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Re: NFC: plant filtering capabilities

Hi Kris

Sounds like a modified version of an algae scrubber -- basically, the
algae (or in your case, plants) grow in an "ideal" environment (good
light) and feed off the nutrients in the tank.  They remove nitrate, which
modern filters don't (for the most part).  In exchange, they make more
plant.  You harvest some of the plant, and remove the nitrate. 

Works great with algae (your friend is undoubtably using a macro-algae,
such as caulerpa, as there are no marine plants commercially available,
with the possible exception of turtle-grass, which would be unsuitable
anyhow. :)  However, since "real plants" have more stringent demands for
micronutrients (iron and potassium being two very important onees) you'll
often wind up with limited growth, and therefore little filtration by it.

However, if you add micronutrients, or use water changes to maintain
levels (should you be blessed to have water high in these), you can be
quite successful.

Rooted plants in such a set up seldom work very well.  ALgae like plants,
such as Java Moss, Nitella, Azoala, etc, seem to be the best bet.  
By the by -- the reason why this ingenious set up isn't seen too often is
due to a number of large shortcomings.  Many of the plants and algaes used
release various water colouring compounds (tanins most notably) into the
water, some of which are harmful to corals, inverts, and fish (including
sweetwater fish).  pH shifts can also be expected, as well as low O2.
Yes, thats right, low O2.  Plants need to breath, too, and when the tank
lights go out, they stop producing O2, and there is a net loss of it.
Plants do not "breath" Co2 and exhale O2, they breath in O2, exhale CO2.
They "eat" CO2, and O2 is the waste product of that.  During an average
day, there is a net output of O2 -- they eat more than breath.  However,
in a small aquarium, where O2 levels can be easily depleted, this can
lead to all sorts of problems.

Joshua L. Wiegert
NFC Lists Administrator                          JLW at pi_dune.net
www.geocities.com/RainForest/Jungle/1680/        owner-nfc at actwin_com
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On Fri, 12 Jan 2001, Kristine Weisbrod Massin wrote:

> Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001 09:09:51 -0600
> From: Kristine Weisbrod Massin <kwmprairie at hotmail_com>
> Reply-To: nfc at actwin_com
> To: nfc at actwin_com
> Subject: NFC: plant filtering capabilities
> Does anyone know the comparitive filtering/water cleaning abilities of
> different aquarium plants? 
> There's a gentleman in town here (Denver) who has set up an interesting
> aquarium filter for his marine aquariums.  He uses the case & pump from a
> wet-dry undertank, but instead of using bioballs he fills it with
> plants.  It seems to work great, the tanks in the shop he had that setup
> on were much healthier than the ones with the traditional set-ups.
> I'm thinking I would like to combine this idea with my current wet-dry. 
> My plan is to leave the bio balls in, but fill the resevoir side with
> plants & leave grow light on them all from 1pm to 11am (not quite 24
> hours & flipped from the plants in the tank).  I'll have to build a
> screen filter for the pump, but that's pretty simple.
> My problem is that the only plant I have an abundant amount of is java
> moss and I'm not sure what kind of filtering ability it has.  I could get
> some cabamba for pretty cheap, but I've never had really good luck with
> it.  Maybe a mixture of assorted plants would be good?  My amazon swords
> from my old tropical tank are sending out babies like mad...they need to
> be seperated anyway...there's no room for the fish anymore!
> Suggestions?
> thanks,
> kris
> ________________________________________________________________________________
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