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Re: To Filter or not

On 18/2/98 6:48 PM, gacasey at ibm_net wrote:

>...I have a 150G Plant tank athat, at
>present, is filtered with a wet\dry. The tank has CO2{auto}, 2 175wattMH
>lamps{pendants}. It is fairly heavily planted and at this time only has
>1 small fish, a hillstream loach. I don't ever plan to add too many more
>fish maybe a dozen or so cardinals and rummynose and possilbly a few
>corys. I would to know if removing my wet\dry bioballs will be good\bad
>for the tank? The water usually tests at ph6.9, kh2-4, gh 8-11 Phos .9
>on my last test. 0 amm 0 nit. Thanks any help at all would be greatly


With a fish load as low as yours currently is, a heavily planted tank 
definitely does not need a bacterial biofilter. The odds are, however, 
that the single loach is not producing enough waste for you to notice any 
real difference between running the tank with or without the wet\dry 

Unless the fish load is moderate to heavy, the plants are capable of 
handling all the ammonium produced by the fish, and they prefer their 
nitrogen in that form rather than as the nitrate end product of a 
bacterial filter. In effect the plants and the bacteria are competing for 
the same nutrient and, in my view, the plants should win hands down when 
you make your choice. In addition, when plants utilise ammonium, it's no 
longer around to get converted to nitrite and then to nitrate in a 
filter, so those two compounds are less of a problem anyway.

Your fish load is extremely low, however. Neither the plants or the 
bacteria are likely to get a significant source of nutrients from one 
hillstream loach. It's really no wonder your ammonia and nitrite are 
testing at zero. Removing the filter material from the wet\dry shouldn't 
make any real observable difference, and adding a small school of 
cardinals and corydoras probably won't change that. I've happily run that 
many 15-18 cardinals and rummynoses with a few corydoras and otocinclus 
in a 3 ft (around 30-40 US gallon) planted tank without a filter and zero 
readings for ammonia and nitrite, and barely readable results for nitrate.

In fact, with that fish load in a 150 G heavily planted tank, you may 
actually find yourself having to seriously consider adding nitrate as a 
source of nitrogen!

David Aiken