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Re: Plant filters

Jason wrote:
>From: "Mortimer Snerd" <n9720235 at cc_wwu.edu>
>Subject: Sump plants as filtration
>I'm having to resort to frequent (2x/week, at minimum) to keep algae
>somewhat under control,

You mean water changes? You likely have too many fish,feed too much,over
fertilize, plants not growing well, etc if you need to do 2x large twice a
week changes. Adding sump plants will solve some of this problem. Duckweed
will give you problems compared to other plants though....
You can use terrestrial plants in this situation that will prove better for
removal of NO3 and excess fertilizer but you also have to consider that this
plant filter might suck up all the N out of your system and starve the
aquatic plants causing even a worse problem. There's a balance to
everything. Using a wet/dry is a good idea IMO. Using this wet/dry section
for plant's roots is a good idea. You can use long tubes of 4inch PVC with
the incoming water flowing over the top of the tubes filled with say some
Spatiphyllum (peace lily) set in your sump like tall pots with drain holes
in the bottom of these pots. Fill the pots with small lava or hydroponics
Spati's can use far less light to grow than many plants and can handle harsh
pruning. Duck weed will get everywhere and is a pest not to mention needing
to keep it in one place and getting good efficient use out of your light.
Spat's often don't need any extra light unless it's dark for good growth.   

nd have decided that I need to add more plants to
>accomplish this.  Part of my problem (I think) is that I use a sump, and
>therefore have minimal biological filtration.  While I have some room to add
>more plants in my tank (and will be doing so after the Vancouver aquarium
>stuff auction on the 14th-blatant plug), I am seriously considering
>partitioning a part of my sump for use as an area for additional plants,
>similar to the idea of an algal turf filter.  I would add a wet/dry, but
>this somehow seems more natural and less complicated than other forms of
>biological filtration, and I suspect it would be better long-term for water
>quality.  While this topic has been visited before, I don't remember anyone
>ever having looked seriously at it as an option.  I will be custom building
>my own acrylic sump in the very near future, and am able to build pretty
>much anything I want.  Basically, I'm looking to see if anyone has any
>recommendations regarding sump design, lighting options (I'm probably going
>to use two spare 13w PCs I have lying around), substrate options, and plant
>selection.  Plants would need to be fast growing (to utilize a maximum
>amount of nutrients), require minimal maitenece (trimming every week or so
>would be no problem), and able to live in an environment that has a fair
>amount of water movement (I currently have 350 gallons/hour flowing through
>my 20 gallon sump).  Is this seen as a reasonable option?

Yes it is. See the Spat's. As far as sump design, longer is better for what
you want to do.
Even a series or one divider that forces the water to flow through the sump
in a serpentine maze like fashion will do a great job. The plants can be
arranged along the maze and will suck out the waste better than a single
basin design. Sump needn't be too tall but enough to prevent overflow when
pump is off. You can use a simple design to facilitate this and add plants
like Spat's along the maze-like way planted in rockwool pots or lava or sand
etc. with the leaves and crown above the water line. I'd still add a wet/dry
section or incorporate it into the plant filter section.
You can do either method cheaply and easily once you have the sump. I did
this for years with very great results. Today i still have a few of these
filters going and use Pennywart along the back edge of an open top tank and
I think it has about 150 leaves or so and is perhaps 50-100ft in total
length. No need for a sump or extra light and it covers up equipment nicely.
The back edge of many tanks were the equipment goes in can support floaters
or emergent plants like water hyacinth etc from the excess light from your
hood/lights or natural light in your room. You can add  a hang on style
plant filter to the back of any tank using a PVC/ABS tube to get the
benefits of a plant filter even if you have AF cichlids or even salt water
fish etc. by using a small pump to flow water over the plant and having it
return to the tank. If done well, this can look very nice, giving the effect
of a nice potted plant set on your tank.  

  Would simply
>throwing a bunch of duckweed on the top of a sump work better with less
>hassle?  Are there any reasons, other than the problems inherent to
>introducing lighting to the same place as my pH and temp probes and CO2
>reactor, that this is a hideously bad idea?  As always, any advice,
>conversation, etc.is greatly appreciated.

No. I think duckweed is going to be a pain. It stick to everything and is
hard to remove.
Nothing will cause problems for you as far as the lighting goes.......Spat's
are much nicer to deal with.
Hope this helps out. 
Tom Barr