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Eliminating nitrates - water change frequency, bio balls, etc.

This is a discussion on Eliminating nitrates - water change frequency, bio balls, etc. within the Beginner Saltwater Aquariums forums, part of the Saltwater Fish and Coral Reef Tanks category; --> Originally Posted by reefsahoy first i want to say your tank looks to be the begining of a nice setup! IMO the sand bed ...

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Eliminating nitrates - water change frequency, bio balls, etc.
Old 08-26-2010, 07:50 AM   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reefsahoy View Post
first i want to say your tank looks to be the begining of a nice setup! IMO the sand bed is only for looks and can become a problem if too deep. It will and can accumulate detrius and cause phosphate problems if not maintained correctly with CUC and vacuuming. That being said i I keep mine shallow just for look. and IMO the depth of your sand bed is fine.
Thanks for the compliment. Now I'm thoroughly confused about how deep the sand bed should be.

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Originally Posted by bearwithfish View Post
i can add to a couple of those questions.. for the sand you want Aggregate sand not the regular play sand or anything with silica in it as that will make algae grow out of control.... and only add a little at a time with like a piece of PVC or something to keep it where you want it and to avoid suffocating the sand bed yo have thriving now....
Thanks, Brett. So assuming I resolve the conflicting sand bed depth advice in favor of adding more sand, I should be just fine with Aggregate sand from Home Depot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by reefsahoy
I agree with the guys above, remove the bio balls slowly and remove the sponge. They are nitrate factories. keep your mechanical filtration clean. I've known reef keepers who don't even use mechanical filters, saying that i use one but will eventually remove mine one of these days.
By a mechanical filter you mean a canister filter or hang on back filter, right? If so, I don't have either. Do you have any thoughts on the issue of the dust-like detritus that accumulates at the bottom of the wet/dry? Does anyone else?

Quote:
Originally Posted by reefsahoy
Please don't put damsels in your tank unless that's all you want in the tank, as far as fish, and plan to keep them until they die. they are agressive and will kill anything new you put in the tank unless you remove them all. and catching a fish in a reef is a pain.
I didn't want damsels at all. I wanted to introduce blue/green chromis to the tank when it finishes it's fish-less period because I heard they were peaceful. The LFS didn't have any chromis when I went, though, and assured me that the yellow tail damsels they had were not among the aggressive kind. Does anyone know if there is any truth to that? There is no way they would give me a refund so I would hate to just "donate" them back to the store and start the quarantine period over with a new fish.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reefsahoy
Live rocks will definitely lower nitrates, and keep your tank stable. If you bought cured LR you can add fish almost instantly as long as you don't add an overload of fish. you can add LR or Dead rock even if you have fish in the tank, assuming the LR is cured or if DR, you add slowly. I even have LR in my sump and nothing else.
My concern isn't with ammonia spikes, etc., but with the potential for adding back into the system parasites that I am currently running the system fish-less and quarantining fish to ensure I am rid of.

That said, how does live rock lower nitrates, anyhow? I understand it provides more surface area for the bacteria that breaks ammonia down into nitrites and then nitrates, but where does it go from there? If nowhere, how does it help reduce nitrates?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bearwithfish View Post
on one side yes you risk a little when adding live rock over time but generally speaking (depending on where you buy it) you largest risk is hitch hikers (which in it self can be a cool adventure)
I've had two complete wipe outs now in the last few months, one from a mechanical issue while I was away and the other seemingly from a parasite. I really can't afford to risk having it happen again. Adding dry rock to the system rather than live rock and simply waiting for it to become "live" would ensure a parasite is never inadvertently introduced by adding rock, right?
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Old 08-26-2010, 07:53 AM   #12
 
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Originally Posted by reefsahoy View Post
a word of advise, when adding fish, keep in mind what type of reef you are going to keep eventually. some fish eat certain types of corals, clams, and shrimp. when i first started i had a hog fish in the tank and bought a ornimental shrimp. when i added he shrimp he didn't last a second! that was a really expensive fish food i threw into the tank. even more expensive than my personal seafood dinner! I've had angels picking and killing my clams too. so stay educated to what types of fish and live stock that can coexsist.
Thanks. I'm not sure what kind of fish I'll want to add to it yet. I know I'll want an angelfish, though, so from what I understand I may not be able to keep coral at all. I think I'm alright with that - I just want to see the rocks covered with colorful coraline "algae".
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Old 08-26-2010, 08:03 AM   #13
 
deep sandbed is old school thought just like bioballs are. it can work but it requires maintenance. alot of really beautiful coral tanks have little and no sand. the deep sandbed does the same thing as live rock. both if deep/big enough contains anarobic bacteria which lowers nitrates. that's why deep sand beds were the craze back in the days. but with LR imo there is no need for deep sand beds.
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Old 08-26-2010, 08:10 AM   #14
 
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Originally Posted by reefsahoy View Post
deep sandbed is old school thought just like bioballs are. it can work but it requires maintenance. alot of really beautiful coral tanks have little and no sand. the deep sandbed does the same thing as live rock. both if deep/big enough contains anarobic bacteria which lowers nitrates. that's why deep sand beds were the craze back in the days. but with LR imo there is no need for deep sand beds.
Thanks for your take on the matter. I thought that the anarobic bacteria broke down ammonia into nitrites and then nitrites into nitrates. Does it somehow break down or eliminate nitrates as well?
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Old 08-26-2010, 08:25 AM   #15
 
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Thanks for your take on the matter. I thought that the anarobic bacteria broke down ammonia into nitrites and then nitrites into nitrates. Does it somehow break down or eliminate nitrates as well?
The last step is when the anaerobic bacteria converts the nitrAte into harmless nitrogen gas that escapes via the water surface.
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Old 08-26-2010, 09:32 AM   #16
 
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Thanks, I didn't know that. My LFS told me that the only wayt to get rid of nitrates, the ultimate end product of the nitrogen cycle, was to perform water changes. Thinking more about it, I suppose that doesn't make sense since in that case nitrates would only accumulate in natural bodies of water.

Does anyone have any thoughts on my other questions in this thread?
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Old 08-26-2010, 10:36 AM   #17
 
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1) How long do you think it takes for live rock that's been submerged in freshwater to regrow beneficial bacteria?

2) How much live rock is necessary before it can make a significant difference when it comes to nitrates/how much should I add for this purpose?

I really want to kick this nitrate problem once and for all. I read that small weekly water changes were not enough to make any kind of a difference because the nitrates will have only returned to the same level by the next week, and this seems to be the case based on my experience.

3) How much water is it safe to change and how often without causing the tank to cycle again or some other issue?
1. when ever your nitrite and amonia reads 0 then the rock is cured.

2. the more the merrier. however it gets ugly if too much rock IMO. soooo. put some in your sump and if you are concerned about cleaning below the rocks in the sump, throw a powerhead in the sump and it will stir it up, reenter the main tank then gets filtered again when it returns to the sump. eventually it will be completely clean.

3. IMO if your rocks are cured you can do a 100% change and nothing will happen, why would you do this when 10%/month will work wonders. i sometimes go 2 months without changing water.


you also want to consider that after you're sucessful with a FWOLR you will want to keep corals so beware of adding fish you may regret later (speaking from experiencing this). Usually LFS will take back any fish fo 50% off the price you'd pay for them and give you store credit to buy something else. normally tank kept fish are stronger than wild caught and reefers will normally be able to keep the fish alive more successfully.

cheers

Last edited by reefsahoy; 08-26-2010 at 10:51 AM..
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Old 08-26-2010, 10:45 AM   #18
 
oh the mechanical filter is the filter floss you have just above the biio balls. btw here is a pic of my sump. notice all i have is a filter sock (mechanical filter), skimmer, and LR. i dont use it for more water, it's just a space for my skimmer otherwise the skimmer would have to be in my tank and that would ruin the look of it! if you look at my aquarium under my avatar you'll see how shallow my sand bed is too.

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Old 08-26-2010, 10:59 AM   #19
 
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I meant to ask if anyone could answer the new questions I'd posted to the thread, but thank you all the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reefsahoy View Post
2. the more the merrier. however it gets ugly if too much rock IMO. soooo. put some in your sump and if you are concerned about cleaning below the rocks in the sump, throw a powerhead in the sump and it will stir it up, reenter the main tank then gets filtered again when it returns to the sump. eventually it will be completely clean.
I remove the large sponge from the wet/dry, how would the dust-like detritus get filtered out? The only other sponge in the system is the cylindrical sponge on the prefilter at the top of the tank, but the dust-like detritus gets through in order to end up at the bottom of the wet/dry in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reefsahoy
3. IMO if your rocks are cured you can do a 100% change and nothing will happen, why would you do this when 10%/month will work wonders. i sometimes go 2 months without changing water.
The usefulness of live rock makes much more sense to me now that I know that the bacteria it facilitates ultimately converts nitrates into gas that leaves the water.
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Old 08-26-2010, 11:26 AM   #20
 
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Originally Posted by reefsahoy View Post
oh the mechanical filter is the filter floss you have just above the biio balls.
I see, thanks. Since it looks like I'll be converting my wet/dry to a sump-like setup, I'll be removing that floss/pad along with the bioballs. I actually put a mesh bag over the pvc that returns water from the tank to the wet/dry, but I don't think the mesh is fine enough because a lot of dust-like detritus still gets through. I guess I'll need to get a proper filter sock like you have. Hopefully it will do a better job than the floss/pad did at trapping the dust-like detritus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reefsahoy View Post
btw here is a pic of my sump. notice all i have is a filter sock (mechanical filter), skimmer, and LR. i dont use it for more water, it's just a space for my skimmer otherwise the skimmer would have to be in my tank and that would ruin the look of it! if you look at my aquarium under my avatar you'll see how shallow my sand bed is too.
Interesting, thanks for sharing the picture of your sump. It looks like there is a lot going on there. Your tank is beautiful, of course!

I'll have quite a bit of room to work with in the wet/dry when I remove the bio balls and sponge and raise the water level.



We now have a HOB protein skimmer on the tank because the skimmer that came with this unit didn't seem effective, so the skimmer and pump in the first chamber on the left in this picture is empty. The second chamber will also be empty, of course. The return pump and the pump that pushes water to our HOB skimmer is in the third chamber on the right.

With that big blue sponge removed, though, might water go through the system too quickly for any rock I were to put in there to be effective? Thinking more about it, I suppose I couldn't put sand at the bottom either if I converted this to a sump-like system since the main chamber and the chamber where the return pump goes is connected at the bottom. Would the water likely move too fast for cheato to be of any benefit as well? I would love to see more amphipods in the system, but amphipods could not make it from the sump, through the return pump, and back into the display tank in one piece, could they? With the HOB skimmer's pump in the same place, might pods end up in the protein skimmer as well in that scenario?
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