Sponge filters are not a novel invention but due to budget cutbacks, Atlantis Marine World of Riverhead NY has been experimenting with a supersized version of the classic sponge filter that is made from straw bale. The supersized straw bale filter operates on the same airlifting principle as a regular home filter would, except that this one is powered by 1000 cubic feet per minute air blowers. Curator of ATM and the 20,000 gallon reef aquarium Joe Yauillo said he was inspired by a recent article by Justin Credabel on Hydrogen Peroxide use in the aquarium. As J-Dog pointed out, straw bales naturally release a small amount of H2O2 in water and Mr. Yauillo was eager to share his experiences so far:
As you may know, ATM is home to the largest very successful captive reef aquarium in the world and as such, we don’t have much operating capitol left over for the “other” exhibits. I saw Justin’s article on H2O2 and his mention of straw bales and then it hit me. Why not make giant sponge filters out of straw bale? Straw bale is cheap, natural, biodegradeable and instead of cleaning it like a normal sponge filter we simply throw it away.
The current generation of straw bale filters can handle up to about 1000 gallons of high nutrient water but Mr. Yauillo and the ATM researchers are working on a new compaction technique for straw bale which should make it two to four times as dense, therefore increasing it’s filtration capacity exponentially. If the concept really works like they hope, Director Yauillo has let slip that ATM may be in negotiations with Jungle Laboratories to license the technology for the home aquarium.