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Bio Media for Planted Tanks.

FishWorks

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18 Dec 2016
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Philippines
Hi,

I am looking into buying some bio-media for my upcoming setup and am gravitating towards Sera Siporax or Ocean Free 3DM. The problem with these 2 are that they will also house anaerobic bacteria that eats the NO3 which will take away nitrates from the plants.

Are these okay to use? or can you recommend some plant friendly bio-medias?
 

zozo

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It's not the media that is bio :) It is the bacteria that house in and on it... These bacteria do not discriminate and will populate any material you will put in there. Our general accepted theory is, the more surface area the medium provides the more bacteria can house in it and the better it is. Thus manufacturers jumped on this, half-truth and partial believe, with all kinds of fancy stuff that provides this surface erea, give it a fancy name and a nice price with a decent profit. And it actually is more like an "If it does not work, it doesn't harm" concept.

Because we don't know and can't know if all provided area in the filter is used to its full extend. Meanwhile, once sufficiently matured the bacteria population in the aquarium's substrate, in the biofilm on the glass and hardscape, plants and plant roots have a factor of 10 or more bacteria than the filter will ever have whatever media you do put in the canister.

IMHO, you do not need to hurt your brains over filter media and especially do not need to spend too much money on advertised and alleged super media. As long as it does polish the water it does what it is meant to do, the aquarium itself is the best bio thing you can have after all... Take something that can be washed and cleaned out when it is clogged with dirt. My personal take on it, a set of sponge pads from coarse to fine is actually all you need and provides surface area enough for bacteria the house in.

But whatever you feel like and want to spend you can put in whatever you want. As long as it's porous, doesn't easily clog, and doesn't restrict the flow too much. :thumbup:
 

Wookii

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Hi,

I am looking into buying some bio-media for my upcoming setup and am gravitating towards Sera Siporax or Ocean Free 3DM. The problem with these 2 are that they will also house anaerobic bacteria that eats the NO3 which will take away nitrates from the plants.

Are these okay to use? or can you recommend some plant friendly bio-medias?

@zozo has pretty much summed it up, but I have personally become a bit of filter media sceptic - I think much of the whole 'surface area' thing is largely marketing fluff, especially when you pick a piece of media out of your filter and its surface is completely covered in bacterial mulm, surely preventing water flowing into this massive inner surface area it's sold as having.

I've largely switched most of my media to the plastic style media - Oase Hel-X in my case, but the K1 style media would be fine too I'm sure (I'm sure there are other equally good DIY alternatives too). The advantage is that it is very lightweight and has an open structure, so doesn't inhibit flow nearly as much, comes in a mesh bag so can be easily removed and rinsed (it's very easy to clean also, as the abrasion between pieces is somewhat self cleaning when you shake it). It can also be cleaned completely in a bleach dip if not being reused and stored for a longer period, bringing it back to 'as new' condition, meaning one set should last you a lifetime.
 

zozo

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but the K1 style media would be fine too I'm sure

Yes, it is, but it's designed for an entirely different puprose than for a canister. It's a floating media that after it is matured with a sufficient biofilm it becomes semi-buoyant and it's designed for an open, air-driven fluidized bed filter. More aimed towards plantless koi ponds or bare bottom tanks in which filtering is a completely different story compared to a planted aquarium.

Even tho it's not a problem to use it differently than it is designed for it actually is much too pricy for what it brings... A ceramic ring or plastic bio balls will do the very same thing, which is depending on which ones you buy are not necessarily cheaper.

About the question do you need them?... Answering this with a personal feel I would say yes if it gives you a good feeling, then you do. Coming back to. "If it does not work, it doesn't harm" :)
 

Wookii

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Yes, it is, but it's designed for an entirely different puprose than for a canister. It's a floating media that after it is matured with a sufficient biofilm it becomes semi-buoyant and it's designed for an open, air-driven fluidized bed filter. More aimed towards plantless koi ponds or bare bottom tanks in which filtering is a completely different story compared to a planted aquarium.

Even tho it's not a problem to use it differently than it is designed for it actually is much too pricy for what it brings... A ceramic ring or plastic bio balls will do the very same thing, which is depending on which ones you buy are not necessarily cheaper.

About the question do you need them?... Answering this with a personal feel I would say yes if it gives you a good feeling, then you do. Coming back to. "If it does not work, it doesn't harm" :)

The Hel-X media comes with the Oase filters @zozo - so it is not an additional costs, and is presumably perfectly suitable for use in the filter if that is what the manufacturer supplies with it ;)

EDIT: The K1 isn't that expensive either - about a tenner for 3 litres which should fill most filters - ceramic rings would probably cost you more.

I also think it is the floating nature of the media that makes them a better choice in a canister filter, as the free movement in the media should reduce dead spots etc. I appreciate they are designed for fluidized beds, but those same benefits are transferrable to a canister.
 
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zozo

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The Hel-X media comes with the Oase filters @zozo - so it is not an additional costs, and is presumably perfectly suitable for use in the filter if that is what the manufacturer supplies with it ;)

Do they? I didn't know... :) But Hel-X AFAIK is Fluidized-bed media. But as said bacteria do not discriminate, you still can use it differently. Then if it comes with the filter then it would be a waste not to use it and buy something different. :thumbup:
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
The problem with these 2 are that they will also house anaerobic bacteria that eats the NO3 which will take away nitrates from the plants.
This may or may not be true, either way it is entirely irrelevant. As long as you have plenty of flow and oxygen passing through the filter all the filter media will remain aerobic and that is what you want.

Dissolved oxygen is the metric <"that matters">.
It's a floating media that after it is matured with a sufficient biofilm it becomes semi-buoyant and it's designed for an open, air-driven fluidized bed filter.
so it is not an additional costs, and is presumably perfectly suitable for use in the filter if that is what the manufacturer supplies with it
I've used these floating cell media for ~10 years and they work <"absolutely fine in a canister filter"> as well. I used them originally because we had them as left-over from the <"waste water work">.
Our general accepted theory is, the more surface area the medium provides the more bacteria can house in it and the better it is. Thus manufacturers jumped on this, half-truth and partial believe, with all kinds of fancy stuff that provides this surface area, give it a fancy name and a nice price with a decent profit.
And <"that is the truth">. We have a <"lot of posts"> about <"different media">, <"Biohome">, <"Renew/Matrix"> and <"Biocenosis Buckets"> etc. and very few of the claims by the manufacturers have any scientific basis.

cheers Darrel
 
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Paul Willi

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5 Nov 2019
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Hi
i use a mix of course foams and alphagrog in my filters, I’m setting up another filter shortly should I just put scrubbers in all baskets?
Cheers
Paul
 

erwin123

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I'm using the same seachem matrix and ocean free 3dm media that I bought 10 years ago. The 10 year 3dm media still look clean and uniformly one colour while the equally old matrix appears a little bit stained. Not sure what to make of it.
As a one-off purchase, it really isn't a huge issue.

But hey, I'm also a huge fan of sponges because they do both mechanical and biological filtering too (hence we see a lot of marketing about Bio sponges). My Fluval 307 came with their "Bio-foam" which is really good for trapping dirt (I'm amazed how much "gunk" the foam can hold and also how dirty my tank is :)) and I'm trying to look for a cheaper equivalent that can last several cleaning cycles.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I'm using the same seachem matrix and ocean free 3dm media that I bought 10 years ago. The 10 year 3dm media still look clean and uniformly one colour while the equally old matrix appears a little bit stained. Not sure what to make of it.
You are fine, you can just <"carry on using it">. I have sponges that are 10 years old and sintered glass or plastic media potentially lasts eternally.

cheers Darrel
 

zozo

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do both mechanical and biological filtering

These are the 2 commercially invented terms that take people for a ride with creating a false impression of what I filter does and taking money from your pocket. It actually doesn't matter what you put in it always will be both as long as it traps/collects dirt its mechanical removal and the biological part is an inevitable freebie that comes on its own devices for which you actually have to do zip. :D

On a side note, just for the fun of it... :)
A while ago I did an experiment with banking the substrate up to a few inches above the waterline. Placed a pipe in the substrate to function as a submerged waterway from the deepest part to feed a HOB filter and this filter contains no media. It's not a filter it only pumps water from the tube and spills it on top of the substrate where I did place a plant (Cyprus sp.) I thought why waste all the goodies and trap them in a sponge if I can give them to a plant? The dirt falls on top of the substrate at the plant's base, thus mechanically traped, and the water seeps filtered through the substrate back into the water part of the tank. The tank itself contains all the media it needs and is the filter, an in-tank aquaponics concept, in this case, doing it actually too perfect.

I didn't expect nor anticipate that plant getting all these goodies growing so rampant that it would destroy the tank by pushing the glass panels out with its roots ripping the silicon seams apart.


We actually could all simply hang a nice decorative pot with a nice plant from the ceiling above the aquarium and pump the aquarium water into it, that runs back to the tank from the hole in the bottom. And you would never need to worry about or waste money on any filter media in a canister filter again. All you need would be a hanging pot with substrate a plant and a pump.

Not so decorative but a perfect design.
8711904150709.jpg
 

castle

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We actually could all simply hang a nice decorative pot with a nice plant from the ceiling above the aquarium and pump the aquarium water into it, that runs back to the tank from the hole in the bottom. And you would never need to worry about or waste money on any filter media in a canister filter again. All you need would be a hanging pot with substrate a plant and a pump.

Not so decorative but a perfect design.
8711904150709.jpg

This is why when I do finally pull the trigger on a very big aquarium, I will be growing a jungle above the waterline. I just see plants as a crucial part of long term, low maintenance aquarium success.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
We actually could all simply hang a nice decorative pot with a nice plant from the ceiling above the aquarium and pump the aquarium water into it, that runs back to the tank from the hole in the bottom. And you would never need to worry about or waste money on any filter media in a canister filter again. All you need would be a hanging pot with substrate a plant and a pump.
They were the <"original filters I used"> (we had use this set-up for the <"waste water work)">. Basically a <"length of plastic gutter"> with internal baffles and <"filled with hydroleca">.
I will be growing a jungle above the waterline. I just see plants as a crucial part of long term, low maintenance aquarium success.
They are the <"Rolls-Royce of filters">.
If I didn't have plants I would definitely have a wet and dry trickle filter, and the "Rolls-Royce" of filters is a planted trickle filter. If you have plants, and specifically some with aerial portions, you have a system which is much more efficient and resilient. As a general rule "plant/microbe systems" are about an order of magnitude more efficient than "microbe only" systems.

cheers Darrel
 

Courtneybst

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After doing not particularly extensive research on best filter media across the interweb, I've added <these> onto my Aquascaping shopping list as being best-in-class:
71ZZp5kAfoL._SL1119_.jpg


In particular <this test> on the Ammonia oxidising properties of various filter media was mildly amusing:
7.1.4.-filter-biomedia-efficiency.jpg


Cheers,
Simon
I'm assuming that the higher numbers are better?

Also... are the pot scrubbers inert? I only ask because I've bought some wire wool looking scrubbers before that actually had detergent in/on it. Might have to take a trip to the £ shop!
 

zozo

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In 2018 I did build this one in the garden and it still runs, with a small change like a charm today. This concept could easily be created the exactly same indoors with houseplants. It's a planted sump at the same ground level as the body it filters. :) It could also be at a lower level, gravity does it all.

tubsump-jpg.jpg




What i did change is the spray bar/trickle tube, this didn't work in the long run because it got pushed up with plant growth beneath it. I shortened this tube to only running water into the first pot, and lowered the substrate in this pot to prevent it from overflowing, to mechanically filter the water, the plants in all the other pots have their roots hanging in the water and don't need to get dripped from above.

There are quite a number of houseplants that would love to be in such a setup. E.g Ficus sp. Sphatifyllum sp. Monstera sp. Syngonium sp., Anthurium sp. and many more.

Anyway, this is the simplest and most effective maintenance-free filter I did ever build. It's made from epoxy treated plywood used in the building industry assembled with silicon like an aquarium, with sufficiently enough screws. Indoors it could be made from any type of decorative wood planks with a polyester/glass fiber inlay to waterproof it. For a big aquarium, I can also guarantee that building this is not more expensive than a cannister. The pots are pennies, the PVC tubing a few quit, the plywood was less than a 100. Making it from walnut to show off indoors would be a different story. :)

Anyway a filter like this with large houseplants would be a hell of a room devider.
 
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dw1305

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Hi all,
I'm assuming that the higher numbers are better?
They are, but there are also a couple of provisos. <"The Science of Aquariums"> is a very reputable (and scientifically referenced) web site, but the owner/scientist mainly keeps <"Rift Lake Cichlids in non-planted tanks"> at (what we would call) very high stocking densities.

This fish keeping methodology means that his filters will rapidly grow a <"thick, sticky biofilm"> in a way that doesn't occur in our filters.

A-Well-Functioning-Aquarium-Filter-768x535.jpg

Caption: "A Well Functioning Aquarium Filter" from <"6. Filtration">

Because of this non-clogging media, (like washing-up scrubbies and floating cell media are always <"going to perform well">), because they won't clog.

cheers Darrel
 
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