Biological filtration - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-03-2018, 05:42 AM Thread Starter
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Biological filtration

Hi. As I understand, the core of biological filtration is to provide good surface area for the BB to leave and breed and the goal of it is keeping the amonia and nitrites in zero.
However, after reading the description of Seachem Matrix I founded they claim it will control Nitrates as well...
What do you think guys? Whats your experience?
I don't want my nitrates to be zero since it is needed by plants.
Any difference between S Matrix and regular ceramic rings?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-03-2018, 02:34 PM
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Lots of claims on aquarium products.......I don't often hear of an issue of someone not being able to keep their nitrate levels high enough. In the nitrogen cycle ammonia is converted to nitrites and the nitrites are converted to nitrates. Matrix/pumice and other biomedia is a good home for the bacteria that consumes and converts these chemicals. The bacteria that converts nitrates is anaerobic and the conditions for it to grow are not ususally found in the aquarium.

Matrix is pumice. I wouldn't expect to be able to see any differences in the performance of Matrix and ceramic rings unless some very careful testing is done. I have plenty of pumice and biomedia in my filter, I don't dose any nitrates, and I still have to use nitrate removal pads as my tap has nitrates and my levels are always too high.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-03-2018, 03:44 PM
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I'm really wary of using products that I don't understand what it actually does.

I'm using the three pack of nutrafin pure, cycle and waste control. I've never even used the waste control because it says it can cause an ammonia increase. The pure is a water conditioner and cycle supports or adds the BB, but I don't get what the point of waste control is.

They don't ever tell you why lol
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-03-2018, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaythesalmon View Post
I'm really wary of using products that I don't understand what it actually does.

I'm using the three pack of nutrafin pure, cycle and waste control. I've never even used the waste control because it says it can cause an ammonia increase. The pure is a water conditioner and cycle supports or adds the BB, but I don't get what the point of waste control is.

They don't ever tell you why lol
Waste control is an enzyme used to break down solid wastes (fish poo, excess food, dead plant material etc) which is why it can cause an ammonia spike (assuming your filter is not colonized enough to handle the load once these waste reserves become ammonia). I have used the Fluval version before without issue, it does actually work.

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Originally Posted by Kubla View Post
Lots of claims on aquarium products.......I don't often hear of an issue of someone not being able to keep their nitrate levels high enough. In the nitrogen cycle ammonia is converted to nitrites and the nitrites are converted to nitrates. Matrix/pumice and other biomedia is a good home for the bacteria that consumes and converts these chemicals. The bacteria that converts nitrates is anaerobic and the conditions for it to grow are not ususally found in the aquarium.

Matrix is pumice. I wouldn't expect to be able to see any differences in the performance of Matrix and ceramic rings unless some very careful testing is done. I have plenty of pumice and biomedia in my filter, I don't dose any nitrates, and I still have to use nitrate removal pads as my tap has nitrates and my levels are always too high.
Isnt matrix the bio media design based off live rock to have a specific porosity to harbor various forms of bacteria? If it was simply pumice I believe they would just sell pumice for filter use, much like zoomed has their own take on hydroton. Aerobic bacteria colonize the outer zones of matrix where o2 is plentiful while anaerobic bacteria (de-nitrifying) colonize the core (away from light/o2), if enough is used one might see a dip in KNO3 if this case. Anaerobic bacteria also colonize deep substrate beds, and deep sand beds as well as any other porous object dense enough to accomodate their needs and can be found in more home aquaria than you may think, especially with specialized filter products like matrix out there.

Floaters, moss, and riparian growth could also suck up nitrate. In my aquarium I have to dose KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4 regularly or everything gets zapped quite fast and my 60 gallon tank has 80 fish (not all small), 30 shrimp, and a dozen nerites with 2x daily feedings. I do weekly 50% water changes, I only run basic ceramic bio media and filter floss (no sponges, no pads, no chemical filtration needed and I service my filter once every 6 months. If nitrate is high there is an issue with source water, general maintenance or there is a filtration/flow issue causing accumulation to occur ime.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 03-04-2018 at 06:57 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-04-2018, 02:12 AM
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So what's the deal with anaerobic bacteria? Good bad ugly? Sometimes it seems like they are less desirable...
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-04-2018, 02:19 AM
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Originally Posted by KrypleBerry View Post
Isnt matrix the bio media design based off live rock to have a specific porosity to harbor various forms of bacteria? If it was simply pumice I believe they would just sell pumice for filter use, much like zoomed has their own take on hydroton. Aerobic bacteria colonize the outer zones of matrix where o2 is plentiful while anaerobic bacteria (de-nitrifying) colonize the core (away from light/o2), if enough is used one might see a dip in KNO3 if this case. Anaerobic bacteria also colonize deep substrate beds, and deep sand beds as well as any other porous object dense enough to accomodate their needs and can be found in more home aquaria than you may think, especially with specialized filter products like matrix out there.

Floaters, moss, and riparian growth could also suck up nitrate. In my aquarium I have to dose KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4 regularly or everything gets zapped quite fast and my 60 gallon tank has 80 fish (not all small), 30 shrimp, and a dozen nerites with 2x daily feedings. I do weekly 50% water changes, I only run basic ceramic bio media and filter floss (no sponges, no pads, no chemical filtration needed and I service my filter once every 6 months. If nitrate is high there is an issue with source water, general maintenance or there is a filtration/flow issue causing accumulation to occur ime.

This is the advertised theory behind Seachem matrix(pumice), but as far as I know I haven't seen a test by someone that was able to reproduce it yet, which of course could be poor design of the test but who's to say.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-04-2018, 02:19 AM
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Seachem Matrix = pumice rock which is waaaaaay cheaper.

Just a noob


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-04-2018, 03:02 AM
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We should all be aware of why products are developed. We are often told they are made to solve our problems but I often find this is not the true answer. Many products are made to be sold to you to solve a problem--whether you actually have that problem is not really a concern for them.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-04-2018, 03:38 AM
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I believe that their claim is that matrix is the correct size to encourage anoxic conditions if put into that type of system, but also can be used for regular nitrate filtration as well. If set up properly you could make a reactor that removes nitrates by converting it to nitrogen gas. It would come down to not only surface area but particle size as well, and most freshwater aquariums don't bother with anoxic filtration since plants take up nitrates just fine.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-04-2018, 04:06 AM
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Originally Posted by fermentedhiker View Post
This is the advertised theory behind Seachem matrix(pumice), but as far as I know I haven't seen a test by someone that was able to reproduce it yet, which of course could be poor design of the test but who's to say.
If you do a little digging in the equipment thread, there should be a sub-thread called "Matrix without Seachem". It's a pretty long thread but the bottom line is Matrix is nothing more than pumice of a specific size. As for Nitrate removal, I honestly did not see any difference between Matrix and Pumice - both were overwhelmed equally when presented with high levels of Nitrate. In my personal opinion, healthy plants are much better equipped to remove Nitrate if that is your goal.


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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-04-2018, 10:42 AM
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If you do a little digging in the equipment thread, there should be a sub-thread called "Matrix without Seachem". It's a pretty long thread but the bottom line is Matrix is nothing more than pumice of a specific size. As for Nitrate removal, I honestly did not see any difference between Matrix and Pumice - both were overwhelmed equally when presented with high levels of Nitrate. In my personal opinion, healthy plants are much better equipped to remove Nitrate if that is your goal.
No digging required as I'm very familiar with that thread. While I agree that it failed to demonstrate Matrix's so called NNR ability I wouldn't go so far as to say it disproved it. The guy who ran it specifically mentioned at one point that he wasn't trying to find that out and was specifically only looking at ammonia and nitrite processing.

When you compare this and other tests to the live rock idea in reef tanks, time may be a factor that we aren't looking at. Typically while a new reef tank can "cycle" in a week or three just like in freshwater, most reef tanks take 6 months to a year to reach some sort of equilibrium. Which makes me suspect the time for all the appropriate bacterial colonies to establish may take longer than anyone has had the patience to run. It's also possible that matrix chunks are too small to create the necessary environment especially in a high flow filter and would need to be run through a more ideal flow arrangement to be effective(but this isn't what they advertise). Another issue is that the principle of NNR in reef rock is a theory and not a fact, so the entire premise for matrix performing NNR could be false. Although one would hope that if Seachem is going to advertise it as such, that they have at least seen it do so in their lab?

I would agree that live plants and their eventual harvesting is easier and faster. Which is why NNR has never been a hot topic if freshwater. That and WCs are cheap in FW. The primary use I would see for focusing on NNR in freshwater would be high density setups (like for Mbuna) where you typically don't have enough plant mass to deal with the high bioload.

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