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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

Ok so was told need to over filtrate my cichlid tank. I'm sure most people with Africans would agree this is the thing to do right? Over the past half year I realized that no matter how much filtration I have I will never get rid of nitrates unless I do more water changes. So since I now need to change 50 percent water once a week to keep my nitrates down to an acceptable range. Why then do I need to over filtrate my tank and how does it help? Also one of my filters broke down and was worried things were going to get bad in my tank. To my surprize I have been finding my numbers just as good with the less filtration, since I need to do water changes once a week anyway to keep nitrates down. Just thought I would ask what you think about over filtering your tank and the reason you are doing it or not? This has been a learning process for me as been told if I had extra filtration I could go longer between water changes.(I was all for less water changes:). Now I feel not necessary to over filtrate. Any thoughts, maybe I'm wrong? Do I need to go out and get another filter?

Thanks
 

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what size tank and how stocked is your tank. what type of filters are you running? I have a 72g bowfront with about 13 cichlids a small pleco anda huge rhino pleco. i had a 110 aquaclear and a canister running, the canister it is said is a nitrate factory. I stopped using it when it needed cleaning (had it running for about 5years). I have a spongefilter though which provides water movement and keep the water level a bit low so lots of surface aggitation from the aquaclear. I do only top ups and a couple decent water changes a month and my stock is fine. I stopped checking perimeters a long time ago. when i change the water i do about 1/3 I have been told you shouldnt change more than 5 inches. moral of my story is if your fish have lots of water movement, the other readings r in range that nitrates arent really harmful as i get them from the well water anyway. i would say keep 2 going anyway because you might need to set up an emergency tank or if you r like me set up tanks for impulse buying. I dont vacuum my sand so lots of floaties at feeding time and such but the fish are healthy. just my opinion
 

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Not sure what you consider over filtration.

Most filtration I am aware works to supply water movement / surface agitation - dissolved air for oxygen, mechanical water polishing - particulates and breakdown of bio-solids, control of ammonia. There are filter systems that help with nitrates i.e. sumps with hydro-ponic plant growth but they are less common.

The breakdown of ammonia happens aerobically, that's what your filters were handling as bio-solids and extra food is broken down. Nitrate breakdown is an anaerobic process so unless you are using a special filter media in your filters that promotes that anaerobic bacterial process, water changes are really effective - eliminates it instantly especially from our Lower Mainland reservoir source.

I have kept African tanks for a number of years, bred a number of species and this set-up has worked well for me.

1) Cycled the water through my filters at 10x the water volume of each tank per / hr. when filters are at peak efficiency

2) Used 2 filters a canister and a HOB, sometimes I add a sponge filter but not always

3) Kept the fish bio-load around 15 cm (6") of fish for every 10 l (3 gal) of water.

4) Used bio-active Carib sand subtrate - this was a huge improvement a few years ago when I started using it

This arrangement has worked well for me for years. The only thing I have added is power flow units to create current and reduce dead spots.

Hope this helps, I am sure there will be a number of other opinions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ok thanks guys, thats alot of good info will re read a few times to absorb it all. My tank is 125g and is stocked with 30 assorted africans. At moment have xp3 and AC 110, was also running fluval 404 too but it started leaking a little and don't trust it. I also have wavemaker for more agitation and to prevent dead spots. Do you think I need to add another filter as right now would be a good time to get one with all the sales going on? Everything is good with my schedule of once a week water changes and everyone is healthy. Nitrates do seem to climb more then I like tho but its manageable.
 

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Add some hydroton to your filters and the clay balls will eventually house the anaerobic nitrate-consuming bacteria to help reduce your nitrates.

I would not consider a med. canister and a lg HOB filter to be anywhere close to being overfiltered for a tank that size with large cichlids. I had 3 canisters & 3 HOB on a 65g overstocked community planted tank, which was overfiltered but I like it that way.

Anthony
 

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I agree the more bio-breakdown between water changes the better. As I said my aim is have at least 10 x of the tank volume of filtered each hour.

I have just started using Hydroton thanks to Anthony's suggestion, I think it's a great product and very economical too. In particular the type I purchased @ Jon's Plant Factory in Burnaby is small and spherical which means lots of surface area. I started using much more expensive Biohome Ultra 2 months ago after some research and when I found AngelFins was importing it. It's another media that works on 3 forms of ammonia and I like the results from it as well.

Hydroton is clay based, Biohome is cinder glass. Hydroton floats, Biohome does not. I am mixing them both in all my canister and HOB filters. I also use open cell sponges to capture detritus and breakdown bio-solids before flowing through the media to make it as efficient as possible.

Thanks for the original post to this thread, it's great information for everyone.
 
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I agree the more bio-breakdown between water changes the better. As I said my aim is have at least 10 x of the tank volume of filtered each hour.

I have just started using Hydroton thanks to Anthony's suggestion, I think it's a great product and very economical too. In particular the type I purchased @ Jon's Plant Factory in Burnaby is small and spherical which means lots of surface area. I started using much more expensive Biohome Ultra 2 months ago after some research and when I found AngelFins was importing it. It's another media that works on 3 forms of ammonia and I like the results from it as well.

Hydroton is clay based, Biohome is cinder glass. Hydroton floats, Biohome does not. I am mixing them both in all my canister and HOB filters. I also use open cell sponges to capture detritus and breakdown bio-solids before flowing through the media to make it as efficient as possible.

Thanks for the original post to this thread, it's great information for everyone.
I overfilter, but since I need flow, I might as well get some filtration from water movement too. Also serves as a backup just in case one system crashes and at least you'll have some biomedia to help things along.

Seachem Matrix made claims about nitrate reduction, but I didn't notice much difference. Still needed to do just as much water changes to keep numbers in check.

Only question that I have is mixing Hydroton with Biohome - how would you be able to tell which product was more efficient in removing nitrates? Did you noticed much reduction in nitrates using Biohome prior to adding Hydroton?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You guys are way smarter then me lol must have been really good in science class I'm guessing.:) Ok so from what I gathered I think good idea to add another filter just to be safe side and also incase one goes down. I'm not convinced I need it with once a week water changes, but if I can control nitrates and go longer between water changes then great. Bought another Xp3 and will fill it up with hydroton to see if it help control nitrates and hopefully I can extend my water changes up to 2 weeks possibly. Will let you know if I think it helping. Thanks so much for your expertise all! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
 

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I'm not a fan of canister filters, even though I'm using 3 of them. Just a pain to service compared to an HOB like Aquaclear and a good ol' fashioned sponge filter. Like someone else mentioned, canisters can be a nitrate factory, but maybe loaded with Hydroton...? Let us know how you do with them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
oh ya thats right nitrate factory.. kinda missed that was thinking he meant a particular kind. So is that what most people think about canister filters? Nitrate factory? I like my XP3 it seems pretty good hope its not cause of higher nitrates. I find my AC 110 can't handle sand compared to my canister(fish are always kicking it up and it gets sucked into filter).
 

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Our salt water friends do not like canisters for that very reason. If you clean out your canisters fairly often like monthly, that would help. Try a pre filter on your AC110, it would with the sand issue.
 

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Canister filters with hydroton will remove, not create, nitrates. Set up with standard media (floss/pads, bioballs, etc.) and yeah, its a nitrate factory.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ok seahorse fanatic please can you tell me how to set it up the best? I just put hydroton in every basket and no filter pads? Just tested nitrates again not happy with readings. Its only been 5 days since last water change.
 

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With Hydroton and Biohome like any media it's got to be cycled to establish bacterial colonies, this should be done before hooking it up to your tank. Biohome is even sold with an innocultaing bacteria gel packs to speed the process but I have found it takes a good week or more to get the bacterial colonies well established I use a 20 l (5 gallon) bucket like an active sump to get new filter media ready.

SeaHorse_Fanatic has more experience with Hydroton than I have but I think you can put it in each basket however I think it's also important to get the water as physically clean as possible before passing through any media this helps the bacteria do their job without getting clogged up with debris.

To do this

1. I use pre-filters, which are good for a number of reasons. I have bought some great Filter Max kits that adapt to the intake of Aquaclear HOB filters and many others nicey with lots of volume and large intake foams so they don't clog quickly

2. From there the water is filtered through foam media inside the filter box and water polishing pad before the Biohome and/or Hydroton in my HOB, canister and DIY combo filters. I have been buying the generic pond foam with undulating surface for greater surface area and filter pads on-line and cutting them to size and converting all my HOB, canister and DIY combo filters. The foam and pads last forever ... really saves on expensive accessories.

Do I know which is more efficient Biohome or Hydroton? No. I have not tested this or controlled for this. My guess is comparing both is that Biohome probably has superior surface area for aerobic bacteria that breaks down ammonia and nitrite but has less of the dense core for anaerobic bacteria to colonize and is required to keep these bacteria away from oxygen that will kill it, so I think this makes Biohome potentially less efficient than Hydroton for nitrate breakdown.

I have also started to put Biohome and Hydroton media into the centre core of foam filters when I can ... can't get much in there but I am going with the assumption that something is better than nothing. The small sphere size of the Hydroton I purchased helps in this application as well.

Here are some things to consider with both these media

1. Hydroton is about 5x cheaper than Biohome and available locally
2. Both media like the ceramic media sold with AquaClear and Fluval canister filters is pretty tough and will last a LONG time
3. The cinder glass matrix of the Biohome will probably last longer than Hydrton's clay matrix but I have not tested this

Since they function the same way but have slighyly different properties that's why I mix them and usually put them in filter bags for easy rinsing when necessary.

Hope this helps ... as stated above always lots to learn, and test out, makes this a great hobby
 
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