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Old 03-26-2005, 10:10 PM   #1
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Bioballs - Nitrate Factories?

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Originally Posted by Wooster
the bio balls and foam things all eventually become nitrate factories so if you ever want corals they would need to go.
It this true? I have used bioballs for about 18 months, from the initial cycle through to now and haven't noticed any nitrates.
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Old 03-26-2005, 11:02 PM   #2
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I see you only have them in your canister filter? Do you clean them on a regular basis?
Were talkking about large numbers of BB in a W/D system over time collect waste, breaking down causing Nitrate. You also have a light bio load with only the 4 fish.... That is good for you.... Also do you do any water changes and how often.. this helps keep nitrate low
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Old 03-26-2005, 11:19 PM   #3
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Yeah the bioballs are only in the canister filter. I have heard regularly both here and elsewhere that they are simply not needed anymore with other means of bacteria colonisation, and improved knowledge about how the whole thing works. I have heard that there are many successful aquariums with no bioballs, relying on the live rock to supply effective bacteria colonisation.

I have never cleaned them since the tank was established, simply because I wasn't aware I had to, and figured that this would degrade the capacity of the filter to provide the bacteria colonisation factory.

I do water changes usually only when the water evaporates, which is typically 3-4 weeks. Depending on the specific gravity of the aquarium, I might use salt water, otherwise fresh treated water. Honestly I haven't had to use fresh water, as I get a fair deal of salt build up on my glass, so I am guessing that is why my specific gravity seems to be just a little below what the "ideal" is.

I also have a multi-purpose HOB unit which skims nicely, but also has compartments for installing bacteria colonisation mediums (bioballs, matrix, etc) so I feel even moreso that I could do away with the bioballs over a period of six months. In fact I have about 4-5 times as much required matrix as my capacity tank requires, which would probably explain why whenever something dies in the tank my ammonia, nitrite and nitrates are zero. That and the fact that I have around 45kg of live rock.

I had a dead fish in there for around 12 hours, albiet a small fish, with no difference in those levels above.
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Old 03-26-2005, 11:53 PM   #4
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well, regarding the specific gravity, when water evaporates it leaves the salt behind (not only on the sides of the tank) but still in the water so when you do a top off it should go back to what you had originally. -because salt does not evaporate.
And then regarding the bio balls and even bio wheels are known to do this, it really only happens over a long period of time before it gets bad, and even then it is not a horrible amount of nitrate (and there are some who say they do not have any nitrates because of them but some say they are bad news, it is usually one of the first fixes when one has high nitrates), but even small amounts of nitrate can have detrimental effects on corals. it is just that if you have A LOT of live rock, there is not really a need for bio ball or bio wheel like things. Also if you have CC substrate it can serve to do the same. but again it takes a long while for this the occur.
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Old 03-27-2005, 02:24 PM   #5
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I've been running bio balls in my wet/dry since the tank was setup. It's been 6 months now and my nitrates have always been under 10. I recently added a refugium and my last two tests now show nitrates at 0.

I read and hear discussions all the time about how bio balls are bad... but I have not seen the proof in my own environment to prove this, hence I will continue to run them and igore the "bio balls are bad" discussions until I find out for myself they are indeed bad.
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Old 03-27-2005, 08:27 PM   #6
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Just like a lot of things in this hobby...it depends. Bioballs are not a problem in a system that has plenty of LR and other means to deal with the NO3 production. Stocking and feeding of the tank are the two biggest contributors to high NO3, in this cas, bioballs will not help the situation. If you use bioballs and your NO3 is not a problem everything is okay. Bioballs themselves are not too bad of a filter media (although I feel Lr and LR rubble is better). When cleaned on a regular basis they will do just fine. Maybe a bit more work, that is all.
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Old 03-27-2005, 08:55 PM   #7
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Bioballs do not themselves create nitrates. Nitrites create nitrates, bioballs help facilitate. IMHO bioballs and biowheels get a bad rap frequently as being nitrate factories, when in fact the biological cycle itself is the nitrate factor regardless of what causes it (LR, LR Rubble, bioballs, biowheels or UGF). Without ammonia or nitrites there wouldn't be nitrates.
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Old 03-27-2005, 11:24 PM   #8
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Re: Bioballs - Nitrate Factories?

Quote:
Originally Posted by flanque
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wooster
the bio balls and foam things all eventually become nitrate factories so if you ever want corals they would need to go.
It this true? I have used bioballs for about 18 months, from the initial cycle through to now and haven't noticed any nitrates.
Yes, it is possible if you dont have enough lr and a skimmer. I would suggest taking them out every now and again and giving them a nice saltwater bath. This will help to keep them from getting so rich in nitrates. You might also consider replacing them with lr rubble but that is all a subject that is highly debated.

I have had bio balls in my tank for a year now and just recently gave them their first bath. It did lower my nitrates. I think it is because that is where the waste goes first, but I do not know for sure. I am not running with enough lr right now, thus I did have a problem with nitrates.
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