In another thread I was trounced for expounding a theory that the micro pores of bio-ceramics may become clogged making them less effective. The point really was that water flow through our filter media will always take the path of least resistance. It seems logical that these micro pores in bio-ceramics will represent far more resistance than water flow around them...and if water doesn't flow though them, does their increased surface area inside them really mean anything?
This suggests that the actual true outside surface area would be most effective, while internal (pore) surfaces would be least effective. I also note that many/most manufacturers of bio-ceramic rings recommend periodic replacement of the media, while Seachem claims that Matrix lasts forever with just periodic rinsing. Hmmm.
Perhaps a key in the useful run life of bio-ceramic media is excellent pre-mechanical filtration as water flow through micro pores would be easy to restrict or stop should 'shmutz' find it's way there??
(It would also seem that the somewhat rough surfaces so highly regarded as providing a home for bacteria, may also collect disolved organiics?)
Maybe I was all wet (pun intended) but it seems logical that water flow through micro pores in bio-ceramics in our filters is minimum at best when new, not to mention as they age and suffer some material build-up. The path of least resistance is around this media rather than through it.
For this (water flow) reason, I would think that a product like Seachem's Matrix (in a 2-3 inch or more bed), due to it's small particle size, just may be more effective long term than bio-ceramic rings like Bio Max.
!! JUST AN OPINION BASED ON FLOW MECHANICS !!
In researching bio-media, I came across an interesting post in another forum deserving of review...
Beginners Guide to Filter Media - MonsterFishKeepers.com
(Be sure to scroll down)
It offers some interesting alternatives for filtration media.
Of special interest relative to surface area, performance and cost effectiveness, is the lowly nylon kitchen pot scrubber! (I think just maybe if/when I have a canister, one level, perhaps between mechanical and ceramics, just may have these.
We all look to provide the best water quality in natural, mechanical, sometimes chemical and bio-filtration and we're told that bio-ceramic is the way to go. But there's big money in bio-ceramics and just maybe we need to 'take the blue pill' to also see and evaluate the viable alternatives. :grin:
yeah i think your right in the matter that there are alot of alterantive biological medias..i have used the scrubbers and they wotk OK...i like matila fiber for mechanical prior as well..but i have seen all sorts of things used as bio balls but as you have stated if they become clogged then the waste conversion drops..
Everyone here has an opinion, so heck, I'll weigh in. I think both sides of the issue have valid points and the truth lies somewhere in the middle :-). Water flow is important and overall surface area is important. I do believe that the porous ceramic media will become "clogged" over time. Other than profit-margin, that's why manufacturers of ceramic/glass media recommend scheduled replacement of the media. Having said that, I think the bio-ceramic media, with the larger surface area for bacterial attachment is very effective and in my opinion (I personally don't have data to support) more effective than "smooth" media like the twisted plastic shavings used in some wet/dry filters. Now, long-term, the bio-ceramic's probably less cost-effective in terms of replacement frequency!
Ok, now to some biology to support my opinion. Fact: some bacteria have the ability to form biofilms, bacteria grow, reproduce, die, and bacteria attach to substrates. Now, all that dead bacteria doesn't necessarily 100% disappear, and that "detritus", along with any biofilms secreted will certainly clog up porous media over time. So can microscopic "crud" in the water. Granted, not all bacteria secrete biofilms, but our aquaria are not sterile environments either and have many bacteria types. Biofilms are notoriously resistant to chemical removal (hard to remove even mechanically). That's why your dental hygienist spends so much time scraping teeth during your visit - biofilm!
Water flow over the surface is not the entire issue either. While water flows across the media, smooth or porous, it brings oxygen, allowing greater bacterial activity. While water flows across the ceramic media, oxygen and waste products diffuse into the cracks, creases, and pores of the bio-media. The added surface area for bacterial attachment means there's a lot more surface area for bacterial growth in the porous media system. It's the same idea as our intestinal villi (small projections and valleys in our intestines to increase surface area for food absorption). This surface area makes the bio-media much more effective at holding larger quantities of bacteria and processing waste products but only as long as it's not clogged up!
IMO, cleaning porous media may help a little, but it certainly won't restore it to 100% function. Regarding Seachem's matrix? Forever is a long time and as they say "nothing lasts forever"!
What's best? Use what works and what you like. We all get attached to certain things, they each have pros and cons.
Relative to my other post regarding Seachem's claim that Matrix handles nitrates, and a comment that portions of the substrate can be anaerobic...makes me wonder...
Even though the bio-ceramic (in this case Matrix) is in a highly oxygenated environment, it may be possible that areas in those tiny ceramic pores could become anaerobic and support bacteria able to process nitrates.????
I have to agree with DKRST, The Bio media will not last forever, but how much efficiency it looses between each filter cleaning is probably not grate. I have four ehiems running they range from one to 16 years old. All have the original bio rings (the round noodle type media) EHFIMECH. I no that they are made to catch large debris but seem to work good for bacteria as well. All the tanks have excellent water quality and no problems. Am I just lucky??
Of course, even older ceramic media with plugged pores is going to continue to work - it just doesn't have the same 'surface' area if/when internal pores are plugged.
We all know that gravel, sand, foam, plastics and ceramics in layers can provide a good bed for bacteria colonies to thrive.
What's also interesting relative to the Seachem claim for Matrix is that in time, the media may create regions for both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria to thrive to not only handle ammonia and nitrites, but also (some) nitrates as well. Is the anaerobic area within clogged pores I wonder?
I believe we still need routine water changes, but obviously the better our bio-filtration, the frequency and volume of water changes may be reduced somewhat.
Hmm...In researching bio-media some praise was given to inexpensive nylon pot scrubbers. Got me to thinking....what about used monofilament fishline....you gotta wonder...
Just a note, posting links to other forums is against the rules if im not mistaken, you should avoid posting those links.
As for filter media, I never change my rings and they've been running for over 2 years now, having no issues with water chemistry. If i ever run into increasing nitrate readings, then I may look into changing my media but so far, the theory that the media should last for as long as it stays intact is going to be my policy.
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