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Yeah, I'm happy with the base, as it's almost a substrate free tank. As a anoxic filtration concept it also works very well. I'm finding the downside is it being a bit too restrictive having to hide the baskets, so I'm considering this a work in progress for now. I may end up going with your overhead sump idea, or else repackaging the BCBs in different size/shape containers.
19mm ply blocks holds everything on top. This is the only thing that sits on vertical panes without touching the braces.

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I have tested anoxic filtration in 2 forms in 2005-2010.
Form one was improvised canister filter with udersized basket filled with expanded clay aggregate (poor man's bio media). 10l total and 6l media capacities if I remember right with flow rate of 150l/h.
Took a month to kick in, and a 5h power cut to kill whole tank. I was at work, came back to all fish dead and hint of sewage smell.
Ammonia level was off the scale too.

Form 2 was 120x20x20cm(lxwd) "sump" filled with same media to 15cm and water flowing on top.
Worked well, and simulated 8h power cut didn't turn it into anaerobic killzone. But stopped working after 18 months.

Converted it to bottom flow wicking hydroponics and grew devils ivy(pothos) and lettuce. Tank required nitrate free fertiliser after 4-6 months. This run stable for 2+years. With 3 Oscars, gibbiceps, pangae catfish and armatulus my nitrate grew 10ppm a month in the summer and 20-25 ppm in the winter. Grow lamp for the plants would improve that.
 

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I have tested anoxic filtration in 2 forms in 2005-2010.
Form one was improvised canister filter with udersized basket filled with expanded clay aggregate (poor man's bio media). 10l total and 6l media capacities if I remember right with flow rate of 150l/h.
Took a month to kick in, and a 5h power cut to kill whole tank. I was at work, came back to all fish dead and hint of sewage smell.
Ammonia level was off the scale too.

Form 2 was 120x20x20cm(lxwd) "sump" filled with same media to 15cm and water flowing on top.
Worked well, and simulated 8h power cut didn't turn it into anaerobic killzone. But stopped working after 18 months.

Converted it to bottom flow wicking hydroponics and grew devils ivy(pothos) and lettuce. Tank required nitrate free fertiliser after 4-6 months. This run stable for 2+years. With 3 Oscars, gibbiceps, pangae catfish and armatulus my nitrate grew 10ppm a month in the summer and 20-25 ppm in the winter. Grow lamp for the plants would improve that.
LECA is not recommended for AFS + your flow rate of 150l/h sounds way too slow. YDNDIT. (You did not do it right) :)
 

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LECA is not recommended for AFS + your flow rate of 150l/h sounds way too slow. YDNDIT. (You did not do it right) :)
That was before anyone heard of "PhD"* Novak, at least in Poland. General consensus was normal bio media and flow 1/3 tank volume.
If Novak's claims of 20year old media are true my failure was due to iron shortage in anoxic zone. Iron and whatever else trace elements are in laterite could prolong bacteria colony life beyond 18months in my experiments.
I'm disappointed that Auballagh didn't include laterite in his test.

*I can't find any peer reviewed publications of Mr Novak's work, which would be required for PhD. Given huge following, my own tests and amount of voices confirming his method. I'm saying he might be onto something, but his PhD is questionable. You can try to contact him for peer reviewed publications link, expect abuse and lawsuit threats.
 

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Discussion Starter · #226 ·
Oh, I hear you @Sasquatchv - I've definitely got a few doubts about this thing myself! Which (despite all of the positive hyperbole going into this thing) is why I've decided to put this thing to, The Test - and have involved NO living things whatsoever in this test process.
And trust me on this - I have NO agenda or any intention of 'leading the witness' or any other such thing. And, if this Anoxic Filtration process ultimately fails in my little test? So be it!
And yes, as 'pure' and simple as I could make it, The Test will be purely about that FIRED CALCINED CLAY and it's effects on removing Ammonia from the water of the aquarium system.
As for the Laterite vs. Turface thing? I got curious and did some research on the actual composition of the Turface I'm using.
Turface composition,
  • Silicon dioxide: 74.0%
  • Aluminum oxide: 11.0%
  • Iron oxide: 5.0%

Laterite composition, has widely varying Iron proportions in its composition due to locality specific sourcing.
But Laterite will also source out primarily as Silicon dioxide, aluminum hydroxide and ferric hydroxide, with trace amounts of manganese. So Laterite probably/usually has a higher Iron percentage in it's composition (esp. the 'Aqualat' that @Aussieman57 is using and recommended). But, with the exception of the different Iron percentages found in various localities when sourcing the Laterite, both sources of FIRED CALCINED CLAY have virtually the same components as each other
 

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That was before anyone heard of "PhD"* Novak, at least in Poland. General consensus was normal bio media and flow 1/3 tank volume.
I'm disappointed that Auballagh didn't include laterite in his test.

*I can't find any peer reviewed publications of Mr Novak's work, which would be required for PhD. Given huge following, my own tests and amount of voices confirming his method. I'm saying he might be onto something, but his PhD is questionable. You can try to contact him for peer reviewed publications link, expect abuse and lawsuit threats.
Please help me understand why you are questioning the validity of his doctorate degree.
"You can try to contact him for peer reviewed publications link, expect abuse and lawsuit threats." I have spoken to him before, specifically about the AquaLat products which I introduced him to. he was very cordial, informative and receptive to new ideas. Not sure why you would brand him as litigious just because you can't find peer reviews of his work.
 

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Oh, I hear you @Sasquatchv - I've definitely got a few doubts about this thing myself! Which (despite all of the positive hyperbole going into this thing) is why I've decided to put this thing to, The Test - and have involved NO living things whatsoever in this test process.
And trust me on this - I have NO agenda or any intention of 'leading the witness' or any other such thing. And, if this thing ultimately fails in my little test? So be it!
And yes, as 'pure' and simple as I could make it, The Test will be purely about that FIRED CALCINED CLAY and it's effects on removing Ammonia from the water of the aquarium system.
As for the Laterite vs. Turface thing? I got curious and did some research on the actual composition of the Turface I'm using.
Turface composition,
  • Silicon dioxide: 74.0%
  • Aluminum oxide: 11.0%
  • Iron oxide: 5.0%

Laterite composition, has widely varying Iron proportions in its composition due to locality specific sourcing.
But Laterite will also source out primarily as Silicon dioxide, aluminum hydroxide and ferric hydroxide, with trace amounts of manganese. So Laterite probably/usually has a higher Iron percentage in it's composition (esp. the 'Aqualat' that @Aussieman57 is using and recommended). But, with the exception of the different Iron percentages found in various localities when sourcing the Laterite, both sources of FIRED CALCINED CLAY have virtually the same components as each other
You should include the laterite in this testing. Put it together the way it was designed to see how it actually works. Just my 2 cents.
 

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Oh, I hear you @Sasquatchv - I've definitely got a few doubts about this thing myself! Which (despite all of the positive hyperbole going into this thing) is why I've decided to put this thing to, The Test - and have involved NO living things whatsoever in this test process.
And trust me on this - I have NO agenda or any intention of 'leading the witness' or any other such thing. And, if this thing ultimately fails in my little test? So be it!
And yes, as 'pure' and simple as I could make it, The Test will be purely about that FIRED CALCINED CLAY and it's effects on removing Ammonia from the water of the aquarium system.
As for the Laterite vs. Turface thing? I got curious and did some research on the actual composition of the Turface I'm using.
Turface composition,
  • Silicon dioxide: 74.0%
  • Aluminum oxide: 11.0%
  • Iron oxide: 5.0%

Laterite composition, has widely varying Iron proportions in its composition due to locality specific sourcing.
But Laterite will also source out primarily as Silicon dioxide, aluminum hydroxide and ferric hydroxide, with trace amounts of manganese. So Laterite probably/usually has a higher Iron percentage in it's composition (esp. the 'Aqualat' that @Aussieman57 is using and recommended). But, with the exception of the different Iron percentages found in various localities when sourcing the Laterite, both sources of FIRED CALCINED CLAY have virtually the same components as each other
Great research on your part. Can't wait to se the test results.

@Aussieman57 Auballagh in his post presented more sientific approach and methology than I could find in 6h of mr Novak's videos. His painfully non specific videos made me try and look for some proper papers in hope they would have more "texture" to them. I'm not the only one who got quite angry response from him for simply asking for publications other than his own book to cite him in uni/college project.
 

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Discussion Starter · #230 ·
Okay. @Aussieman57 I can see that point. And yes, maybe is IS the higher Iron content in the Laterite that enables the Anoxic Filtration process?
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So, let's run this thing out first with the Turface and see where it goes. Good? Bad? Indifferent? We'll have to see how that stuff actually stacks up. And then, a follow up comparison type test?
Sure! Why not?
And well.... it looks I'll be getting some bags of that Aqualat you recommended after all. Jeeeze.... ($$$) how many bags of Aqualat do you think I'm gonna need to fill up all four of those pond baskets with that stuff?
 
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Why not scale down to one basket? Besides laterite should go only in the centre of the basket, surrounded by hydrous aluminum silicate calcined clay like calcium bentonite (cat litter).
Novak's method mentions ammonia kations attraction by the clay.
Bentonite clay(Montmorillonite) carries negative ionic charge. That would fit in the Novak's theorum, but(there's always one)
Clay firing or caciniation at too high temperature removes all OH groups from the clay giving us clay more stable in water used as non clumping cat litter and turface(and bonsai substrate).
Big BUT is that calcination besides reducing absorbtion capability it also balances ionic charge of the clay negating ionic attraction of ammonia.
I do belive cat litter is calcined at lower temperature to get product that is not clumping with maximum possible fluids absorpion leaving some negative charge.
Turface and similiat products if fired at higher temperatures and/or for longer may be completely ionic charge free and unsuitable for anoxic process.

Unless we forget aionic attroaction of the clay and stick to good old ion dispersion laws and stick to: "anoxic bacteria needs iron from laterite to thrive". In which case iron rich turface will work just as good.
 

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I'm gonna be honest, my biggest hesitations with trying this system were Dr. Novak and his communication skills. His videos tend to ramble, he doesn't always come back to the actual point and he skips details. He is very friendly when asking advice or discussing experiments, but I have heard stories of him biting people's heads off when challenged. I was also put off as a fan when he went after Cory from Aquarium Co-Op for basically nothing (I'm still seeing response videos, as recently as this morning from KGTropicals, for that one). He's also a bit of a crank when he gets onto topics he's not an expert in.
All that said, the reason I was willing to try this is because it utilizes the exact same equipment as 'tradtional' filtration. Converting back would be very simple, though I have no plans to do so now, as Dr. Novak's system is working very well for me. But also, because it's basically regular filtration with different media, I don't think this system is any more susceptible to total collapse than traditional systems either. The BCBs provide less surface area for aerobic BB sure, but you're still going to have a huge colony as is present in any 'normal' tank (not to mention the sponges or whatever you're using for mechanical before the BCBs). If that collapses, it's not because of the AFS, something else is wrong. Even if the clay didn't attract and take in ammonium (it does, but let's say it stops at some point) you're just using your filter space a little less efficiently than normal for aerobic BB. But there is nothing here that will 'collapse' and cause ammonia spikes any more readily than regular media. The anoxic bacteria could all die and you'd just see the return of nitrates, not ammonia. Plenums don't even lose that surface area efficiency and you can simply up the flow if it's not working for anoxic and you want to utilize it as a regular UGF. In my experience, it works, but it has been less than a year still and I do still check water parameters regularly to make sure everything is stable. If I ever do have some sort of collapse, this thread will be updated immediately.
 

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@neverenoughtanks I would have to agree, and I also read that there was some negative history with an old YT channel he had. But in my working life, as i get older, I learned it's best not to discount an idea just because the person isn't presenting their idea in the way I want to hear it. Anoxic filtration will work or not work despite whatever Dr Novak or anyone else says about it.

@Auballagh I also think a proper test has to include the use of an iron source. I don't think you will get meaningful nitrate reduction without it, except for the initial absorption of ammonia from the clay. After it's saturated i don't think it will take any more in, and at that point it will start to function in a similar way to normal aerobic media.
 

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Great research on your part. Can't wait to se the test results.

@Aussieman57 Auballagh in his post presented more sientific approach and methology than I could find in 6h of mr Novak's videos. His painfully non specific videos made me try and look for some proper papers in hope they would have more "texture" to them. I'm not the only one who got quite angry response from him for simply asking for publications other than his own book to cite him in uni/college project.
Well, looking into this I feel I owe you an apology. I didn't realize that he had lashed out at people for challenging his methodology. The BCB bags I've employed in my sump are working well. Even though it may be too early for the anaerobes to be eating nitrates, my nitrate levels in my 125 gallon are down to 5ppm. Previously I could never get this tank below 20ppm. My theory is that the BCB is absorbing so much ammonia that few nitrates are being produced.
 

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I'm gonna be honest, my biggest hesitations with trying this system were Dr. Novak and his communication skills. His videos tend to ramble, he doesn't always come back to the actual point and he skips details. He is very friendly when asking advice or discussing experiments, but I have heard stories of him biting people's heads off when challenged. I was also put off as a fan when he went after Cory from Aquarium Co-Op for basically nothing (I'm still seeing response videos, as recently as this morning from KGTropicals, for that one). He's also a bit of a crank when he gets onto topics he's not an expert in.
All that said, the reason I was willing to try this is because it utilizes the exact same equipment as 'tradtional' filtration. Converting back would be very simple, though I have no plans to do so now, as Dr. Novak's system is working very well for me. But also, because it's basically regular filtration with different media, I don't think this system is any more susceptible to total collapse than traditional systems either. The BCBs provide less surface area for aerobic BB sure, but you're still going to have a huge colony as is present in any 'normal' tank (not to mention the sponges or whatever you're using for mechanical before the BCBs). If that collapses, it's not because of the AFS, something else is wrong. Even if the clay didn't attract and take in ammonium (it does, but let's say it stops at some point) you're just using your filter space a little less efficiently than normal for aerobic BB. But there is nothing here that will 'collapse' and cause ammonia spikes any more readily than regular media. The anoxic bacteria could all die and you'd just see the return of nitrates, not ammonia. Plenums don't even lose that surface area efficiency and you can simply up the flow if it's not working for anoxic and you want to utilize it as a regular UGF. In my experience, it works, but it has been less than a year still and I do still check water parameters regularly to make sure everything is stable. If I ever do have some sort of collapse, this thread will be updated immediately.
He's never been rude to me and has replied to almost all my naive emails regularly. I've seen posts of him in old threads dating back to 2007 in forums willing to send free cds to people across the globe for free. Many have stated their bcbs stopped working after 2 years. Even if the clay stops working after 1/2 years I will probably just replace clay. A friend of mine has a barbeque set. I'll buy clumping bentonite cat litter and try to roast it for regular cheap supply of "fired clay". Another thing I've noticed is no ghastly smell in any of my tanks and no white sticky slime anywhere in the tanks with this system and the best part: No tank cycling needed lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #237 ·
Hmmmm.... The Iron/Laterite thing.
I think we need 100 grams of laterite each in those baskets of yours
Okay. As big as those pond baskets are that I'm using for this, that would be a very partial amount of media indeed. So, do you recommend just mixing in 100 grams+ (at least) of the Laterite based stuff with the Turface?
Ideally, so we can see the results of a real Turface vs. Laterite comparison, I'd like to just use pure Laterite in those big Pond Baskets for the next planned test run. But, depending on just how expensive this 'Aqualat' stuff is ($$$) I may be mixing it in with Turface to fill those pond baskets up completely with media.
 
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Hmmmm.... The Iron/Laterite thing.
Okay. As big as those pond baskets are that I'm using for this, that would be a very partial amount of media indeed. So, do you recommend just mixing in 100 grams+ (at least) of the Laterite based stuff with the Turface?
Ideally, so we can see the results of a real Turface vs. Laterite comparison, I'd like to just use pure Laterite in those big Pond Baskets for the next planned test run. But, depending on just how expensive this 'Aqualat' stuff is ($$$) I may be mixing it in with Turface to fill those pond baskets up completely with media.
Sorry I was wrong. Recommended laterite for 30cm x 30cm x 20cm basket : 400 grams. I guess you will need 200 grams per your basket as you have round ones. My initial bcbs were set without laterite. I now have JBL Florapol (Iron fert) never got hold of laterite. How long do you intend to run those test baskets? It may take months for it to do nitrate reduction.
 

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Rockfella you need to bake it above 450 Celsius, will barbecue go that high?
Electric motor rewind companies tend to have burn off ovens that go up to 800C.
At this point spillage absorbent may be better option than baking clumping litter.
I have tried a lot I can't find clay based industrial absorbents online in my country India. I am sure it is available here offline. I got 4 bags of Oil-Dri 8lbs for $35 each thinking it as a one time fish hobby investment lol. I will try whatever I can. Thanks for the inputs :)
 
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