Mechanical and Chemical Filtration | Reef Builders


Again after I began maintaining fish, filtration consisted of angel hair or glass wool because the mechanical filtration and charcoal because the chemical filtration. Now there are a mess of how to carry out these kinds of filtration, however not often are their deserves or shortcomings mentioned.

As a substitute, the primary focus is on protein skimming, in all probability on account of there being considerably extra advertising of protein skimmers than different types of filtration. That is unlucky as when finished correctly mechanical and chemical filtration are nonetheless basic features of filtration and are essential for the long-term success of a reef tank. When uncared for, these kinds of filtration can produce unfavourable penalties for a reef tank and its inhabitants. However when finished proper every kind of filtration helps the opposite varieties of filtration work higher and makes the tank extra profitable over the long run. 

Detritus could cause cyano outbreaks and sps frags to die off on the base.

Mechanical filtration

As its identify implies, mechanical filtration makes use of some mechanical means be it filter socks, filter floss, or polyester filter pads to lure waste materials in its matrix. Whereas chemical filtration removes dissolved proteins and organics earlier than they’ve an opportunity to decompose often by absorbing or adsorbing them into the compound getting used which is often some type of carbon. It does so after they can’t be eliminated by chemical filtration.

Because the interest has superior and larger and higher skimmers strategies have come in the marketplace, the necessity for sturdy mechanical filtration and detritus and different particulate elimination has seemingly been forgotten. This will likely partly be the results of the notion {that a} good skimmer will take away every little thing dangerous from the water when the fact is that even the perfect skimmer will solely take away 60-70% of the dangerous materials from a given tank. This then results in the fact that one thing must be finished to take away the dangerous materials that’s left. That is the place mechanical and chemical filtration is available in. Regardless of having two of the perfect protein skimmers in the marketplace in operation on my tank, the water in my tank nonetheless was not as “clear” as I might have favored, and remained so till I spotted that the tank was missing good mechanical and chemical filtration.

Proof of this was the quantity of detritus and particulates within the water being problematic regardless of reasonable mechanical filtration being employed. This was particularly noticeable when the stream within the tank was at its most and footage have been taken. Through the pandemic, I ran various experiments on my tanks within the seemingly limitless quest to make issues higher. A few of these did, whereas others have been flat-out failures. However of those, one of the vital impactful experiments was after I improved the mechanical filtration and started regularly cleaning off the live rock. Earlier than these enhancements, a number of issues occurred together with frags dying from the bottom, or cyanobacteria or dino outbreaks occurring randomly. And when useless spots within the tank have been discovered, invariably there have been areas the place these cyanobacteria outbreaks would begin.

To attempt to scale back these excessive nutrient areas from occurring, the reside rock could be flushed with a turkey baster recurrently. Throughout this time, filter socks have been employed for mechanical filtration and they might be modified as soon as every week or so. Evidently, this was at greatest a modest quantity of mechanical filtration, because the socks have been a problem to wash, so that they invariably would grow to be plugged up, so many of the water flowed over them moderately than by them. Equally, solely flushing the rock as soon as every week actually didn’t assist scale back a lot of the detritus that quickly accrued on them. This was apparent in that when the reside rock was flushed a detritus “snowstorm” instantly occurred within the tank. As a result of their changing into plugged rapidly and the issue in cleansing them, filter socks are my least favourite type of mechanical filtration.

Filter socks are a ache to wash and clog and overflow continuously.

To enhance this mechanical filtration and detritus elimination, a number of means have been employed. First, dual-size polyester pads with 5 and 1mm pores have been wrapped across the overflow pipes to take away as a lot free-floating detritus as potential. Initially, these have been modified solely as soon as every week after which cleaned with a hose, however the quantity of detritus and scent from them made it obligatory to vary them extra usually. First, it was each three days and now it’s each different day. This extra frequent altering not solely permits for extra environment friendly detritus elimination however now that the detritus will not be as deeply embedded within the pads they are often flushed within the sink moderately than with a hose. This needs to be finished proper after they’re eliminated as the fabric embedded in them begins to decompose quickly after they’re faraway from the water and the scent produced if they don’t seem to be cleaned rapidly is sort of repugnant.

Right here, polyester pads are wrapped across the overflow pipes.

Whereas this mechanical filtration improved the quantity of free-floating detritus within the tank, there have been nonetheless some very effective particulates that this filtration missed. With a view to take away this effective materials an old-school energy filter was employed. This filter is just a powerhead to which a perforated tube is connected to the consumption, with the tube coated by floss and the sturdy siphon from the powerhead attracts in detritus-laden water which is filtered by the floss. Because the floss will get dirtier and dirtier the pores get smaller and smaller so over time this filter attracts in and removes even the best particulates from the water. Like the opposite mechanical filters I make use of, this filter is modified recurrently, a minimum of as soon as every week, and its use together with the opposite mechanical filtration has considerably improved the water’s readability.

A selfmade powerfilter removes detritus inside the primary tank.

Curler filters

The final type of mechanical filtration that I’ve used is the brand new “curler” kind of mechanical filtration. In this type of filter tank water flows over and thru a skinny polyester pad trapping detritus because it flows by the fabric. As the fabric turns into clogged with detritus the water stage within the filtration chamber rises and as soon as it reaches a sure stage it triggers a float change which advances the roll. On this method, a clear detritus-free filter continuously strikes alongside to wash the water. This gadget works properly on smaller or low-bioload tanks, however on massive tanks, it may well grow to be clogged in a short time with the filter rolls being exhausted rapidly as properly. However on appropriate-sized tanks, they’re a wonderful mechanical filtration selection.

Chemical filtration

Like its identify implies chemical filtration makes use of a chemical means to extract waste materials from water. Most embody carbon in some type, however they will additionally embody resins and zeolites. Whereas all of us attempt to do our greatest and are continuously making an attempt to make our tanks “higher”, we will fall into the lure of forgetting how a few of the easy and seemingly mundane features of the interest could make a distinction. Salinity, pH, and sufficient mechanical filtration are three features of the interest that I’ve discovered when managed correctly can significantly enhance what I assumed was a profitable tank.

Chemical filter media is only in a reactor.

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