View Full Version : Another Nitrate Filter

04-29-2004, 02:24 PM
Well my planted tank days are over. The 3" discus never grew to full potential so I decided that BB was the way to go. I still wanted the benefits of plants and there ability to remove Nitrate. So I built a FW Plant Refugium. I designed the overflow to be spit between the Bio tower and the Refugium. My idea is to reduce water changes, keep to a heavy feeding schedule, and to maintain Nitrate low (< 5ppm).

Tank 220g Acrylic (72X24X30). For daytime nitrate removal I use Java Fern sp. in the tank.


Filter System during installation


The bottom container is the Bio-tower
The left container is the mechanical sump
The right container is the FW Refugium

The plants sit on a ledge about 6" off the bottom. This is so I can vacumm up all the detritus or dead leaves that fall to the bottom of that tank. All plants are potted and the substrate is Flourite (Inert substrate). I can cut off the flow to the refugium so I can use any medication or salt if needed in the main tank with out harming the plants.

Here is the FW refugium


I run the refugium reverse daylight of the main tank. So the lights are on at night and the main tank lights are run during the day time. I hope that this reduces the PH shifts from day and night. Plus I have the plants in the main tank removing the nitrate during the day and the refugium at night. A simple 55 watt PCF fixture is all the light running on the refugium. I hope to encourage more emergent growth so that I can remove as much nitrate as possible. The plants are Crypts, Micro-swords, and Barclaya. An added benefit is that I want to flower all these species of plants, something you just can not do with submerged plants. The reason I choose these plants were for the low light requirement and ease of maintenance.

I will monitor over the next few weeks Ph - Night vs Day, Nitrate Level, and Phosphate Level.

As a side note I have already begun to see some prespawn rituals from some of the discus in the tank. Maybe just coincidence? Who knows.

05-01-2004, 05:34 PM
Hey Chavez,
Nice setup. Can you give a little better description about the water flow through this system? I don't understand how the water gets into the bio tower. I see that the water goes to the plants first, then overflow into the mechanical sump. Interesting concept. ;)
Lance Krueger

05-03-2004, 01:39 PM
There are two drains in the overflow.

1st Drain goes to the biotower then to the mechancial sump
2nd Drain goes to the Refugium then the mechanical sump. The flow from this drain is reduced with a gate valve. Maybe one turnover an hour (220gph approximately)

I will try and take a picture tonight of the drain system for you.

Well so far so good, had one pair spawn, and two who should spawn tonight (Tubes are down and ready!). BTW this may have nothing to do with the filter maybe just coincidence.

Installing a Ph meter and tonight and will monitor 24/7.
No ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate to speak of in the tank. The tank has only been set-up for two weeks and was not cycled. Like it skipped the cycle step. Stay tuned.

05-22-2004, 12:53 AM
I have 7 tanks on a central filtration syatem. (33 gal 2 15's 4 20's and a 30 gal sump). 2 of the tanks I keep non discus (I know please dont hate me). Well it started as a way to keep fish happy and a place for fry to hide I tossed in some hornwort (about an 8 in piece) a clump of java moss (about the size of a baseball) and a small piece of watersprite (about 3 in diamater) all in one tank. Well about 3 mos later the watersprite had emerged out of the tank and had sprouted off shoots into the neighboring tank. The java moss had grown to about the size of a basketball when i pulled it out and the hornwort is about 6 ft long. At this point i started measuring the nitrates and found 0 during the day and around 5ppm at night. I decided i would stop doing the daily water changes and keep an eye on things. Well after a week no change 0 during the day and 5 at night, but i felt guilty so i did a water change ayway. I noticed that the java moss was holding alot of garbage so I took it out completly and i moved the hornwort to its own tank. So now i have 2 tanks with plants one just hornwort (I have given away over 8 ft) and the other with a massive plant of watersprite. I also rembered from a speaker our club had that once a plant emerges from the water it becomes much more effecient at removing "nasties" from the water so i have been working with the watersprite trying to keep it up and out of the water. I also added a light that stays on all night and now the ppm at night are still 0. The funny thing is i can put tap water straight into the system when i do a water change and the water coming out is cleaner than the water i am puting in. As of tonight the watersprite is coming out of the tank about a foot and the roots blanket the top 3 inches of water so thich that i have to puch food down through the mesh. Some of the roots go down over 8 inches from the waterline. I have had this running this way for over a year now. I do weekly water chages mainly just to vaccume the bottom of the tanks. My point in all this is this plants can be a big help in reducing the amount of water changes. And for those of us who pay for water i went from paying 100+ a month for water down to 35. For those of you who dont have 7 tanks on a central system to play with there are some very easy ways to take advantage fo plants. Like pictured here in this thread you can use you sump, or as i saw one person do they used sponges to block off about a foot of a 120 and filled that foot section with plants and put massive lights on it with a powerhead sucking water from the side with the plants over to the side with the discus, but no matter how you do it i feel that plants go a long long way in keeping healthy fish.


05-22-2004, 04:57 AM
Hi all,
John, good post of info here. I agree on the plant filter efficiency concept! Do you have any pics of your setup?