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Dep 02-21-2008 12:36 PM

Salt water marsh filtration
Hello everyone,

I'm attempting to create a salt marsh in a 190 gallon tank. The salt marsh I'm modeling is one that could be found on the coastal barrier islands of Georgia or slightly further south, with bank vegetation dominated by Spartina spp., Salicornia spp., and Batis spp.. Animals consist of mud fiddlers, mud crabs, ribbed mussels, periwinkle snails, killifish and various and sundry polychaetes and non-flying hexapoda. All animals are species that normally are found together, predator-prey relationships between mud crabs and the fiddlers and predation on the periwinkle snails are somewhat in equilibrium (watching populations to see if one is getting dominated, so far so good).

The problem:
The substrate used is largely the natural mud substrate found in the salt marshes. Very fine clay particles suspend themselves in the water column and this makes water quality maintenance difficult. What I've resorted to is a secondary tank that operates something like a sump, with a phased system that does not operate continuously. Basically the sump pumps water into it (resulting in a low tide in the marsh tank), and then lets the water settle for about 2 hours so the fine particles come out. Then it begins to cycle water through a system with physical filters and biological filters. After a few more hours the water is cycled back into the marsh tank. Tidal cycles are replicated against tide tables for southern Georgia. The biological filter consists primarily of various macro algae and live sand, but even with the settling time, the fine clay particles sometimes get in and wreak havoc on this portion of the filtration.

Any ideas on how to solve the fine clay problem? It seems like I have to replace the biological filtration portion every month due to clay sedimentation, and if I try to physically filter it, the filters get clogged extremely quickly.


P.S.- First time poster, aquarium novice

edit: missed the '1' on the tank gallon size

bettababy 02-21-2008 03:09 PM

Unfortunately, there isn't much else you can do other than work with a series of small particle filters in your sump system, and these are going to clog quickly. I have found that coffee pot filters work well for fine particle filtration, but as you said, they will clog up fast.

Is it possible to work with a drip system as part of your filtration? What I am thinking is a tube carrying tank water to a box in the sump. The small box would be open at bottom, and at top of the box would hold a coffee filter. The tank water would then drip through this filter instead of circulating around it inside the sump. Because the water ends in the sump it gets cycled through the tank and you also then are not causing it to be stirred up with too much pressure. With a valve you can control the drip flow.

Please keep in mind that if you are working with a natural biotope set up, the mud in the system needs to be there for the whole thing to function "naturally". There will come a point where you can filter out most of the muddy sediment, but this may upset the balances elsewhere.
When keepig a swamp habitat we have to expect it to look like a swamp, function like a swamp, and smell like a swamp. A true swamp situation is going to function without the mechanical filtration and work off of a biological filtration naturally.
What kinds of biomedia are you using? If it's "clogging" the media, maybe working with a different media would be a better answer, also.

herefishy 02-21-2008 08:48 PM

Would a weir type steup work? Using a low flow weir might work, leaving sediment on the back side of the weir.

desdemona 07-28-2008 01:51 PM

It would probably be controversial but you might not really need a filter.
Sounds heretical I know, but basically you *have* a very strong bio filter built in. You can't really do, nor do you want mechanical filtration, this is a swamp. I've actually heard of drinking water purification plants where the primary filtration was water hyachinths.


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