Cichlid Fish Forum banner
1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi aiming to do either a 6'x2'x2' tank for lake Tanganyika community although i have a soft spot for mbuna.
Appreciate i need a balance of good mechanical and biological. From the point of view of biological was going to run a chamber as a K1 filter and have a freshwater refugium with a base of freshwater miracle mud which i will light over night with some moss/plants as well for nitrate export.
Question 1: am i better going down foam for mechanical or has anyone used socks like are commonly used in reef setups.
question 2 : do you think K1 and a miracle mud system will work and what order should i run them: i am minded to run K1 then .

Final and slightly separate question what rocks would you recommend for the hard scape. I was think of ocean lock but have gone off that partially because it does not fit the biotope and secondly i have read that the fish can damage themselves on any sharp edges.
Any advice will be great fully appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,747 Posts
K1 is a new type of media to me since I last had a tank running. I didn't even consider it for my sump, I just used foam as it has plenty of surface area IMO for biofiltering even heavily stocked tanks.

Also IMO but aquatic plants in the sump aren't going to be very effective at reducing nitrates. Maybe if you plant only fast growing plants, use a lot of light, and have enough other nutrients and CO2 in your tank to sustain their growth. I don't know a lot about aquatic plants though.

If reducing nitrate is the goal there's lots of hype for terrestrial plants (especially pothos) where you just submerge the roots in the sump but let the plant grow above the surface. Some shove them in HOB filters or just float them in the display (I don't really like the stringy rootball look but to each their own). Others use separate circulation loops to above tank planters. Some claim even a single pothos would have noticeable reduction, others claim you'd still need roomfulls of plants to notice a change. An algae scrubber is another option for possibly reducing nitrates and has the added benefit of concentrating algae growth away from the main display.

Filter socks would be great if you don't mind taking them out to rinse them 2 or 3 times a week. Me I'm just using foam and not planning to rinse them out regularly either. Just planning to let the waste take care of itself and end up as nitrate. If I find the nitrates are too hard to keep up with that way I might add filter socks later on.

You can pretty much use any rocks you like as long as they don't fall apart or react and change water parameters (too much). If the ocean rock is used from a salt water tank I'd want to make sure to clean thoroughly enough to not have any biological remnants of the saltwater ecosystem.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
178 Posts
Rhinox really hits the nail on the head for your questions.

It will surprise nobody around here that I'm jumping in because I have ton of stupid stuff to say. It will surprise folks that I'm actually including pics this time.

When I decided I wanted a big new custom setup, I'd never had a sump, so I had to do a ton of research to figure this thing out. It all seemed so overwhelming at the beginning, but by the end, I just thought of it as a wet box to keep biomedia in.

Here's My sump. I'll walk left to right, because I'm doing many of the things you mention.

SenorStrumSump.jpg


Starting on the left, the 3 drains are the Bean Animal overflow. After all the research, I knew I needed a bean animal for safety and silence.

Chamber 1 is filter socks. 4 7x16-inch filter socks I replace once per week. This chamber is hands-down the loudest chamber in the whole thing. Water dripping into the filter socks can be heard. If you take them out, it sounds like a rushing waterfall, so they stay in. I actually have extra 40ppi foam from a sunsun 304 stuffed into the filter socks, so the water doesn't fall as far. Tight lid here keeps condensation, splashing, and noise to a minimum. When the doors are all closed, it can barely be heard.

Moving to the right through the bulkhead connectors, we hit the media chamber. This chamber is set up like this:
1. Heater compartment. I Also have in here a 5 watt bladed circulation pump stuck to the inside wall. This is moving around a few liters of (black) "K1." This is actually Smokey Mountain Bio-media, but it's just like K1. I mention it's black because you can't see it, but it's there. There is not much here and I'll discuss it later.
2. Bio-media "bloc." This is alternating layers of 2 inch thick foam, supported by grey high-density Matala mat which is normally used in Ponds. I'm using it here primarily for it's structural rigidity. It holds the foam/sponge blocks up instead of me having to put in gates, walls, and weirs the cause the water to flow up and down like in a traditional sump. Mine is a straight linear flow from left to right. The Matala mat also serves as a water redistribution block in case the foam ever starts channeling. I plan to clean the foam only when water will not flow through it anymore and starts flowing over the top. Since it goes through filter socks and some K1 before it even reaches this foam, I assume I'll have to do this precisely never. That's not actually true, bacteria will eventually plug it up, but I expect that to take months to years. Matala should not plug or channel.
3. Another "K1" compartment with a few liters (maybe 4?) and a bladed circulation pump. I initially put the pumps here to make sure that the water was very well aerated before it went through the bio-bloc, but since I had the otherwise empty chamber with heavy water movement, I went ahead and added K1 until it made noise.
4. Another bio-bloc of the same design
5. Final bladed circulation pump to aerate the water a final time before it goes over the wall and into the last chamber.
6. Java-fern refugium! (And a heater). Fully submerged plants tend to not do well in African cichlid tanks. The reason for this is very simple, but not ever discussed for some reason. Higher level plants need a carbon source to grow, or else they'll "Starve," turn brown and die. In aquatic systems, CO2 is the most readily usable carbon source for plants. Chemically speaking, CO2 will stay dissolved in your water for a matter of seconds to minutes at a pH of 8.2. Plants need it to hang around much longer like it does in more acidic environments where CO2 can stay around longer. It is super possible to fight this and force it, but it's a lot of work. I'll tell you how to grow submerged plants in your aquarium if you'd like, but the right answer for nitrate removal is planned water changes. My java ferns are here simply to grow and because I didn't really have another place to put them. I do have plant light that comes on opposite of my display lights to use up nighttime CO2 insofar as it's possible.
7. Return pump compartment. My return pumps are in the final chamber along with some otherswise unused media. Pot scrubbies. In the pic, it's hidden by the rack that holds up the UV sterilizers.
8. Automatic top-off reservoir to feed a Tunze osmolator 3155 to ensure I don't run my pumps dry with evaporation. All the evaporation for the whole system shows up in the return pump compartment, so it must be planned for.

Here are my thoughts on K1. It's SUPER effective, but it's loud if you're fluidizing it. Even if it's being moved around by pumps instead of air, it has a noise. The more you move, the more noise. I originally bought 2 cubic feet worth because I intended to run my whole sump with it like you are saying. I just didn't want to live with the noise. I'm within 3 meters of this for about 15 hours a day, and I just didn't want to hear it. That's why I switched to the sponge.

Please feel free to purchase Miracle Mud, but may I suggest you send your money directly to me instead? I will also lie to you if you ask nicely and tell you you are getting something of value :D
If you want to grow plants in it, that's great - especially if they're growing in the air. I'm not really that familiar with miracle mud, but I will just say this: anaerobic de-nitrification as understood in this hobby is not scientifically possible. It's an incredibly special thing, and aquariums just can't do it. I refer back to my picture. If it were possible, my tank would be doing it. I have 700ish pounds of porous lava rock in there. It should be eating nitrates to zero, but it does not, and it does not because it's scientifically contra-indicated. If you wanted to do this, I'd run it in two before biological filtration if you want to grow plants in it, but after biological filtration if you don't. The reason for this is simple - plants eat ammonium, not nitrate. They (generally) have to convert the nitrate back to ammonium in order to eat it. Therefore, if you want plants, put them before the biological so that they get the ammonium before it turns into nitrate. After filter socks though, so you don't have extra debris getting broken down in your sump if you don't want it to.

Filter socks - I actually disagree with Rhinox on this one. Decide now if you want them. Go for it if you'll clean them on the regular. Just run a ton of biological filtration if you won't. That's my opinion, but retrofitting a sump designed for them is just as difficult as retrofitting a sump that was not. Or so I've been told. When I first assembled this system and filled it, I was going to leave them out, but since I ordered them, I am running them now for noise as mentioned.

Emerged or semi-aquatic plants like Pothos do great as they can get the CO2 they need from your house, so it doesn't become a limiting factor. Then they can pull more nitrates out of the water in your tank. However, I've found that this makes no marginal difference with a moderately to heavily stocked tank. I like them, and I do keep them in other tanks around the house, primarily just because it's pretty.

These rocks, man. So many rocks. I was worried that the fish would hurt themselves on the sharp lava, so I sandblasted all of it. It took literally days to do. I don't feel it was necessary, I don't have fish hurting themselves on the rocks. Maybe that's because I did some smoothing? Who knows. I did it, and I wouldn't bother doing it again. I also started with the rocks by boiling them to make sure they didn't have any nasties on them. I gave this up quickly though, reasoning this: I got the rocks from an elevation of about 1600 meters, where they're covered in snow above the tree-line most of the year, and baked by relentless sun the rest. I figured there was not actually anything on these rocks that would survive and hurt my tropical fishies. Turns out the fishies are fine.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
40,482 Posts
I like the smooth river rocks, as much for appearance as safety. I used to get the occasional eye injury.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
SenorStrum said:
Rhinox really hits the nail on the head for your questions.

It will surprise nobody around here that I'm jumping in because I have ton of stupid stuff to say. It will surprise folks that I'm actually including pics this time.

When I decided I wanted a big new custom setup, I'd never had a sump, so I had to do a ton of research to figure this thing out. It all seemed so overwhelming at the beginning, but by the end, I just thought of it as a wet box to keep biomedia in.

Here's My sump. I'll walk left to right, because I'm doing many of the things you mention.



Starting on the left, the 3 drains are the Bean Animal overflow. After all the research, I knew I needed a bean animal for safety and silence.

Chamber 1 is filter socks. 4 7x16-inch filter socks I replace once per week. This chamber is hands-down the loudest chamber in the whole thing. Water dripping into the filter socks can be heard. If you take them out, it sounds like a rushing waterfall, so they stay in. I actually have extra 40ppi foam from a sunsun 304 stuffed into the filter socks, so the water doesn't fall as far. Tight lid here keeps condensation, splashing, and noise to a minimum. When the doors are all closed, it can barely be heard.

Moving to the right through the bulkhead connectors, we hit the media chamber. This chamber is set up like this:
1. Heater compartment. I Also have in here a 5 watt bladed circulation pump stuck to the inside wall. This is moving around a few liters of (black) "K1." This is actually Smokey Mountain Bio-media, but it's just like K1. I mention it's black because you can't see it, but it's there. There is not much here and I'll discuss it later.
2. Bio-media "bloc." This is alternating layers of 2 inch thick foam, supported by grey high-density Matala mat which is normally used in Ponds. I'm using it here primarily for it's structural rigidity. It holds the foam/sponge blocks up instead of me having to put in gates, walls, and weirs the cause the water to flow up and down like in a traditional sump. Mine is a straight linear flow from left to right. The Matala mat also serves as a water redistribution block in case the foam ever starts channeling. I plan to clean the foam only when water will not flow through it anymore and starts flowing over the top. Since it goes through filter socks and some K1 before it even reaches this foam, I assume I'll have to do this precisely never. That's not actually true, bacteria will eventually plug it up, but I expect that to take months to years. Matala should not plug or channel.
3. Another "K1" compartment with a few liters (maybe 4?) and a bladed circulation pump. I initially put the pumps here to make sure that the water was very well aerated before it went through the bio-bloc, but since I had the otherwise empty chamber with heavy water movement, I went ahead and added K1 until it made noise.
4. Another bio-bloc of the same design
5. Final bladed circulation pump to aerate the water a final time before it goes over the wall and into the last chamber.
6. Java-fern refugium! (And a heater). Fully submerged plants tend to not do well in African cichlid tanks. The reason for this is very simple, but not ever discussed for some reason. Higher level plants need a carbon source to grow, or else they'll "Starve," turn brown and die. In aquatic systems, CO2 is the most readily usable carbon source for plants. Chemically speaking, CO2 will stay dissolved in your water for a matter of seconds to minutes at a pH of 8.2. Plants need it to hang around much longer like it does in more acidic environments where CO2 can stay around longer. It is super possible to fight this and force it, but it's a lot of work. I'll tell you how to grow submerged plants in your aquarium if you'd like, but the right answer for nitrate removal is planned water changes. My java ferns are here simply to grow and because I didn't really have another place to put them. I do have plant light that comes on opposite of my display lights to use up nighttime CO2 insofar as it's possible.
7. Return pump compartment. My return pumps are in the final chamber along with some otherswise unused media. Pot scrubbies. In the pic, it's hidden by the rack that holds up the UV sterilizers.
8. Automatic top-off reservoir to feed a Tunze osmolator 3155 to ensure I don't run my pumps dry with evaporation. All the evaporation for the whole system shows up in the return pump compartment, so it must be planned for.

Here are my thoughts on K1. It's SUPER effective, but it's loud if you're fluidizing it. Even if it's being moved around by pumps instead of air, it has a noise. The more you move, the more noise. I originally bought 2 cubic feet worth because I intended to run my whole sump with it like you are saying. I just didn't want to live with the noise. I'm within 3 meters of this for about 15 hours a day, and I just didn't want to hear it. That's why I switched to the sponge.

Please feel free to purchase Miracle Mud, but may I suggest you send your money directly to me instead? I will also lie to you if you ask nicely and tell you you are getting something of value :D
If you want to grow plants in it, that's great - especially if they're growing in the air. I'm not really that familiar with miracle mud, but I will just say this: anaerobic de-nitrification as understood in this hobby is not scientifically possible. It's an incredibly special thing, and aquariums just can't do it. I refer back to my picture. If it were possible, my tank would be doing it. I have 700ish pounds of porous lava rock in there. It should be eating nitrates to zero, but it does not, and it does not because it's scientifically contra-indicated. If you wanted to do this, I'd run it in two before biological filtration if you want to grow plants in it, but after biological filtration if you don't. The reason for this is simple - plants eat ammonium, not nitrate. They (generally) have to convert the nitrate back to ammonium in order to eat it. Therefore, if you want plants, put them before the biological so that they get the ammonium before it turns into nitrate. After filter socks though, so you don't have extra debris getting broken down in your sump if you don't want it to.

Filter socks - I actually disagree with Rhinox on this one. Decide now if you want them. Go for it if you'll clean them on the regular. Just run a ton of biological filtration if you won't. That's my opinion, but retrofitting a sump designed for them is just as difficult as retrofitting a sump that was not. Or so I've been told. When I first assembled this system and filled it, I was going to leave them out, but since I ordered them, I am running them now for noise as mentioned.

Emerged or semi-aquatic plants like Pothos do great as they can get the CO2 they need from your house, so it doesn't become a limiting factor. Then they can pull more nitrates out of the water in your tank. However, I've found that this makes no marginal difference with a moderately to heavily stocked tank. I like them, and I do keep them in other tanks around the house, primarily just because it's pretty.

These rocks, man. So many rocks. I was worried that the fish would hurt themselves on the sharp lava, so I sandblasted all of it. It took literally days to do. I don't feel it was necessary, I don't have fish hurting themselves on the rocks. Maybe that's because I did some smoothing? Who knows. I did it, and I wouldn't bother doing it again. I also started with the rocks by boiling them to make sure they didn't have any nasties on them. I gave this up quickly though, reasoning this: I got the rocks from an elevation of about 1600 meters, where they're covered in snow above the tree-line most of the year, and baked by relentless sun the rest. I figured there was not actually anything on these rocks that would survive and hurt my tropical fishies. Turns out the fishies are fine.
+1.

Regards,
Stu
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top