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Old 12-10-2006, 06:08 PM   #1
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Diatom Filters and UV Sterilizers -- ?

I know a few of you out there have one or both of these gadgets... Assuming money (in this price range) is not an object, and I am looking for another toy, are either of these worth having?

I don't have water clarity problems, but I guess I don't have anything to compare to. My impression is that these are just limited value gadgets that are nice to have in certain situations... Nothing you I couldn't live without. I have also heard mixed reviews on using UV Sterilizers in general for planted tanks...

Hoping for general thoughts and feedback. I run automated CO2, high-lights and EI and don't seem to have any really big problems... Can't imagine my water could be much more clear, for example... (aquarium info in "myinfo" link)

Maybe I should just start thinking about a reef tank now ... ?
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Old 12-11-2006, 11:08 AM   #2
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I have a Vortex Diatom XL and recommend it to anyone where an accessory expense like this is not an object. There is no better "quick fix" I've come across for our tanks. There have been many diatom vs. UV threads that you can search for but I fall firmly on the Diatom side.

There is no possible chemical reactions occuring with a diatom. I've heard concerns that dissolved minerals going through the UV sterilizer can become unusable to plants, but never found any conclusive evidence of it. Here's my main thing though, a diatom is strictly a mechanical filtration. A UV sterilizer is NOT a filtration step.

They do 2 different things.

A UV will kill pathogens in the water and generally runs much more frequently than a diatom. Many people run them 24/7. There is an added cost in bulb replacement which like all things has a varying recommendation on when they should be changed out.

On the diatom side, it will not kill anything (unless a fish get sucked up!). But it will remove anything down to 1micron when properly charged with powder. The added cost here is nil, because unless you break it like I did (from a drop), a 50lb bag of diatom powder from a pool supply store will last a LONG time. And because it physically removes the particle, it will not stay in the tank.

No rotting, no possible ammonia spike, just a filter that has to be flushed out every once in a while. That is where I find the diatom to be superior to the UV. Really any bacterial pathogen or fungus will get filtered out with a diatom, the UV's only real advantage would be from a virus since that is probably small enough to not get filtered out.

I think both are pretty neat accessories to have if cost is not an issue. In non-planted tanks, I'd run the UV all the time, and every once in a while do a diatom cleaning. In a planted tank I'd have to do some serious research to ensure that the UV sterilizer is not affecting nutrients my plants need. Using the diatom as a gravel vac is one of the best ways to treat a neglected tank as you can clean the substrate in a way that would take many, MANY gravel vacs to accomplish.

I've started to use the diatom now every time I do a heavy pruning. I have a bunch of stem plants that require burying in the substrate and this can really kick up some crud. I tend to notice mild cases of GW after heavy pruning, and can never seem to completely get rid of it. With the diatom, I hook it up for 30min after pruning and during my weekly 50% PWC, and I'm left with crystal clear water that never shows signs of GW.

So I've tried to paint a pretty even picture of the 2 techs, but I'm clearly biased towards the diatom for the majority of uses.

HTH
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Old 12-12-2006, 12:06 AM   #3
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I use both. I think 7enigma covered the issue very well. I would like to add that having one is not exclusive of the other. All things considered. If your fish are healthy, and green water is not an issue, and you want to buy a gadget. The Diatom filter is great. It is good for really polishing the water before a photo shoot, or before company comes over.

The UV is really more of a peace of mind kinda item. If it does its job, you will never see the effect. I can say in the 1 year that I have ran a U/V I have not lost any fish in that tank to disease. Would that be true without the UV? Not sure, but since I have one, it gives me peace of mind to believe it is knocking out any diseases. As for ferts and U/V, IMO/IME non issue. I think you would need like sub-nuke level U/V for it to knock out your ferts.
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