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Old 02-18-2004, 04:04 PM   #1
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Bio Balls, Nitrates and more

First a little background. I don't know all of the terminoligy so bear with me 75 gal tank (will be fish only) crushed coral substrate. 20 gal tank with Bio Balls and a sump pump (what ever it's called).

We set up the tank 3-4 years ago and did a terrible job with it and finally the fish died off after a rather large red/brown algae problem. We left the system running for the last 2-3 years and just topped off the water occasionally. We are now ready to get serious about it and have a few quick questions.

Bio Balls. I've read in the reef forums that they are a not the great system once thought but how about for a fish only tank? If bio balls are bad then what would they be replaced with?

We just did a 30% water change and ran some tests. The one thing that was way out of wack was Nitrate... OFF the scale high. Ammonia was .25 . I don't recall ph and nitrite but they were close to, if not on, recommended levels. We are going to continue with weekly (maybe twice a week) water changes to try and bring the nitrates down.

I know we have a lot of work to do. Does any one have any recommendations on where to start?
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Old 02-18-2004, 04:58 PM   #2
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Bio Balls. I've read in the reef forums that they are a not the great system once thought but how about for a fish only tank? If bio balls are bad then what would they be replaced with?
Unless you use 1.5-2 lbs per gallon of LR, I would recommend keeping the bioballs for the FO system. The bioballs ina wet/dry are very efficient at nitrification, they do not allow for efficient denitrification as LR does. For FO, they are just fine.

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I know we have a lot of work to do. Does any one have any recommendations on where to start?
Test your newly mixed SW for nitrates. When you do your waterchanges are you vacuuming the cc? CC is notorious for trapping detritus and being a source of nitrates.
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Old 02-18-2004, 05:06 PM   #3
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We tested our well water and there are some nitrates there but not tons like the tank.

We did the first water change yesterday and we did vacuum the CC. Based on the amount of crappola I got out I'll be vacuuming til the year 2020 I'll test the new SW mix tonite when I do another water change.

Would it help to run the well water through a filter of some type befor mixing it with the salt?
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Old 02-18-2004, 06:21 PM   #4
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Would it help to run the well water through a filter of some type befor mixing it with the salt?
If it's an RO/DI filter, yes.

I think your biggest problem is the CC, you'll need to vacuum it regularly for maintenance. I tend to recommend sand rather than cc, cause the sands grain size does not allow it to trap detritus and uneaten food etc...like cc.
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Old 02-18-2004, 06:35 PM   #5
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Thanks for the help! We are sticking with the CC. The vacuuming part doesn't bother me... yet

Water changes here we come!
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Old 02-18-2004, 08:24 PM   #6
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You sound like you are going through exactly what I recently have gone through. I have a 90 gallon FOWLR. The tank has been set up for 6 years, however the last year and a half there was nothing done except to top off. We actually thought everything was dead. The LR had ugly red/brown algae and the glass was covered in algae. I have cc and approx 120 lbs LR. I removed all of the LR and placed in buckets so I could clean the glass and the cc really well. Imagine my surprise to find that my 6 year old engineer goby was still in there and alive! We hadn't fed the tank in a year and had not seen him in all this time. Of course I had a new baby that kept me occupied.I cleaned the tank as best I could, bought 30 crabs and 20 snails. The next weekend I performed another water change. The water parameters were perfect and the following weekend we added 2 1 inch ocellaris clowns. It truly didn't take long. Oh and I too have the bioball filter.
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Old 02-18-2004, 08:43 PM   #7
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IMO, removing the cc and replacing with some cheap southdown sand and a little seeded live sand might be a good idea before you start stocking your tank with fish again. I started with cc as well and switched to sand when I got tired of cleaning it all the time.
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Old 02-18-2004, 11:40 PM   #8
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I agree, getting rid of the CC truly will save you. I had an 80 gal. fish only with CC, also I was using well water. The nitrate battle was hectic. I was doing 10% water changes once a week, and still not keeping on top of the NO3's.
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Old 02-19-2004, 03:01 PM   #9
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My wife say's we are keeping the CC ... Maybe I'll make her clean the tank hehe. Actually, I'm going to try and talk her into sand. Our initial thinking was that the tank would be very close to ready for fish if we didn't mess with the substrate but based on the NO3 level, and the future headaches, It sounds like sand is the best way to go.

Thanks for the advice everyone!
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Old 02-19-2004, 10:40 PM   #10
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Keep the CC if you like how it looks, just knowing you will have to work a little harder at it. One thing is common to this hobby...there is no ONE right way to do things. I have several tanks, I have CC in one and sand CC mixed in another, the rest are all DSB's. I like the way the CC looks in the tank it is in. It is totally appropriate if that is how you want to go.
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