We've moved to new platform. Passwords set before 24th July, 2014 will not work. Please reset your password, follow this link if help needed.
  1. **Extended through Friday** Enter a picture of the coral in your aquarium for a chance to win a $20 gift certificate for your next Saltwaterfish.com purchase!!

please explain a wet/dry filter system

Discussion in 'New Hobbyists' started by flower, Aug 14, 2010.

  1. flower

    flower Active Member


    I went to buy salt mix today and I came across a wet/dry filter…it had an overflow box that looked like the u-tube thing we talked about to break the siphon, and a skimmer that sat down in it. I’m not sure what kind of media was in it..they wanted $260.00 for it at the fish store.
    What is the difference between a wet/dry and a sump? I can see that it is sealed and kind of looks like a cross between a canister and sump it didn’t take up much more room than a 10g tank.
    Can anyone give me pros and cons on this type of filter system?
    Thanks in advance.
  2. meowzer

    meowzer Moderator Staff Member

    LOL...i wish I could explain it Flower....My sump/fuge is kinda a wet dry......I modified it to have the fuge in the center
    Do you know what brand it was? REMEMBER the protein skimmer that came with mine did fine for 9 months or so....then it just stopped being great....also you will need a return pump
    sounds like a small one to me too.....
  3. sparty059

    sparty059 New Member

    From what I understand (which isn't too much in this hobby) a wet/dry will filter out all types of bacteria (with the bio-balls). I believe a wet/dry is only meant to be used for FOWLR as if you have coral it will kill their source of food. I know there is more to it, but from what I believe I know to be correct this is the case. Correct me if I am wrong?
  4. flower

    flower Active Member


    I looked it up....it is for fish only because it can house nitrates, they say the same of canister filters.
    Then it says you can convert it to a sump..what does that mean? It mentions sand and rock. I only have a 90g tank, considered a medium size. I liked the idea of the skimmer sitting down in it like the design we talked about. I don’t mind “converting it” I just need to know what I would have to do.
    I know to take it slow, my media with good bacteria is in a canister which I can run till I get this up and going if need be. I was thinking to convert it from the start.
  5. meowzer

    meowzer Moderator Staff Member

    Was their bio-balls in the center section? I took all that out....added a small divider...added sand, some rubble...threw in some snails, chaeto....and had a refugium
    Do you know the brand? It may be easier if I can see it....
  6. spanko

    spanko New Member

    The wetdry filter is a system that takes in the water from the tank, will run it through some filter pads, or sock etc. the over some biomedia. As you see there is also and area for the skimmer then a return pump back to the display. It is really the same ideas as your canister but with some additional room for the skimmer.
    Mods can be made to it as Lois said.
  7. ernestpolska

    ernestpolska New Member

    wow so a sump and wet dry arent the same? an lfs told me that! stupid!so wait if i have a wet dry .... i take out bio balls add sand live rock add some snail and chaeto and i have good refugium?
  8. ernestpolska

    ernestpolska New Member

    so wait if i want to keep corals i cant have a wet dry? because it kills there food...and because it houses nitrates......uhh
  9. sparty059

    sparty059 New Member

    Originally Posted by ernestpolska

    so wait if i want to keep corals i cant have a wet dry? because it kills there food...and because it houses nitrates......uhh
    You can just as long as you don't keep the Bio Balls in there and the filters. Just do what meowzer said and it'll work perfect as a refuge.
  10. ernestpolska

    ernestpolska New Member

    hmmm so i have to take the blue balls out? ......is a 10g wet dry good for 55g tank?
  11. beaslbob

    beaslbob Active Member

    A wet dry filter is a filter that say enters a sump or refugium but is above so the filter media is wet by the flowing water but dry in the sense that it is not totally underwater. filter media can bio balls or just about anything else that water will flow over/through. It is extremely good at growing aerobic bacteria to reduce the crud filtered out to nitrates.
    I use(d) one on my 55g as an input to my refug/sump. It was nothing more the a wastbasket with the bottom replaced with a plastic window screen. For filter media I used crushed oyster shells with some landscape lava rocks on top. The drain from the tank went straight down to the wastbasket.
    With my refugium, nitrates and phosphates were always unmeasureable. Calcium rose but alk dropped. So eventually I started the diy two part to maintain calcium/alk/.magnesium.
    I would rinse the shells when they "plugged up" which was about twice per year. And reuse the shells and add some more. rinsing resulted in several gallons of very dark brown/green water.
    the wastebasket must have weighed 20-30 pounds so removing basket for cleaning required some effort.
    the wet/dry did break up the bubbles entering the sump.
    my .02
  12. novahobbies

    novahobbies Active Member

    A wet-dry filter is a type of a sump - but not all sumps are wet-dry filters. And contrary to popular internet belief, yes you can CERTAINLY keep a reef environment with a wet-dry filter. I do! Boy, I've been meaning to write an article about this....it's a pet peeve of mine.
    A wet-dry filter, also known as a trickle filter, works by passing water through an overflow (drilled, HOT, whatever floats your boat) and down into the filtering mechanism. There are different kinds, but I'll try for the basics here. Your tank water first flows through some form of physical filter - a sock, floss, that sort of thing. Many of the pre-made wet-drys have a tray that holds a sheet of filter floss right under the tank outlet. There is usually a spreader bar of some sort as well to take the concentrated flow and increase the water's surface area. After it passes through the physical and sometimes chemical filter pads, the water trickles down into a large area containing bioballs. The bioballs work by utilizing a large surface area per ball to grow nitrifying bacteria on. The aerobic bacteria that metabolize ammonia and nitrite (nitrosomonas sp. and nitrobacter sp., respectively) are encouraged to grow on the surface of this media because both types of bacteria favor a high-oxygen environment. Your tank water, properly filtered from most particulates by the floss above, trickles down through this bacteria-laden media where it is "washed free" of any ammonia and nitrite. The cleaned water then collects at the bottom of the filter, where it can go through a protein skimmer, refugium, live rock area, or whatever you have room for in the rest of your filter. Of course, your return pump send the water up to your display tank and the process begins again.
    Now, you'll hear people and internet sites say that trickle filters are "nitrate factories," and that you should immediately remove the offending bioballs and run some other media in their place. Nonsense, I say. However, I do agree with the first accusation: trickle filters ARE nitrate factories. It's exactly what they're supposed to do!! Go back and re-read the description. Bioballs use their surface area and high O2 environment to cultivate aerobic
    bacteria to remove ammonia and nitrite - they do nothing to remove nitrate, as this chemical is most often metabolized by anaerobic
    bacteria. It's hard to cultivate anaerobic bugs in this kind of filter! Your nitrates should be controlled by the live rock in your tank, in another area of your sump using live rock, and of course by regular water changes.
    I think people run into problems with trickle filters because of lack of proper maintenance. I'm not accusing anyone here, but this is what I've seen from helping take care of friends and neighbors aquariums. There needs to be a good physical filter before the bioballs. I've seen where people only use one sheet, or they cut it haphazardly and it allows unfiltered water to sneak down between the pad and get to the bioballs directly. The filter floss needs to be packed snugly in place so NO water can get down without going through the floss. Also, (and this is usually concurrent with the floss issue), the bioballs may have become clogged with detritus and lose their surface area for filtration. This is an easy thing to fix, and something that should be done once ever couple months anyway. Rinse those balls! Do it at least 3 times a year...my schedule is every other month. Save some tank water from a water change in two tubs. Take out your bioballs, pour them into tub A, swirl them around until they're clean, and scoop em out and rinse again in tub B. The water in tub A may look gross if the balls haven't been cleaned in a while, but if you're keeping a good filter floss media on top of the bioball chamber the rinsewater won't look too bad.
    So, that's it. Just follow those two suggestions regarding sump maintenance, and you shouldn't ever have a problem with your bioballs going south on you. You can certainly keep corals while using a trickle filter - I haven't seen any issues with the coral in my seahorse tank. I run a trickle filter in there, and my levels for the big three are 0, 0, and between 0 and 5 for nitrates. I hope this helps!
  13. flower

    flower Active Member


    This wt/dry I was looking at had a top on it. The thing kind of looked like a fancy canister but with a skimmer in it sticking out. It took a little effort but I found a picture of it.
    I don't see how it could be converted to a refugium if it has a top on it...
    Here is the info on it:
    Advanced filtration system with built-in venturi pump protein skimmer
    * High capacity aquarium filtration system perfect for limited space areas
    * Combination aquarium canister filter, wet/dry filter, and protein skimmer
    Newly designed advanced filtration system for larger aquariums. Next generation filter combines the filtering capacity of a wet/dry, venturi pump protein skimmer, and the ease of setup of a canister filter. Re-circulates 700 gallons of water per hour for ideal water quality. Replacement media sold separately.
  14. ernestpolska

    ernestpolska New Member

    helps a lot lols thanks hmmmm wanted to ask what if my protein skimmer is taller than sump , should i still put it in there thanks
  15. flower

    flower Active Member


    Originally Posted by novahobbies

    A wet-dry filter is a type
    of a sump - but not all sumps are wet-dry filters. And contrary to popular internet belief, yes you can CERTAINLY keep a reef environment with a wet-dry filter. I do! Boy, I've been meaning to write an article about this....it's a pet peeve of mine.
    A wet-dry filter, also known as a trickle filter, works by passing water through an overflow (drilled, HOT, whatever floats your boat) and down into the filtering mechanism. There are different kinds, but I'll try for the basics here. Your tank water first flows through some form of physical filter - a sock, floss, that sort of thing. Many of the pre-made wet-drys have a tray that holds a sheet of filter floss right under the tank outlet. There is usually a spreader bar of some sort as well to take the concentrated flow and increase the water's surface area. After it passes through the physical and sometimes chemical filter pads, the water trickles down into a large area containing bioballs. The bioballs work by utilizing a large surface area per ball to grow nitrifying bacteria on. The aerobic bacteria that metabolize ammonia and nitrite (nitrosomonas sp. and nitrobacte
    r sp., respectively) are encouraged to grow on the surface of this media because both types of bacteria favor a high-oxygen environment. Your tank water, properly filtered from most particulates by the floss above, trickles down through this bacteria-laden media where it is "washed free" of any ammonia and nitrite. The cleaned water then collects at the bottom of the filter, where it can go through a protein skimmer, refugium, live rock area, or whatever you have room for in the rest of your filter. Of course, your return pump send the water up to your display tank and the process begins again.
    Now, you'll hear people and internet sites say that trickle filters are "nitrate factories," and that you should immediately remove the offending bioballs and run some other media in their place. Nonsense, I say. However, I do agree with the first accusation: trickle filters ARE nitrate factories. It's exactly what they're supposed to do!! Go back and re-read the description. Bioballs use their surface area and high O2 environment to cultivate aerobic
    bacteria to remove ammonia and nitrite - they do nothing to remove nitrate, as this chemical is most often metabolized by anaerobic
    bacteria. It's hard to cultivate anaerobic bugs in this kind of filter! Your nitrates should be controlled by the live rock in your tank, in another area of your sump using live rock, and of course by regular water changes.
    I think people run into problems with trickle filters because of lack of proper maintenance. I'm not accusing anyone here, but this is what I've seen from helping take care of friends and neighbors aquariums. There needs to be a good physical filter before the bioballs. I've seen where people only use one sheet, or they cut it haphazardly and it allows unfiltered water to sneak down between the pad and get to the bioballs directly. The filter floss needs to be packed snugly in place so NO water can get down without going through the floss. Also, (and this is usually concurrent with the floss issue), the bioballs may have become clogged with detritus and lose their surface area for filtration. This is an easy thing to fix, and something that should be done once ever couple months anyway. Rinse those balls! Do it at least 3 times a year...my schedule is every other month. Save some tank water from a water change in two tubs. Take out your bioballs, pour them into tub A, swirl them around until they're clean, and scoop em out and rinse again in tub B. The water in tub A may look gross if the balls haven't been cleaned in a while, but if you're keeping a good filter floss media on top of the bioball chamber the rinsewater won't look too bad.
    So, that's it. Just follow those two suggestions regarding sump maintenance, and you shouldn't ever have a problem with your bioballs going south on you. You can certainly keep corals while using a trickle filter - I haven't seen any issues with the coral in my seahorse tank. I run a trickle filter in there, and my levels for the big three are 0, 0, and between 0 and 5 for nitrates. I hope this helps!

    Thanks, that explained allot, but I don't think it is anything like the filter I found except the bio balls part, have a look and tell me what you think. LOL...I think you should write that article, very informative..
  16. mrdc

    mrdc New Member

    Basically my wet/dry is a box that water flows through and I put eggcrate in it to separate various media. Water flows through the media and then the return pump pushes the water back into the DT. I had bio balls that I removed a long time ago. I use a lot of polyfiber in mine. I started using it a couple of months ago and now I really like that stuff. I buy it from Wally world for cheap. I also have a canister filter. It's not nearly as big as the wet/dry but it may be more efficient in making the water flow through the media since it is such a closed system (if that makes sense).
  17. flower

    flower Active Member

    Originally Posted by mrdc

    Basically my wet/dry is a box that water flows through and I put eggcrate in it to separate various media. Water flows through the media and then the return pump pushes the water back into the DT. I had bio balls that I removed a long time ago. I use a lot of polyfiber in mine. I started using it a couple of months ago and now I really like that stuff. I buy it from Wally world for cheap. I also have a canister filter. It's not nearly as big as the wet/dry but it may be more efficient in making the water flow through the media since it is such a closed system (if that makes sense).

    So is the one I’m looking at just a fancy canister and not a true wet/dry? Because what everyone describes is not what I was looking at. They did call it a wet/dry
  18. meowzer

    meowzer Moderator Staff Member

    Originally Posted by Flower


    So is the one I’m looking at just a fancy canister and not a true wet/dry? Because what everyone describes is not what I was looking at. They did call it a wet/dry
    do you have a brand name? It would help if we can all see what you are talking about
  19. meowzer

    meowzer Moderator Staff Member

  20. mrdc

    mrdc New Member

    That is closer to what mine looks like.

Share This Page