modify sump to combat nitrates

whiteshark

New member
I have been battling my arch enemy, nitrates, for years now. I do 30% water changes every week and still have a hard time keeping up with it. For a while I figured that everyone had to deal with this. But now i'm thinking that the problem could be with my old trickle filter with Bio Balls. I have heard that these things are nitrate factories, which makes sense. Now I am considering baffling the sump up, chucking the bioballs and making the sump a big fuge. My questions are...

1. Could this filter be the cause of my constantly increasing nitrates?

2. Am I underestimating the importance of the bacteria on the bio balls? (I would hate to remove em and have an ammonia spike and a tank crash)

I have about 110 lbs of rock. 55 or 60 lbs of it is live rock that I have had in my tank for 4 or 5 yrs. The rest is base rock that was added about 2 1/2 months ago. I would imagine by now nitrifying bacteria have colonized it. (am I right in assuming this?) I also have a fairly new sand bed, about 2 months old, but I imagine bacteria have colonized this by now also. If I do remove the bioballs, will there enough nitrifying bacteria on the rock to take care of the fish waste? (I have a yellow tang, hippo tang, cleaner wrasse, small maroon clownfish, orchid dottyback and a six spot goby).

Another possiblity for the nitrates, i was thinking, may be how much I feed the fish. I feed them 1 nori sheet per day (2in by 5 in), along with 1 and sometimes 2 cubes of prime reef, mysis, or a variety of other frozen foods per day. could this be producing the 20 ppm rise in nitrates I usually get per week? I have a small hang on fuge now with cheato, but I think it is just too small to keep up with the trates. Any imput is appreciated!

FYI- I use RO water to do my water changes. It contains no dectable nitrate.

Here is a link to a crude drawing of what I am considering doing.

http://www.personal.psu.edu/ajk269/Plan.html
 

mikeatjac

Active member
I agree that bioballs are a nirate factory and you have enough LR to act as your filter. I would pull out 1/3 a week.

I would do a search for refug design. There are many things that you can do. You are feeding a lot more than I feed my fish.
 

whiteshark

New member
Any other opinions? I need to justify doing this because my mom freaks out whenever I want to do something to the tank. She doesn't trust that I know what i'm doing. Of course, she never has to do the water changes, so the nitrates aren't a big deal to her anyway.
 

rustybucket145

New member
I would definately suggest going with the fuge instead of the bioballs. I didn't catch your sand beds depth so..... I would personally use the sump as DSB and fuge together. Just dump about 6 inches of sand in it and a handfull of chaeto. In a few months I think you will be noticing lower nitrates. You may have to remove a handfull or two of the chaeto a week. Since you have so much live rock I think you could yank all the balls at the same time with little/no effect. It might be a good idea to pick up a poly pad or two just to have handy incase your amonia increases but I don't think it will. Good luck.
 

whiteshark

New member
Thanx guys. I pulled out most of the balls. Maybe like 90-95%. I left a few just in case. If all goes well I will pull the rest and make a fuge. Thanx again!
 

Serioussnaps

New member
Dump the wet/dry. Make it a sump. Put your heater in there and protein skimmer and run a connected fuge to go into after filtering or just turn the sump into a fuge with a DSB and chaeto. Those wetdry;s are nitrate sinks, pull the bio balls gradually, pull the sponges if there are any. You may want to keep the filter floss if you have it, i like it because it pulls out larger things like uneaten food and you must change them every 3 or 4 days.

That wet dry caused my nitrates a long time ago. Ever since i did away with it i never went back.
 

whiteshark

New member
Well, ammonia and nitrite read 0, so all is good ( I wasn't to worried bout it anyway with 120 lbs of rock). Now, i'm considering the best way to modify the existing sump to make it a fuge. Seems easy enough to me, but here is a pic of my sump now. Any suggestions about how to mod this would be apprecitaed. (just copy the pic and add your own ideas, if possible). My original idea is at the top.

http://www.personal.psu.edu/ajk269/sump.html
 
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