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Is filtration necessary?

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by ReedFish, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. ReedFish

    ReedFish Junior Poster

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    Hi everyone,

    I have been used Fluvals on my tank forever, and I have to admit I'm not so good at keeping them maintained. Nevertheless, I've had pretty good luck at keeping a variety of fish and plants. Lately, I've run into information saying that in a planted tank, a filter is not all that necessary. I've heard that the carbon does the same thing the plants do, and that the biological filter (in the filter) compete with the plants for ammonia/nitrite/nitrate.

    I HATE cleaning the dirty, slimy, smelly filter. So I'm wondering what the experts think? Can I ditch the filter? Or should I run the filter with just biological media? Or nothing at all? Or what?

    Also, I recently bought some Chemi-Pure (and checking it out online is how I came about these claims of no carbon/filtration necessary) and I'm worried that since it says it eliminates CO2, that it will mess up my system (which is an automated CO2 injection system).

    Any thoughts? Thanks!
     
  2. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    I don't use carbon unless there's something in the water that needs to get out fast. Then it's carbon AND water changes.

    The NH4 is undesirable, you still want nitrifying bacteria to help take up slack. All tanks will naturally cycle, you do not need filter medium for that. The question is where the colonies build up more than anything.

    Don't buy brands based on what they claim. Buy them based on the ingredients they contain, and what they do, from a scientific standpoint. There is an absurd amount of snake oil in the hobby.

    Planted tanks can and have been done without filters. They are not the tanks you see on most forums. They're a bit of a lost art, last I checked. Lots of balancing, low bioload if i remember right. The point would be the science as much as anything, I would think. It certainly wouldn't look as appealing visually.

    -Philosophos
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Most tanks look better with filters and it keeps the water cleaner certainly.
    Having filters never hurt, and they can only help, they also act as aback up in case plant growth declines for some reason, eg: poor CO2........

    ADA, AFA, myself, many other support using lots of filtration(eg, 2 x the suggested amounts).

    Just get on a routine to clean them every month or so.
    Use prefilter sponges etc, clean those for each water change.

    Just because a few folks get away without filters, does not mean their tanks look all cool and clean.........and that this somehow avoids the cleaning aspects.

    That's a pipe dream.

    The non CO2 method gets about as close as you can to that.
    Focus there if you desire less labor, but use a filter, maybe a HOB like the Hagens etc. Easy to clean.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  4. ReedFish

    ReedFish Junior Poster

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    Thanks for the advice!

    I kinda knew I couldn't get out of having a filter (but it was worth the try!), I guess I just needed to hear it. Has anyone had any experience with the Chemi-Pure? The guy at the LFS told me it was the best filter media in the business, but I read on the label it removes CO2. Anyone know about this stuff?
     
  5. TheKillHaa

    TheKillHaa Prolific Poster

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    i have almost 1000 gal heavily planted without filters, but those are not for be shown. no big problems, but is ok for what i want.

    on other side, for tanks keep inside home and for let be seen, there is 1.5-2x filtration.
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I think in general, this can be stated for tanks without and with filtration.
    No one is winning any competitions, but it certainly can be done.

    Does not imply that it is the best choice simply because it can be done however.

    For larger applications where there's a lot of water, not much fish biomass, outdoors, were the cost might be a lot, or energy might cost lots, cannot get the energy to the ponds etc, then you might consider it, or have water changes etc more often, anyone can do this method by using floating plants(All the 80 liter lab barrels we use have no filters, but our columns in doors have a good filter).

    Same with the 400 Gallon vaults etc, they just get a trickle of water in/out.

    I'm not sure why seem enamored and suggest no filters for hobbyist on line, as if it's somehow "better". You still need water movement, might as well go a head and use that flow to keep it clean and have some bacterial population etc.

    Planted tanks produce a lot of leaves and other parts of plants that can be removed, might as well do so. I do not have to mow and blow my yard, but it looks better when I do.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    I am no expert, see disclaimer below, so you may wish to ignore this post.

    To the Chemi-Pure issue, it is a fine product, I have used it in a couple of problem (of my making:eek: ) cases, principally involving fish only or fish predominate tanks and been pleased.

    It does remove phosphates and CO2, I think that is part of how it ‘stabilizes’ ph. I agree with Philosophos, I would not use Chemi-Pure in a planted tank unless I had other serious problems and in addition to significant water changes.

    Chemi-Pure is also messy stuff I recommend a lot, couple of gallons of DI water rinse prior to inclusion in filters.

    As to filters, perhaps a sponge filter on the intake, you need circulation any way.

    I know folks that use 25 micron filter bags on the output, catches the big pieces.

    In well-planted tanks, a bit of a trend around here is the use of pumps, usually internal with the filter bags on the output. I don’t know if there is a rational for the use of 25-micron bags or if they are just available, or it is what everyone else is doing.

    Biollante
     
  8. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Meant also to note that I think Chemi-Pure Elite is what you have and is a combination of granular activated charcoal, GAC and granular ferric oxide, GFO and perhaps hydrous ferric oxide, HFO.

    I believe the stuff was developed for arsenic removal, it has the advantage of being cheap, seriously binds to the toxins and won’t let go and is, I think, rechargeable.

    The problem from the aquatic plant keeper’s point of view is that many of the ‘toxins’ are things we go to some trouble to add.

    Biollante
     
  9. TheKillHaa

    TheKillHaa Prolific Poster

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    100% agree. i have no filters on that volumes of water because its co$t. but is more effort to maintein them, however is like a payback to the hobby. if i can choose, i prefer use good filters than any. i just seen is more easy to keep tanks with filters after all.
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Going with that same/similar logic, the same can be said for sediment ferts, eg MS or ADA AS. Or with 100% water column ferts.

    While "either" "or" can be done, it does not imply that is best/better etc.

    In general, I have reduced the energy I use with filtration(less cost, less noise, easier to maintain, engineer etc), but still get good mechanical removal and flow per watt of energy.

    This is a trade off for me, I want good filtration, low energy input, however, I also use added circulation(sort of like sediment + water column ferts but with filtration) with a small powerhead with a propeller conversion/high flow low pressure adapter.

    This also allows high rates of flow with minimal energy use, noise, cost.
    Most of the flow is done this way using the powerehad, which the no filter crowd still must do(still need circulation). This trade off uses the lower energy, some filtration, some circulation only, for a synergistic approach.

    regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    BTW, Every tank I own except one uses the a bit of both, a decent filter+ circulation only.

    This increases flow rates, mixing of CO2, keeps a very easy way to control surface movement, allows for more O2/more fish/less stress to fish, than filtration might alone without adding a lot more energy and cost to the system.

    I recently have redone the 180 Gal, I removed the Iwaki RTL 40(noisy, used a lot of power), the Ocean clear canister filters, the mazzei CO2 in tank heaters, since the plumbing for Hydor in line heaters is a PITA at these pressures and sizes.

    I bought a pair of Rena 3(would had picked the 4's, but they do not fit well under the stand) and have a the same needle wheel and maxi jet propeller for in tank movement, these are easily hidden behind the wood like before.

    This uses far less energy, much easier to clean them also, and I can easily add the in line heaters on each filter.

    They also are much cheaper in initial start up cost, skill required to add and maintain.

    These are all things/trade offs I needed to think about and look at.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. ReedFish

    ReedFish Junior Poster

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    You guys are very helpful! I love this site!

    So, since I resigned myself to cleaning my filter more often (thanks to all of you), I only have one more question: Is carbon really all that important if I'm doing 40%-50% water changes every week? I can see the value of the biological and mechanical filter media, but is all the Chemi-Pure, Purigen, and even GAC really worth it? Would I be better off with more bio media? I have a Flucal 405, I could use the 4 sponges and 4 baskets of bio filter. Then I would only have to change the sponges and not the icky carbon. ;)
     
  13. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    If you have no particular problem, I wouldn't use any carbon or Chemi-Pure.

    The water changes should be very effective.

    Biollante
     
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