Driftwood for bio-filtration?

confusedfishkeeper

Exodon
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Jan 6, 2021
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Hi,

What if I have a sponge filter and plenty of driftwood in the fish tank and avoid a three stage filter with bio balls? I have heard that driftwood serves as a surface area for beneficial bacteria. So can a large driftwood or multiple driftwoods replace bio balls for bio-filtration?
 
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BIG-G

Goliath Tigerfish
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The wood will provide some surface area but probably would not be equal to a functional bio balls setup.
The sponge filter you mentioned would however, supply a lot of surface area.
With Lite stocking and feeding you can get by with less bio.
 
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esoxlucius

Potamotrygon
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There is no doubt that BB will reside on the surface of the driftwood, in fact all the submerged surfaces will have BB on them. But the advantage of a typical filter is that the filter is continuously drawing oxygen and nutrient rich water through it 24/7 so the water gets "processed" quickly in this dedicated BB rich environment.

The disadvantage of the driftwood is that it just sits there with water flowing over it slowly, hardly the ideal conditions for it to be relied upon to replicate what a filter does.

If you have a large bio load forget it, but a low bio load, coupled with your existing sponge filter, you might get away with something like that.
 

djsaltynuts

Piranha
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Sep 11, 2020
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Hi,

What if I have a sponge filter and plenty of driftwood in the fish tank and avoid a three stage filter with bio balls? I have heard that driftwood serves as a surface area for beneficial bacteria. So can a large driftwood or multiple driftwoods replace bio balls for bio-filtration?
any surface area grows beneficial bacteria. the bacteria that eats nitrites and converts them to nitrates like as much oxygen as possible and the bacteria that eats nitrates likes low oxygen environments(areas with low flow like in the middle of your substrate or the middle of a bioball). so rocks with lots of holes is good for growing lots of the bacteria that get rid of nitrate this is what allot of fancy biomedias do. i would like to first say the bacteria will multiply until it runs out of food or oxygen. this means that you probably already have enough surface area and need more oxygen or nutrients. but lets say you really do need the surface area rocks with lots of holes create more surface area than wood. a deep layer of substrate is the BEST biomedia and if you put egg crate light diffuser on the bottom of the tank to allow the water to flow under the substrate it creates an even better biomedia. personally i run airstones under large piles of rock to create a filter of sorts. all you really need for your tanks filter is water movement and any surface area in your tank does the same job as bioballs so the more stuff the better which can be fake castles, rocks, driftwood, or sponge. if you have a sponge filter you have no need for bioballs at all. i would not recommend buying wood for the purpose of filtration(but it looks great). an undergravel filter would be fantastic for beneficial bacteria and you can still use your airpump for that.
 
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djsaltynuts

Piranha
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more effecient bacteria will grow if less space is available so all that really matters is oxygen imo.
 
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djsaltynuts

Piranha
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you should tell us what fish are in the tank so that we can better understand what level of filtration is needed.
 
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djsaltynuts

Piranha
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all my 10 gallons run on just an airline some substrate, drift wood, and leaf litter but they are thoroughly cycled and lightly stocked.
 

confusedfishkeeper

Exodon
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Thank you all for the extremely insightful inputs. My tank is a 55 Gallon and is a home to 4 juvenile frontosa (2/3 inches) a duboisi (3 inches) and a livingstoni (2.5 inches).
 
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djsaltynuts

Piranha
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Thank you all for the extremely insightful inputs. My tank is a 55 Gallon and is a home to 4 juvenile frontosa (2/3 inches) a duboisi (3 inches) and a livingstoni (2.5 inches).
i wouldn’t recommend driftwood for a rift lake african cichlid tank have you considered live rock and shells maybe with aragonite or crushed coral as a substrate?
 
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