Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Chicagoland, IL
Necessity of Biological filtration media vs just plain water polishing
Previously in my aquarium experience I never much cared about biological filtration. I always worried myself with #1 high tank turnover rates, and #2 really good water polishing. My prior planted experience is pretty primitive compared to some of what I see on here, I had a 180 gallon tank plumbed into my 300 gallon sump that was filtering another 1,000 gallons of breeder tanks and a 300 gallon display tank. The tank flourished, but it may have just been an elaborate algae scrubber in the end, lol.
I retired that setup and sold off the breeding business about 4 years ago and am focusing on getting back into the hobby. I noticed a few things.
#1 Marketing is oppressive. There is so much marketing that if you don't dive into forums its very hard to get to the bottom of an issue. Substrate confusion was the reason I setup this account.
#2 Purists make no sense. I had heard this issue previously before getting into breeding but the cost of discovering the truth was much lower, both in terms of time and money. For planted tanks there are just so many more variables it's hard to run a BS test on every sacred cow.
I'll give you an example of something I learned with my prior setup. I learned that a basic sponge filter per volume is going to do a better job of polishing water than all that expensive filter media you can buy. I replaced all "biological filtration media" with mechanical filtration, more sponges, more filter socks, and more flow.
My prior foray into plants I learned that Aquarium plants eat Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates. I learned that typically if you have algae blooms its because you are missing other nutrients that your plants need to be able to consume those things, your iron, potassium, C02 or whatever is not adequate.
So I ask all this to restate, why do I see "biological filter media" promoted so much? It just seems kinda counter intuitive to what you are trying to accomplish with the plants. Help me understand. I'm more inclined to focus on water polishing, purging particulates, etc from the system than spending that cabinet space and resources on dedicated media for optimizing the cycle.
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My former 180 gallon sumped planted tank.