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I'm not surprised. Another thing is one doesn't need to cycle tanks with this method.
Technically, they had a jump start since none of them were being set up from scratch, but I have to have killed most of the old bacteria taking everything out to put in plenums. Especially since a lot of stuff got its first deep clean in a decade and not in tank water. But I was fully prepared to be doing water changes daily for at least a few weeks. Nothing. Water was cleaner 24 hours in than it had ever been 24 hours after a large water change. I was thinking I'd scale back feeding for a bit, instead I'm feeding more because the fish are super energetic. It's genuinely been going better than advertised.
I may need to figure out how to build a small basket to add to my 55 gallon sump.
Planter baskets with a ton of small holes in them work well and are cheap. Mine were made from either 'pencil baskets' (11.5"x5"x3.5") and plastic mesh to keep the clay in or milk crates (12"x12"x10", I only use 6" instead of the full 10" of height and it's still WAY more than needed) with the same plastic mesh fitted to the inner walls. Extra holes were drilled in the pencil baskets and milk crates to let more water flow by.
Just FYI, if you're just adding a basket to your existing filtration, you won't see much effect. The regular filter media will still produce a lot of nitrates and the baskets work primarily by pulling in ammonium directly. The drop you will see will be the ammonium the baskets get before your regular filter media gets to it. To get the full effect you have to go all in.
 

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And so it begins?
Who knows? With enough people trying and playing around with this concept... we may have just found that aquarium keeping 'unicorn' @SenorStrum was talking about!
There are two sources of Calcined Clay in the U.S. that seem to have the most promise for use in Anoxic Filtration.
  • Turface Athletics, MVP. I would sift out the fine particles to enhance water flow rate through the media.
  • 'Monto Clay' by Bonsai Jack Monto Clay – Bonsai Jack ©
(Both products are manufactured by Turface Athletics)
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And yes, I'm hoping this concept pans out successfully. Be nice to know about how large to size the baskets in relation to the size of the aquarium volume being serviced. And, basket configuration could be important as well. Hmmmm.... the easiest method to implement this thing, might be to just pack out a canister filter completely full of that Calcined Clay?
The all or nothing approach?!!
Just remember, the BCBs in your sump or canister are intended to have water channel around them, not through them. If you use the clay in the plenum, it will be drawn through, but plenums work a little differently.
I use plastic planters for my overhead sumps on my 75 (3 foot sump) and 55 (2 foot sump), they are 8" wide at the top and 5" at the base. The baskets I use are just under a foot long and 5" wide. They're raised a little to let water flow under them so they are a nice fit in the planters. The water channels all around them, but none passes by more than an inch or 2 from the baskets so they can pull in the ammonium. I used milk crates in my large sump because they took up a similar percentage of the space, forcing the water to pass close to them, but not through them. I'm 100% certain I didn't need to use this much clay, but once the pH stabilized, I think more is better, like regular media.
Baskets made out of the planter baskets that are 10"x10" at the top can supposedly support a full grown 25+" koi, which obviously are among the messiest fish ever. Dr. Novak and others using it usually size and number the baskets based on stock more so than gallons in the tank. I keep cichlids, so I went with overkill.
Oh, for clay I went to autozone and bought the stuff for cleaning up oil spills. Baked clay, just like the old fashioned kitty litter no one makes anymore. $13/33 lbs.
 

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Just remember, the BCBs in your sump or canister are intended to have water channel around them, not through them. If you use the clay in the plenum, it will be drawn through, but plenums work a little differently.
I use plastic planters for my overhead sumps on my 75 (3 foot sump) and 55 (2 foot sump), they are 8" wide at the top and 5" at the base. The baskets I use are just under a foot long and 5" wide. They're raised a little to let water flow under them so they are a nice fit in the planters. The water channels all around them, but none passes by more than an inch or 2 from the baskets so they can pull in the ammonium. I used milk crates in my large sump because they took up a similar percentage of the space, forcing the water to pass close to them, but not through them. I'm 100% certain I didn't need to use this much clay, but once the pH stabilized, I think more is better, like regular media.
Baskets made out of the planter baskets that are 10"x10" at the top can supposedly support a full grown 25+" koi, which obviously are among the messiest fish ever. Dr. Novak and others using it usually size and number the baskets based on stock more so than gallons in the tank. I keep cichlids, so I went with overkill.
Oh, for clay I went to autozone and bought the stuff for cleaning up oil spills. Baked clay, just like the old fashioned kitty litter no one makes anymore. $13/33 lbs.
When I set up the BCBS I went with the same logic. More the better. My bcb is sufficient for one adult koi. More clay is better. Noone believes me when I say I don't cycle tanks anymore. Just one good enough size bcb is good to simply dump fish in new tank ... Nothing spikes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #64 ·
Okay then....
Let's work through some technical details for your Anoxic build recommendations.
  • Water flows 'around', NOT through? (That kills the canister filter idea.....).
  • The clay-filled baskets are suspended, or just placed, down into a sump? Flow travels from one end of the sump to the other?
  • The calcined clay (media) is rinsed first (to clean dust and small particles out) and is kept fully wet throughout at least, correct?
  • Baskets must be porous to permit the water to flow around (and through outer layer of calcined clay media). It's possible that pond baskets might be ideal for this application,
Product Rectangle Material property Basket Chair

The squarish type looks especially promising, if meant for placement down into a rectangular shaped sump.
- 'ALL IN'..... Okay, that seems to be a bit of a daunting prospect! A useful compromise on that premise may be to utilize a 'fishless cycle' process, using Ammonia to dose the Anoxic-based aquarium system with first (simulating a FULL TANK BIO-LOAD). Continual testing is done to measure Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate levels in the water of the new (fishless) Anoxic-based aquarium. 'Success' of the Anoxiic filtration process in this case would be informed by ZERO Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate test readings for the aquarium system.

Anything I've missed?
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NOTE: The Anoxic based filtration process may 'only' be useful for providing filtration to replace traditional 'biological' type filter processes. The big 'draw' to this system, is the complete Nitrogen cycle it potentially offers, in removal of those pesky Nitrates. The inevitable buildup of Phosphates and potential harmful bacteria to the tank (caused by fish waste or uneaten food) would still have to be removed by either water changes or live, aquatic plants.
 

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Okay then....
Let's work through some technical details for your Anoxic build recommendations.
  • Water flows 'around', NOT through? (That kills the canister filter idea.....). on it.
  • The clay-filled baskets are suspended, or just placed, down into a sump? Flow travels from one end of the sump to the other?
  • The calcined clay (media) is rinsed first (to clean dust and small particles out) and is kept fully wet throughout at least, correct?
  • Baskets must be porous to permit the water to flow around (and through outer layer of calcined clay media). It's possible that pond baskets might be ideal for this application.
View attachment 142786
The squarish type looks especially promising, if meant for placement down into a rectangular shaped sump.Squarish baskets are best for most SUMPs.
- 'ALL IN'..... Okay, that seems to be a bit of a daunting prospect! A useful compromise on that premise may be to utilize a 'fishless cycle' process, using Ammonia to dose the Anoxic-based aquarium system with first (simulating a FULL TANK BIO-LOAD). Continual testing is done to measure Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate levels in the water of the new (fishless) Anoxic-based aquarium. 'Success' of the Anoxiic filtration process in this case would be informed by ZERO Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate test readings for the aquarium system.

Anything I've missed?
NOTE: The Anoxic based filtration process may 'only' be useful for providing filtration to replace traditional 'biological' type filter processes. The big 'draw' to this system, is the complete Nitrogen cycle it potentially offers, in removal of those pesky Nitrates. The inevitable buildup of Phosphates and potential harmful bacteria to the tank (caused by fish waste or uneaten food) would still have to be removed by either water changes or live, aquatic plants.
The inventors has said when the baskets mature they start using phosphates also.
No. Round BCBs and be made with craft mesh for cylindrical canisters. Dr. Novak has a video. This involves more work as the basket needs to be sewed by hobbyist.
Yes. Baskets are set in a way that water flows around it including the bottom. Once can use something to suspend it. Spacers.
One can rinse the clay it but it is not critical. Water clears itself fast. I cleaned clay though. 5/10 times water rinsing.
Fishless cycle or any cycle is not needed. I know you won't believe me.
 

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And so it begins?
Who knows? With enough people trying and playing around with this concept... we may have just found that aquarium keeping 'unicorn' @SenorStrum was talking about!
There are two sources of Calcined Clay in the U.S. that seem to have the most promise for use in Anoxic Filtration.
  • Turface Athletics, MVP. I would sift out the fine particles to enhance water flow rate through the media.
  • 'Monto Clay' by Bonsai Jack Monto Clay – Bonsai Jack ©
(Both products are manufactured by Turface Athletics)
-
And yes, I'm hoping this concept pans out successfully. Be nice to know about how large to size the baskets in relation to the size of the aquarium volume being serviced. And, basket configuration could be important as well. Hmmmm.... the easiest method to implement this thing, might be to just pack out a canister filter completely full of that Calcined Clay?
The all or nothing approach?!!
Yes bigger baskets have better results. A 30cmx30cmx20cm basket is good foe one adult koi! Hobbyists should go with the biggest BCB they can fit it and fastest possible water flow around it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #67 ·
Hah!
Fishless cycle or any cycle is not needed. I know you won't believe me.
My good man, let's not pee on each other's legs and disclaim, 'It's Raining!' :LOL:
Or, as they say.... 'TRUST - BUT VERIFY'.
And no, this will NOT be a 'Fish Less Cycle' for the newly installed Anoxic Filtration System.
Nope.
This will be a full blown, Ammonia-dosed and driven - TEST - of this new concept. Something done in 'Due Diligence' before ultimately committing what may be some very valuable fish to the care & keeping of this (still unproven) filtration process. That is... good technical science, right?
 

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Okay then....
Let's work through some technical details for your Anoxic build recommendations.
  • Water flows 'around', NOT through? (That kills the canister filter idea.....).
  • The clay-filled baskets are suspended, or just placed, down into a sump? Flow travels from one end of the sump to the other?
  • The calcined clay (media) is rinsed first (to clean dust and small particles out) and is kept fully wet throughout at least, correct?
  • Baskets must be porous to permit the water to flow around (and through outer layer of calcined clay media). It's possible that pond baskets might be ideal for this application,
View attachment 142786
The squarish type looks especially promising, if meant for placement down into a rectangular shaped sump.
- 'ALL IN'..... Okay, that seems to be a bit of a daunting prospect! A useful compromise on that premise may be to utilize a 'fishless cycle' process, using Ammonia to dose the Anoxic-based aquarium system with first (simulating a FULL TANK BIO-LOAD). Continual testing is done to measure Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate levels in the water of the new (fishless) Anoxic-based aquarium. 'Success' of the Anoxiic filtration process in this case would be informed by ZERO Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate test readings for the aquarium system.

Anything I've missed?
-
NOTE: The Anoxic based filtration process may 'only' be useful for providing filtration to replace traditional 'biological' type filter processes. The big 'draw' to this system, is the complete Nitrogen cycle it potentially offers, in removal of those pesky Nitrates. The inevitable buildup of Phosphates and potential harmful bacteria to the tank (caused by fish waste or uneaten food) would still have to be removed by either water changes or live, aquatic plants.
You can use them in a canister. For a canister you load up a fine mesh filter bag with kitty litter and some iron source, you just put it in the canister loose. If you have trays in your canister, you just put in a bag where the water has space to channel around the bag in the compartment, i.e., make the bag to fill about half the space in the tray/compartment. If you use an 'empty' canister like an old eheim, you just load the bag with empty space around it (you can also make a cylindrical mesh basket, but a bag is easier). Dr. Novak has videos on using BCBs in canisters.
Those planter baskets would work well for use in the sump.
Yeah, it was scary taking out functioning biomedia, but my fish were in the tank and barely noticed. The clay will absorb the ammonium in the tank regardless if the bacteria has cycled yet, so you can dose, but you're just gonna see no ammonia in the tank 24 hours after dosing. My 3 smaller tanks have only been converted a couple weeks, so I'm sure the BCBs and plenums aren't fully cycled yet, but they still aren't showing any reading for ammonia, nitrite or nitrate with their full stock in the tanks (I'm testing every day in case the BCBs get overloaded before the bacteria can propagate, but haven't seen any issues yet on any of the tanks).
If you're still nervous to try since we all just started (completely understandable, I'm still nervous every morning waiting for something to go wrong), I'll be happy to keep updating the thread for a while. My 135 has been functioning perfectly for a few months, but my other 3 tanks the experiment just started.
 

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Hah!

My good man, let's not pee on each other's legs and disclaim, 'It's Raining!' :LOL:
Or, as they say.... 'TRUST - BUT VERIFY'.
And no, this will NOT be a 'Fish Less Cycle' for the newly installed Anoxic Filtration System.
Nope.
This will be a full blown, Ammonia-dosed and driven - TEST - of this new concept. Something done in 'Due Diligence' before ultimately committing what may be some very valuable fish to the care & keeping of this (still unproven) filtration process. That is... good technical science, right?
Okay :) A test with ammonia will be perfect. Fishless cycle, if you use big enough BCB you may see 8ppm ammonia reduction to 0 in 48 hours. PFA pics of ammonia reduction with around 50g water and 8 lbs of Oil-dri in 2 baskets. This blew me away really.
 

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Discussion Starter · #72 ·
Excellent!
I am personally looking to establish some things with this upcoming test. As follows,
1) Does the Anoxic Filtration process.... work? That is, will a (completely empty) aquarium with absolutely Zero Biologcal media (or aquatic plants) supporting it, convert a measured dose of Ammonia over to a zero PPM level of measured Ammonia, Nitrite AND Nitrate - using Anoxic Filtration? . That is, a Full Nitrogen Conversion process?
2) IF the Anoxic process demonstrates a successful, Full Nitrogen Conversion process? Then it will be time to scale it up. That is.... HOW MUCH Calcined Clay media is required to successfully process various (precisely measured) amounts of dosed Ammonia?
3) Plus, as @Aussieman57 so capably pointed out - what PH and general water hardness effects can be expected for the aquarium when using Anoxic Filtration (sole source) for it?
4) Does the natural PH and water hardness chemistry values (Tap Water source) affect the Anoxic Filtration process? If so, what exactly ARE those effects?
5) And lastly... IF the process works? Check for efficiencies in using different Calcined Clay media types. Size and origin? For example, could there be a difference in naturally (volcanic) produced Calcined Clay as in the Japanese Akadama soil type vs.fired/manufactured Calcine Clay (Kitty Litter or Turface MVP/Monto Clay)? Does the Particle Size of the Calcined Clay media matter? Measure greater or lesser efficiencies of these effects on the process, etc....
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So, it's coming. And of course, I'll document this testing process here on C-F with both text and photos. :)
 

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This will be a full blown, Ammonia-dosed and driven - TEST - of this new concept. Something done in 'Due Diligence' before ultimately committing what may be some very valuable fish to the care & keeping of this (still unproven) filtration process. That is... good technical science, right?
Fantastic! Lately i was thinking of asking if a few more of us would try this. I'm happy to help in any way i can.
 

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Just FYI, if you're just adding a basket to your existing filtration, you won't see much effect. The regular filter media will still produce a lot of nitrates and the baskets work primarily by pulling in ammonium directly. The drop you will see will be the ammonium the baskets get before your regular filter media gets to it. To get the full effect you have to go all in.
I did that to gradually switch my tank over, and yes when i took the last step to remove all aerobic media, that was when Nitrates eventually dropped to zero. However after 10 weeks with all my aerobic media + anoxic media i was only producing about half the nitrates i would have without the anoxic media.
 

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Rockefella: How has this system affected the amount & frequency of your water changes?
Well.. I feel lucky to stumble upon this system last year and I got back into this hobby after 20 years so I can't tell you what difference it made as I never really used "other" media in my main tanks. I do 30/ 50% water change weekly anyway but the water is never cloudy, I just do it anyway. I can tell you many hobbyists have reduced water changes for sure. I have been following Dr. Novak's system in many forums and his own channel. Less frequent water changes seems to be a common + of this system along with other pros.
 

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There is lots of information our there from Dr. Novak, mostly in the form of successful examples, but i find it lacks a scientific approach to the evidence. Even so, after watching many of his videos, and eventually contacting him by email, i find his examples are convincing. Syd Mitchell's guide is very good, but it's mainly about ponds, and it would be great to have something similar for aquarium hobbyists to follow.

Syd Michell's guide -> Building an anoxic system
 
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