Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   enough filteration? (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-saltwater-aquariums/enough-filteration-31491/)

whuppie247 10-31-2009 05:16 PM

enough filteration?
 
right now i have 29 gallon aquarium. i have live sand, a 30 aqua clear power head and a top fin 30 side filter. is this enough? if not what do you recommend?

Pasfur 10-31-2009 05:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by whuppie247 (Post 266774)
right now i have 29 gallon aquarium. i have live sand, a 30 aqua clear power head and a top fin 30 side filter. is this enough? if not what do you recommend?

I do not think the question is if you have enough filtration, but if you have the proper type of filtration. Let me explain.

In freshwater aquariums we rely on biological filters to break down ammonia, producing nitrite, and to break down the nitrite into nitrate. Nitrate is allowed to accumulate, and is controlled by water changes. Most freshwater aquariums have a permanent nitrate reading in the 40ppm - 80ppm range, which is really of little concern to most community aquariums. This biological filtration is needed because freshwater fish release ammonia directly into the water, in the form of fish waste. The ammonia has to be broken down into something less toxic.

In marine aquariums we have an entirely different process taking place. Marine fish release organic acids into the water. These "organics" or "dissolved organic compunds" (DOCs) only become ammonia after they bond to a biologically active surface. This is a huge benefit to the marine aquarist, because we are able to remove these DOCs before they are broken down into Nitrate. This removal is accomplished by heavy use of activated carbon, or by a protein skimmer. Generally speaking, a protein skimmer is the most efficient method, and is by far the least expensive method over the long term.

This method of filtration not only keeps Nitrates extremely low, which is beneficial for all marine livestock, but it also increases dissolved oxygen levels and helps reduce the reduction of carbonates from the buffer system. (quick explanation: acids neutralize carbonates)

The next step in a properly setup marine aquarium is to look at the sand depth. In my experience, sand beds of 4'' to 6'' in depth are the most efficient at denitrification, which is the break down of Nitrate into Nitrogen Gas.

The last piece of "filtration" than most successful marine aquarists use is live rock. Live rock serves to biologically process any ammonia that does accumulate in the aquarium, and does so extremely efficiently. Live rock also has the ability to reduce Nitrate into nitrogen gas, so the end product is not harmful.

Lets now take a look at your set up. You have a power filter as your primary filtration source. This filter is designed to trap floating particulate waste, and uses activated carbon in limited quantities to absorb organic acids from the water. Your filter is really designed for freshwater use, as it has little capability of preventing ammonia from being broken down into Nitrate. Allowing this process to occur makes your entire fishkeeping experience much more difficult, not only due to the extreme water changes that are required, but also due to the added expense associated with more frequent testing and adjusting of alkalinity and calcium. The entire process is very difficult to maintain correctly.

So, we need to start from the beginning. What are your goals for this aquarium? What livestock do you want to keep? And what is your level of experience with keeping marine systems?

whuppie247 10-31-2009 05:50 PM

my goal for this aquarium is mainly just to have a couple small fish and some live rock. i dont really want coral. i have had a couple, 2 to 3 years, of experience in freshwater but when it comes to saltwater i am lost.

Pasfur 10-31-2009 06:34 PM

With this being a 29 gallon tank, you have no reason to go overboard with expensive equipment. However, the costs of this aquarium will be lower by spending a little bit of money up front, and the health of the fish and overall aquarium environment will be greatly improved. Not to mention the amount of time and energy you spend taking care of the tank.

I would suggest a couple of things. First, order a 25 pound shipment of dry rock from Marco Rocks The finest aquarium rock available, base rock, live rock, reef rock, marco rock, reef tank saltwater fish, live corals, Marco rocks, Fiji live rock, Tonga Live rock. It will cost you $75. This rock will add great stability to your tank, and will become "live" in a matter of months. You can add about 5 pounds of live rock to "seed" this process. This will save you a ton of money.

Next, buy a protein skimmer. If you have no plans to upgrade the tank size in the future, then a simple hang on skimmer will suffice. Here is a suggestion:
Super Skimmer with Needle Wheel - Up to 65 Gallon | Venturi Models | Protein Skimmers | Aquarium - ThatPetPlace.com
Ignore the "rating" that the manufacturer gives for the skimmer. This rating is just advertising. Trust the experience of those of us here. This skimmer will be excellent on a 29 gallon tank, and can upgrade effectively to a 38 or even a 55 gallon at a later date. The cost is excellent for the quality.

This is about a $200 upgrade over your existing equipment. Trust me, this is nothing compared to the expense you would have in salt mix and potential fish loss.

In addition to this, you are going to want to purchase a buffer and calcium supplement, as well as test kits for alkalinity, ph, calcium, and nitrate. (at minimum). You may as well order these as well to get the online discount. I recommend Kent Marine Super Buffer DKH and Kent Marine Liquid Calcium (calcium chloride). These products will be needed on a weekly basis, and will greatly shorten the amount of time you spend taking care of the aquarium.

whuppie247 10-31-2009 06:45 PM

In addition to this, you are going to want to purchase a buffer and calcium supplement, as well as test kits for alkalinity, ph, calcium, and nitrate. (at minimum). You may as well order these as well to get the online discount. I recommend Kent Marine Super Buffer DKH and Kent Marine Liquid Calcium (calcium chloride). These products will be needed on a weekly basis, and will greatly shorten the amount of time you spend taking care of the aquarium.





i am a little confused about this part of the setup. can you explain it a little more?

Pasfur 11-01-2009 05:20 AM

Most new hobbyists find alkalinity and calcium intimidating. To make it worse, a lot of LFS will not even take the time to explain this part of the process.

You are familiar with pH. Alkalinity is a measure of your aquariums ability to resist swings in pH. You should aim for an alkalinity reading of 8 - 12 dkh. The ability to test for alkalinity is extremely important, because it allows us to correct problems BEFORE they become a problem, so to speak.

This next part sounds complicated, but it isn't. Don't get caught up in the chemistry, just learn the how, and realize that there is a why. Have you ever asked yourself what makes ocean water different from water with salt added? Why can't you just add table salt to freshwater, and call it ocean water? The answer is this. There are many different salt ions in ocean water. These ions have a natural balance. This relationship is what makes water have a certain "feel". For example, have you ever noticed that water down south is very "soft" compared to water up north? This balance between these ions is very important to the fish. You have to keep this balance in check. Fortunately this is easily done, by testing for calcium.

Calcium is the primary buffering ion that makes up alkalinity. Remember, Alkalinity is a measure of your aquariums ability to resist swings in pH. Calcium is in a natural balance with other buffering ions, such as borate and magnesium. Again, don't worry about the chemistry. Just understand that testing for Calcium allows you to make changes before problems present themselves. You want to keep Calcium at 400 - 460 ppm.

So, on a weekly basis you will test for Alkalinity and Calcium. Follow this guide:

If Alkalinity is low and Calcium is low, add a buffer and add Calcium.
If Alkalinity is low and Calcium is high, add a buffer.
If Alkalinity is normal and calcium is low, add Calcium.
If Alkalinity is normal and calcium is normal, do nothing. However, test again mid week to determine how frequently you need to be taking the above steps to keep this balance in order.

If at any point you find that Calcium is beginning to drop at a rate faster than normal, this is a sign that you need a water change. Why? The other buffering ions are missing, causing calcium to be utilized at a faster rate than normal. The ions are out of balance, so to speak.

This all sounds complicated, but you just learned something critical. You learned WHY you are doing water changes, and how to tell if the water changes you are doing are sufficient. You also now have a method to reduce these water changes.

If you really understand what you read, then you now see how important a protein skimmer is. The skimmer removes organic acids. Acids remove buffers. The removal of buffers lowers alkalinity, causing pH swings, and causing an increased need for water changes to maintain the natural balance of the salt ion in ocean water.


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