Welcome to Day 8 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Saltwater Aquarium Challenge, the start of week 2.
During Week 1 you:
- Analyzed your tank (to determine what was most important, for yourself)
- Set a goal, to give the work it takes some purpose
- Set up a quarantine tank to keep your tank running smoothly
- Made a list of the animals you want to add and prioritize them
- Improved the water flow
- Performed a partial water change
Today’s challenge is to Add Some Media to your saltwater aquarium.
The three most popular types of media are:
- Activated carbon (charcoal)
- Granulated ferrous oxide (GFO)
- Biopolymer media (bio-plastics)
Activated carbon pulls chemicals (like heavy metals or things that cause odors or discoloration) out of the water and may help make your water look more clear.
Granulated ferrous oxide will remove phosphates and silicates from your water
Biopolymer media will stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria that will consume nitrates and phosphates in your water, effectively removing those pollutants from the aquarium.
The most efficient (and also most expensive) way to use aquarium media is in an aquarium reactor–but you don’t need an aquarium reactor to use the media. The simplest way to benefit from the chemical properties of these media is to add them to your tank inside a nylon filter bag.
If you have a sump, that’s where you will want you to put it. If you don’t have a sump, don’t worry, you can still do it by hiding the media bag behind your rock work, perhaps in the back of the tank.
Truthfully, you need good water flow for the media to be effective, so there is no sense in stuffing them in an out-of-the-way location with no water flow, but I do want to encourage you to try this out, even if you don’t have a sump and especially if you don’t have a media reactor.
If you aren’t sure which media to choose, go for the biopolymer media. Start with a small amount, you can always add more later. If you choose activated carbon, be sure to rinse it out thoroughly, because there are some data that suggest carbon fines (the dust/powder often found with the activated carbon) may be associated with (or cause/make worse) Head and Lateral Line Erosion (HLLE).
If you want to need to purchase these items, there are affiliate links on this page to some products on Amazon. If you order from them, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. No pressure to order, but I find that Amazon’s increasing selection of aquarium gear to be impressive and generally priced competitively.
Chemipure changed monthly. On March first.
Great job, Yvonne!
I have a reactor running with a carbon and gfo mix. How do I know the best time to replace the media?
Chris, great question, thanks for the comment. The unhelpful answer for when you should replace your media is when (or maybe just before, if you could magically predict) the media gets full and stops working. Here are some things to consider:
1)GFO- for GFO, you would notice algae growth or an increase in phosphates–if you see that, it’s slightly too late, refresh your GFO and write down the date. After a few months you’ll have a sense for how long that takes under your own ‘normal’ conditions.
2) carbon–BRS did a pretty cool youtube video on this–you basically do a side-by-side check of the color of your water with a bucket of replacement water:https://youtu.be/to3w0XN4kvY. If your water is yellow, time to replace the carbon