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Plant Filter II: Initial Success!

Posted By: Joe Loach <jloach@onlinetoday.com>
Date: Friday, 17 March 2000, at 7:00 p.m.

Between Christmas and New Years I built a plant filter for my 80 gal community aquarium. January 4th I put plants in the filter and plugged it all in. I've delayed submitting an article to LOL for fear that I would encounter problems at this point in time. I wouldn't want to mislead people -- that this form of filtration would work *well* -- unless I actually experienced long-term success myself.

I've had a good amount of email exchange with Lee Newman, Curator of the Amazon Exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium (B.C., Canada). Lee encountered initial success with his filter (as he had an article about his plant filter in AFM a few years back). However the "Brazilian Swords" he used (Spathiphyllum sp.) developed root rot after some time. He's now going to attempt a multi-stage filter using different plants...and use a different approach for using the Brazilian Sword (using pea gravel, and perhaps having the water level a few inches below the main portion of the plant...so not all of the roots would be under water).

Fortunately, before I talked with Lee, I had already planned on using a variety of plants in my filter that reportedly do well in hydroponic situations. I'm using Brazilian Sword, Pothos (Epipremnum pinnatum), and Arrowhead Vine (Syngonium sp.).

Today I made my weekly 1/3 - 1/2 change of water in my 80. I decided to take a nitrAte reading to see if the plants were making a difference. The nitrAte reading was 12.5 mg/l. I tend to crowd my tank a bit more than I should and overfeed. Usually it takes a week for the reading to get up to 25 mg/l. So, this is very good news indeed! I'm quite pleased at this point in time. Lee was able to get his nitrAte readings down to minute amounts...but then the root rot began. So we will see what happens in the months to come. If this works (showing potential for long-term success), I will be excitedly reporting more to my friends at LOL! I'm going to wait until the fall to do so. I'm going to give nine months of growth to the plants before I venture to give a formal report on this project. However, so far, so good!

Joe Loach

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