using fluval ammonia remover as substrate

  1. oddballfishfanatic Initiate Member

    hi im new to this site and i have quite a bit of experience with keeping aquariums, now i have come to a question from a friend of mine that i couldnt answer or find online. he wants to use fluval ammonia remover filter media as a substrate...? i cant tell you why but i also cant see it being harmful. i was wondering if anyone here could throw some insight at me about how to direct him.
     
  2. Jaysee Fishlore Legend Member

    Welcome to the forum

    The basic answer is that the bacteria colonies in the tank and filter ought to be enough to handle the bioload of the tank. If they are not, then the tank is either way underfiltered or way overstocked, both of which are issues that need to be addressed.

    Using ammonia removing products, whether in the filter or in the tank, reduces the food supply for the bacteria colonies, which in turn weakens them. The more you use it, the more dependent the tanks cycle becomes on it. A natural bacteria colony, when established, is very stable, but using products like that makes the tank unstable. I NEVER worry about my cycle, and I don't have to do a single thing to maintain it. I don't know why someone would want to be concerned about ammonia all the time.
     

  3. oddballfishfanatic Initiate Member

    ok well that is what i was worried about, with it affecting the bacteria in the tank and causing an imbalanced system.

    all my friend josh wants it for is just the look of the substrate, not to correct anything with the ammonia. but thank you very much for the informative answer
     

  4. toosie Well Known Member Member

    Welcome to FishLore!

    Well, here is another thing to consider. The ammonia removers usually contain something like zeolite. Zeolite will remove ammonia through ion exchange. It will release a certain amount of salt in exchange for ammonia. Now while this doesn't sound all that harmful, if he keeps scaleless fish, it can be devastating as well as for snails, shrimp, etc. The ammonia remover will only hold so much ammonia, and that is it. He would have to replace it if he wanted a continued effect, or his biofilter as Jaysee mentioned, would not be able to handle the load due to the fact the colony will have become weakened due to the absence of food.

    Now..... saying he decides to use the ammonia remover for a substrate, and then one day takes a notion to add a little aquarium salt to his fish tank for one reason or other. The ammonia remover is recharged when it is supplied salt and once again an ion exchange process would happen except this time the ammonia would be being released back into the aquarium. You can probably imagine the results if that were to happen.

    The long and the short of it is, ammonia removers have their place in the filtration systems of some types of tanks where pH is kept at 5 ppm - 5.9 ppm because beneficial bacteria cannot perform in that low of a pH setting. It also has it's place for short term applications in some situations. On a whole though, avoid it.
     

  5. oddballfishfanatic Initiate Member

    that is also very informative, im glad you told me that because it would help if i changed my own zeolite in my canister before i get an ammonia spike!

    but id like to thank both of you for the info and i will direct him towards some white silica sand or gravel. he onl has one snake head in his tank at the moment so nothing without scales but im sure its a financial issue so ill just help him out to get the white substrate.
     
  6. toosie Well Known Member Member

    You're an awesome pal oddball! You're friend is very lucky to have you around.

    I won't harp on you about using zeolite in your canister filter, but maybe the things Jaysee and I have told you about using it will help you to reconsider using it at all. If you need help discontinuing it for fear of ammonia and nitrite spikes, don't hesitate to ask.

    Wish your friend the best of luck with his tank for me.