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Thread: DIY "Anoxic Filtration System" eliminates nitrates? Anyone tried this?

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    Registered Member farebox's Avatar
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    Default Re: DIY "Anoxic Filtration System" eliminates nitrates? Anyone tried this?

    Good day to all, here's the latest scoop on my tank running 100% Anoxic Filtration System per Dr. Novak: https://youtu.be/2jvEtNPr6aE

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    Default Re: DIY "Anoxic Filtration System" eliminates nitrates? Anyone tried this?

    Hi all,

    I have been waiting for a while to present my results. I wanted to do a few rounds of testing to be sure of the results. I setup my 75 gallon aquarium with a sump giving me a 95gallon system. I set it up as a fully planted tank with a plenum, a layer of laterite, a layer of cat litter and topped it off with a thick layer of ADA aqua soil. I placed 5 brand new baskets of the BCB's built following Dr. Novak's directions from his youtube channel. This was on March 9th of 2018. On March 20th, I kicked started the aquarium cycle by adding a fully mature BCB from another tank. In the sump I have two mats from swiss tropicals to act as polishers for the water. I understand that some beneficial bacteria may be working there. This aquarium might turn into a Discus tank one day, but for now it is a fully planted, small fish tank. I currently am only stocking the tank with 5 Otocinclus, 5 Cardinal Tetras (I have an additional 40 in quarantine). I have two Nannacara anomala and a few amano shrimp. I plan to add 4 Bolivian Rams who are now in quarantine as well. For the last several months my water conditions have been exceptionally stable. I really wanted to test out the effectiveness of the BCB's and decided against any water changes. I have done 0 water changes since March 17th. I add approximately 4 gallons per week due to evaporation. My API testing results have been consistent for several months. My Ammonia levels are 0ppm. My Nitrite levels read at 0ppm. My Nitrate levels also read at 0ppm. See the attached picture, with Ammonia test on the left and Nitrate test on the right.
    What I feed. I feed freeze dried shrimp, Cichlid bug bites, and flakes. I feed a combination of any two per night and usually feed the fish twice.

    The picture of the tank was taken 3 days ago. I did a major trim and as you might be able to see, I have hair algae and a bit of Cyanobacteria which I have attributed to the very strong morning sunshine and the 8 hours of lighting from the aqua-illumination lights. I cut the artificial lighting time to just 5 1/2 hours.
    I have not tested for phosphates, and I imagine a good regimen of water changes would go a long way with the algae, but I have essentially been conducting a long term experiment to try to replicate Dr. Novack's results.

    Other parameters also show as
    pH of 6.6,
    Gh and Kh of 1. Basically my test-tube turns a pale green on the first drop for the GH and a pale yellow on the first drop on the KH.

    In conclusion, I am a believer. As I increase my bioload, I have the ability to increase the number of BCB's to a max of 15 baskets if I feel I need to, since I have a 30 gallon tank as a sump. I hope to one day keep a few Discus in the tank so long as doing water changes does not mess up the water parameters.

    Thanks all for keeping such a great thread, it was so very instrumental to the success I have experienced.

    CÚsar
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    Last edited by Tindomul; 07-18-2018 at 12:13 AM. Reason: Correct grammer

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    Default Re: DIY "Anoxic Filtration System" eliminates nitrates? Anyone tried this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tindomul View Post
    Hi all,

    I have been waiting for a while to present my results. I wanted to do a few rounds of testing to be sure of the results. I setup my 75 gallon aquarium with a sump giving me a 95gallon system. I set it up as a fully planted tank with a plenum, a layer of laterite, a layer of cat litter and topped it off with a thick layer of ADA aqua soil. I placed 5 brand new baskets of the BCB's built following Dr. Novak's directions from his youtube channel. This was on March 9th of 2018. On March 20th, I kicked started the aquarium cycle by adding a fully mature BCB from another tank. In the sump I have two mats from swiss tropicals to act as polishers for the water. I understand that some beneficial bacteria may be working there. This aquarium might turn into a Discus tank one day, but for now it is a fully planted, small fish tank. I currently am only stocking the tank with 5 Otocinclus, 5 Cardinal Tetras (I have an additional 40 in quarantine). I have two Nannacara anomala and a few amano shrimp. I plan to add 4 Bolivian Rams who are now in quarantine as well. For the last several months my water conditions have been exceptionally stable. I really wanted to test out the effectiveness of the BCB's and decided against any water changes. I have done 0 water changes since March 17th. I add approximately 4 gallons per week due to evaporation. My API testing results have been consistent for several months. My Ammonia levels are 0ppm. My Nitrite levels read at 0ppm. My Nitrate levels also read at 0ppm. See the attached picture, with Ammonia test on the left and Nitrate test on the right.
    What I feed. I feed freeze dried shrimp, Cichlid bug bites, and flakes. I feed a combination of any two per night and usually feed the fish twice.

    The picture of the tank was taken 3 days ago. I did a major trim and as you might be able to see, I have hair algae and a bit of Cyanobacteria which I have attributed to the very strong morning sunshine and the 8 hours of lighting from the aqua-illumination lights. I cut the artificial lighting time to just 5 1/2 hours.
    I have not tested for phosphates, and I imagine a good regimen of water changes would go a long way with the algae, but I have essentially been conducting a long term experiment to try to replicate Dr. Novack's results.

    Other parameters also show as
    pH of 6.6,
    Gh and Kh of 1. Basically my test-tube turns a pale green on the first drop for the GH and a pale yellow on the first drop on the KH.

    In conclusion, I am a believer. As I increase my bioload, I have the ability to increase the number of BCB's to a max of 15 baskets if I feel I need to, since I have a 30 gallon tank as a sump. I hope to one day keep a few Discus in the tank so long as doing water changes does not mess up the water parameters.

    Thanks all for keeping such a great thread, it was so very instrumental to the success I have experienced.

    CÚsar
    What type of water do you top up with? Is it R/O? The KH of 1 suggests you are close to pH crash and a GH of 1 one suggests you have some sort of divalent metal sink in the tank. Do you have snails? This looks like awesome work I'd love to see your results after 6 months with the 40 cardinals and 4 rams added!

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    Moderator Team Paul Sabucchi's Avatar
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    Default Re: DIY "Anoxic Filtration System" eliminates nitrates? Anyone tried this?

    Really interesting to see how it evolves with more substantial stocking/feeding. As with the BCBs in my tub-ponds I think it is difficult to judge if the bulk of the de-nitrification is done by the bacteria in the kitty litter or by the plants. Also very interesting to see if the pH does not dip any lower even with next to no buffer. With no nitrates to be in equilibrium with nitric acid there should not be much to drag the pH down.

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    Default Re: DIY "Anoxic Filtration System" eliminates nitrates? Anyone tried this?

    James,

    No, I use my tap water. I age the water in the bottle for at least 24 hours. I'm not sure I understand what you mean by divalent metal. I have 4 snails, I bought 5 five but can only count 4 at most. I have not seen an empty dead shell either.
    Last edited by Tindomul; 07-18-2018 at 12:18 PM.

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    Default Re: DIY "Anoxic Filtration System" eliminates nitrates? Anyone tried this?

    Paul,

    As an anecdote, I used to have a 20 gallon long tank, that I used as an emersed setup for Cryptocorynes. I used to get them to flower all the time ( I had a thing for aroids). The plants were all in clay pots filled with Flora base which seems to be red clay (possibly from the iron). I had plant tags which showed that I had set them up in 2007-2008, and I had about 10 of these in the tank. I had a thick layer of substrate as well of the same flora base. When I decided to get back into fish keeping, I used this tank to house my newly arrived Nanacara fish (6). I started testing the water, doing water changes while waiting for the tank to cycle. After about 1 month, I realized that my tank was already cycled. My Ammonia never spiked, and always had 0ppm Nitrite and Nitrate. I believe now that in essence the entire tank was one large BCB. Especially the plant pots. I began to get a major bout with Cyanobacteria, and then I started researching what to do about. I found Dr. Novak's videos about using plenums and then I found the BCB videos. I changed the layout of the tank. Got rid of the Flora base, built in a plenum, unpotted the Crypts, and put in a thin layer of laterite, and thick layer of catlitter on top. Sowed the plants directly in and no more potted plants. The difference is that I now I have Nitrates. I am forced to do biweekly water changes to keep it under control when as before I did not have to do that. The plenum, laterite and catlitter substrate is now well over 4 months old, so that is not doing the job of a BCB basket. What I am missing are the clay pots with the florabase. I believe that they were BCB's, and I had them long before I had ever heard of them from Dr. Novak's videos. I still have two of these original clay pots with the original florabase and Crypt still growing in them. I have them in my quarantine tanks, one with the 40 Tetras and the other with the Bolivian Rams. And wouldn't you know it, the tetra tank takes a lot longer to get 5.0ppm reading on the Nitrates. I feed them three times a day too. I created a new pot with cat litter and a layer of laterite. I placed a Crypt in it and I hope that it matures as well and acts like a BCB.
    So Paul, to answer your question, I think it is the actual BCB's doing the job, not the substrate or the plants.

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    Default Re: DIY "Anoxic Filtration System" eliminates nitrates? Anyone tried this?

    Thanks for the very useful report, keep us posted on how your "old school" BCBs perform. Just as a matter of curiosity what is the KH and GH of your tapwater?

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    Default Re: DIY "Anoxic Filtration System" eliminates nitrates? Anyone tried this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tindomul View Post
    James,

    No, I use my tap water. I age the water in the bottle for at least 24 hours. I'm not sure I understand what you mean by divalent metal. I have 4 snails, I bought 5 five but can only count 4 at most. I have not seen an empty dead shell either.
    Like Paul I'm interested in your tapwater readings, especially for GH and KH. Divalent metals are what is measured by GH and for simplicity can be considered a measure of calcium (mostly) and magnesium. These metals should accumulate and by constantly topping off with tap water it should increase over time which is why I'm surprised that it is still 1. Snails make their shells out of calcium so that would be one possible source to keep your calcium/GH low.

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    Default Re: DIY "Anoxic Filtration System" eliminates nitrates? Anyone tried this?

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesW View Post
    You are describing what is known as a 'mixed-bed deionizer'. Used for industrial scale preparation of pure water. Because the charges are isolated in the zeolite/resin they don't cancel each other out. My biggest issue is that ammonium has to displace the other ions in the zeolite for this 'draw' effect to happen. At a nominal zero concentration vs a 10 to 100 ppm concentration of other positively charged ions I don't understand the process by which this happens. I don't know the specific ion affinity but I don't love the 'magnet' analogy. Potassium, magnesium and calcium all have a higher affinity for strong acid resins than ammonium and a higher concentration when ammonia is 0ppm.

    This seems to work for the people that are trying it but I'm not convinced by some of the science behind it.
    Thanks for the input James. It is commonly known that zeolite has a strong affinity for ammonia within the aquarium hobby so I do not doubt that aspect of it. So if the resin does not cancel zeolite out, maybe it wasn't such a stupid idea after all. May be worth experimenting with.

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    Default Re: DIY "Anoxic Filtration System" eliminates nitrates? Anyone tried this?

    I don't doubt that zeolite has a strong affinity for ammonia. That is known in the scientific community (I recently found out) as well as the aquarium hobby. My concern is this, if ammonia is 0.01 ppm (or close to 0ppm) and sodium is 100 ppm even if ammonia/ammonium has a 50 fold preference over sodium for the zeolite it is not going to be taken up to any significant extent due to the (relatively) much higher concentration of other salts.

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    Default Re: DIY "Anoxic Filtration System" eliminates nitrates? Anyone tried this?

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesW View Post
    My concern is this, if ammonia is 0.01 ppm (or close to 0ppm) and sodium is 100 ppm even if ammonia/ammonium has a 50 fold preference over sodium for the zeolite it is not going to be taken up to any significant extent due to the (relatively) much higher concentration of other salts.
    Don't the results that people are posting alleviate those concerns?

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    Default Re: DIY "Anoxic Filtration System" eliminates nitrates? Anyone tried this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tindomul View Post
    Hi all,

    I have been waiting for a while to present my results. I wanted to do a few rounds of testing to be sure of the results. I setup my 75 gallon aquarium with a sump giving me a 95gallon system. I set it up as a fully planted tank with a plenum, a layer of laterite, a layer of cat litter and topped it off with a thick layer of ADA aqua soil. I placed 5 brand new baskets of the BCB's built following Dr. Novak's directions from his youtube channel. This was on March 9th of 2018. On March 20th, I kicked started the aquarium cycle by adding a fully mature BCB from another tank. In the sump I have two mats from swiss tropicals to act as polishers for the water. I understand that some beneficial bacteria may be working there. This aquarium might turn into a Discus tank one day, but for now it is a fully planted, small fish tank. I currently am only stocking the tank with 5 Otocinclus, 5 Cardinal Tetras (I have an additional 40 in quarantine). I have two Nannacara anomala and a few amano shrimp. I plan to add 4 Bolivian Rams who are now in quarantine as well. For the last several months my water conditions have been exceptionally stable. I really wanted to test out the effectiveness of the BCB's and decided against any water changes. I have done 0 water changes since March 17th. I add approximately 4 gallons per week due to evaporation. My API testing results have been consistent for several months. My Ammonia levels are 0ppm. My Nitrite levels read at 0ppm. My Nitrate levels also read at 0ppm. See the attached picture, with Ammonia test on the left and Nitrate test on the right.
    What I feed. I feed freeze dried shrimp, Cichlid bug bites, and flakes. I feed a combination of any two per night and usually feed the fish twice.

    The picture of the tank was taken 3 days ago. I did a major trim and as you might be able to see, I have hair algae and a bit of Cyanobacteria which I have attributed to the very strong morning sunshine and the 8 hours of lighting from the aqua-illumination lights. I cut the artificial lighting time to just 5 1/2 hours.
    I have not tested for phosphates, and I imagine a good regimen of water changes would go a long way with the algae, but I have essentially been conducting a long term experiment to try to replicate Dr. Novack's results.

    Other parameters also show as
    pH of 6.6,
    Gh and Kh of 1. Basically my test-tube turns a pale green on the first drop for the GH and a pale yellow on the first drop on the KH.

    In conclusion, I am a believer. As I increase my bioload, I have the ability to increase the number of BCB's to a max of 15 baskets if I feel I need to, since I have a 30 gallon tank as a sump. I hope to one day keep a few Discus in the tank so long as doing water changes does not mess up the water parameters.

    Thanks all for keeping such a great thread, it was so very instrumental to the success I have experienced.

    CÚsar
    Great post Cesar, and always good to see success with people flipping to the anoxic side. Please keep everyone posted with any updates. I love this thread, simply because people like you and me have taken a chance, delved into something relatively untried with aquariums, and see positive results. I'll be posting my update over the weekend, having been cycled for around 2 months and adding more fish as I go
    Last edited by lastflea; 07-20-2018 at 06:49 PM. Reason: Correcting time line progress

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