What Filter Media to use?

herns

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Jul 29, 2007
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I just upgraded my hang on filter to Polaris 1 Canister Filter for my 20G planted tank. The canister have 2 baskets to accomodate different types of media.

I need recommendations on what filter media to use best to fill the two media basket of my new canister. I been browsing catalog from Foster & Smith products and there are a lot to choose from. I hold off my purchased list until I get advices here.

Thank you in advance.
 

creighton

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Jun 18, 2007
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Use some type of ceramic rings along with activated carbon. The carbon will be come inert after a week or so (so I've heard) and will be a great host for biological filtration. I personally don't use carbon, but as long as you have something that bacteria can grow on and you not worried about sucking ammonia or something out of the water whatever you use should be fine.
 

VaughnH

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For a planted tank, after the cycling process is completed, and after any ADA Aquasoil has stabilized, you need nothing more than bio filtration and particle removing filtration. The plants get rid of the nitrates and phosphates and ammonia for you. If you want softer water, mix RO water with tap water to get it.
 

Gargoyle

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Mar 18, 2008
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Once the cycling process is complete wouldn't the plant load in a moderately planted tank do all the filtration you need besides mechanical??

Plant would eat up the Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates without issue wouldn't they?

I am just trying to understand the need for "bio filtration" when you have a planted tank. Seems like the plants would do a better job than media to me.

But that's why I am asking... ;)
 

VaughnH

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ADA Aquasoil is ADA's Amazona Aquasoil, an ADA substrate, reputed to be the best substrate material available. A heavily planted tank, using fast growing plants, doesn't really need to cycle. Cycling starts with ammonia, which gets converted to nitrite, then to nitrate, by bacteria cultures which grow on all surfaces exposed to the tank water. Bio filtration is just adding a material to the filter that has a huge surface area compared to its volume. The heavily planted tank will get rid of the ammonia by the plants consuming it, so it is never a problem. However, if for some reason, such as using ADA Aquasoil, which leaches a lot of ammonia when first set up, there is more ammonia available than the plants can use, then you could run into cycling problems. If you use any form of filter you will have some bio filtration - bio media are not essential. You can't easily stop the nitrifying bacteria from establishing a culture somewhere in the tank and filter.
 

herns

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Jul 29, 2007
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VaughnH;24029 said:
ADA Aquasoil is ADA's Amazona Aquasoil, an ADA substrate, reputed to be the best substrate material available. A heavily planted tank, using fast growing plants, doesn't really need to cycle. Cycling starts with ammonia, which gets converted to nitrite, then to nitrate, by bacteria cultures which grow on all surfaces exposed to the tank water. Bio filtration is just adding a material to the filter that has a huge surface area compared to its volume. The heavily planted tank will get rid of the ammonia by the plants consuming it, so it is never a problem. However, if for some reason, such as using ADA Aquasoil, which leaches a lot of ammonia when first set up, there is more ammonia available than the plants can use, then you could run into cycling problems. If you use any form of filter you will have some bio filtration - bio media are not essential. You can't easily stop the nitrifying bacteria from establishing a culture somewhere in the tank and filter.

Great information.
I'll print this up for future reference. Thanks again.
 

Orlando

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Feb 20, 2007
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All I ever use is foam and 50-100 micron filter pads. Stuffed from top to bottom. One big giant sponge I guess...
 

jeffatpm

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Feb 13, 2009
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I'm curious to learn more, I keep thinking of the money I spend on carbon, and ammonia remover...:(
 

VaughnH

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If the tank is stable, the ammonia the fish produce should be balanced by the nitrifying bacteria on the plants, the substrate, the filter media and everything else wet in the system, minus whatever ammonia the plants consume. In fact, if the tank is heavily planted, virtually all of the ammonia will be food for the plants, and the level in the water will always be too low to measure.

Similarly, the phosphates and nitrates in the water are valuable plant food, so much so that we have to dose even more to make sure there is enough for the plants. So, there is no point in trying to remove any of those compounds with filter media. The filter media, whatever it is, will be home to colonies of bacteria no matter what we want, and those colonies will have to be in equilibrium with the food supply available to them. So, about all that is left for the filter to do is remove fine particles from the water, keeping it very clean and clear. Filter floss and sponges do that job very well.

If a problem comes up, like excessive leaching of tannins from wood in the tank, that causes the water to become too discolored to please you, you can add charcoal to the filter to remove the tannins. Or, if you have to add a medication, such as Maracyn, to help get rid of cyanobacteria, for example, you can add charcoal to the filter to remove it later.

Purigen is another media that works well in a filter to do essentially the same job that charcoal does, but it is easy to "clean" so you can reuse it.