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Old 04-22-2004, 08:14 PM   #1
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Biowheel or no biowheel...that is the question.

I have a 29 gallon tank with 30-35 lbs of live rock in it. I just added my last 15lbs of live rock to the tank so the whole time I have had a Biowheel running. For some reason I don't feel comfortable taking the Biowheel off of my tank. If I continue to use it will it cause harm to my tank , livestock and live rock or does it really not matter weather I use it or not...Thanks in advance
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Old 04-22-2004, 08:17 PM   #2
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A filter causing harm?
This makes me glad that I'm sticking to FW.
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Old 04-22-2004, 08:57 PM   #3
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A biowheel provides surface area for bacteria to grow on. The bacteria break down ammonia that is introduced to the tank from fish waste, fish food etc. One group of bacteria breaks down ammonia leaving as a byproduct nitrite, which is toxic to fish and invertebrates. Another group of bacteria will break down nitrite and leave nitrate as a by product. Yet another group of bacteria can break down nitrate (not terribly toxic to fish) and give off nitrogen gas as a by product completing the nitrogen cycle.
Herein lies the problem with a biowheel. Bacteria on a biowheel are very effecient at breaking down ammonia and nitrite. However, a biowheel does not provide the low oxygen environment needed for denitrifying bacteria to grow and break down nitrate. Thus, you end up with a very effecient nitrate producing machine with little to no means of nitrate export. The end result is high nitrate levels and possible algae problems.
The benefit of using LR for biofiltration over a biowheel or other similar product is two fold. The LR provides even more surface area for bacterial growth. In addition the porous nature of LR provides areas that are low enough in oxygen for the anaerobic denitrifying bacteria to grow (as does the deeper layers of a DSB) With proper flow, the bacteria living deeper in the LR will break down nitrates and keep nitrate concentrations lower.
The high nitrates are not much of a concern in FO systems, but inverts and corals are not tolerant of constant high nitrate levels. If you're only keeping fish then there is probably not a problem keeping the biowheel running. I've been running my 20 gallon tank with only LR, LS and a skimmer for over a year now and have kept nitrate levels undetectable by my test kit (Seachem) HTH
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Old 04-22-2004, 09:05 PM   #4
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wow you are an overflowing barrel of knowledge...Thanks a ton! I think for now I'm going to keep my biowheel. I check my levels regularly and they are and have been a steady 0. I will keep this in my memory bank though if I ever decide to go the coral way
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Old 04-23-2004, 11:47 AM   #5
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jackdp, can you tell me a little bit more about your 20 gal tank set up. I want to have my tank at that level and looking for guidence.

Thanks!
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Old 04-23-2004, 11:51 AM   #6
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jackdp, can you tell me a little bit more about your 20 gal tank set up. I want to have my tank at that level and looking for guidence.

Thanks!
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Marlin: Okay, a mollusk walks up to this sea cucumber, well he doesn't actually walk, he's just there, and he turns to the sea cucumber, and... Well, wait, there's a mollusk and a sea cucumber and...
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Old 04-23-2004, 02:50 PM   #7
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JackDP,

Thanks a lot. Mine will be a FO tank, and that really helps.

Mitch
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Old 04-23-2004, 05:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
jackdp, can you tell me a little bit more about your 20 gal tank set up. I want to have my tank at that level and looking for guidence.
Ayesha...my tank is a 20 gallon long with about 30lbs of LS and 30-35lbs LR. I use 2 maxi-jet powerheads for flow, 1 600 and 1 900. I use a Prizm HOB skimmer running GAC 24/7 to help remove any soft coral chemicals from the tank. That is all I use for filtration, skimmer, LS / LR and flow. For lighting, I have a pendant type hood that I built that houses 1x175 watt 10K metal halide and 2x55 watt PC actinics with a fan in each end. So far heat from the light hasn't been much of an issue. I also have a DIY auto topoff I made to control evaporation. Right now I have in the tank, a blue damsel, a orange spot prawn goby, T. Crocea clam, branching hammer coral, leather cabbage soft coral, sarcophyton toadstool coral, sinularia finger leather coral, some polyps, mushrooms and a ricordia. If you have any specific questions send me a PM and I'll try to help.
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