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GAC, Zeolite, Flow Rate

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  • GAC, Zeolite, Flow Rate

    Hi, my name is Mike, and I'm a recovering reefaholic. After a ten year arms race, during which I upgraded my protein skimmer, lights, kalkasswer/calcium reactors, refugiums, tanks, etc. on what seemed like a weekly basis, I went cold turkey and stayed off the stuff for three years.

    I may regret this, but I'm now going to set up a 75 gal plant tank with an emphasis on not spending what's left of my life's savings on the system and electricity. Been spelunking on the web and am pleased to see that I won't need a bank of 400 watt MHs or $750 gadgets or $1,000+ in live rock/sand just to get started.

    Now my newbie questions:

    I noticed that Tom Barr recommended in another newbie thread the use of GAC, Zeolite and a flow rate of 4x to 8x tank volume. Did I get this right?

    I thought GAC would remove iron and other beneficial plant nutrients from the water?

    Is the zeolite recommended for just the start up phase to aid in ammonium removal or should it be a permanent part of the filtratration system?

    Re water flow, I bought an Eheim 2215 thinking that too much circulation would dissipate CO2. (I will be using a pressurized CO2 system.) Which would be preferable for increasing water flow? Powerhead(s) or HOT power filter or both?

    I am planning on using Soilmaster with bottom inch mixed with laterite. Should I add some garden soil to the bottom mixture as well (or in place of laterite?)

    I bought a $78 internet special light fixture with 4 x 65 watt CF daylight bulbs. It sounds like I should be able to get by with these lights alone or do I need more light? Tank will not get any sunlight.

    Thanks for your help,


  • #2
    During the startup of a new tank the use of activated charcoal or zeolite can help in avoiding algae by removing ammonia as it forms. But, the same can be done just by heavily planting the tank with fast growing plants from the beginning. An exceptiion may be when you use ADA aquasoil as a the substrate, where some ammonia is leached from the substrate - then the charcoal, etc. will be useful for sure. It isn't certain that charcoal or zeolite removes enough nutrients to be concerned about - it isn't likely that it does.

    You don't need to worry about excessive flow dissipating the CO2 in the water. As long as you don't create heavy rippling of the surface water you won't lose too much CO2.

    Soilmaster works very well as a substrate all by itself, but it doesn't do any harm and might do some good to add laterite or river silt or garden soil to the bottom part of the substrate. The best way to do this is to mix it with the SM in the lower section of the substrate.

    260 watts of CF bulbs is more than enough for a 75 gallon tank. Half of that is adequate for most plants, assumiing the fixture has good reflectors, which, at that price isn't likely. So, you probably have about the right amount of light using all 260 watts, assuming poor reflectors, if any.


    • #3
      Hey, thanks for the quick response. Much appreciated.


      • #4
        FW planted tanks are cheaper and easier to rectify if you slip up.
        Water changes are much cheaper as well.

        More light is not better

        I'd actually suggest 2x54w T5's.

        Here's such a tank(70 gal 4ft long etc):

        Less light= less CO2 demand, less nutrient demand etc.
        This means easier to manage for you.
        Same thing actually in a reef.

        If you do lots of water changes for either, then high light works well and is easier.
        Or you can test and fiddle, but few do after several years and then perhaps only after there's an issue, so they tend not to catch the real cause, only the aftermath correlation.

        Then that leads to myths.

        Tom Barr


        • #5

          Hi Tom,

          Could you please advise of the mfg/model of the tank and lights?

          Any details would be great. Filtration, EI or not, since no c02?

          I like the look of these types tanks, but do not see them locally........

          The light fixture is also very attractive as well..What type bulbs/wattage/k rating?

          I am pretty sure I can squeeze one more tank in the corner..... lol

          Many thanks,


          'When something's not right, it's wrong'. Bob Dylan

          Current 220 scape


          • #6
            It's a local brand here in SF, AF sells them, I think around 150$ ea or so.
            Tank is ADA 120cm tank, about 480$ locally.
            Filter is a large canister
            CO2: ADA
            ADA aqua soil, standard ADA ferts.

            Good trimming, watching the CO2, weekly 50-60% water changes etc

            Tom Barr


            • #7
              Does one lilly pipe flowing from L to R really provide good/enough circulation? Will it if the filter/pump is big enough? Does this flow pattern (l to r, top to bottom) distribute the bubbles from the co2 diffuser well enough? Just curious because that sure looks like a nice tank, so something right must be going on.


              -Mike B-


              • #8
                In a tank with mostly carpet plantings, no really bulky hardscape in it, the single lily pipe arrangement you described could provide enough circulation. But, the typical tank most of us end up with, has lots of plants growing to many different heights, and that tank, once the plants grow a lot, needs much more circulation. The mass of plants can create lots of dead areas in the water, with little or no circulation. You either need to be a very aggressive pruner, making sure the plant mass doesn't get too big, or you need additional powerhead(s) supplementing the circulation throughout the tank.