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Thread: Anaerobic filter for nitrate removal

  1. #1
    DIYFK member karlthesloth's Avatar


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    Anaerobic filter for nitrate removal

    Hi everyone,

    I'm new to forums so I'll try to behave myself Click here to enlarge

    I am working on a 220g brackish paludarium display tank with floating mangrove islands. This is more of a science project than anything else. The goal is to make it as much of a closed system as possible, and as low maintenance as possible with minimal interference on my part. I am therefore trying to design a nitrate removing filter to complete the nitrogen cycle. I know that regular water changes are the best way to remove nitrates and ensure high water quality. The objective here is not to maximize laziness, trust me. It is to put as much thought and effort into the front-end design of the system, in an attempt to achieve my objective above.

    I plan to experiment on my 60g while I am getting the 220g set up, and I have some smaller tanks on hand that I will have cycled and running on a normal system so I can transfer fish to safety if things go awry. I currently have 10 red mangroves that are growing well, and an algae scrubber that also helps with nitrate removal. With a specific gravity of 1.01 though, plant options are very limited.

    My question is, are there any decent anaerobic filter designs out there for nitrate removal? So far my best idea is a 40" tall fluidized sand bed filter that I am making out of 4" PVC. I have read that you can eventually get anaerobic bacteria growing in the top portion of the tube where the oxygen has been removed by the aerobic bacteria in the lower areas.

    Joey, if you read this, have you ever thought about doing a DIY video on the topic?

  2. #2
    DIYFK member Zman3k's Avatar


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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by karlthesloth Click here to enlarge
    Hi everyone,

    I'm new to forums so I'll try to behave myself Click here to enlarge

    I am working on a 220g brackish paludarium display tank with floating mangrove islands. This is more of a science project than anything else. The goal is to make it as much of a closed system as possible, and as low maintenance as possible with minimal interference on my part. I am therefore trying to design a nitrate removing filter to complete the nitrogen cycle. I know that regular water changes are the best way to remove nitrates and ensure high water quality. The objective here is not to maximize laziness, trust me. It is to put as much thought and effort into the front-end design of the system, in an attempt to achieve my objective above.

    I plan to experiment on my 60g while I am getting the 220g set up, and I have some smaller tanks on hand that I will have cycled and running on a normal system so I can transfer fish to safety if things go awry. I currently have 10 red mangroves that are growing well, and an algae scrubber that also helps with nitrate removal. With a specific gravity of 1.01 though, plant options are very limited.

    My question is, are there any decent anaerobic filter designs out there for nitrate removal? So far my best idea is a 40" tall fluidized sand bed filter that I am making out of 4" PVC. I have read that you can eventually get anaerobic bacteria growing in the top portion of the tube where the oxygen has been removed by the aerobic bacteria in the lower areas.

    Joey, if you read this, have you ever thought about doing a DIY video on the topic?
    I recently picked three kilograms of some bio-home ultimate media. You can put it in any kind of filter, I threw it in mesh bags and put it in my sump. Itís made of sintered glass and was engineered to do exactly what you want. Provide aerobic as well as anaerobic areas for bacteria to grow. The anaerobic bacteria as I understand will take considerably longer to become established than the aerobic bacteria though. It is a bit pricey but if it can provide better water quality Iíll give it a shot. The guy who promotes it has a YouTube channel and goes by the name PondGuru check him out for a better explanation of how the media works and why itís superior, I canít post a link but greatwaveeng.com is where to get the stuff. Hope this helps

  3. #3
    DIYFK member vanish's Avatar


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    Best nitrate removal is just more plants! Either in the tank or in the system somewhere else.

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    DIYFK member karlthesloth's Avatar


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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Zman3k Click here to enlarge
    I recently picked three kilograms of some bio-home ultimate media. You can put it in any kind of filter, I threw it in mesh bags and put it in my sump. Itís made of sintered glass and was engineered to do exactly what you want. Provide aerobic as well as anaerobic areas for bacteria to grow. The anaerobic bacteria as I understand will take considerably longer to become established than the aerobic bacteria though. It is a bit pricey but if it can provide better water quality Iíll give it a shot. The guy who promotes it has a YouTube channel and goes by the name PondGuru check him out for a better explanation of how the media works and why itís superior, I canít post a link but greatwaveeng.com is where to get the stuff. Hope this helps
    Thanks Zman3k, the Bio-home BioGravel may work quite well for this. I was thinking of adding a shrimp and nerite snail tank to the system as a kind of refugium. Greatwaveeng.com says the BioGravel is a good playground for shrimp, so that could be a good combo. How long have you had your Biohome in the system? I suppose the Bio-home Ultimate could work as a shimp/snail substrate too if I didn't care much about aesthetics.

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    DIYFK member karlthesloth's Avatar


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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by vanish Click here to enlarge
    Best nitrate removal is just more plants! Either in the tank or in the system somewhere else.
    Thanks Vanish. I know - it would be awesome to just pack a tank full of plants and add it to the system but I'm really struggling to find anything besides mangroves that can tolerate the high salt content. Once my 10 mangroves have grown from where they are at now (12" tall) to full-blown trees, I can plant them in an aquaponics bed and I'm sure they will do a great job. They are doing well so far but mangroves are slow-growing trees by nature.

  6. #6
    DIYFK member dlboge's Avatar


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    For true anaerobic decomposition one must think four foot minimum tubes filled with "bio-pellets" or tree bark (removes oxygen first then acts as an electron donor) with residence times of water flow on the order of days. Like the oxidation of ammonia the reduction of nitrates to nitrogen gas is a very very slow process because the chemical reactions involved have a very low energy potential. The hype about certain media giving anaerobic conditions inside the media is simply marketing hype repeated by unsuspecting hobbyists. I've done a thorough search of the scientific literature on the subject and can find no data from a university supporting anaerobic conditions being created in mere inches or in a matter of hours.

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