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Plants As Filters


  1. Plant Filters?
    by tomlins / cam dot org (Ed Tomlinson) (Sat, 08 Nov 1997)
  2. Plant Filter: Yes Igor, Dr. Frankenfish is at it again! ;-)
    by Walter & Jeanne Klockers <klock/> (Mon, 12 Jan 1998)
  3. filterless tanks and blackwater extract
    by "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill/> (Fri, 23 Jan 1998)
  4. Plant Filter: Yes Igor, Dr. Frankenfish is at it again! ;-)
    by Beverly Erlebacher <bae/> (Wed, 14 Jan 1998)
  5. Terrarium/aquarium combo
    by swaldron/ (Steven J. Waldron) (Tue, 17 Feb 1998)
  6. plant filtration
    by Erik Olson (Tue, 17 Feb 1998)
  7. Fwd: plant filtration
    by "Ed Pon" <edpon/> (Tue, 17 Feb 1998)
  8. Plant Filter Update (Floating Plant Filter).
    by "Klockers, Walter & Jeanne" <klock/> (Sun, 15 Feb 1998)
  9. Algae scrubbers
    by Robert Ricketts <rtricketts/> (Sun, 05 Sep 1999)
  10. where's my nitrogen
    by "alex pastor" <alexp/> (Sat, 26 Jun 1999)
  11. Plastic Pond Question
    by "Klockers, Walter" <jloach/> (Sat, 06 May 2000)
  12. RE: plant filter sort of...
    by "Thomas Barr" <tcbiii/> (Mon, 29 May 2000)
  13. RE: plant filters et al
    by "Thomas Barr" <tcbiii/> (Mon, 27 Mar 2000)
  14. Another weapon against algae
    by "Tony Weitner" <tweitner/> (Fri, 7 Apr 2000)
  15. ivy and plant filters.
    by Thomas Barr <tcbiii/> (Mon, 02 Apr 2001)

Plant Filters?

by tomlins / cam dot org (Ed Tomlinson)
Date: Sat, 08 Nov 1997
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.plants

In <63j0i0$h3u$>, (Boogie Man) writes:
>	I'm planning a new tank over the enxt couple weeks.  One Idea I'm
>tossing around is the use of a plant filter.  I read a bit about them in
>"The living Aquarium," and I suppose I'll check out "Dynamic Aquaria"
>sometime soon.

I have been using plant filters for about three years on a central system
with 11 tanks (6x40g, 2x30g, 3x18g) the plants are in the sumps.  The sumps
are each (there are two) about 80g with 30g-50g normally in them.  They are made
of PVC and are about 2'x 6' x1' Water flows from one end to two the other 
through three 2'x2' sections.  I use floating plants for the filtration.  
Amazon Frogbit, Water Cabbage, Hornwort and Duckweed (which is a pain...)  Water 
hyicanth can also be used but can get tricky as it dies fast if lighting it not 
to its liking...  The sumps are lit at night and I have found that some sort of
mechanical filtration is also necessary - I use polyester batting now.

There is a fairly complete description of my setup on the fishroom mud reachable
via telnet at kplace.monrou.con on port 1025.  Look for Ed's FishRoom.


Ed Tomlinson, Montreal, Canada
Home: tomlins at cam dot org    

To obtain my public key mail me with a subject of: PGP Key

Plant Filter: Yes Igor, Dr. Frankenfish is at it again! ;-)

by Walter & Jeanne Klockers <klock/>
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 1998

Hi All!

After a few months of research, I decided not to go with a "traditional"
planted aquarium. I felt that I have too many "sand slingers" in my 80
gallon tank to complete the substrate the way I needed. Yeah, I could
have fooled around with plastic mesh and the like, or used clay pots,
but I ultimately decided to go in a different direction. My primary
concern here, is to provide the best environment possible for *my fish*.
I'm not a "plants-first person" at this time, although that may change.
:-) About a week ago, in lieu of a planted aquarium, I finally set up my
FPF (Floating Plant Filter). Initially, I was going to use a combination
of terrestrial and aquatic plants, but I like the idea of using floating
plants better. The idea for this filter came from an article by Lee
Newman in Aquarium Fish Magazine (July or June? '97). Lee converted his
wet-dry filter into a Plant Filter using emergent Brazilian Swords. I'm
using (sampling & experimenting with) a variety of floating pond plants
in my version of this filter: Azolla, Salvinia, Duck Weed, Dwarf Water
Lilly, Water Hyacinth. (Initially, I just wanted to use Azolla and
Salvinia, but the all-too-kind salesperson insisted on giving me a
sampling of the others -- $5.00 for the whole thing! :-) These plants
very nearly cover the full surface of the water in the filter. The
filter is made from a 36" X 18" X 18" Rubbermaid container. This
replaced the wet-dry "box" with it's bioballs. I kept the wet-dry
skimmer, prefilter, hoses, and return pump. (I placed the return pump in
a breeder net to keep it from sucking up plants). In the filter are two
circular, compact fluorescent bulbs (each has a 150 watt output, using
30 watts -- Lights of America, Model 2630). They are slightly suspended
(1/2") over a 24" length of plexiglas. The plexiglas is there to: 1)
provide the bulbs some protection from moisture; 2) help prevent excess
evaporation, and; 3) guard the floating plants from the heat of the
bulbs (although heat from these bulbs is admittedly minimal). I try to
maintain the water level about 3" below the plexiglas. After some fancy
cutting by a friend in his workshop, I had a plastic hood for the
lights. I painted the inside of the cover flat white. It really adds a
good deal more light intensity for the plants. After I got the FPF
running I added a few minor safeguards. I figured why not. I added 7
Hornwort plants and Ivy to the aquarium itself (only the roots of the
Ivy are submerged). I thought these might help water quality until the
filter gets fully established. I expected an ammonia spike the next day
after switching filters. I've tested for ammonia everyday for 5 days. So
far it's been zero! :-) I've ordered a FW nitrate test kit from "That
Fish Place" -- I can't get any locally. I'm anxious to see how much
nitrate is in the tank!

I'm making this post for a couple of reasons: 1) IMHO it would be good
for the archives to have a reference for plant filters, and; 2) To see
if anybody can give me some advice on how I might achieve long-term
success with these plants. This was a *very enjoyable* project! I had a
great deal of fun "messing around with ideas" and bouncing them off you
folks on the APD and some fellow fish friends. Thanks to all! Special
thanks to Jeff Dietsch for all his help. :-)

Walter B. Klockers
In Western Washington, where it snowed last night! We expect more
tomorrow! 5" here so far! Bbbbbbbrrrrrrr!

filterless tanks and blackwater extract

by "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill/>
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 1998

>      1)has anyone set up a planted tank before without a filter and if so
> which plants did u use?  what r also the pros and cons of setting up a tank
> without a filter...

I have three tanks currently running without filters.  However, they
weren't originally setup as filterless tanks.  The were set up as filtered
tanks from which I (years) later removed the filters.  I think its a good
idea to keep at least some very fast-growing plants in unfiltered tanks.
I have good luck with vals, h. polysperma and rotala indica.  Starting
in a new tank, you might want to include plants with a lot of leaf-surface
area.  Mayaca, Cabomba and Myriophyllum species come to mind.

pros and cons...

   a) filters (even most of those not intended specifically as biological
filters) host nitrifying bacteria that compete with plants for ammonium.
Without a filter the ammonium *should* be more available to plants.  The
down side of this is that "more available" necessarily implies a higher
ammonium concentration, but I tested ammonia/ammonium repeatedly after
removing the filters from my now-unfiltered tanks and never once found
enough ammonium to measure.

   b) filters remove sediments from the tank that might contain plant-
available nutrients, or nutrients that will become plant available if they
are left in the tank.  The down side of this is the same as the up side;
the sediments remain in the tank.  See the "downside" for c).

   c) there is less maintenance, because you don't have to clean or
otherwise mess with the filter.  Of course, it does result in more
sediment remaining in the tank and might increase the amount of cleaning
you have to do in the tank.  Personally, I siphon out anything that
becomes an aesthetic burden and I haven't found that removing the filter
increased the frequency of cleaning.  It did increase the amount I removed
during cleaning.  If you don't currently clean on a frequent basis, then
you may need to do so.

   d) if you want to keep filter feeding-animals then you probably should
not have any kind of mechanical filter on the tank.  This implies an
increase in the amount of suspended sediment.  The amount of sediment in
my unfiltered tanks is probably about the same as it is with an aquaclear
filter using a coarse sponge insert.  It is certainly more suspended
sediment than you would have with a fine filter material in a canister

   e)  Unfiltered tanks generate less noise than at least some filtered
tanks (depends on the filter) and they may be less turbulent (also depends
on the filter).  You probably won't be able to get away without some means
of providing circulation in the tank, so the gain here could be small.

>      2)how can i disperse the CO2 bubbles around the tank so that all the
> plants benefit from it and it doesnt just leave the water?

As in e) above, you probably will need to provide some circulation.  I use
powerheads to circulate the water, and have my CO2 outlet below the pump
inlet so the pump sucks in the CO2 and disperses it through the tank.  My
CO2 setup produces small, frequent bubbles so the setup makes about as
much noise as a ticking clock.

>      3)is there anything else i need to know before setting up this tank?

I've heard it claimed that suspended sediment can contribute to disease in
some cichlids and possibly in some other fish.  I don't buy that story
myself and tend to attribute problems like that to other types of stress
rather than to the presence of a vector that exists anyway in the fish's
natural environment.  I can imagine though, that some very weakened
strains of fish like fancy goldfish or highly inbred discus may be
susceptible to problems that way.  I don't keep fish like that.

Plant Filter: Yes Igor, Dr. Frankenfish is at it again! ;-)

by Beverly Erlebacher <bae/>
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998

> Date: Mon, 12 Jan 1998 01:46:21 -0800
> From: Walter & Jeanne Klockers <>
[Good description of "floating plant filter" deleted.]

> I'm making this post for a couple of reasons: 1) IMHO it would be good
> for the archives to have a reference for plant filters, and; 2) To see
> if anybody can give me some advice on how I might achieve long-term
> success with these plants. This was a *very enjoyable* project! I had a
> great deal of fun "messing around with ideas" and bouncing them off you
> folks on the APD and some fellow fish friends. Thanks to all! Special
> thanks to Jeff Dietsch for all his help. :-)

The important thing to keep this working is to keep the plants growing.
They mostly take up nitrogen and phosphate for growth.  So try to use
fast growing plants and thin them out frequently so they will keep in
active growth.

I use floating plants on my fry and grow-out tanks to keep the water
quality up despite heavy feeding.  I use Limnobium (frogbit), duckweed
and water sprite (Ceratopteris) as well as hornwort.  If you use plants
that your LFS will take back for credit, you can get an awful lot of
free stuff - this past year I've gotten 3 volumes of Baensch, a filter
and a heater and lots of frozen food, etc from a few square feet of
frogbit.  It's beyond me who is buying all this frogbit and not getting
overrun with it themselves!

Another thing you might want to try in your filter is hydroponic lettuce.
Salads for you and pesticide-free greens for your fish!

Terrarium/aquarium combo

by swaldron/ (Steven J. Waldron)
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998
To: apisto/

>BTW--If you lift up the hinged plywood that hides the top of the tank at
>Justin's place, you will see a lot of philodendrum growing in some kind
>of medium with its roots sticking into the tanks.  An interesting way to
>help keep up the water quality that I have read about, but have yet to

Ed & all,
Yeah Justin showed me his system and though a bit crude, what he's done is
very smart.  The terrestrial plants (particularly quick growing
philodendron) are very efficient at removing nitrogenous compounds from the
water.  In fact it is similiar to something I am working on. Hopefully,
admission of this won't get me kicked off this list, but my renewed
interest in dwarves (cichlids that is, the only dwarf fetish I own...)
centers around my poison frog terrarium. Apistos make great inhabitants in
the sumps of the frog set-ups. I'm hoping to put up a web site on this
technique- all animals in this mini-ecosystem thrive and reproduce. People
should start considering dart-frog/dwarf cichlid combos, you can really set
up some amazing biotope mini rainforest displays on land and water with
very fascinating inhabitants in both. Dart frogs are the dwarf cichlids of
the herp world- small, colorful, thrive in lushly planted terrariums,
interesting behavioral displays, interesting reproductive behavior. I even
have one frog species that has a beautiful call- much like a canary.
Anyhow, back to normal programming...

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plant filtration

by Erik Olson (e-mail)
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998
To: apisto list <apisto/>

On Tue, 17 Feb 1998, Frauley/Elson wrote:

> Hi all,
> The idea of experimenting with plant-root filtration has appealed to me
> for some time. Can anyone tell me how the plant is held on top of the
> tank? By this, I mean what rooting medium, if any, is used between the
> stalk of the plant and the roots in the aquarium water?

Hooray for retro tech!  Hydroponic plant filters rule!!! :)

Two succesful methods:  I've kept plants growing in aquaclear-300 filters
(with the lid off).  I keep them in either rockwool like aquatic plant
wholesalers do, bare-root, or in small pots of large gravel (the pot is
not solid;  it's similar to the aquatic plant pots).  I keep one sponge in
the filter, no carbon.  The plants sit right on top of the sponge. 

Dave Soares keeps raingutters on top of some of his tanks, and has an
airlift tube to lift the water up to the gutter.  There is an overflow on
the other end where it flows back to the tank.  If the airlift method
doesn't work, I suppose the outlet of a small powerhead would do the
trick.  Gutters are very nice because you can hold more plants than other

Theoretical methods: floating foam blocks with holes for the plants to
poke through, a shelf behind the tank, etc. 

Plants that have worked well for me in the past: spatiphyllum, syngonium,
philadendron, pothos, spider plant.

Interestingly, for Apisto tanks, we seem to have good luck by simply
growing *floating* plants with higher light (2 wpg?).

  - Erik

Erik Olson				
eriko at

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Fwd: plant filtration

by "Ed Pon" <edpon/>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998
To: apisto/

Gary wrote:
>Hi all,
>The idea of experimenting with plant-root filtration has appealed to me
>for some time. Can anyone tell me how the plant is held on top of the
>tank? By this, I mean what rooting medium, if any, is used between the
>stalk of the plant and the roots in the aquarium water?
Gary-- Justin of Ocean Aquarium has the philodendrum growing above his 
tanks in a plastic rain gutter (available from Home Depot).  I believe 
that it is slightly slanted and that the tank water is circulated 
through it using an air uplift tube.  I'm not sure if the medium he was 
using was gravel or what (I didn't notice).

By the way--Many years back,  I remember reading in an Aquarium digest 
about someone growing a potato plant with the roots hanging into the 
tank water to keep up water quality.  Potatoes are supposed to be a good 
source of minerals,  I wonder if a potato plant has any water softening 
qualities by taking minerals from the water.

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Plant Filter Update (Floating Plant Filter).

by "Klockers, Walter & Jeanne" <klock/>
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 1998

Hi All,

This is a note primarily for the archives...

The Floating Plant Filter (FPF) is continuing to do well. It is still
the only means of filtration on my 80. However, I have run into a snag.
In spite of an initial two minute dip in water using bleach (holding the
plants underwater during this period -- 19 parts water, 1 part
bleach...then a rinse in water w/triple the normal amount of dechlor),
there are some unwanted critters on the plants: aphids. They are
*everywhere*. I don't know if they came in on the plants or if some
stray aphids ended up on the plants after the filter was set up. I'm
going to attempt to get rid of the little buggers by getting some fine
plastic screen material and using that to hold the plants underwater for
a duration of ten minutes or so. I would think that I might have to do
this every once in a while for several weeks to get the results I
want...namely NO aphids. Also, if I had to do this project all over
again, I would *not* use a plastic container. I would use a glass tank
instead. The plastic, although quite strong, bends and has caused me to
make some modifications on the design. If anyone on the APD has any
suggestions on how to rid myself of the aphids, PLEASE tell me! I wonder
if there is a type of floating plant that the aphids do not like?

Walter B. Klockers
Elma, Washington

Quote of the day: "On the other hand, you have different fingers."

Algae scrubbers

by Robert Ricketts <rtricketts/>
Date: Sun, 05 Sep 1999

Agree w/Tom Barr's comments on higher plants vs.algae.  I've played with
a lot of "nutrient extractor" techniques also, but never in connection
w/planted tanks.  My toys are usually connected to tanks housing
plant-incompatable fish (too big, too herbivorous, diggers and gravel
movers, etc).

The majority of the setups have been sump variants, some with true
aquatics, some with emersed plants treated hydroponically.  Small HOB
variations include fiberglass wallpaper trays, plastic raingutter, and
the like- as Tom stated, Spathiphyllum is excellent for lower-light use
here.  As my subject tanks tend not to be planted heavily if at all,
tank-top W/D housings (Aquarium Systems makes two designs, the larger
one modular) converted to plant trays have been the least effort to
assemble and operate, usually with lava rock, some with long-grain
spahagnum moss layered over gravel.  I also agree that high water flow
through these sustems is not needed.  Pothos is useful in lower light as
well,  needs more trimming and harvest, but is much lower growing where
the Peace Lily can grow quite tall (flowers are a bonus).  Dwarf
creeping fig (the white-edged variant is most dramatic) can serve from
low to high light situations and wallpaper cork tiles or scramble over
driftwood.  With stronger light, Crotons are spectacular in such

The sump-like systems are most often same-footprint tanks with
aquatics.  Lowest-effort setups use anacharis or hornwort, reversed
light cycles, and a bit higher water flows than the tank-top or HOB
systems.  All the usual redundancies associated with sumps for avoiding
floods are appropriate here.

Those sumps using substrate-based plants are commonly potted, usually
because the plants are divisions or babies that are in the "veggie
filter" for grow-out, to be later used in planted tanks or traded in to
the LFS.  These setups tend to include bristlenose cats  (breeders or
fry for grow-out),  Amano shrimp, ramshorn snails and/or MTS, etc as
algae cleanup crews (hair algae has been an historic problem in these
tanks-high nutrient water, good aeration, good current, but the Amanos
have done a nice job on reducing that to a memory- thank goodness).

Algae is always a nuisance to harvest, the higher plants are much easier
and more pleasant to work on, and look a lot better.

where's my nitrogen

by "alex pastor" <alexp/>
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999

I discovered (the hard way) that filters attached to heavily planted aquaria
with moderate fish loads do not contain sufficient bacteria in order to be
considered 'cycled'.

Experienced people, like Karen Randall, have written that a filter in a
heavily planted tank is not necessary, however, the provision of water
movement is.  To this end, I use the canister filters to move water.
Whenever I do open the filters, which is seldom these days, there is next to
nothing in them.

At one time, I had an extra canister on one of my tanks.  Thinking. that
after several months, it must have significant bacterial colonization, I
switched it over to a new tank., hoping to be able to skip the several week
long 'cycling' process.  Well, I got an ammonia spike and nitrite.  After
twice daily 60 percent water changes, I ended up with only nitrate which was
also dealt with via water changes.

So, if you have a heavily planted tank into which you introduce only two
fish, don't be surprised that all the ammonia is being immediately absorbed
by the plants.  That's the form they prefer.  It's possible, if you never
load up the tank with lots of fish, that your filter will never be 'cycled'.
But, your fish will be very healthy, live long, and your plants will be

A tank which sits idle for several months, even if it's running with a
filter, will once again revert to being 'uncycled' because there is no
nitrogenous waste present in the system to keep bacterial populations alive.

G. Kadar

Plastic Pond Question

by "Klockers, Walter" <jloach/>
Date: Sat, 06 May 2000

> Does anyone know if moulded plastic ponds are strong enough to stand up
> on their own, ie without the supporting earth around them?  I've got a
> nice balcony on my flat that is crying out for a pond, but I don't think
> my wife would appreciate me carting a whole load of dirt up onto it...

How big of a pond are you talking about? I've got a peanut shaped, preformed
pond in back of my 80. I think the pond has a 30 gal (?) capacity. I'm using it
for a terrestrial plant filter (which is doing wonderfully, beginning it's 5th
month in operation). Even though the pond is only partially filled with water,
I'm confident that I could fill it all the way to the top with no problems. I'm
not sure what would happen with a different shape and larger size though.

Plano, TX

RE: plant filter sort of...

by "Thomas Barr" <tcbiii/>
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000

>Hi all,
>I'm thinking of setting up an experimental 10g tank with a peace lily
>(spathyphyllum?) growing emergent to serve as a nitrogen sink.  I'm
>thinking no-tech, room-lit, no co2, etc.  I'll probably use profile
>substrate. Ideally, I want a lot of the stems submerged (8-10 in) with
>leaves sticking out.
>What should I do to help the plant adapt to life with roots and some stem
>underwater?  I know people are using them for plant filters, where they
>are just roots in the substrate, but can they be grown emergent too?

Just start off at a nice low level in the tank and raise the level up
slowly. The plants will follow. Swords (E. cordifolius group) often do very
well for this and some Anubias/Bolbitis/Pennywort/floaters, water
sprite/wisteria(H. difformis), Gymnocornis, Lizard's tail, some Ludwigia
such as L. preuesis/granulosus etc. But these might not be as light tolerant
as Spath's though.
Spath's are good but you can use other plants also.

As far as a Nitrogen sink, well you can do emersed/submersed or both. All
will work depending on how you wish to balance things and what you want. You
may find later that your going to be adding jobes to the base of the lily to
keep it healthy so zero NO3 is not always a good thing as plants do need it
to be healthy. 5-10ppm seems to be a good range for most folks and plants.
Algae shouldn't be an issue for you at all. A few
guppies/SAE's/shrimps/snails should do nicely. Fed once a day is likely all
you'll need to do for the tank.
Good luck.
Tom Barr 

RE: plant filters et al

by "Thomas Barr" <tcbiii/>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000

>We in the San Francisco group were visited recently by Tropica Denmark's
>Claus Christensen.  Claus it the real deal - he seems to know everything
>about the technical aspects of the hobby and his company's business: growing
>and selling aquatic plants (to all but the US market <sigh> )  Not
>surprisingly, Claus has some strongly-held ideas, all backed by decades of
>experience and rigorous scientific testing.

He re-confirmed so many of my notions. Plants are the filter. Grow plants-
not bacteria or algae for filtration. Moving the water around at a slow flow
is all the filter is for really IMO.
I'm glad he and I are in the same camp here! Helps the creditability!

>I've been thinking of some of the things Claus mentioned; specifically his
>strong suggestion for the the use of plant filtration.  My trickle filter
>probably wouldn't be difficult to convert.  As I understand it I would
>remove the bio-balls, place some fast-growing plants directly into the water
>with no substrate, and add a 15-watt light source.  I suppose I would have
>to remove the sump cover and modify the hose so that the gravity flow still
>gets to the sump.  This is an area in which several members have experience,
>but I'm a little nervous about making what looks like a substantial change.

I have many, many ways to show folks how you can do this!!!!!
An idea I came up with 12 years ago still works super today is to use 3-4
inch diameter PVC pipe about 18 inches tall. Add several of these tubes to
your sump with enough room for other stuff like CO2 pumps etc. They sell
test caps for these tubes that you can glue to the bottom to cap one end.
Drill small holes
about two inches from the bottom of these tubes. Fill with
Flourite or hydroponics media(Clayballs- I call cocopebbles - available at
hydroponics places) and add your plant to each tube. This will act as a
wet/dry filter/plant reactor. All you need
to do is use a valve(s) for distributing the water from the prefilter or
come up with some way to add water from the prefilter to each tube. Tunze
had a lot of equipment years ago for this but it was too expensive for most
people(so guess what I did?). I have a customer that has a full Tunze system
that is going to be awesome. I'll talk later about it maybe. You missed my
talk at SFAS but I mentioned it then also. I'll be talking at SAS this
Saturday about it some. 
I would add a substrate though for the plant's roots. It depends on the
plants you want in there on this issue though. All that pennywort that I
have has no substrate really, watersprite wouldn't need any etc but I'd add
something for the Spatiphyllum or something. Did you remember seeing that
Small plant reactor at my house hanging off the back of my 20 gallon tank?
Add that to your sump basically. They require little maintenance for years
except for plant pruning which is always better than algae pruning!

>Claus also suggested the use Rosy Barbs ton control hair algae.  Does anyone
>have Rosy Barbs, and do they really eat hair algae?  Will they eat anything
>OTHER than the algae?  Will they disturb my other fish (Pearl Guoramis,
>Harlequin and Espes Rasboras, Otos, SAEs, C. japonica shrimp, assorted
Yes they do very well. Arm hair also when working in tank! Worry about the
shrimp and Guoramis.

Another note on plant filters:
They are very simple and easy to build. For the DIY'er you can go off and
come up with so many creative ideas it is limitless really. PVC tubes,
boxes, sumps, little streams flowing off from the tank, palurdiums, hang on
the back tubes- boxes etc, a simple plastic pot sitting on top of your hood
with a small flow going in and out from a small powerhead.
I like the hydroponics media and flourite for the media, a small flow
through the reactors and ambient light but extra light will do wonders too.
Try some creeping vines. They look good IMO.

..........But you can add the plants to the filter or to the tank itself.
More plants is more plants.
Tom Barr

Another weapon against algae

by "Tony Weitner" <tweitner/>
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2000
To: <erik/>

This may interest someone. I have had some decent success in limiting nutrients in my 120 gallon plant tank. I've taken a $2 houseplant called a Pothos (Devil's Ivy) and placed it on top of my light near the back of my tank. The ivy is running parallel to the surface along the back of the tank, half emersed, with a fairly extensive root system extending into the tank, along the back glass. I offer no quantized nutrient absorbtion info, but I am convinced that it is drawing from the tank, and it looks great.

Tony Weitner
Measurement Applications Engineer
Comtel Midwest

ivy and plant filters.

by Thomas Barr <tcbiii/>
Date: Mon, 02 Apr 2001

> It's my understanding that terrestrial plants are better at removing
> phosphates than aquatic plants (which are better at removing nitrates). I
> have a setup where it would be easy to dangle the roots of a terrestrial
> plant in the sump of a planted tank. I've heard that pothos ivy can be
> poisonous to people, so I was wondering if it would be a good candidate as a
> phosphate absorbing plant for a tank with fish.  If not, what other plants
> might be good?
> Tom
> Austin, Texas

Try a search for plant filters. You can use a peace lily(Brazilian sword
Spathphyillum sp.) -you know- the house plant, sold for 98cent in a 4 inch
pots? Trickle some tank water over the roots etc or place in a sump or
hanging in or out of the tank. As long as the plant is above water and the
roots are in. This plant needs very little light but does fine if it has a
fair amount too. Easy cheap fast growing and adaptable to different lighting
set ups. If you can read a book comfortably it'll live with that much light
generally. Ivy didn't do as well as many might think. Some species did okay
but none where truly hardy. Pennywort is very good. I still use that. It
likes more light. For a sump the peace lily is hard to beat. I simply added
several PVC tubes filled with hydroponics media and a plant in each. Water
passed through these instead of a wet/dry box so I got plant nutrient
removal plus wet/dry filtration. A 15 watt light underneath your sump is all
you would need for this plant. I did this about 14-15 years ago. The tank
was non planted but a heavy fish load. I was playing with FW algae scrubbers
at the time and found out the plant kicked the algae's butt in removal and
with far less lighting. I tested for NO3's and to see if they were lowered
which they were but using a Tetra kit back then was not to most useful
accurate thing but it worked to some degree. I got no reading with the plant
filters but got some NO3's with the algae scrubber with the high fish load.
Not the most certain approach but enough to get a general idea the way
things were going(It works or it doesn't). I had a separate pump and
cyclic(every 15 minutes) spray on both the algae and the plant set up. I had
2 x 20 watts(plus reflector) of light at 3 inch height on the algae(and a
clear acrylic box etc) and had some 15 watts(no reflector) and 12 inches of
height on the plant set up.
Tom Barr

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