Sealing a Wet/Dry filter reduces its effectiveness - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-14-2013, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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Sealing a Wet/Dry filter reduces its effectiveness

Hello again!

This thread is a continuation of this thread below in which I asserted that a using Wet/Dry filter will cause increased CO2 loss:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=273290

Although a few have pointed out that the increased CO2 loss wasn't significant (and I don't argue against that), no one really disagreed with my claim, so I'm moving on to the next part of this discussion.

Some hobbyists seal their Wet/Dry chamber as a way to keep their CO2 injection system as efficient as possible. I don't think this will do any more harm to the fish than a canister setup. However, some do not think that this will reduce the effectiveness of a Wet/Dry filter by any means and I disagree with this.

Here's my reasoning.

The reason you seal the Wet/Dry chamber is because you want to prevent "net" CO2 loss. "Net" here means that the amount of CO2 coming into the Wet/Dry chamber (as part of air) is less than the amount of CO2 coming out of the chamber. And the fact that you have to seal the chamber proves that there would have been a net CO2 loss if you didn't.

For a any amount of net CO2 loss, there is must be equal amount of non-CO2 gases replacing it. And a lot of it is O2.

So before you seal the chamber, you have a steady amount of O2 coming into the system (and being absorbed into the water, otherwise it wouldn't be sustainable) and after you seal the chamber, you no longer have it. So it is pretty obvious which system utilizes more O2 and is more efficient: the one with an open Wet/Dry chamber.

Some will argue that that doesn't matter you still get O2 from the tank's water surface. This argument is easily proven wrong when you look at the sealed Wet/Dry filter as a closed system like a canister filter. In terms of Oxygen utilization, this system is similar to a canister filter with a big pocket of air in the middle. Bacteria will get plenty of Oxygen at the beginning when this pocket of air has plenty of Oxygen, but as Oxygen gets absorbed into the water, CO2 slowly replaces it and eventually it will come to a point where no net Oxygen will be absorbed into the water from this air pocket, making it identical to a canister filter in terms of Oxygen intake.

So by sealing your Wet/Dry chamber, you basically turn your Wet/Dry into another canister filter and you give up the one thing that a Wet/Dry filter does best: oxygenating the water.

Do you agree/disagree?
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-15-2013, 12:06 AM
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"So before you seal the chamber, you have a steady amount of O2 coming into the system (and being absorbed into the water, otherwise it wouldn't be sustainable) and after you seal the chamber, you no longer have it. So it is pretty obvious which system utilizes more O2 and is more efficient: the one with an open Wet/Dry chamber."

this is wrong in how your assuming were sealing(or how sealing) the wet portion works. Your not making it a full siphon which i think your assuming happens when you seal it, when you seal the wet section your just taping up the the filter side of the box, like i said on scape, c02 gases dissipate greatly here as it passes over the filter and turns into falling water droplets over the media. taping it keeps c02 from escaping around the filter compartment, BUT your still pulling oxygen in through the overflow, gasses are still exchanged at this point in the system, its NOT full siphon like a canister, your pulling down air and water. its still technically open, your just minimizing it to the tube feeding water and air. Hope that makes sense!
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-15-2013, 01:13 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ach1Ll3sH33L View Post
"So before you seal the chamber, you have a steady amount of O2 coming into the system (and being absorbed into the water, otherwise it wouldn't be sustainable) and after you seal the chamber, you no longer have it. So it is pretty obvious which system utilizes more O2 and is more efficient: the one with an open Wet/Dry chamber."

this is wrong in how your assuming were sealing(or how sealing) the wet portion works. Your not making it a full siphon which i think your assuming happens when you seal it, when you seal the wet section your just taping up the the filter side of the box, like i said on scape, c02 gases dissipate greatly here as it passes over the filter and turns into falling water droplets over the media. taping it keeps c02 from escaping around the filter compartment, BUT your still pulling oxygen in through the overflow, gasses are still exchanged at this point in the system, its NOT full siphon like a canister, your pulling down air and water. its still technically open, your just minimizing it to the tube feeding water and air. Hope that makes sense!
You are assuming that the oxygen coming from the surface is enough to compensate for the absence of new arriving oxygen in the Wet/Dry chamber.

It is not. That's why people still use big, space-wasting Wet/Dry with bio-balls that have considerably less surface area and not replacing them with canister filters and powerheads.

It is a full siphon when you seal the Wet/Dry chamber shut. The other chamber, for the purpose of this comparison, can simply be considered an extension of your tank. The "canister filter" is the sealed Wet/Dry chamber.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-15-2013, 01:18 AM
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Quote:
For a any amount of net CO2 loss, there is must be equal amount of non-CO2 gases replacing it. And a lot of it is O2.
I am not sure this is so. I do not think that it is a case of either/or. Somewhere I read that the gases in the water were independent of each other.
Must do more research here.

Quote:
So before you seal the chamber, you have a steady amount of O2 coming into the system (and being absorbed into the water, otherwise it wouldn't be sustainable) and after you seal the chamber, you no longer have it.
YES! When a Wet/Dry is exposed to the air then the regular balance of elements in the air are reaching equilibrium with the water. As the air above the Wet/Dry circulates in the cabinet, in the room, and so on it matches the atmospheric levels for N2, O2, CO2 and other gases:
CO2 leaves the water because it is more abundant in the water (you are adding more of it via pressurized than the normal equilibrium would permit)
N may or may not enter or leave as a gas, but probably a bit leaves. Our tanks do have some small anaerobic pockets, and nitrogen gas is created here, in small amounts. It may just bubble out of the tank, or it may be raising the nitrogen gas content in the water, and leave via the Wet/Dry.
O is another anomalous element. Plants produce it. Fish use it. Plants use it when they respire. Is one or the other happening more than the other? If the fish and microorganisms are removing more oxygen than the plants are producing, then the water will gain oxygen when it is in contact with the air. If the plants are producing more than the animals are using, then oxygen will leave the system.

Quote:
So by sealing your Wet/Dry chamber, you basically turn your Wet/Dry into another canister filter and you give up the one thing that a Wet/Dry filter does best: oxygenating the water.
Yes, you are indeed turning your Wet/Dry into a canister with a big air bubble.
The contents of that air bubble are going to be different than the atmosphere. One thing that will rise in that bubble of air is the CO2. Since there is a lot of CO2 in the water, it will start to leave the water when the Wet/Dry is first sealed, then stabilize when a new equilibrium is reached.
QUESTION: If you keep your CO2 running all night (when plants are not using it) will the equilibrium between the tank water and Wet/Dry bubble mean that even more CO2 will enter that bubble? I think so. Then, as the light comes on, will the Wet/Dry bubble donate some of that CO2 back to the water as the plants remove it? I think so. Like any equation: Add or remove something and the equation shifts to keep things in balance.

Now... how does that apply to the oxygen? If, overall, there is a net loss of gaseous oxygen in the system... then there needs to be a good re-supply mechanism.
If the fish, plants and microorganisms are removing the oxygen from the system and incorporating it into their bodies, locking it up, then there needs to be more and more oxygen added to the system.
Well, yes, that is happening. Whether it is part of the energy production, fish burn carbohydrates with oxygen; plants do a similar process; Microorganisms too, or incorporated into the body, oxygen is used for growth.

Now...
Are you running a Wet/Dry because of the enhanced O2 levels?
Nitrifying bacteria use a LOT of oxygen. If you were running a tank with no plants you would want all the N-cycle bacteria you can get. A Wet/Dry is great at this: By keeping the poret, bio-noodles or whatever exposed to the air, and making a very large surface area of the water by sheeting it over the bio media then the bacteria will grow like crazy in the highly oxygenated water, and the O2 levels in the tank stay higher.
But we are running planted tanks. The plants are a major N removal system. There must be a balance between livestock and plants where this increased oxygen level (to help the bacteria) is not needed, because the plants are doing more N removal.

Are those oxygen levels adversely affected by sealing the Wet/Dry?
I think the key word is 'adversely'. If we do not need so many N bacteria, then the oxygen need in the tank is reduced. The fish still need oxygen, but there might be enough as long as the water surface in the tank is gently rippling. The additional oxygen from the original Wet/Dry system is not so important when you are keeping less N bacteria.

However, if the reduced oxygen level from sealing the Wet/Dry is adversely affecting the system, is this so bad that you will NOT seal it, and put up with the CO2 loss instead?
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-15-2013, 01:23 AM
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I always enjoy reading these threads.

Thanks for the stimulating discussions.

hi
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-15-2013, 02:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ach1Ll3sH33L View Post
"So before you seal the chamber, you have a steady amount of O2 coming into the system (and being absorbed into the water, otherwise it wouldn't be sustainable) and after you seal the chamber, you no longer have it. So it is pretty obvious which system utilizes more O2 and is more efficient: the one with an open Wet/Dry chamber."

this is wrong in how your assuming were sealing(or how sealing) the wet portion works. Your not making it a full siphon which i think your assuming happens when you seal it, when you seal the wet section your just taping up the the filter side of the box, like i said on scape, c02 gases dissipate greatly here as it passes over the filter and turns into falling water droplets over the media. taping it keeps c02 from escaping around the filter compartment, BUT your still pulling oxygen in through the overflow, gasses are still exchanged at this point in the system, its NOT full siphon like a canister, your pulling down air and water. its still technically open, your just minimizing it to the tube feeding water and air. Hope that makes sense!
+1

I fully agree.

It's when that water crashes and the surface tension is broken inside the excess(CO2 in our case) and the sub saturation (O2) exchange takes place. Since the system is sealed, there's no where else but into the water in the chamber.

You can insert O2 probes into the chamber if you wish, or pH/KH relationships and measure the difference.

The proof is more inside the tank's water itself: higher O2, but the CO2 is pretty much the same.

You may use a pH meter to determine relative differences in CO2. You can also use or borrow an O2 meter. Since surface scum acts to "c" in Fick's 1st law, and poorly designed over flows can increase degassing through breaking the surface tension, you need to account for those issues when comparing.

2 Questions Mark: access to a pH meter or a wet/dry filter? I think at this point, you need to convince yourself. Gas are independent. One does not displace the other in solution.

I consistently had 1-2 ppm higher in every one of home aquariums using a Hach HQ 40 with a calibrated LDO probe set for datalogging every 15 minutes.
I have 5 tanks that were measured over an entire 24 hour period.
The difference between 5 to 7 ppm vs 7 to 9 ppm is a huge, this is roughly 10-25% more O2. Do not take my word for it, measure it yourself.



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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-15-2013, 02:44 AM
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Tom Barr uses Wet/Dry filters on most, if not all of his tanks, primarily to get the maximum amount of oxygen dissolved into the water. He also seals the chamber of the filter where the CO2 can escape easily. And, he has verified that he gets a higher oxygen content in his water by doing this. For example, he keeps the CO2 level in his high light tanks much higher than most of us have found is fatal to the fish, but because of the high dissolved oxygen content the fish can easily cope with that elevated CO2 content. Why all of this is working that way I can't easily explain, but I have seen that it does work. (And, he has explained it to me more than once, but my memory aint what it used to be.)

edit: ninja'd!!

My point is only that if experiment shows that something works, we need to figure out why it works, not try to prove it didn't work.

Hoppy

Last edited by Hoppy; 03-15-2013 at 02:48 AM. Reason: another comment
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-15-2013, 02:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
However, if the reduced oxygen level from sealing the Wet/Dry is adversely affecting the system, is this so bad that you will NOT seal it, and put up with the CO2 loss instead?
You do not lose O2 unless you are really placing a massive bioload upon the system. My data suggest you gain 20-40% more O2 vs a canister filter.

That's huge.

Alternatively, you can add O2 gas to the wet/dry chamber like we do with CO2 gas. I tried this for seeing if it had any impact on algae, no, not over the 3 week time span. 15 ppm, but there were no fish or shrimp. 15 ppm will kill most livestock.




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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-15-2013, 02:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markl323 View Post
It is a full siphon when you seal the Wet/Dry chamber shut. The other chamber, for the purpose of this comparison, can simply be considered an extension of your tank. The "canister filter" is the sealed Wet/Dry chamber.
Im not sure how much experience you have with this type of system, but this isnt how its works. let me give an example of each system

Lets take a canister for example, a full siphon system, water is being pulled from the bottom of the tank, no air enters the system at any point, so where does a majority of your 02 come from? gas exchange at the waters surface. With a canister its very easy to get inconsistent 02 levels, weak surface agitation, surface scum, etc. all plays a role in fluctuating and low 02 levels. this is a downside of a canister filter, its one reason i wont run one unless its with a surface skimmer to keep the water surface clean, and ensure im getting good but more importantly stable gas exchange. this goes for both 02 and c02, surface scum can trap in both gases, and create inconsistencies in both, its my personal opinion why a lot of people struggle with certain algae is because of this.

Wet dry filters for the most part use overflows that skim the waters surface, this pulls in the top layer of water, keeping the surface clean for good gas exchange. The water then goes into the back of the overflow, and is where a lot of people complain about an overflow being noisy, sounding like a toilet, waterfall etc. Why? because water is rushing down an open tube/pipe at this point, and along with it plenty of atmospheric 02, to make this quiet you build devices such as the herbi which still allow air to pass back and forth into the sump, but only at a rate that matches the water flow. If you allow just enough air and just enough water to flow into the sump, its almost silent. Now your at the point of the media side of the filter where the water and atmospheric air and entered, the water breaks apart over the filter, filter media, etc. the water then gets pumped back into the tank. This is how the basic system works, ive not taped a thing yet. But lets go ahead and do that, im gonna tape the top of the filter media chamber(the drip plate) so now whats changed? gas cant escape around the loose fitting drip plate, thats all. its doesnt create a full siphon, it doesnt keep ambient air out, as its still pulled down with the water. So why do we tape it, how does this affect the system? well it keeps some c02 in the system, not all, it simply minimizes c02 loss, PLENTY of c02 is still off-gased through strong surface movement and in the media chamber,overflow, etc, you lose more c02 in this type of setup period, no one said it was more efficient, all were doing is minimizing the c02 lost. we still have plenty of 02, the same amount of 02 is entering and exchanging in the system, were simply minimizing the off-gasing of c02. Is there now higher ambient c02 in the media chamber? yes a little. Is it now just a giant c02 reactor where bacteria cant live? no because your still exposing open air, your still bringing in large amounts of ambient air with the water, your just MINIMIZING the c02 lost which is the key point in doing it.

I dont have the data to show the 02 levels, Plantbrain does and you can probably find it by searching, but a wet dry, even taped, provides much more 02 than a canister. (edit, nevemind he beat me to it)
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-15-2013, 10:39 AM
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There is more oxygen, my livestock agree.
I never had spawning with a cannister. But i still had same massive water changes. 70-80% a week. I wont go into specifics as they have been well covered. But my fish do agree, there is more oxygen. Clearly.

I run bookoos of co2. Pretty much copying tom in my quest to grow plants. Wet/dry's have a huge impact on what ur trying to do and my fish have survived much higher co2 levels than what i even thoug possible.

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-19-2014, 08:25 PM
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For what it's worth

Also don't forget there's more than one way to make a
wet/dry.

I built this one for about 30 bucks minus the powerhead.

It consists of a 2 foot piece of 4 inch PVC thinwall, couple of fittings
and some braided hose packed with "jumbo" 3 1/2 inch pot
scrubbers. There is a piece of 1/2 inch that runs on the inside
that carries the water to the top.

Has been running for about a year now and works like a champ. BTW
it's totally sealed, there is a air tight cap on the top also it pulls the
water from the middle/bottom of the tank. The only down side to this
filter is the appearance as there is a huge piece of 4 inch PVC hanging
off the wall above the tank

The reason I made this was because of the massive 1 pound+ goldfish
you see in the picture. It's hard to describe actually how much ammonia
this goldfish actually produces.

For about 4 to 5 months I had huge white clouds of ammonia bacteria
in the water, it was always a milky white. I tried everything to lower
the ammonia, even after 50% water changes it would snap right back
to about 5.0+ppm ammonia, I think it was actually much higher I
didn't have a good test kit like I do now, just test strips that were
always pegged.

So I made this wet dry, 3 months later using a decent test kit, there is so
little ammonia it doesn't even register on the test tubes.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2014, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
Tom Barr uses Wet/Dry filters on most, if not all of his tanks, primarily to get the maximum amount of oxygen dissolved into the water. He also seals the chamber of the filter where the CO2 can escape easily. And, he has verified that he gets a higher oxygen content in his water by doing this. For example, he keeps the CO2 level in his high light tanks much higher than most of us have found is fatal to the fish, but because of the high dissolved oxygen content the fish can easily cope with that elevated CO2 content. Why all of this is working that way I can't easily explain, but I have seen that it does work. (And, he has explained it to me more than once, but my memory aint what it used to be.)

edit: ninja'd!!

My point is only that if experiment shows that something works, we need to figure out why it works, not try to prove it didn't work.
I think one argument to use a W/D filter in a planted tank is the massive biomedia you have and they can break down the ammonia much faster than a conventional canister filter. This will help to control algae. Of course, I don't believe you have to have air tight sealing in the W/D filter. So, oxygen/air will find its ways into the chamber.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2016, 05:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ach1Ll3sH33L View Post
Im not sure how much experience you have with this type of system, but this isnt how its works. let me give an example of each system

Lets take a canister for example, a full siphon system, water is being pulled from the bottom of the tank, no air enters the system at any point, so where does a majority of your 02 come from? gas exchange at the waters surface. With a canister its very easy to get inconsistent 02 levels, weak surface agitation, surface scum, etc. all plays a role in fluctuating and low 02 levels. this is a downside of a canister filter, its one reason i wont run one unless its with a surface skimmer to keep the water surface clean, and ensure im getting good but more importantly stable gas exchange. this goes for both 02 and c02, surface scum can trap in both gases, and create inconsistencies in both, its my personal opinion why a lot of people struggle with certain algae is because of this.

Wet dry filters for the most part use overflows that skim the waters surface, this pulls in the top layer of water, keeping the surface clean for good gas exchange. The water then goes into the back of the overflow, and is where a lot of people complain about an overflow being noisy, sounding like a toilet, waterfall etc. Why? because water is rushing down an open tube/pipe at this point, and along with it plenty of atmospheric 02, to make this quiet you build devices such as the herbi which still allow air to pass back and forth into the sump, but only at a rate that matches the water flow. If you allow just enough air and just enough water to flow into the sump, its almost silent. Now your at the point of the media side of the filter where the water and atmospheric air and entered, the water breaks apart over the filter, filter media, etc. the water then gets pumped back into the tank. This is how the basic system works, ive not taped a thing yet. But lets go ahead and do that, im gonna tape the top of the filter media chamber(the drip plate) so now whats changed? gas cant escape around the loose fitting drip plate, thats all. its doesnt create a full siphon, it doesnt keep ambient air out, as its still pulled down with the water. So why do we tape it, how does this affect the system? well it keeps some c02 in the system, not all, it simply minimizes c02 loss, PLENTY of c02 is still off-gased through strong surface movement and in the media chamber,overflow, etc, you lose more c02 in this type of setup period, no one said it was more efficient, all were doing is minimizing the c02 lost. we still have plenty of 02, the same amount of 02 is entering and exchanging in the system, were simply minimizing the off-gasing of c02. Is there now higher ambient c02 in the media chamber? yes a little. Is it now just a giant c02 reactor where bacteria cant live? no because your still exposing open air, your still bringing in large amounts of ambient air with the water, your just MINIMIZING the c02 lost which is the key point in doing it.

I dont have the data to show the 02 levels, Plantbrain does and you can probably find it by searching, but a wet dry, even taped, provides much more 02 than a canister. (edit, nevemind he beat me to it)
I sincerely think the process in the media chamber (the dripping thing) actually brings more O2 to the system than surface exchange(the process happened in overflow and main tank).
So taping the chamber eliminate the gas exchange process for O2 in the chamber(after a while the oxygen level in the chamber will be very low and not able to bring new oxygen to water). That's the difference.
Do you think so?
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2016, 10:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tetra73 View Post
I think one argument to use a W/D filter in a planted tank is the massive biomedia you have and they can break down the ammonia much faster than a conventional canister filter. This will help to control algae.
...and also slow plant growth since the ammonia you speak of is plant food. So that if anything is an argument to stay away from them in planted tanks.
Why are so many planted tank keepers bent on removing plant food from their systems?

We stopped using wet/dry filters for reef tanks years ago because we discovered they were simply producing nitrates with no anaerobic component to complete the process.

More oxygen? Without a doubt.
There's other ways to skin that cat however if you want higher oxygen levels.
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