• Welcome to ScapeCrunch!

    We are a friendly, online community of people interested in planted aquariums. We support and help each other learn and grow. It is our sincere hope that you will join us and find our tight-knit community valuable and fun!

    ScapeCrunch is different than Facebook Groups. Here's how:

    • It is a place where you can make long-term friends in the planted aquarium hobby and have long, multi-day talks on specific subjects.
    • Unlike social media, online communities like ScapeCrunch are much better at curating collective knowledge and in fostering deeper relationships.
    • They lend themselves better at long-form discussions.
    • You can maintain a thread on your personal aquarium with pictures and details. Other members can comment, help and ask questions. You can do the same with their Member Tank threads.

    Where Facebook is more like a large city-wide party, ScapeCrunch is more like your neighborhood bar "where everybody knows your name. And they're always glad you came." It's always fun to go to large parties but it's at the local bar that you feel people really know you. The great part is that you can and should go to both!

    Please consider joining to become a full fledged member of our growing community of planted aquarium obsessed enthusiasts. Let's grow together!

    Join Us!

Matrix without Seachem - redux


Staff member
Founding Member
  • Oct 29, 2022
    Miami, FL
    So some of you may recognize the title. It's from a very old thread on another site. Many topics in the thread but I thought it would be good to start it up here given it's the tail end of 2022 and we've learned a lot.

    Some of my take aways are:
    • Don't always believe the marketing hype from well-intentioned businesses (I'm a fan of Seachem);
    • Bacteria (the kind we want) is resilient and can quickly deal with ammonia;
    • Porous material makes a good home for bacteria;
    • Bacteria will grow on any porous material like pumice stone;
    What take aways did other people take?
    10g test tank

    The above video is from my summer of testing Matrix vs generic pumice stone. In the video I was trying to determine how much ammonia a particular setup could handle. In this case, it was a 10gallon tank with a larger canister filter attached. The canister filter had absolutely no porous bio media in it - just the empty plastic trays, the hoses and the glass of the tank.
    As I am sure someone will ask about the video - 24 hours after the ammonia was added, there was no measurable ammonia and no measurable nitrite. Nitrate on the other hand was thru the roof.

    As the summer progressed into the Matrix/Pumice portion of the experiment, it was pretty obvious that both bio medias could handle significantly more ammonia than an empty canister.

    As I piece together more info from the old thread, I will add it to this thread.

    Take away;
    In less than a month, you can easily cycle new bio media using a relatively small setup. In this case, the "small setup" grew enough bio media to handle a larger fish load in a 160 gallon tank.
    Last edited by a moderator:
    This was my experiment tank to test a bunch of theories. One of them was simplifying the filtration system. I am not a fan of canister filters because they are usually a pain to clean and, probably, because I'm lazy.

    The idea here was to use a single plate of porous material to see if that, plus what's everywhere else in the tank, would be sufficient to handle the biological function needed. Remember, my belief if that we don't need huge filters in a planted tank. Here I used one MarinePure Ceramic Biomedia Plate.

    As always, I used one bottle of Dr. Tim's bacteria and did a fishless cycle using ammonia drops. I had a fully functioning biological ecosystem within a week. It quickly scaled as input increased in the tank. I never measured ammonia in this tank other than for a few days at the beginning.

    I don't believe in magic material that will filter water better than something else. What we should concern ourselves about is porosity, size and durability. By increasing porosity, you can decrease the size needed that will result in cost and space savings. Durability needs to be there for the same reasons.

    There are other materials out there like zeolites that do other things and can be incorporated intentionally. But for pure nitrogen cycle, don't get fooled.
    Matrix without Seachem questions
    Lot of good comments in this old thread. At some point I will try to bring in the questions and responses into this thread as a good second source for the information. Unfortunately any pictures associated with the original thread have been lost.

    Original Matrix without Seachem thread (yes, it's very long!)
    Post 85 - the start of the fun :cool:
    As information develops, I will continue to edit this post number.

    Approximately 275ml Seachem Matrix was measured out and added to the Marineland C360 filter. The material was added to the 2nd tray from the top. No other filter media is in the filter.

    Approximately 275ml General Pumice Products was measured out and added to the Eheim Professional II filter. The material was added to the 2nd tray from the top. No other filter media is in the filter.

    The test solution will be Blue Ribbon Clear Ammonia which contains 3.5% ammonia.
    Blue Ribbon Clear Ammonia MSDS | MsdsDigital.com | Search our SDS online database free | Material Safety Data Sheet

    Initial target will be 4ppm ammonia. I am using fishforums.net/aquarium-calculator Calculator to calculate how much ammonia to add. I also will be using a spreadsheet to log how much ammonia is in the water prior to adding additional ammonia. Barring a few occasions, I will be trying to do daily measurements thru the entire cycling period.

    Additional Data:
    * Each tank holds 10 gallons of water. I am estimating each filter holds about 2 gallons of water. For the purpose of this test, I will be inputting 12 gallons of water into the above calculator.
    * KH = 7 german degrees. GH = 12 german degrees. Ph = 7.6. Temperature will very as the tanks are sitting on the back porch in summer time.
    * Turnover rate in each tank will be very high considering the filters that are being used.
    * The filter output is aimed towards the water surface to give a good ripple effect to help keep oxygen levels high.
    Last edited: