Drigtwood as Biological Media - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2006, 04:21 AM Thread Starter
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Drigtwood as Biological Media

Hi. I come from the reef world. Seeing that the best (for me) biological media that I find in a reef tank is live rock itself (I use it in some tanks instead of the bio-balls), what about using driftwood inside an XP2 as biological media. I would think it is a perfect porous medium to use and to soften the water at the same time. I'm contemplating taking a saw to a piece of DW and chopping it to tiny pieces. Has anyone done this?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2006, 04:42 AM
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Hmmm......biological media in a planted tank isn't all that important as with a heavily stocked non-planted tank. The plants are, in effect, the biofiltration. A well planted aquarium can absorb impurities like a sponge. Note that we are the only aquarists who will *add* nitrates and phosphates to their tanks.

As to softening the water, not necessary. I assume that since you are a reefer, you have an R/O unit, or convenient access to one? That should keep the water as soft as you need it. Which, unless you are growing certain rare plants, isn't a big deal in the first place.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2006, 05:34 AM Thread Starter
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Well that makes sense. I do have an RO unit but I don't use it anymore because when the membrane went bad I used tap water and I saw no difference in my tank. I only have hardy corals rigth now because I got tired of spending too much money on corals. Instead, now I'm spending it in CO2, DW, Substrate and other stuff. In the future I plan on keeping discus (on a 155g) and I would like to find an easy way to soften the water without RO. As of right now I am doing experiments to condition the water with Almond Leaves because all I've read about peat seems sketchy. No one has a definitive answer. Thanks
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2006, 11:38 AM
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There is no EASY way to soften water. You can use peat. But there are no hard and fast rules for doing so because you are working with a variable organic material. And once you soften the water with peat you are going to have brown/black water due to the tannic acid.

And driftwood is a lot different than live rock. Live rock is ALIVE. Hence the name. Driftwood is inert. All driftwood does is supply a surface for bacteria to live on. A coarse sponge in the filter actually has more surface area than a bunch of cut up drift wood.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2006, 11:43 AM
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What about the ADA substrate or Aquabase substraight? They both are acidic and will lower your ph, Thats what I used for my 55g. I have Aquabase available to me at the lfs so I got a few bags of that and mixed it with a small gravel as a filler in the bottom.

I vote for RO or substraight.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2006, 04:37 PM
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Driftwood isn't that pourous. It will soak in water overtime, but will not allow water to go through it freely. But if you cut it into very small pieces, then it's feasible, but even a wood chipper cannot cut that small. If you cut it into a large piece, then you just end up slowing down the flow of the water. You're better using peat in your filter if you want to soften your water.

The meaning behind LIVE rock is there are lots of critters in the rock that help in the filtration process.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2006, 05:05 PM
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We are not rock farming like Reef folks.
We are farming weeds.

When their roots get going, they pump large amounts of nutrients in/out of the substrate and add O2 down there.
So think about a DBS and plants being equal rather than the live rock. DBS's are likley much better exportors of NO3 as it is.

Best bet: focus on what it takes to grow plants well.

Happy plants= happy fish.

Do not fall into the Discus for Zealots trap, unless you plan on commericially breeding.

1-2x a week water changes with RO/tap etc(50% or so). RO is the way to go if you plan on reducing KH(GH can and should remain at relatively moderate to high levels, it's Ca, Mg, SO4 etc, all plant nutrients). Temp about 82-84F.

Auto water changers are very nice if you can get away with the KH from the tap(what is it?).

Many folks use wood in fish only tanks in a similar manner.
But.................................most end up thinking about adding plants all over the wood.

As far as wood inside a filter: bad idea. Wood slowly rots and in there it'll rot faster and as said, not much surface area internally that is optimal for bacteria.

We grow plants here, not bacteria really.

The same is true if you grow marine macro algae, do not use a skimmer, you will not need it.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2006, 06:20 PM Thread Starter
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Hi. Thanks for all the info. I was considering it because i've read that DW softens the water to some extent. My idea with the DW is to cover it with some type of moss and anubias. I will discard the idea altogether. Thanks

I hate to say this, but this place is getting to me. I think I'm getting the fear.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-09-2006, 07:16 PM
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My tap water is problamatic for various reasons so I use rainwater.

Ph - 6.8 - 7.0, Kh - 4

I'm happy with it.

Plus, I don't think anyone is saying don't put driftwood in the tank to grow plants on, just don't use it in the filter, or expect it to lower PH too much.

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