Maintaining 48 year old tank with Diatom Filter

Paul B

paul b
Doing a little maintenance with a diatom filter. Sucking out some Cyano and general tidying up. Using a reverse UG filter requires that I do this occasionally so nothing clogs. This is the beginning. In a minute or two, you can't see anything in the tank but the copperband loves it and looks forward to this.

 

serwobow

Well-Known Member
BRS Member
Looks cool. Your sand bed is a million times cleaner than mine. If I did that the water would be cloudy for a day and then all the corals would be covered with dust. Could you explain what is a reverse UG filter, and a Diatom filter?
 

aresangel

Tim- 2020- Secretary, 2019 BRS President
BRS Member
Reverse undergravel filter. Instead of the water being sucked into the pipes under gravel and sand it returns the water from under the sand and pushes detritus up and into the sump I believe.
Hence why my tank and yours will cloud up if we ever did that!

It’s an old filtration technique from a couple decades ago that is no longer sold. So being a handyman it is something Paul has to build himself.

Diatom filter i don’t know enough about to prentend to know like the under gravel filter :p
 

mchartier

Non-member
Diatom filter looks like a canister filter that has a 1 micron bag/sleeve. You charge the filter with DE (diatomaceous earth powder) and captures pretty much anything, it clings the powder. People have DIY these but you need to make sure that the "canister" can handle the pressure as the media gets clogged. They are not meant to be used all day everyday. Most that have them use it when they do sandbed maintenance or a big deep cleaning of their tank. It polished the water extremely well. Vertex was/is the main brand for these. The motor is what goes on them overtime and needs to be rebuilt.
 
OP
Paul B

Paul B

paul b
A reverse UG filter pushes the water down the tubes and it comes up through the gravel. My tank has been running for 48 years like this.

A diatom filter is a canister filter with a special bag inside with small pores. You add some diatom powder into the filter because diatoms have pores in them less than a micron big. That's smaller than the brains of some politicians and it will remove everything from the water that is not water or liquid.
You don't want to over due it because it will strip the water of all the food. I use it a few times a year to stir up my gravel because the reverse UF filter requires a little stirring up yearly.

Here are some rusty diatom filters in various degrees of falling apart.
 

reefkeeper2

Well-Known Member
BRS Member
I still have my diatom filter and use it all the time. Made a few alterations to it since the cheap motor crapped out long ago, but I works great. I always charge it with powdered carbon along with the diatomaceaous earth . That gets all the yellowing compounds out of the water. Super clean and clear results.
 

Sparky88

Non-member
I've hurd as late as the 90s ppl couldn't keep sps. What advancment changed this? Whats is one piece of newer gear youd never go without again? What gear would u never through out no matter how old??
 
OP
Paul B

Paul B

paul b
They got away from UG filters because we used to use them in salt like we used them in fresh water and they will crash in about a year if you do that. Trust me, I know that. :rolleyes:

But if you run them very slow and in reverse they let your tank last forever which is why in about 18 months my reef will be fifty years old. Try to find an old tank with a DSB. :p

The reverse UG filter pushes oxygen through the gravel all the way to the bottom so life can live there and the life there is what feeds the corals and allows pods to flourish. I need that microscope life because I keep a lot of pipefish, mandarins, bleenies and other small fish that depend on that stuff.

There are very, very few people that run a reverse UG filter, you can count them on one hand, but those tanks are the oldest and have the least problems. You don't see UG filters for sale because they are cheap, not much money to be made and they got a bad rap because they crashed tanks when they were run the normal way as the instructions read.

I built a small plastic manifold from a HOB filter and the 3 UG filter tubes go into that. A powerhead pumps water into there and it evenly goes down each tube at about 1500 GPH for each tube which is very slow. If you pump too much water down there, the gravel will clog. That is why they got a bad rap.

I use the diatom filter a couple of times a year to stir up the gravel to make sure it doesn't clog. That is also one of the plusses of a UG filter. You can maintain it as most systems you can't and nothing lasts forever without maintenance.
My fish all die of old age, all the paired fish always spawn (even the 28 year olds) and nothing ever gets sick for their entire life. I never have to quarantine anything. I am not sure how much the UG filter and diatom have to do with that, but the system seems to work as I have never posted on a disease forum.

There is no "New Gear" that I use. I am very old school. I did run an Ozonizer for decades but it died last year. I will get a new one when I get a chance because I like what it does for the water and if you put the Ozonizer hose up your nose, you get a big rush. Of course your nose rots off but you just have to get over that. o_O

This video was 2 years ago before I moved the tank here to my new house. That is a feeder I designed to distribute new born shrimp mostly to the mandarins and pipefish which are all spawning.






 
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Sparky88

Non-member
I was thinking my sand was to clean because there is no huge cloud when I move stuff. Nice to no that that doesnt impact micro flora, fona. Deep sand beds dont last forever and imo keeping years worth of waste in your tank can't be great idea. Thanks for the info.
 

mchartier

Non-member
Paul, quick question. I have been thinking of building one, does the powder coat the inside or outside of the bag in the filter?
 
OP
Paul B

Paul B

paul b
The powder coats the part of the bag where the dirty water goes in so the water goes through the powder. On the commercial units, that's the outside of the bag. But you need a lot of surface area on the bag which is why it's pleated.
 
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mchartier

Non-member
Thanks, I was looking at the 1 micron pleated inserts and also the Vertex bag, probably go with the pleated inserts.
 

dz6t

Acro Garden, BRS Sponsor
BRS Sponsor
BRS Member
I've hurd as late as the 90s ppl couldn't keep sps. What advancment changed this? Whats is one piece of newer gear youd never go without again? What gear would u never through out no matter how old??

Because more aquacultured sps available these days.
If you buy a wild acro colony these days, it fairs not much better than 20 years ago.
Also the lighting and water movement improved greatly in the past 20 years and that helps a lot.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

dz6t

Acro Garden, BRS Sponsor
BRS Sponsor
BRS Member
Why did they get away from under gravel??

Because it works on fish only and softy/LPS dominated tanks, just a lot of maintenance.
First you need a sand bed that is sufficiently deep, and you need to clean the sand bed.

Still, it may not be suitable for SPS dominated tank.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
OP
Paul B

Paul B

paul b
While I have a mixed reef I do have quite a few SPS corals and my reef is almost fifty years old using this method. But in one sense you are correct, SPS corals prefer a lower nitrate than I keep my tank at. :cool:
 

Kelly's Reef

Non-member
Equilibrium homeostasis whatever you want to call it. Getting the tank stable and not making changes beats chasing every little 0.001 change in chemistry in the long run.
 
November 12, 2022
Topsfield Fairgrounds



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