DIY project using algae as export in SW

SantaMonica

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Sep 19, 2008
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Reminder Of The Day:

Why Larger Is Not Better: A larger screen, by itself (without larger lights), is not better than a smaller screen. This means that if you want more nitrate and phosphate removal from your water, the best way to do it is by getting stronger lights, or by moving the lights closer to the screen. If all you do is get a larger screen, the new larger edges of the screen will be too far from the light to have any effect. Of course, the most effective way to increase nitrate and phosphate removal is to do all three: Increase screen size; add more lights to cover the new screen parts; and position all the lights closer to the screen.
 

Tom Barr

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SantaMonica;29802 said:
So maybe the only situation for a FW scrubber would be a fish only setup, when you don't want plants in the display?

No, you should use plants in that case in the sump, not algae.
They are much better at export larger bioloads than algae.
They will not drive the PO4 and NO3 down to really small concentrations, however, unless the aquarist demands extremely low levels of PO4/NO3, and has a low bioload in the tank, the trade offs for the plant filter/scrubber are far better.

That's why they use Hyacinth etc in wastewater treatment plants, constructed wetlands etc , Typha and so on .........instead of algae. They are much more capable of larger volumes and variation of export in those cases.

Since temp is not an issue, we can use them also in FW. Even in colder regions, algae is not used because the rate of growth declines.
So seasonal use of plants is often still done.

A simple 3x 18" tall reactor filled with lava or any hydroponic media, add a peace lily or any suitable hydroponic lower light(or you could run it outside like the subtropical or tropic climate region) plant, or higher light plant if you wish, plant into the lava and wait.

You simply cut the plant back and prune off the leaves, take cuttings, split the rhizome etc and sell the plant, etc. No wet slimy mess.
Makes awesome bio manure, compost and higher dry weight of biomass export, algae is a lot more water than plant tissue. So you spend less time cleaning/exporting it, and unlike algae, it will not slough off back into the system as it gets more overgrown.

This is more a marine filtration method as keeping larger marine macro algae are more difficult than say the Entromorphora and other noxious green algae.
Surge methods work very well with FW algae and with FW plants also. I did that every every 15 min on/off cycling in the past.

My goal was more like the NO3 batch denitrification processors. Clean up small batches super well and really low, then send back rather than trying to clean continuously.

I think you will fine if you want to reduce the NO3/PO4 levels in the reefs, this might prove a fruitful direction. you can find some interesting controller functions on this thread from Leon.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

SantaMonica

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Nutrients2.jpg





Text Version:

Food --> fish,corals --> Organic Nitrate, Organic Phosphate.

Organic Nitrate, Organic Phosphate --> Bacteria --> Inorganic Nitrate, Inorganic Phosphate.

Inorganic Nitrate, Inorganic Phosphate --> Algae --> Oxygen
 

SantaMonica

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Reminder Of The Day:

Feeding: Here are the two building block articles by Eric Borneman that cover what happens when you feed your tank. This information is what you need to know to understand what scrubbers do:

The Food of Reefs, Part 5: Bacteria by Eric Borneman - Reefkeeping.com
The Food of Reefs, Part 6: Particulate Organic Matter by Eric Borneman - Reefkeeping.com

Here is an excerpt from the second one:

"Detritus [waste] ... is the principal food source for the many bacterial species that work in various nitrification and denitrification activities. Before reaching the microbial community, however, [waste] acts as a food source for the smaller consumers such as amphipods, copepods, errant polychaetes, protozoans, flagellates, ciliates and other animals whose activities contribute to the stability and productivity of a coral reef and a coral reef aquarium."

and

"Of the many food sources available to corals and already discussed in this series of articles, particulate organic material [waste], dissolved organic material [DOC/DOM], and bacteria are the most universally accepted food sources"

and

"The use of detrital material, or particulate organic material, as food source is a cornerstone of coral reef ecology and forms what is well accepted to be the base of the entire food chain"
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Gerryd

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Tom,

I was thinking of 'planting' my sump now that I have the open area back, so your comments are timely.....

I have one or two of those clamp on screw type CF bulb metal reflector lights, you know the ones? Hold up to a 40w bulb.

I was thinking that one of these over the sump (only 6" away) would be enough light to grow some duckweed, and maybe some other floating plants (hornwort, riccia, etc). The sump would get nutes and c02 on a constant basis. Flow is slow in the sump, so not sure if this is good or bad.....

Would this be enough you think?

Would I need to have a 'substrate' and actually plant some stems?

Would this light be enough to grow lillies as you suggest?

Sump area I have open is 12x12x12.

Appreciate your thoughts.
 

SantaMonica

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Here's one reason I really like using scrubber without a skimmer. My purple gorg and red feather star stay open and extended all day and night, even though they naturally do so only during the night. But since there is no skimmer removing organics (food), and since the scrubber adds pods to the water all day, not only do they eat well, but they do so 24/7. Note: You cannot keep filter feeders likes these if you have a skimmer...

My90starAndGorgSmall.jpg


Hi-Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/My90starAndGorg.jpg
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Tom Barr

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You are certainly singer to the choir here.
I really support the use of algae and plants for filtration, that's what occurs in open systems. Most places that are really productive marine systems tend to have upwelling and import from outside the reefs/Seagrass beds/Kelp and macro beds.

There is a great deal of recycling that occurs, particularly useful when there's no/or less import from outside th system or in regions where things become limiting(food, nutrients, light etc).

I do have a 300 Gallon fish only mostly marine tank I might convert to algae scrubbing. It has a skimmer, under powered, and it's very difficult to do water changes. Chemistry is fine, but the NO3 keep going up even with denitrification systems. It's just too much tank for the tiny space they have for the filter.

Then there's the heat, no ventilation. You can nag folks only so much and you realize they are not going to budge. So, you have to work with what they are going to do, then they talk tales about some reef they saw at the LFS:rolleyes:

But I think I'll do a vert Scrubber with 46 W of Pc lighting and remove the skimmer. I maintain a reef with a nice macro scrubber, no skimmer, a nice stable system, easy to do water changes etc but this tank is more a challenge. I think the scrubber will help improve things till they get around to adding the 300 Gallon water change reservoir, add a squirrel fan for heat. A bugger of a tank to work on, no access either:)

There's space for this however.


Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Tom Barr

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SantaMonica;30003 said:
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Here's one reason I really like using scrubber without a skimmer. My purple gorg and red feather star stay open and extended all day and night, even though they naturally do so only during the night. But since there is no skimmer removing organics (food), and since the scrubber adds pods to the water all day, not only do they eat well, but they do so 24/7. Note: You cannot keep filter feeders likes these if you have a skimmer...

My90starAndGorgSmall.jpg


Hi-Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/My90starAndGorg.jpg
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Yes, I have several filter feeders doing very well in the fuge/no skim system.
What's weird, is that skimmer folks never seem to address the trade offs for that vs say a scrubber or a fuge system.

If you look at the space, the electrical cost, noise(those friggen pumps are noisy), potential for water everywhere, leaks etc, vs using more natural processes approach to ecosystem management.........seems to be a wiser solution.

But I think for many, the results are the bottom line and that "sells a method" more than any banter or talk. So a pic sells 10,000x more than words I'd say.
Still, many have trouble using and growing fuges (Brown Thumbs), this on the other hand, is far easier. So you get the same/more benefits if you are using this as a filter/utilitarian approach vs macro algae. And it's easier to keep.

One thing to note in FW systems, the plants do great at high levels of PPM's for N and P, starting with Typha etc, then moving to submersed plants, followed at the end by algae and BGA's to filter the water way way down.
Each group is able to remove a lot of ppms at each decreasing concentration where the other drops off.

We really do not need that here unless we have a very over loaded system.
I think given the levels desired by reef folks, the ppms are more suited to Scrubbers than they are Refugiums with macros.

Folks watch their macros do very poorly after a period of good fast growth.
They are starving, but now the reef is doing good, and the macros have high biomass.

Then a bit later things start to go wrong because they do not prune and harvest the macros consistently, or they do not add more N and P to the system(feed more). So these same macros start to die off and cause worst problems.

Also, these macros tend to require higher ppms for optimal growth than many in reef circles are willing to maintain. The scrubber algae species on the other hand are well adapted to more variation and lower levels.

I think the argument is very strong for using this vs some of the other 2 main methods for reefs and many other marine systems.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Tom Barr

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Gerryd;29970 said:
Tom,

I was thinking of 'planting' my sump now that I have the open area back, so your comments are timely.....

I have one or two of those clamp on screw type CF bulb metal reflector lights, you know the ones? Hold up to a 40w bulb.

I was thinking that one of these over the sump (only 6" away) would be enough light to grow some duckweed, and maybe some other floating plants (hornwort, riccia, etc). The sump would get nutes and c02 on a constant basis. Flow is slow in the sump, so not sure if this is good or bad.....

Would this be enough you think?

Would I need to have a 'substrate' and actually plant some stems?

Would this light be enough to grow lillies as you suggest?

Sump area I have open is 12x12x12.

Appreciate your thoughts.

Bit off topic here, let's start a new one for FW, I'll suggest a few plant species more suited to your goal. They call it duck WEED for good reason.
Try Water sprite, peaces lilies, any emergent plant should do fine, zip tie some rock wool around some roots etc. It does not need to be high tech:cool:

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

SantaMonica

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Stages of an aquarist's happiness with a scrubber:

1. The day you see the first very light-brown color on the screen.
2. The day you see the screen covered left to right, top to bottom.
3. The day AFTER you think you saw your N or P test go down. Because that day after, you tested again to be sure.
4. The day you realized, for sure, that the the piece of filtration equipment you removed last week was really and truely not needed.
5. The day you finally realize that the N and P problems you've been fighting for (weeks, months, years) are finally gone.
5. The day another aquarist asks you, "How did you do it?"
 

SantaMonica

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Nutrients3.jpg

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Text Version:

Nutrients, part 3

The amount of Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate that a scrubber removes is directly controlled by how much light-power hits the scrubber:

1" - The light-power is full strength.
4" - At 4" distance, the same bulb power has to cover four times the area, so the power per square inch is only 25 percent of what is was (reduced 75%).
6" - At 6" distance, the same bulb power has to cover nine times the area, so the power per square inch is only 11 percent of what is was (reduced 89%).

This is why placing the bulb very close to the scrubber is extremely important.
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SantaMonica

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Reminder of the Day: Proper Flow


While not as important as how strong and near the bulb is, proper flow has shown to help a lot. Before Mrobo770131 on the UR site got things tuned properly, his flow looked like this:

UserMrobo770131onUR-28.jpg



Zennzzo on the MFK site, however, got it perfect from the start:

UserZennzzoOnMFK-5.jpg




The trick is to have 35 gph (adjustable) for every inch width of the screen. And this is assuming your waterfall pipe has a slot. If your pipe uses drilled holes (not recommended) then you will use less.
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SantaMonica

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Today's success story comes from "BearUSA" on the TR site. He did what many folks call the "combined" approach... using lots of things in addition to his scrubber to help eliminate his nuisance algae. Wish he had more pics, but here is the before:


UserBearUSAonTalkingReef-3.jpg



And after:

UserBearUSAonTalkingReefSmall-10.jpg

Hi-Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/UserBearUSAonTalkingReef-10.jpg


Here is his setup:

UserBearUSAonTalkingReef-1.jpg



And here is what he said along the way:

8/21: this guide is awesome, i,m gonna be building me one of these as soon as i get some time to myself, thanks for posting this so everyone can see and share.

9/10: what is the best way to get rid of nuisance algae, despite regular water changes and picking this stuff off the rocks it keeps growing back, my nitrates are 0ppm confirmed with 2 different test kits. my phosphates are also 0ppm with different tests. i have since set up a turf algae screen but that has only been running for a day and a half so its not working yet.

9/10: [waterfall pipe is] just an ordinary gravel vac pipe, fed by my external canister filter, the light is above at the mo i need to go out and buy some brackets and 2 light fixtures so i can have a light either side of screen, the other end of the gravel vac pipe has a water tight access plug, so i can still get in to clean the pipe. this nuisance algae just keeps on growing despite regular water changes picking it off the rocks, this stuff is ugly no matter what i do it just dont wont to disapear, this turf filter is my last resort.

9/13: i am determined to get this right but sometimes its so disheartning to see a tank that you try your very best to get things right to just keep getting covered in crap algae.

9/18: over the last couple of days i have noticed the nuisance algae i've been suffering with is eventually starting to die off. i'm sure the second 60 litre tank that i placed my calurpa green grape and cheato are starting to take up the nutrients before the nuisance stuff, i'm so pleased today that my tank is half way to looking great again.

9/20: i have done 2 small water changes whilst siphoning out as much as possible, i'm quite glad now i,m eventually getting back on track, my water is crystal clear all params are spot on, i had feared of water turning a bit yellowy with the release off the nutrients from the dying algae but i have had none of that. [...] hopefully fingers crossed i,ve got a hold on this now.

9/23: [answering "how did you do it"]: it could be a number of elements, i took on board all the advice which i received which im totally greatful for, i set up a 60 litre tank next to my main dt and filled it with a 4 inch deep sand bed, plus added culurpa green grape and cheato, i set up a temporary turf algae filter as suggested by Santa Monica in his thread under mega powerful nitrate and phosphate remover, i have continuously picked at the stuff and used a toothbrush to gently wipe over the rocks and inside the nooks and crannys, no doubt scaring my fish half to death, the only thing i haven't done yet is to replace the skimmer, i should say upgrade the skimmer, currently running a red sea pro prism, i had advice to get rid of it and get a better one. and also added another koralia 2 to improve water circulation which i placed at the bottom of dt to serge current over sand bed. increased slightly the amount of water i take out for water change, from about 90litres to about 125litres every 2 to 3 weeks. on the whole it could be any number of things i have done if not all, and once again i would like to thank all of you for your advice and recommendations.

10/6: this thread is really getting interesting now with all the different people posting and for santa monica posting pics of the scrubbers, etc. GOOD WORK SANTA MONICA KEEP IT UP

10/9: i,ve nearly cracked it, this nuisance algae have a look at these pics to see, i'm over the moon its nearly all gone.

10/16: i've been running my scrubber for about a month and a half now, n and p are zero, i have always had a zero n and p reading using the salifert test kits, but when i had that nuisance algae problem i was told the kits were registering zero because it was quite possible that the algae were taken it all in. if that makes any sense. ps another note i'd like to thank you again for your hard work and commitmant in keeping this thread a live and with the great pics your posting up, keep up the good work, without your posting of this thread i wouldn't have even known about these turf filters, so once again a BIG THANKYOU.
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SantaMonica

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Update of the Day:

It's been recently discovered that the screen-wrapped-around-pipe design will clog up and stop working when the algae gets thick. It grows heavily where the screen is wrapped at the top, and blocks further flow from going down the screen. Instead the flow starts going out the ends, completely missing the entire screen, thus killing what algae was previously growing on screen. It affects different screens in varying amounts; the higher the lights are (thus closer to the wrap), the more it clogs. This is the type I'm referring to:

UserMudsharkOnMA.jpg

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SantaMonica

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Today's success story is from "keifer1122" on the RS site. He got the pre-grown screen from Inland Aquatics, and put a powerful bulb on both sides (even though the screen comes only one-sided, he wanted it to grow on the other side too.) His results took six weeks. Here are his comments, highly edited for readability:

9/23: its a pre grown screen from IA. [...] my nitrates are up, its only been 2 weeks and it looks like there at a stand still, but im feeding heavily, lot of anemones in there. also where the light is the brightest theres a certain type of algae that looks like an oil spill , its got a rainbow of colors yellowish greenish brown. also no yellowing in my water. [...] i run a skimmer just cause my numbers are up there, but when there down to nuthing then ill remove.

UserKeifer1122onRS-1.jpg





its a 75g with 29g sump, the lights i use are 40 watt cfls comparable to 150w, but today i picked up the big daddy cfl 65 watt/300 watt comparable 3,900 lumens. so i cleaned yesterday to the point where everything was off except for the red turf that didnt come off, plus i want that to grow i think. but the screen was bare and today the screen is covered. been in for 2 weeks, not much growth the first week. but adjusted to my tank and now my first week cleaning was about the same growth that grew (lol) in one day. [...] right now i have toooo many fish... a buddy i work with was gettin out and i bought his liivestock and equip...

yellow tang
hippo tang
big royal gramma
blue green chromis
2 clownfish
mandarin
coral beauty
small bangaii cardinal

...and i only have about 35 lbs of liverock, maybe. thats pushin it. 2" sandbed, run an undersized skimmer, i think euro reef made for 55g. i test with api nitrate test, and i lost the color chart, but yellow good, red bad, im orange. and since ive been testing it looks like its getting a lighter color. [It] was usually just goin up everyday, but with the new light i think that will speed up the growing process.

9/26: i cleaned monday and today is friday, and i have to clean again. [...] the other side is getting there, still needs to catch up tho. [...] no lights on a timer, runnin it for 24/7. [although should be changed to 18 hours ON, and 6 hours OFF]. pump is on a timer, 30 [seconds] on 30 off, its just that the screen from IA was one sided and thats why the other side has to catch up.

10/23: just chimming in to say my n and p are undetectable.(!)
 

Tom Barr

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SantaMonica;30070 said:
Tom I'll be looking forward to the scrubber pics on the 300. Sounds like a customer tank.

It is.
I have 2 x 28 W CF lights, so there will be plenty of that.
I also have a smaller version for another tank.

In tight spaces, this is more useful than skimmers and where noise is an issue etc, not to mention electrical cost.

You will want to make sure your Testing of N and P are accurate, so do you calibrate the test with known standards over the ranges of interest?

N and P are particular difficult when you get to lower ranges and the organic vs the inorganic fractions make that tougher. A small 0.4 micron prefilter can help prior to sampling for the inorganic fractions, but that has issues also. Still, the other issue is that a lot of organic inorganic complex is turned over, or the N and P is used so fast, it becomes hard to test to see how much production is occurring and how much N and P is actually present in the system.

Some systems can be limited and you might not know it, some might be just fine with a very low, rapid turnover residual. This will affect critters, plants, algae and corals. Hard to test though.

This occurs often in macro algae systems and perhaps skimmer systems, this system is much less prone. I have to wonder if that issue, not the removal of N and P itself, rather than a nice low steady residual might be the reason.

Just be careful and do not hold testing for nutrients quite so high up like some Bastillion of hard evidence for anything. Question what you are really testing and question the test kit and method itself.

When you cover more bases, you are less likely to make a mistake and offer more support for your support of this method.

I mention this because the road to convincing folks using such autotrophes are very useful for balancing aquariums is a long difficult road. You need all the support you can find and be able to respond to a wide range of issues.
You clearly have some passion for it.
So I pour gas where I see fire. ;)

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Tom Barr

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Jan 23, 2005
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SantaMonica;30146 said:
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Nutrients3.jpg

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.
.
.
Text Version:

Nutrients, part 3

The amount of Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate that a scrubber removes is directly controlled by how much light-power hits the scrubber:

1" - The light-power is full strength.
4" - At 4" distance, the same bulb power has to cover four times the area, so the power per square inch is only 25 percent of what is was (reduced 75%).
6" - At 6" distance, the same bulb power has to cover nine times the area, so the power per square inch is only 11 percent of what is was (reduced 89%).

This is why placing the bulb very close to the scrubber is extremely important.
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Well, it can depend on other nutrients that the algae require, for example, the algae might be Fe limited, so adding or reducing light will make little difference.
See Liebig's law of minimums.

If you are interested in measuring algal production from light set ups, you can get one of the 149$ PAR meters from Apogee(*See thread here).

Since the sheet is of known area, you can measure the PAR of the light, you can move the distance around and see the production of algae. To measure the biomass of the algae, take a sample off the scrubber, dry in hot sunlight for a few days till it's as dry as a bone and then weigh to th nearest milligram.
Use the dry weights for comparison.

Now you can quantify.
If you want to help the algae a bit, try using a calcined clay sheet with CEC.
Alternatively, if you sprayed very dilute Fe on the scrubber sheet while it is off and let sit for a minute or two, then turn it back on, this gives direct dosing for any specific algal nutrient you want added.



Regards,
Tom Barr