Jump to content

Bioballs WITH live rock?


Recommended Posts

I have a 50gal FOLWR tank with 2 ocellaris and 4 pajama cardinals and 60lbs live sand/45lbs live rock. It has been running for about 1.5 months. I have a Toms Rapids Pro wet/dry filter (RP3) with protein skimmer and ATO. The RP3 comes with a compartment with filter pads and carbon, bioballs, and the bottom has carbon and ceramic disks.


Should I keep using the bioballs that came with it? I know they only break things down to nitrates, while LR breaks that down to nitrogen gas. Would the nitrate that comes from the bioballs be broken down by the LR after the water passes through the wet/dry?


If you guys advise me to ditch the bioballs, how quickly should I remove them (considering the tank has been running with them for 1.5 months)?

Link to comment

I know most everyone says to ditch the bioballs and use rubble. I used rubble and had sky high nitrates that never would come down. I decided to start a new tank using bioballs. My nitrates are now 0-5! and stay at that range with a weekly 1/3 water change. I have 11 lbs of live rock in the tank.

Link to comment

Would it be best to not use bioballs or rubble rock and just keep my live rock/live sand in there as bio filtration? Or is that not enough?

Link to comment

Ammonia and nitrite- 0ppm

Nitrate- 30-40ppm


Would the live rock bacteria convert the nitrates that are being produced by the bioballs to nitrogen gas? Or would those nitrates in the bioballs stay in the wet/dry and not reach the LR?

Link to comment

Yes the live rock is processing nitrate. However, it is passive filtration. Depends on the quality of the live rock before you got it as to if it has denitrifying bacteria. I use bio balls in my 12 year old mud/macro refugium. They are as effective as shallow substrate at processing ammonia and nitrite. I especially like the air water gas exchange that they promote and they work when the lights are off. I use very little, if any, live rock for denitrification.


I prefer to use macro algae for nutrient export and nutrient recycling. It does not need to cycle. It will absorb ammonia, nitrite and nitrate at the same time.

Link to comment

i run a filter sock before my sump, but i still get detritus in the sump. if i had lr or bio balls in the sump they would also get detritus in/on it. it's inevitable. live rock or bio balls, maintenance is key.

Link to comment

If you are going to stay with a fih only tank then you are good. Fish are way more forgiving then coral and Bioballs where disigned for fish only tanks. I am sure there are people that disagree, but I think they are not catching the part that it is a fish only tank.

Link to comment

How does detritus build up on the bioballs if there are prefilter pads before the water hits the bioballs?


No filter is perfect. A filter pad lets through a lot of junk, especially as it starts to clog and water goes around it. It's not like the water is going through a micron cartridge with diatomaceous earth. If anyone doubts that stuff get's around mechanical filtration you need only look at your return pump plumbing.


If you have LR, I'd use that. You can always add the bioballs later if you are finding that your bacteria is not processing enough waste.

Link to comment

I have read somewhere that you shouldn't use competing biological filtration sources, liverock internally can process nitrates slowly and having the other source of biological filtration with no capacity to remove nitrates is going to overload the tanks nitrate processing ability and nitrates will rise. It isn't a problem of detritus collection as much as another source of nitrate production with no natural source of nitrate removal except more frequent water changes.

Link to comment

Nitrate sequestration and physical removal.


You forgot that. Not just more water changes.


Expecting denitrification (NO3- to N2) to take place in any appreciable amount, in typical nano tanks, in a human time frame, without hydrogen sulphide production, well, you know.


Its far faster and easier to just vacuum out detritus by hand, at that point. What is really nice about having a filter sock, is being able to siphon directly into it. Throw the sock in the washer, and those nitrates are gone.


So I just took out a nice amount of matrix from my aio chamber thats been there quite a while, according to seachem it will support denitrification. Nitrates on the tank were api undetected which well you know could mean low but not that low. I am curious to see with my regular maint if nitrate goes up. Not the most scientific thing I have ever done but it will keep me from buying more matrix if it doesn't do jack.


Speaking of nitrate factories, back chambers of aio's can turn into them within weeks if you don't remove all your filter media and siphon from all the chambers during water changes. You really don't hear much about how easily aio's collect detritus.

Link to comment

I am toying with the idea of putting some of those 1 inch by 8x8 ceramic matrix sheets under my sand for my display tank, for denitrification.


It would be sort of a plenum, but not. But im kind Im scared.


I tried sand on my growout, but abandoned the sand after the first 40b sprung a leak.


Me and reef sand just have not been good friends mostly. The idea of a huge anaerobic filter under my sand bed is scary for me.


DSB is probably the scariest thing I see on any tank, I just see a time bomb. I don't think I have seen the sheets of matrix I am going to have to look those up and play with them in experimental systems.

Link to comment



When my tank was just getting its cycle going, I had Zeo going for about a week, I had a large amount if nuisance algae growing.


I did a test of my three test kits, Hanna, Red Sea, And 4 year old API.


They all read the same for the nutrient tests, low to undetectable. The Hanna Phosphorus test even gave me the error that I mixed up tubes.


But I know I have phosphate and nitrate. My eyes can see it.


I put a huge wad of chaeto in the refuge. Caulerpa, and red gracillaria.


My nuisance brown dust algae is finally being contained , and my chaeto has receded to the size of a golf ball now. Some caulerpa leaves are yellowing, and the gracillaria is about half the size. Corraline is just now starting to grow on my dead live rock. So my eyes can tell me what the test kits cant, my nutrients are finally coming under control. Ill use the tests for now on, though, for prediction, not assessment.


I personally dont care what tests, or what they read or say, if crap algae is growing in my tank. I KNOW I have too much nutrients if im growing crap algae. The numbers are meaningless at that point.


Def agree although I feel like I don't test often enough, I only test when I notice there is a problem. I actually have a macro growing on my back wall that when its growth spikes I realize its water change time. Not sure what it is but its actually somewhat pleasant to look at.



And I reason still that the matrix bed cant be too different than the anaerobic zones in the live rock.




My thought is that because its more porous you may actually be able to get some benefit to water reaching the bacteria. I feel like that in live rock the bacteria exists but water getting into those pockets then leaving is happening too slowly to benefit from.


Also the reason I took out the matrix was to seed my new tank. I am dosing ammonia to 4 ppm been there for 24 hrs. I put the matrix in tonight I am curious to see what a pint of it does biofiltration wise. Is there a curve as to how much nitrate is produced normally based on ppm of ammonia added?

Link to comment

I use that test taking titrating time, myself, to make new salt water.


Im testing for what I cant see right now. My alk is in uncontrolled flux, and thats way more scary than high phosphate or nitrates.


This is the product im thinking about.



Holy geez thats pricy to do a whole tank bed in lol. Could be crazy awesome if it works though.

Link to comment

Live rock in tank collects far more detritus, volume to volume, than bioballs ever can.


Im not doubting that stuff gets around the prefilter. I just disagree, still, that bioballs are the bane of reefers because they are "nitrate factories". Same with filter socks. There's just not enough rough stuff on bioballs to collect detritus in comparison to live rock fir that complaint to be real. And filter socks need to be changed a couple times a week to daily if one can.


99 ot of a 100 with wet dry filters with bioballs, the detritus collected at the bottom of the chamber. So one could more accurately argue that sump chambers are "nitrate factories" far more than bioballs themselves. When I read someone write bioballs are "nitrate factories", I can pretty rightly assume that person never had bioballs in a wet dry.


If the person writes that there just is not enough surface area on bioballs to grow enough bacteria for a mini reef, and detritus collection has nothing to do with it (other than neglect and poor husbandry), I know that person has enough experience to know what they are writing about. And not just regurgitating a catch phrase someone told them once.


Anyone calling them "the bane of reefers" is guilty of hyperbole at the very least. It's an easy issue for me. Do you need them if you have LR? I think most of us would agree that the answer is an easy "no".


I still think Nitrate Factory is a great band name.

Link to comment


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recommended Discussions

  • Create New...