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Old 08-01-2004, 02:14 PM   #1
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Can I remove bioballs?

I’ve had a 150 running for about 8 months with a wet/dry as primary filtration. A couple of months ago I added 100 lbs of Gulf LR and 40lbs base rock. Two weeks ago I added another 35lbs of Fiji LR and last week I added 12 lbs more. Total of 147 lbs not counting base rock which probably hasn’t seeded yet.

I'm tired of fighting nitrates, I don’t want to do 30 water changes weekly and that’s what I have to do to keep it in check. Can I safely remove the balls? or safely clean them and put them back?

I have cc substrate, which I'm seriously considering changing and all my other levels are fine. I use RO water and the membrane is fairly new. Anyone with nitrate problems that changed their substrate and got good results please chime in.

Maybe remove the balls and keep them wet so that if I get a spike I can put them back in?
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Old 08-01-2004, 03:12 PM   #2
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Removing the bioballs in stages over time would be the way to go. Maybe like 10-20% a week and after a month or so you'll be free of them. I think that would prevent any ammonia spikes assuming you've got good flow through your rock, I think adequate flow is one of the keys to nitrate removal via LR and LS. A DSB would also create a better enviroment for denitrifying bacteria to remove your trates. If you decide to make the change, replace your CC with LS and just put some of the CC in pantyhose or mesh bags and set on the bottom to help seed the sand. HTH
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Old 08-01-2004, 03:18 PM   #3
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How old is your base rock that you dont think it has seeded yet?

i would change out the substrate and remove the bioballs eventually if it were my tank

1 1/2 lbs/gal LR and a DSB you'll have no need what so ever for the bio balls


I would change out my substrate first like this http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showqu...q=2&fldAuto=27
The get rid of the bio balls about 1/3 at a time allowing time for the tank to stabilize
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Old 08-01-2004, 03:19 PM   #4
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When I removed my bioballs I did as stated above. With CC and a puffer, you might have nitrate issues anyway. Maybe a refugium could help with this.
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Old 08-01-2004, 03:53 PM   #5
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I will outright admit i know not much when it comes to sw, however my understanding of the nitrogen cycle was that unless you have green plants to take up nitrate, it will always be present. lr and ls only convert the ammonia -> Nitrite -> Nitrate. I always had been under the impression that nitrate would only be removed through water changes (unless the tank is planted). Please correct me if i am wrong (i am a noobie after all!). As for the bio-balls, they do need to be cleaned to avoid detritus build up, and with the amount of lr in the tank (base rock seeds relativley swiftly) you should be fine - as with all things saltwater do it slowly, 1/3rd or a 1/4 ever other week or so until empty! (but that is just my opinion )
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Old 08-01-2004, 06:11 PM   #6
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I have slowly removed mine with no issue. Just like jackdp illustrated above.
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Old 08-01-2004, 10:30 PM   #7
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I am fighting the same nitrate war. Before I had a sump my nitrates where zero. Now they are 5 to 10. I am in the process of removing my bioballs slowly and replacing them all with LR rubble. Hope this will help. Do I need to still do it slowly if the LR rubble is fully cured? I have about 50/50 rubble to bioballs right now.
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Old 08-02-2004, 03:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
my understanding of the nitrogen cycle was that unless you have green plants to take up nitrate, it will always be present. lr and ls only convert the ammonia -> Nitrite -> Nitrate
The bacteria that complete the first two steps of the nitrogen cycle are aerobic bacteria, meaning that they use oxygen in respiration. That being said, these bacteria grow on the surface of most everything in your tank. The purpose of the bio-balls, sponges, LR, LS etc is to provide even more surface area for these nitrifying bacteria to fluorish. There are bacteria that breakdown nitrates into nitrogen gas and oxygen, and these bacteria are anaerobic and populate areas that are lower in oxygen. The deeper layers of a DSB and the deep pores on some LR are ideal places for these denitrifying bacteria to grow and thrive. So, in conclusion, there is a bacterial mechanism that can be in place to export nitrates without the use of macroalgae harvesting. Although, harvesting macroalgaes is a proven means of nutrient export.
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Old 08-02-2004, 05:30 PM   #9
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You do not need bio-balls or rubble in the sump. Your LR will be enough to take care of all our bacteria needs. You do how ever need a good protein skimmer, the best you can afford. Run it 24/7. In addition get a 25 micron sock that needs to be installed at the intake to the sump. This needs to be changed at least once a week if not sooner depending on your load. I have five and change them out twice a week.

My nitrates were at 25ppm and after removing my bio-balls it went to 0.0

They need to be removed slowly, I took 2 months to completely remove mine. You need to remove all the settlement in the bottom of the sump. Sipon it off with water changes. The goal is to remove as much debre as you can, this is why you change the 25 micron sock so much. I also run carbon 24/7 and replace it ever week. I am very religious about water changes too. I do 20% every saturday.
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Old 08-02-2004, 08:16 PM   #10
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Thanks for the help guys, the ball removal has begun.

Next question....
LFS buys LR by the box and once it is all sold he discards all the rubble, sometimes as much as 2 lbs of it. Theres got to be something useful I can use it for, any ideas?

Lando is replacing his balls with such rubble, sounds like a good idea?
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