Do I really need a filter at this point ? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
 
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Do I really need a filter at this point ?

I was just wondering, I'm about to set up a 55 gal tank, at first I'll have a very light bio laod to cycle the tank, then I'll be adding some plants after my cycle.
For those most part of I'll just have plants really and a few fish, so what I was wondering is can I hold off on getting my filter for now, and add it maybe in a month or so when I add more fish to the tank, this would help me direct the $$ to the plants, substrate (EC) and what ever else I feel I may need,
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 05:59 PM
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IMHO the filter provides A) circulation and B) mechanical filtration in a highly planted tank. So for your tank, you could look at getting a few powerheads to accomplish A.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 06:01 PM
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... then hook up the sponge to intake of powerhead to accomplish B)

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 06:08 PM
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IMHO a big sponge on a powerhead inside the tank is, well, ugly? If nothing else, a canister with a spray bar is out of sight and more uniform spray pattern.

There is a minimalist movement in planted tanks that does not use technology when possible so it can be done. Depends on if you are modeling a swamp or slow flowing river or rapids I guess.

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 06:09 PM
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You really want to get the filter asap, so it has time to grow the beneficial bacteria.


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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 06:24 PM
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khoile:

I my healthy stocked planted tank I don't think biological/chemical is important. I think it may even be harmful as I am paying good money in the stuff I dump in so I do not want carbon to chew on it. The bacterial convert ammonia to nitrxte which the plants then convert back to ammonia so I just cut out the middle and let the plants eat well. There is bacteria on all surfaces anyways so I just don't feel like hosting a large colony in my filter (sponge only). YMMV

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 06:26 PM
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justadude:

I 'cycle' new tanks by chucking in a sponge from an old tank and planting heavy from day one. You may never see the traditional 'cycle' happen if all you ducks are in a row.

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 09:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueRam
IMHO a big sponge on a powerhead inside the tank is, well, ugly?
That's what the driftwood is for. Use driftwood to block the sight of the spong filter.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 09:28 PM Thread Starter
 
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thanks for the replies
the thing that got me thinking on this is my sw tank, the only filter I run is a skimmer and a DSB ( deep sand bed ) and let mother nature do the rest for me.
I do know that carbon media does not last long before it is really of no use, but I could be wrong on this FW filtration is new to me, I would think it would be best if one was to run a canister filter that it would be better to fill all the trays with something like bio-balls or something to that nature..and then maybe change out a tray every few months or so....
but if I'm reading ya all right then I can go filterless for now if I wish to do so ?
Lord knows I have pwerheads, I have a few MJ's I can use, as fare as that goes I even have a few wavemakers I can hook one up and set it why down to just give the substrate a soft sweep now and then with very little water turns...
Along the lines of a spray bar would it not be best to have no real surface movement to help keep the Co2 in the water ?
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 09:29 PM
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May be I should start another thread, but....

BlueRam.. I'm not clear on this one.. so plant consume nitrate and the by product is amonia? Do plant need amonia or nitrate or both? ah I'm confuse..

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
 
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no need to start another thread really, by me going filterless we'll be talking about an eco-system, in a sw tank this is known as a Berlin style set up, you seed the tank and let mother nature do the filtering for you, in this case can we not use plants in the same way ?
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 10:00 PM
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Ok, let me give this a try and mods please feel free to move to a new thread if appropriate.

khoile:

My understanding is this: In the plantless aquarium a biomass of bacteria are used to convert ammonia to nitrite to nitrate (hence nitrxte) so that toxic ammonia is converted to less toxic nitrate which is then removed by water changes...

In contrast, planted tanks often require Nitrate (KNO3) as a food stuff. As posted by Rex (rexgrigg.com/cycle.htm) regarding the 'silent cycle'- "plants love ammonia" so I piece this together to say that having a large colony in the filter is not "mission critical" for heavily planted tanks. I faintly remember reading that the nitrate can be converted to ammonia by plants (makes sense as the bacteria are using ammonia as food) so this is why I think a large colony of nitrxte producing bacteria may be counter productive. We can also get the opinions of some reefers. I recall that protein skimmers are used to intercept organics before they can become nitrxtes for the sake of invertebrates etc.

The EI method states clearly that ammonia is much more efficient at producing algae than nitrate too if that helps. As a side I have been thinking that my GW outbreak after using a p down product liberated ammonia etc so instead of blaming phosphate, I should blame ammonia… Just an idea..

So if anyone would like to put these ramblings into a cohesive statement I would love to ferret this out!


Quote:
Originally Posted by khoile
May be I should start another thread, but....

BlueRam.. I'm not clear on this one.. so plant consume nitrate and the by product is amonia? Do plant need amonia or nitrate or both? ah I'm confuse..

Thanks.
Khoi

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 10:02 PM
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Here's my understanding. Ammonia is produced as a byproduct of fish waste. In a plantless tank, one set of bacteria convert this to nitrite, then another set of bacteria convert it to nitrate. Since nothing is in the tank to use of the nitrate, it builds up awaiting a water change.

Now, plants need nitrogen. I believe the ammonia form of nitrogen is one of the easiest for plants to use. When the easier ammonia-form of nitrogen is gone, the plants go to work on the NO3 variety. Thus, with sufficient plants, you don't really need to go through the "normal" tank cycling (which is just building up the bacteria base) because the plants can assist in the process. That's also why in planted tanks, the filter is primarily needed for mechanical filtration and water movement. With the extra surface area in the tank caused by the plant mass, the tank isn't as dependent upon the surface area in the filter sponges, bio-products, etc. And, as you don't want to strip out lots of the stuff in the water with plants, carbon material is considered a negative in a heavily planted tank.

How's that?
Brian.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 10:11 PM
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Great description, BlueRam !
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2005, 10:26 PM
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justadude:

Yes, I believe the Berlin style is the right one. Even though you are not relying on the filter for chemical or biological, it is best to have some mechanical. For this reason I believe it is customary to run sponges in an external filter and not bio-balls as posted earlier (below). Planted tanks throw off a lot of debris in the form of leaves (think hygro) and mulb etc. I do not gravel vac so I also end up with piles of mulb (a word not allowed in Scrabble!) that I occasionally move around during water changes if the cories do not get it first.

[Full disclosure/]The real story though is that I have a power head in my sump and I am trying to cut down on chunkies so I have a pair of sponge filters for powerheads in series. As the sponge dirties the fine particles diminish (sponge becomes better filter) but the flow rate goes down too(bubbles collect in U tube).[/Full disclosure]

BSS did a good job with a fair bit less rambeling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by justadude
"I would think it would be best if one was to run a canister filter that it would be better to fill all the trays with something like bio-balls or something"

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