Mark, Slidell

Here is Mark’s report to Richard:


Mark from Slidell, Louisiana.

I just wanted to give you some feedback on my filters and the Biohome media …

I have a 72-gallon stock tank with four large fancy goldfish in it. I’ve been keeping fish for over a decade and long before I found your YouTube channel, I was looking for, and experimenting with ways to reduce Nitrates.

The ultimate goal was to get this tank to require only a weekly water change on the weekends. I work for the U.S. Navy in oceanography so I go to sea a lot (I was recently in Cornwall sailing out of Falmouth). Anyway – when I’m away my wife has to do all the fish maintenance and she’s got a shit-ton of other things to do than change water – and the Goldfish would build up to over 20ppm Nitrate in a few days, or even up to 40 ppm. Once they’re in – a 50 percent water change won’t even get rid of but … maybe … half of them.

I tried a lot of setups … mostly centered around POND MATRIX … and they did work to a certain extent – but they were unreliable. Some week’s I’d have 0 in between weekly water changes … and sometimes that would even stay true for several weeks … then everything would go out of whack and start wildly building up nitrates again.

So I came across your YouTube videos and here’s what I’ve done …

On this tank …

First Filter: Is a Cascade 1500 completely full of Biohome Ultimate (all five trays) and nothing else. This filter is run at the normal output capacity and on the input I have an EF-2 filter booster which does all the mechanical filtration.

Second Filter: Is an Eheim 2215 completely full of Biohome Ultimate media and nothing else. This filter is run “at a crawl”. I have a little “whirly” flow indicator on the output and I set it for about 2 rotations per minute. I set it this way for two reasons … first, this is the setup I had some success with when I used POND MATRIX … slower flow for anaerobic bacteria. Second, the OUTPUT of the filter goes to a 57 watt U/V before it goes back into the tank and the slower the flow on U/V, the better. I also have an EF-2 Filter Booster on the input of this canister to do mechanical filtration.

Third Filter: Is an AquaClear “HOB”. It’s still full of POND MATRIX because I haven’t converted it over to Biohome yet.

Not only is all this keeping me at 0 Nitrates … but my wife only has to clean the HOB and the two filter boosters when I’m at sea – and the filter booster are WAY easier to clean than the canisters were. I also think that maybe opening the canisters often to clean them kills off some of the anaerobic bacteria – so opening the canisters less for cleaning helps keep the bacterial colonies established and more robust – so that they survive better when you do have to clean the canisters.

The last key to the puzzle to get consistently 0 Nitrates was when I saw you mention not to use products like PRIME. I used to use PRIME all the time. Now, it’s just there for emergencies (which I never really have now) and if I get an ammonia spike I’m more likely to just change the water than I am to throw in PRIME to lock up the ammonia and ride it out.

Why did I change from POND MATRIX to BIOHOME?

Because BIOHOME is A LOT more consistent media than Pond Matrix is. Some of the Matrix floats, some doesn’t, Some of it seems really porous and some of it looks like marble. The Biohome … every piece is the same.

You may think my setup is overkill … but you’d also need to know that I drive an 8-cylinder Mustang GT that’s heavily modified – nothing I do is really “measured” … HAHAHAHA!!! I figured that if you said 6 KG of Biohome was good enough for my tank … then 12 (OR MORE) would be even better!!! LOL

Anyway … this is just my feedback on your product. I have two other tanks … one a 36 gallon cory catfish tank … it’s all Biohome too but no special boosters yet or anything. It’s usually 0 Nitrate also. I also have a 10 gallon cory fry tank that I use to hatch and grow out corys – and I do a 50 percent water change daily in that. THAT IS THE ONE TANK that I have that builds up nitrate because I only have two sponge filters on it. It makes about 3 ppm of nitrate per day which is not a problem since I’m knocking it back with 50 percent changes every day.

Very Respectfully,

And, Richard’s reply:

Dear Mark,

That is all awesome feedback and proof that there is no such thing as too much filtration – I always appreciate it when people give such useful feedback as it shows what can be achieved when filters are properly set up and how the hobby can be more frustrating and time consuming when they are not.

The unfortunate thing is that if you do a google search for the nitrogen cycle it will be the same old information repeated again and again, even by self professed ‘experts’ who only cover the aerobic side of the process and advise on large regular water changes to reduce nitrate.

It’s only through sharing great information like this that we can spread awareness of proper filtration and the real winners are the fish.

You’re dead right about every piece of biohome being consistent and that consistency coupled with valuable feedback from so many people keeping different tanks over the years has allowed us to give very accurate guidelines to how much is needed for specific tank situations. That is something which is impossible to do with an inconsistent product like pumice (matrix) and the thing which really bums me out is that seachem use a really crappy cheap grade of pumice, not the good drinking water quality pumice. They’re only saving themselves a few cents a kilo but could offer a much better product and still make crazy money on it (since it is a cheap to buy easily quarried rock) if they spent a fraction more…..unfortunately the more I learn about seachem and their products the more I’ve come to realise that their motivating factor for business is profit, not the well being of fish.

I hope you have continued sucess with the fish keeping and if you can keep goldfish in perfect conditions you can keep anything since they are very demanding on a filter system.