Bio balls poll

Discussion in '3reef Site Polls' started by steve wright, Mar 27, 2010.

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Bio balls - whats your opinion

Poll closed Apr 26, 2010.
  1. Used them and have no issues

    33 vote(s)
    35.1%
  2. Stayed away from them due to opinions of others

    42 vote(s)
    44.7%
  3. Used them, had issues, made changes

    16 vote(s)
    17.0%
  4. I dont care - stop bothering me with trivia

    3 vote(s)
    3.2%
  1. fischkid2

    fischkid2 Dirty Filter Sock

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Messages:
    670
    Location:
    Chicago
    Agreed with blumoon, interesting and helpful thread we have here. I Use bioballs for my 120 FOLWR but not for my reef. The reason for their use in the FOWLR is because i dont believe i have adequate quantities of LR (although i have an estimated 100-120 lb in there) to keep pace with the first steps of the filtration process Steve lays out above. nor do i use my sand bed as any type of filtration as i regularly vacuum it because i feed fairly liberally with all the aggressive eater i have in there. for these reasons i feel the bioballs are needed to lighten the load placed on my LR in the DT.

    so far no issues with the FOWLR after 2 years of use but i perform monthly cleanings on 1/3-1/2 the bio balls to insure proper filtration accompanied with 30% wc every 2 weeks.

    In my 110 reef tank where i have a much lighter bio load and a sand bed that goes un vacuumed to allow for some bacteria to be established and with 120 lb of LR i dont see any need for bio balls. my skimmer along with my LR has kept my nitrates at unreadably low levels so i dont see any reason for having the added bio balls to this system.

    So it makes some sense to me why people with FOWLR would opt for bio balls as these tanks are typically heavily stocked with large fish that are messy and produce more waste then fish found in reef tanks. the added bio balls may just be the needed backup to help keep the heavily stocked tanks in check where a fuge is not in use.
     
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  3. Powerman

    Powerman Giant Squid

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Messages:
    3,460
    Location:
    Colorado
    Live rock isn't a "filter". It's just rock. Bacteria do not need anything to live on. They don't care if they are floating in water or sitting in a filter pad, or on a pane of glass. You will have enough bacteria to consume your waste regardless. 30% water changes every two weeks is a lot of water.

    So it does not matter what is in your tank. Bacteria will live there and the number of them depends on the available food. However, when we run water across a filter pad or bio balls.... food is trapped there, and bacteria will multiply where the food source is.... in the filter.

    Live rock is an impediment to flow, and food will get stuck in it.... and bacteria will live there. It isn't the sand bed that makes the bacteria live there, it is the food that sits on it.

    Filters and bio balls make a great place to live because they trap food, and because they are made to oxygenate the water. The "DRY" part of the filter is to expose a huge surface area to air. So naturally amonia and nitrite eating bacteria will colonate because they love oxygen.

    What live rock does and sand beds do is produce low oxygen zones. Bacteria live close to the surface to break down the waste and consume the oxygen in the process. Deeper in rock pores and sand bed the oxygen is used up, and that is where the oxygen hating nitrate eating bacteria live.

    By using a filter to scour food out and provide oxygenated air, it robs the rock and sand the ability to produce low oxygen area because the bacteria does not live there to use it up. So you provide a great place for the first part of the cycle, but then loose much of the ability to provide the second part of the cycle. A nitrate reactor is nothing more than a man made version.
     
  4. Powerman

    Powerman Giant Squid

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
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    3,460
    Location:
    Colorado
    I know how much I have. Exactly enough to consume all my amonia and nitrite, and no more. I have enough low oxygen areas to consume my nitrates. I had zero nitrates before I put in my fuge and macro. I still have zero, but now I'm growing macro. So some of my nitrates are being consumed by the algae and not the bacteria. Competition at it's finest.




    ....Which brings up a good point..... the point of very low nitrates is because corals are sensitive to it. We can have zero nitrates in a tank over grown with nuisance algae. We are producing a ton, it's just being used.

    However, I had zero nitrates before the fuge, and no (very very little) algae in my tank. Now the macro consumes some, and I have less algae. With the addition of GFO and severely limiting po4, I have even less.... and my cheato only double it's size in about two or three months.

    Just remember that when nitrates are discussed it isn't about the concentration being tested in the water, it is about how much we are producing. Producing a ton with poor husbandry and letting coral be overgrown with micro algae and testing zero is not success. Everything should be done to limit nitrates... cleaning, maintenance, feeding...... then we should be dealing with the rest with water changes, macro algae, sand beds, live rock, nitrate reactors.... to limit the growth of micro algae that will out compete our corals.
     
  5. stepho

    stepho Panda Puffer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    Messages:
    2,118
    Location:
    Orlando FL
    I don't avoid them because I have heard they are nitrate factories, I don't use them because they require extra cleaning. My Berlin system handles my bio load with ease and doesn't require any extra cleaning (just skimmer and glass).
     
  6. whippy

    whippy Sailfin Tang

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2009
    Messages:
    1,724
    Location:
    Etown, KY
    When I first set up my tank I was using an Eheim canister filter with bioballs, ceramic noodles and filter floss for a long time.

    I had no ill effects and it did an amazing job. The only reason I removed the canister filter was because I wanted let gear and cord tangles overall.
     
  7. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2000
    Messages:
    13,466
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    Great thread. But why isn't there an option in the poll for 'currently using' bio balls? Seemed jaded from the get go! :)

    I have a big wet/dry on my 75 gallon turtle tank. I wouldn't use anything else. That turtle is huge and leaves a big stink. Other than rinsing the pad from the drip tray once a month and regular water changes, that wet/dry is full of bugs, water looks great and the turtle is happy.

    matt



    yep!
     
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  9. gabbagabbawill

    gabbagabbawill Pajama Cardinal

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    Messages:
    1,401
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    In your scenario, you are saying that your macro algae in the fuge is consuming nitrates and out-competes bacteria that consume it, thus creating a deficit in bacteria. Am I correct? If true, then this would explain why nuisance algae like GHA is so difficult to get rid of, as the algae is out-competing beneficial bacteria.
     
  10. blumoon reefers

    blumoon reefers Millepora

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2009
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    942
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    You are absolutely right about the maintainence required! Even with as OCD as I am about keeping the tank and fuge clean, that was still one of the reasons I decided to phase mine out and go with LR instead.
     
  11. steve wright

    steve wright Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
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    shenzhen Guangdong PRC

    apologies, my bad

    Steve
     
  12. exoticsteve2001

    exoticsteve2001 Feather Duster

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2009
    Messages:
    236
    I put my 25 micron filter sock into the middle of my bio-balls.That keeps them from getting mucked up so they work more efficiently.On my bio-cube 29 I dont use a carbon filter anymore so I put filter floss over the grate that covers the bio-balls.I have to change the filter socks and filter floss about every 3 days