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Posted by Rick Gordon on April 30, 2003 at 12:52:58:
In Reply to: Rick (and others), wetland filter question posted by neVar on April 29, 2003 at 13:34:46:
:IF you truely want to see how the water is doing- take a sample down to a fish store and have it tested for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Ammonia and nitrite should be zero. Nitrates should be low (if they are high- add more plants to it). this 'wetland filter' is along the same idea as a 'trickle' filter used in aquariums (mostly for salt but i love it for fresh too). Adding bacteria to it (Cycle, stress zyme, or the exoterra biological h20 additive they hve (biotize?)) will help if the ammonia, or nitrite levels are high. If those remain high there is not enough surface area (lava rock) for the amount of waste coming through. i am setting mine up using BioBalls as htey will give more surface area for the volume.
Rick:: Good advice, The Bio balls are certainly better but are considerably more expensive. You might want to do a mix of Bioballs and lava rocks if your making a large wetland filter. The best substrate for bacteria is sand suspended in water and oxygen most advanced aquariums are using that method for filtering their salt-water tanks. One pound of sand suspended in oxygenated water can adequately filter a hundred gallon tank. I am thinking of incorporating that technology into the next Wetland filter I make. The trick will be in circulating the sand effectively and reliably, because any still sand will result in anaerobic bacterial growth. The difference and advantage of a wetland filter over the traditional trickle or wetdry filter is the addition of live plants. The live plants absorb nitrates, minerals other contaminates from the water, as well as, provide oxygen and addition substrate for the bacteria via their roots. Also the plants add to naturalistic look of the environment. While Wetland filters are new to pet hobbyist they are not new. They are being used on farms, to deal with cattle waste and in some third world countries as the only means of sewage control. You can find a wetland filter project going on at most major universities; check their websites for more info.