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FAQs on Marine Filtration 2

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

Related FAQs: Marine Filtration 1, Marine Filtration 3Marine Filtration 4Marine Filtration 5Marine Filtration 6Marine Filtration 7 Marine 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, Some marine organisms are much more sensitive to variable and poor water quality.

Fish Filters and Rocks oh my. Dear Mr. Fenner, Mr. Calfo, or Mr..  <In that order, that would make me Moe-stooge...Anthony Calfo in your service> Thank you for your great insight on my inquiries in the past. I have really enjoyed and learned much from your responses. Now on two the badgering :) I will be converting a 50 gallon curved glass freshwater to a sort of budget FO. If I use live rock what is the minimum amount of lighting required,  <really just aesthetic preference when not keeping symbiotic invertebrates. A two bulb VHO system the length of the tank (36", or 48"?)will be fine with two daylight bulbs or balanced blue heavy with an actinic if you enjoy the color> and minimum poundage to keep it functioning well? (50lb minimum) I am willing to oust for a compact hood since a simple strip light most likely wont suffice, but I thought I'd run it by you.  <a PC equivalent fixture would be fine> Also if I employ live rock would my UG with the power head in reverse still be a benefit to the system, or should I forgo it all together?  <not trendy by modern standards but if you have had success running it in the past with your husbandry...OK. It will work best if the reverse flow water is pre-filtered first> I was going to continue to use my AquaClear 300, With two different density foam pads and carbon.  <very fine...clean alternately> Coupled with either a remora c hang on or a CPR back Pak, depending on your recommendations.  <lots of good feedback on the CPR from folks although I prefer a bigger/badder unit like a Euroreef or Tunze> These are two you seem to recommend on the sight, which is more geared to a system of my size  <Tunze's are all sizes and idiot proof (with all due respect <G>)... one of the lowest maintenance skimmers on the market (very easy to adjust with a static sump or display water level> is harder for me to figure out. Do you think this filtration is sufficient for long term fish health? <yes...fine with small to medium fish. The tank is too small for large fish anyway> I would also like to run my stocking plan by you if its not to much trouble, this will allow you to judge my filtration better. Due to the size of the system I will buy small and raise. IF you have any recommendations for fish that would fit into this environment better please do so, I have also tried to provide two choices of fishes I would greatly like to include to run by your expertise. I value your opinions greatly. 1 small blue jaw trigger or tasseled file fish, 1 small purple or Atlantic blue tang,  <all way to big as adults for the tank...although the trigger may be the best of them and slowest growing> 1 small long nose or black back butterfly, <better choices for size but not good with popular and active community fish> a mimic blenny, and possibly a few other very small fish, such as a pair of black ray shrimp gobies and maybe a starfish or two.  <OK> Please be brutally honest, I want to provide un-cramped quarters for these fish for 2 to three years before I trade them in or move them to my larger tanks. <alas.. most of the fish you mention get extraordinarily large or just don't fit in (the butterflies)... do find some other fish to consider> I apologize for the length of this letter, I was just doing as your book says by being through and planning through. I've done research, I'm just not so sure as to how these species react to a smaller tank even as small specimens. Thanks so very much, your friend Brian. <very wise, good sir... keep studying and learning and pass your knowledge along. Kindly, Anthony>

Re: Fish Filters and Rocks oh my. Thanks for the info Anthony, super quick response time. You must have good reflexes.  <yep...that's why I play the catcher position in baseball/softball. I'm like a cat...hehe. Oh, ya... and the fact that I can't field fly balls <G>>> Anyhow if its not to a bother, (if it is my friend feel free to just discard this letter) Would the UG be beneficial to such a system? If not I'd rather not deal with it lol.  <agreed. I'm not thrilled with it either. It can actually be a fine filter...but is too labor intensive for me. I'd rather see you build/buy a good trickle filter for fish only systems or buy more live rock for a reef system> Also Could you possibly suggest any trigger that may be better then the blue jaw for this setup? <niger Odonus (the red-tooth trigger) are peaceful, albeit shy, essentially reef safe and a bit smaller/slower growing. Really, I have no serious gripe about the blue jaw other than adult size> (I do plan on exporting these larger growing fish to either my 110 FO or my 300 reef or my 110 reef) Hit me with some of your favorite medium species of yours just so I have an idea and am on the same page! Thank you again for your time. <Will do... Genicanthus angels (many species...all peaceful and very underrated), most Centropyge angels (C. multicolor is magnificent in person if you have some money to burn...never captured in photos well), numerous wrasse species, some Heniochus (Wimplefish), Barberfish, marine Bettas, footballers (incredibly hardy!!!)...Best regards, Anthony> Your friend Brian

Re: Ozone question? I am a little unclear on how to filter return water directly into my main skimmer for my central filtration unit. I hope this is not a dumb question. <Not as far as I'm aware, concerned. There are a few ways with such a large system, flow-rate as you describe.> I am not much of a plumber. I would think that water flow would be a little too much. I will have a 480 gallon system. I would like to circulate the system water 5 times. <I would likely first have the water run through the bags sold by Emperor Aquatics (there are others) into a sump of constant volume, overflowing into another area of the same constant level (with partitions going under in the first part over a weir in the second... and have the skimmer run in from the first out into the second... to facilitate its operation, efficiency. You could/would do well to add ozone here or directly into the skimmer... perhaps even investing in a desiccator to dry the incoming air into the ozonizer. Please do read through the set-up sections re gear on the Marine and Business Indices on our principal site: WetWebMedia.com here Bob Fenner> I hope all is well!

Which is more important, a good skimmer or a UV sterilizer for a reef tank w/a Powder Blue Tang Hello Bob, <Steven Pro at your service this morning.> We are struggling currently with an issue regarding our reef tank--specifically regarding water quality for our Powder Blue Tang. We have read extensive articles on WWM (and books--including yours) on reef keeping and have consulted with two stores here, in Phoenix, which we consider to be reputable. We are getting conflicting recommendations on what our next major equipment purchase should be?and I was hoping for your expertise (and observation) on this subject. Our reef tank has been set up for about 3 ? months. Our set up: --48 gallon Bow front glass tank (not predrilled--so no sump, to our growing dismay) --55+ lbs of LR --? inch substrate --JBJ VHO/blue actinic lights ?140 watts total --Prizm skimmer (looking for something different here--it just doesn't cut it) --2 Maxi-Jet PH MP 1200?s (I realize that might be a bit much but something about the word ?power head? went to my boyfriend?s head and he went for the big guns?I think it might be a male thing??) <Not too much or a male thing. The large powerheads are actually appropriate.> 15% Water changes every 2 weeks--nutrient levels are very stable Live stock: Candy Cane Coral, Fox Coral, Colt Coral, Button Polyps, Star Polyps and Mushrooms 2 Green Chromis (fish in order of addition to the tank) 1 Pair of Percula Clownfish 1 Six-line wrasse 2 Emerald Crabs 7 Blue-legged Hermit Crabs 1 small Powder Blue Tang (approx 3??very healthy, loves to eat, not aggressive...yet) Our friend at the most reputed reef stores in Phoenix went into a complete frenzy when he heard that the other store sold us the Tang over a month ago (tank is marginally too small, disease-magnet, etc). <All true. Future tank should be at least 125 gallons and 6' long. Sump would be another good idea.> He immediately told us that we HAD to get a UV sterilizer or it would only be an eventuality before the Tang (and everything else in the tank) got ich. We attempt to be very conscientious about our water quality and were horrified about this possibility. The other store claims that there should be no problem whatsoever?although they said we might want to think of a larger tank later?which we will DEFINITELY be doing. Right now the Tang seems really happy/healthy and everything else in the tank is doing great, as well. Our thought was that due to our regular RO/DI water changes, the UV sterilizer may be unnecessary?or provide only a marginal help, at best. Realizing, that the gentleman at the store has years more experience at this than we do (and likely more than the other salesman who is giving a contradictory opinion), we were hoping to get an expert opinion from you? We were planning on getting a more efficient hang on skimmer this week (a Remora Pro) for the tank, based upon your recommendations in other FAQ?s?but now due to the LFS?s sense of urgency about the Tang we are tossing around the idea of a UV sterilizer instead and holding off on the skimmer for another month (which the other store is laughing at us about since we have ?pristine? water?to use his expression). What are your thoughts? The tang has been really healthy to date. It seems to love the reef tank and the various kinds of algae that we are feeding it. Thank you so much for your time. We are really at a quandary? Dee in Phoenix, AZ <Well Dee. I can give you a couple of opinions. I would get the new skimmer first. Almost all diseases can be traced back to poor environmental conditions; bad water quality, inadequate circulation, poor diet, etc. Yes, certain fish are more prone to disease, but providing them with the proper accommodations will help significantly. Secondly, it is hard to say if you are "out of the woods" yet with the Powder Blue. He was your last fish added and the tank is only 3 1/2 months old, so my guess is he has been in there for less than a month. Lastly, you are pretty well maxed out on fish in your tank. -Steven Pro>

Type of filter... Hi Bob, <Hello> I just re-cycled my 60 gallon salt water tank. I put in 50lbs of live rock. I have a Fluval 304, the cyclone protein skimmer and a small hang on the back wet/dry filter. Ammonia and nitrite spiked at very high levels as I put in the live rock. I wrote you guys and you guys gave me all the proper actions that I needed to take as far as changing water frequently, working my skimmer etc... and now I still have 5 damsels and my water chemistry after 3 weeks is perfect. I'm planning on adding more fish but would like to purchase a new filter. <Okay> I'm shopping around to purchase a large size wet/dry filter that sits under my stand. They're pretty expensive ($300-$400 including pump etc...Full set) at the local fish stores, even though I could get really good deals on eBay (full set $150-$300). Now I'm really confused, because some of the fish stores that I go to tell me that why I do have to spend that much money. Since I have live rock in my tank, I should probably add 30lbs more and use the sump filter instead of buying we/dry filter. <Yes, this is a possibility.> That would cost me much less. They even told me that, wet dry would add more nitrate in my system and be worse having it. <In time, yes> I know a lot of people use wet/dry. I'm not really sure. Could you please advise? wet/dry or sump only filter. Also if you give me your advise as far as getting sump or wet/dry do you have any suggestions as far where to get one from? <Please take a read over the many marine aquarium filtration articles and FAQs files posted on www.WetWebMedia.com> As usual and always thanks for your help in advance. Sam... <Be chatting, and reading my friend. Bob Fenner>

Marine filtration Hi Bob, Anthony or Steven, <I guess that would make me tweedle-dee...or maybe tweedle-dum, hmmmm. At any rate, Anthony Calfo here> How are you guys, I have to tell you I'm trying to decide whether to go for a plenum system of DSB, but for some reason DSB is always a HOT topic in the past two months! <doesn't have to be...really a quite simple decision that some popular literature has muddied> I already bought a new 180g replacing my older 180g due to my problem of a scratches and a small corner over flow my new one has a bigger one which is now at the center with a return concept inside the over flow that. The over flow has two 1.5 inches for bulkhead going in the tank and 2 1.5 going out to sump. Now my question is that my situation with a bad BGA problem <nothing that good nutrient export processes cannot control. like a skimmer producing serious daily skimmate (4-8oz of very dark product) for two weeks or more> 1. clean and brush all the LR that contains BGA Total of 250LBS) <I'd add a SECOND skimmer on staggered/alternate cleaning schedule from the first before I'd engage in that kind of labor. Just curiously...is your only/primary skimmer a Berlin/Red Sea?> 2. Should I keep the sugar size Live sand which is only 1.5inches that I have now or throw them out and start from new 6" deep, < good grade if deep enough and your target is denitrification. Only keep it if it is relatively clean and free of excess detritus> or keep them and place a new one on top, <Aieeeee! positively horrifying...unless you really like nuisance algae> or is it more advantageous to have no sand in the main system and place the DSB in the 55G sump with some macroalgae on a reverse photo period. <really to difficult to answer without more info... what is the goal? Denitrification (DSB), ph stabilization (RDP refugia) or vegetable filtration (Caulerpa)? For the record... I feel that the Caulerpa is an easily neglected and potentially harmful idea for MOST reef systems... I prefer less noxious and more stable "plants" like seagrasses and calcareous alga> is it bad not to have a sand at all in the main system,  <it's not bad...but I like the advantage of reflected light off of a white substrate... it is a significant advantage among others> the reason I ask is that for some reason I had the same problem in my previous 100g the BGA started in the live sand the sand I'm using is from Carib sea sugar size aragonite, maybe it's the sand type or should I go with a different brand.  <nope.. essentially all aragonite entering the aquarium trade is from ONE source...just re-bagged by different suppliers. Your problem was poor advice from go... The rule is 1/2" or less, or three inches or more for fine sand. Anything in between is a potential problem (which is where most critics of DSB have failed)> To further understand with my current BGA problem I have about 4000 gal of circulation, but I feel not enough turn over rate due to the small corner over flow that is why I'm buying a new one, my current return pump is Cap 5000 rated (not sure), but thinking of using an Iwaki RLT75 I think it's 1500g at 3ft (not sure). Now I'm just using EV150, but thinking of conjunction of Euroreef since they are much better according to other hobbyist.  <Agreed! on the Euroreef but all brands of skimmer do need fine tuning first> If old bulb is a suspect <not at all... really just a nutrient problem that has accumulated... even slowly over time> no problem I do keep track of my bulbs and replace my MH every 12 months <probably a waste of money to change them so often... take the money you would spend on frequent MH bulb changes and invest in a Luxmeter that will indicate relative bulb intensity and imply useful life (color sway is uncommon with the "better" MH bulbs like Radium and Iwasaki. Let me know if you are using another brand.> I know other hobbyist replace them 14-16 months, and I do replace my actinic power compact every 6 months I guess that's pretty standard with actinic light right?  <correct and necessary for invertebrates> I'm running Ca reactor and only add Iodine for supplements because I'm afraid additives can make things worst with BGA. <the iodine is not the root of your problem by any means, but agreed until your nutrient problem is corrected> Feeding schedule is once a day 1 and half cubes frozen and mostly formula 2 and half of formula 1 and other days half of angel formula, brine and Mysis shrimp. <are you thawing and draining the pack juice from these frozen foods? If not, it is accumulating as a nutrient daily...hello algae!> Now there was a topic that frozen containing gel binder might promote BGA,  <a weak excuse> but others claim it is the only best food source esp. for tangs and angels, which contains sponges and vegetables. Light schedule is from 11:00am till 9:p.m. with actinics on before and after of 30 min.  <sounds reasonable> My macro algae are now all dead since BGA had taken over.  <wow!> If parameters is an issue with according to the recently bought Salifert test kits ph-8.2, <too low if it is a daytime reading... high Redox and High (natural) pH have been shown to inhibit many nuisance alga. pH for day night should range about 8.6 by day and can drop to about 8.3 at night. If you have a pH dropping near or under 8.0 in the dead of night because you could only get it up to 8.2 during daylight... you have a pH problem> alk-10dkh, ca-450, phos-0,nitrate-5.  <excellent> On top of this battle I do use both UV sterilizer and Ozone, <do you have a Redox meter or controller for your ozone or is it a free for all (insert Ted Nugget music here)> which I don't think really work unless it is a floating pathogen. Water changes practices- 15 gal every 2 weeks using a R/O with silicate filter system and filters are changes every 6 months.  <a little light on the water changes especially if skimmer(s) aren't working insanely well> R/O is also used for water make up for evaporation. 1/3 HP chiller is used to make the temp stable. My last question is that do you guys use filter floss or any material as a mechanical filtering device,  <excellent if serviced near daily... but a disadvantage if extended service between cleanings> the reason I ask is that some set up that I've seen they don't use mechanical filter at all, <works with serious water movement and skimmers to export organic particulates before they degrade> but I do I just want to make sure that it's practical and I do change them every week! and Carbon at one month and PolyFilter the following month.  <smaller portions changed more frequently would do you better on the carbon... two months allows it to behave biologically and degrade organics> I hope I did not give you guys too many things to read I just want to make sure I gave you enough Info to understand my situation and maybe have a possible solution and I do want to give a many many thanks for great work to help hobbyist like me in order to be successful and provide other newbies the same information so that they will not waste their money for mistakes I had made, and I do want to express that Patience is  A VIRTUE! <wise and agreed... thanks kindly, Anthony>

Thanks for the info. <<Hello, JasonC here...>> Thanks for the info, I think I found what I'm looking for. <<ahh good.>> Now I just have to raise the cash. <<know that story.>> I'm also trying to grow some Fiji live rock, which is already changing colors and growing some good plant life. (I just hope it stays that way) Anyway, I'm now buying a good Skilter and powerhead. My new question is if I should buy those items or just buy something like an Emperor filter instead of running my Whisper filter, a Skilter and a power head all for my tank. <<I would think this is up to your budget. I think the skimmer-route would be the best path, as most all tanks need some type of protein skimmer. The additional powerhead would be nice too.>> Any info would be most welcome. Thanks. <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Diatom filters  To whom it may concern,  I have been a reader of your magazine (FAMA) for some time and I have found it to be quite informative. I have been trying to find information on diatom filters, mainly specific uses in different areas, such as disease control ( namely ich), nitrate control, etc. <Useful for the former to some extent, not the latter> My sources around here are kind of scarce, the sources I do have are not very detailed. I was wondering if you guys could help me out. Are there any past articles that you have done on this subject or do you know where I could find specific information on this subject. Anything you could tell me would be greatly appreciated. <Please read through the filtration articles, FAQs files posted on WetWebMedia.com for the type of system (marine, freshwater...) you have in mind. Bob Fenner> Sincerely,

HOB Filter/Skimmer combo Hi Bob <We hope you won't be disappointed, but Bob is out traveling the Midwest. You have Steven Pro & Anthony Calfo attempting to fill his rather large shoes.> I am looking for a HOB Filter/Skimmer combo, a simple "turn key" unit that doesn't need anything else re: filtration--- I just want to plug it in and then cycle a 50g. AMiracle makes one, I don't know who else...Any recommendations? <CPR makes a unit similar to your description. They are very popular combination units. You might also want to think about your long term plans. If you envision going to a larger tank or a hardcore SPS tank, you may be better served by buying a dedicated skimmer and separate biological filter.> Thanks a lot! Erik Nelson <Good luck, Steven Pro>

Getting Better All the Time Hi Bob, <You actually have Steven now. Bob is off traveling. He was in Cleveland last night and now off to Detroit.> I found the WetWebMedia site for the first time last night, and now realize I've been missing out on something wonderful. I was beginning to think that the questions I have would be too obscure or specialized to find answers. I spent hours combing previous posts to absorb as much as possible. Thank you Bob (Steven, Anthony and anyone else who works on the site) for such a valuable resource. My tank is a 45 high containing approx. 35 pounds of live rock. It has been up and running for about a year. The rock was added piece by piece over the last year. I've had 4 Damsels in the tank which grew quite large. This week I took the Damsels back the my local pet store and added a Coral Beauty Angel, Copper-Banded Butterfly, and a Mandarin Goby/Dragonet. <The dwarf angel is a nice, hardy fish if the collectors treated it properly. The Butterfly and Mandarin are difficult feeders. Mandarin generally only ever eat live foods. My usual recommendation is 100+ gallons of mature reef tank so that they will have enough area/resources to search for food. Unfortunately, most starve to death over 6 months to a year.> Probably not the 3 easiest fish to care for, but I am dedicated to making it work. I have an Emperor 400 filter and a one piece undergravel filter plugged on one end and a powerhead on the other. There is also a submersible heater. This has been my setup for the past year. This week when I added the new fish I also added a Bak Pak 2 protein skimmer with Bio-Bale. I have 3 questions: 1. Do you think that the Emperor with it's BioWheel and carbon cartridges are going to compete with the Bak Pak's Bio Bale and/or the undergravel filter? In other words, should I remove the undergravel filter or Emperor 400?  <It would have been a good idea to do this (removing the U.G. and adding a live sand bed) when you removed the damsels and did not have any fish.> 2. If I do get rid of the undergravel filter would you recommend leaving the powerhead suctioned to the tank with no tube? <It is always nice to have some extra current.> 3. This last question is spurred by the added pump with the Bak Pak 2. Do you recommend using products that neutralize electrical currents released by pumps/powerheads? <I always recommend using surge protectors and GFCI outlets whenever possible. The titanium grounding probes are fairly inexpensive and may be worth the purchase.> Thanks for the great site - David <Glad you enjoy it. Steven Pro>

Aquarium Filtration Dear Bob, I recently bought a home with a built-in 100 gal. salt water fish only aquarium. It is an older, triangular shaped tank and has a reverse flow undergravel filter in a cabinet beneath the tank which filters through an Ocean Clear Cartridge filter. I would like to upgrade my filter system to improve the water quality (add a skimmer and/or some other filtration) but am finding it hard to do because there is no room to run any hoses unless I put them on the outside of the tank which would be unsightly. I have three outlets from the tank to the filter (1 intake to the pump & filter and 2 returns from the filter through the bottom of the tank) in the cabinet with 1" PVC conduits. Do you have any suggestions? <Yes... a bit hard to describe but will try here and we can go back and forth till at least what I have in mind as best is clear... I would abandon the present "closed" (pressurized) system for an "open" sump type... The current through-put that allows water to the pump, hence the cartridge filter (Ocean Clear) needs to be fitted as an overflow... A standpipe of sufficient height such that if the power or pump fails, the water will neither drain all out of the main tank, or overflow the sump... This should be screened at the top, and if practical, not too unsightly sleeved with a larger diameter plastic pipe over it, of slightly greater height, notched at the bottom to promote water movement from the bottom of the system... yet not present a problem to flow from the over the top should the bottom area somehow become occluded... The sump, refugium et al. gear designs are gone over in FAQs starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumprffiltfaqs.htm and many links beyond. We'll be chatting. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Rich

Re: new setup hey you know that XP3 I talked to you about upgrading from a XP1. that process went fine as expected but my protein skimmer (SeaClone piece of crap) stopped all production after adding this filter. I've tried a lot of different air inflow settings and to no avail. should I be concerned??? <Not much cause for concern... there is presently not much that your current skimmer can/does remove. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimmaintfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Filtration (marine, plumbing) It is amazing, that I fall upon your website, and now all of a sudden I am just so full of questions after looking at everything. (great source of info by the way!!) <An amazing world... open to all who would look> So here it goes. I just started up my 135 gal aquarium (as stated previously in another e-mail regarding lighting and HIDs) and the current filtration that is on it is as follows. I am using a Marineland S.O.S. overflow box that is rated at 600 gph that feeds through 1" flexible pipe to a 20 gallon sump (glass - Grrrr should have gotten plexi - the skimmer just barely fits into it). <Could another sump be fitted? Elsewhere?> there is a small chamber for w/d that contains roughly 2 pounds of bio bale. Skimmer is located in sump (Berlin turbo classic) and then feeds back into the tank via a magnum 9.5 (950 gph) through 3/4 inch PVC. <I would fit a larger return line/fitting here... maybe with a valve to adjust water level in the skimmer contact chamber> In the tank itself are two AquaClear 402 powerheads at either end for water movement. I have on the way a Magnum 350 that I am going to use just for water polishing purposes. <Okay> Ok, here is one of the main questions. I currently have a ball valve regulating the return flow for my Mag 9.5 set to roughly half open, otherwise I drain the sump and the overflow just can't keep up with the pump. The output to me doesn't seem all that high in the tank, but I do see water movement. Aside from adding a second overflow, is it possible to "modify" my current one to increase its flow rate?  <Mmm, yes... a "tee" could be fitted to the Magnum's discharge line, routing the flow (instead of backing it up) to the sump, even back to the main tank... And you could rig a larger overflow... gingerly cutting, or having cut the area around the existing discharge... fitting it (maybe with a bit of silicone sealant) with a larger line/fitting> (that is if you are familiar with this particular model) Also, I have notices that over time it tends to get air in the siphon and I am wondering the best method from preventing this. <Positioning of the source of the bubbles, screening (even with just a bit of cheesecloth, PVC fitting, pipe with slots cut in it... extending the intake toward the bottom...> Lastly - for now :) - I have read, with intrigue, about the MUD filtration method in your FAQ section, but I probably wasn't looking in the correct area because I was unable to locate how one would set something like this up properly.  <The indices and article listings here need serious skull-sweat and rearranging> If I was to go with something like this, would my 20 gal sump for an aquarium be sufficient in size to convert it into, or what sort of dimensions am I looking at here to effectively create one for a 135 tank? <Could be... but I would search around, fit a forty gallon or so container... Please join our chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ for lively and diverse input here. Bob Fenner> Again.. thanks.. Andy

Filtration question Happy New Year, Bob. I've got a couple of questions for you regarding filtration. I have a 40 gallon setup with about 25 lbs of live rock, 5 snails, 5 hermit crabs, 2 unknown crabs (freeloaders from live rock...they hide a lot and are maybe 1-1.5 inches across...one looks almost like a pom-pom crab and the other looks something like a teddy bear crab), a featherduster, some mushrooms and 1 royal Gramma. Not much but I had unfortunately had the plague run through my tank 5 months ago (lost all the fish when I picked up an evidently sick Banggai cardinal). I am going to start to restock with a couple of more fish and inverts soon and wanted to know if my filtration was up to par. I have a Fluval 204 and a CPR BakPak2 running. My first question is regarding the Fluval...should I upgrade to a larger filter (Fluval 404 or possibly one of the Eheim Pro II's....they look like nice equipment but are they worth the extra cost?). <On a forty... I would use just what you list... or upgrade to a lighted sump/refugium...> I am concerned on two parts...the flow from the 204 is weak and I just think its going to be too easy to overload a smallish size canister filter. <Am not a big fan of canister filters on marine systems period...> The next question is regarding the CPR BakPak2....the venturi hose that sucks in the air for the bubbles is really noisy for a bedroom (even with the muffler on the end) so I disconnected it and ran an airline directly into the skimmer part of the BakPak (MUCH quieter). My question is this.....am I wasting my time with the BakPak?  <No... should be fine, adequate> Is it a good enough skimmer or do I need a stand alone to do the job and is the shredded plastic in the other chamber benefiting the system or is it redundant with the canister? <I pull out this "bio-bale"...> LASTLY, am I going about this all wrong? Should I be considering a wet/dry or something else? Thank you GREATLY for any help. <Do read through the Marine Filtration sections on WetWebMedia.com Much to discuss. Bob Fenner> Regards, Chris Donovan

Switching from UGF & Bio-Wheel to LR & Skimmer Mr. Fenner, I want to switch a 55-G. tank from UGF & Bio-Wheel 330 to LR and a Remora skimmer. <Good moves> The BW330 is a suspected nitrate factory. The animals seem stable and acclimated but I'd like to improve the nitrates and water quality generally. And eventually add lighting to sustain some hardy inverts. <Up and up...> The tank is in a middle-school library where my wife is the librarian. Teachers and students generally love and are fascinated by it, with an occasional snide remark about the time and attention spent on it. All costs come from the family budget - not taxpayers. <Outstanding... have a rather extensive academic and practical background in librarian science... appreciate the effort> From the Q&A's it seems the UGF air lines and riser tubes should be removed, leaving the substrate and UGF plates as a plenum. Should the BW330 be completely removed after the Remora is up and running? Not quite sure how to manage the transition. <Leave all running for a few weeks together... gingerly scoot the gravel from about the risers of the UG and place a bit of plastic (maybe sections/squares of polyethylene pop bottle) over the remaining filter plate holes... scoot gravel back over... Leave the Bio-Wheel unit on for a month more, remove... done!> Current details: -- SETUP: Age: 6 months Lighting: 30 watts, NO, 50/50 actinic Substrate: 3" deep, crushed coral - aragonite LR: 55 pounds total, 45 of this recently added WATER: S.G.: 1.025 Temp: 79F pH: 8.3 Ammonia: 0.0 ppm NO2: 0.0 to 0.1 ppm NO3: 80 ppm 10% water changes weekly with substrate vacuuming; Instant Ocean with tap water treated with Amquel, 2-3 day aging BEASTS: 1 bubble-tipped anemone 1 snail 2 red-legged hermits 2 cleaner shrimp 1 arrow crab 1 2" dragonet (psychedelic mandarin) 1 1.5" yellow-tailed blue damsel 1 2" tomato clown 1 1" white-striped maroon clown 2 2" Banggai Cardinals <Sounds very nice... and getting nicer. Bob Fenner>

Maroon/Purple Linckia Seastar Happy New Year!! Thanks for all your help in 2001 setting up my first reef; it's going quite well thanks to you and your book./.  <Yay!> Few quick questions: I bought a "maroon Linckia" from FFEXP; from your site I think it's a Tamaria stria, and I'm not sure what it eats/how to take care of it. It seems to be scavenging algae from the glass and LR; should I be giving it anything specific or meatier? <My experience parallels a few friends (and Baensch Marine Atlas III, p. 987)... this is a relatively sturdy aquarium species that does well on sufficient "aufwuchs"... algae and attendant interstitial fauna> I'd also like to get a red Fromia and have the same questions about it and wonder if a 46 is big enough for both about 2-3" each)?  <Mmm, should be, given plenty of live rock, and organisms in/on it> I also have two cleaner shrimp. amboinensis) about 2" each who are thriving; I'd like to get a fire shrimp. debelius) also; would they be compatible and not overcrowded?  <I'd leave the Fire Shrimp out here... a bit too small for comfort for me... with any but one species> Would they be OK with a Mithrax (I'm starting to get some bubble algae)?  <S/b if the latter starts small... an inch or so across> Other inhabitants are a few soft corals, scarlet hermits, and snails; with a pair of clowns and a pair of Banggais and maybe 1-2 other small fish planned for later. Appreciate all the help! <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Filtration I currently have a 125 & a 50 gal. tank. I recently purchased a Tidepool filter for the 50 gal. tank and have had excellent results. It houses 1 Lemon Peel Angel, 1 Clown, 1 Strawberry goby, 2 Damsels and 1 serpent star. The tank is crystal clear with excellent numbers and healthy fish. My 125 gal. tank houses 1 Emperor Angel (9 in.) 1Sailfin Tang (8 In.), 1 each Powder Blue and Mimic Tang (Juveniles) and 1 Blue Angel (Juveniles). The fish are all healthy and I have had them from babies. The tank is clear, but has a slight haze. I am using Detox 2 in the sump. Do you think I would be better off with the larger Tidepool in this tank? <Yes> I have a wet/dry filter in it now. The tidepool is easier to maintain than my current filter. Needless to say I cannot keep any cleaner animals in the larger tank since the Emperor Angel quickly disposes of any I have tried.  <Mmm, you might try a species of Gobiosoma, Labropsis... should leave Lysmata spp. alone if there's sufficient hiding spaces. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnrfaqs.htm and the links beyond.> I would appreciate any help you could give me. Phil <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Filtration confusion Ten years ago I had an undergravel salt-water (fish-only) 30 gallon tank while in college (in a frat house if you can imagine). The set-up was simple and I had a yellow tang, Cortez angel, two damsels and a couple other small fish. I was just given a 55 gallon aquarium from a friend. I went to talk to the local fish store and they gave me strange looks when mentioning my previous system (the guy who helped me set up my original one was 70 years old and had been in the business 50 years, seemed to know what he was doing). What do I really need here for filtration? Was the undergravel system not so hot?  <Please read through the various Marine Filtration pieces on WWM starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineFiltr.htm, the FAQs and articles linked beyond> I just want another fish system, perhaps a shrimp or two depending on their needs, nothing really fancy. Can I get by with a protein skimmer and a good hanging unit such as one of the bio-wheel Penguin models from Marineland?  <Yes... with live rock.> Or do I need to really consider a wet/dry system? The bio-wheel types from Marineland claim to be wet/dry as do other brands. Is there a big difference with respect to functionality or is one just a bigger (better?) version than the other?  <Mainly the latter... but much better> I read through your filtration documentation and was left with fingers pointing in different directions, perhaps I missed the boat and left sitting on the end of the peer with my scuba gear on. <Ahh, well-stated. Well, "dive on in" and while you're swimming out, take a look about... see any fancy filter gear? Me neither... Bob Fenner> Thanks Daryl S. Mitchell

Filtration On a 55 gallon reef I plan to have 80 lbs of live rock 2-3 inch sand bed and a CPR BakPak skimmer along with a Emperor power filter which will have carbon in it pumping 400 gallons per hour. In the tank there will be about 4 powerheads pumping at 300 gallons per hour. Will this be good filtration for this setup? <For what sorts of livestock? Please read through the various Marine Filtration sections (articles and FAQs) archived on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

90 gallon FOWLR Hello Robert, I want to ask you a question about my system that I would like to run on my first saltwater setup. I have a Eheim professional 2 2028 canister filter, Rena cal excel 300w heater an undergravel filter which I don't know how may power filters I need. and I don't know how many live rock I will get. And I haven't got a protein skimmer but I am going to buy one. <Mmm, please avail yourself of the Google Search tool on our principal site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ you can see it here on the bottom... about, for all these topics. Enjoy! Bob Fenner>

Setting up Euro Fil 125 From Flying Fish Express I ordered the Euro-Fil 125 "Reef Ready" filtration system for reef aquariums up to 125 gallons. Package includes AquaC EV90 Protein Skimmer with a Rio 1700, CPR CS90 Overflow Box, Drain Hose, Foam Block, and a 25 micron Pre-Filter Bag. The return pump I bought was a Rio 2100. I have a 55 g tank. There were no directions with the filter, just some with the overflow box and the EV 90. I have no idea how to set this up. Please bear with my ultra beginning skills. <No worries... but you should contact them... There should have been, be instructions for setting up, maintaining this gear.> Skimmer Questions I don't know how to attach the protein skimmer to my Rio 1700?  There is a gray valve on top with a blue knob what do I connect to that, and is it the water input or the air valve? There is a black knob next to the gray one what do I connect to that, and is it the water input or the air valve? There is a black knob on the collection cup is that where all of the nitrate collections the skimmer makes comes out of? On the Rio 1700 where should I put the air tube? Do I need to buy some kind of tubing to attach to all of these knobs? What do I attach the Gate valve to inside the sump? <Umm, think I'll send you to Jason Kim's, Aqua-C site... and this note to him as well: http://www.proteinskimmer.com/> Overflow Box Questions I think I assembled it correctly. What exactly does the vent tube do and how should I have it positioned? How do I connect the big black screw thing on the bottom of the overflow box to the sump? I tried the drain hose but it doesn't fit? What do I connect the airline on top to? Sump I got one black sponge how should I put it in the sump? I received a white bag, do I put bio balls in this? There is an acrylic divider with a hole and a screw piece through it, what should I attach this to? <Will send this all to the fine folks at FFE for their input...> Is this filter set up good enough for my tank?  <Yes, should be> I am not going to be keeping corals or anemones because I have large angels. But I will have hermit crabs, cucumbers and only cleaners that may be added to help clean the reef. Thanks a lot for dealing with me. I really hope you can help me with my many questions. I think I am going to bring it to some fish stores to see if they can help me too. Any answers you can give are much appreciated. Thank you. <No worries. Happy to help friends/associates in the trade to properly service their customers, gain insight into missing documentation/help. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Aquariums and Filters I have been shopping for what I would call a mid size aquarium, between 58 to 75 gals. I have found two decent deals: one an Oceanic 58 gal. rectangular tank with stand, cover and light fixture. The other is an Oceanic 72 gal. bow front. The 58 gal. tank is the better deal, but I like the bow front better. <And bigger!> Anyway, part of my decision will be dependent on what size/cost filter will do an adequate job keeping each tank clean. Right now I own a HOT Magnum with the Bio 30 by Marineland that provides mechanical, chemical and biological filtration and is rated at 250 gals. per hour. Is that large and efficient enough for the 58 gal. tank (assuming reasonable stocking levels)? Would it be adequate for the 72 gal.? If not, would stepping up to the Magnum 350 with the larger BioWheel be adequate for the 72 gal.? The 58 gal.? <For... freshwater? Maybe... depending on what sorts of life you intend to keep... smaller fishes, live plants, okay... Not for marines> Finally, I have recently read about a freshwater filter called the "Cleaning Machine", an electronic/electrochemical filter that is supposed to work well and not require filter media or changes of filter sponges, etc. Ever hear of it or have any experience with this filter? Is it a gimmick or does it really work? <More of the latter... I'd get/use an accessory hang on filter with either of these sizes/types of aquariums in addition to the Magnums listed. Bob Fenner> I look forward to hearing from you. Geoff Veith

TUNZE Hello, Wasn't sure if this was the place to write about comments concerning Tunze equipment but here ya go.  <Okay> I bought a Tunze self contained system for my well established tank of two years. NEVER had big problems until installing this system. 1st I had nothing but air blowing from thefiltration system for 3 months and got NO help from Tunze even though I wrote them numerous times.  <Hmm, why aren't you cc'ing them here? I will> 2nd the protein skimmer had to be babied like opening it up and disassembling and cleaning the inside of the motor every month and 3rd the top off although great in theory was never working properly. My thoughts on Tunze are not favorable.  <I gathered> I took the entire system back to where I bought it and of course lost 10% of what I paid including most of my corals due to the incredible poor workmanship and customer service. I also had put $200 down on the system and waited for 3 months until Tunze finally shipped it to me. All and all I think the entire disaster cost me over $3000. in lost livestock and time. I now have just live rock and am looking for a good protein skimmer which you don't have to take the motor apart to clean the inside, one that works great and a company with integrity.  If you know of someone would you please offer some advice. <Please see this part of our site re skimmer selection: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimselfaqs.htm and the related/links, FAQs beyond> Tunze does not believe they EVER make any faulty equipment, they must not be human! <This is a popular, though pricey line imported from Europe... many people do report success with their products...> Sincerely, Trina <Sorry to hear of your bad experiences... and glad to hear of your fortitude of character in returning the gear, and not giving up. I will gladly help you in your ambitions to be successful.  Bob Fenner>

Re: Filtration Dear Robert, Is there such a thing as over-filtering a system?  <Yes... though rare... much more common is "mis-filtering", under filtration> I use an underground and a conventional air filter that have maximum capabilities that are a bit more than the size of my tank. Will this hurt the fish? Thanx. <No my friend. Bob Fenner> -James Kim

Marine Filtration/Filter Choices Going to set up a 55 gallon fish only saltwater set up. Substrate is CaribSea Aragonite reef sand. I plan to add 60 pounds of live rock. Of all the different filtration systems out there I don't know which one to go with. <Many choices... considerations to take into account here... function, purpose (yours), cost, maintenance... even noisiness, resale value...> I was looking at the Aqua Clear Pro 75 Wet/Dry w/ Prefilter. If there is something that you prefer over this one let me know. <For? Please read through the marine filtration articles and FAQs (there are a few pages of them) and related article links starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineFiltr.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Filtration Thanks very much. Three replies, so soon, and on a Sunday. I've set the tank up as suggested. Now, if my LFS is correct, put some live rock in and wait 4 - 6 weeks. <Mmm, monitor water quality... might be sooner, later> The 6x2 x2 tank & throw away filter? <Throw away? More likely clean and replace> When you've had the whole lot delivered (tank, fish, water, sand , rocks, matured filter .. the works all on one day) and then seen it decline to one domino damsel (it had plenty of swimming space) and loads of brown algae, then I think frustration is a likely outcome. Fortunately I was on hand ... 'it's in the skip, get it if you want it!'. The 6x2x2 is in my garage, sadly empty, but you never know... one day. <Very fortunate> Thanks again for your help, much appreciated. Brian <Cheers. Bob Fenner>

Filtration Half way through setting up a small (180l) marine tank (probably 3-4 fish, some inverts, live rock) when I came across your excellent site. Is your e-mail address there for people to ask questions? (You must get hundreds, so please ignore this if I'm being presumptuous). <No worries my friend> I've got a Juwel 180, with its standard filter. I also have a Fluval 404, and a Eheim Professional wet & dry (which I rescued from a skip, <trash bin to browsers on this side of the "pond"> it had been thrown away by a frustrated, and wealthy, marine aquarist). <Good find> Should I use all of these, and what would be the best media. I must admit I'm a bit confused after reading your comments about wet & dry. <A large, easily confused area... I would use all of these, including the media that "came with" the wet dry, and Eheim's media for your Fluval (Ehfi mech, the macaroni ceramic bits at the bottom (a "small box or two", Ehfi synth, the finer/green polythene (not a mis-spelling in your country), and the Ehfi Grob, larger white material on top... If you get into the habit of using activated carbon, do situate this between the ceramic biomedia and fine particulate one in a Dacron/polyester bag... switch this out every month or so> I intend to buy a Red Sea Prizm skimmer. <Likely an okay choice for this size system, but do read through our "Skimmer FAQs": http://www.wetwebmedia.com/skimselfaqs.htm and consult with other actual hobbyist users on chatforums (Ours: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/> Thanks <Cheers and be chatting, Bob Fenner> Brian

Filtration As a newcomer to marine aquaria (well actually a returnee after 25 years away, so it amounts to the same thing) I find your web page and Q & A sections invaluable. <Ah, glad to be of service, interest> I'm setting up a small (180 litre Juwel Rio) marine aquarium. I hope to have 3 -4 small fish, inverts (shrimps etc. and some corals / polyps which don't demand strong light. I've got 2 x 10,000K fluorescents with reflectors) and some live rock. For filtration I've got the standard Juwel internal, plus a Fluval 404. I also have an Eheim Professional Wet & Dry which I rescued from a skip when a frustrated, and wealthy, would be marine aquarist threw it away (along with a 6' x 2' x 2' tank, but that's another story). <Yowzah, that's some apparent frustration!> I intended to use this as well, as much to increase water circulation as for its filtration properties. However your answers seem to indicate a rather wary approach to wet & dry. Would you use all of these filters, and if so, what media would you use.  <Yes, I would (still)> The Fluval has sintered glass (cylinders & crushed) in two compartments, and another compartment half filled with carbon. <I would trade these materials out as previously mentioned... the glass (likely Siporax) is an excellent product, but not one you need where it is, how it is employed presently... the carbon as it's situated becomes coated with "organics" much too quickly> The Eheim only has the original coarse sponges at present, with two empty baskets. <Mmm. Do visit Eheim's site: http://www.eheim.com/ , save up and purchase the other media. It's the best available.> Thanks for your help <Thank you for your query. Bob Fenner> Brian E-mails Sorry, I seem to have sent you the same question twice. My PC crashed when I tried to send the first one, and I thought I hadn't worked. Apologies <No worries my friend. Helped to remind me of more, introduce your system. Bob Fenner> Brian

Filtration problems? Hi Bob, I've been reading through this website for some time now and have learned a lot. Keep up the good work! <Am trying to... thanks> I have a couple of questions regarding filtration. My display tank is a 55 gal. with 50 lbs. live rock and crushed coral substrate. My livestock includes 2 anemones and 2 false Percula clownfish, some scarlet reef and left-handed hermits, 15 turbo snails and a peppermint shrimp. All water parameters are good. My setup includes an AquaC Remora Pro skimmer, an AquaClear300 filter, a QuickSand fluidized bed filter powered by a Hagen 301  powerhead and Quickfilter. I also have two Hagen 402 powerheads with Quickfilters for added circulation/aeration/filtration. Actually I am thinking about replacing the AquaClear with an Eheim 2028 canister filter so that I do not have so much hanging off of the back of the tank making it hard to clean (it's an in the wall tank and I can only get to it from the back).  <A good choice, change.> My first question is do I have adequate filtration, as I see a lot of detritus come up from the gravel when I vacuum it? <Sounds fine... some detritus is to be expected.> I just decided to set up a 10 gal. quarantine tank, so I took off the QuickSand fluidized bed filter to use the it for the q-tank (which is filled with 1/2 water from my main tank). But do you think that my 55 gal. will be alright without the QuickSand filter? <Yes... of a certainty... once it's fully cycled, up and going, plenty of nitrification elsewhere.> My other concern is when I briefly unplugged the QuickSand fluidized filter on the 55 gal. this morning and plugged it back in, a considerable amount of the silica from inside was released into the tank. I am now worried that this will cause problems in my tank, as I already have some brown algae (most of it is in inside of the QuickSand fluidized filter itself). <No real worries here either... a short while, as in minutes? No problem> I would appreciate any advice you could give regarding my filtration setup and whether the silica will be a problem (and if so, what do I do?). <I would do nothing> Thanks so much for your help and this wonderful forum!! Laura <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

In Dire need of Professional Advice!!! Mr. Fenner, Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Aaron and I reside in St. Louis Missouri. <Am doing, and did a layover there in/out route from FLA... in Key West now...> I recently bought a home which included a 135 gallon integrated marine aquarium with both reef and fish. This tank is my first foray into fish and reef keeping since I have NEVER owned even a goldfish. <Yikes, a light year jump right into the pool for sure!> I bought your book and have sought advice from just about anyone, including marine aquarium stores, as to the best method to maintain my tank. However, I have heard so many conflicting opinions that my head is spinning. <There are "many roads" to many important aspects... and lots of mis/dis/fishinformation> The previous tank owner seems to have cut many corners in maintaining the tank. There is a 4ft homemade protein skimmer (which doesn't seem to work) and there was a hang-on type Magnum filter which I or the marine store rep, whom I paid to come educate me on what I have, had a clue how to use. I know I need some sort of filtration. What do you recommend I do to facilitate adequate filtration for my system? <If there's room for a sump and you feel up to its install, upkeep, I'd go this route... if not, a combination hang-on skimmer and filter or two... of size... Have you read through the Marine Filtration part of our site? WetWebMedia.com?> I appreciate your time and any recommendations you may have. Marine aquariums are addictive, but I want to maintain as healthy and vibrant system as possible, Sincerely yours, Aaron Lucero <Will gladly help you... Please do read through the associated FAQs files on the WWM site. Be back home tomorrow night and of better assistance then. Bob Fenner>

Still more questions: a good hobby for obsessive types?  Hello again! I took your advice and have been reading up on chat forums and news groups e.g.. FFExpress and PA and am more confused than ever re: filtration for my 46 gallon with CPR BakPak, LR, and who knows what else?  <Ah, keep studying my friend... confusion mated with desire are the forespring of enlightenment> You and I both seem to like the benefits of "extra" filtration e.g. canisters and hang-ons, but Paletta seems fanatic about using just LR and skimmers> A true disagreement or just different styles/ways to skim a cat (sorry. bad pun).  <Ooh! Yes to different roads, all leading toward "Rome"> Since you agree that BioWheels> vs. nitrates, I'm now leaning toward H.O.T Magnum with just a micron cartridge and a container for carbon or, presumably Purigen, etc. What do you think? BTW, do you advise running carbon all the time, e.g., in the Eheim you convinced me to get, or just part time to avoid HLLE? <Would hold off on chemical filtrants at first... then use carbon on a limited scale, renewed about once a month... HLLE best avoided through careful nutrition.> Maybe a more substantive ?: What's the best way to conceptualize bioload re: fish vs. inverts? <No... the system en toto... primary producers, decomposers, filter feeders, nitrifiers-denitrifiers... Best to try building on your/an understanding of systems altogether... Inputs/outputs... compensating mechanisms. For instance fish do eat invertebrates (et al.) and vice versa... but what more? Inside and outside them? Draft a series of "cycles" and components... energy webs, reproduction, use of space, light... and interconnect them...> I'm greedy and want to maximize both in a small system without killing stuff or having no margin of safety for Murphy's Law? Even though it's obviously a crude approx., can you still use the 1"/5gallons even if there are also inverts and crustaceans around? Seems like that would be a free lunch? <Not necessarily... but germinal to our beginning conversation... best to go slow in stocking... and shoot for under-stocking> Maybe that's why I like the idea of multiple types of biol. filtration going' at once. Back to the obsessive: any reason one couldn't replace the BioBale in the CPR with your heater or two for redundancy) to hide and protect them? <Hmm, the safety margin of having the heater/s in the actual system of a tank this size... are worth leaving/having them there> Thanks, again; hope I'm not taking advantage or your generosity with your time. Best wishes, Al <No worries. Keep planning, dreaming. Bob Fenner>

New Tank Bob Hi, I have yet another question for you. I have decided to move up in tank size. I am going from a 46 reef to a 135.  <Wish our disposable incomes increased in such a fashion!> I am looking at a acrylic integrated tank. All the filtration is built into the back of the tank. It uses sponges instead of bio balls and has two protein skimmers. My LFS owner said that kind of tank is the only thing he owns. I am just curious if you know anything about these type of tanks and if you think they are a good deal.  <Hmm, do know of several kinds, makers (like CASCO, DAS...) and am not a fan of any that I've come across. Invariably they're puny on the actual filtering capacity, and royal pain to service and maintain... I would seek out (more charitable and positive!) input from BB's, Chatforums (like ours?: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/)... maybe someone has improved on this "all in one approach"... I would go with separate sump, gear... much more workable, flexible... easier to work on.> This tank costs around 1000.00 more then a regular tank so I want to make sure I make the right decision. Thank you for all your help. Jason <Chat with you soon my friend. Bob Fenner>

Eclipse? I have a 25 gallon tank with 20lbs. of aragonite live sand 10lbs of live rock and eclipse one on top of the tank is this enough to filter the tank? <Should be... depending on what you're keeping, trying to do...> what else would you recommend for the tank? <Perhaps a retrofitted skimmer... read over the "Skimmer FAQs" on our site re: http://wetwebmedia.com/skimmerfaqs.htm> and do I have to much sand in the tank? <Not IMO> I know it is a small tank but it is temporary till I get my 55gal set up in a couple months. I have a small undulate trigger and a small emperor snapper in it right now. I am probably going to trade the snapper because it eats more than the trigger. one last question can I start feeding them small feeders yet or should I just keep feeding him guppy feeders?  <As small a food size and quantity as you can...> the snapper is 1inch and the trigger is 2inches and my last question is what is the longest they both can go without eating?? <At these sizes, a few days...> please email me back at  thanks

Berlin system Good morning, Here's a question that may sound ignorant, but I'm kind of confused. In the "Berlin system", is a protein skimmer the only device that is used for filtration? <Umm, no... the other principal component, the Live Rock is also very important> No sump or other external devices? <A sump is very useful for placing more live rock... other devices may also be of service, though not specified by the "Berlin Method" (just LR and skimming)> Or can you put a sump with this to increase the tank volume and water movement within the tank with the return?  <Yes, surely> I've tried to read all the info I could on this and it all seems to conflict with one another. HELP ME WITH MY CONFUSED STATE. Thanx, CE. <Confusion can be a great asset... if it leads to enlightenment, action my friend. Bob Fenner, www.WetWebMedia.com>

Filtration?? Bob thanks again for the advice. I purchased two cleaner shrimp from my LFS this morning because of last weeks deaths. I explained what happened to the person helping me and he suggested that maybe my filtration system should be upgraded to a wet/dry. I explained to him I just got the new Rena XP2 system that has biological area built in the filter, plus I'm running a Seaclone skimmer as well. Do you think the canister filter and the skimmer are plenty of hardware for my 30 gallon?  <What do your water quality tests indicate?> I would hate to lose anything else or be limited on the live stock I can add. Your advice is always appreciated. Thanks, Jason <Keep studying my friend. Bob Fenner>

Filtration (another case of trying to "learn" via Q and A's on the Net) Hi, I just put a protein skimmer on my tank which is about 3 months old. I am still getting a white (milky) substance in the water. I know this is robbing the fish of oxygen but why do I still have it. <Hmm...> It got worse after I did a 3 gallon water change which I did to lower my Nitrates. Could you tell me if a mechanical filter will help, or, should I wait and let the protein skimmer work for awhile? <The mechanical filter will help... Bob Fenner> Thank you Sandy

Filstar XP2 canister filter Hey Bob, I would like to add the new Filstar system by Rena to my established 30 gallon reef set-up (about 1year). I believe my Eclipse 3 system is not powerful enough anymore (What do you think?). <A good addition as a reef filter system> I have been adding more corals lately and believe it's time for a filtration change. I was wondering which steps I need to take when changing filtration systems.  <Run both... if not continuously, at least for a month> I was mainly worried with biological lose and possible nitrate increase. Your input is always appreciated in such technical matters. Look forward to your advice. Thank You, Jason <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Filstar XP2 canister filter and Sally light foot Bob, Thanks for the reply. I just came home and found my Sally Light Foot on its back, its not so light anymore. <Actually lighter> I added a frog spawn and a blue Linckia starfish 2 days ago, would that cause the crab to die or do you think its was its time.  <Who knows? What do you think?> It seemed to be very active until today?? also my pipe coral and long tentacle anemone are touching each other, should I keep some distance between them??  <Yes> Plus my pipe coral doesn't look so hot. <It's losing. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Jason

Changing filters Bob, After reading many of your articles and answers to questions, I feel very comfortable asking you about the care of my aquarium. <Ah, good> I have a 55 salt, w/50 lbs. live rock, 2 Renaissance 300 hang on filters, protein skimmer and PowerSweep power head on my tank. Currently I have a Volitans, engineer goby, scallop, sebae, featherduster, brittle star, sand sifting star and various crabs and snails as inhabitants. I would like to eventually evolve this tank into a reef system. I want to change and/or upgrade the filter system to a wet/dry but I am uncertain as to how I would make the transition smoothly without harming my current residents. <Run both sets of gear for a week, then take off the original> How would I do this and which specific wet/dry filters and other equipment would you recommend. I have recently seen a filter called a Pro75. What have you heard about these filters? <Have heard. They're okay. My input on gear can be found on our site, www.WetWebMedia.com, but I would ask a broader audience (the WWM Chatforum for specifics: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/> Thanks in advance for helping with my dilemma. Julie <Not a dilemma my friend, a dream. Bob Fenner>

Filter system <Hi, Lorenzo Gonzalez responding for Bob-in-Asia.> I am going to take your advice for my filtration system on a 135gal. fish only, of live rock and live sand. My question is the tank has 2 corner overflows, how should I set the sump up, and what size sump should I get.  <We recommend lighted, with live rock, Caulerpa algae, skimmer, heater.> Also should I get some powerheads to provide some circulation to keep the live rock from going bad.  <Yes. This tank should have at least 4 good powerheads in it, setup to provide as much turbulence as possible.> Also you said no to the first fish being a Naso tang and a Harlequin tusk, what would you recommend, that is a nice fish? Also what would be a good amount of fish to start off with? <Start off with one fish. Or two small, tough ones. Traditional starters are Damsels or even Chromis, but there are other tough customers, like hawks. regards, Lorenzo>

Filtration Hi. I have a big question about filtration for my marine aquarium. I am thinking about building a wet/dry filter. Would this work?  <Hi Kevin, Lorenzo Gonzalez doing my poor Bob Fenner impression, as he's on fish safari for a couple more weeks. Wet/dry systems work for many systems, but not all, and they certainly aren't absolutely necessary, nor very popular these days. Great for big-messy fish, though.> What would I use?  <Go to the 'links' page on www.wetwebmedia.com - there's a site called OZ Reef listed there somewhere, they have lots of great DIY articles.> Another thing is that I saw this new thing called a "Skilter". First of all, have you ever heard of this? Does it really work well? As you can see, I need help FAST!!!! Please help!! Thank you very much. <'Skilter' is a brand name for a small, combination filter/protein skimmer. They're really not that new. They are suitable for smaller systems, but not nearly as effective as high-quality 'single-function' components, i.e.. a stand-alone skimmer paired with a stand-alone power filter. -Lorenzo>

Information Overload <Fred, Lorenzo Gonzalez here, standing in for Bob, who is mostly incommunicado-in-Asia. Since it sounds like you already had a dialog with Bob, I wouldn't normally reply, but with the desperate tone of your letter, I'm not sure you'll want to wait until Bob can get online again!> OK Robert, Bob, Mr. Fenner, Guru understand the options are limitless. Which is my problem, I am on information overload but value your opinion. I am in the process of a beginner reef (75g) and have decided on lighting, water flow, protein skimmer (Remora Pro), LS and LR, salt, heating, test kits, and RO.  <Sounds like you're well on your way! (I have the Remora on a 60g, love it!)> However, I am at odds with filtration and have received way too many opinions (yes it is required, no it is not required, you can't have too much filtration, you must have a nutrient free environment, it's better to have and not need than to need and not have, you are wasting good money let the LR & LS do its job, and many more ..... <Blah, blah, blah - I do know how you feel. In my opinion, unless you're going to have 'piggy eaters' in your system (trigger, grouper, big wrasse, etc) you can have a very nice, quieter, more energy-efficient system, without any additional filtration, i.e.. hang-on, canister or fluidized bed - they're all a pain-in-the-butt to maintain anyway. Just a good skimmer, and a ton of beautiful, useful live rock.> Since you have guided me with good information in the past, I seek it now more than ever. What is the absolute best way to go about filtration for the reef (in your opinion). SOS HELP!! <If it's really a reef you want to build (and not a big-fish showcase), you definitely don't need to spend a bunch of money on a fancy power filter. It's nice to have a small filter (AquaClear, Whisper 2, etc) to run carbon now and then, if your water gets tinted, for example. But it's certainly not a necessity for a healthy reef system.  Regards, Lorenzo><<I couldn't agree more. Bobenzo>>

Filtration Question/Problem Hi Bob, I have a 72 gal bow front marine aquarium. It is a fish only tank with sand and Tufa rock. I have 2 hang-on type wet/dry trickle filters, AquaC Remora Pro protein skimmer, UV sterilizer and a powerhead for circulation. Lighting is 2 standard fluorescent tubes. 1 - Hagen Power-Glo 48" 40w T10 ( Lumens 2200, Lux 180, Kelvin 18000K) The other is a Hagen Marine-Glo 48" 40w T10 Actinic Blue (Lux 105) <This isn't much light> Live Stock is: Panther Grouper, Snowflake Moray, Clown Trigger, Yellow Tang, Blueface Angel (juv), 4 Damsels and a FFExpress cleanup crew. Every 4 or 5 days I measure a slight trace of ammonia (.2 or less) <Yikes... this is a bunch of fish... and will be way too much soon> - it comes and goes. The fish do not show any signs of stress. I suspect that my wet/dry filter is not adequate (too small maybe)!!! So I'm thinking of upgrading to a larger sump type wet/dry system. Do you think this is the right way to go?  <It's one way to go... please read over the "Marine Filtration" sections and FAQs stored on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for more input> If so, which size and type would you suggest if any? This being a $300-$400 investment, would it be better to spend that $$$$ and stock the tank with live rock instead?  <A better choice yes... but you will have to reduce the bioload of fishes at any length> If so, what type of rock and how should I introduce the rock into an established tank so as not to risk going through another cycle? <See the sections on the WWM site re this...> Thanks always for your help. Ed <Much more to chat over my friend. Bob Fenner>

Advanced Aqua Tank filtration I have a 55 gallon Advanced Aqua tank with the built-in filtration system. I have removed all of the mechanical filtration media, and added a simple, air-driven protein skimmer. So, I am basically running the protein skimmer and wet/dry system in concert with a bunch of live rock in my tank. Sorryto say, I don't know the total weight of the live rock, but it takes up about 20% of the volume of the tank. I also employ an active "cleanup crew" that keeps my cleaning maintenance to a minimum. <Okay> What do I need to do to make this a serviceable tank? I don't have much livestock in the tank now--just 2 chocolate chip starfish, 3 damsels (one is now 3"!), and the snails and crabs in the "crew." I also started this tank 6 years ago with a combo of live rock and completely dead, dry rock. All the rock is seeded now and supports coralline algae and small worms and such. <Hmm, serviceable? I'd add some sort of convenient, sturdy mechanical filtration that is flexible enough to add some biological (hypoxic) media and the occasional (monthly) chemical in the way of activated carbon... My choice? An Eheim canister filter with either their mech-mech media on the bottom or Siporax beads (one time purchase)... and likely a unit of Boyd's Chemipure every month... Much of this elaborated in various FAQs sections on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com under the same heading names... Oh, and add some lighting (a small compact fluorescent) to the former wet-dry sump and some live rock and macro-algae (genus Caulerpa)... this is about it.> Pretty soon I would like to catch the damsels and replace them with some nice community fish and add some anemones and such. Oh, I also just replaced my lighting with a 96w SmartLite system. I used to have room for only 2 1.5"x36" fluorescent bulbs in the former hood and this is a major improvement so far! <Oh yes.> Thanks again, Linda <You're welcome my friend in fish. Bob Fenner>

Advanced Aqua Tank filtration Bob, I have spent time reading more and understand that I should remove the bioballs from my wet/dry and convert that area (under the drip tray) to a refugium.  <In almost all cases a good/better idea> I can raise the water level in the rear section of the tank to accommodate for the change so that the LR is underwater. As a bonus, the overall flow from my sump should increase since the pump won't have to "lift" the water as high to return it to the display portion of the tank. <Yes> You recommended using a canister filter. I have an engineering degree, but after spending several years now as an at-home mom, I must be going dopey. I can't for the life of me figure out how I would use one of these with my tank. Aren't they "in-line" equipment?  <Yes, pressurized... sorry for likely being unclear here... but this would be a separate, redundant filtration, circulation addition> Since I have a built-in filtration system in the back section of my tank, I have no "lines" per se. I do have 3 vertical chambers prior to the drip tray. The first two are fed by overflow from the tank. The first section also overflows to the second. The second section flows down and feeds the (very narrow) third section from the bottom. This, in turn, overflows to the wet/dry drip tray. The wet/dry feeds the final section from the bottom (the sump pump is located there to return water to the tank). The first section is used for my foam fractionator protein skimmer. The second section is equipped with several ledges for media trays. All the water does have to flow down through this section, so Advanced Aqua intended it to be used for mechanical filtration. The third section is very skinny, but is used now just for the heater. <I understand... know Alan Lem the owner, the units... and consider them too puny for their intended function... hence my encouragement to modify the build-in and add other components> I removed everything from the second section and am floating a hydrometer/thermometer in there currently. Is there a filter I should be utilizing in that second section? Should I simply stack some media in there in a certain order? <The latter here> Would that be adequate or do I really need a pressurized mechanical filtration? If so, what is the best way to accomplish that when there are no "lines" to attach to? <Hmm, well... you, your system would greatly benefit from additional water movement, mechanical filtration and more... Consider this: I would like you to open your mind to many alternate possibilities... you could cut the tank, add a thru-hull to remote filtration to a sump... where algae filtration, a much better skimmer et al. could be isolated... and pump/return the water to your main/display system... as a "zenith" plan. Please read through the "Mechanicals" section on our website, particularly the associated FAQs files here... for much more.> Also, I have used Chemipure in the past and really like it. I put it in the second section and make sure it fills the cross-section of the section so that the water is forced through it. <Yes, a good placement...> I removed the mechanical filtration because some site somewhere recommended removing it, claiming that it is just a nutrient sink. I do notice more particulate matter in my tank, but my water is amazingly clean and balanced considering how lax I have been in water changes. I must just be lucky.... <Not just... also intelligent, resourceful...> You and your advice are great. Thanks so much, Linda <Let us keep chatting, you keep studying, considering your possibilities. Bob Fenner>

Re: Advanced Aqua Tank filtration > If I were to modify the tank by cutting it, would I just be abandoning the entire back (filtration) portion? The LFS folks told me that it is too narrow to even be a worthwhile refugium. Is there any use for this other than as a really large overflow? > <IMO not really... I would abandon it as a "functional" unit> Knowing that I will eventually just be using the filter area as a very large surface skimmer, what volume do I now use to calculate pump sizes, refugium size, appropriate stocking, etc.? The display area of my tank is about 45 G and the back portion is about 15 G (I measured that the back is 1/3 the width of the display). <<Oversize as usual...>> Where is the best place to take the inflow and outflow of the canister? The sump/refugium? The back of the tank? The display tank? <The back of the display tank... in either corner... the "intake" near the bottom, the discharge at the surface in a spray across the top of the system's surface water> I have a bubbler in my tank currently for increased dissolved oxygen (not sure it does much of anything). Really, I put it in when buying a better air pump for my skimmer. I just split the air and sent part through the bubbler. It makes a mess of my tank cover. I get lots of algae on the cover over the bubbler and under my light. The air pump is the noisiest part of my system too, even after replacing the diaphragm. I'd really like to turn this off when I get a new skimmer that doesn't require an air pump. Would losing the bubbler be a real detriment to the tank? My current sump pump is rated at about 4-500 GPH now and will go down to about 300 GPH when I move it to the planned for sump/refugium. <Probably will be fine to turn off the noisy bubbler pump... but do keep it handy for back-up, emergencies...> How much do snails, hermit crabs, and abalone affect stocking allowances? Will the extra "buffer" from the abandoned filter area in this tank allow the tank to support a higher density of stocking? <Some and some... not much.> Thanks for your help. Linda <Bob Fenner>

Advanced Aqua Tank filtration Bob, Thanks so much for your help. Are you saying to remove the bioballs and replace them with live rock and macroalgae (and lighting)? <Yes... pls see the "Algal Filtration" FAQs area on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for more here. Bob Fenner> Linda

More Advanced Aqua Tank filtration Well, as my husband pointed out, I will be really busy with my 3rd baby soon, due in July. So, I have plenty of time to plan before taking too much action. <This is well> In the short run, I am going to add back in mechanical filtration to the section of the current system intended for that. I will also be more diligent with Chemipure cycling. I have a bunch of polyester filter fiber around and will use that up first (with the Chemipure). I am also going to replace my less than adequate protein skimmer. I'm thinking of getting a Remora or Remora Pro hang-on skimmer since they require minimal clearance. Guess I need to look at upgrading the pump that comes with them. <A good idea as well> Q's for my "mind-opening" planning: If I were to modify the tank by cutting it, would I just be abandoning theentire back (filtration) portion? The LFS folks told me that it is too narrow to even be a worthwhile refugium. Is there any use for this other than as a really large overflow? <IMO not really... I would abandon it as a "functional" unit> I also know I will need to add some powerheads to the display tank to increase the water movement. My current return pump is rated at somewhere between 4-600 gph, depending on lift (it is a Rio, though). It has greater flow than the sump pump that came with the tank and blew out during one of our wonderful Bay Area power outages a couple of years ago.<Yikes> Thank you so much. I don't know how you have time for all of us "just learning" folks. <I key quickly. Bob Fenner, coming home from Kona this eve> Linda

Tank with built in filtration in rear Hello again Bob... You know those aquariums where the back "bows" out to hide filtration in the rear of the tank?  <Yes> Kinda like the Tenecor Berlin System tanks http://www.tenecor.com/aquar/images/berlin.jpg ? Well, I think you're supposed to put a lot of bio-balls in the back area, but since I'm going to have enough biological filtration with the LR and LS, I want to do something creative with it. <Yes... a good idea... the bioballs are unnecessary... and a pain to get about...> The tank is a 100Gallon, and the area in the back for filtration is roughly 2' long, 2' tall and about 4" wide. It has some flow through baffles in it for what is supposed to be a protein skimmer (airstone with a cup on top, PATHETIC!) and then the bio ball holders. <Yes... dismiss the current skimmer entirely... place another as a hang on is my first choice... a sump region addition secondarily> I was thinking of turning this area into a small refugium and wanted your thoughts. I was thinking of throwing in some small pieces of LR on the bottom, then some Caulerpa on top. The water would skim off the top, into this back area refugium, then out a drain to the sump, then back to the main front of the tank. <A very good idea...> I'm puzzled as to how to get enough light in there, since this thing is narrow and tall, I want to make sure enough light gets to the bottom. Are there any "submersible" tubes of light that you're aware of? Is lighting the top opening enough for Caulerpa? <No need to submerse... look for a single Compact fluorescent lamp/fixture here... Perfecto makes some, and there are many imports as well... this is what we use on the model refugium filters we've been experimenting with for years... leave on 24/7> Will this area be enough for the 100G, or am I better off making a larger refugium in the sump? I only want the nitrate reduction, and am not so concerned with copepods and such. <Would just use the one on back as such... can convert, add the sump later if you deem that that's what you want...> If not so good for a refugium, how about at least some airstones to highly aerate the water before going to the sump? This seems like it won't do too much. I just don't want this area to simply hold water. Suggestions? <Make the back into a Caulerpa, live rock refugium... for sure> PS. Cleaning out a poorly maintained aquarium is one of the worst tasks I have ever done... so nasty. There was a decaying fish in there... yuck! Poor fish. I will redeem the tank however and make it place for healthy living. <Hmm, yes> PSS. Great tip on the Rubbermaid containers for the sump. I'm gonna use the 40G Rubbermaid tote... it's perfect!!! Much obliged. <Great products, use. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> - Eugene

Filtration systems Bob, I am in the "research" phase of establishing a smaller saltwater aquarium (25g-30g). For the most part, I understand equipment, compatibility, water quality, etc. but am a little confused (no, a lot confused) about the filtering. I would like to use live rock (Bio?)<Yes, and more> to do the filtering but, do I need anything else and if so what would you suggest. <Hmm, yes... at least some skimming is advisable at the start... the first few months... you will see decided changes in the qualities, amount of collectant... and some periodic chemical filtration like monthly use of activated carbon... along with perhaps some boosted macroalgae growth (intense lighting, sufficient water quality)> Please be specific as I am that confused. <Keep researching till your confusion fades... you have an obvious talent for communication... and will be able to discern your path... Do look for Walter Adey's works on the Net... and read them over as well as the scant coverage of "Setup", "Components" posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com... seek to understand the underlying principles and you will know how to proceed> I do know that I don't want a wet/dry system if it can be avoided at all. <Easily. Bob Fenner> Thanks for the help. Thom Walters

Filtering Question I just bought a 75 gallon aquarium about a week and a half ago. I decided I wanted to set up a salt water tank, and it came as a package with a Fluval 404 filter. I am currently running the filter and a 802 powerhead for circulation.  <Hmm, no skimmer? Only one powerhead?...> I have about 20 pounds of live rock, and currently 8 damsels which are doing fine. A man at the pet store told me I need to run a wet/dry filter instead of the canister one I currently have. Does this really make a big difference?  <"Different roads..." Both technologies and others will get you about to the same place... But you do need more filtration, circulation> My tank seems to be doing fine the way it is. The water is crystal clear, and all the tests I am running come out fine. The Fluval 404 has four sponges. Would it be beneficial to take out 2 sponges and put in bioballs? <Not really...> One last question, my temperature remains at 79.8 degrees to 80.8 degrees Fahrenheit. I currently am not using my heater because of this. Is this going to hurt my fish, and if so how should I lower it? <No worries with most types of marine life at this temperature, range... I would have a thermostatic heater in place just in case of a thermal drop... And during the Summer months you may have to install a fan to blow across the tank top, alternate your lighting cycle... Please see the "Heating", "Cooling" sections on the Marine Index on our website here: www.WetWebMedia.com for more> Thank you in advance for your help. <You're welcome. Bob Fenner> 

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