Perlite As An Alternative To Expensive Media

icebrain1

HI Fishlore, I’m upgrading to Sunsun 304-B Canister filter. That is not the topic though, the canister doesn't come with any media except for a few fine mesh pads. Sorry if this was posted to the wrong location, couldn’t find the DIY section.


Here's the problem, Due to limitations in my region, it’s difficult to find most of the alternatives to expensive brand name filter media, which is even more marked up in my area (Much more, and very expensive shipping from out of country).


Originally, I planned on using Expanded clay balls, and currently have 3 gallons chilling in the backyard, although after some investigating it turns out that they crumble easily under pressure and will flow into the aquarium.


Further investing and taking some tips from the industrial filtration systems I came across a material called Perlite, that has an incredible surface area, and is dramatically cheaper than any other media I could use and holds up very well under everything (60 aed around 16USD for a 100liters or 27 gallons) as it is made by heating up lava rock to temperature that causes it to expand "like a popcorn kernel". This gives it some unique properties:


  • Incredible surface area (3.5M2 per Gram) (350M2 per Liter)
  • Very low weight (only 75g-140g per liter) (local brand averages 100G/L)
  • From what I found it has a higher surface area than any other Biological media except for Marinepure which has 500m2 per liter or so compared to the 350m2/L (but it’s still 1/5 the weight, so it’s a tradeoff).
  • Found in a variety of Shapes (powdered may act as micro polisher, larger chunks act as grow material or mixed with soil to help aerate and water drainage)
  • I'll link to several sites giving more details about its uses/benefits

After doing some research it turns out that it is a common grow bed material for hydro & Aquaponic setting for these exact reasons. Additionally, I found a few people who used I in aquariums (I’ll add links here) although the results turned out well it never seemed to catch on.


I'll update about how it turns out after I get the filter and setup everything up. Also thinking about how it would be as Substrate since it looks pretty good, either as gravel or as sand.

Please share any ideas, opinions, concerns etc.
Thanks.



Links:


Other Users (Got to give some credit)

USING PERLITE IN THE FILTRATION SYSTEMS OF FISH AQUARIUMS---THE SCHUNDLER COMPANY






Sources

https://www.cermedia.com/MarinePure Project Report.pdf

Perlite - Mihran Company - Syria - Filtration (Lots of info)

(Good Info)



http://www.alfagrog.com/
 

Mmmph

Very interesting! I use perlite for my carnivorous plants. They float in water since they’re so light and trap air easily, so it might not work as a substrate. But since they’re inert, they’re definitely safe to use in aquariums. It might take some effort to get rid of the air pocks though, all the air they trap greatly decreases the surface area. Looking forward to your update!
 

icebrain1

Interesting thanks, I didn't know they float, i'm guessing like the expanded clay balls they'll sink once they get water logged but it would make it pretty irritating as a substrate.
For now I'll stick to it as a bio Media, and polishing agent.

Another interesting thing I read is that due to the size of the pores it acts similarly to activated carbon and can absorb nutrients and other materials/chemicals from the water column.
This is similar to how Seachem Flourite works and is able to absorb and hold nutrients and release them to plant roots, which other than drainage makes it a good choice for planting (Correct me I'm wrong)

For polishing I'll powdering some and placing it in a fine mesh bag and see if it works well.

A couple more days before everything arrives then I'll start overhauling the tank and adding the filter.

Ps
Post some pictures of the your plants, I'm noob at gardening but have always in interested in carnivorous plants.
 

Mmmph

You may have been looking at vermiculite, which has high buffering and nutrient holding capacity. Planted tank substrates like fluorite are clay based, which has very high cation exchange capacity for holding nutrients. Perlite has essentially no CEC, so it doesn’t do anything other than drainage and aeration in potting mix (great for carnivorous plants since they can only live in nutrient poor media). I imagine perlite will work like a sponge in that sense.

Carnivorous plants are pretty easy to take care of, as long as you don’t accidentally fertilize it. All the dead bugs do get a little gross though. The liquid in my older pitchers have nearly turned black from digesting insects over the summer.


8A2398B6-A0D1-4AB7-87E1-E873C2BF4248.jpeg

FE8E0058-D8CB-463E-A988-0B2691624836.jpeg
 

icebrain1

You may have been looking at vermiculite, which has high buffering and nutrient holding capacity. Planted tank substrates like fluorite are clay based, which has very high cation exchange capacity for holding nutrients. Perlite has essentially no CEC, so it doesn’t do anything other than drainage and aeration in potting mix (great for carnivorous plants since they can only live in nutrient poor media). I imagine perlite will work like a sponge filter in that sense.

Carnivorous plants are pretty easy to take care of, as long as you don’t accidentally fertilize it. All the dead bugs do get a little gross though. The liquid in my older pitchers have nearly turned black from digesting insects over the summer.


8A2398B6-A0D1-4AB7-87E1-E873C2BF4248.jpeg

FE8E0058-D8CB-463E-A988-0B2691624836.jpeg

Great information thanks, Mmmph.
I see your point on how that works, I'll keep it in mind.
The CEC determines the nutrient absorption abilities as the majority of nutriments are positively charged?
So substrates that have a high CEC will mean they work better as a growth medium in terms of nutrients, and ability to absorb them from the water column and leach them to plant roots.

Very nice plants, must be pretty interesting to grow.
 

Jocelyn Adelman

Perilite floats and will also get broken up easily under pressure.

Better option is to use lava rocks (can buy bag used for grilling at local hardware store). Can even use plastic scrubbies. These two are your best options for “custom media”
 

SegiDream

Lava rock and batting material would work. Perlite floats, I still have some floating in my 40b and it's been 2 months or so. Activated carbon leeches stuff back out over time. If perlite is anything like that then it is not a permanent type of filter media that you would want to keep, IE you would have to change it out regularly.
 

Mmmph

Yup. 100% clay cat litters and safety absorbents work pretty much the same as fluorite, if you ever need a cheap alternative. Too bad the ridiculous amount of rinsing required is also the similar.
 

Sanderguy777

Perlite is actually used in some rodent traps. The material is floated on the surface of water and feels solid to an animal until it puts its weight on it. It never gets out.....

The point is, it will float for a long time.
However, unless it interferes with the priming of the filter, it should work fine in a canister filter.

I bought CNZ brand bio balls and bio rings, 500g each for like 17 bucks last summer. I went to Amazon, so that may be an option. They work great in my tank. It is not yet a year old, but I have only done 1 water change in 4 months... do they are working well! (I have pothos and 2 hobs.) I check the water every week or so, adding water is the main thing I do.
 

Sanderguy777

Link to the CNZ bio balls I have
 

icebrain1

Perilite floats and will also get broken up easily under pressure.

Better option is to use lava rocks (can buy bag used for grilling at local hardware store). Can even use plastic scrubbies. These two are your best options for “custom media”

That was originally my plan, as it has a pretty large user base online. Although I scrapped that idea after I figured out that its never in stock in here.
Also have been unable to find any cheap scrubbies, all the ones I find are the treated ones and can't locate any cheap ones or bulk.

Lava rock and batting material would work. Perlite floats, I still have some floating in my 40b and it's been 2 months or so. Activated carbon leeches stuff back out over time. If perlite is anything like that then it is not a permanent type of filter media that you would want to keep, IE you would have to change it out regularly.

Mmmph previousley informed me that it doesn't hold onto or leach nutrients, so it shouldn't be an issue.

Yup. 100% clay cat litters and safety absorbents work pretty much the same as fluorite, if you ever need a cheap alternative. Too bad the ridiculous amount of rinsing required is also the similar.

Very helpful too know, if I ever setup a large planted tank I'll definitely look in to it as a substrate.
oh gosh though, I had to rinse my fluorite like 30 times, (which blocked by bathtub lol) and it still clouded the water for days :inpain:

Perlite is actually used in some rodent traps. The material is floated on the surface of water and feels solid to an animal until it puts its weight on it. It never gets out.....

The point is, it will float for a long time.
However, unless it interferes with the priming of the filter, it should work fine in a canister filter.

I bought CNZ brand bio balls and bio rings, 500g each for like 17 bucks last summer. I went to Amazon, so that may be an option. They work great in my tank. It is not yet a year old, but I have only done 1 water change in 4 months... do they are working well! (I have pothos and 2 hobs.) I check the water every week or so, adding water is the main thing I do.

Yeah I'm Planning one one keeping in pantyhose, or mesh-net and compressing it between filter pads which will stop it from floating and prevent it from shaking around which will cause to to flake, and running filter floss for the debris.
So it shouldn't interfere with the priming of the canister. Interesting never knew perlite was used like that, as rodent trap.

Thanks' I'll browse online to see if some sellers have better prices for shipping here, in the meantime I already have the Perlite delivering so I'll give it go.
I kinda enjoy testing stuff anyways.

____________________

Thanks for everyone's advice and feedback.
 

Sanderguy777

I like to test stuff too! That is actually why I have the off brand bio balls instead of fluval or seachem... that and I would still be paying off the 1000 grams I needed LOL
 

icebrain1

I like to test stuff too! That is actually why I have the off brand bio balls instead of fluval or seachem... that and I would still be paying off the 1000 grams I needed LOL

Yeah lol its always fun to try and figure out cheaper alternatives that still work just as good.
 

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