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FAQs on Marine Filtration 3

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

Related FAQs: Marine Filtration 1, Marine Filtration 2Marine Filtration 4Marine Filtration 5Marine Filtration 6Marine Filtration 7Marine Filtration 8, Marine Filtration 9, Marine Filtration 10, Marine Filtration 11, Marine Filtration 12, & FAQs on Marine Filtration: Designs, Installation, Maintenance, Troubleshooting/Repair, Brands/Manufacturers, DIY, & By Type of  System: FO System Filtration, FOWLR Set-Ups, Reef Tank Setups, Reef Filtration, Small Tank Setups, Large System Filtration/Circulation/Aeration, & By Aspect and Gear: Biol.: Biological Filtration, Denitrification/Denitrifiers, Fluidized Beds, DSBs, Plenums, Algal Filtration, Mech.: Marine Mechanical Filtration, Power Filters, Outside Power Filters, Canister, Cartridge Filters, Undergravel FiltersWet-Dry Filters, Phys.: Ultraviolet Sterilizers,   Ozone, To Skim or Not to SkimBest Skimmer FAQs, Chem.: Nutrient Control and Export Chemical Filtrants (e.g. Polyfilter, Chemipure, Purigen), Carbon, Mud/Algal Filtration Phony: Magnetic Field Filtration, & Troubles: Bubbles, Noise,

Lighting & filtration upgrades Big fish, big tank... and dying Bats Thank you Anthony! Your thoughts made me reconsider stocking levels and I will definitely limit the # of fish to four max, maybe three depending on the adult size of the particular species.  <excellent my friend> Could you please expound on why I should keep bio-balls after adding more live rock to a FOWLR with predators? <sure... the sheer volume of particulate waste may overwhelm live rock better suited to handling dissolved organics. For most tanks, live rock is more than enough. But with your fish larger than small dogs dropping turds as big... perhaps live rock cannot handle it. As such, good water flow, mechanical prefilters and bio-balls may be necessary at the expense of nitrates. The only option is to have a daily service mechanical prefilter and dual skimmers with live rock only> Is it because of extra oxygen needed or because even a large amount of live rock may not handle the nitrogen process?  <the latter> I've noticed that your opinion seems to differ from your colleagues.  <often happens but not sure it is so in this case. If we are talking about puffers, triggers groupers, and lion-like fishes and the load they create as adults.> Obviously you all run very successful tanks, so there must be merit to both sides of this question.  <agreed> I'm learning so much from you guys. P.S. Don't sweat being a short Italian. You and Steven Pro should move here to Providence --- plenty of girls named Gina who, rumor has it, are all hot for doctors, lawyers and coral farmers. <Wahoo! I'm loading up my black window tinted Lincoln as we speak!> Thanks again, Steve (whose nights in the Gina dating pool have him suffering from a slight eye twitch and treasuring a good calzone as the better Italian experience). <heehee... and I have just finished a delightful plate of pasta with garlic, garnished by green olives stuffed with garlic... and tempered by a good helping of garlic bread. Suffice it to say, bats are dropping from the sky as I walk by... and no cute Italian girls have approached me yet tonight. I don't think anyone can even get through my garlic force field without a gas mask. Kindly, Anthony> Subject: Re: Fw: lighting & filtration upgrades Any reply guys? Let me know if this is too lengthy and I will cut it back. > Thank you. Best regards. <<My apologies, we've had massive problems with Hotmail lately and it's delayed some of our responses.>> > Hello! Which Indoor Jacques Cousteau do I have the pleasure of writing to today? > <the short one of Mediterranean extraction... oh, wait... Mr. Pro is also vertically challenged and of Italian heritage as well. Hmmm... Anthony Calfo in your service> > Please let me fire off a bunch of (intelligent, I hope) questions and provide me with some of your usual great feedback. I am upgrading my FO 180 gallon to a FOWLR. I am on the way to having five big eaters long-term (some > combo of moray/grouper/trigger/puffer - I have 3 of the 5 now). > <which is probably one too many already for the 180 gallon. Do consider that > 5 fish with adult sizes of 12-24" or more is inappropriate for this tank... > [you asked for it :)]> > I have a corner overflow feeding an AMiracle 300 wet-dry with a Red Sea Berlin Classic skimmer. > <Ughh.... three strikes> > On a separate line is a Renaissance canister with floss and activated carbon. I have worked hard to get my nitrates down to 20, but my phosphates are still 4. > <holy cow!> > I have approx 75-100 lbs "dead" rock (coppered in a previous tank) with a 1" live sand substrate. > <don't be shy to siphon a little of that sand out... especially if it allows > detritus to linger/accumulate> > I am definitely buying approx. 100lbs of live rock to supplement what I have. > <excellent!> > I am pondering a second skimmer, either a Turboflotor, Euro-Reef or Aqua-C. > <all fine... with the latter two being easier to operate IMO> > I could also squeeze in a 22"Lx22"Wx 12"H refugium/ 2nd sump within my stand. > <DSB for some nitrate control> > I made a test run on how proficient the current rocks/ sand are as a biological filter by removing 1/3 of my bioballs --perfect, no ammonia or nitrite all week! My lighting consists of 2x30 watt Coralife 6500k and 2x30 watt Coralife 20,000k tubes. So does the following order of improvement make sense to you? > 1.. Double my wattage and make it 6x30 10,000k and 2x30 actinic to give my live rock enough light to support coralline and other positive growth. > <stop there, my friend... until those phosphates and nitrates come down... > this is a recipe for a serious algae problem. High nutrients and high light are algae fodder> > I definitely am keeping triggers/puffers long-term so I will not need super-wattage for corals, plus morays and groupers aren't fond of bright lights. I think this makes a good compromise. I don't like the yellow tinge the 6500k lights give my tank either. My proposed combo would give a more > white/blue look, right? > <agreed> > 2.. Add the cured live rock. I need big pieces that morays can't move easily. What type (Fiji, Tonga, etc)/ company do you suggest for size and life? > <agreed... and shape is personal preference for the rockscape scene you would like to simulate. Do get some large shelf rock in part at least, to make cool caves> > 3.. Remove the bio-balls completely. > <not in this case... if your are truly dead set on 5 big fish... you will need rock and bio-balls. No ammonia/nitrates now... but what happens when the monsters grow... the bio-load grows!> > 4.. Is my sand bed too much/little? > <too much for high nutrient sloppy feeders> > Remember, I have an eel that pushes it all over the place. Also, side note, > should I vacuum this during water changes or leave it be? > <the less the better here> > 5.. Can I remove the canister? It works well and is quiet, but they are a pain to clean weekly. Is my pre-filter pad in the sump enough if I clean it daily, or do I still need the canister as a mechanical to keep the water > clear? > <I'd keep it... convenient mechanical and carbon filtration> > 6.. Should I even have a pre-filter pad before the skimmer? > <never!!! always want raw water into skimmer... and skimmer before the W/D too> > Instead let the overflow feed right to the skimmer in the sump? > <raw water is best, yes> > 7.. Add Polyfilter to reduce phosphate. > <helpful... but you need to control nutrients (feeding) and increase water changes> > 8.. I may stop here for now, but if I continue, should I first build a  refugium or get a top-grade 2nd skimmer as described? > <top shelf skimmer is critical here> > 9.. If I go with a refugium, I'm thinking of a separate line apart from sump & skimmer #1. With live rock plus Caulerpa in it do I need a sand bed also and how deep? Lit in reverse hours from the main tank? > <cool... but little impact on this high bio-load> > One last question. I am trying to locate a Hawaiian Dragon moray. I see quotes from online shops but it is tough to get an e-mail response, let alone find this moray in stock at a price that I won't have to mortgage my house for. Any suggestions on who to contact? > <The Marine Center... they quarantine and are very professional> > Thank you for responding to this loooooong note and helping me make my tank > better. You guys are the best! Have a super weekend. Steve > <best regards, Anthony>

Re: lighting & filtration upgrades Thank you Jason! <<You are quite welcome.>> Your knowledge and feedback is much appreciated.<<Cheers and good day to you. J -- >>

Filtration Questions Dear Mr. Fenner, <<Actually, its JasonC today...>> Congratulations on a fine site! As we used to say in Brooklyn, you have a classy way of behaving. <<Ahh thank you.>> I recently received a SeaClear 100 gallon acrylic aquarium, a stand and a canopy as a gift. It is not reef ready, so a sump is not practical. <<Ahh, but it is acrylic - you can easily drill holes, add some bulkheads, and make a sump more practical.>> I'm inclined to go with the appropriate amount of live rock and live sand, a light fish population and a few feather dusters, etc. (hardy, easy to keep things). Will an Eheim 2028 Pro II canister filter, a good protein skimmer, and perhaps a U.V sterilizer serve the long term filtration needs of the aquarium well? <<Everything except the UV will do fine - I would skip the UV and use the money on extra quarantine equipment.>> Do you recommend any additional equipment to enhance filtration? <<Don't skimp on the skimmer...>> Your advice is appreciated. Thanks, Bill Roman <<Cheers, J -- >>

Pump and filtration Hi Bob ! This site is the best aquaria site I have come across yet !!!  <thanks kindly for saying so.. very redeeming to hear it> Have read over most advice you've given on the site and it has helped me tremendously. I recently bought a 65 gallon All-Glass Aquarium with the corner overflow and a Wet/dry filter for up to 75 gal. I have not started running the system yet because I am buying everything slowly (no rush, want good equip). I am going to purchase an Iwaki MD, a UV sterilizer and protein skimmer.  <most private tanks can easily do without a UV sterilizer... invest in a quarantine tank instead and use it faithfully> My questions are: 1) Should I buy the Iwaki MD 30 or 40? <more flow is always better if your overflows can handle it> 2) Should I buy the Iwaki RLT or RXLT model? (I'm worried about adding equip to the RXLT since it's supposed to be for circulation only) <agreed... if you expect to have many elbows, tees, valves, etc that add to head/pressure> 3) Is an 8 watt sterilizer enough or should I go 15 watts (I plan on running the US sterilizer with the IWAKI) ? <either are two small to be of any significance. Still not necessary... UV are better for algae control. Must be maintained VERY strictly for pathogen control. Again, a QT tank is far better for disease control> 4) Would it be overkill to add a Mechanical canister filter and Chemical canister filter to the system (they would also be powered by the IWAKI) ? <unlikely necessary... good products though. Do consider if you have no other means of chemical filtration> 5) Can you recommend a good protein skimmer ? <Euroreef and Aqua C skimmers are two of the most outstanding> 6) How can I repay your advice ? <continue to learn and share your wisdom in kind> Thank you very much ! Rick <best regards, Anthony>

Filtration One or Both? (150 Sea Systems Skimmer Vs 2000 Millennium Wet Dry multifactor) Thank you Mr. Calfo for your fast and right on the target answer!! You guys are the best in this fascinating science!! <Stop... Go on, stop <G>> If I do go into Marine Sciences I will do it from the heart :-), NEVER for the money... <that's good... because this industry is all about the love...heehee> I will follow your recommendation on Erick Borneman's Book "Aquarium Corals", and as soon as I know exactly how to NOT kill corals, I will definitely buy your book and whatever other book you might recommend me in the near future...  <forget the books... I've got swamp and bridges for sale now! <smile>> Remember, I know what I know from you guys, so I will keep on learning from you until I know as much as you do (you're probably thinking :WHATEVER BOY!!) (MY WHOLE LIFE THERE) :-) then I will write my own book... A little fast? ha ha !!  <have you ever pondered a political career? <wink>> N- E WAYS... I am now faced with another dilemma...A little background: I have a 55 long tank with about 45 pd.s of live rock and 36 pd.s of pink sand and live sand, a Rio 1200 and a CAP 1800. 4 VHO's, 2 50/50's and 2 03blue. If you remember my tank cycled for about 2 1/2 months but for some reason I think the skimmer it's not working as it should, how much should I expect to collect in the collection cup for a week's time?  <a week? Collect daily skimmate, my friend!... about 3-5 oz for this sized tank if you are feeding fish at least 3-4 times weekly> how do I know the skimmer is working as it should for sure when I know I am not overfeeding and still get protein settlement on bottom and sides of glass ( NOT ON ROCK). Sometimes I clean the glass and it takes but 3 days for the (brown algae?) to cover some good sections of it !! <a little fast for diatom growth and a supportive indication of poor skimming and/or accumulating organics (inadequate water flow, dead spots, etc)> I currently have the above named skimmer (TANK HANG ON) and today bought the filter (mentioned in subject above)..., hoping that maybe I would be able to get rid of debris and possible uneaten food that might be causing the effect. Any other suggestions of why the settlement? <definitely need to manipulate or improve the water flow> stagnant water it's not one of them I am sure... could the excess light (around 8watts p/g 12hrs a day) be associated?  <nope... light is rarely the problem. Its all about nutrient accumulating. Skim daily and all will disappear> or maybe tank hang on skimmers are not so effective?  <likely this brand or tune job... try to adjust to work better, consider adding a better skimmer like an Aqua C> My water parameters are: temp 80 SG 1.024 nitrates 0 nitrites 0 phosphates 0 (do I need some for coral growth? is it safe to be at 0?) ph 8.3 (day) alk 12- 13 dKH cal 420 ammonia 0 <all very good> I would like to use the biofiltration provided by it (by filter), but granted I would like to run My tank Berlin's Style (rock as primary filtration), I am afraid of taking away (from the rocks and substrate) some, or even all Nitrifying Bacteria, and having the plastic media create a lost of the nitrogen cycle for the whole tank if I ever choose to clean the filter, (IS THIS POSSIBLE?) Should I risk and run the filter with the biological portion of it?, Should I just not use it at all?  <I would remove the bio media over a 2-4 month period and add more rock if possible> or Should I clean it every week or so to prevent it from going biological? The filter does come with an activated carbon section and this one provides mechanical as well... <keep the carbon at least> (This are the main reasons why I bought it), but I have read that there's something as too much filtration!!  <sort of... however, if you don't need all of that filtration and the rock can handle it all, then the bio-balls are a liability and generate nitrates> Again, sorry about any grammar mistakes!! I am Costa Rican and English it's not my first language!! Thank you and I am sorry for the lengthy E-mail! sincerely, JOHN (PURA VIDA!!) <again, you speak very well my friend. Best regards, Anthony>

Clown Trigger, Filtration Bob, thank you for your book and the web site. <<Actually, not Bob this time, but JasonC.>> Very helpful. <<Is a good book.>> Two things: 1)I have a 180 gallon with a 28" snowflake moray, 18" jewel moray, 8" golden puffer, 6" clown trigger. I would like to add another fish w/different coloration. <<good luck...>> The first three fish are non-aggressive, but the clown is unpredictable. I have tried smaller & tough: He was ok with a black belly trigger but harassed a maroon clownfish to death. I've tried larger but less-aggressive fish: He's been great with the puffer but murdered a harlequin tusk and a banana wrasse. I'm thinking of the following: a smaller undulatus trigger (am I nuts long-term with two such potentially lethal triggers in a 180 plus these tankmates?), Miniata grouper (I've had before and it was a pest re: space for my eels, is that common?), one of the larger Dottybacks or Hawkfish, or a large Koran, emperor, queen, annularis or half-moon angel. Suggestions/other fish? <<I really don't think you're going to get anything else in there. Your clown trigger now rules the tank, and anything coming in the top will be considered as potential food. I think that just about everything you list, with the exception of the grouper can/will be wailed-on by the trigger, the smaller species will be outright eaten, and all-in-all won't go well for any newly introduced fish. It's a time-tested and true quality of clown triggers; they just get mean. Your only option would be to remove the clown trigger for a month or more while you try to acclimate one of these larger fish into the tank and then return the trigger. Likewise, if you choose to try your hand at one of those angels, it's going to need to be larger than the clown trigger.>> 2) I want the best tank conditions I can get given the still-growing monster eaters in this tank. I have "dead" rock in the tank, an Amiracle SR 300b wet-dry with plastic media, with a Berlin skimmer fed by a pump sitting in the sump. I also have a Renaissance 30 canister acting as a mechanical on a separate line. This setup keeps nitrates between 40-70. Should I add live rock (how much if so) and discard the plastic media? <<I'm always in favor of live rock.>> Will too much rock cramp their swimming room? <<If stacked well, they should be able to swim around, through it, etc... like natural conditions. If that won't work, how about in a sump below the tank?>> Keep the canister or not-- is it adding to nitrates as is? <<I'm not a fan of canisters - is a maintenance nightmare.>> Route the skimmer differently? Other ideas? <<Upgrade the skimmer to something larger-scale, appropriate to the bio-load.>> Thank you for your advice. Keep up the great work! Steve. <<Cheers, J -- >>

Biological Filtration Upgrade Hi Bob, Just got back from a week of diving (including a 1000? dive on a research sub) and I?ve dedicated the last few vacation days to cleaning/overhauling the ole fish tank. In reading Aquarium Sharks & Rays, one of Scott Michael's suggestions is to use sand filters in lieu of more traditional filters like wet/dry bio balls, undergravel, canister, etc., due to the nutrient spikes concomitant with large predators. <Many larger, public aquariums rely on this technology... expensive to run for power, throwing away a bunch of water for backwashing... but can work> I have several filtrations systems on my 600 gallon shark tank. I was considering keeping bio balls in a trickle filter but replacing a canister filter (full of ceramic pieces) with a fluidized sand filter. <Okay> Two reasons: First, I think ceramic pieces in a large canister filter setup is relatively inefficient for the amount of space it takes up under the stand (18" in diameter and about 30" tall). Is this correct?? <For large predator tanks, yes... more nitrification to be had by fluidized bed methods... more still by a wet-dry tower with air blown up it> Wouldn't the same size fluidized sand filter provide GREATLY increased area for bacteria. Second, cleaning accumulated debris out of the ceramic pieces involves a multi-hour canister removal/replacement, which can't be good for the bacteria colony. With the way sand filters are constructed, aren't they generally self-cleaning?  <If packed correctly, and managed properly (principally regular backwashing) yes... many times/cases folks just use too much, too fine silica sand as media... bad news packing and channeling...> I'd much rather my protein skimmer be responsible for collecting and removing algae and other debris rather than a dedicated bio filter. <Need both types of filtration> I'd like your thoughts on this strategy as well as any recommendations of suitable manufacturers and/or retailers (600 gallon tank. Will probably be driving the unit with 1,500?2,000 gph). Believe it or not, even in a city as large as Dallas, we're pretty short on high tech aquarium suppliers who would carry this kind of equipment. <Check with Aquanetics... link on WWM for pumps, all-plastic filters... Euro-Reef or RK2 for a skimmer. Bob Fenner> Thanks once again!!

Upgrading from 46 gallon to ? V (sump) In addition - where can one buy just a "sump"? ~Bill <Various commercial models available. Some styled/marketed for Berlin systems, Eco-Systems, etc. I usually just use a regular glass aquarium and silicone in dividers/baffles. Look around WWM and the chat forum for drawing and opinions. -Steven Pro>

Upgrading from 46 gallon to ? IV (marine filtration) So the wet-dry filter, with the pre-filters, carbons, and bio-balls is a waste of money? ~Bill <I would choose to say that all but the carbon is simply not needed in your case. -Steven Pro>

Re: Saltwater Questions (Marine filtration) Anthony, Thank you for the insight. I think we are getting closer to making the change but I have a couple last questions about your recommendation. 1.) I am fairly new to your sight and am starting to catch onto the acronyms, but I can't figure out what Bob's CMA's are. A further explanation please. <ahh. yes my friend. Bob's CMA is his incredible book titled the Conscientious Marine Aquarist. All friendship aside, I have over 1000 pc.s of aquarium literature collected over a decade and find Bob's book to be one of the single greatest works on practical aquarium science. Really a great book. Many places to get it... please do check out some of the advertisers on the WetWebMedia site for it if you like> 2.) I was hoping to maintain (1) AquaClear 500 filter as the mechanical filter at least for awhile. Would I be OK with the W/D and (1) AquaClear filter?  <actually that sounds very fine. Used as designed, simple hang on power filter, they are quite convenient. Run both is you like with double foam block plus carbon instead of the canister filter. Just don't hook them up to the UG filter in my opinion for best long term success> I intend to purchase a Canister in the next couple month. <perhaps no great hurry... especially with the WD and power filter(s).> 3.) What would be the best thing to do with the UG? Could I just close up the ports and leave it in the tank or would it be best to add the power heads and let it run? <that's a tough one to answer because if/when the animals dig through the gravel and expose part of the plate, the rest of the filter begins to die (since water rushes through the hole with the path of least resistance and the bacteria in the rest of the filter starve for oxygen. The filter needs a mesh screen buried in it to prevent digging or it needs to be removed after the WD has been set up for a couple months. Of course, if you discover that the fishes don't dig, the UG can just be run with power heads and maintained normally. Best regards, Anthony> Stacey Hippen

Re: Saltwater Questions (filtration) Thank you for your input. Unfortunately, I am now very confused and unsure what to do. <I will try to clarify, improve this> In my previous message I mentioned that I had recently re-setup my tank. When I was getting ready I went to my local shop and asked many questions, most importantly about purchasing a wet/dry filtration system. The owner advised me not to go this way. I am unsure of his reasoning, <because if generates a lot of nitrates... I generally avoid them but in some heavily stocked systems or with large, messy fishes... it is the lesser of two evils (a very efficient biological filter in exchange for excess nitrates that require extra water changes to temper... which are necessary with large predatory fish like yours anyway> but he took me in the back room and showed me that he is removing all the biomaterials and switching over to live rock in his sumps. <agreed that this is advantageous for more systems than not... but yours is an exception with a large predator. It can work on a dealers display with the same large predators because of the sheer amount of new seawater replaced through sales of fishes (effective water change) and the level of water changes necessary to hold a dealer's inventory. Such is not your case at home unless you are inclined to do weekly water changes (which would actually be ideal)> I told him I wanted to make sure I was putting in the most effective system and he recommended the AquaClear 500 attached to the under gravel filters (in fact all of his systems have recently been upgraded to a similar system). <I cannot begin to describe to you how precarious and unreliable this system is. I can only stand by my recommendations for an upgrade based on many years of experience as not only an aquarist, but as a wholesaler who has handled many thousands of fishes and tens of thousands of gallons of seawater in the last decade. Two power filters hooked up to a UG with 1 1/2 inches of sand is an unstable fabrication of very antiquated technology. Do browse the forums and message boards for additional insight on this topic to help make your decision> The AquaClear systems are using the foam sponges media in the bottom as you recommended with a charcoal bag in each box. <AquaClears are three stage units and I was in fact suggesting two foam block for extra biological filtration> Please help me salvage what I have and make some choices on correcting my past sins. To get things started, how important is it that I add a sump (wet/dry) system? I relate well to numbers so could you please give me a rating of 1-10 along with you explanation., one being the most important. <its all relative to your willingness to feed lightly, maintain a strict water change schedule (small weekly exchanges would be nice) and add no other fish to the display. So my recommendation to continue with your current filtration is influenced by the amount of work necessary in maintenance on your part to keep the system stable, its performance against other known filters and methodologies and the very history of such success with such filtration with large messy predators. Furthermore, my concern is compounded by the fact that undergravel filtration technology require that a substrate be at least three inches to work adequately. So even if I liked the UG setup, yours is flawed. Were you also advised that your foam blocks in the AquaClear need to be treated with great care and consideration for their role in this system. With the weak UG system, they will house a lot of your biological filter... so if you do not rinse and reuse them (in a bucket of tank water to be discarded) you will seriously impact your system negatively (loss of good bacteria colony) every time you replace a foam block or (heaven forbid) rinse it under tap water! My numerical estimate of your filtration is that on a scale of one to ten with ten being the worst.. this system is solid seven> depending Your answer here really scare's me since I have just spent $175 plus adding the AquaClear and under gravel system. <please make your next investment on a good and newer book on aquarium science. Recent works by Fenner, Tullock and Paletta can be highly recommended> Next, I understand the importance of the protein skimmer and have planned on getting something. <indeed critical for high organic systems like yours (large grouper)> I have been reviewing your recommendations and have started investigating the different hang on systems. Currently I am looking at the AquaC Remora. <a very fine choice> I want to do a little more investigation since I am about 1" - 1-1/2" from having enough room across the back for this. I need to also investigate modifying my tank so I could possibly put it in the center support section. The answer to your first question will likely make all the difference in what I do here. If I end up with a sump system I will change my thinking and just add the skimmer to the sump. <indeed... sumps with bio-media or live rock are extremely convenient and effective. If you feel frisky, do check out the DIY sections on such filters, sumps, etc at www.ozreef.org> Now I remember why I took a couple year rest from this hobby. There are so many opinions and options it is difficult to determine the best thing to so. <There certainly is not one recipe for success, just good ingredient. Please enjoy the journey <G>> Unfortunately, it is the fish and checkbook that suffer the most from making the wrong decisions. After reviewing you replay on the fish, another question has come up on the grouper. I read about the toxic slime he will excrete if bothered by other fish. One of the articles recommended only putting triggers and the grouper together in a large system. How big do you recommend? <any tank mate must literally be the same size or larger! Such "groupers" are AMAZING predators (and will eat something LITERALLY as long as they are as I mentioned before)> I was hoping to add a Picasso trigger. The grouper was in a 90G tank previously and they had no problems. If the grouper does start excreting the slime will it kill everything or will it only affect the animals that touch the slim? <rarely exuded but can kill everything including grouper> Thanks again for all your help. Stacey Hippen <best of luck! Keep reading, learning and enjoying. Anthony>

DSB Vs Jaubert Hi, Bob & Experts Please help, I confused between DSB and Jaubert. Most said that DSB is better the Jaubert Plenum system and only few agreed on Jaubert system. Can please enlighten me on the pros and cons of both system? <Far too much to say in a short email. I will say I have used and continue to use static DSBs 4-6" deep without problems. I have nothing against the Jaubert system, I have just never needed it.> Thanks, Danny <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Filtration...what to do? Hello to all, Your website is very informative, I have just gotten a 60g Hex and I want to set it up as a marine aquarium. I have been bombarded with filtration suggestions...one gentlemen suggested a Fluval 404 with a protein skimmer, another said an Emperor 400 BioWheel, protein skimmer, and some live rock should be plenty. (The Fluval is not a consideration after reading your faq section )...I am on a budget and am desperately seeking some suggestions even as far as stocking the tank. Help! Thanks, Lori <Much to discuss... do take the time (cheap and easy by comparison) to read through much of the marine filtration articles and FAQs sections posted on WetWebMedia.com first... determine about what sorts of system, types of livestock you'd like to have... what you want to do with them (optimize growth, color, reproduction, just have a nice system)... and your options. Do write a synopsis of what your real options are, perhaps just a table of possibilities and the gear (even sizes, brand names) that could go into making your system. Strive to understand the underlying principles (can I say/state it? the actual science) of what the various types of gear "do" and how they "do it"... ahead or instead of adverts or blank statements of "do this/that" to have a successful aquarium. Clear your mind, and study my friend. We will be here to help you. Bob Fenner>

No Wet/Dry? Bob, I have a Tenecor 180-gal reef ready package that I have been running for about three years now with pretty good success. At this point I have healthy soft coral growth and successfully kept a Pearl Coral for about one year now. I want to set up another tank and am thinking about a Tenecor 225 as a fish only tank. I'm thinking Butterflies and Angels. After reading many articles, I have been seriously considering a set up that has no "filtration" other than good skimmers (probably Aqua-C H.O.). The set up would have about a 2inch sand base and about 150-200lbs of live rock (I'm thinking about Tonga branch). The "natural" set up seems to be favored, but before I go set this up and put in some Semilarvatus and Tinker Butterflies <Nice> I wanted to see what your thoughts are. Can I sustain such a tank, long term, only using the sand, live rock and skimmers as my filter system or should I stick with the tried-and-true wet/dry system? <I say give the heave ho to wet-dries... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/wetdryfaqs.htm and try our chatforum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ for more input, others opinions... I would NOT use wet-dry. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your opinion, Kevin Austin

Light & Skimmer Questions Hi, I currently have a 44 gal corner tank that is 24"W x 18" deep. I plan on setting up a reef tank with both hard and soft corals and possibly including a Tridacnid clam. For lighting I will have a Hamilton Reefsun pendant 19.5"L x 10"W x 6"H with a 150W 10000K double ended Ushio bulb (currently in the process of buying one on eBay) and a 24"L actinic strip light (15W). My question is if this setup would be enough lighting for the mentioned above. <Yes> I was told that this MH bulb is equivalent to a 250W as far as output is concerned, but I'd like another experts opinion on this (still knowing about the 4W per gallon at least rule of thumb). <The watts per gallon rule are difficult to apply due to differences in types of lighting (NO vs. VHO vs. PC vs. MH) and lamps.> My last question is regarding filtration. I have a "Bak Pak" filter/protein skimmer rated for a 60 gal tank. Will this be good enough with the live rock incorporated into the tank? <Should be. Try to make the skimmer produce daily.> A store tried to sell me a wet/dry filter with the bio balls and protein skimmer included. Another store told me it wasn't necessary. <I agree with the other store.> It's enough to make a guy go crazy! Thanks for all the wealth of knowledge! Mike C. Cleveland, OH <Another tip. Look up the Cleveland Marine Aquarium Society, http://www.clevelandaquariumsociety.org/index1.htm -Steven Pro>

Filter Change Hi Bob, <Greeting from Steven Pro, one of the other WWM crew members.> I am planning on replacing the hang on filter on my 55 gallon FOWLR aquarium with a canister model (either Fluval or Eheim). I am running a skimmer and have had the tank going for over a year now. My question is, should I leave the hang on filter going for any period of time after I start the canister model, <Yes> or is there enough bacteria in the substrate to have this not be a concern? <Possibly, but better to be safe than sorry.> Thank you in advance for all your help. All good wishes, Daryl Clop <To you too! -Steven Pro>

Air Bubbles, and plenty of them. I hate to bother you with a question that has already been answered but here we go. I read about the ?I have millions of tiny air bubbles in my tank? problem somewhere on your amazing Website but due to Information Overload I forgot where and what your answer was :-( If you could please send me a short line explaining what is going on in my tank? I have a 30 Gallon freshwater, fully cycled (it has been up for 6 months), I?m running one Emperor 400 and one Emperor 280. I have an air stone on a Rena 300 but all of this has been running in sync for almost 4 months now without generating all this tiny bubbles who I know are harmful. The only catastrophe that struck was when me Girlfriend ( yep, I told her numerous times to stay away from the tank) somehow unplugged the Emperor 400 and the 2 BioWheels pretty much dried out 2 days ago! And that with my sizeable Puffer Molly Kindergarten! Any connection here and what can and should I do? <I would look and see if any of the air bubbles from the Rena are getting sucked up into one of your power filters. The easiest way to determine the problem is to shut off each item until you identify which is causing the problems.> Thank you so much, G?z <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Reducing Algae, improving UV and skimmer Anthony, I, like Jim, have a similar setup with the same Blue-Green Algae problems. I have been following your Emails trying to solve my problems but the last post threw me for a curve. So, I have drawn my setup to try and help out with my confusion (I hope it's not too big): <actually an excellent drawing and very helpful/illustrating! Thank you> I also have the Oceanic with an overflow: <wow... Steve and I were just chatting about this today. It amazes us how and why manufacturer's continue to make such POORLY designed overflows when people are complaining and easy solutions are commonly known. Common problems include too small drains, too noisy, clogs to easily and prefilters rob skimmers of particulates that lead to nuisance algae blooms from the now dissolving organics forcibly held in the prefilter with water carrying them through dissolved. Sheesh! And new/uninformed aquarists get such a bad start without knowing it... a pity> 1. If I understand you correctly I should remove the foam prefilter from the area I have drawn as #1?  <heck, ya!> There is still a sand pipe (I don't know what to call it)  <a fine and fair name> that would catch any BIG debris should something that big make it down there;  <and even a little bit of very course mesh (plastic gutter guard like for rain gutters) at the top to prevent fish or snails from overflowing and clogging the pipe> but what about all the smaller, common, debris (uneaten food, etc) that happens to make it over the overflow?  <that is exactly what we want to overflow and make it raw to the skimmer so that it can be skimmed out of the system before it has a chance to dissolve and degrade... before it can be nitrified by the likes of your trickle filter and turn into nitrate and nutrients which feed nuisance algae!> Will it not settle in the bio balls and down where I have my heater?  <if it makes it past the skimmer as I will detail below, it still should not make it to the bioballs if your trickle filter has a proper prefilter that you service monthly or weekly. And if you have enough live rock and a reef or small enough fish only population, you don't need the trickle/bio balls at all... they produce way to much nitrate anyway> I imagine this will accumulate QUICKLY? <your right... it does in the prefilters and that's part of what seriously feeds your algae if left trapped and dissolving there instead of being exported from the system into the skimmer cup> I also have a problem with the fluctuation of my water level in my sump: 2. How I can I possible keep the same water level during water changes (weekly)? I have to siphon water out and refill the tank. Even when I turn off the return I still get a rise in my sump (1-3in) from the water that drains over the overflow. <I'm hoping that you have your active running water level on the sump marked with a hash so that between water changes, DAILY by automatic or manual top-off, you can add fresh water for evaporation to keep the salinity adjusted and steady almost exactly (a steady sump level for your skimmer as well). So that only for the brief time when you do the water change will your sump level fluctuate. Now the best way all things considered is to have a separate or integrated standing vessel drilled with an overflow (or having a dam) that all raw water from the display overflow falls into first before traveling on to the sump (which you can now allow to fluctuate just a little... although not too much because salinity also affects skimmer performance). See an excerpted illustration from my book here to clarify this part (skimmer compartment receiving raw water... trickle can follow if it must: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/SystemPIX/AnthonysPlumbingDiagram.pdf> 3. You said to make a separate compartment for the skimmer pump, I imagine if I put a partition in my sump between my skimmer and my return AND keep the water on the right side (where the return draws from) lower then the partition then the level will remain the same. BUT, I will have to raise the overall water level (on the left side) in my sump to do this so that evaporation does not leave my return dry.  <well... you've got the gist of it, but making it harder than it needs to be> Is it ok to have the bio balls (or a good amount of them) submerged in water?  <very bad for nitrification with them... limits them to O2 in the water (instead of unlimited via moist air in trickle) and forces them to compete with fish and inverts for O2> Don't I want to maximize the "tickle" in the tickle filter? <yes if used> 4. I also read that it is better to have the Skimmer before the bio media.  <a resounding yes!!!> Given that this sump takes up all available room in my stand, is there anyway that you see this would be possible for me?  <again... if it is possible to abort the trickle with enough live rock in the main display and a small to medium fish load, do so> That was probably a vague presumptuous question. <no worries... advising you only the likely possibilities. There are always exceptions. If you are fish only or prefer large fishes... some of the above may not serve you as well. But if you are like most with tang sized fishes and the like...perhaps have some live rock... perhaps have or are interested in inverts, then the above applies> I hope this all makes sense, I'm kinda scatter brained right now (no comment necessary). <that was too easy anyway <smile>. The sum of your problem with the skimmer as you have diagramed is that water is prefiltered in the overflow, then prefiltered before the bioballs, then prefiltered with the foam block after the bio-balls!!! I doubt that you skimmer is performing worth the cost of electricity to keep it running!?! On the other hand, your UV is also useless without very efficient chemical and mechanical filtration... the mere prefilter of the overflow before raw water drops through it is an improperly designed installation. UV filters need crystal clear sediment free water flowing through SLOWLY to have any chance of working (and that is assuming that you dismantle, flush and bleach it several times yearly as residue built up on the inside can virtually stop UV light for doing anything useful. The UV should be placed after the return pump to get the best possible water (again...see diagram listed above and place UV on the bleeder line detailed teed off of the return pump looping back into the sump or also sent up to the display as a second/lesser return> Thank you (you guys rock), Mark <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Reducing Algae, improving UV and skimmer Anthony, I appreciate the quick reply as always. I have decided to make some major changes to my sump per your recommendations. Please bare with me though... <no worries... our pleasure> In the diagram you directed me to the following diagram (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/SystemPIX/AnthonysPlumbingDiagram.pdf). How exactly does that pre-filtration work? <any and all ideal pre-filtration should capture (1) and hopefully neutralize or export (2) particulate waste in a perfect world. Your mechanical prefilters do capture particulates well most likely... but short of once or twice daily cleanings of these filters (?!?!?) they unfortunately will become biological in short time and trap matter that degrades in nitrification to produce nitrate and also dissolves into soluble nutrients that can no longer be trapped by a prefilter but does accumulate and become food for algae in part. So... the best solution to me for most tanks with a mid to high bio-load is 2 skimmers cleaned alternately so that skimmate production is rarely interrupted. I describe the merits of alternate prefilters below:> What is an Aiptasia scrubber (I did a search of the site and came up with anemones)? <a means of harnessing a typically UNDESIRABLE pest organism (that grows and reproduces too readily in reef aquaria with nutrient export flaws)... the Aiptasia anemone... in a dedicated tray or raceway for the purpose of behaving like a living filter. This is really best suited for tanks with very large and high fish loads or any system that is necessarily overfed. A means of handling high volumes of particulates... not suited for most aquarists but a fascinating and inexpensive solution for those that need it> Algal scrubber? <vegetable filtration... screens of turf algae ideally (corrupted by aquarists into meaning Caulerpa plants... simply awful and complicated choices for reef scrubbers!) for the purpose of drawing nutrients from the water for convenient export by regularly and systematically harvesting algae mass. A tedious and unreliable form of filtration for aquarists on a small scale (at least to be effective). Really best suited for aquarists that like to tinker, have reliable free time to supervise the system, etc. Very successfully employed in larger and commercial aquaria> Sediment chamber? <short and sweet... a large deep vessel, perhaps with baffles (or a low long run of a vessel like water treatment plants) where the water enters on one end and sediment drops out by the time the water exits the vessel. Sediment is to be siphoned away regularly. Simple, but a little labor intensive> And raceway culture? <really a bit extensive to describe here... if you are an active reef keeper looking to propagate and farm coral do follow up on this concept with me (also described in my book... but asking here is free <wink>... Please do! Also, this is not a direct solution to algae problems... rather an interesting aquarium concept and indirectly helpful. More of a culturing methodology> How do I employ each of these? Am I adding a substrate/filter of some sort? <Aiyeee! Substrate filters (passing water through like your pre-filter) are generally not recommended if you are trying to control algae (nitrification-nitrates)> Assuming I have a 30gal sump and 72gal display, what size should the Pre-filtration be (outside dimensions)? Is it in proportion to the sump in your diagram? <honestly, my friend... you can simply ignore the prefilter in the illustration. The drawing describes many of the possible aspects of a reef display but all are not necessary or even recommended. Pick and choose each to suit your needs> I'm sure this is just the beginning to my questions and I appreciate your patients. Thank you, Mark <no worries... fire away! And keep reading/learning/sharing. Anthony Calfo>

Filters Hello, I have a 75 gallon marine tank and I am using a penguin 330 and a magnum 350 and I was wondering if I could buy just one filter that will do a better job than these? Thank you for your help. Nick <a well designed Wet/Dry (Trickle filter) would get my vote. Many great DIY plans for it on the 'net too. Viva la Bio-balls.. er, something like that. Anthony>

EcoSystem (Mud filtration, w/ or w/o skimming) Hello Bob I did get your reply in regards to converting over from skimmer use to mud. Just a note if that's ok Bob; I like to see thirty to forty days using both systems, then over the next week start to back off the use of the skimmer. This gives the animals and the mud time to acclimate. Thank you so much for your support and best regards Bob Smith <Thank you for this Bob. Will place on our sites where your products, mud-filtration are discussed. See you at InterZoo. Bob Fenner>

Filter Questions Can you have two different filter systems running at the same time?  <certainly... the more the better on fish tanks... not so much on reefs. In reefs, the more rock the better...less man-made filters> I have a 100 gallon tank with a wet/dry bio balls system running currently and a protein skimmer. Could I add a biological filter that hangs on the back of the tank as well? <absolutely!> Also, how long should the VHO lights be left on per day to give sufficient light to the live rock?  <8-12 hours is in the ballpark for most rock and inverts> Thank you! <best regards, Anthony> Elizabeth K. Birdwell

Filtration for a Newbie Hi Bob Fenner, <Bob is off in Australia leaving Anthony and I in dreary Pittsburgh.> I'd like to start by saying that I think this is the most comprehensive site for this great hobby - Since I've found it, I check it every day for new information. <Glad to hear.> I have a 75 gallon acrylic saltwater tank (6 months) with a clown, two blue damsels, and a bar goby. About 2 inches of crushed coral (can't remember what kind), and about 10lbs of live Fiji rock - I'm gradually adding more and hope to get about 60 lbs+ in there. Filtration is a single Fluval 303 given to me by a friend (really noisy and can't seem to fix it - even after replacing the impellor, broken well cover, and all), and 2 Rio 200 powerheads inside for circulation. Lighting is a GE full-spectrum fluorescent and a Sylvania Coralstar blue actinic. I want to keep only fish for now, perhaps look into starting a reef as I learn more about it. My questions are the following: I'd like maximize my tank by adding more fish (replace the bi-colored angel, add a trigger, two tangs, more if possible), but have been reluctant b/c I know that the current filtration isn't sufficient. I have good water quality and have only lost one fish, a bi-colored angel (mistake-first fish before I learned about cycling my tank). I'm debating between a wet/dry filter or an Eheim 2250 by themselves, OR build a 30 gal sump (Rubbermaid) and buy a car overflow (300 gph or bigger) and protein skimmer - I would use one of the powerheads to power the protein skimmer. I'd buy an additional powerhead (maybe Eheim 1250) to return water to the tank. I'm throwing the Fluval in the garbage. Which would you do? <I would go the sump/protein skimmer route.> Will the protein skimmer be louder than the rattling noise coming from my Fluval or powerheads w/ air tube? <Protein skimmers are usually very quiet. I would also take the airlines off of the powerheads. They make far too much slat creep and splash for my tastes.> (Tank is in the bedroom- would like something quiet). Are there quiet protein skimmers? <I am sure their are. Read through the various skimmer FAQ files for recommendations.> Last question is, would you replace the crushed coral with live sand? <Yes> I had a thin layer of sand before but took it out b/c of algae and debris build up (at least with the crushed coral, I can clean it without all the sand being sucked out of the tank). How do you clean the sand? <I usually rely on critters; worms, limpets, pods, etc. But when there is debris that has accumulated, I occasionally use a gravel vacuum and pinch the tubing to restrict flow and not suck up the sand.> Would the 60+ lbs of live rock, live sand, protein skimmer be enough or should I buy more? <Maybe closer to 75 pounds of rock and do be sure to buy the best quality skimmer you can afford. I am a big believer in you get what you pay for.> Thank you and look forward to your advice, Bob L. <You are quite welcome. -Steven Pro>

Filtration I started my 29 gallon saltwater aquarium a few months ago. I have a modified SeaClone protein skimmer (which produces a lot of dark liquid) <glad to hear it...> and a millennium 3000 power filter along with a powerhead for circulation. I have about 10 lbs of live rock, along with 25 lbs of base rock, and a crushed coral substrate. For livestock, I currently have a small yellow tang and one damsel, which is all I plan to get.  <very considerate and light for stocking> There is 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, nitrates are at 10. The question I have today concerns the filter. I wish to replace the millennium 3000 with a canister filter, specifically the magnum 350. Would this filter be overkill for such a small system?  <really almost no such thing as too much filtration... sounds good to me> If so, should I go with the smaller magnum 220 or a different filter altogether? If I did use this, would there be sufficient biological filtration in my system or should I get a bio-wheel to supplement this?  <nope... I wouldn't bother. Do go with your first choice of a larger canister and also consider Eheim units. Better biological capacity> I know that this isn't the best way to filter my system,  <really very fine... not at all weak, rest assured> but due to the cost restrictions with being a college student, this is all I can currently afford. Thank you for answering my questions. Mike <fair enough... and with such a light fish load, do add and enjoy compatible invertebrates and fauna for/from live rock. Best regards, Anthony>

One last quick question about filtration Sorry to bother you again but I have one last question. I emailed you concerning the Eheim filter for my 29 gallon. You mentioned that you wished the Eheim filters had stronger flow. I was planning on getting a 2215, but now I think I might get a 2217, with the 265 gph flow compared to the 164 gph for the 2215. Would this would be better? <Bigger is almost always better.> Thanks a lot. You guys are awesome! <This part is in general and does not specifically apply to just you. I just wanted to add it for those who read the daily FAQ page. If you have a follow up question, it is best to "Reply" so that we can see the original correspondence, too. We receive and answer a ton of email and cannot keep everyone straight. -Steven Pro>

Filter System for Reef Tank Hi Bob, <Steven Pro this morning.> I am setting up a new reef tank and I intended to set up a filter system seem like undergravel filter system but there is no filter sponge below and does not use air bubble to work. It had a powerhead underneath the substrate and suck up water to a external filter. Please see my diagram attach. I wonder if it would work? Can you give your comment on this? <Yes, it would work. It is much like the modern UG filters, but this type of system is not really the best for a reef aquarium. Take a look here for additional information and follow the other links at the top of the page, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reefsysi.htm> Thanks a lot.. Danny <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Equipment Problems would it be advisable to lower my alkalinity to help control the algae? <on the contrary... increased pH/alkalinity has been shown to deter many nuisance algae> are there similar hang on type skimmers that would be MUCH more effective than the sea-clone P.O.S skimmer? <Aqua-C brand has a good reputation> I'm also getting sick of these electric motors. I've had several Rena Filstars where after time the amount of flow is SIGNIFICANTLY reduced even w/o putting the filter baskets in causing no resistance and clean tubing. my only guess is that over time with algae clogged in the intake that it wore down the motor and now when it is clean will not operate the same. I recently lost almost all livestock due to a filter clog and my skimmer was out of operation at the same time. you could smell that the water quality was crap. it's kind of amateur to say but it seems I can tell pretty easily via a smell test to give a BASIC understanding of where the ammonia/nitrites are at. maybe I'm crazy but it seems to be in line with my test equipment. <Eheim brand filters have had a longstanding reputation for durability. They do not have very high flow rates, but they are built to last. Perhaps and option> thanks as always! <best regards, Anthony>

Seeking knowledge Hi again: I hope you can explain some things I don't understand very well. Which is the difference between a Sump, Wet/dry, trickle filter? <All will be revealed by following the links on this page, my friend: http://www.wetwebmedia.com    Anthony Calfo>

Filtration/lighting questions Dear Dr. Bob, <Steven Pro this morning.> I wrote you about a week ago and would like to extend my gratitude for the quickness in your reply and the truth in your words. I've noticed that a lot of the pet store/aquatic dealers around me seem to be just in it for the buck, not caring about me or the specimens needs. <Unfortunately, there are some people like that in every industry. Look around and hopefully you can find a good source of livestock and information.> I have just a few more questions I would like to extend as I feel that no one around me seems knowledgeable on the subject. I'm going to go with a 125 gallon tank for a while, and upgrade sometime in the near future. What filtration system would work well in your opinion? <Varies by what you wish to keep, but brisk circulation, liverock, live sand, and protein skimming work well with most.> Any specific brand or models that appeal to you. The guy at the aquatic store told me that I would do just fine with two Emperor 400's. He quoted me 150 for the two, but I found them on the net for $50 each, so may just try and put three in there. Would this work well? <Not the way I would go for any animal. The Emperors are fine filters except that they cause a lot of salt creep.> I am also going to add a protein skimmer. I was looking at a Aqua Medic Turboflotor 1000. How well do Hang-On skimmers work? <Efficiency of skimmers varies by model and the way it is installed. Look through the archives for recommendations, but if the water level fluctuates a great deal, skimmer performance decreases.> Would it be all right to set up the tank with everything but a skimmer for a while? <Not in my opinion. An invaluable piece of equipment.> Also, as far as live sand, crushed coral sand would work best? <I prefer a fine grain of aragonite sand for everything. Under an inch or over four inches varies on the application. Again, a quick read of the FAQ files can give you the answer to for specific circumstances.> That's what I've heard. And now probably for the dumbest question you've ever heard, but it rally is bugging me. Being as the bamboo shark is nocturnal how exactly does it react to the lighting system? Basically, how if he is nocturnal do I see him active? Do I need to have the tank completely dark in order for him to move about, or can he be active with the light on at night). Another pet store guy said a red light would work because they can't see it. I can tell I probably lost you, let me simplify. If I turn on the light at oh say 11pm to see what he is doing, will he hide and go back to sleep or something? Do I need the lights on all day, and then shut them off at night? God, I feel like an idiot and apologize for asking someone so accredited as you such a lame question, I am just kind of confused. <The red light at night would work so that you can see their behaviors at night, but these sharks are not known as active animals.> Finally, how should I "break in" the tank. I was thinking of adding some live rock, and maybe two or three fish for a few months, then adding in the shark. Does this seem adequate? <Fishless cycling with liverock is better.> As always, I appreciate you taking the time to answer these seemingly pointless questions. Thanks, Bob Benson <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Benefits of Reading Ahead - Problems with Hair Algae  Hi, I hope that it is still Jason answering for Mr. Fenner. <<it is indeed, hello to you.>> I just want to say a couple of things, then onto a question. Jason, I want to take this moment to say hi. <<Greetings to you, sir.>> I read the daily FAQs, and as I think the most of Mr. Fenner, and his knowledgeable opinions, and advice, I also want to say that I really enjoy reading your answers also. I must say that the two of you really complement each other in the way you give your advice, and the style that you go about it. <<why thank you.>> One other thing, and this is just my opinion, but it is one that a lot of other readers will agree with. I read a email, ( I think it was on Friday) from a person who was asking all kinds of basic questions about filter systems, and all sorts of things. Now I don't want this to be taken negative in any way, because while I am in no way any kind of expert on this subject, I really just want to urge the person with all my heart to please read, read, read, and then still read some more. This is a hobby that you go into, I hope, for the long term, and by not reading constantly and learning, I can honestly guarantee that your days in this hobby will be numbered, and that you will give up. Either from the cost of expensive mistakes, or from sheer frustration of keeping a saltwater system running properly. <<ah yes, the person you speak of has also availed themselves to the discussion forum so hopefully in time he will also be keeping a healthy tank with a few less angels and lions.>> Believe me, I've been there a few times. <<myself as well.>> It is an amazing hobby to get into, but do it with your heart, for you, and all the living animals whose fate is in your hands! <<another brother CMA>> Now for the question, MY setup is a 125G. FOWLR tank. I have, in the past month redid the whole filter system. I now have a setup in the basement with a refugium containing Miracle Mud, with Caulerpa, and lit 24/7. Also a separate sump for LR. I have a Berlin XL skimmer, use RO water, and my lights have been converted to also be sufficient for a reef system. I have a clean up crew of snails, and various hermit crabs. I have tried all the different ways to cut back on algae but I still have an outbreak of hair algae that has taken over the LR, and all other surfaces. The only thing I thought of trying is a bigger cleanup crew, ( I know mine is way to little for my size system), I also thought of trying a one time cleanup with some type of additive ( chemical ?), <<don't give in to that impulse...>> but I know this cannot be good for the system, especially since the Caulerpa in the refugium is just a beneficial type of algae that any additive cannot differentiate from, and will basically end up destroying my filter system. What I thought of was cutting down on the time my lights are on. I was thinking if I let the lights go on in the morning before I go to work, so that the fish wake up, and I can feed them, then let the lights go off during the day when it gets into daylight hours, and then letting them come back on for the evening when it gets dark, till finally turning off for the night. Will this have a negative effect psychologically on the fish by screwing up their daily light cycle. <<I think so, yes.>> It is probably not a good idea because I will eventually want it to go back to a normal daily light cycle, and this will then again disrupt their habits. <<ah ok, on the same path...>> What would you recommend as a daily light cycle? ( I have a low light system that goes on a 1/2 hour before the main lights, then shuts off, and comes on again 1/2 before the main lights go off, and stays on 1/2 hour after, in the evening, to mimic a dusk, and dawn effect). <<Then 12 hours for the main cycle with the 1/2 hour before and after for a total of 13 hours. Will this help any in fighting the hair algae, or am I better off doing something else, and leaving the light schedule as is? <<try adding a powerhead or two.>> I think I will also add to my cleaner upper crew. By the way, I wasn't always using RO water. I just started in the past 2 months, around the same time that I upgraded my light system. <<So then this will kick in at some point soon.>> My skimmer has also only been installed for 2 weeks. <<and this as well>> Do you think that the tank will cycle out the bad algae by itself with time with the new equipment. <<might, but more flow in the tank will help.>> I CAN be patient, and wait it out, IF that's what it takes before starting to build the reef. <<good, then begin waiting it out...>> I cannot get into all the nooks, and crannies to siphon it out, or remove it manually either, and tearing down the setup to scrub the LR is out of the question. My fish are all well adjusted, and I don't want to freak them out. <<they'll get over it, this is much less traumatic than capture and transport from the wild to the store and to your house.>> I anxiously await your answer!! Greg N. <<Sorry it took so long to get back to you. Cheers, J -- >>

Measuring the Volume of Bio-Balls <Gia su! to our friend in Greece. Anthony> Dear Anthony, I have just bought a new fish: a Gramma Loreto (2 1/2 Inch). I could not resist having it. It is a really beautiful fish.  <agreed...very beautiful and hardy! A great fish> I saw it in my retailer's shop and after I read about is in the "conscientious aquarist" + in the site of WetWebMedia I decided to buy it. The composition of my aquarium is the following (just to remind you): My aquarium is 210 lit and I have 4fishes: - one Damsel - 3 years in the aquarium - one Acanthurus Lineatus or Clown Tang - 4 months - 3 1/2 inches - one Paracanthurus Hepatus or Blue Tang- 3 months 2 1/2 inches - one Apolemichthys xanthotis - 1 month - 3 inches - recovered from the wounds and doing really fine. <I am especially glad to hear about the angelfish> I still have the Gramma Loreto in a division of my tank (glass separation with holes) and it is eating and behaving normally. It seems to be a very smart and dynamic fish. I intend to keep it for a third day in quarantine and then take the divider out. What is your opinion about the compatibility of this fish with the other tankmates? Should I have to watch something out or have a special care for this new fish? <despite its size, it is fairly strong with community fish. There is some concern with the tangs and angel for their size and aggression. Just have a new shell or cave ready for the Gramma when the divider is pulled. It is likely to be quite shy and hide for a while and that is fine.> My second question concerns my hardware . You mentioned in a previous memo that my filtration is "modest". I am now considering to buy a wet-dry filter.  <a very good addition> You said on my question "What capacity should the wet-dry filter have?" <5-10% tank volume in gallons of bio-ball media. For example, a one hundred gallon aquarium would need 5 to 10 gallons of bio-ball media in the filter to work well> Could you please be more specific?  <sure... in America, the Bio-ball media is measured in volumetric gallons. You could measure it in Greece in liters. So your tank would need 10 to 20 liters of Bio-ball media.>  What media should the wet-dry filter contain? only bio-balls or also some "EHFI SUBSTRAT"?. My dealer says that the filter should only contain "EHFI SUBSTRAT" and run at the same time with the already existing filter. <I do not have experience with this media in the USA, but if it is porous and can be used in a trickle down filter (not submerged) then I suspect that is will be fine or very well> How do you measure the volume of bio-ball media? <above gallons/liters> Thanks again, it really nice and it feels safe to have you as an advisor <very welcome my friend. Anthony> Thanassis . Kalinichta (Good night) <thank you for another taught word..."Kalinichta" Thanassis>

Re: Question regarding filtration II <<<Anthony Calfo at bat this time, my friend>>> My tank has been set up for approx. 6 mos. now and it is just not as stable as I would like. <Not sure what that means.> <<I do a 17% (5 gallons) each week. If I slack at all my fish become increasingly agitated until I do a water change. Then all is normal. I am assuming this means I am living on the edge.>> <<<hmmm... 5% weekly is rather modest. May be some truth to the feeling on the edge>>> <The Bak-Pak II would be my choice for a 30. -Steven Pro> <<I read another letter on your web site in which someone was complaining about the bubble output of the BakPak II and how they had to make modifications to the output tube in order to reduce it. Is this not a normal occurrence?>> <<<does indeed happen with many different filtration units... usually easy to correct>>> So, if I get a BakPak II I would have that, a Whisper 5, approx. 45lbs of live rock, and a power head for circulation. Does this sound adequate for fish and eventually a few corals? <<<very fine for average sized community fish (yellow tang size and smaller)>>> Once again thank you for your time and input. I think it is totally cool that you take the time to help people out! Rich <<<really our pleasure. Best of luck to you. And do look into a local aquarium club for extra camaraderie and support. Anthony>>>

Re: Question regarding filtration III One more question if I may then I will leave you alone. <no worries... I'll start charging you if it gets to be too much <wink>> So, if I get a BakPak II I would have that, a Whisper 5, approx. 45lbs of live rock, and a power head for circulation. Does this sound adequate for fish and eventually a few corals? <<<very fine for average sized community fish (yellow tang size and smaller)>>> This is with regards to the above transcript from a previous e-mail. I noticed that there is now a BakPak II reef version available that replaces the bio-filter portion with a bubble trap unit. Based on the specs I mentioned above would this unit work for me, fish and eventually corals, or should I retain the bio-filter portion as well. Once again, thanks for your help. Rich <the bio-filter is not necessary and may be mildly "harmful" (contributing unnecessary nitrates) to a properly set up reef (with 1-2 lbs per gallon Live rock cured). I would pick the reef version given to choose. Anthony>

Question regarding filtration I am relatively new to the marine aquarium hobby and am having some difficulties setting up a stable tank. I have a 30g tank with an undergravel filter, per store owner's suggestion, and a Whisper 5 hanging on the back, won in a raffle. <Not a necessarily bad system for a small tank with certain target organisms.> My tank has been set up for approx. 6 mos. now and it is just not as stable as I would like. <Not sure what that means.> I did some research on the web and decided the way to go would be to lose the undergravel filter and use a protein skimmer in conjunction with the Whisper 5. <With liverock and/or live sand and increased circulation> So, I went to a different store to get a skimmer. I was sold a Seaclone. Which, for reasons you well know was not the best choice. <Agreed, not a great choice.> Anyway, I have since read your FAQ section and have come up with some better options, such as the Bak-Pak II and the Red Sea Berlin. <A world of difference between the two products.> However, one of the biggest issues I had with the Seaclone was the amount of bubbles it produced. In order to get enough movement through the skimmer to produce foam it completely filled my tank with bubbles. Is this typical of all Skimmers? <No> Do skimmers need to be run in a sump? <Skimmers run in a sump that receives surface extracted water run more efficiently, but no, you do not have to have a sump.> I appreciate your time and comments. Have a good one. Rich <The Bak-Pak II would be my choice for a 30. -Steven Pro>

Filtration again sorry to bother you again bob will this work a 100 gal fish only system run on a 36,15,18 sump with a trickle tower 10,10,15 filled with Eheim substrate and filter floss,2 canister filters filled with ROWAphos, PolyFilter and Clearwater carbon substitute) fluidized bed sand filter, beast protein skimmer and a 25 watt U.V will this be able to give good enough conditions for angels to be kept. <overall sounds like plenty of biological filtration for a 100 gallon system, although I am concerned by the word "Angels"... you really didn't mean to keep more than one large angel, did you? If not recommended or possible in most cases... and not responsible fish keeping in the other cases. Angels are quite territorial and aggressive with each other and even a 100 gallon system is spatially too small for two angels to grow up in. Just enjoy one beauty in a community tank with 3 or 4 non-angel "friends"> the sump will be feed by overflow chamber and returned by a Eheim 1060 or Eheim 1250 which would you use. <to be determined by the realistic flow of your overflow box> how do I prevent overflow chamber running dry as I've been told it eventually does this thanks a lot Craig <look into the archives and across the net for anti-siphon techniques for siphon overflows. I personally would never use one...too risky. Since you are in planning stages still... do take whatever means necessary to have your tank drilled with overflow holes for long term peace of mind. Kindly, Anthony Calfo WWM crew>

Tons of Filtration hi bob sorry to bother you again but I'm in a state of confusion at this moment  <then you've come to the right place...confusion is my specialty, if not state of mind. Anthony Calfo in your service> in time I'm running a 100gal fish only tank on a Eheim 2217 filter, Fluval 304 filter beast protein skimmer quicksand fluidized bed filter and a Amiracle sl-50 sump filter filled with Eheim substrate and filter mat returned by a Eheim 1250 hobby pump nitrates are at 20ppm ph is 8.3 would you leave setup as it is now or increase the sump size, I've been told if I do this it will render my canister filters useless. <changing the sump size in any form will have absolutely nothing to do with your canister filter efficacy. I'm pleased to say that your system is obscenely over filtered. Able to handle a significant bio-load indeed...although you are at greater risk of accumulating nitrates over time for it. So long as nitrates are manageable, no worries!> I'm thinking of putting live sand in bottom of sump and a trickle tower of Eheim sub will this plan work and can I keep canister running with larger sump as they provide good water surface movement. <what is the reason for the extra filtration, my friend? Do you admittedly overfeed or have messy feeding fish? If not, leave well enough alone and do extra water changes instead of buying more filtration if you feel frisky. Relax and enjoy this relaxing hobby, sirrah. Your system is quite sufficient for a reasonable community of fishes. Anthony>

New Tank Cycling LR and Canister Hi, I am setting up a new 90g with a sump, and I plan for now on FOWLR. I am going to cycle it with a skimmer, LR and maybe LS (I keep reading on one hand the LS may have animals not found on LR so it's worth getting, and on the other hand LS is a waste because the LR can seed it). I plan on a DSB. My question is: Will the skimmer and LR eventually be enough--I am in no hurry to add anything else--to properly filter the tank, or should I use an Eheim 2217 that I also have? Concisely, can a tank, starting from scratch, have only LR/LS and a skimmer to properly filtrate? <A tank can be run just fine with only live rock and a skimmer. The Eheim would be a nice place for chemical (activated carbon) filtration. Since you have it, I would use it. -Steven Pro> 

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