Advanced Level discussion of filtration concepts - Page 2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #11 of 12 Old 11-03-2009, 08:52 PM
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Just to be clear, it has not been suggested anywhere that the use of live rock in a sump or hang on filter is a problem. The use of biomedia, such as ceramic rings and bioballs is the issue. These artificial biomedia are the source of nitrate and phosphate that need to be eliminated from marine systems. I suspect your husbands aquarium, which mixes both live rock and bioballs, has a massive amount of denitrification taking place within the sump system.

To follow up on my promise to look for a reference, I only had to open "The Marine Aquarium Reference, Systems and Invertebrates" by Martin Moe. I turned to the chapter on Protein Skimming, starting on page 272 in hard back, continuing for 3 pages. Here are some excerpts that apply directly to the concept of filtration in a marine aquarium:

"Proteins and other organics are removed before the are mineralized into nitrogen compounds and other toxins... Note that of all the various filtration capabilities available to the marine aquarist, only protein foam skimming completely removes most organics from the system before they break down."

"Proteins and other organics get into marine aquarium systems through feeding, excretion, adn organic decay. Through the intricate process of biological filtration, these organic substances eventually become nitrates.... Foam separation (protein skimming) removes complex organic substances before they are transformed by the processes of biological filtration."

As a final point in this discussion, I want to talk about the reference made to the book written by Julian Sprung and Charles Delbeck. This is a perfect reference, because each of these experts in our hobby have been advocates against the use of biomedia. I have discussed this concept with Julian Sprung in person. As for Charles Delbeck, he uses ozone and protein skimming as his sole method of filtration. (reference: Coral Magazine, pg. 94, September 2009 edition)
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post #12 of 12 Old 11-03-2009, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Pasfur View Post
Marine fish do not release ammonia into the water. Freshwater fish release ammonia. Marine fish release various organic compounds that only become ammonia when they become caught on a surface which is active with bacteria, such as biomedia or filter pads.
In having this discussion, one of the benefits is the research of topics long forgotten. Interestingly, this concept above appears to be inaccurate. I am still attempting to find the original source of this, because I have had this identical discussion several years ago and have posted references. This much I am certain. However, I think the reference may have been to urine, as opposed to gill secretions. There have been several references in my research and the links above to ammonia being secreted though the gills of marine fish.

In any case, this in no way changes this discussion. This was not my point of debate, only what I hoped was a misunderstanding that caused this debate.

The fact still remains that systems which use ARTIFICIAL biological filtration, such as bioballs, ceramic rings, and sponge filters, are using a filter that intentionally introduces Nitrate into the aquarium. The modern aquarium uses live rock and sand as the only method of ammonia removal, with an end result of Nitrogen Gas, which leaves the system naturally and harmlessly.

I have not used biological filtration on a marine aquarium in excess of 10 years. Both my 180 FOWLR and my 54 reef are run with natural systems. Oddly enough, it appears that Dawn and I both have very similar systems in practice, despite our disagreement in principles.

Thanks for the discussion Dawn. Happy fishkeeping!
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