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Quick bio ball question
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BHeidemann
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Joined: 13 Feb 2008

PostPosted: 2008.02.14(Thu)11:35    Post subject: Quick bio ball question Reply with quote

I've been noticing that when bio balls have been used in a sump tank that they are always suspended above the water line and the water flows through them. I've never seen the balls submersed in water. Is there any reason for that?

I am curios because I recently received a brand new Fluval 404 & a 403 and was thinking about filling the tub with Bio balls instead of the filter elements that come with them. Sounds weird but its all put of the master plan.

What do you think?
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dale
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Joined: 10 Jan 2005
Location: Abbotsford Canada

PostPosted: 2008.02.16(Sat)0:15    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi BH,
1. Yes you can use bio balls in the fluval.
2. The beneficial nitrifying bacterias that break down waste are aerobic and peform best when oxygen is present. Some means of keeping the balls wet and aerated (as often seen in sumps and trickle filters) is optimal but using them in the fluval will also be effective.
3. Many people poo poo the use of bioballs in saltwater applications but this should be ammended to advocating the use of bioballs properly. In saltwater we want to convert waste materials to the less harmful end product nitrates but we don't want to trap all that waste for convertion if we can help it. Bioballs tend to trap waste so it is important when using them to clean them on a regular basis (which will be easy if you are using a fluval). Just give them a good rinse when cleaning the filter.
4. Bioballs are OK but the surface area they provide to host beneficial bacteria pales in comparison to many newer ceramic and resin based bio materials and even more so when compared to live rock rubble which could also be added to the fluval.
Hope this helps,
Good luck.
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Jimbob
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Joined: 27 Feb 2004
Location: London, England

PostPosted: 2008.02.17(Sun)3:15    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dale, you raise an interesting point about the use of bio-balls in external filters. I have been going through the process of removing the sponge filters and bio-balls from my Aqua One CF-500 in an attempt to get the nitrate levels down below 10ppm. There is also conflicting advice between cleaning bio-balls in un-filtered tap water or RO water - which do you advocate?


I have detailed my tank set-up below for info.

Presently I have, in a 68 Ltr tank, one:

Cleaner shrimp
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dale
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Joined: 10 Jan 2005
Location: Abbotsford Canada

PostPosted: 2008.02.18(Mon)21:35    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Jimbob,

I would rinse the bio balls in the water siphoned from the water changes; just shake them out in the water really good. If you rinse them in tap water you risk killing off a percentage of the beneficial bacteria that could then lead to a mini cycle. You probably won't notice the cycle (In a bigger tank) but in a smaller tank like yours it could manifest as a tank that just seems to struggle to maintain a sense of biological stability. Using R/O water is better than tap water but it still varies in temp and salinity (which may effect the bacteria).

Don't worry about that Prism Wink I have seen many brands of skimmers and each has its pros and cons. In the end the main question (as you've alluded to) is "does it work."

While you hear a lot about running 0 nitrate SW tanks, in my experience this really rarely happens. 5-10 ppm is acceptable in most circumstances (except when one is trying to keep a SPS dominant tank) and trying to reduce that last 5-10 ppm can be frustrating. One thought is to add either some macro algae to the display or some heavy feeding soft corals (colts, kenyas, toadstools, hammers, mushrooms, xenia, anthelia etc...) It sounds like you are doing things right though; low bio load, regular P.W.C.'s, plenty of L.R. IMO, the biggest key to nitrate control that I've learned is not to overfeed. Control the feeding (and those other things) and you control the tank.
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Jimbob
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Joined: 27 Feb 2004
Location: London, England

PostPosted: 2008.02.25(Mon)11:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Dale,

One thing I have noticed that it on the oncrease is the size and number of bristle worms in the tank. I have counted something like a dozen ranging from (what I can see) to tiny thin guys with a couple of inches sticking out of the rock to some seriously bigs ones an eighth of an inch thick and six inches long. Would they be significant contributors to the nitrate or be indicative of overfeeding?
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dale
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Joined: 10 Jan 2005
Location: Abbotsford Canada

PostPosted: 2008.02.25(Mon)19:27    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi JB,
Bristle worms are your friends Very Happy
Some people don't like them because they can be opportunistic predators when large but they are primarily scavengers and feed off of left over food and detritus. Hermit crabs have the same pros and cons (scavenger/predator) but bristle worms can access places that hermits won't go (inside rock, under gravel). The only time the worms will add negatively to the nitrate load is if you have a catastrophic event that kills off a large amount of them. This happened to me once when I was restarting a long neglected, stagnant tank. I added a lot of cold water to start up the pumps and hundreds of dead curled up bristle worms began coming out of the rock.
You only do that sort of thing once really Embarassed
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