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I like it. I would actually say give the bags a little gap (maybe half an inch to an inch) between each other as much as you can. If they're going to be in separate bags might as well take advantage of the surface area on them and let the water channel between them and around them all. Gives them more opportunity to draw in the ammonium.
I though we decided to pack them closer together so water would not flow thru the bags to give anoxic area a better place.
 

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@Aussieman57 No use keeping that sponge after the bags, You may remove it OR keep it in before the bags.
Can't pull that sponge yet. It literally forms the wall that is holding in foam cubes that is part of this filter. Also if I put the sponge before the bags all the denitrifiers in the sponge will convert ammonia. I thought the goal was to give these bags first exposure to the ammonia?
 

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I though we decided to pack them closer together so water would not flow thru the bags to give anoxic area a better place.
The 'anoxic zone' will be in the center of each individual bag eventually. Pushing them together isn't going to make one large BCB. It's still a bunch of separate ones. The more surface area of each bag that touches the water channeling around them will give the BCBs more opportunity to pull ammonium. You could create one very large BCB in that space which would probably work really well, but with the bags, I'd leave just a small gap between each. Honestly, if there is enough clay to handle the system, it's not going to make or break the system. But when Dr. Novak sets up sumps with multiple BCBs in them, there is space between them for water to flow.
 

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Can't pull that sponge yet. It literally forms the wall that is holding in foam cubes that is part of this filter. Also if I put the sponge before the bags all the denitrifiers in the sponge will convert ammonia. I thought the goal was to give these bags first exposure to the ammonia?
I agree with not putting the sponge before the clay since you have the socks for mechanical. I do think you could pull the sponges and be fine, but I also understand if you want to get more BCBs in there first.
 

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Also
I like it. I would actually say give the bags a little gap (maybe half an inch to an inch) between each other as much as you can. If they're going to be in separate bags might as well take advantage of the surface area on them and let the water channel between them and around them all. Gives them more opportunity to draw in the ammonium.
I wrapped cable ties around my bags to hold them tightly together, but it gave me the added benefit of water being able to flow underneath the bag more easily.

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So you used cable ties to hold multiple bags together??
No, i just wrapped the individual bags to hold them tight. I originally did that because some bags were only partly full. But I found that the ties pulled the bags in enough to let water pass around them even when placed flat on the bottom of the sump.
 

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No, i just wrapped the individual bags to hold them tight. I originally did that because some bags were only partly full. But I found that the ties pulled the bags in enough to let water pass around them even when placed flat on the bottom of the sump.
Makes sense. I just elevated mine on PVC & eggcrate.
 

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I would eventually like to build a large rectangular BCB for the sump. Thoughts on how to build this?

This stuff is really useful. You can line a large container with big holes in them like my pencil baskets and milk crates, or you can build the box out of this stuff itself. It cuts really easily and small zip ties can fit through the holes to easily hold them together, or you can use glue. You can also make cylindrical baskets with it if you like, since it's pretty flexible. The smallest pieces of clay may fall through it, but I haven't had a lot of spillage. I lined other containers to have more rigid baskets.

The planter baskets with a lot of holes in them are excellent too from what I've heard. The main thing is to make sure it's porous but won't just spill the clay.

Edit: found the planter baskets


That mesh is also what I use in my substrate to protect my plenums from digging cichlids. I cut and tied a few pieces together to make a single sheet the size of the footprint of the tank and cut out a hole for the plenum lift tube. Put down the UGF and substrate for the plenum, including a layer of clay and laterite, put this over it, then put another inch of substrate over that. Cichlids can only dig down until the mesh, the water passes through it for the plenum no problem, and it gives plants a chance to root down where they're harder to dig out.
 

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This stuff is really useful. You can line a large container with big holes in them like my pencil baskets and milk crates, or you can build the box out of this stuff itself. It cuts really easily and small zip ties can fit through the holes to easily hold them together, or you can use glue. You can also make cylindrical baskets with it if you like, since it's pretty flexible. The smallest pieces of clay may fall through it, but I haven't had a lot of spillage. I lined other containers to have more rigid baskets.

The planter baskets with a lot of holes in them are excellent too from what I've heard. The main thing is to make sure it's porous but won't just spill the clay.

Edit: found the planter baskets


That mesh is also what I use in my substrate to protect my plenums from digging cichlids. I cut and tied a few pieces together to make a single sheet the size of the footprint of the tank and cut out a hole for the plenum lift tube. Put down the UGF and substrate for the plenum, including a layer of clay and laterite, put this over it, then put another inch of substrate over that. Cichlids can only dig down until the mesh, the water passes through it for the plenum no problem, and it gives plants a chance to root down where they're harder to dig out.
Thanks> The biggest issue I have seen is the laterite powder leaking out all over the place. It eventually clears out but is a PITA. I wish API was still selling the laterite in large particles like gravel but it is out of stock everywhere. Would make this whole process a lot easier and less messy.
 

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In the BCB baskets, I just put a little bit in the center of the BCB. Filled it up a little over halfway, dug a little hole in the middle, filled that little hole with laterite and finished pouring in the clay. My BCBs are 98% or 99% the clay. I did mix the laterite in the bag I made for the 135's canister. That was cloudier than the baskets in the sump got. My worst laterite experience was accidentally dumping a mountain of it in the plenum in my 75. I took some out, but it was still way too much and that got everywhere. But you only need a little bit of the laterite because iron helps promote bacterial growth (among other things) and a little goes a long way.

I thought you bought some of that substrate with iron in it. If so, you can use that, just use a little bit more of it than the laterite powder. I also looked for the larger laterite and came up empty.
 

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In the BCB baskets, I just put a little bit in the center of the BCB. Filled it up a little over halfway, dug a little hole in the middle, filled that little hole with laterite and finished pouring in the clay. My BCBs are 98% or 99% the clay. I did mix the laterite in the bag I made for the 135's canister. That was cloudier than the baskets in the sump got. My worst laterite experience was accidentally dumping a mountain of it in the plenum in my 75. I took some out, but it was still way too much and that got everywhere. But you only need a little bit of the laterite because iron helps promote bacterial growth (among other things) and a little goes a long way.

I thought you bought some of that substrate with iron in it. If so, you can use that, just use a little bit more of it than the laterite powder. I also looked for the larger laterite and came up empty.
I used JBL Florapol as iron source. My bcb is yet to kick in. It was set on March 5th. Fish are doing great but I'm yet to see nitrate reduction. It really worked fast for you (nitrate reduction). I have a pretty big bcb with around 24 lbs of oil dri and 200 grams of Florapol in the center.
 

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I used JBL Florapol as iron source. My bcb is yet to kick in. It was set on March 5th. Fish are doing great but I'm yet to see nitrate reduction. It really worked fast for you (nitrate reduction). I have a pretty big bcb with around 24 lbs of oil dri and 200 grams of Florapol in the center.
Are you saying this process is not working for you???
 

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Mine didn't actually reduce anything. I completely restarted 3 of the tanks from scratch and on my biggest tank I did like 5 huge water changes right around the time I was getting ready to convert the tank and took out all traditional media and replaced sponges, so they were all at 0 nitrates when I converted them. Overkill with the clay mostly meant that it has been absorbing all of the new ammonium. I don't know if they are fully cycled yet, but they're still absorbing all, or nearly all, of the ammonium. Plus I do have plants that eat up any small left overs they miss, which have probably been taking care of any minor amounts of nitrates or ammonia that would eventually show up as nitrates without them.

I will say though, even if my BCBs aren't cycled and never fully do, I'd just replace them when they start leaching the ammonium they're holding. It's been over 7 months now of these results in my 135. I'll pay $13 (1 bag) every 8 months if I have to. My smaller ones have been running a couple months less, but they'd cost far less to replace if I had to. However, I do think my big ones are working fully and even if they aren't, my guess is I still have a while before they're saturated. Even my smaller ones in the planters have been grabbing everything with no signs of saturation, plus they have help with pothos planted straight into them and plenums with clay in the tanks as well. I'm still very optimistic that this will work long term, but even if it turns out to be a fraud, I'm not going back to traditional filter media. This clay works way to too well and it's dirt cheap. I'd just start replacing them annually (or however long they do prove to last)
 

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Mine didn't actually reduce anything. I completely restarted 3 of the tanks from scratch and on my biggest tank I did like 5 huge water changes right around the time I was getting ready to convert the tank and took out all traditional media and replaced sponges, so they were all at 0 nitrates when I converted them. Overkill with the clay mostly meant that it has been absorbing all of the new ammonium. I don't know if they are fully cycled yet, but they're still absorbing all, or nearly all, of the ammonium. Plus I do have plants that eat up any small left overs they miss, which have probably been taking care of any minor amounts of nitrates or ammonia that would eventually show up as nitrates without them.

I will say though, even if my BCBs aren't cycled and never fully do, I'd just replace them when they start leaching the ammonium they're holding. It's been over 7 months now of these results in my 135. I'll pay $13 (1 bag) every 8 months if I have to. My smaller ones have been running a couple months less, but they'd cost far less to replace if I had to. However, I do think my big ones are working fully and even if they aren't, my guess is I still have a while before they're saturated. Even my smaller ones in the planters have been grabbing everything with no signs of saturation, plus they have help with pothos planted straight into them and plenums with clay in the tanks as well. I'm still very optimistic that this will work long term, but even if it turns out to be a fraud, I'm not going back to traditional filter media. This clay works way to too well and it's dirt cheap. I'd just start replacing them annually (or however long they do prove to last)
I have the same thoughts. It's just that I'm in India and each 8lbs oil dri bag costs me 35 usd. Whatever the heck I love this system.
 

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Mine didn't actually reduce anything. I completely restarted 3 of the tanks from scratch and on my biggest tank I did like 5 huge water changes right around the time I was getting ready to convert the tank and took out all traditional media and replaced sponges, so they were all at 0 nitrates when I converted them. Overkill with the clay mostly meant that it has been absorbing all of the new ammonium. I don't know if they are fully cycled yet, but they're still absorbing all, or nearly all, of the ammonium. Plus I do have plants that eat up any small left overs they miss, which have probably been taking care of any minor amounts of nitrates or ammonia that would eventually show up as nitrates without them.
So you are seeing 0 nitrates? Most likely because the clay is absorbing the ammonia before it gets converted?
 
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