Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Bio-pads vs Bio-wheels vs Bio-stars/Biomax (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-freshwater-aquarium/bio-pads-vs-bio-wheels-vs-47489/)

OscarLoverJim 07-20-2010 11:06 AM

Bio-pads vs Bio-wheels vs Bio-stars/Biomax
 
I a while ago purchased one of those Wal-mart 'kits' 55 gallon tank with lids, lights, heater and a filter for cheap (even cheaper with my wife's employee discount). I of course already had much better equipment which I used but I went ahead and used the Aqua-tech (not Aqua-flow sadly) double waterfall HOB filter which sports two "bio-pads", simple black stiff scrubpad-like media situated in the water flow. I ordered two generic clamshell cartridges to hold my own floss (Wal-mart poly pillow stuffing :razz: ) rather than perpetually buy the cheesy Aqua-tech cartridges which makes for pretty good mechanical filtration and the filter's two waterfalls do add some good surface water agitation. But I'm wondering if these little bio-media pads are really worth the minimal attention I give them (occassional leaning in expended tank water). I know the kit's claim of that filter being all that's necessary for the 55 gallon is total hoo-ha but I figured why waste the thing since it came with the kit.

I'm having trouble finding info on how well these kinds of bio-pads do compared to the other bio-media I use. I have a marineland bio-wheel as well as bio-max and bio-stars in my canisters. I've seen people use the common poly scrubpads in their canisters as bio-media but they use a lot of them.

Anyone else know much about bio-pads?

onefish2fish 07-20-2010 11:45 AM

the more surface area something has the better. this is why bio-balls work well, they are small but have many "nooks and crannies" however they are only good in freshwater tanks ( for those reading, saltwater filtration is different )
i think its the rena smartfilter? that has 4 sides of media in its filter, basically a box shape instead of a barrier wall that the water passes through. although i have not tried this filter ( if that is the one i saw it on ) it seems pretty smart to me.
the fluffy stuff you have should work well though, providing surface area in and throughout the media as well as catching food and poop particles that try passing through.

OscarLoverJim 07-20-2010 12:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by onefish2fish (Post 427145)
the fluffy stuff you have should work well though, providing surface area in and throughout the media as well as catching food and poop particles that try passing through.

I use poly-fiber as mechanical media set in the water flow previous to the biological media, I toss the fiber(Wal-mart pillow stuffing) when it gets dirty and it keeps gunk from getting in my expensive bio-media.

I kept the Aqua-tech double waterfall HOB that came with the 55 gallon tank (why not it's paid for ;-) ) but I was just wondering if the included bio-pads, not even as big as your standard kitchen green scrubbie, actually add any measurable bio-filtration. That filter does offer quite a bit of mechanical filtration and water surface agitation for oxygenation.

Tyyrlym 07-21-2010 03:59 PM

Yes, those black pads are your biofilter. They don't look like much but they've got a lot of surface area. I'm not a fan of that style of HOB, I prefer biowheels or the Aquaclear type but it will work. Frankly I'd start scoping out a new filter though.

OscarLoverJim 07-21-2010 06:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tyyrlym (Post 428247)
Yes, those black pads are your biofilter. They don't look like much but they've got a lot of surface area. I'm not a fan of that style of HOB, I prefer biowheels or the Aquaclear type but it will work. Frankly I'd start scoping out a new filter though.

I know they are bio-filtration and already have a good deal more bio-filtration in my tank as previously stated.

I was just wondering if anyone had experience with this form of filtration as compared to the other bio-media I am using. I just left the Aqua-tech running in the tank because I got it along with the tank but I can't believe it would be adequate bio-filtration for much of a tank at all, certainly not for a 55 even though it was advertized as such on the box.

Tyyrlym 07-22-2010 09:12 AM

That's really not a question anyone here can give you a definitive answer for. Simply put, it all depends on how you're going to stock it. If you're going to only put in a few fish it'll probably be fine. If you put in a lot it might not be. There's really no way to know for certain. In my opinion, the bacteria are tiny, the surface area of something like that is huge. It'll probably be fine unless you do some really extreme stocking. One thing I'd point out is the bacteria will also be colonizing your filter floss. If you're worried about your bio filtration then only change out one side's floss at a time instead of two at once.

Now if you're still concerned there are some really good options for a tank your size. Before I start, lemme say I've owned a 55 and it's not a size I like, at all. The central brace makes a single filter set up, especially the double sided ones like the big penguins or emperors, a recipe for gross. One side of the tank will get great flow and the other will be a dead zone. On a 55 I really recommend going with a pair of smaller filters. More expensive but trust me. In about six months you'll really wish you'd gone with two as one side of the tank is going to gunk up. A pair of Penguin 150's or 200's, a pair of Emperor 280's, or pair of Aquaclear 200/50's. Nice thing about all these is you can even add more media too them. For the Penguins and Emperors you can get a basket to add to them that you can pile full of any kind of biomedia you like (I use ceramic pellets) and the Aquaclear you can toss the carbon and add a second baggie of biomedia to double your useful area.

OscarLoverJim 07-22-2010 10:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tyyrlym (Post 428802)
That's really not a question anyone here can give you a definitive answer for. Simply put, it all depends on how you're going to stock it. If you're going to only put in a few fish it'll probably be fine. If you put in a lot it might not be. There's really no way to know for certain. In my opinion, the bacteria are tiny, the surface area of something like that is huge. It'll probably be fine unless you do some really extreme stocking. One thing I'd point out is the bacteria will also be colonizing your filter floss. If you're worried about your bio filtration then only change out one side's floss at a time instead of two at once.

Now if you're still concerned there are some really good options for a tank your size. Before I start, lemme say I've owned a 55 and it's not a size I like, at all. The central brace makes a single filter set up, especially the double sided ones like the big penguins or emperors, a recipe for gross. One side of the tank will get great flow and the other will be a dead zone. On a 55 I really recommend going with a pair of smaller filters. More expensive but trust me. In about six months you'll really wish you'd gone with two as one side of the tank is going to gunk up. A pair of Penguin 150's or 200's, a pair of Emperor 280's, or pair of Aquaclear 200/50's. Nice thing about all these is you can even add more media too them. For the Penguins and Emperors you can get a basket to add to them that you can pile full of any kind of biomedia you like (I use ceramic pellets) and the Aquaclear you can toss the carbon and add a second baggie of biomedia to double your useful area.

Here's my filtration inventory from my aquarium profile:

Marineland canister filter filled with A.P.I Biostars and with sponge covering intake, HOTMagnum filled with Biomax also with spong covering intake, Emperor HOB with biowheel and floss in clam cartridge, Aquatech double waterfall with floss in 2 clam cartridges before 2 biopads.

btw
The only things that happen quickly in an aquarium are bad things.

Boy, ain't that the truth!

Tyyrlym 07-22-2010 01:17 PM

You've got plenty to work with. I personally like either biowheels or the ceramic pellets. I'm not a fan of sponges or plastic star type devices. I know they work, I just have a thing.

There are a lot of people who want to start an aquarium RIGHT NOW or do things as quickly as possible. I've always gone out of my way to emphasize the idea of patience. Fish aren't like a dog or bird. Your aquarium isn't just a cage to keep them in, it's an entire life support system for the fish and requires a lot of effort and most of all time to get to work properly.

OscarLoverJim 07-22-2010 02:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tyyrlym (Post 428950)
You've got plenty to work with. I personally like either biowheels or the ceramic pellets. I'm not a fan of sponges or plastic star type devices. I know they work, I just have a thing. There are a lot of people who want to start an aquarium RIGHT NOW or do things as quickly as possible. I've always gone out of my way to emphasize the idea of patience. Fish aren't like a dog or bird. Your aquarium isn't just a cage to keep them in, it's an entire life support system for the fish and requires a lot of effort and most of all time to get to work properly.

The BioStars aren't plastic, they actually rate much higher surface areas than ceramic pellets. I've read articles criticizing biowheels as 'not all that' but I find their science to be sound in my experience. The only thing I use sponges for are as canister mechanical pre-filters I can rinse with expended tank water. Compared to the bio-bed in my permanent media the loss of any bacteria through the discarding of my mechanical floss is negligible.

Yes, aquarium keeping does require patience, sometimes difficult in our 'I want it all and I want it now' world.

Tyyrlym 07-22-2010 03:14 PM

There are other plastic media that have a pattern like that, neither here nor there though. I have heard bio-wheels criticized and I would expect that but unlike what most detractors claim, it being the filter pads not the wheels, I've never seen an ammonia spike after changing pads like you'd expect if I just yanked all the bio filter media out. I'm not a screaming bio-wheel fanatic by any means. I like them, Marineland has provided great service to me as a customer, and most importantly my water is crystal clear and free of ammonia and nitrites. So with my good experiences with them they're my preferred filter and what I recommend. After looking the Aquaclear line over I think they're an excellent product and would do just fine as well.

The sponges comment wasn't really in reference to the pre-filters in your canisters but in reference to other style filters who make use of a sponge not as a filter but as primary biofilter media.


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