Wet dry filters?
It would be FAR cheaper for me to use a wet dry filter as I could DIY one very easily.
Are they really all bad or can they be good if well maintained?
I definitely can't afford to go marine at the moment if I have to use live rock for filtration, it's incredibly expensive here.
Also, can I go wet/dry now and they gradually phase into the berlin method?
Can the two be used side by side (half the amount of bio balls and half the amount of live rock)?
The insane price of live rock is literally the only thing preventing me from going marine. :-(
This question is a loaded topic. So many factors are at play, the most important of which is what livestock you intend to keep and how big the tank is.
Wet dry filters have been used for years to create successful marine systems. They are very efficient at processing ammonia into nitrite, and nitrite into nitrate. The issue is that most marine livestock struggles to maintain maximum health in systems with rising nitrates. Water changes can help to limit nitrate, but the constant tinkering with the environment is stressful to the livestock.
If at all possible, I would look at options that include natural methods of filtration. For example, you can order dry rock at a huge discount. I filled my 180 FOWLR with 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. Within a few short months it becomes live.
At minimum, i would like to see you utilize a deep sand bed of 4'' to 6'' aragonite sand, and a protein skimmer. You could design the sump so that all water flows first into the protein skimmer, with the output of the skimmer directed over the wet dry filter. This would allow the skimmer the opportunity to remove organic waste, so that less organics flow over the wet dry bed producing Nitrates. Take a look at the CPR brand sump systems for an example of how this works. It is pretty simple to design if you are handy, just by using counter current air driven skimmers as part of the sump.
Also, do not underestimate the ability of live rock to process waste. It does not take near the amount of rock that you might expect, especially when incorporated with a deep sand bed. You could certainly begin with the use of a wet dry filter and skimmer, and then slowly add live rock, removing sections of the wet dry as you go along.
That sounds like the solution to my problem. I could get going right away with a skimmer, wet/dry and some live and dead rock then slowly switch over to completely live filtration.
When you talk about the deep sand bed, do you mean in the display or sump?
I've been thinking, surely the amount of live rock needed is based on stocking?
Could I just use live filtration with a skimmer and add more rock as I add more fish?
I have been reading up on algae scrubbers too. Could one replace the need for a skimmer, seeing as I could build a huge one for absolutely nothing..
I recommend a deep sand bed inside the aquarium.
You are correct that stocking to some degree determines the amount of live rock needed. For example, a few weeks back I added more dry rock to my 180 FOWLR. I felt the need for additional natural biological processing of waste could become an issue in my system, based on the sheer number of fish. You can slowly add live rock or dry rock.
I am, however, a little worried that someone might take this wrong. You really need to get out in front of this process, adding the rock as early as possible to allow it to really seed in and to allow for the diversity of live to really flourish within your aquarium. I would also avoid adding live rock at the same time as fish.
By the way, you have not mentioned anything about a quarantine. What size is your display tank and what livestock do you intend to keep?
in the meantime, come on!!!!! do the saltwater!!!! I am dying to see your build...(if you post it, of course :)
A deep sand bed it is then. I will have the skimmer before the wet/dry (excellent idea!). I also plan to have a large algae scrubber in there somewhere (probably before the skimmer).
My display tank is a 150 gallon 5x2x2. The sump is likely to be a 18hx24wx12d, which is about 20 gallons IIRC (so long as it is large enough in volume?).
Here's the build thread.
So just to clarify, is it ok to add live rock gradually if my system is set up as explained above? I would gradually take out bio media (probably bio-balls) as I add the live rock.
Is the wet dry even needed?
How much live rock (approx.) would be needed to keep a pair of clowns happy and healthy?
I think your plan is good. I do not think it would matter much if there is an actual "wet/dry" section, so long as the biomedia was in place following the skimmer.
With a 4'' sand bed and a bioload as small as you suggest, 1 pound of live rock per 2 gallons of water should do the trick without a problem. I would still encourage you to increase the rock far beyond this level, even if you use dry rock to do the deed.
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