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

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Eliminating nitrates - water change frequency, bio balls, etc.
Old 08-26-2010, 12:26 PM   #21
 
fyi, i made my filter sock by buying material from a fabric store and just sewing it myself. i used a clothes pin to attach it to the side of the sump. as far as water traveling thru the sump the only consideration IMO is to have it slow enough so you don't pull microbubbles back to the tank but the rocks are always in the water and it will filter it no matter how fast the water travels thru the sump. IMO the success to a SW tank are.

1. surface skimming from the main tank
2. big protien skimmer for the water you have
3. carbon for water clarity.
4. water movement
5 live rocks
for reefs add
6. lights
7. supplements for MG, CA, ALK
8 make sure you use RO/DI water for topoff and making SW. (this will eliminate phosphate, silicates, and just give you good clean water. problems will brew undetected for awhile without ro/di then all of a sudden it will go out of control driving you crazy even if you do water changes because all the impurities are in tap water. yuou will keep at bay algae, red slime, coral health degrade if you use RO/DI)
9. some kind of phosphate remover( may not be necessary if you dose vodka! yes Vodka the type you drink, if you know what you are doing!)

number 8 should be used for any sw applications. it's not 100% necessary for FOWLR but it will keep you headaches to a minimum in the long run!

if i think of something else i'll repost.

Last edited by reefsahoy; 08-26-2010 at 12:41 PM..
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Old 08-26-2010, 12:29 PM   #22
 
the stuff in my sump are a CA reactor which adds ca, mg, alk automatically, and ATO, and carbon and phosphate remover. that's it and nothing else.
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Old 08-27-2010, 07:39 AM   #23
 
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I went ahead and removed everything from the wet/dry this morning except for the return pumps, of course. I added 5 gallons of freshly mixed saltwater to the system and slipped a finer mesh bag over the piece of PVC that returns water to the wet/dry (now a sump?) to act as a filter sock and hopefully catch dust-like detritus.

I measured the nitrates before adding the additional water to see where they were so I could later compare them. My nitrates appear to be at 10ppm. I understand this is considered an acceptable level, but I have not had any fish in the tank for 3 weeks and I have performed a number of 50% water changes during the past few weeks in the interest of lowering nitrates and in the course of treating the tank with PraziPro. My nitrates have been consistently high otherwise.

I have a few questions.

1) According to the manufacturer, the wet/dry was supposed to be filled to the red line in the picture below. It is now filled to the green line since the bioballs have been removed. Is there any chance that the acrylic box cannot take the added pressure of this additional water volume and will come apart, flooding my living room, or is there no need to fear such a thing?

fullSump.jpg

2) I haven't had any detectable ammonia or nitrItes for a long time, so the wet/dry with bio balls was presumably doing a good job as far as they were concerned. With the bioballs removed, should I expect to see ammonia and nitrIte spikes? Again, there are currently no fish in the tank and won't be for another 5 weeks, otherwise I would not have "removed first and asked questions later."

3) Can the beneficial bacteria on/in live rock grow and do its job without any light in case I can't fit a light in the cabinet? Would it do its job any more effectively with a light, or is it indifferent to light?

4) How much rock should I put in the middle chamber of the wet/dry (sump?)? Should I fill the entire thing with rock if I can? Should I use big pieces or small?

5) If I fill the chamber with dry rock because I can't afford cured live rock and don't want to introduce who knows what to the system, how long do you think it would be before the dry rock cured and it was safe to add fish to the tank?

6) Would filling the chamber with dry rock introduce enough ammonia, etc., to the tank to harm the hermit, emerald, and... spider looking crabs that are currently in the tank?

Thank you so much for your help, everyone! I feel like I'm almost "there". If replacing the bio balls with live rock proves to keep my nitrates low once I reintroduce fish to the system, I'll be a live rock evangelist.
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Old 08-27-2010, 07:49 AM   #24
 
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ok for 1 - that level was recommended so the bio-balls got air you should be fine
2 - if you see one at all it will be small as the parasites die off (if they are not eaten by the crabs!)
3 - yes they can grow with out a light but a simple clamp on fixtur with a 5500K full spectrum CFL bulb (or 6500K) will help if you want to grow Macro (very good for the system)
4 - it is a hard lesson learned from other members that LR in the sump is just about as bad as bio-balls i thought other wise and had a few issues , took some advice and removed the LR from the sump and no longer have any problems.. just stating my experience and the results based on advice received here that was GREAT!!!!!!
if anything in the sump a DSB or nothing but cheato
5- put the base rock in your DT and let it go it will be fine and turn live in no time (also if you are interested Craigs list has people selling LR all the time cheep as they break down and move on)
6 - NO
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:50 AM   #25
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bearwithfish
4 - it is a hard lesson learned from other members that LR in the sump is just about as bad as bio-balls i thought other wise and had a few issues , took some advice and removed the LR from the sump and no longer have any problems.. just stating my experience and the results based on advice received here that was GREAT!!!!!!
if anything in the sump a DSB or nothing but cheato
Thanks, Brett. So I had this all wrong? I'm not supposed to add the live rock to the sump where the bio balls had been? Why? How is putting it in the sump any different from putting it in the display tank, other than being able to pile it to unsightly heights since it is out of the way?

Also, what's a DBS? How does cheato help?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bearwithfish
1 - that level was recommended so the bio-balls got air you should be fine
Thank goodness I just remembered before leaving for work that the water level in the wet/dry rises significantly when the return pump in the wet/dry loses power. At the water level I had it, if the pump had lost power for whatever reason it would have been a disaster and would probably have marked the end of my fish keeping days if the building and the people living in the apartment below had anything to do with it. I lowered the water level a few inches and cut power to the pump 10 or so times to confirm it wouldn't be an issue.

By the way, why do bio balls need air but live rock doesn't?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bearwithfish
3 - yes they can grow with out a light but a simple clamp on fixtur with a 5500K full spectrum CFL bulb (or 6500K) will help if you want to grow Macro (very good for the system)
Which type of bulb would be better for cheato if I put it in the sump instead of live rock, 5500K or 6500K?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bearwithfish
5- put the base rock in your DT and let it go it will be fine and turn live in no time (also if you are interested Craigs list has people selling LR all the time cheep as they break down and move on)
I don't think I'd want to buy live rock from Craigslist because I would have no way to know if it was coming from a tank that was treated with copper, was being sold because of some kind of wipe out - the cause of which was hitchhiking in the rock - etc. Of course, there's no way to really know for sure about the quality of live rock coming from an LFS, but presumably they're more trustworthy than the one off, pseudo-anonymous Craigslist seller because they want your repeat business. Or am I just overly paranoid?

Does anyone have any additional thoughts about the answers to my questions, particularly whether or not I should put live rock in the sump?
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:08 AM   #26
 
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personally i would put the rock in my display tank. this provides a place for fish to swin through-out and hide in, which makes them feel more secure and less stressed. alot of the fish we keep in this hobby come from this enviroment and not an open ocean sand floor.
having live rock in the sump wont be like your bio balls right away but give it time in a slow flowing area and there could be problems with debris and detritus getting caught in the nooks of the rocks. the filter sock you have will need frequent cleaning too or else that will allow for the debris and detritus to break down into nitrates/phosphates.
in my refugium section of my sump i would have 2-3 pieces of small live rock at a time. once a week i would rotate 1 piece up to the display allowing the micro life to make its way up to the display.
i would use a 6500K full spectrum bulb in one of clip on spotlight/worklight lights you can get at home depot for prob. no more then $10. i would put this on a timer to come on when my tank lights go out and off when the tank lights come back on or run it 24 hours. every few days give the ball of chaeto a rotate. the chaeto feeds off nitrates and unlike calurpa ( spelling? ) when/if it dies it will not release what it absorbed back into the tank or go sexual and start sprouting all over the place. ( california has an issue with this prob. because some not so educated hobbyist decided to dump their tanks that failed at the beach )
i think that is a good idea about craigslist, while im sure you can find some worth your time, you do never know. im going to again suggest a reefing club. you dont need to be invovled every week, even every month. mine held meetings every month and they werent mandatory. possibly a great place to pick up some live rock.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:08 AM   #27
 
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ok so remember most of my answers are based in experience and research
one thing at a time i hope this helps.....
bio-balls in a sump produce nitrates Live rock and or live rock rubble will do the same things due to the amount of flow in the sump and the lack of circulation within (based on what i have read and advice received i removed mine and consistently get a 0 reading)
a DSB is a deep sand bed 4+ inches this has some long standing research in its effectiveness to have both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria that each play a part in keeping a system healthy (i personally have a shallow sand bed in my DT and none in my sump ATM when i do add to my sump it will be in the 5 inch range)
the bacteria that grows on Bio-balls needs oxygen to produce its effects Live Rock on the other hand has different bacteria that gets it oxygen from the water much like our fish or corals do - same results different breed of bacteria
as for the bulb either will do the job! a person did a bit of an experiment and found that for what ever reason the 5500K light promotes greater growth of the Cheato and this has proven to be the case in my system as well i tried the 6500k (grow bulb) and got much slower growth - again i dont understand why but it worked!
as for buying from Craigs list when asking the potential seller about the system i ask whats living in it now typically those who have corals and inverts thriving have not used copper based meds and that is the sign you look for not the sellers word (people are looking to make a buck LOL)
oh before i forget Cheato removes phosphates and othe by products of waist so assists in filtration... also a great place for various pods to breed and thrive
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:23 AM   #28
 
there are basically 2 types of bacteria. 1. anaerobic and 2.aerobic.
aerobic is bacteria on bioball s and is one of the first steps in the provcess. they turn amonia to nitrite then nitrate and need oxygen to live and do it's job. this is the BIG difference between LR being submerged under water and bioballs with trickling water over them. anaerobic bacteria requires no oxygen and live deep within the rock and that bacteria change nitrate into nitrogen gas that escape thru the water surface. Hence you can put LR in the sump submerged. It will not act like bioballs if done so in this fashon.

the only requirement of water level in the sump is so the rocks (if you put them there) are submerged. otherwise the only level requirementsis is that the pump dont suck air or to make your skimmer work properly. now if you want to add water volume that's totally up to you. sumps is just a place to put ugly equipment in a hidden place that you won't see when looking at the DT. lr don't need lights to get bacteria otherwise all the rocks below the ocean where the light can't penetrate would be useless. As far as using dead rock you wont introduce hitch hikers but you can and probably will introduce alot of dead stuff which in turn will be a phosphate problem for months on end. don't believe me? try this- put some dead rock in your setup for a few days, then get a bucket of fresh SW that is known not to have phosphate. then take that same rock and put it in the bucket and measure phosphates again in a day or 2 and see what you get. bad lr can leach phosphates for months on end until it leaches all out. this is why they say as the aquarium matures it get's better and more stable. the older the rock the more stable the enviornment.

Last edited by reefsahoy; 08-27-2010 at 09:37 AM..
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Mike (08-27-2010)
Old 08-27-2010, 12:25 PM   #29
 
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Thanks Jon, Brett, and reefsahoy. (What's your name again, reefs?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by onefish2fish View Post
having live rock in the sump wont be like your bio balls right away but give it time in a slow flowing area and there could be problems with debris and detritus getting caught in the nooks of the rocks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bearwithfish
bio-balls in a sump produce nitrates Live rock and or live rock rubble will do the same things due to the amount of flow in the sump and the lack of circulation within (based on what i have read and advice received i removed mine and consistently get a 0 reading)
Quote:
Originally Posted by reefsahoy
sumps is just a place to put ugly equipment in a hidden place that you won't see when looking at the DT.
So if I shouldn't have bio balls or live rock in the sump, my protein skimmer won't fit in the cabinet, and my newfangled Fluval VueTech heater flashes the low flow alert when it's in the only chamber tall enough to accommodate it, then I can only use the converted wet/dry sump for housing macro algae?

Quote:
Originally Posted by onefish2fish View Post
the filter sock you have will need frequent cleaning too or else that will allow for the debris and detritus to break down into nitrates/phosphates.
Without this filter sock, though, there would be no mechanical filtration other than the prefilter sponge and it would seem this dust-like detritus would never leave the water. Or am I missing something? If I were to add cheato to the sump, would copepods eat this dust-like detritus? Is there a name for what I keep referring to as dust-like detritus, by the way? Is it simply detritus?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bearwithfish View Post
a DSB is a deep sand bed 4+ inches this has some long standing research in its effectiveness to have both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria that each play a part in keeping a system healthy (i personally have a shallow sand bed in my DT and none in my sump ATM when i do add to my sump it will be in the 5 inch range)
So you would recommend adding sand to the sump, then? Unfortunately, the return chamber is connected to the main chamber of the sump at the bottom, which would mean sand would get picked up by the return pump that sits at the bottom of the return chamber, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bearwithfish
the bacteria that grows on Bio-balls needs oxygen to produce its effects Live Rock on the other hand has different bacteria that gets it oxygen from the water much like our fish or corals do - same results different breed of bacteria
Quote:
Originally Posted by reefsahoy
there are basically 2 types of bacteria. 1. anaerobic and 2.aerobic.
aerobic is bacteria on bioball s and is one of the first steps in the provcess. they turn amonia to nitrite then nitrate and need oxygen to live and do it's job. this is the BIG difference between LR being submerged under water and bioballs with trickling water over them. anaerobic bacteria requires no oxygen and live deep within the rock and that bacteria change nitrate into nitrogen gas that escape thru the water surface.
So the aerobic bacteria on bio balls help break ammonia down into nitrite and nitrite down into nitrate, while the anaerobic bacteria on live rock helps the nitrate escape as nitrogen gas, correct?

Will the anaerobic bacteria on live rock also break ammonia down into nitrite and nitrite down into nitrate before finally converting it to nitrogen gas? I hope so because I just removed all of my bio balls.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bearwithfish
as for the bulb either will do the job! a person did a bit of an experiment and found that for what ever reason the 5500K light promotes greater growth of the Cheato and this has proven to be the case in my system as well i tried the 6500k (grow bulb) and got much slower growth - again i dont understand why but it worked!
Quote:
Originally Posted by onefish2fish
i would use a 6500K full spectrum bulb in one of clip on spotlight/worklight lights you can get at home depot for prob. no more then $10. i would put this on a timer to come on when my tank lights go out and off when the tank lights come back on or run it 24 hours.
If I shouldn't put anything in the sump other then cheato and/or sand then I'll try to get my hands on a clip on work light and a 5500k bulb since that reportedly resulted in faster growth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bearwithfish
as for buying from Craigs list when asking the potential seller about the system i ask whats living in it now typically those who have corals and inverts thriving have not used copper based meds and that is the sign you look for not the sellers word (people are looking to make a buck LOL)
Unfortunately, somebody could just as easily lie about what's thriving in their tank as they could about the source or condition of the rock, Brett.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reefsahoy View Post
lr don't need lights to get bacteria otherwise all the rocks below the ocean where the light can't penetrate would be useless.
Good point, reefs. Based on everyone's feedback it sounds like I shouldn't add live rock to the sump regardless, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reefsahoy View Post
As far as using dead rock you wont introduce hitch hikers but you can and probably will introduce alot of dead stuff which in turn will be a phosphate problem for months on end. don't believe me? try this- put some dead rock in your setup for a few days, then get a bucket of fresh SW that is known not to have phosphate. then take that same rock and put it in the bucket and measure phosphates again in a day or 2 and see what you get. bad lr can leach phosphates for months on end until it leaches all out. this is why they say as the aquarium matures it get's better and more stable. the older the rock the more stable the enviornment.
Perfect, because a phosphate issue that would take months to resolve is just what I want after two complete wipe outs, a chronic nitrate issue, and all this effort to get things right.

It sounds like adding dry rock to the aquarium is not a good idea. At the same time, my "petition" to setup a quarantine tank was barely "approved", so setting up curing apparatus is not an option. Buying cured live rock from an LFS is cost prohibitive for now since I just used up my "you spent WHAT?" card on a new light fixture for the aquarium.

Do you guys think I can get by on the 40 or so lbs of live rock I already have in the tank, or am I going to have a problem unless I add more live rock soon since my bio balls are now removed and I have no other source of filtration?
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Old 08-27-2010, 12:52 PM   #30
 
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get by on 40 pounds - yes sir and if you buy a little at a time over the next few months you can add it slowly with little to no bad effect....

as for the return on teh bottom i was unaware sorry - one option is to not use sand (it works fine with out it) or add a baffle to hold the sand back from the pump ....
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