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WhatsReef

Bio Filtration vs GFO

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I have a 40g Fusion with plenty of live rock and plenty of bio filtration media. I have a lot of chaeto growing in the back chambers as well.

 

I am running carbon in a reactor and I have the capacity to run GFO in there as well as there's plenty of room to separate them with a couple sponges.

 

But is there any real reason to? I have like .75L of Seachem Matrix, .4L of Fluval BioMax and also some bio balls in there. May transfer some of this to the new QT tank I'm about to set up - I realize it's overkill since I have plenty of live rock as well. But it should be a pod factory with all that surface area plus just in case I accidentally drop a pound of raw shrimp in there and am too lazy to remove it my bio filtration should smoothly scale to the demand.

 

The carbon has obvious benefits, but with plentiful Chaeto and all this bio filtration (no skimmer) is there even any reasonable argument at all to add GFO into the mix other than perhaps as an emergency measure during a crisis?

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If there is no reason to run gfo, then why run it?

Not everyone runs reactors, gfo, some run no media at all.

 

I have personally found less has been more. I used to use small quantities of phosguard. Since I stopped, everything has been far better.

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5 minutes ago, Clown79 said:

If there is no reason to run gfo, then why run it?

Not everyone runs reactors, gfo, some run no media at all.

 

I have personally found less has been more. I used to use small quantities of phosguard. Since I stopped, everything has been far better.

So should GFO and protein skimmers both be viewed as substitutes for plentiful bio-filtration?

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Gfo is used to reduce phosphates and skimmers are part of nutrient extraction.

 

So if one doesn't have phos issues, why use a reducer which can lead to starvation of nutrients?

 

Skimmers depend on the system. On nano's it's not necessary for most systems and if its unnecessary can lead to lack of nutrients. 

Again it will depend on the system.

 

 

For a 40g, a skimmer being necessary will depend on the systems bioload and needs.

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13 minutes ago, Clown79 said:

Gfo is used to reduce phosphates and skimmers are part of nutrient extraction.

 

So if one doesn't have phos issues, why use a reducer which can lead to starvation of nutrients?

  

Skimmers depend on the system. On nano's it's not necessary for most systems and if its unnecessary can lead to lack of nutrients. 

Again it will depend on the system. 

 

 

For a 40g, a skimmer being necessary will depend on the systems bioload and needs.

So essentially they're both reducing the need for bio filtration and chaeto, which will also export N and P effectively.

 

So basically you only need skimming and/or GFO if you don't have enough bio-filtration/macro-algae... in theory isn't there absolutely no need for either of them other than for the advantage of not having to dedicate more space for chaeto and bio media?

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32 minutes ago, WhatsReef said:

The carbon has obvious benefits, but with plentiful Chaeto and all this bio filtration (no skimmer) is there even any reasonable argument at all to add GFO into the mix other than perhaps as an emergency measure during a crisis?

 

You need to explain better for me to understand why dosing carbon has “obvious benefits”.  

 

As I understand organic carbon dosing from Advanced Aquaria articles by Ken Felderman, he says organic carbon dosing grows bacteria.  Depending on the carbon source determines to an extent which bacteria are favored.  Cynobacteria is a type of bacteria that I do not want to grow.

 

in conversations with @Randy Holmes-Farley, he felt that food provided all of the organic carbon that a reef tank needs.  So, I feed my systems heavily and allow complex food webs to process organic & inorganic nutrients to grow live food to feed the reef.  As a general rule, Randy agreed that coral and macro would have the same general chemical makeup of C:N:P in this ratio 560:30:1.

 

Dana Riddle “Advanced Aquaria” 6 part series on coral nutrition was highlighted on BRS TV video release two Fridays ago.  At later Dana Riddle articles on organic & inorganic chemistry, he brought it all together for me with this introduction,

 

”Photosynthesis combines the inorganic world with the organic world” and this is how:

 

Carbon dioxide as an inorganic gas combines with water to form a weak carbonic acid.  Then carbonic acid combines with carbonate alkalinity and forms bicarbonate alkalinity.  Bicarbonate alkalinity combines with photosynthesis to form glucose, which is carbon for the reef.

 

@WhatsReef

 

Methods can conflict & reduce effectiveness.  

 

What does your system tell you it needs?  FTS?

 

After 48 years of reefing, I observe the ebb & flow of system dynamics.  When it smiles, I smile.  When it frowns, I look closer.

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1 hour ago, WhatsReef said:

So should GFO and protein skimmers both be viewed as substitutes for plentiful bio-filtration?

Absolutely, yes.  I find both gfo and skimmers as not only unnecessary, but all to often, detrimental to biofiltration.

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Gfo serves a purpose for sure in reducing phosphates. Phosphates come from fish food mainly ( or in some cases things we put in our tank like rock). In my opinion you should only use gfo if you have phosphate issues. Runnning phosphates to zero is asking for Dino’s. Then your skimmer and biomedia reduce nitrates 

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12 minutes ago, Subsea said:

 

You need to explain better for me to understand why dosing carbon has “obvious benefits”.  

 

As I understand organic carbon dosing from Advanced Aquaria articles by Ken Felderman, he says organic carbon dosing grows bacteria.  Depending on the carbon source determines to an extent which bacteria are favored.  Cynobacteria is a type of bacteria that I do not want to grow.

 

in conversations with @Randy Holmes-Farley, he felt that food provided all of the organic carbon that a reef tank needs.  So, I feed my systems heavily and allow complex food webs to process organic & inorganic nutrients to grow live food to feed the reef.  As a general rule, Randy agreed that coral and macro would have the same general chemical makeup of C:N:P in this ratio 560:30:1. 

 

Dana Riddle “Advanced Aquaria” 6 part series on coral nutrition was highlighted on BRS TV video release two Fridays ago.  At later Dana Riddle articles on organic & inorganic chemistry, he brought it all together for me with this introduction, 

 

”Photosynthesis combines the inorganic world with the organic world” and this is how:

 

Carbon dioxide as an inorganic gas combines with water to form a weak carbonic acid.  Then carbonic acid combines with carbonate alkalinity and forms bicarbonate alkalinity.  Bicarbonate alkalinity combines with photosynthesis to form glucose, which is carbon for the reef. 

 

@WhatsReef

 

Methods can conflict & reduce effectiveness.  

 

What does your system tell you it needs?  FTS?

 

After 48 years of reefing, I observe the ebb & flow of system dynamics.  When it smiles, I smile.  When it frowns, I look closer.

 

When I mentioned in that carbon I meant the activated carbon in the reactor that I referred to which I could hypothetically run GFO in but I wasn't clear about that so I apologize for that. Appreciated the info about dosing carbon anyways though!

 

Only been running for like 4 weeks or so at this point but everything is going great as of now. Wasn't really asking about GFO to fix a problem, but since I have the reactor I have the option to throw it in real easily and switch it out with my carbon so was trying to understand if I was missing a "good reason" to just run it for the hell of it since it's cheap/easy to add. Had a tank years back but diving deeper into water chemistry than I ever did back then so still trying to wrap my head around all the ins and outs.

 

20190203_211559.jpg

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GFO was originally intended to be used when/if high phosphate levels occurred.  When levels reduced to 'normal', the GFO would have then been removed.  When reef aquarists started to maintain higher levels of biomass (especially fish), continuous use of GFO became popular to control the resulting overload of phosphate.  Certainly doesn't hurt to have it in stock 'just in case', but critically high phosphate events should be very rare in a well balanced, properly maintained reef aquarium.

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I have used GFO type media for short periods (a few days) when I had a PO4 spike for one reason or another. Running it constantly is usually detrimental to the tank, corals need phosphate to grow and running your PO4 too low can cause an imbalance leading to undesirables like dino. I would advise a low range hanna checker if you want to mess with GFO. 

 

I have a reactor but I never even use it. I just put carbon in a bag on a media basket. 

 

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6 hours ago, WhatsReef said:

So essentially they're both reducing the need for bio filtration and chaeto, which will also export N and P effectively.

 

So basically you only need skimming and/or GFO if you don't have enough bio-filtration/macro-algae... in theory isn't there absolutely no need for either of them other than for the advantage of not having to dedicate more space for chaeto and bio media?

 

 

There are various ways of reducing nutrients. You have to choose which method is best for your system.

 

Personally I think media like gfo should be used on a need to basis. If you don't have a phos issue, don't use it.

 

Over use of media plus skimmer plus cheato etc etc is overkill in most systems.

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, WhatsReef said:

 

 

 

 

When I mentioned in that carbon I meant the activated carbon in the reactor that I referred to which I could hypothetically run GFO in but I wasn't clear about that so I apologize for that. Appreciated the info about dosing carbon anyways though!

 

Only been running for like 4 weeks or so at this point but everything is going great as of now. Wasn't really asking about GFO to fix a problem, but since I have the reactor I have the option to throw it in real easily and switch it out with my carbon so was trying to understand if I was missing a "good reason" to just run it for the hell of it since it's cheap/easy to add. Had a tank years back but diving deeper into water chemistry than I ever did back then so still trying to wrap my head around all the ins and outs.

 

20190203_211559.jpg

Acitivatec carbon is 300% more effective at removing dissolved organic carbon than protein skimming says Ken Felderman.  Also, since bacteria move 70% of the carbon from one tropic level to another, Ken Felderman postulates that excessive removal of free swimming bacteria skews the natural food webs in reef tanks and is a likely cause of “old tank syndrome”.

 

Dissolved organic carbon is a normal byproduct of photosynthesis.  There are thousands of differrent compounds that combine to make DOC.  As a generalization, the DOC from coral is mostly lipids & proteins and the DOC from macro is mostly carbohydrates.  Differrent photosynthetic organisms require differrent doc inputs and give off, exudates, differrent DOC.    To complicate, not all activated carbon is equal.  Using both absorption & adsorption, activated carbon acts as a sponge.

 

PS:  Use the extra space in your reactor and put coral rubble there as a matrix for biofilms to colonize as a food source for pods.

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As my tank is 7 weeks old and only use filter pads skimmer and uv sterilizer and live rock in refugium with cheato. Get enough bacteria that's beneficial try to create natural environment. So far so good trying something new when before used carbon and forget to swap it out or try to use it a little longer to pinch pennies to buy a new coral. Parameters are stable for now but if any spike then I'll use gfo to help but trying to stay away long as possible.

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I concur.....don't overdo the filtration, even though it seems to be "the way to go" these days.

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Our tanks are not a steady state system. At different phases your tank might be in it will need different things. Unfortunately knowing how your tank is doing just comes with experience and dollars and mistakes made.

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