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Bio balls...a thing of the past?

jda

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How are you going to get rid of it? The ammonia has to break down somewhere in the tank or death will occur with rising ammonia (then the nitrite after it). It does not really matter where the aerobic processes breaks down the ammonia/ammonium and nitrite, but it will happen somewhere.

This was my whole point that people who removed bio balls thought that the just got to skip the middle part, but it just happened in other places in the tank. There is no skipping the middle part once you have ammonia.

BTW - I am ignoring somebody who might use a media to absorb ammonia.
 

Reefcowboy

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I was watching Dr Tim's speech at 2019(I think) MACNA which he was going through the notification cycle, and he said if one isnt pushing water completely through the porous media(marine pure, etc), he doesnt recommend them and instead thinks plastic bio balls would do a better job offering surface area for bacteria to grow. Long term, they wil eventually enter and colonize the inside pores, but for short term notification of a new established tank, just surface area is needed and pores would not help. Also points some people try skipping the undesirable diatoms common on new tanks utilizing yeast or other bacteria strands to help consume phosphate, however doing so would delay the nitrification process as they compete with the desirable bacteria... If one is looking to learn about cycling, def recommend watching his presentation, guy is the top authority in this area
 
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Martin Turrubiates

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So my 90 gallon tank I bought used



I use Marine pure block for the water to pass through in my sump and marine pure balls in the middle chamber I have enough for about 2,000 gallons according to their chart my tank is a 90 gallon mixed reef and so far everything has been great my tank just turned a year old this month
 

MartinWaite

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I run filter floss where the sump returns to catch debris. Seems to keep the bio media looking clean. Just so I’m clear I think the maxspect stuff is latest technology, but the ones that came with my used tank were to old school plastic ones and I’m wondering if those should just be removed...
The ceramic bio ball hold about the same amount of bacteria as over 150 plastic ones will hold so I would add some ceramic ones with them then in 3 to 6 months time gradually remove the plastic ones.
 
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tvan

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Why remove anything, If your bio load increases you have excess surface area. Unless limited for space. Your bio load is always changing. Bacteria grow and recede.
 

tvan

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The old days.... lol boy where we wrong . Watts per gallon. Live rock, sand lbs per gallon. Algae turf scrubber = dirty word. on and on......
 

James Johnson

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Well, it’s kind of like having a car that runs on steam it will get you around town but we have better options like gas engines and electric motors to run cars now so I don’t know why you would still want a steam one, most bio blocks disentigrate after a year or so anyways.

On a side note if you have the correct amount of rock in your display, extra bio media is not doing anything for your tank besides giving detritus somewhere to collect and then break down
 

Ross Petersen

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If 'bio-balls' simply house nitrifying bacteria that produce nitrates... but provide no nitrate export... is the thinking that most tanks are sufficient in nitrifying bacterial populations? Is there any evidence to support this? Curious here.
 

flampton

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If you look at the processes involved no one mentions an extremely consequential part. I have no idea why this info seems to have been lost in the aquarium world. There is the nitrogen cycle. Everyone knows it goes from NH3 NO2 NO3 N2 and back to NH3 through fixation. Don't worry about fixation it is just to show it is a cycle. The problem is the average reefer believes that this is the only process. Yet not realizing a significant amount of ammonia is used by bacteria and other species to become amino acids. If it's a coral performing this process it's building tissue, you have the same amount of nitrogen in your system but it's 'locked'. What is more important to general tank well being is incorporation into bacteria or algae. Heterotrophic bacteria incorporate the ammonia and then get skimmed out, or algae incorporate and get removed.

So to the original point. Aerobic bioballs are and we're nitrate factories because they favored nitrifying bacteria significantly over the heterotrophs. More thought out techniques such as carbon dosing and algae scrubbers work on removing the ammonia before it ever has a chance of becoming nitrate. A better way forward.

So the answer is biomedia is useful, but don't run it highly aerobic as it will become a nitrate factory. Thus wet/dry is bad for nitrate sensitive organisms.

Thanks for coming to this unplanned TED talk :D
 

Radicalrob1982

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So my 90 gallon tank I bought used came with a. Sump that was running bio balls. Seeing that I was just starting up the tank I used them and then later added maxspect bio blocks and bio spheres. What I’m wondering is can you have too much bio media? And does anyone even use bio balls anymore? I read a book recently that said some people had better coral growth removing the bio balls? So are they a thing of the past?

Here’s the bio media I added to the sump:
C4B49066-FF61-4562-90DF-35EDE7ACC6D7.png
66145AC2-1EC3-4091-A3DB-F9B9A16FFFA3.png
I like using it for freshwater or starting a new marine tank. I use matrix. I find it to be great stuff. But after 6 months I don't use it anymore and just get my live rock do all the work. My nitrates have never been lower. If a person is willing to do the work to keep them from becoming nitrate factories, then I think they have a place in the hobby. A definite must in fowlr tanks. I really don't think you could have too much
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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Ross I like your direction. I’ve never seen a reef tank where extra surface area was needed, not one I can recall
In aquaculture or heavy fish only possibly, not reefs though

any of the tanks here running filtration, we could remove that plus your sandbed all at once (done, sand rinse thread is 36 pages five years test) and the rocks would just instantly handle the fish bioload. No ramp up time needed


all the extra nitrification area isn’t needed, we do it to feel good.

using working/calibrated seneye meters to state what bac do and don’t do has really helped the hobby. We finally get to see the total control, not lack thereof, for nh3

one of my fav entries into the sand rinse thread was moderator Daniels sandbed removal while measuring nh3 control on mindstream digital and it never budged from ppb before or after instant sandbed removal. One of the longest promoted misnomers in the hobby, stopped in its tracks now that we can test well

if a set of rocks is enough convolution/surface area to filter a bioload, and the routed water contact is sufficient over and around the rocks, then adding and subtracting extra surface area all day long won’t affect that basic filter.


i do not accept a single source of input for bacterial modes we can discover our own using post patterns. The same talk on microbiology mentioned above post #22 says nitrite will stall cycles but again we have years long work on file showing it doesn’t, in reef tanks, in our work threads we stopped people from buying bottle bac to remedy nitrite issues by simply reefing once ammonia is controlled. Nitrite is neutral in reefing, not needed to know, we save money by not testing for it.

our hobby has forgotten the dates on a cycling chart, reef cycles don’t stall they meet those timeframes and usually quicker, we dose the good bottle bac.


probably the most fun thing in reefing is assembling three hundred + reefs breaking a set of rules that were originally inflexible. It can be done on so many fronts, I’m not sure which rules are firm nowadays.
 
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tvan

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A seneye meter doesn't explain how the ammonia is taken up. The bioballs or/were only a step in the filtration process. A deep sand bed or non-aerobic nitrogen gas factory, if you will was the last step of the process (which most reefers don't bother with cause it ain't pretty). Bio-balls >= wet/dry sump. Just my 2 cents
 
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brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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we just use them to make proofs about what adding and subtracting surface area does to nh3 control


and by extension, what adding and removing bioballs will do in any reef using redundant surface area.

Adding bioballs is an expenditure to remedy a perceived risk that the talk from post #22 promotes. Reef cycles do not stall, nitrite doesn’t factor in reefing, and I have never seen a reef that couldn’t control the full intended bioload with rocks alone. The new wave of bare bottom/empty sump setups make use of that ability.

the only reef system that needs bioballs or should ever run them is one with such profound fish bioloading in place that you’ve got to dose oxygen or provide industrial level aeration to keep as many fish alive. There is no arrangement that needs extra surface area in reefing, it’s to make us feel good, and click add to cart.


doubt in what filter bac do is a massive, massive sales driver for this hobby in bottle bac sales and mechanical filter sales. extra surface area has a place in freshwater management alongside nitrite care, but not for us.

reef systems do **not** become linked to a total set of filtration surface area that exceeds live rock surface area such that removing the extras presents a control deficit. that’s still the top misnomer in reefing in my opinion.

That’s the reason we don’t need bioballs. We need bioballs like a working reef tank needs six new canister filters hooked up and cycled into the link. Harmless to run if desired. but we can still remove them, after adaptation, and nothing bad happens. oxygen levels less taxed by not keeping extra waste catch zones (Sludge cod and bod measures)
 
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tvan

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@brandon429 Your first sentence has no proof to how the ammonia is used, just that it's gone. Most experts would disagree with you on the importance of nitrates and coral reefs... How do you measure what an acceptable bio load is? I don't understand removing parts of your filtration system and waiting for a crash is your means of testing the long term success of a reef system?
 

Crotalus

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When I got a new aquarium I put 2 8x8x4 Marinepure blocks in the sump 2 months prior to the move. These were moved to the new sump. I had new sand, mostly new rocks, new sump, and never got any kind of ammonia blip. Everything lived.
 

brandon429

why did you put a reef in that
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tvan hoping to clarify: the sand rinse thread is a thread where people either rinse, replace or remove their whole sandbed / something claimed risky but we found ways to make it safe by trusting what surface area filtration really does. it becomes a big pattern study of how surface area mechanics work in reefing-- reef sand is extra surface area too/unneeded like bioballs.



we have work threads handy, that's our form of peer review to begin to differ from rules the experts have made.


people want to move homes and not recycle, it takes surface area science and a specific order of ops to effect that consistently

people want to know when they must buy more bottle bac or not, they want to be able to trust their systems and installing bioballs is a big part of that perception.


people want to rid invasions, or change out beds fully for a different grain and not lose fish, inverts, sps, lps, only surface area mechanics stated above keeps that in tact. We aren't testing tank limits to see who crashes its to do successful home transfers, upgrades, downgrades, interstate moves etc.


and from this thread we know at least what bioballs are in terms of required or not required surface area, for any reef:

the side tangent above about cycles not stalling, nitrite not factoring is a separate work thread w work links for pattern inspection. its amazing that at the place where they give talks on stalled cycles, there are 500 MACNA reefs ready who didnt miss a start date, or fail to begin on time as a stall. not for decades.

cycling is variable for the sales targets, and exacting for the sellers. if we take their information we get free ways of making reefs behave consistently.
 
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Thaxxx

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I just this week helped a friend move and cleaned his 110-gal acrylic hex AIO that was loaded with the old-school bio balls. His tank was about 3-years old and always looked amazing with healthy corals. But his bio load was light and upon my inspection while cleaning, I found that almost 1/3 of his bio balls had sludged-up and were not tumbling or functioning.
I hate when my balls get sludged-up.
 

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