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Perfeshunal Hikk
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Discussion Starter #1
For purposes of this discussion the following terms are used to describe certain things:

Live Rock: This seems to be self-explanatory but it will include any DIY rocks, any type of actual rock that is used in a tank for a surface for the bacteria to live on.

Wet/Dry media: This includes, but is not limited to, ceramic rings, noodles, bio-balls. Any media that is used in a wet/dry filter to attemp to process ammonia, nitrite and nitrates.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both set ups. So, to start the discussion:

What are the advantages/disadvantages of each type of media?

After that question, we will discuss the different approaches to trying to handle the disadvantages and increase the advantages.
 

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Took the bio=balls out of my wet/dry ages ago. I know use the space to put any LR that has or seems to like hair algae. Flushes everything off/in the rock really well.
 

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Perfeshunal Hikk
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Discussion Starter #3
Took the bio=balls out of my wet/dry ages ago. I know use the space to put any LR that has or seems to like hair algae. Flushes everything off/in the rock really well.
But, why did you remove the bio-balls? What were the issues that led you to remove them?
 

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But, why did you remove the bio-balls? What were the issues that led you to remove them?
High nitrates which went with the bio-balls.
 

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What the heck. I'll give it a try.

Wet/dry filters are great at processing massive amounts of water in a relatively small area. This works well for FO tanks where swimming room is the priority. They also work well for LFS's where space is limited, and the animals need to be displayed in empty clean compartments.
The down side to wet/dry filters is that the nitrogen cycle stops at nitrate. Nitrate can build up rapidly, and to very high levels, in very short time, if nothing is done to keep it under control.
Live rock works well at processing nitrogen all the way through to gas that is able to escape the system.
The down side to LR is that it requires a great deal of space to perform the nitrogen cycle. It also has the potential to trap decomposing matter/detritus which can increase nutrients in the water and fuel nasty algae blooms.
 

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What the heck. I'll give it a try.

Wet/dry filters are great at processing massive amounts of water in a relatively small area. This works well for FO tanks where swimming room is the priority. They also work well for LFS's where space is limited, and the animals need to be displayed in empty clean compartments.
The down side to wet/dry filters is that the nitrogen cycle stops at nitrate. Nitrate can build up rapidly, and to very high levels, in very short time, if nothing is done to keep it under control.
Live rock works well at processing nitrogen all the way through to gas that is able to escape the system.
The down side to LR is that it requires a great deal of space to perform the nitrogen cycle. It also has the potential to trap decomposing matter/detritus which can increase nutrients in the water and fuel nasty algae blooms.
Well said!
 

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I don't use bio balls for biological filtration, only live rock. I took out the bio balls because they would get dirty and being difficult to clean, wouldn't get cleaned. At that point dirty bio-balls are only adding to the bio-load. Now instead of bio-balls I use floss because it's easy to clean every couple of days. By cleaning out the floss I'm removing excess organics and lightening the bio-load on the system, so less nitrate is procuced, period. It's then easier for the live rock to keep the nitrate down.
 

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The 50 gallon I just brought home and set up has everything built in the back and included a boat load of bio-balls that I immediately removed. Right now I put a nice ball of Chaeto in that section that is getting tumbled by the current. It was hard enough removing the bio-balls when the tank was dry and on the floor, I could not imagine trying to remove them later on down the road if/when a problem arose because of them.

This is now the seahorse tank, and it has planty of rock and open spaces that should handle all of the biological filtration just fine.
 

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Perfeshunal Hikk
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Discussion Starter #11
Randy,
are you thinking of a coral system or a Fish only type system for the use of Bio balls and or the Wet dry system?
Mainly a coral system since that is the system that seems to be the most bio-ball unfriendly set up.

You beat me to my other questions though about what makes the bio-balls so inefficient (or rather, what makes people think they are inefficient).
 

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Perfeshunal Hikk
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Discussion Starter #12
The 50 gallon I just brought home and set up has everything built in the back and included a boat load of bio-balls that I immediately removed. Right now I put a nice ball of Chaeto in that section that is getting tumbled by the current. It was hard enough removing the bio-balls when the tank was dry and on the floor, I could not imagine trying to remove them later on down the road if/when a problem arose because of them.

This is now the seahorse tank, and it has planty of rock and open spaces that should handle all of the biological filtration just fine.
But, why did you remove them? What reason prompted you to remove them?

And, what potential problems can arise from using Live Rock that don't arise when using bio-balls (there are at least 2 unique differences between the two filtration mediums).
 

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Perfeshunal Hikk
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Discussion Starter #13
David, are there less nitrates being produced, or, are there less nitrates being exported from the system, thereby making it look as if there are nitrates being produced?
 

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I think that there's a limited amount of nitrates a given system can export biologically due to the specific anaerobic requirement of the nitrate reducing bacteria. Anaerobic conditions exist only in the deep regions of the rock and sand bed. So logically if uneaten food and waste are removed mechanically by sock/floss or skimmer before the bacteria break them down into nitrate the system will have a better chance of keeping up. Rapid chaeto growth further aids nitrate removal without relying on the limited anaerobic nitrate removing bacteria. And to answer Tim's question I do run a honkin' skimmer! And to answer your question Randy; both. I think replacing bio-balls with easier to clean floss help to keep nitrate production down and as a result help the system to maintain lower nitrate levels.
 

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Perfeshunal Hikk
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Discussion Starter #15
David touched on the major issue with bio-balls in the lack of anaerobic conditions with bio-balls. It is why they become "nitrate factories" (there are some other reasons but that is the biggest).

What are some of the issues with Live Rock?
 

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I removed them for the very reason that there was no way I would ever be able to thoroughly clean them. Any food particles and other nasties that went through the overflow and got caught up in the bio balls would remain there until it totally rotted away. Nothing would ever get back there to eat it.

Live rock can also have issues. If you let the detritus build up on it then the bacteria has a harder time doing its job. Also, if you have it touching the sand bed it can wick phosphates out of the sand and help more nuisance algae grow. You need to keep flow on the rocks in order to prevent as much detritus as possible from settling there.
 

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Perfeshunal Hikk
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Discussion Starter #17
I removed them for the very reason that there was no way I would ever be able to thoroughly clean them. Any food particles and other nasties that went through the overflow and got caught up in the bio balls would remain there until it totally rotted away. Nothing would ever get back there to eat it.
So it was a maintenance issue and not a deficiency in the ability of the bio balls that caused you to remove them?

Live rock can also have issues. If you let the detritus build up on it then the bacteria has a harder time doing its job. Also, if you have it touching the sand bed it can wick phosphates out of the sand and help more nuisance algae grow. You need to keep flow on the rocks in order to prevent as much detritus as possible from settling there.
There is one more issue with rocks and algae :)
 

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randy,
as you know,
often when various types of algae start to grow with in our systems.( we all know that it is always present and our system can not live with out it).
But more of when the bloom and or goes sexual that maint. ( water change), skimmer not working properly or even amount and type of food given can lead to it. adjusting , fixing or keeping up will keep things in check.
once the bloom has taken hold and is running crazy that is a but different. remember we are only talking about algae not bacteria.. that on the other hand is a totally new basket...
 
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