This is the second and final installment of testing foam in aquariums as the filtration media.
To recap what is happening with the experiment.
The first round of testing was comparing an under the substrate filtration systems. The difference is that one of the substrates was gravel and the other was a standard type of phenolic foam. Both aquariums showed statistically similar decomposition of the generated ammonia, nitrate, and nitrites from the fish and food.
This was fantastic in that both systems had the same filtration capacity in the chemical parameters that we could test.
However, some of the major differences in the filtration systems.
The gravel filtration system could be “fluidized” and cleaned removing detritus and any algae buildup on the bottom surface of the aquarium. The foam filtration system would get impacted. The foam pores would become blocked with algae and detritus. This made the aesthetic appearance of the foam filtration tank rank much lower than the gravel comparison. Also, the foam is fabricated in sheets. The sheets would have to be cut just right to fit the bottom of the tank. If a small hole was present in the foam filtration system – a fish might try and swim into this section. The two times this disappearing act occurred the end outcome would be the same. One less living fish in the aquarium as the fish could not swim back out of the foam substrate filter.
Since the phenolic foam filtration proved to be as good as standard gravel filtration it was decided to test another type of foam as a comparison.
The foam is a special formulation and variety that we do not have currently in the States. This foam is manufactured in one of our Western European locations – hence “Viva La Fish”.
The initial testing lasted about a day. Why? I am not familiar with this type of foam chemistry so I did not know it would ultimately float. I tried everything to make this next foam testing set up work just like the previously tested foam. I even tried a canister filter, when I could not get the foam to stay submerged. The canister filter leaked – and I spent some time cleaning up some water on the basement floor.
So, testing could not start on the second round of fish tank filtration used in the same orientation due to the inherent nature of this type of foam and the equipment at hand.
What we did do is buy a hang on filtration system and cut the foam up to fit in the back of the filter. This is the best modification we can do given the inherent nature of the foam.
This is just like “the sky is the limit” where we get different ideas and challenges from clients or potential clients and we try to use foam as a medium to provide a solution. Sometimes the foam works and other times a major modification needs to take place for this foam to be considered for the application. This foam might ultimately work but it is not the most economical solution for the given opportunity.
In this case the phenolic foam worked just like the gravel substrate but had some major design flaws.