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setting up the sump and a new tank

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guys need a little advise setting my sump and tank up first of all im using a aquariums r us sump pic below i plan to have dacron or the likes on the drip tray then dacron and other filter media on the left side filtering the crap from the water i will be running 2 feeds from the tank to the sump one in both sections i have menchened above the problem is i have bought some matrix where do i run it in the sump ? what else should i run in the sump ?? have seen some talk about purigen is it worth running ?

also like everyone i would love to fill the tank up and throw my fish in straight away but i know this isnt going to happen i have also seen info on how to posibly speed the process up my question is this the filter matrix is it worth putting this in a stocking and thowing it in my 4 foot thats been running for some time then when the 7 foots done throw it in the sump ? and would doing a daily water change and using the water from the 4 foot to fill the seven foot over a week or so be a good idea ??


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do you have an existing tank already that has been fully cycled? Or can you get some squeezings of different parts of filter media from friends/other forum members?

The reason I ask is that if you can get a load of the bacteria freshly squeezed out of foam/dacron/etc from a mature filter, then you can pour that into your sump almost the moment you have your main tank set up with water. If you weren't planning on setting your tank up immediately, then you'd need to make sure that you can keep water flowing through the sump with a pump sending water continously through it... Now, the problem with this is that there will be no new ammonia/fish waste in the water to feed the bacteria and help it grow. You *could* use a very small amount of Cloudy Ammonia to feed the bacteria (a cheap no-nonsense cleaning product), but the problem with it is that it has some soap in it. This soap will get into your filter media and take a fair amount of fresh water to clear out. Soap and fish/aquariums isn't that smart. But at least this soap isn't anti-bacterial, it is just bubbly...

So, if you could find ammonia without soap, then go for it. I don't know where you'd have to go to find it, unless you have access to a chemistry lab :-)

If you don't feel like doing the ammonia cycling to feed and get the bacterial colonies to grow, but you still use the squeezing of a mature filter, then it will mean your tank-cylce will happen a lot quicker than normal. Yes, you could throw in a bunch of fish on day one, and so long as you have the filter squeezings then the bacteria will grow from that. However you will probably still need to do some frequent water changes because the bacterial colony will not be large enough yet to handle the entire amount of fish waste. (Test kits can be used to determine how well the bacteria is handling it).

Alternatively, if your tank is going to be very heavily planted, then the plants will process the ammonia directly into fertilisers for growth. With well lit planted tanks you don't really need to worry about any biological cycling or much bio filtration because the plants will take care of almost every part of fish waste except the floating mulm and detritus.

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i have a 4 foot tank thats been running for over a year with the fish im putting into the 7 foot so can steal water and filter sponges from there hence why i was thinking of throwing the matrix in the 4 foot for a few days to get some bacteria growth on it and throw that in the sump

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and then, to answer the rest of your questions:

Just throwing the media into a stocking and into your existing tank will not be sufficient in getting it covered in bacteria. You'll only get as much bacteria growing on it as can survive on the given amount of fish-waste. And since your existing filter can handle that waste adequately, then there probably isn't much waste left for feeding a new bacterial colony.

I'm not familiar with any of the media products. But essentially in your sump filter you will need to have 3 different types of bacterial colonies. For each of the 3 types, there are bacteria that breathe Oxygen, (aerobic) or bacteria that breathe CO2 (anaerobic). Depending on how much oxygen is in the water at each stage of the sump will determine how much of the aerobic and anerobic bacteria exist.

1. The first colony will live in the media directly where the water is first deposited. If your water from the tank is being poured into the media, or if it is bubbling or gurgling nicely, then there is going to be a lot of oxygen in the water. This means that the bacteria colonies that live near the sump entrance will be mostly aerobic bacteria, and will breathe the oxygen and convert the Ammonia in nitrite, and produce CO2 that will get disolved into the water.

2. Further down the sponges/foam/filter media, or further along in the sump, the oxygen levels will be depleted and there will be less Ammonia and more Nitrite. Here is where the 2nd colony of bacteria will start forming. This bacteria will convert nitrite into Nitrate, and depending on how much oxygen there is, you could have a mix of both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria there.

3. Then lastly, there is another sort of bacteria that will convert the Nitrate into Nitrogen gas. This bacteria needs oxygen. If there is no (or very little) oxygen, then the bacteria will actually be a sort that will convert the Nitrate into a Hydrogen Sulfide. This is a poisoness gas. And not very good in water or in a enclosed space like a cupboard with a sump in it. So, to avoid this, you should have the water in the last part of the filter filled with good oxygen. - either via a spray bar, falling water, surface movement or by having it travel past some plants/algae.

Now, doing a daily water change means using a LOT of water. But if you do the water change then there will never be enough ammonia in the water to feed the bacteria to get it to grow into a big enough colony. And there will never be enough nitrite and nitrate for feeding of the other bacteria.

Buying the bacteria in a bottle isn't a good idea either. The bacteria that tends to end up growing in freshwater sumps tends to be the oxygen loving kind, and if a bottle is sealed up with a lid then the amount of oxygen for the bacteria to live on will deplete very quickly, meaning the bacteria will die off. Kinda pointless selling that sort of product.

If you plan on keeping the 4ft stocked with fish, then you could empty the water from it into the 7 ft (there will be some bacteria in the water), and squeeze/wash your existing filter media into the water of the 7ft. Then get your sump running. THe sump will clean out the water, and the bacteria will end up finding happy places to live amongst your media. But you'll still need to feed your bacteria to keep them alive, so your tank will either need some fish immediately, or it'll need some ammonia immediately.

Finally. I have no idea where to put your matrix media in your sump! Bacteria doesn't really care where it lives, so long as it can get water flowing past it with fish-waste, oxygen or co2, and other simple nutrients. The best filter media has a huge surface area per volume of space it takes up. This is why the cheap green kitchen scrubbing pads are amongst the best for low-flow filters, because it is super cheap to buy and has a huge surface area amongst all those green fibres. As the water moves through the scrubbies, the bacteria cling to the fibres and convert the oxygen and fish waste into harmless products. The problem with scrubbies is that if the water has solid particals in it then it will block up pretty quickly. It will be same with any other sort of media, but if you have more solid media, then you won't get as much bacteria growing in the same space as you do with other products.


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Oh, well if you aren't going to use the 4ft tank, why not just transfer everything across to the 7ft tank the moment you are ready, and then use the old filter? You can then connect the sump, and squeeze the filter media from your old filter into the sump every few days (this will dislodge some of the bacteria off your old filter stuff). Over a few weeks the bacteria colony in the sump will still be small, but spread out (which is what you want). Then as soon as you remove the old filter there will be a heap more ammonia and nitrite and nitrate in the system that isn't getting converted, so the sump bacterial colonies will start growing immediately and will start handling the waste load within a few days.

These aquarium de-nitrifying Bacterial colonies take about 17 hours to double in size (fact taken from a website somewhere, so I can't verify its accuracy). Since fish only really produce Ammonia as waste, then the first colony will be the first lot to immediately increase in size. The 2nd colony will only dramatically increate in size a few days later, and so on for the 3rd lot.

You could just throw all your old filter media into the sump :D -- this will work perfectly so long as it is getting enough water flowing past it.

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