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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
i just purchased a 100 gallon acrylic tank which has a built in overflow & sump in the back of the tank kinda like a biocube.... the sump has 3 sections the first where the water overflows into a chamber which fills up & overflows onto a drip tray which then trickles down bio balls under a wall to the last chamber were the return pump is.....now heres my question ... should i keep the bio balls & carbon bags or should i replace that section with live rock, sand, & macro algea? wich would filter the tank better its a FOWLR? i plan on using a backpack skimmer seems tho theres no room in sump for one? any advice would be great ...also if i go with LR + algea should i put a light back there also?? thanks TRT!
 

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sounds like a tencor all in one tank i had one for a bit cool tanks i just drilled the back and put a sump under it ditch the balls too
 

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Bioballs are great at what they were designed to do. Convert ammonia to nitrate. LR does the same thing, but deeper inside the LR there are anaerobic bacteria that can convert nitrate to nitrogen gas. This gas can then leave the system through gas exchange at the surface. Bioballs don't have this ability. The nitrate they produce is dumped into the open water of the system where it can accumulate. This can lead to algae problems. If there is LR in the system, you want the nitrate to be produced by the LR so a portion of it can be removed through anaerobic processes. Having bioballs and LR is counter productive.

In the system described above, I would leave the bioball chamber empty. The more surface area you provide in this area, the higher your nitrate level will go.
 

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There are many bio ball bashers out there who parrot what they heard or read somewhere. Bio balls are one of the most efficient means of biological filtration out there. I have them in my Mega-Flow I wet/dry sump. You may want to read this;
http://saltaquarium.about.com/od/wetdrytricklefilters/a/aa062103a.htm
The people that wrote that article have no idea what they are talking about. Or, they just want to sell more bioballs.:confused:

In the early days, the biggest problem we had was dealing with the ammonia in our systems. The first method to become popular was the under gravel filter. This worked, and quickly converted ammonia to less toxic nitrate, but it trapped huge quantities of rotting organic matter that caused other water quality issues. Then came trickle filters with what was called DLS material. It was sheets of plastic mesh and cotton looking fabric, similar to filter sock material. This would be rolled up into a large roll and placed on its side. Water would then trickle through it. This worked a little better, but still trapped quite a bit of organic matter. Then bioballs came out and revolutionized the trickle process. A mechanical filter would be placed before the bioballs, taking out most of the organic matter. Then the force of the water moving through the bioballs kept them relatively clean. I have an LFS that's been running the same bioballs for years, without cleaning, and they're still relatively clean. With bioballs, its not the accumulation of organic matter that causes them to become nitrate factories. They are nitrate factories because that is what they were designed to be. Their only purpose is to convert ammonia into nitrate. With the absence of anaerobic areas to remove the nitrate, it simply accumulates within the system, and fuels algae blooms. Now we have improved on this process with the use of "live rocks". LR's have the surface area to convert ammonia into nitrate, but they also have the anaerobic environment to remove the nitrate.
 

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Truly a debatable issue. I use them. Water quality equals less chance for excess nutrients.
Here is an excerpt from WWM;
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bioballfaqs.htm
The answers to the questions raised are in the link.

Submerged bio balls still nitrate factory?
I am trying to find out why bio balls are considered a nitrate factory. Is it because they are not submerged?
<I a factor. be to going even not is it done, are changes waters 10% weekly and maintenance tank proper if but some, level nitrate the elevate will them using that feel seem people Some factory?. ?nitrate consider don?t really>
If they were submerged would that make them more like live rock without as much surface area and nitrate control?
<MORE bio is the beneficial. most exchange water air where films thin into separates of sort This filter. area dry in balls with obtained benefit>
Would dry rock also be nitrate factory if used in wet dry type system and not submerged?
<IT do bio be to not the of dry in balls with Dog) (Salty James harm. than good more far opinion my Mike, dry. wet section used start effective very would>
(I still have boxes of bags of Thiel's bio balls from when he was only supplier of quality saltwater products)
Thank You, Mike Petrizzo
<YOU'RE welcome>
[/I]
 

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EC is right. bioballs have there place. but LR is more efficient due to its porousness (spelling?).

replacing bioballs for LR in a trickle method? interesting thing to try out and see imo. but i think the issue would be plugged up LR. you need them submerged to do the job they are intended. well nature intended.
 

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There are many bio ball bashers out there who parrot what they heard or read somewhere. Bio balls are one of the most efficient means of biological filtration out there. I have them in my Mega-Flow I wet/dry sump. You may want to read this;
http://saltaquarium.about.com/od/wetdrytricklefilters/a/aa062103a.htm
That article addresses keeping them clean, which can be part of it. But it ignores the fact that BB keep plenty of aerobic bacteria w/o any functional anaerobes. They do a great job of converting ammonia to nitrate. But that is where they stop and where liverock can continue. BB do not create nitrate and thus the term nitrate factory can be misleading. They need ammonia to convert to nitrate.

In a FO system where you didn't want to spend the $$$ on LR they can be great. In most reef tanks they are not adding anything with the amount of rock folks use.
 

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Truly a debatable issue. I use them. Water quality equals less chance for excess nutrients.
It's not debatable. The science behind this is well understood. There's nothing to debate. What "excess nutrients" are you referring to?

Here is an excerpt from WWM;
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bioballfaqs.htm
The answers to the questions raised are in the link.
Those answers are very short and don't tell the whole story.

Submerged bio balls still nitrate factory?
Absolutely. They won't be as efficient at converting ammonia into nitrate when they are submerged simply because it becomes much harder to keep the oxygen level high within submerged bioballs. The microbes responsible for converting ammonia into nitrate are considered "aerobic" bacteria. They thrive in oxygen rich environments, and can quickly deplete oxygen levels. This is why the typical "trickle" filter houses the bioballs above the water line where oxygen levels are higher. However, these microbes can colonize every available surface within the tank. Submerged bioballs still possess a great deal of surface area for microbial colonization. Given good movement of oxygen rich water, the microbes living on submerged bioballs will still be converting ammonia into nitrate.

I am trying to find out why bio balls are considered a nitrate factory. Is it because they are not submerged?
No. They are nitrate factories because that is what they were designed to do, and they are very good at it. They do nothing more than convert ammonia into nitrate. In a system were bioballs are used as the only source of biological filtration, all of the ammonia produced by all of the animals in the system will be converted into nitrate. As the animals keep releasing ammonia, the bioballs keep turning it into nitrate, and the nitrate level continually climbs. This is a runaway train. It will continue to climb until it is removed. In such a system, there is no biological method for removing this ever climbing nitrate level. This is why they are considered "nitrate factories".

If they were submerged would that make them more like live rock without as much surface area and nitrate control?
Live rock is to variable to be compared to bioballs. The available surface area on two different pieces of LR can vary greatly.

<MORE sort the is benefit obtained with balls in dry area filter. This of separates into thin films where air water exchange most beneficial. bio>
Would dry rock also be nitrate factory if used in wet dry type system and not submerged?
It's all about surface area where aerobic bacteria can colonize. It doesn't matter if it's plastic bioballs, live rock, dead rock, or any other material. If you put a great deal of usable surface area in a "wet dry type" system it will produce nitrate.

<IT do the not to be with balls in dry of bio would very effective start used section wet dry. Mike, my opinion far more good than harm. James (Salty Dog)>
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
ok so thanks to all the replys,,,i get theres alot of mixed feelings about this issue.....so what if i have plenty of LR with sufficent flow in the display & bio-balls in the sump will i get the best of both worlds? remember its fish only with the live rock.... what would be the best way to go with this tank should i use the main chamber as a refugium with algea LR and sponges? im confused on how im going to set this up the best way...so i dont end up having to change it later down the line??
 

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LR in your tank with sufficient flow is the best filtration you can get. of course like everything it needs cleaned. when doing a water change i blow off my rock with a powerhead or you can plumb up a little bypass on the return pump and use an auxilary hose to jet water around the LR and break free the junk, then vacuum sandbed, and use good skimming. i would think thats about all you need in my honest oppinion. bioballs would be a waste if using LR because the LR takes care of the entire cycle until you get to phosphates. the skimmer removes the rest from there. the heavier stocked the tank, the more skimmer, LR, cleaning you need to do to keep the overall bioload down...

*keep it simple*
good read: http://www.thereeftank.com/forums/f6/reefkeeping-made-easy-what-was-not-explained-160389.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
thanks man you answered my questions ....now its time to start sanding & painting my stand & curing my LR...you've all been a great help!
 

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If I'm getting what EC has said right...

Submerged LR isn't nitrate factory material because it's anaerobic bacteria that is colonizing it, turning nitrate into nitrogen.

Submerged bioballs are nitrate factories because even in an anaerobic environment they are still bioballs and that means nitrate factory!?

Little confused as to why bioballs would act any differently than porous LR if they were completely submerged.
 
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