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xxnonamexx 01-13-2006 11:22 PM

Really a need for bioballs??
I have a question I have a 55gal Reef with a Wet/Dry filter with bioballs. I heard that they contain nitrates and am looking to place my pump into the sump. Would I need to use bioballs still? Also i have seen other biological media that looks like confetti is that any better? Thanks

sdellin 01-14-2006 12:03 AM

You can use live rock rubble in place of bio balls. I learned that right here, on Aquarium!

AquaReefer 01-14-2006 12:25 AM

Yes I would agree to get rid of the bio balls. The confetti looking stuff is the same thing just different shape. We use LR in our sump at work.

Feron 01-14-2006 01:20 AM

There are also bio-balls that contain foam, ceramic or carbon, which go beyond the average golf-woofle ball variety sold at lfs's.

Bio-balls are an effective solution, if properly maintained.

The problem (and the bad rep) appears to be because of lack of maintenance.

In the defense of those that use the bio-'media', the instructions do not say they should be properly cleansed, perferably replaced, every 6 months or so.

The 'or so' depends on your bio-load and additional cleansing support.

As with any filter 'media' beyond a biological filtration in a naturally maintained sense, they need to be cleaned or replaced in a regular fashion.

I've read many an article that states there is not a darn thing wrong with bio-balls (cause well, I researched it.. cause I got them as a gift and have to stick with them until such a time as sense warrents I replace them). Many people have used them for a long long time, doing regular maintenance and have been worry/problem free.

It's just like any ANY filtration system... be mindful of how it works and what the reprecussions are from not RTFM'ing..

Is live rock the more natural way? sure!
Is it preferable to the active hobbyist? yes...
Is it fallible? Only as fallible as anything else..

If you cannot take the time to do pwc's or test regularly or bother to write down when your bio-balls are due for a good cleansing, then I don't see how live rock in place of the bio balls will make a big difference - assuming you arn't neglecting the other aspect of your system like a skimmer, good flow, clean up crew, good feeding habits, etc, etc.

Honestly, and here's a good rant, it's like saying a UGF isn't an effective filtration system. That's a misnomer, because well...they work just fine if you take the time (and the setup with the ugf is sound) to properly maintain your system.

Bottom line is that no matter the oppinion, an appropriate (for flow and bioload) system matter what type it is.. _IF_ you are willing to do what it takes to keep the system properly maintained.

My 2 cents...take it as you will..

EDIT - heh...and no, they don't contain nitrates, they can collect them and continue to introduce them to your system through the cycling of your water through them. They are sterile plastic when you get them, they just gather bacteria while 'working'.
Stirring them up occasionally during the months to changing can help (but might also drop nitrate-ladden-stuff back into the water..)
Guess I shoulda answered the ? first before the lecture (and I'm hardly to the point I should be lecturing)..

And to further edit, and more get back to the question.. your bio-balls are probably aiding in mechanical filtration and aeration right now.
Rubble (lr - true lr with good bacteria, not dead rocks or uncured lr (while those could help, they could also put the tank back into cycle)) properly placed would do the same thing.

sdellin 01-14-2006 01:38 AM

Actually, the lecture was informative, it pointed out some things to think about, only one thing missing, if you're using bio-balls and replacing them every six months, you should replace half of them every three months (not all at once) because you don't want to remove all your bio-filtration at once, then the old stuff will grow onto the newly placed stuff.

I guess it's the same idea as live rock, you build up a colony of good bacteria on the bio-balls and that is like the same as having a good colony of bacteria on live rock. But, of course, you don't get cool little free critters with the bio-balls (LOL).

Feron 01-14-2006 01:45 AM

Hah good point...

and blast it.. all I got with my lr was a peanut worm and some fan worms (and I think the fan worms are COOL!)

ace1uno_00 01-14-2006 04:08 AM

Would you have to clean/replace the LR the same way you would the Bio-Balls?????
If it does the same thing i would figure you would have to treat it the same right?

ccCapt 01-14-2006 10:33 AM

Ahhhhh..another bio ball discussion. 8) In my 15 yrs of personal experience using bio balls I can say I never had a nitrate problem with them and have never cleaned or replaced any. Bottom line....proper maintanence.

lando 01-14-2006 10:55 AM

Great post Feron. You brought up a lot of great points. If you have the means and desire I suggest removing the bioballs and filling up the container with LR rubble. There is no better biological filtration then LR. IT is also important to rasie the water level in the sump so that the rubble is completely covered with water, unlike the bioballs, which generally have water trickled down over them. It is your choice and both will do fine, as long and you keep up on the maintenance. I have known people that have killed their livestock by "cleaning" there bioballs in FW and destroying all of the beneficial bacterial, thus, causing a mini-cycle in the tank. When you clean your bioballs, use SW. Just rinse them in the water your remove from your tank during a water change.

xxnonamexx 01-14-2006 11:50 AM

Here is my setup I have pictures showing my existing setup with a Red Sea protein skimmer hangout which I will be replacing with the reef devil sump protein skimmer. As you can see alot of live rock in the tank. Would I still need to add live rock to the sump? If so how much?

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