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Old 02-20-2007, 09:41 PM   #1
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Replacing bio balls with live rock

Hey everybody. I have a planted 29 gallon bio cube and I'm using the stock bio balls. I've seen posts all over the net of people taking out the bio balls, adding a small wattage light to the bio ball chamber and adding live rock to make a fuge. They say that it works better than the plastic bio balls and it's safer? Safer in that bio balls can grow bad stuff over time if not rinsed in aquarium water every now and then? Is there any truth to this? Thanks. AA Rules!!!!
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Old 02-20-2007, 09:47 PM   #2
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Moved to SW Forum.
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Old 02-20-2007, 09:55 PM   #3
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Yes, there is truth to that....but I am a tad confused. You say "planted"...planted with what? Just to clarify, this is a saltwater tank..correct?
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Old 02-20-2007, 10:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hara
Yes, there is truth to that....but I am a tad confused. You say "planted"...planted with what? Just to clarify, this is a saltwater tank..correct?
No this is a freshwater planted tank. I have no experience with saltwater. I know most bio cube owners have a reef setup. I thought you could use live rock in a freshwater tank as well? Like moss rock for example? I figured that the same formula reef owners are using to upgrade their stock bio balls could be used in a freshwater tank minus the rock used in salt water? I don't know. My post was originally in the planted tank forum since this is a freshwater planted setup but got moved since it sounded like a saltwater question. I can see why. Still, any thoughts?
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Old 02-20-2007, 11:14 PM   #5
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Can't help you there. I'm a salty now and when i did fresh i never had planted tanks. I do know however that you cannot use the same LR we use in SW tanks in a FW tank. Sorry maybe the thread can be moved back to the FW section for u.
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Old 02-20-2007, 11:16 PM   #6
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In that case, I shall move it back to Planted.
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Old 02-20-2007, 11:18 PM   #7
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No live rocks, the bioballs or filter floss would be your best bet.
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Old 02-20-2007, 11:30 PM   #8
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u could use dead live rock. or some kind of lace rock. it is very poruse and would give u more surface area for bacteria to form. just whatevevr u do dont use actual seeded live rock.
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Old 02-21-2007, 08:54 AM   #9
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Thanks for the suggestions. All I know is that the stock filter setup has design flaws besides the fact that it uses large smooth plastic bio balls. All it takes is a little bit of build up on the filter cartrige and the flow gets cut down so much that the water does not trickle down the bio ball chamber fast enough and the pump in the third chamber sucks air. I'd like to customize my tank like the saltys to correct this problem but that still leaves me with the crappy stock balls. Since I can't go live rock I was thinking about filling the chamber with Cell-Pore media in the cube form. Any thoughts???
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Old 02-22-2007, 12:51 AM   #10
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the smooth plastic bioballs are actually much better for bacteria to live on than rock. bacteria can adhere just fine to any surface, and the smoothness allows the dead bacteria to slough off easily. in rocks or other porous substances, dead bacteria stays in there, which reduces the overall efficacy. i have recently replaced all the media in my filters with bioballs and it's doing great. easy to clean, lots of bacteria.
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Old 02-22-2007, 02:37 AM   #11
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Do plants get a buildup of bacteria on them as well? Could you toss some Java Moss in with bioballs?
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Old 02-22-2007, 04:39 AM   #12
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i don't think an appreciable amount of bacteria would be living on the plants... i suppose some would, if it came from a cycled tank, but i don't know if it would make much difference. it would make cleaning the bioballs much harder, though, and you would need to light the filter...
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Old 02-22-2007, 07:47 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J Migidy
I was thinking about filling the chamber with Cell-Pore media in the cube form. Any thoughts???
Been there, done that. I liked the Cell-Pore media that I had in my HOB Emperor 400's and 280's.
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Old 02-22-2007, 08:26 AM   #14
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also isn't one of the functions of porus live rock in the SW tank that it forms anaerobic pockets that convert NO3 to N gas? since you want NO3 for you plants this would not be a good thing
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Old 02-24-2007, 11:00 PM   #15
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I hope I can give you a little guidance here, being that I have a heavily planted tank, and have had reefs in the past.


A quick rundown on the major chemisty differences between a SW reef and a planted FW tank, aside from the salinity:

In the FW planted tank, NO3 becomes a natural fertilizer. It is the waste byproduct of the completed breakdown of ammonia in the nitrogen cycle.

NH3 ----> consumed by nitrogenizing bacteria A which produces ------> NO2 as waste, consumbed by nitrogenizing bacteria B which producee ------> NO3. end waste product.

The NO3 is then consumed by plants, as a fertilizer.

The level of NO3 in a FW tank is cosiderably higher as an acceptable level in a SW tank, as the SW species have a much, much lower tolerance for NO3 poisoning, and there are no plants to fertilize (except algaes, in which case macro algaes can help keep the level of NO3 down in SW tanks).

The nitrogenizing bacterias in FW AND SW will live on any surface they can attach to. Because FW fish are often accompanied by plants that can utilize the NO3, and are more tolerant to NO3 levels, often, water changes can keep them acceptable, and further breakdown of NO3 is not needed.

However, the SW side is a bit different.

In SW keeping, live rock provides ENORMOUS anaerobic surface area for a possible third bacteria to live, nitrogenizing bacteria C for the purpose of this discussion. Bacteria C is an anaerobic organism, requiring a lack of oxygen to thrive. It will take the NO3 waste product and further break it down to N- gas, which is then released in the water column.

Much of that is, however, theory. Most SW keepers avoid high levels of nitrogen byproducts and ammonia via protien skimming, which removes large and minute waste particles from the water column via frationization before they even break down into ammonia. Also, due to the increased presence of proteins in SW tanks, live rock surfaces provide large amounts of surface to break down these nitrogens.

Bioballs, in the SW tank, do not provide the same porous surface in SW as they do in FW. Likewise, the bacters that work the nitro cycle in SW are not the same as FW. They often work better directly in the water column. Bioballs tend to work almost "too well", creating a NO3 "nitrate factory" which spills into the water column, and increases the levels in the tank. A FW tank and it's inhabitants can handle levels of NO3 upwards of 50ppm, while SW inhabitants, especially inverts/corals cannot tolerate more than 10, preferrably less than 5 ppm.

Therefore, many SW keepers introduce LR rubble to replace the bioballs to avoid the "nitrate factory". Also, SW husbandry habits tend to differ from FW husbandry in that 1.) corals and inverts are in abundance and are animal lifeforms, not plants, with increased value $wise, and higher sensitivity to poisoning (see articles about the difference between animal cellular structure and plant cellular structure), and 2.) often, SW keepers do many more smaller water changes than FW keepers. Usually in the neighborhood of 10-20% 2-3x weekly, to further assist in reducing NO3. and 3.) plants can and do utilizes NO3 as fertilizer and food, and having a consistantly increased level of NO3 is actually beneficial to their wellbeing, while in SW tanks, there is nothing to utilize the NO3 end waste product.

hope this helps explain some of what you are asking.
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