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Wet-Dry filtration


    by (Rich Braun) (Fri, 20 Dec 1991)
  2. need help building wet/dry filter
    by (Chuck Parsons) (Mon, 24 Feb 1992)
  3. How I built my DIY wet/dry filter
    by (Gene Lee) (9 Mar 92)
  4. Another DIY wet/dry
    by marka-at-SSD.CSD.HARRIS.COM (Mark Ashley) (25 Sep 92)
  5. need help building wet/dry filter
    by (wm.keith.brummett) (Tue, 25 Feb 1992)
  6. need help building wet/dry filter
    by (Paul Houtz) (25 Feb 92)
  7. Pump head height
    by scottn-at-fluffrag.Eng.Sun.COM (Scott Nye) (22 Jan 92)
  8. (F) Wet/Dry Trickle questions
    by shine/ (stephen.c.shine) (Mon, 6 Jan 1992)
  9. (M)(R)Why do trickle filters increase nitrate?
    by glee/ (Gilbert Huppert) (27 Mar 1993)
  10. (M)(R)Why do trickle filters increase nitrate?
    by steve/ (Steve Tyree) (Sun, 28 Mar 1993)
  11. (M)(R)Why do trickle filters increase nitrate?
    by tse/ (Anthony Tse) (Sun, 28 Mar 1993)
  12. (M)(R)Why do trickle filters increase nitrate?
    by tse/ (Anthony Tse) (Mon, 29 Mar 1993)
  13. (M)(R)Why do trickle filters increase nitrate?
    by kncarp/ (Kevin N. Carpenter) (Mon, 29 Mar 1993)
  14. (M)(R)Why do trickle filters increase nitrate?
    by steve/ (Steve Tyree) (Tue, 30 Mar 1993)
  15. (M)(R)Why do trickle filters increase nitrate?
    by steve/ (Steve Tyree) (Tue, 30 Mar 1993)


by (Rich Braun)
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 1991
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria (Steve Rothenberg) writes:
>A few months ago someone posted an article describing how they
>built a trickle filter from scratch. could someone please post
>this or their own ideas on how to build a trickle filter? I am
>going to attempt it for a 55 gallon tank.

Alas, I didn't keep a copy of my own posting on this topic (someone
else contributed as well); I did keep my protein skimmer plans, fortunately.

The trickle filter plans I posted are quite elementary, for a 55-gal

Mine consists of the following:

	* Store-bought prefilter siphon
	* 1-1/4" drain hose
	* 10" octagonal acrylic drip tray
	* 5-gallon paint bucket with the bottom cut out
	* 20L fish tank as a sump
	* Hagen 802 and Magnum 330 pumping water back into tank
	* 18" length of PVC acting as spray bar


The drip tray:

	First, get rid of the term "drip plate" to describe this
	component.  The water inside this tray needs to be at least
	a few millimeters deep in order to achieve even dispersion.
	A 2" deep rim should be attached to the edge of this unit.
	For a standard 5-gallon bucket, the tray bottom can be a
	10" square of 1/4" acrylic, with the corners cut off to form
	a regular octagon.  8 additional pieces of acrylic form the sides.

	Start with small (1/16") holes drilled approximately 3/4" to 1"
	apart.  After setting up the pump to cycle water through at the
	desired rate (more than 4 tanks-per-hour, measured not estimated),
	you can then enlarge the holes to achieve the desired amount of
	flow restriction through the drip tray.

	Inside the drip tray, insert a piece of plastic grid ("egg crate",
	available in 2'x4' panels at home improvement stores) to keep
	the filter material off the bottom and allow smooth water flow.
	Cut out a piece of filter material (the company which makes
	Magnum filter pads sells 2'-square pieces at a low price) to
	fit inside the tray.

	Use small pieces of acrylic around the inside edge as pegs to
	hold up the tray top, which is attached to a 1-1/4" hose elbow
	adapter to connect to the prefilter drain.


	These can be home-built but if you can find one at a store or via
	mail-order for US$50 or less, it's probably worth it to buy one.
	This is one of only two components visible in the tank, so it
	should look good.

Drain hose:

	I used ordinary 1-1/4" I.D. vinyl hose to attach the pre-filter
	to the drip tray.  A better choice would be flex-hose of the
	sort used for swimming-pool plumbing.

Media chamber:

	This is a 5-gallon bucket of the sort sold for mixing paint.  Cut
	the bottom out, leaving a 1/2" lip around the edge to hold up the
	bottom grate.  Cut out a piece of plastic grate to fit inside;
	this holds the media in place.  You can choose yuppie media or
	el-cheapo DLS; 5 gallons of space is far more than enough
	for a 55-gallon tank no matter what choice of media you make.

	Elevate the bucket about 3" off the bottom of the sump using
	whatever plastic material happens to be handy.  I used sections of
	3"-diameter PVC pipe, which notches cut on top to keep the bucket
	in place and larger notches on the bottom to prevent dead zones in
	the water.


	Use a 15 or 20 gallon aquarium.  The front-to-back depth of these
	happens to be about 1/2" larger than the diameter of a paint bucket.


	Some sales people have suggested to me that a lone Hagen 802 is
	adequate for a 55-gal tank.  I personally disagree, and think the
	equivalent of two of these is a better choice.  Might be worth
	experimenting, given the price gap between the 802 (or even two
	802s at mail-order prices) and the next level of performance up
	(Quiet One, etc.)

Water return:

	I built a spray bar which directs the outlet across the top of the
	tank.  People concerned about CO2 levels (i.e. those who keep marine
	algae) might want to think twice before doing it this way.  My
	spray bar is a simple 18" piece of 1/2" I.D. PVC pipe with a cap
	glued on one end and an elbow on the other.  1/16" holes are drilled
	at one-inch intervals.

Total costs:

	I had to buy the following:

		1-1/4" vinyl hose, 3-1/2 feet
		5/8" vinyl hose (water return), 6 feet
		1/4" acrylic, one small sheet
		Ready-made prefilter
		Hagen 802 powerhead
		DLS media
		Pre-filter media
		Plastic egg-crate
		5-gallon bucket
		1/2" PVC pipe, elbow, and cap
		2 suction cups (for water return)

	The above cost something like US$100, and most of it came from
	a home-improvements store rather than an aquarium supply.  The
	best price I could find locally on a ready-made trickle filter
	was $180 (the owner threw in the power head at that price), so
	for the price of about 5 hours worth of work and about an
	equivalent amount running around in my shopping trip, I saved
	some money, got a bigger filter, and achieved a sense of pride
	in my work.

Good luck,


need help building wet/dry filter

by (Chuck Parsons)
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1992

In article <>, (ERIC OVERT writes...
>I'm thinking about constructing a wet/dry filter.  Does anyone
>have any reccommendations on dimensions, materials, etc.

  I hope others will expand/correct this.

Materials/construction technique

  1. Use plexiglas or another aquarium as the box. 

    If you use plexiglas be sure you use _real_ plexiglas cement. 
    Look in your yellow pages under plastics, and call a distributor. A quart
    (far more than you will ever use in 10 lifetimes) costs 
    about $10.

    Plexiglas cuts better with a table saw than a jig saw or band saw.
    If you use a jig saw use a guide board to make sure you get a 
    straight edge. A guide board is simply a _straight_ board clamped to 
    the plexiglas so the the edge of the jigsaw rests against the
    board to guide the cut.

     I have used three types of glue for plexiglas. 

       1. PVC glue sold for water pipes.
       2. Solvent glue sold in a hobby store for ABS plastic
           that said "Also works on ... plexiglas ..."
        3. Professional plexiglas cement sold (in Boston area)
          by Commercial Plastics.

      The third was by far the best, it melts the plexiglas better
    and dries faster. In particular if you have a straight edge
    on the plastic you will not have to use sealent. The joint 
    it produces are water tight. I did not get leak free joints
    with PVC glue despite comparable joint preparation. 

    To build tank, cut all your pieces first. Using masking tape
    assemble as much of the tank as possible. You have to be able
    to reach both sides of all joints however so you might not be able
    to completely assemble it. The classic mistake is to have 
    one of the sides taped so that its not really resting on the
    bottom, but is being supported by the other sides. That will
    give you a leak so watch out. 

    Make sure that there are no gaps from misalignment anywhere.
    Take your time, you wont be able to redo it.

    Using a needle applicator (sold for $1-$2 by plastic distributors)
    Squeeze a little of the glue along the seem. Capillary action will
    suck it into the seem. In 2-3 minutes the joint will have enough
    strength to keep the sides from falling over, in 15-20 it will be pretty 
    strong. Do one seem at time; checking after each one that you haven't
    leaned on the tank and pushed the sides out of alignment.

2. Size

 a. Sump space

   I have never heard anyone complain about having too much sump space.
   Within the constraints of not taking over your living room, make the
   sump space big. I usually have about 4-5 gallons of water in my 
   sump. However by covering the bottom 20% of my media I can put
   in 10 gallons. This allows me to go on vacation for 2 weeks with 
   out the sump running dry from evaporation.   

 b. Media. Use the size of your tank divided by 10 to 20 for media. Or
  2-1/2 to 5 gallons for a 55 gallon tank. Personally I think 3-4
  is about right for a 55 gallon tank, but I don't have any data 
  to base that on.

3. Details

  Personally I like a drip plate for simplicity and reliability. I
 put my mechanical filtration in the drip plate, since it is out of sight and
 easy to reach for cleaning. Rotating spray bars work too. This issue
 can become somewhat religous, if you find out which one is _really_
 better, be sure and let us all know ;-)


How I built my DIY wet/dry filter

by (Gene Lee)
Date: 9 Mar 92

I thought I'd take up some bandwidth and give a quick description of how
I built my trickle system.

The tower and sump portion is made from Rubbermaid(c) stuff I bought at
Target.  The sump is a generic storage container approx 36"long x 18"wide 
x 12"tall and has a removable snap-on lid.  
The tower is made from a 36Quart kitchen trash can.  I drilled
holes (1/2") in the bottom of the trash can and filled in with bio-balls.
In the lid of the sump, I cut a hole just a little smaller than the bottom
of the trash can and set the trash can on top of it.
I also found a rectangular container that was just the right size to sit
on top of the trash can.  In the bottom of it I drilled 3/8# holes on a
one inch grid.  I layed some foam on the bottom and this make my drip tray.

For the pre-filter, I bought two specimen containers. These are little clear
plastic boxes which hang on the lip of a aquarium for aclimating fish or
something.  At any rate, I hooked two of these together with nylon screws
so that one is in the aquarium and one is outside.  On the inside box, 
I used my dremel tool to cut the "tines" for skimming. On the outside on
I cut a whole and mounted the nipple for the flexible black hole which
is the drain pipe.  I bought this at a hardware store called Budget Power.

While on the subject, I use a Quiet One pump.  Yes, it does live up to
its name. It is extremely quiet.  In fact, the flowing/trickling of the
water completely hides any noise it is making.

                ______________________  Rubbermaid trip tray
           |         |
           |         |
           |         |
           | Bio-    |           <------- Rubber maid trash can (tower)
           | Balls   |
           |  in     |
           |  here   |
           |         |
           |         |
           |         |
    |-------- - - - --------------------------|
    |                                         | <---- Rubbermaid storage 
    |                                         |        container (sump)
    |                                         |
    |                                          -------------------->
    |_________________________________________|       PVC to Pump 

The following is the diagram of the two specimen containers held together
with nylon screws.

                               (Side View)

                     |           Syphon Tube        |
                     |      /---------------\       |
                     |      |                |      | 
                     |      |      /--\      |      |
                  |  |      |  |----||----|  |      |   
                  |  |      |  |    ||    |  |      |   
                  |  |      |  |          |  |      |   
                  |  |      |  |  Tank    |  |      |  | /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
                  |  |      |  |   Wall   |  |      |  |         Water Level
                  |  |      |  |   is     |  |      |  |
                  |  |      |  | straddled|  |      |  |
                  |  |      |  |  here    |  Tank      |
                  |  |      |  |          |    Side    |
                  |   Drain    |          |            |
                  |    Hole    |          |            |
                  |   Here     |          |            |
                  |____________|          |____________|

                                 (Back View)
                                   (of outside specimen)
                       |          |                                    
                       |          |                                     
                       |          |                                     
                       |          |                                     
                |      | Syphon   |                        |
                |      | Tube     |                        |
                |      |          |                        |
                |      |          |                        |
                |      |          |                        |
                |      |          |    |                   |
                |      |          |    |                   |
                |      |          |    |                   |___________________
                |                      |                    
                |                      |                         Drain Pipe
                |                      |                    
                |                      |                    ___________________

Gene Lee               UUCP: ...!uunet!s5000!minnow!lee
Unisys Corporation               
Phone: (612) 635-7147     CSNET: lee-at-minnow.SP.Unisys.Com
If not for the courage of the fearless manager, the paycheck would be lost.

Another DIY wet/dry

by marka-at-SSD.CSD.HARRIS.COM (Mark Ashley)
Date: 25 Sep 92
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

Well, I just completed my wet/dry and have been running it for 
the past three days with no problems. Thought I might share the
info. A similar previous post convinced me to build my own so
maybe this post will convince another soul. 8-)
I welcome suggestions for improvements (thru e-mail, please).

    15 gallon tank ($15 - pet shop)
    "Eheim" 1250 Hobby pump ($65 - That Fish Place)
    5/8 inch tubing (60 cents per foot - pet shop)
    "Magnum" 200 Outlet Tube with Diffuser ($4 pet shop)
    Padding for the pump (reduces glass vibration)

    pre-filter ($50 Spectacular Sea Systems) 
    2 siphon tubes ($7 each pet shop)
    flexible 2-inch hose ($7 Spectcular Sea Systems)
    2 hose clamps for both ends of flexible hose (Home Depot)
    3 dishwashing sponges (3"x4"x0.5") (Target)
    1 roll teflon tape ($1 Home Depot)

    3.5 gal bucket for crushed coral  ($3 Home Depot)
    3.5 gal bucket for drip tray ($3 Home Depot)
    3.5 gal bucket for trickle filter stand ($3 Home Depot)
    3.5 gal bucket for trickle filter ($3 Home Depot)
    cover for 3.5 gal bucket ($2 Home Depot)
    7.5 gal box Lee's Bio-Pinballs ($60 pet shop)
    plastic cable ties (Home Depot)

    1-inch 90-degree elbow pipe - slip ends (20 cents - Home Depot)
    2 pieces 3/4 inch coupling pipe - slip ends (20 cents each - Home Depot)
    1-inch coupling pipe - slip ends (20 cents - Home Depot)
    "Oatey" Purple Pipe Primer/Cleaner for cpvc or pvc ($2 - Home Depot)
    "Oatey" Heavy Duty Clear Cement fpr pvc  ($3 - Home Depot)
Other materials:
    3/16 drill bit
    Power drill


     1. Making the drip tray:

        I took one of the 3.5 gal buckets and cut off the bottom 3 inches.
        This was the initial height. I cut it down a half inch later
        when I saw that I could get away with it (i.e. the water level
        was pretty low). I drew a 3 inch circle in the middle. This
        is the no-hole zone. This is where the water will splash hence
        it's better not to have holes. Then I drew 12 lines from 
        the edge of the tray to the center. All the holes I drilled
        were on these lines. The number of holes I drilled were enough 
        to keep about a half-inch of water in the tray and the rest
        dripped through the holes.
     2. Making the stand for the trickle filter.

        I took one of the 3.5 gal buckets and cut off the bottom
        7 inches. Then I drew a line around the bucket, one inch from 
        the bottom (the open end). I drew another line one inch  
        below the top (the closed end a.k.a. the bottom of the bucket).
        Then I drew eight "windows". Each window is bounded on the
        top and the bottom by the 2 lines I already drew. Each
        window is about one inch wide. The windows are evenly spaced
        from each other along the circumference of the stand.
        I cut out the windows.

     3. Making the trickle filter (without the cover)

        I took one of the 3.5 gal buckets and drew a line around
        the bucket, half an inch from the bottom. I drew another
        line a half inch above the first line. Then I drew
        vertical lines inside the area bounded by the first two
        lines. Each vertical line is about two inches apart
        along the perimeter of the bucket. Then I cut off each
        alternating "piece". The result is the bucket has
        little "windows" at the bottom for the water to drain.

        I took the stand I made in step 2 and set it down
        with the closed end facing up. I set the trickle
        filter on top of that. I drilled eight holes at the
        bottom so I hit both bucket bottoms. Then I took the 
        cable ties and strung them through the holes; tightened
        them; and they were attached (bottom to bottom).

        I took the bio-pinballs and assembled them into a neat
        stack as suggested by the box instructions. I put them
        in the bucket.

        The drip plate went on top of the bio-balls.

     4. Making the cover of the trickle filter.

        I took the bucket cover and cut a hole in the middle
        just enough to accomodate the 3/4 inch coupling pipe.
        I cut the 1-inch coupling pipe a bit because it was
        too long (you'll understand why, later). The setup is 
        like so: I took the 1-inch coupling pipe, and slipped in
        a 3/4 inch coupling pipe; I slipped the 3/4 inch coupling 
        pipe through the hole in the bucket cover; I slipped
        the 3/4 inch coupling pipe into the elbow; I slipped
        the elbow onto the other 3/4 inch coupling pipe.
        The flexible hose will fit over this last 3/4 inch 
        coupling pipe. The 1-inch coupling pipe is the one 
        "under" the cover when I put the cover on the bucket.
        It was hitting my drip plate that's why I had to cut it
        a bit.

        Well after this rehearsal, I got the purple cleaner
        and the glue and did it for real. 8-). I just followed
        the instructions on the cans.

     5. Connecting the water pump.

        The Eheim is a submersible pump so it's perfect for
        this DIY wet/dry. The 5/8 inch hose goes on the output 
        tube with no hassle. I connected The other end to the 
        "Magnum" 200 Outlet Tube which I then hooked over
        the edge of the aquarium. The diffuser can be used
        if desired. When power is turned off water siphons
        back to the sump through the 5/8 hose but only
        until the mouth of the Outlet Tube. In my case,
        a gallon of water comes back to the sump.
     6. Modifying the pre-filter.

        The siphon tube that came with the pre-filter was sufficient
        for the job. However, I wanted to use two tubes, one being
        a backup tube in case the other one failed. 

        I bought a siphon tube from the local pet shop and noticed 
        that this tube had a two inch difference in the lengths of 
        its ends. On the original siphon tube, one end was only
        a half-inch longer than the other. In experimenting with
        the pre-filter, I found that the original siphon tube 
        had a tendency to accumulate bubbles when used with
        the pet-shop siphon tube.

        To make a long story short, two siphon tubes from the
	pet shop worked better for what I wanted.

     7. Hooking up the pre-filter

        This was the easy part. I attached the flexible hose to the
        prefilter and tightened the hose clamp. I put in the 
        prefilter astride a corner of the tank. I put the 15-gal 
        tank below the main tank. I put in the trickle filter and 
        attached the flexible hose to it, tightening another hose
        clamp. I put the pump into the 15-gal tank and attached the 
        5/8 inch hose. I attached the Magnum" 200 Outlet Tube to the 
        other end of the 5/8 hose and hooked it over the edge of the
        main tank. I put water into the 15-gal tank. I put water
        into the prefilter and started up the siphons. Then I
        powered up the pump. 

     8. Making the crushed coral tray

        I took one of the 3.5 gal buckets and cut off the bottom
        two inches and put crushed coral that I already had
        in my tank as part of the UGF. This went below the trickle
        filter, inside the stand.

     9. Making improvements.

        After running it for a few minutes, I added some 

        The prefilter was tilted because it was designed with 
        a 1.5 inch gap between the prefilter and the toothed box 
        whereas my aquarium edging is only about 3/4 inch. So on 
        the outside, between the prefilter and the glass tank, I 
        put in a couple of dishwashing sponges. So now the prefilter
        is level.

        On the prefilter side, the flexible hose was a bit heavy 
        and the bucket cover is too flexible so the elbow pipe was 
        getting weighted down by the flex and tilting forward. 
        I put in another sponge on the edge of the bucket to prop 
        up the flex hose.

        Water was also dripping so very slowly out of the 
        flexible hose on the prefilter side, I took out the
        flexible hose, wrapped teflon tape over the tube
        coming out of the prefilter, and put back the flexible
        The pump made too much noise because it was vibrating
        and it was on glass. I put a sponge under it. This
        was a salt water safe sponge which was just lying
        The output of the pump was too strong for the water
        to simply drop straight down into the gravel - major
        clouding. So i used the diffuser that came with the
        outlet tube. I put the prefilter box in one corner,
        and the outlet tube in the other corner so that
        water would circulate. When I pointed the diffuser
        towards someplace else other than the prefilter,
        the floating protein stuff would not all go into
        the prefilter/toothed box. So I made the diffuser
        point towards the pre-filter and now all the icky
        stuff is in the toothed box.

        I ended up with about 7 gals of water in my sump
        because the Eheim is a bit tall and to compensate
        for water evaporation which is really fast compared
        to when I didn't have a wet/dry.

Other considerations:

     1. I used a 3.5 gal bucket instead of a 5 gal bucket for the 
        trickle filter because of the height of my aquarium stand.
        When I build my next stand, I'll just replace the 3.5 with
        a 5.0 and put more bio balls.

     2. The 15 gal tank was my old tank, hence, was available
        for use. My current 35 gal tank will be the wet/dry
        when I move on to a 65 gal tank. Then I'll have room
        for two buckets in the sump. A 100 gal tank also 
        looks very tempting . . . 8-)

     3. The bio-balls came in a one-cubic foot box which the
        labels claim to contain 7.5 gals of bio-balls. I used
        only about 1/4 of it. The rest will be used for when
        I change over to dual 5-gal buckets.

     4. I had enough room in the sump to include my protein
        skimmer and its own pump.

Mark Ashley                        |DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed      |here are my own; they do not
..!uunet!gcx1!marka               |reflect the opinion or policies
                                   |of Harris Corporation.

need help building wet/dry filter

by (wm.keith.brummett)
Date: Tue, 25 Feb 1992
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

    In article <>, (ERIC OVERTON) writes:
    > I'm thinking about constructing a wet/dry filter.  Does anyone
    > have any recommendations on dimensions, materials, etc.

    Well,  before you can determine dimensions and materials, you have to
    supply a few facts.  How big is your tank?  How much bio-load?  Do you
    want a nice, professional-looking filter, or the cheapest thing that

    If you want a professional job, then building your own may not be so
    cost-effective anymore.  A local pet shop sells a small trickle filter
    (suitable for a 55-gal) for $169.  That includes a plexi sump/tower, a
    plexi prefilter/skimmer, DLS and/or ball media, connecting tubes, and a
    cheap pump.  Plug it in and it's ready to go.  (They do recommend buying
    a better pump, though.)

    If you really want to try your hand, then get a book on working with
    acrylic sheet and go for it.  You may want to use a tank for the sump,
    and just build your media tower and prefilter.  Go to a pet store, look
    at several commercial units, and copy the basic designs.  There's
    nothing especially tricky, except maybe getting various levels in the
    prefilter correct so that it holds a siphon and such.

    If you want super-cheap, then get creative.  I'm currently building one
    in a 20H-gal sump tank (the tank was $12).  The media tower is a $4
    5-gal utility bucket.  The bottom is cut out, except for a ledge, and
    plastic egg-crate grating sits on that ledge.  There are two 5" layers
    of DLS separated by more grating.  (If you prefer plastic bio-media
    pieces, then use cut-up straws, hair curlers, shotgun shell wads, small
    slices of PVC pipe, or what have you.)  A drip plate consists of the
    bottom 2" of another bucket, drilled with about 100 5/32", beveled
    holes.  I bought a plexi skimmer from the establishment above because
    I got lazy.  It's connected to the sump with 1-1/4" plastic tubing and
    fittings from the hardware store.  I'll probably start out using a
    Hagen 802 power head as my pump, because I happen to have one laying
    around.  Some DLS around the pre's standpipe and a piece laying in the
    drip plate, and I'm in business.  (I'm really building mine as an
    educational exercise more than anything else.  I could afford a
    commercial unit, but I have too many other hobbies contending for my
    disposable income. :-) )

    If you want ultra-cheap and ultra-easy, and aesthetics are tossed out
    altogether, just fill a tall plastic trashcan with your media of choice.
    Set it on a shelf above the tank, and pump water up to the top of it so
    that the water sprays over the media (you can build a drip plate).  Cut
    a hole, or attach a fitting, to the bottom of the can so that the water
    drains back into the tank.  Don't expect an SO (if any) to allow this
    to reside in habitable living space.  :-)

    -- Keith

    | (614) 860-3187         Copyright (C) 1992, by       AT&T, Room 3B202 |
    | att!cblph!wkb  or,     W.K. Brummett and AT&T      6200 E. Broad St. |
    |       All rights reserved.      Columbus, OH 43213 |

need help building wet/dry filter

by (Paul Houtz)
Date: 25 Feb 92
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

Chuck gives good advice, however, after having built one, I also recommend the

   USE AT LEAST 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch acrylic for the trickle filter.
   The reason is that this gives you sufficient gluing surface at the edges
   to get a good bond.   Once you fill this sucker with water, it is going
   to distort, and acrylic (plexiglass) distorts all by itself over time.

   That places strain on the joints, and if you used 1/8 or 3/16 inch 
   or even 1/4 inc material, it could come loose and leak.   Don't scrimp
   on your materials.

   Also, build it like box, not like an L shape.     Remember that your 
   inlet may be below the level of the water in your aquarium, and your
   surface skimming siphon has some capacity of it's own.   So, when you
   shut your pumps off, or if there is a power failure, the water level in
   the sump is going to rise.   You should leave PLENTY of unused capacity
   so that water can drain into the sump without overflowing.   I say this
   from PERSONAL unpleasant experience.

   If you are going to put this guy in the stand under your tank,  leave
   at least 1 inch and better two inches between the top of the filter
   and the DOOR opening.  Otherwise it will be a pain changing the filter
   on top of the drip plate, and the edges of the acrylic cut your hands
   if you have to work in a cramped space.

   Finally, use at least 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch acrylic for your drip plate.
   DON'T use abs plastic.   It warps.   With the flow coming down into the
   media, it will sag in the middle and the water won't be distributed 
   over your media properly.

   Having built one that works, but needed some patching and modification,
   I think it would be easy to build a very good one keeping in mind the
   above tips.

   Also, for information about how to calculate the size, quantity of
   media, and general design, get Albert Thiel's book "Marine and Invert
   Aquariums".   It as the formula for calculating the size of the container
   for a given size aquarium, and a lot of good information.

Pump head height

by scottn-at-fluffrag.Eng.Sun.COM (Scott Nye)
Date: 22 Jan 92
Newsgroup: alt.aquaria

In article <> (Rich Braun) writes:
> (Robert Frederick Enenkel) writes:
>>Just a word of warning.  Enlarging spray bar holes doesn't necessarily do
>>what one might naively expect it to.  I drilled out the holes on the spray
>>bar of one of my Eheim 2034's.  This filter comes with a 1" diameter spray
>>bar with about 1/8" holes.  Unmodified, it shot the water straight out of
>>the holes.  I drilled them out to 1/4".  Ooops.
>The area of a hole increases with the square of the diameter.  So instead
>of doubling the amount of area for water flow, you quadrupled it.  Given
>my 1/16" holes, therefore, it would probably be foolhardy for me to
>immediately drill them all out to 1/8".  Drilling out every other hole to,
>for example, 3/32" would be safer.  Then if that wasn't enough, drill out
>the rest of the holes to 3/32"; then if more is needed, drill every other
>one out to 1/8".  In things political, go liberal; in things physical,
>go conservative.  ;-)

If the spray bar is long relative to its diameter, you make the holes
closest to the water supply largest, then proceed to the points on the
bar farthest from the supply. The holes at the points farthest from
the water supply should be the smallest.

Just think of a long heating duct in a house. The duct is usually tapered
so that the end is smaller. This maintains even flow out of all the ducts.

Scott Nye

(F) Wet/Dry Trickle questions

by shine/ (stephen.c.shine)
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 1992
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article (Steve Rothenberg) writes:
>1. what determines how big of a tank you can put your homemade filter
>   on? I have been told by people  it is based on how much biological
>   balance you put in the tower. is this true? how do you measure? 

Both Moe and Thiel suggest a certain amount of surface area per gallon
of tank water.  Thiel (1) states that the aquarist should provide
somewhere between 2.0 and 2.5 square feet of biological filtration area 
per gallon of water in the aquarium.  Moe (2) recommends 3 to 5 square 
feet per gallon of water; most systems should be fine with 3 to 4 square 
feet, but tanks with heavy bioloads should use 5 to 6 square feet per
gallon of water.  You also asked about turnover.  I forget what Moe
and Thiel recommend, but I recall it being something around 5 or 6 tanks
per hour.

(1) Thiel, Albert J., Small Reef Aquarium Basics, 1989, Aardvark Press, 
Bridgeport, CT, USA.  ISBN 0-945777-02-7, pp 43-44.

(2) Moe, Martin A. Jr., The Marine Aquarium Reference: Systems and 
Invertebrates, 1989, Green Turtle Publications, Plantation, FL, USA,
ISBN 0-939960-05-2, p 248.

>4. I went to a local builders supply store and they had little hobby
>   pumps for 30-50 dollars that pumped 200-475 gph. would this be
>   acceptable for the pump instead of an 802 powerhead? the only
>   drawback is there is no flow regulator on the pump.  

Install a ball valve on the return line from the pump.  Don't put it
on the supply, or it may "cavitate".
>6. can you use regular aquarium silicon on plastics to bond them  
>   together or is there a special glue (non-toxic) that you would use?
>   name?

For PVC, you can use a chemical weld.  Stuff is cheap and permanent.
I've also used Plumbers Goop, which leaves a little bit of flex in
the joint.  Both are safe.

>Steve Rothenberg           \   GO BROWNS               \       (513) 865-1107

Steve Shine
AT&T Bell Labs

(M)(R)Why do trickle filters increase nitrate?

by glee/ (Gilbert Huppert)
Date: 27 Mar 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <1p029q$ne9-at-usenet.INS.CWRU.Edu> fxm3-at-po.CWRU.Edu (Frank Mularo) writes:
>I took 1 1/2 years of chemistry
>in college. Part of that involved oxidation/reduction reactions,
>which is what the process of nitrification is. One of the things
>that we were taught is that a reaction can only be kept going if
>all the ingredientsneeded for the reaction were present. For ex-
>ample, you could not produce nitrite if there is no ammonia present
>in a tank. Also, you could not produce nitrate if nitrite is not
>present. It stands to reason here that the amount of nitrate pro-
>duced depends on the amount of ammonia produced by the tank's
>inhabitants. Now, you can improve the nitrification capacity of
>the bacteria by exposing them to atmospheric oxygen, but the amount
>of nitrate produced is still dependent on the amount of ammonia in
>the water. 

Yes, you are right so far.  The only thing you are missing is that 
you are thinking about a limited and closed reaction network.  In
a chemistry course, you are given all the reactions, and know exactly
what can happen to each chemical species.  Here, we are talking about 
much more complex biological systems.  I believe that what you are 
neglecting is that the anaerobic bacteria convert nitrate to nitrite, 
and then further reduce nitrite to nitrogen (this is why if you are 
running an anaerobic chamber you always check for nitrite as well as 
nitrate levels, and you make sure that the water doesn't go from the
chamber to the tank without accessing an aerobic section).  The theory
is that the anaerobic bacteria can work better if they have a source 
of nitrite instead of nitrate.  This is precisely what can happen on
the surface of liverock, since the ammonia is first converted into 
nitrite before becoming nitrate.  

Anyone have any better explaination?

Gilbert Lee Huppert (
Materials Etching Technology Laboratory

(M)(R)Why do trickle filters increase nitrate?

by steve/ (Steve Tyree)
Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

 If trickle filters with plastic media have the possibilty of creating more
nitrates than the live rock denitrifying process can handle, why not just
put bald porous live rocks (seen in some reef stores) in the trickle filter.
Would the nitrifying of ammonia still occur on the surface of these rocks
or would it be effected from the darkened location?
 I am using plastic media and have never seen color on the LaMotte low range 
nitrate test. I would probably need to purchase the lower ranged Hach kit to
be able to test for current nitrate fluctuations. Note - I add a couple bags
of xnitrate every two months for security. Being able to remove the xnitrate
would help but I need some more confidence. Even in Wilkens recent books in 
which the original Berlin Method was discussed (1986), he states a rather
high nitrate range which he states as acceptable. Four times higher than my
current one. Also, Julien Springs and others who set up berlin tanks also
note that some corals (Acropora ?) can tolerate slightly higher nitrates.
Has anyone with a *low* range nitrate test kit, removed their plastic media
and verifyed that nitrate levels dropped? And how much of a drop occurred?

 Steve Tyree - Reef Breeder

(M)(R)Why do trickle filters increase nitrate?

by tse/ (Anthony Tse)
Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <> (Steve Tyree) writes:
>Has anyone with a *low* range nitrate test kit, removed their plastic media
>and verifyed that nitrate levels dropped? And how much of a drop occurred?

  Well, I use the LaMotte kit and wish I have the Hack kit.  Anyhow,
before removal of bio-balls, .25ppm, 5 days after removal of bio-balls,
barely pink and stayed that way.

> Steve Tyree - Reef Breeder

(M)(R)Why do trickle filters increase nitrate?

by tse/ (Anthony Tse)
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <> (Steve Tyree) writes:
>In article <> (Anthony Tse) writes:
>>  Well, I use the LaMotte kit and wish I have the Hack kit.  Anyhow,
>>before removal of bio-balls, .25ppm, 5 days after removal of bio-balls,
>>barely pink and stayed that way.
> Where those mini-bio balls or regular sized ? Did you find a lot of
>detreitus collected within the bio balls. Did the removal procedure
>also affect any detreitus collection in the bottom of the sump? Just
>trying to make sure that removing the media was the problem. 

    They were reglular bio-balls, actually, the orange Bio-Pak.  The
balls were very clean, no detreitus on them at all.  I clean my
sump two to three times a year, and I did not even think about
cleaning the sump the day I took the bio-balls out.  Yanking 5 gallon
bucket full of bio-balls out of a TF with ~2" clearance to stick
my hand in was more then enough work for 1 day.

> Why should I remove my media if nitrates are less than or equal to
>lowest setting of the Lamotte kit? Actually almost no color tinge.

   Try taking out your x-nitrate.  If the nitrate rise, then yanking
the bio-ball will save you on x-nitrate.  Otherwise, I guess you
can keep them.  I argued along the same line you did for over
a year -- TF doesn't do anything good, and anything bad, I was wrong,
it does something bad.


(M)(R)Why do trickle filters increase nitrate?

by kncarp/ (Kevin N. Carpenter)
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

Anthony Tse ( wrote:
: In article <> (Steve Tyree) writes:
: >Has anyone with a *low* range nitrate test kit, removed their plastic media
: >and verifyed that nitrate levels dropped? And how much of a drop occurred?

:   Well, I use the LaMotte kit and wish I have the Hack kit.  Anyhow,
: before removal of bio-balls, .25ppm, 5 days after removal of bio-balls,
: barely pink and stayed that way.

: >
: > Steve Tyree - Reef Breeder
: >
: -Anthony

Another data point:  When I had my trickle filter (10 gallons of mixed
shot-gun wads and those black twisted semi-circular "super" bio 
material do-dads seen in full-page FAMA ads) I had a nitrate level around
1.4ppm (Hach).  After removing the material I've been stable at 0 (<0.02ppm)
with the exception of one .8ppm spike (unknown cause but it went away
in a week or so (and with a 25% water change)).

Kevin Carpenter               Internet:
Monsanto Company              Fidonet:     1:100/215.0 (home)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.   CompuServe:  71726,2111
Opinions expressed are those of the author, not the company he works for. 

(M)(R)Why do trickle filters increase nitrate?

by steve/ (Steve Tyree)
Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <> (Kevin N. Carpenter) writes:

>Another data point:  When I had my trickle filter (10 gallons of mixed
>shot-gun wads and those black twisted semi-circular "super" bio 
>material do-dads seen in full-page FAMA ads) I had a nitrate level around
>1.4ppm (Hach).  After removing the material I've been stable at 0 (<0.02ppm)
>with the exception of one .8ppm spike (unknown cause but it went away
>in a week or so (and with a 25% water change)).

 What I have been thinking about doing is to keep the trickle filter as a sump
and modify the dry portion. Add a flowover wall that allows water to rise up
enough so that the "media" area will be submerged. Than I would put porous
reef rock (cheap and bald) into the media area under water. This is due to the 
fact that my reef is elevated and "porous" base rock was limited so more 
coralline encrusted rock could be placed on top. Would this give me the best
of both worlds? Plenty of surface area for ammonia to nitrite and internal
porous areas for nitrate breakdown. I have read about this somewhere, but can
not remember where. It would prevent the potential that coralline algae might
have to limit the internal break down of nitrate. Try this at home.
   Lift a heavily coralline encrusted rock out of the water. Note the amount
     of water which drains from the rock.
   Lift a bald porous base reef rock out of the water. Note the amount of water
     which drains from the rock.
 Could this be limiting coralline growth ? My goal is to have a reef where the
side walls and rear wall are completely encrusted with coralline algae. I mean
pick axe encrusted. This would provide an ideal settling area for planulae or
juvenile corals.

 Steve Tyree - Reef Breeder

(M)(R)Why do trickle filters increase nitrate?

by steve/ (Steve Tyree)
Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1993
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria

In article <> (Anthony Tse) writes:

>    Don't know for sure.  I don't have as much coralline (who does?) as
>I like, but I would say more then 50% of the rock exposed to light are

 My reef rock is about 75 % encrusted as is. Purchased a lot of Marshall
Island live rock. This has helped seed coralline growth on the pvc matrix
and tank walls. I am elevating kh by adding reef builder buffer to try
to proliferate the coralline. I want a completely encrusted reef like
the reefs which exist in some parts of the world. This may force me to
use porous rock in the trickle filter for nitrate breakdown. The coralline
rock has a lot of surface area so ammonia breakdown should still be ade-
quate. Some reef areas do contain green macro and micro algae but in an
ideal environment the corallines should win the growth war and encrust
even the algae. I have sections of my pvc where small brown clump algae
is being overgrown by corallines. Only have this algae in a couple of 
minute places on pvc (brown clump that is). I will continue 5 % weekly 
water changes and change 2 xnitrate bags every 2 months until I convert
my plastic-dry section to a rock-wet section. Might remove x-nitrate
bags at that point but will continue regular water changes.

>    You are pumping tons of air into your skimmer, I don't believe
>disolved oxygen should be a problem.

 That is what one would think, however I read some where (probably inter-
net :>) that water leaving the skimmer is not oxygen saturated. Can not
remember the full explanation though. I have three limewood airstones 
creating a huge amount of bubbles for a near 4 foot section of chamber.
But still have low dissolved oxygen around 6.0 ppm. My reef runs warm 
though (~80 F) due to perpetual summer mode. Oxygen saturation point
drops as temperature rises.

 Steve Tyree - Reef Breeder

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