The Truth About Bio-Balls

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joander123

what a fruitcake
Jan 12, 2007
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Massachusetts
i prefer more LR over bio balls personally, but i do not think bio balls are a waste or bad. I have seen beautiful FO and FOWLR tanks use lots of bio balls, and i've seen many tanks around that do not use a "conventional" set-up like most of us here use.

The reasons i prefer live rock over bio balls are:

1) More natural, and nice to look at in the tank.
2)Easily supports coralline, which is very nice to have in a tank, as it eats away your ammonia and phosphates
3) It does the same thing as bio-balls, but i believe it does it more afflictively
4)Live rock never has to be rinsed, or have any anything done to it other than cure it (and i guess scrub if you have hair algae or something)
5) Provides many little homes, holes, and crevices, for not only the live stock you put into the tank to hide in, but also the beneficial microorganisms to hide in and reproduce in.
6) Live rock a lot of the time is kept right in the tank, and with bio balls, you do not have this option, you have to keep the bio balls in an external filter, where as live rock can be kept internally in the tank, or in an external filter as well.

but i too do believe that bio balls dont get the reputation they deserve.
 

OldManOfTheSea

AC Members
Mar 21, 2007
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Hillsborough NC
Most will have difficulties due to the fact they want to see as many fish swimming around in their tanks and in this they will over feed as well, so bio balls in this case will matter not if thy have them or not for they will still have high nitrate levels and it be all due to their hunger for wanting to see more fish in their tanks. For as well in this, most newbie hobbyist never do enough for the water changes and this only adds to the over stocking problems.

I agree that those who can get small pieces of LR other then having bio balls do this, but it still will need you to do the right thing in not over stocking or feeding your tank as well as doing proper water changes>
 

ricsreef

AC Members
Jun 22, 2007
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Louisville,Ky
I think the point is that there are better,and easier means of bio-filtration,bio-balls will work,but they are far from the best way.Which is what your looking for right?IMO,the best way is the natural way,live rock,live sand,water flow,water changes.
 

wantvws

AC Members
Jul 15, 2007
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Waynesboro, VA
I read about the pros and cons about the bio balls before I decided to get them for my wet/dry filter. I love the idea of LR rubble in there and tons of LR in my tank....eventually. And I wanted to keep every rock that came with my tank. But I had sunk SO much $$$ in this tank that the LR I would like to have had to wait. So I figured if I did the maintenance regularly and cleaned this little buggers, it was an economical solution that allowed me to get my tank up and running. I can always replace a little at a time if they become a problem.
A smaller tank was not an option in my case as this particular tank and rocks are VERY sentimental to my family and I. I did not want to set up any SW tank, I wanted this one because of the history behind it.
So I'll keep my balls for a while and clean them when necessary:perv::rofl: ......
and eventually replace them w/LR rubble....
Robbie
 

OldManOfTheSea

AC Members
Mar 21, 2007
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ricsreef, Most believe that with LR a lone you can relax and seat back for allow me to tell you a little story that took place about five years or so ago. I knew this girl, a while back that she had problems with her boyfriend if not he was her husband and I chatted with her in a instant message box on aol.
Anyway, after what problems they had left them to who gets the 180 gal tank and she won that for later when she was ready, I help her to get a sump on it by using a siphon over flow box and the only thing wrong there was is that she went for the model which giving her far too strong a turnover rate.
But she too was on the idea that if she gotten as much LR she could fit in her tank that it would fully control her tank nitrates. For I seen it time and time again by others who thought this same thing and they too had to learn the hard way about it.

I believe that LR do help some in it, but if we the hobbyist not do all the other things that we need to do correct by it, the cost of #300 of LR will matter not for still we need to not over stock or feed as well as the water changes that were mentioned here.

Everything has to be maintained at its best from start to finish.
Like how many here at any number of times at your starting years figured that you didn't have to do a water change? I in my first few years before my parents giving me a warning that the tank will be out if I was to lost a number of more fish. For the thought at 10 of having to not have the tank was crazy and so it in some way set me in a new direction.

But so many times in the past years I readied from other forums that one believed that just because he had a skimmer that was for 3x the tank size they had that they could over stock and feed and not do much water changes>

But all those who had said something as that are no longer posting that very same thing and why is that? Anyway people, I must get on over to my main duties, the kiddies and I will see what comments/remarks were then post.

And I forgotten to mentioned this, the bio balls on the eel tanks has been in place for more then 14 years and I never rinsed them.
 

vikubz

Registered Member
Jul 8, 2005
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If you have sufficient LR in your display, you have plenty of biofilter capacity, as long as you keep a reasonable bioload. If you have too many fish and feed too much, it won't matter what you have for filtration.

No matter what setup you have, if you don't maintain it you will have problems. I have gone with the approach of eliminating anywhere that detritus could accumulate.
 

jojo22

Salt-aholic Xtreme
Sep 21, 2006
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Plain and simple LR rubble used to replace bio balls is always better as it also contains denitrifying bacteria which turns nitrates into nitrogen gas which is expelled at the surface.
 
Plain and simple LR rubble used to replace bio balls is always better as it also contains denitrifying bacteria which turns nitrates into nitrogen gas which is expelled at the surface.
Umm, not really, and not if used in a trickle filter...

Small LR "fragments" sold as "rubble" are normally too small to contain meaningful denitrifying anoxic regions, and in a high-aerobic environment such as a wet/dry trickle filter they would work the same as bio balls or other aerobic filter media, ultimately increasing the nitrate level. The minimum size of live rock capable of sustaining denitrifying anoxic bacteria would depend on the porosity of the rock, but is very rarely smaller than a large fist size.
 

atarax

Crazy Crab Man
Sep 20, 2007
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I by-passed bio balls in favor of pot scrubbies. they have tens times the area of bio balls. i also have a very fine filter media between the scrubbies and my over flow. I have absolutely NO problems with amonia/nitrate/nitrite in my tank... only phosphates...darn fertilizer. :cry::cry:
 

jojo22

Salt-aholic Xtreme
Sep 21, 2006
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Umm, not really, and not if used in a trickle filter...

Small LR "fragments" sold as "rubble" are normally too small to contain meaningful denitrifying anoxic regions, and in a high-aerobic environment such as a wet/dry trickle filter they would work the same as bio balls or other aerobic filter media, ultimately increasing the nitrate level. The minimum size of live rock capable of sustaining denitrifying anoxic bacteria would depend on the porosity of the rock, but is very rarely smaller than a large fist size.
This is why we use SUMPS instead of wet/dry systems. When the rubble stays completely submerged the tiny little crevices that have taken thousands of years to develop and form are plenty to provide the anaerobic area that produces denitrifying bacteria. So just to be clear wet/dry=BAD sump=GOOD. A wet/dry filter is great for FW but has no purpose in a marine system.
 
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