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View Full Version : Should I Buy a Diatom Filter?


sgrosenb
06/30/2010, 02:58 PM
I've read that diatom filters are extremely good at getting your water crystal clear. However, I've also read that they can strip good nutrients out of your tank as well. I have always had trouble keeping my water clear, and recently have had a run-in with some diatom algae. I'm curious if a Diatom Filter would help with both of these issues? Any input would be really helpful. My tank specs are as follows:

156g tank with 45g sump w/ chaeto algae. BK Mini 180 protein skimmer, 3x250w metal halides. 100-micron filter sock, two bags of chemi-pure elite. Dosing 3-part calc mix by Ecosystem, running phosban reactor w/ rowaphos, tank is dominated by 60+ SPS corals, a dozen LPS and an anemone. 15 fish and a bunch of invertibrates.

If a diatom filter isn't the right way to go, do you have any suggestions on how to clear up my water quality at all?

Thanks for the help!!!

thebanker
06/30/2010, 04:08 PM
I know that they're good for clearing water QUICKLY. However, I think they have a very limited media lifespan because of the fineness of the diatomaceous earth media. I think this precludes them from being run 24/7 like other filters.

You may want to ask the guys in the coral propagation forum, I know these filters are used often when setting up tanks at vendor booths for trade shows.

And more about your issue, do you know what is causing your water to be cloudy? Particulate matter, or something of chemical nature?

HighlandReefer
06/30/2010, 04:25 PM
Boomer speaks highly of diatom filters. A diatom filter can remove suspended particles in your tank water down to 0.5 microns, which is quite small. Most bacteria average about 1 - 5 microns in size. The diatom filters will not remove dissolved organics in your water to the best of my knowledge. A problem with diatoms filters is that they can clog rapidly especially if the water flow is high through them. This will depend of the size of the filter. Fortunately you can buy the diatomaceous earth from pool stores pretty cheap. If you are struggling with an algal or cyano problem I would recommend one to reduce the nutrients that become available to your pest as these suspended organic particles brake down.

I use a small swimming pool filter with a 75 micron cartridge which works well for this purpose too, but the filters are expensive compared to diatomaceous earth.

thebanker
06/30/2010, 04:50 PM
Would one of these filters be good for removing acrylic dust or would it clog too quickly? I want to do a scratch removal session without draining the tank and removing livestock.

HighlandReefer
06/30/2010, 04:52 PM
The diatom filter should work well for this, perhaps even a filter bag at around 75 - 100 micron pore size would work too.

sgrosenb
07/01/2010, 10:25 AM
Do I need to worry about my LPS at all? I've heard it strips nutrients out... Is this a concern at all?

camp
07/01/2010, 12:20 PM
I am thinking on runing a diatom filter to help with ick in a reeftank. I herd that if you use this that it can strip the slimecoat of the fish and help filter the bacteria. Has anyone had good luck or any experiance with this?

wilsonreefs
07/01/2010, 02:53 PM
I have the Vortex diatom filter. I used to use one of these about 25 years ago, long since sold it of course, but when I set my 240 up bought another one. I wouldn't be without one. when I do water changes, I drain my sump (125 gallon) down and put the clean water back in it so I don't bother the DT. As I'm refilling the sump I use the Diatom to vaccum the sump out. Sounds weird but my sump is a bare bottom. I can easily vaccum all dietrus and any other things I want out. The diatom filters' claim to fame is "we polish water" and it works very well.
As far as how fast it clogs the media I guess depends upon how dirty your tank is. I have often wondered if the Diatom filter media would filter out bubble algae spores (like if you were picking some out of our tank it ruptured one of them) would the diatom catch the spores?
Anyway, YES, they are worth having.

Carl

bertoni
07/01/2010, 03:21 PM
The filter will remove some solid items from the water column that corals might consume, and it might reduce the dissolved nutrients by removing their source. I wouldn't worry much, but I'd watch for signs of coral problems.

reefergeorge
07/01/2010, 03:35 PM
I run my vortex xl once a month for a few hrs while I stir up my sand bed.
It makes the water crystal clear, like the fish are just floating. The only problem is that mine blows out a ton of micro bubbles. To fight that, I put the output into the overfow.

I buy the powder from the pool store. It is around $15 for 25lbs. Much better than what vortex sells theirs for.

Tetra84
04/27/2012, 01:40 PM
will food grade DE work to refill with?

CHSUB
04/27/2012, 01:57 PM
i have had the same one since 1982, have not used it for about 5 years. it is best used for a couple of hours to clean the water or vacuum the sand; it will filter ick out of the water. it is a great filter. plan on using it for my new set-up....

Randy Holmes-Farley
04/27/2012, 03:42 PM
will food grade DE work to refill with?

I think you'd want a grade designed for filtration as particle size will be critical to water flow and trapping properties. :)

FWIW, if you use one, and get diatoms, then you know the source of the silicate as the DE will slowly dissolve into the water. :)

Tetra84
04/27/2012, 06:10 PM
I think you'd want a grade designed for filtration as particle size will be critical to water flow and trapping properties. :)

FWIW, if you use one, and get diatoms, then you know the source of the silicate as the DE will slowly dissolve into the water. :)

ah ok.. so my next guess would be: can you use pool grade DE?

bertoni
04/29/2012, 01:08 AM
I think that should be okay. :)

phaedrus1
04/29/2012, 11:43 AM
I personally would be wary of using pool grade.
http://absorbentproductsltd.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/food-grade-vs-pool-grade-diatomaceous-earth-the-dl-on-de/

Sport507
04/29/2012, 12:02 PM
I've read that diatom filters are extremely good at getting your water crystal clear. However, I've also read that they can strip good nutrients out of your tank as well. I have always had trouble keeping my water clear, and recently have had a run-in with some diatom algae. I'm curious if a Diatom Filter would help with both of these issues? Any input would be really helpful. My tank specs are as follows:

156g tank with 45g sump w/ chaeto algae. BK Mini 180 protein skimmer, 3x250w metal halides. 100-micron filter sock, two bags of chemi-pure elite. Dosing 3-part calc mix by Ecosystem, running phosban reactor w/ rowaphos, tank is dominated by 60+ SPS corals, a dozen LPS and an anemone. 15 fish and a bunch of invertibrates.

If a diatom filter isn't the right way to go, do you have any suggestions on how to clear up my water quality at all?

Thanks for the help!!!

I have 2 of them and would not be with out one. Just keep in mind they are for short term use only because they will literally stripe the water of everything and leave it crystal clear. On a tank your size I would only run it 2 hours or until the water is clear.

In your case if you have the diatom algae on rocks you can start the diatom filter and star scrubbing the rocks and stir the top of the sand a little and let the filter take that out then shut it down clean it up and store for the next use.

JMO

Sk8r
04/29/2012, 12:16 PM
It isn't so much nutrients they strip out as biostuff and little animals. It doesn't work on a chemical level, except as Randy warns, as the DE breaks down if any is left behind. It literally gets stuff you sincerely can't see without a microscope.

I'm of the belief that every large reef club should have one, with the medium, for use if someone has a tank about to crash or a green water situation---or somebody comes in with a crushed coral substrate from the 1980's---but they are a bit rough on a tank, stealing every copepod that can't hang on, every microbit of algae, etc. It gets more efficient as it clogs, and at the last, not even a stray thought can get through it. So that grey chalk sludge you pull out has life in it, but it sure beats a tank crash. I don't think any tank should regularly need one unless you have crushed coral. And IF you have, or a nephew with a penchant for feeding maltomeal to your fish, you DO need one. ;) And a slow substrate change, over time.

Tetra84
04/29/2012, 06:27 PM
The only reason I ask if I could use Food Grade DE is I had a big flea problem in my house a few months back and bought like 25lbs of the stuff.. Fleas are gone now and I still have like 24 lbs Lol. Thought it might be useful for this application too.. I've got a milky white bacteria bloom that refuses to go away (2 weeks and counting), and the Diatom filter I ordered should be here Tuesday.. I'm looking forward to seeing my fish again :)

bertoni
04/29/2012, 08:09 PM
I didn't see anything in that link that would make me worry about using pool-grade DE. Unless you're making your own toothpaste, I think it should be fine.

918ReefCpl
04/29/2012, 08:18 PM
What about a synthetic material called Fibre-clear, a alternative to D.E. powder thats also used in pool filters?

Randy Holmes-Farley
04/30/2012, 04:43 AM
Since it claims to filter down to 2 microns, I'd worry that it will clog pretty fast in a reef, but other than that, if you think you need mechanical filtration it may be worth a try. :)

jason2459
04/30/2012, 05:34 AM
I've had one for several years now and use it about once every six months or so. Pretty much taken from PaulB's thread I use the exit end to blow everything off making a nice hurricane in the tank and suck it all out. I'll keep it going over night and by the morning it is barely flowing. Even their instructions say not to run continuously and to only run for a day or two or until the flow gets restricted. The motor also gets pretty hot and could heat up the water.

I use DE I bought from a pool store and will probably last me my life time. I have it stored in a couple 5 gallon buckets now. It should not create microbubbles and like stated above you want to try to not get the powder in the tank.

Paul B
04/30/2012, 06:35 AM
I've also read that they can strip good nutrients out of your tank as well.

Do I need to worry about my LPS at all? I've heard it strips nutrients out... Is this a concern at all?



I herd that if you use this that it can strip the slimecoat of the fish and help filter the bacteria.

Where do these rumors come from?
I am on my fifth or sixth diatom filter and I could not have a 40 year old reef if I did not use the thing. I don't know how people keep tanks long term without one. I only use it maybe twice a year when I stir my gravel. Yes, I know most people don't use gravel but I do.
I also put a restriction on the outflow hose to make a powerwasher where I blast the rocks in between the corals. I am amazed at the crud that comes out of the pores in the rock. The sea has typhoons, I have a diatom filter. The powder is cheap but now hard to get because of cancer scares, as we all know, everything gives you cancer.
The powder is used once for an hour or so then you backflow the filter and throw out the powder. It is not meant to be re used.
The water will be as clear as it can get. It will remove whatever pods get in it but most pods are in the substrait and if there is food, they multiply very fast. I have two mandarins, a scooter bleeny and a bluestripe pipefish all eating pods and they have no trouble finding them even after I use a diatom filter.
It will not remove nutrients or slime coats but it will remove any paracites including ich that goes into it.

MrineLfRlz
05/09/2015, 06:42 PM
Im almost sold myself and if i purchase one it will be just for occasional maintenance at least once a month when i stir up the sand and blow off my live rock i would also use it to clean up my grow out tank and frag tank attached to my system just all of this and im ready to take the $150+ leap! I cant spend the dough for a Uv just yet but can flip the bill without the better half caughting me on one of these filters.
But has anyone one had any experience with the filter combating cyano bateria?

MrineLfRlz
05/09/2015, 07:57 PM
found some here
http://www.pet-discount-supply.com/fish/vortex_diatom_canister_filters-vor00010.htm

bertoni
05/10/2015, 02:46 PM
Those should be fine for polishing the water. I'm not sure how much they'll do for cyanobacteria. The filters will remove small particles, but cyanobacteria feed on dissolved nutrients. If the filter can remove a significant amount of organic debris before it decays into dissolved nutrients, it might help.