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FW filtration ideas, questions
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jsuereth
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Joined: 22 Aug 2010
Location: Pittsburgh, PA USA

PostPosted: 2010.12.19(Sun)21:03    Post subject: FW filtration ideas, questions Reply with quote

I've been specing out an idea for a largish FW setup for Tetras/Barbs where they would be separated from each other but share common filtration. I've been looking into sump designs and filtration methods.

I'm looking at buying/building a Wet/Dry filtration system. I understand that this will build up nitrifying bacteria. I may also back this up with a sponge filter. From what I've learned, this leads to removing warmful fish waste and building up nitrates in the aquarium, hence one of the factors requiring water changes.

I've been reading about Algae Tank Scrubbers (ATS). For those who may not know, it's a concept that mixes a refugium with a wet/dry filter. Essentially you set up a waterfall with lighting to create the ideal algae environment. The goal being that if algae is able to grow in your tank, it will do so on this wall and 'starve' algae out of your main tank.

I also know that aquatic plants can be used to compete with algae and minimize it. In my home aquarium, I'm at the point where I dose just enough K to bring my nitrates down to 0-10 ppm and the tank stays pretty clean. The shrimp eat most of the rest.

Now, my question is what happens to my plants if I use an ATS + Wet/Dry filter in a FW planted aquarium? If I choose a lot of plants that pull nutrients from the substrate, e.g. Crypts and Swords, could I use the ATS to 'move' thje algae out of the tank and into a sump while still having healthy plants? Will I still need to dose K to reduce nitrate build up before water changes?

My second question is would a FW Refugium be just as effective. I'd love to set up an area to grow out anubias/Java Fern/christmas moss. I don't mind dosing K too much, now that I know to buy K or K-Fe only fertilizers.
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Caton
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Joined: 28 Jul 2009
Location: Washington State, USA

PostPosted: 2010.12.19(Sun)22:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I don't see that cost effective, given that you can have a canister or some other thing that is cheaper than going with the ATS. First of all, one of the main factors is how large is this tank going to be to? 55-100g? 101-200? I mean, if it is 250g or larger, maybe it might work. But you shouldn't need to use a ATS in the first place. A tank shouldn't have algae, because that means the tank is out of balance. If you have plants, that makes it even harder, because he have to provide un-stable conditions and that doesn't make plants happy. I think just a sump (if you can drill the tank...) with three compartments, is cost effective ($100 depending on what you use) and it also add's more water volume. Once you get enough plants, the plants pretty much starve out the algae. If you have a sump, you can have a extra compartment (Like I said, one for the media, one for the show (JK, I mean empty area with a light and can be a jail, plant farm) and one for the equipment, heaters, thermometers, pumps, ETC. But again, how big of a tank are we talking?
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unissuh
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Joined: 29 Mar 2005
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: 2010.12.19(Sun)23:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you not planning on planting the tetra and barb tanks? If that is the case then a refugium tank that is heavily planted would be beneficial & gives you more space to play with.

If you are, then pretty much what Caton said, just heavily planting the tank and keeping it "in balance" should wipe out your algae problems anyway. I'm going to go a little out left field here and say that IMO, well planted tanks need very little filtration if not overstocked anyway. Circulation needs to be kept up, but actually having filter media in there becomes much less necessary.
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jsuereth
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Joined: 22 Aug 2010
Location: Pittsburgh, PA USA

PostPosted: 2010.12.19(Sun)23:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

We're actually talking between 1-3 display tanks. For the foreseeable future about 80-100 gallons of water split between a barb tank and a community tetra tank (Primarily because my daughter loves barbs and I like community tanks).

I'm looking at a sump for a few reasons:
* they're cheaper than canister filters. From my research, they appear to be the cheapest way to support 100g bioloads.
* They can hide equipment and support customization.
* I like plumbing
* I want to hide a DIY top-off system (gravity) that I can also use during water changes. I want this piece hidden if at all possible.
* If I ever attempt saltwater, It'd be nice to only have to dump more $$$ into live rock and inhabitants.

Now as to the planted aquarium piece. I'd love to be able to stop dosing liquid K. Right now half my plants could survive on just root tabs, as I'm doing in my work tank, but half do not thrive. If I made an algae scrubber and stopped dosing k in my main tank, I think my crypt spp. an echnidorus spp. would survive. The algae scrubber would be to ensure no algae could enter the main tanks.

My current plan of attack is to buy/build the sump and see what happens with the first tank and move on from there. I was just curious if the idea is worth experimentation. Seems the algae scrubber is better for reefs.
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jsuereth
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Joined: 22 Aug 2010
Location: Pittsburgh, PA USA

PostPosted: 2010.12.22(Wed)19:30    Post subject: Reply with quote

unissuh wrote:

If you are, then pretty much what Caton said, just heavily planting the tank and keeping it "in balance" should wipe out your algae problems anyway. I'm going to go a little out left field here and say that IMO, well planted tanks need very little filtration if not overstocked anyway. Circulation needs to be kept up, but actually having filter media in there becomes much less necessary.


I'm trying to keep everything "low tech" in the sense that I don't want to dose the water column, (with liquid ferts or CO2) unless I just can't achieve a good balance without doing so (which is why I was thinking the ATS might be a useful 'safety net' for starting up).

So... on that note, what do you think about this plan:

46G Acrylic - Heavily Planted Tetra tank:
Stocking:
* 8 Black Neon Tetras
* 8 Neon Tetras
* 8 Green Neon Tetras
(or just 24 Tetras, probably neon)
* 6 Otos
* however many RCS migrate from my current 10G.
* 1 Moonlight Gourami
Plants:
Cabomba, Random Swords/Crypts, Dwarf Hairgrass
Substrate:
Black Flourite Sand
30G Long (Or whatever I can find used in this size range)
Stocking:
8 Tiger Barbs
Plants:
??? Something visually different from the 46G if possible ???
Substrate: ???
20G - Sump
Wet/Dry filtration
Submersed Heater (100W)
'Jail' / 'Fry Holder' refugium.

The 46G would drain into the Sump which would feed the 30G. The 46G and 30G would be connected with a water bridge of sorts I've designed from PVC. I still need to experiment with flow-rates and ensure the water will migrate well. I was also thinking of adding sponge filters in both aquariums to help with water flow.

Does this plan sound at all reasonable or is it a pipe dream?
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diademhill
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Joined: 18 Apr 2007

PostPosted: 2010.12.23(Thu)2:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

46g
Switch the moonlight gourami as these grow to 8". A pearl gourami would fit.
One or two shoals --10 black neons and 10 other neon types (whichever looks best when you want them)

Pale green swords, brownish crypts, bright green hairgrass & cabomba, maybe a nymphaea for shape & colour contrast.

30g

Pale sand, wood, Java ferns in differing forms.

Put a sump on the highly stocked 46g. The 30g would run well on just a Fluval internal size 3.

Keep the systems separate.
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jsuereth
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Joined: 22 Aug 2010
Location: Pittsburgh, PA USA

PostPosted: 2010.12.23(Thu)7:01    Post subject: Reply with quote

@diademhill Thanks! I didn't realize the moonlight gourami's became so large. Maybe the site should update the max-size info! From what I've seen in pictures and the store, I'm not a big fan of Pearl gouramis. I was also looking for a silver colored fish for the community tank. I'll keep looking around for something.

As for the tetras, if I choose two shoals, will they still school? Would it be better to just go for 18-20 of one type?

Lastly, is the reason to keep the tanks separate disease? I had this notion that having a large water column would make it easier to keep things stable. I'm also planning an auto-top-off system for the sump that I want to use for water changes as well. I was hoping both tanks could benefit from the auto-top-off. If I get really into the project, I may even try to work on a continuous water change system.

If it's safer for the fish, I'll keep things separate. It'll be a long time before I figure out the auto-top-off piece anyway. It'll be long time before the aquarium is ready for fish too!

Thanks for all the help!
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UncleWillie
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Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Location: Georgia, USA

PostPosted: 2010.12.23(Thu)8:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

Prevention of disease is one major reason to keep the filtration separate. But you are right - water quality tends to be more stable as water volume increases. I am no plumber, but one thing I was thinking about was returning water into the tanks. Will this be supplied be one pump? If so, remember that the turnover rate for the 30 will be different for the 46. Turnover rate may not really vary that between those two volumes, but I guess it depends on your pump. What I am getting at is that if you want a large turnover rate for your 46 gallon tank to keep up with the bioload, your 30 gallon tank will be subject to much higher flows and this may or may not affect tank velocity and may influence the plants or fish you keep. If this is the case, you may want a different return pump for each tank, and I don't know how this will affect balancing flow rates so that you don't have an overflowing sump.
I agree with Diademhill - unless these are two tanks right next to each other, have a sump system on your 46 and another method for the 30. Since these are display tanks, it will also cut down on plumbing you see and over all aesthetics. I know of plenty of setups where they use a sump system for several tanks, but I know this is often used in a 'fish room' where seeing a lot of piping between tanks is not a problem.
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