View Full Version : Bioballs???

11/10/2013, 02:25 PM
We have a 29G tank with reef / live rock / fish. Do we need bioballs? Or the live rock be enough of a filter???

11/10/2013, 02:32 PM
The general consensus is that bioballs contribute to high nitrate levels, so most reefers don't use them anymore. I have a trash bag full of them in my basement! The liverock will do a fine job as your biological filter.

11/10/2013, 02:58 PM
Thank you for the quick response! Thats what we thought. :)

11/10/2013, 03:30 PM
No bio balls. If you think about the amount of crap that would get stuck to them then all the bacteria is on them so you cant go clean them or you will kill off your bacteria population. Live rock will be just fine

11/10/2013, 04:49 PM
So are we sure the high nitrate levels aren't due to the fact that they are too efficient at what they are meant to do (process ammonia to nitrate)? Who I was talking to has escaped me, but they mentioned that bioballs are great only if you have the means to keep up with their efficiency. Could that be true in anyway?

11/10/2013, 05:04 PM
If your system is set up in a way that there is no solid waste finding its way to them they are okay. The second they start to get buildup in them they do more harm than good. I just use rubble. The more natural you can make things the better IMO.

11/10/2013, 05:05 PM
True. They work well for a fish only because of the high waste load

11/10/2013, 06:29 PM
I'm curious as to how live rock collects and holds less waste than bb

11/10/2013, 08:03 PM
Properly maintained and properly set-up, bioballs do not accumulate debris. A proper bioball system will have a mechanical filter, generally a sponge pad, that prefilters the water. Then, the bioballs sit above the water, and the prefiltered water cascades and washes over them, again keeping them free of detritus. There are two main issues with bioballs and why they are not so popular in forums like RC. One, the prefilters need to be cleaned regularly, generally once a week. Two, they are excellent ammonia and nitrite processors, best in the business, but unfortunately stop there and produce nitrate as the byproduct. You have to have an excellent nitrate export system to compensate.

Liverock, OTOH, can and do accumulate more detritus than bioballs. This can be decreased by fastidious tank maintenance, or by just making sure you have excellent flow in the tank with no dead spots so that detritus does not accumulate. Theoretically, liverock trumps bioballs because liverock can process nitrate into nitrogen gas. I say theoretically, because even with lot's of flow and excellent liverock, there are still a lot of tanks that require excellent additional nitrate export anyway, as the nitrate processing of liverock is still less than ideal.

I have run tanks on both filtration systems, and they both work fine if you know what you are doing.

To the OP. If you have adequate liverock and good total flow across those rocks, no, you do not need bioballs.