Filter socks or No filter socks - that is my question

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Filter socks or No filter socks - that is my question

Post  finfan on 4th March 2014, 11:37 pm


I have been looking for cheap filter socks to buy as I was looking at running 4 sets after the water leaves the main tank into the sump and another 4 just before the return section of my sump. In looking for socks I came across many threads were people are debating whether to use socks or not - a lot are saying don't.

And with some good reasons -
Another question saltwater tank owners always ask is:

“Do I need to run filter socks on my tank”?

My answer is always, no, unless you are a reef junkie.

In its simpliest sense, a filter sock is a tube sock looking piece of mesh or felt that goes below your downpipe on your tank so that as the water falls from your tank to your sump, it has to pass through the sock. The sock catches small particulates (down to 200 microns) which means clearer water for your tank, but it comes with a cost.

These socks need to be cleaned and changed out every 3 days so keep from creating nitrates which can really wreak havoc on your tank. (The trapped particles break down in the sock and generate waste – the nitrates). Filter socks can also get clogged and overflow if you leave them unchanged for a long time.

As a tank dabblers, its not worth having to clean a piece of your tank every couple of days. The difference you notice with the filter sock isn’t worth the effort. The same is true for reef enthuiasts. It’d be nice to run socks, but you can get by without it.

Reef junkies..stock up. Remember you want the best tank and if someone saw small pieces of who-knows-what floating around your tank, it’d be detrimental to your reputation. Just remember to change them out every 3 days and wash them with cold water and no soap!

I would love to hear your thoughts?

 pirat 

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Re: Filter socks or No filter socks - that is my question

Post  saltz on 6th March 2014, 3:44 am

Ignobolis wrote:
I have been looking for cheap filter socks to buy as I was looking at running 4 sets after the water leaves the main tank into the sump and another 4 just before the return section of my sump. In looking for socks I came across many threads were people are debating whether to use socks or not - a lot are saying don't.

And with some good reasons -
Another question saltwater tank owners always ask is:

“Do I need to run filter socks on my tank”?

My answer is always, no, unless you are a reef junkie.

In its simpliest sense, a filter sock is a tube sock looking piece of mesh or felt that goes below your downpipe on your tank so that as the water falls from your tank to your sump, it has to pass through the sock. The sock catches small particulates (down to 200 microns) which means clearer water for your tank, but it comes with a cost.

These socks need to be cleaned and changed out every 3 days so keep from creating nitrates which can really wreak havoc on your tank. (The trapped particles break down in the sock and generate waste – the nitrates). Filter socks can also get clogged and overflow if you leave them unchanged for a long time.

As a tank dabblers, its not worth having to clean a piece of your tank every couple of days. The difference you notice with the filter sock isn’t worth the effort. The same is true for reef enthuiasts. It’d be nice to run socks, but you can get by without it.

Reef junkies..stock up. Remember you want the best tank and if someone saw small pieces of who-knows-what floating around your tank, it’d be detrimental to your reputation. Just remember to change them out every 3 days and wash them with cold water and no soap!

I would love to hear your thoughts?

 pirat 

IMHO, you should have the filter socks, here's my thoughts:

These socks need to be cleaned and changed out every 3 days so keep from creating nitrates which can really wreak havoc on your tank. (The trapped particles break down in the sock and generate waste – the nitrates). Filter socks can also get clogged and overflow if you leave them unchanged for a long time.
It's a known fact that the waste and detritus accumulated in the filter socks break down and generate nitrates, much like the canister filter. I would compare the filter sock as a simplified version of the canister filter, where the effort required for maintaining/cleaning the filter socks is far less than trying to maintain a canister filter. So why would I use filter socks if it's a nitrate factory? The answer is simple, it's an easy way to gather most of the waste in the aquarium in a single place and can be removed from the system easily. In doing so, the water quality will be improved allowing you to focus on getting other parameters required for corals to thrive.

If you don't use the filter socks, the waste would simply stay in the system, probably in some dead spot at the corner of the tank or sump or under/between some live rocks, these waste still breaks down and generate nitrate. The system will probably be able to cope with the break down of waste in the beginning, but after a while, the amount of beneficial bacteria in the system would reach a saturation point (i.e. they've ran out of surface area to colonize) and they'll not be able to process the waste as fast as the waste is being generated. When that happens, you'll see a gradual increase in the nitrate level in the system.

As a tank dabblers, its not worth having to clean a piece of your tank every couple of days. The difference you notice with the filter sock isn’t worth the effort. The same is true for reef enthuiasts. It’d be nice to run socks, but you can get by without it.
Yes, you wouldn't see any difference for a couple of months, even a year, but after a certain amount of time depending on the number of fish you have, how much food you're feeding, how much waste is being produced by the inhabitants, the water quality will definitely deteriorate. Remember, everyone is free to have their own thoughts & opinion, and the internet simply makes it much easier for one to share them, regardless of whether it is right or wrong. I have yet to see a reef tank that doesn't use any mechanical filtration and still looks as good after at least 2 years. Most of the posts on forums are about tanks that're fairly young (less than 2 years) and still looking nice and clean, and let's face it, not many people would be too keen to tell the whole world about how their tank crashed, nor would many feel the need to tell everyone how their tank is still looking good after more than 2 years without any mechanical filtration.

Just my $0.02

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Re: Filter socks or No filter socks - that is my question

Post  liquidg on 6th March 2014, 8:00 am

He has been told all that mate as many others have been, but he might listen when it comes from you.

A reef aquarium is a waste of time with out pre filtering, pre meaning “pre bio media”.
From 6 months to the longest that I have herd, honestly spoken about and that tank had very minimal load, 6 years on that one, before the live rock and external bio media and deep sand beds were at the level of near uselessness for the good anaerobic,lol, and bio sink functions.

This is because obligate anaerobes, “that those other large forum idiots told me did not exist”, and for some strange reason are high on the reef aquarium list by the gurus now,these far out way the facultative anaerobes, which uses the electron accepter, as in nitrate, they are the good ones,lol.

Obligate types, that make hydrogen sulphide as a bi product, are sensitive to oxygen in any form, to them its highly reactive and a death sentence and that’s good.
So with out pre filtering or being a lazy hobbyist and not cleaning whatever pre filtering you use, you are killing of what you set out to achieve!
Add some more nitra guard,screw the pre filters!

I can’t easily afford it so I have to be vigilant with my settling and basic pre filters, but ignobolis can afford the nitra guard!
Give it 20 or 30 years of doing this and it will become apparent, that is with out crutches like nitra guard.

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Re: Filter socks or No filter socks - that is my question

Post  finfan on 6th March 2014, 2:49 pm

Good info - thanks

The comments I have read all relate to the idea of keeping detritus suspended through flow and removing it via skimming. Of course regular water changes and siphoning out any excess while performing the water change was a standard practice also.

The comments were varied for the pro's and con's of pre filters - I think for the most its like you said Dendro, it is the easiest way to accumulate and then remove the waste in one place. I couldn't imagine not using them personally - though the idea of not having to wash and clean socks every other day is appealing.

I don't blow off the comments from "internet opinions" - Guys like Julian Sprung, Sanchez etc have a tonne of experience and I take on there ideas and opinions onboard, as I do with anyone who s kind enough to offer help and ideas - they have awesome reef aquariums, breed just about every marine species ever kept and always try new and innovative systems and methods.

Not sure why you think Nitraguard is expensive G -$30 for a 12 month supply........you spend more than that on fuel each week going diving...... and I don't view it as a crutch either - my goal is like everyone's - offer the best environment to my tank inhabitants with the most effective way of maintaining optimum parameters - simple. I have simply had great results with nitraguard.

Anyway back to the design table.......hmmmmm need a bigger shrimp area.....

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Re: Filter socks or No filter socks - that is my question

Post  liquidg on 6th March 2014, 3:10 pm

I thought you said it was seventy something dollars?

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Re: Filter socks or No filter socks - that is my question

Post  finfan on 7th March 2014, 12:56 pm

liquidg wrote:I thought you said it was seventy something dollars?

Yes, the large size is but you can get smaller - my system is over 2000 liters and the nitrates and phosphate was high. A better system like yours,which is better maintained and that is smaller volume would do nicely with the smaller size.

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