.  I could even put a "T" on the bulkhead (in the tank) and use 2 of them. <I would go with two.  Great idea!  We'd love to see some pics of the setup once it's complete!>  I've also attached a schematic for my 30 gallon set-up.  Please comment if there is anything you may considering changing.  <Nothing, you've hit it dead on.  As with all setups, there will be some fine-tuning, but the design looks top notch!>  Thanks again for all your advice!  Bob D <And thank you for reading it!  Best of luck with the new setup! Ryan>

Circulation Questions Hey Again, Ryan <Hello!> Thanks for the responses. <Anytime> In the continued quest, and in response to your detritus/die off response below in #4: - Filtration is my old Amiracle wet dry with bio media removed,<good> and a Seaclone style JEBO skimmer.  I know the skimmer sucks (in the bad sense). <Better than nothing!> I am in the process of procuring a Precision Marine Bullet 1. <Nice>  Circulation is accomplished by the Rio 2100 return from the sump.  It comes up the center of the tank and blows straight to the front of the tank at the surface.  I also have two Hagen 450 power heads.  One at each corner, 1/2 way down the back wall and aimed toward the center of the tank from the sides. <You may want to move one up a little, one down a little.  Vary the heights, and more water will be moved.> Water seems to be moving all around, albeit not in great currents but moving.  I guess the movement is not enough to blow off the die- off/powdery stuff. <Some of it will always need to be removed by hand, sadly.> I continue to blow it clean with my turkey baster and let the filter system suck it out and simultaneously siphon during a water change to remove it.  Anything else you can suggest? <You're doing all you can.  Upgrade that skimmer, play with new positions for your powerheads.  You may want to try a sweeping powerhead aimed directly at your rocks.>  How much/how strong should the water flow be? <All depends on your livestock.  Really, you just want to eliminate all the dead zones.  If you're keeping fishes from the reef, it's a different story.  They're much more naturally adept to being thrown around by the surf.> I mean I see water moving throughout the tank as I see particles freely floating and moving throughout. <You're on the right track.  The rest is just fine-tuning.  Remember, weekly or biweekly water changes of a small amount are much better than large ones every other week.  Good luck! Ryan>

Flow rate calculations 7/4/03 Hi Anthony, <Cheers, my friend.> I'm setting up a new tank that will use an overflow "shelf" like the one you describe in your BoCP book (BTW- great book!).   <Thanks kindly!> The tank is a standard 50g (36x15x20) and I would like to be able to push 1000gph max through the overflow.   <Very good> I can make the shelf 22in long, but I can't figure out how much clearance I should give it to get the right flow rate and keep the water level near the top of my tank. Any ideas? <A full inch from the surface of the water... and 4-5 1" overflow holes or their equivalent in larger bulkheads.> Also, do you know of how to calculate the flow rate of a siphon? <I would never recommend a siphon overflow under any circumstance... won't sleep in a house with one. Overflow risk and fire hazard in time IMO> To reduce noise, I'm putting two drains in the shelf- one near the bottom that will be a siphon and move most of the water, and one near the top to catch whatever the siphon can't handle.   <Hmmm... maybe I'm misunderstanding here. Drilled overflow or siphon overflow?> The top drain will be a Durso or other quiet non-siphon drain.  I'd like to use the smallest possible pipe size for the siphon (to keep the overflow height as low as possible) but be able to push say 800gph through the siphon.  Any ideas? Thanks, David <I think the use of the word siphon must have merely meant an overflow hole operating at high capacity (creating siphon beyond what gravity overflow will afford... and if so a precarious endeavor... use more holes instead for safety). Best regards, Anthony>

Filtration Question--cleaning? Hi Don, Thank you for your response and assistance. I've read different opinions as far as cleaning the filter medias/elements, especially after cycling. When can I start cleaning my filter?  Or should I have done it already? (My aquarium cycled on June 19). <As long as  you clean the media in saltwater you should not have any problems. If you are replacing media, don't replace it all at once to give the old media time to seed the new media. Don> Regards, Felix

- DIY Protein Skimmer - Hey guys, <Hello to you.> I am in the process of building all the equipment for a 4 foot reef tank. So far I have only built the stand. My next plan of attack is to build a protein skimmer. I have looked at a few plans on the internet but couldn't find many. The best one I could come across was located at: http://users.rcn.com/reef101/skimmer.html  Do you think this is a good design? <I think it would work, but might not be very efficient.> How would it be tuned? <By adjusting the powerhead volume as well as the amount of air going to the air stone. You could also put a valve on the effluent side, and that would help tune it.> Also, what would be the maximum size tank you could use if I built the 16" version using a Hagen AquaClear 802. <No idea... it's not that easy to predict a maximum outflow for something you've never seen run.> Do you know of any other good DIY sites or in particular, skimmer plans? <Try these: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diyskimmer.htm http://www.ozreef.org/diy/index.html > Thanks in advance, Amon <Cheers, J -- >

Tetra Whisper Internal Micro Filter I need to know ASAP how to install or set-up a Tetra Whisper Internal Micro Filter. <Did you purchase this from a retail store? It should have came with instructions. Well the easiest way to set this filter up would be to look at a picture of one that has been setup properly and try to set your filter up so that it looks the same... have enclosed a link to a picture http://bizrate.lycos.com/buy/noncat_prod_details__cat_id--13160100,mid--23777,md5id--0xd963422cb 7de6ff6e86097ceaf65db54,keyword--Tetra%20Filters.html IanB> Poly-filters instead of skimming? What's up guys? Short question until my girlfriend gets back from the LFS that is. Is it OK to use a poly filter 24/7? Other than the cost obviously. Would there be an any harm to the tank? <Poly filters remove all kinds of stuff, besides its phosphate removing capability, I don't see the need to run one all the time.> I am using a protein skimmer but it is a Turboflotor and it is more picky than my girl. <Let's hope she doesn't read the FAQ's!!!> Maybe 2 days a week it produces the dark stuff, other than that I just yell at it. <Although Turboflotors aren't the greatest skimmers, they still should produce consistently. Take it apart, clean out the pump(s), run freshwater down the venturi line, and give the skimmer body a good cleaning. Polyfilters aren't replacements for protein skimmers. Good luck! -Kevin> help me

If It Sounds Too Good To Be True- It Is! Filtration Greetings from Argentina. <Hello there! Scott F. with you today!> Wow!  Fantastic web site.  I am trying to prepare myself for my first marine aquarium (have had freshwater for a while) and your site is a great help.  I spend a few hours a night reading through all the Q&A and articles. <I do, too...It's addictive- and I love it!> Two questions if you get a chance.  First, I read about a filter I found randomly on the internet that sounds too good to be true and wondering if you have heard of it (searched your site but found nothing).  From a company called aqua oceans  - link to description of the filter is here: http://www.aquaoceans.com/amt1.htm) Says you can keep 2 to 3 times amount of life in the tank and never have to do water changes!  I am very skeptical but reading through the description it sounds reasonable and well thought out.  Can't find any other info or reviews anywhere. <Well- bottom line...it is too good to be true! I cannot stress it enough: We're dealing with closed systems, and regular water changes are simply a reality of the game...Unlike the ocean, where almost unlimited water volume is constantly flushing the reefs, you can't perform enough nutrient export to run a closed system without water exchanges. You cannot expect to maintain a (crowded or otherwise) system and not do water changes...Sure, you might get lucky for a while, but it's just not going to work in the long run- regardless of what you're filtering the water with. I guess I made my point, huh? LOL> Second, assuming this is too good to be true, can you give me your recommendations for a new 65 gallon fish only marine aquarium in terms filtration, lighting, heater, etc.?  There is soo much information on the site I am having trouble finding a way to boil it down to the basics.  If you don't have time I will just keep reading:o) <Well- there are as many different approaches to setting up a system as there are hobbyists! I am a big fan of FOWLR systems set up with a sump, with the protein skimmer and some chemical filtration media (such as carbon and/or Poly Filter)...Do look into the "Setups" section of the WWM site for more detail than I could possibly go into here...Let us know if you have any other questions as you progress!>   Thanks again for putting up such a great site! <We're so glad that you enjoy it! Good luck with your system! Regards, Scott F>

A Method To This Madness! (Marine Tank Methodologies) Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. at your service today!> Please forgive my question if it is silly, I am new in the hobby and trying to find my feet (or may be that should be flippers). <Maybe "adipose fin"?> I am a chemical engineer and so have had some training in filtration (mainly waste water treatment and mechanical filtration). It seems to me that the trickle filters would be the best kind, they have very large surface area and good gas/water contact. <They are great for fish only tanks!> From what I have read most agree that they remove ammonia and nitrite very well but do not help to get rid of nitrate. I agree with this as there would not be anoxic zones in a trickle filter (or at lease there shouldn't be). I have even heard some people say that they remove ammonia and nitrite too well (?), is this possible? <Well, I wouldn't say "too well"- but I would say that they tend to be extremely efficient at removing these substances, but fail to export nitrate to any significant degree> I agree that the build-up of nitrate will be a problem and that seems to be the main complaint but what if the system also had a deep sand bed. Wouldn't this remove/ reduce the nitrate? <Yes, it would, but the question is. "Why accumulate nitrate, even if you can reduce it with a DSB?"> It just seems that the Berlin method is the same as a trickle filter but with less gas/water contact and hence less efficiency. <Well, the Berlin method uses a sump, and generally does not use a trickle filter. Instead, great reliance is placed on aggressive protein skimming and live rock to help export nutrients. Since a true Berlin system does not utilize substrate (i.e.; a sand bed), Kalkwasser dosing is essential to help maintain calcium levels> I understand that using the right rocks can give you a very large surface area but does this compensate for the reduced oxygen availability? <Not really> I guess what I am asking is would you prefer: A. Berlin method with deep sand bed and skimmer or B. Trickle filter with deep sand bed and skimmer and why your chosen method is better than the other. <I like a "fusion" method, which utilizes aggressive protein skimming, a deep sand bed, and live rock. My rationale for this technique is that it provides a very "natural" means to manage and export wastes. Live rock is an efficient natural filter, as you know, and a deep sand bed, properly constructed, can efficiently reduce or remove nitrate from a closed system. Of course, protein skimming is your first line of defense, and helps pick up the "slack" in nutrient processing that the live rock may not be able to handle. All in all, this type of technique relies more on natural processes and less on technical gadgetry than most techniques do...I like things simple!> One last thing. I would think that for a DSB to work there would have to be little "bugs" in the sand to turn it over slowly otherwise no products could be transported from or into the bed (which would make it useless). If this is the case how do I ensure that I get a good healthy colony of these guys growing? <Simple: You can purchase "live" sand from many dealers and e-tailers, or you can allow inert sand to become "live" through contact with live rock in your system.> Should I avoid fish that like to pick at the sand and eat these "bugs"? <Sure. It's a bad idea to include fishes like goatfish, certain sleeper gobies, and other animals that can decimate the very organisms that you are trying to nurture> Thanks for any help you can give me. Adam L <My pleasure, Adam. I think that you're on the right track- and that you're gonna have a lot of fun assembling your system! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Marine Set-up <Hey Kevin, this is Kevin...> Hi, my first question is, can I use my TetraTec pf 300 filter on my new 75 gallon tank. It say's up to 60 gallons on the side of the box, but I would hate to  buy another filter, I just bought this one for a 55g. <Well, you always oversize the filter for the tank. This one's your call, if you use this one make sure you keep the tank understocked.> I have two power heads on my 55g,a 402 and a 301,will they work on a 75g? <For water circulation, yes.> And down the road what do I have to get for my 55g if I want sand substrate, plus any tip's on setting up my 75g  with every thing from my 55g would be great. <Well, I suppose this would depend on what kind of tank this is. If it's going to be a freshwater community tank, then my previous recommendation on the filter holds true. If it's going to be any type of marine setup, the filter won't do. -Kevin>                              Thanks, Kevin.

Filtration for a 55 FOWLR Dear WWM crew, <Hi there! I apologize for the delay, I was diving the north shore of MA trying to rid the ocean of all those pesky lobstahs!> I am about to set up my first saltwater aquarium. I have decided on a  standard 55 gallon tank, and my plans are to make it a fish/only set up. I have  bought every thing I need except a filtration system. First let me tell you what inhabitants I plan to have: 1) blue damsel <Gets/is mean, but cheap and colorful> 1) yellowtail damsel 1) neon velvet damsel <Gets/is REALLY mean and then gets UGLY, hehe> 1) four stripe damsel <Gets/is mean> 1) medium yellow tang <Stick with a small 3" or so tang for now. A 55 is not a very large tank and these guys get big pretty quick> 1) medium Picasso trigger <Again, go for small, especially since this critter has teeth!> 1) percula clown <Make sure the clown goes in before the Picasso!!!> various snails, and hermit crabs <Not many hermits for long, the Picasso will see to that...> Also about 20 to 30 pounds of Fiji live rock. <Excellent, the more the merrier> I have been to 2 LFS for help on which filtration system to use. One said that I should use a Fluval 404 canister filter with the required media, and add a powerhead for extra oxygen. <Personally, I really dislike canisters on marine tanks for uses other than just carbon> The other said I should use a Wet/Dry trickle filter. <Well, not if you're doing live rock> Which one of these filters would you recommend I use? I have tried to find the answer on your site, but cant seem to find the answer I'm looking for. <Well, to confuse you even more I'm going to recommend something completely different! So there! Instead of any type of external biological filtration (or the wanna-be bio filtration of a canister) why not let the tank do it itself. Since you have already opted to do 20-30 lbs of live rock, simply install a deep live sand bed [minimum 3.5", made of aragonite and sugar sized aragonite, with a few pounds of real live sand (not that pre-bagged stuff)] and add a good protein skimmer (such as an AquaC or a Precision Marine. The live sand bed and the live rock will take care of all the biofiltration that that tank could ever need. I hope this long winded response serves you well! -Kevin> Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Re: help with filtration change >Thank for all you have provided.  I have spent hours reading over the articles on your site.   >>Quite welcome, Chad and Becky.  Marina here this morning. >So here's what I have going on. I have a 45 gallon salt tank with an UGF (undergravel filter).  The UGF is powered by two powerheads and has about 2 inches of crushed coral.  I have a Fluval 304 and a Skilter.  This is the same setup I have been running since I started into saltwater 10 years ago (I was 15 when I started).   >>Far too many would refuse to believe it, but it really IS tried and true.  Yes, Marsha, you really CAN keep saltwater fishies with an undergravel filter! >I purchased what the LFS told me I needed.  I have had good success in the tank keeping low maintenance stock (2 percula clowns, 1 yellow tang, 1 fancy brittle star, 1 green brittle star, 5 dwarf reef crabs, 2 peppermint shrimp, 10# of LR).  I also HAD a number of anemones, featherdusters, and mushroom corals [corallimorphs] for about a year.  One day those items died (actually over the course of about a week) and since then I have neglected the tank.  I did not understand why I lost interest in my tank but I now realize it was because those items died.   >>Not uncommon.  Quite unfortunate, but not at all uncommon. >I have decided to get the tank back up to speed.  I have purchased a WD (wet-dry) filter (I know WDs are not what I need for a reef tank) to replace the current UGF and canister filter.  I plan to remove the biomedia from the canister and add it to the WD bioballs for the time being.  I am looking for a good in-sump protein skimmer to replace the Skilter.  I will over time keep adding live rock to the tank and remove bioballs as I do.  I hope to convert the tank to a reef tank in this fashion.  I also need to get rid of the UGF but do not want to actually remove it.  I don't want to completely empty my tank and start over if I do not have to.  Can I leave the UGF in place or will this harm my new system?   >>In the long run, you'll be glad you've removed it, especially if you plan to go reef.  It could substitute for a plenum, but a proper plenum it is not.  I would suggest simply pulling the plates up, you'll only have to move the live rock over to pull each plate, shouldn't have to empty the tank to do this.  In the midst of a water change would be the best and easiest time to do this.  Make it a very large water change, too. >If I can leave it should I put an air pump running it so as to keep some flow going through it or should I just seal the uptake ports?  I had considered adding live sand to the bottom.  The sand should work its way down through the crushed coral and fill in space under the UGF.   >>Yes, but so would large pockets of detritus, and detritus would fill that space before the sand does.  I strongly recommend removal of the plates.  You can dump the sand on top of the crushed coral, the coral *will* eventually work its way up top of the sand.  For a deep sand bed you'll want a minimum of 4" of sand ranging from sugar fine grains to 2mm-4mm grains.  Sufficiently deep this should work just fine.  Do allow time for establishment of cultures.  Also, look here for more information --> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm >That would eliminate the potentially stagnant water under the UGF and give me a bed approximately 3 inches thick (1 inch of sand on bottom and two inches of crushed coral on top).  What do you think of that?  The system I have actually seems to keep the water chemistry in good balance (the nitrate runs around 10 ppm and the other two run at 0) but is obviously out dated.   >>Outdated, outschmated.  If it ain't broke ya don't have to fix it, but it is not sufficient if you wish to keep reef.  I think you should have a much higher sand/cc ratio, as you've described it's actually very little live sand, which isn't as conducive to natural nitrate reduction.  Do look up the articles we have on sumps, refugiums, live sand and rock, plenums, and natural nitrate reduction methodologies.  Best of luck to you, Chad and Becky!  Marina

Choosing The Right Filter... Hi Guys, <Scott F. your guy tonight!> I am an experienced freshwater keeper, just starting out on marine. I have received the usual contradictory advice from shops, sites and books, which made me despair at times. <Been there- felt that! LOL> Your site provides a wealth of consistently good and (most importantly) reasoned, explanations. I finally feel sufficiently confident to make informed decisions and take the plunge. Thank you for the efforts, it is genuinely appreciated. <We're so happy you enjoy the site! We get a real kick out of bringing it to you!> I am putting together a 50 gal tank, to contain a small collect of fish, a few crabs, shrimps and stars. I am proposing to filter the tank with an Eheim 2329-85 and a Prizm skimmer. The tank will contain live sand and live rocks. <Okay...> This Eheim is a "thermo" unit. Are there any problems heating the water from an external filter, or is it preferable to house the heater in the tank? <No problems heating from a filter (or a sump) from that matter, as long as sufficient water flow goes through the heating element. However, I believe that the Eheim Thermofilter is not recommended for marine use... I could be wrong- this might have been true of the older models, but do verify this with the manufacturer or dealer.> This Eheim uses a "wet / dry" system. Is this appropriate for marine, or would I be better of with a non "wet / dry" model (like the 2028)? I have noticed you are not too impressed with the Eheim wet / dry, why is that? <Personally, I like Eheim products. They are reliable, well built, and easy to maintain. With that said- I am not a big fan of wet-dry filters in marine systems (well, at least in mixed fish/invert systems). By their very nature, wet-dry filters are fantastic at eliminating ammonia and nitrite from the water, but they come up short when it comes to nitrate. This compound tends to accumulate in systems filtered by wet-dries. Nitrate, although not in and of itself harmful to fishes, is a good "yardstick" for measuring overall water quality. Corals and delicate inverts may not thrive in systems with significant nitrate levels. That's why we spend so much time, money, and effort looking for ways to reduce or eliminate nitrate in our systems. Personally, I am an advocate of very simple sump systems, in which live rock and sand form the basis of your "filter" system. The sump serves as a "processing center" for your water, where you can locate mechanical and chemical media, your protein skimmer, heater, and even some macroalgae in a lighted section. Sumps give you flexibility...> The Prizm skimmer appears adequate for my tank, but given this is such an important piece of the filtering jigsaw, I am considering the Prizm Pro. Is the Pro model worth the (considerably) extra expense over the basic model? <I don't like to "bad mouth" a product that I have not used, but I must say that we receive many emails from disappointed users of this skimmer. However, if it pulls out a couple of cups of dark, yucky skimmate per week from your tank (it doesn't seem to in most of our readers' tanks), then it's a star in my book! We tend to recommend Aqua C and Euroreef models on this site, because they consistently deliver great performance, and are easy to use and maintain. Do check them out before you make your final skimmer selection!> Thanks for your help. Andrew Senior <Glad to be of service, Andrew! Good luck with your new system! Regards, Scott F>

Coldwater tidepool filters, nitrification Dear   Bob, Don't mean to pick on you, but can't find the Faq's on  DDB, or the name of the person who answered it. <Okay>            I plan to have a 90g. Too ignorant to buy now.  Tide Pool tank for No. Oregon Coast Wild Caught TP critters. ( NOCWCTPC)  I have a permit.  No fish unless they are very small, and I find them in the same pool. <Adventures galore> I am more than a little intrigued by a filter system that is best Left Alone.  But I still have some problems with DSB.   (1)  100 dollars of my tanks height is lost to, well… dirt.  Do we want to see the actors, or the stage.  (2)  Killroy's first law of filters is, get the crud outta  the tank.   If I had a sump with a floor roughly the size or the tank, could I put the DDB there? <Yes> I build canisters out of 12 inch diameter, or  better, PVC irrigation pipe. A cap at both ends, tubes for water in & out, and a 2-3  inch plug for material  in & out, and Shazam, really big (20inch long), cheap and tough canister.  Fill with porous sand, coarse enough  to not inhibit water flow and Shazam,  really big, vertical sort of sub sand filter, or ??.  One not enough, make four.  Some well placed hack saw cuts in the water in tube,  and the unit can be back washed with a hose.  Once you have the 12 inch pipe, it's all down hill. As this is, so far, fresh water technology., your comments would be greatly appreciated. <Sounds fine... just a bit of a pain to open to service> Please name the most  desirable Ph buffer material. <None... simple water changes... if slight daily/diurnal shifts... sodium bicarbonate (Arm & Hammer) will do... can get involved in mixing carbonates to elevate more, borate for non-caking... if you find that water changes won't "do it", it might be worthwhile buy (at discount) a commercial "ph Buffer"> I think of myself as a clever guy, but I make a lot of mistakes. Clever is not experience, or proven knowledge. So glad you guys are here.  I will still make mistakes, but  hopefully fewer and less disastrous ones. <And hopefully share, help others in the process and reflection>

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