Filter peat

Discussion in 'Filters, Filtration and Pumps' started by brian68, 23 Jul 2008.

  1. brian68

    brian68 Newly Registered

    Does anybody use peat granules or similar as a filter medium?

    I have read that it can release valuable humic acids and trace elements into the aquarium, in a slow-release manner. I realise it will also lower KH and pH, but this will making the aquarium conditions better for for species from soft, acidic water regions (i.e. Amazonia).

    Also peat is claimed to inhibit the growth of fungus, bacteria and algae.

    Any comments appreciated.
  2. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    I've used peat in filters for years to improve the water for dwarf cichlids but never for plants. Plants need good lighting, CO2 and ferts and they will do great. The tannins and slight acidification won't really benefit any plants that I am aware of. The effect of lowering pH is temporary and not that great unless your water is already quite soft, the more reliable way to lower pH if you need to is to reduce the KH by using RO water or similar. This will permanently lower the hardness of the water.

    I think the claims on fungus, algae and bacteria stem from the effect of very high levels of tannin such as in Peat bogs where they will preserve organic matter for thousands of years by preventing growth. This needs a very low pH and is not really practicable in a planted tank. Very high tannin level will also colour the water and reduce the available light for algae to grow, but then they will effect plant growth too.
  3. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Chicago, USA
    If I have valuable space in my filter for media then peat granules would not be on the top of my list. I would be more likely to use something like zeolite or purigen which remove toxic components like ammonia from the tank. I would resist the temptation to add things to the tank except for the important items such as nutrients and CO2.

    The marketing hype associated with peat granules is based on someones dreamy personal vision of what Amazonia ought to be. Peat does help to soften the water and to acidify it. Before RO units became widespread, mass quantities of peat was used to soften and acidify water and was mostly used by Discus and dwarf cichlid keepers/breeders. This necessitated the use of large water holding vessels and was generally a tedious procedure.

    But lets get real for a moment. Peat is essentially rotted vegetation so there is no way that it will inhibit bacteria. In fact, why would you even want to inhibit bacteria? :wideyed: Bacteria do all the work for you in your aquarium. They reduce toxic ammonia, the end product being nitrate which feed your plants, so why should you inhibit bacterial growth? When a tank is being started up it's a good idea to put a layer of peat at the base of the substrate in order to provide valuable carbon for the young bacteria colony which then later purifies the substrate and facilitates nutrient transfer from the substrate to the roots of plants. So these claims of bacterial inhibition are absurd on so many different levels, that these claims could only have been conjured up by some video game marketing department.

    For the purposes of plants the actual value of humic acids is yet to be determined. Humic acids probably have more value to fish health. Trace elements are best supplied via inorganic salts that we dose. Certainly, algae are not going to be foiled by humic acids or anything else that peat granules supply. Algae have seen it all, and if you fail to nourish your plants adequately algae will scoff at your peat granules and will roll across your tank like so many Panzer divisions of the Wehrmarkt. :rolleyes:

    Lastly, the vast majority of plants will do fine in high KH/GH environment so there is no need to attempt to modify your water to be soft and acidic. Besides, if you are adding CO2 to the tank then this will acidify the water anyway. Plants are largely pH insensitive.

    Make you life and your hobby easier by ignoring the conditions of Amazonia and putting something of greater value in your filter. The only circumstance that would validate the use of soft acidic water is if you are attempting to breed or keep soft water fish, or the half dozen or so softwater plants. If that is the case then it's better to simply use an RO unit to produce soft water.

    Hope this clarifies.

  4. brian68

    brian68 Newly Registered

    Ok thanks for that.

    The filter I am using (Fluval external canister filter) came with ceramic rings for biological filtration, sponges for mechanical, and carbon. However I have read that carbon is likely to absorb a fair percentage of nutrients added via plant fertilizer products. Presumably I should ditch the carbon?!

    I have had a quick look at Purigen - just one question - it says it can become toxic if used with amine based slime coat products, and hence you should use their stuff. Problem is I have already been using Nutrafin 'Aquaplus' and this doesn't tell me whether it is amine based or not. If it is, will I have this problem due to previous use of such a product???

    As usual, any advice appreciated.
  5. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Aston, Oxfordshire
  6. Ray

    Ray Member

    Very interesting link Sam. Shows what we know - only add carbon as a point solution, for example to remove meds.

    I've also heard that carbon releases things it has adsorbed later. Is this another marketing department fabrication to make us change our carbon every week? Or if he had changed the water for pure water after 72 hours but kept the carbon would the concentration of trace elements have started to increase as the carbon released it?

Share This Page

Facebook Page
Twitter Page
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice