04-20-2008, 08:38 AM
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When the marine hobby first evolved, using biological filtration was extremely common. However, if you look at the old literature, you will find significant differences from today.
Success at the time was short term. Massive deaths would occur for what appeared to be no reason at all. It was a total plague to the hobby. After the introduction of the protein skimmer and the evolution of berlin systems, the hobby really took off and success has become widespread.
If you simply can not utilize a protein skimmer at this time, then I would suggest keeping only very small fish and in small numbers. The old rule of thumb was one fish per 20 gallons for a marine tank, which means 2 or 3 fish for you. Your selections should be no larger than a Centropyge angelfish, and you should stick to the very easiest of fish to keep.
Also, do not even consider fish which grow large in size. Pufferfish, Triggers, Large Angelfish, Lionfish, Groupers, etc. These fish are a demand on your filtration system and you will find yourself changing a ton of water to keep Nitrates down.
You need a skimmer. Period. The hobby tried the method you are trying. We tried it for a decade. It failed in the large majority of cases.