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RE: plant filters et al

>We in the San Francisco group were visited recently by Tropica Denmark's
>Claus Christensen.  Claus it the real deal - he seems to know everything
>about the technical aspects of the hobby and his company's business: growing
>and selling aquatic plants (to all but the US market <sigh> )  Not
>surprisingly, Claus has some strongly-held ideas, all backed by decades of
>experience and rigorous scientific testing.

He re-confirmed so many of my notions. Plants are the filter. Grow plants-
not bacteria or algae for filtration. Moving the water around at a slow flow
is all the filter is for really IMO.
I'm glad he and I are in the same camp here! Helps the creditability!

>I've been thinking of some of the things Claus mentioned; specifically his
>strong suggestion for the the use of plant filtration.  My trickle filter
>probably wouldn't be difficult to convert.  As I understand it I would
>remove the bio-balls, place some fast-growing plants directly into the water
>with no substrate, and add a 15-watt light source.  I suppose I would have
>to remove the sump cover and modify the hose so that the gravity flow still
>gets to the sump.  This is an area in which several members have experience,
>but I'm a little nervous about making what looks like a substantial change.

I have many, many ways to show folks how you can do this!!!!!
An idea I came up with 12 years ago still works super today is to use 3-4
inch diameter PVC pipe about 18 inches tall. Add several of these tubes to
your sump with enough room for other stuff like CO2 pumps etc. They sell
test caps for these tubes that you can glue to the bottom to cap one end.
Drill small holes
about two inches from the bottom of these tubes. Fill with
Flourite or hydroponics media(Clayballs- I call cocopebbles - available at
hydroponics places) and add your plant to each tube. This will act as a
wet/dry filter/plant reactor. All you need
to do is use a valve(s) for distributing the water from the prefilter or
come up with some way to add water from the prefilter to each tube. Tunze
had a lot of equipment years ago for this but it was too expensive for most
people(so guess what I did?). I have a customer that has a full Tunze system
that is going to be awesome. I'll talk later about it maybe. You missed my
talk at SFAS but I mentioned it then also. I'll be talking at SAS this
Saturday about it some. 
I would add a substrate though for the plant's roots. It depends on the
plants you want in there on this issue though. All that pennywort that I
have has no substrate really, watersprite wouldn't need any etc but I'd add
something for the Spatiphyllum or something. Did you remember seeing that
Small plant reactor at my house hanging off the back of my 20 gallon tank?
Add that to your sump basically. They require little maintenance for years
except for plant pruning which is always better than algae pruning!

>Claus also suggested the use Rosy Barbs ton control hair algae.  Does anyone
>have Rosy Barbs, and do they really eat hair algae?  Will they eat anything
>OTHER than the algae?  Will they disturb my other fish (Pearl Guoramis,
>Harlequin and Espes Rasboras, Otos, SAEs, C. japonica shrimp, assorted
Yes they do very well. Arm hair also when working in tank! Worry about the
shrimp and Guoramis.

Another note on plant filters:
They are very simple and easy to build. For the DIY'er you can go off and
come up with so many creative ideas it is limitless really. PVC tubes,
boxes, sumps, little streams flowing off from the tank, palurdiums, hang on
the back tubes- boxes etc, a simple plastic pot sitting on top of your hood
with a small flow going in and out from a small powerhead.
I like the hydroponics media and flourite for the media, a small flow
through the reactors and ambient light but extra light will do wonders too.
Try some creeping vines. They look good IMO.

..........But you can add the plants to the filter or to the tank itself.
More plants is more plants.
Tom Barr