Mega Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover - DIY!

Discussion in 'Do It Yourself (DIY)' started by SantaMonica, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Don't scrub it... just wash it off lightly so some will stay on. Start the 18 hours.
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 3, 2009
    #81
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  2. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Part 3 of 7:

    Taken from "The Food of Reefs, Part 3: Phytoplankton" by Eric Borneman
    http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-10/eb/index.php

    "Phytoplankton are the major source of primary [food] production in the ocean, and one of the most important driving forces of global ecology. In fact, phytoplankton production influences all life, by being at the lowest rings of the food chain.

    "The reason [phytoplankton] are so important on a regional or global scale is simply by virtue of the fact that the upper 200 [meters] of oceanic waters is filled with phytoplankton and covers over 70% of the earth's surface.

    "What eats phytoplankton? In the water column, zooplankton [food] are without question the primary consumers of phytoplankton. Zooplankton grazers vary according the area and the time of year, but include primarily ciliates, copepods, amphipods, and tintinnids.

    "Stony corals are generally not well adapted to the sieve or filter type feeding that characterizes the soft corals (Fabricius et al. 1995, 1998). They are, however, well suited to the capture of zooplankton prey.

    "It is of paramount importance to recognize that the biomass of potential grazers [which need food] in an aquarium is many times what it would be in the same volume of water or surface area as the bottom of oceans or on reefs, and also, that the availability of water column borne food is many times greater in the ocean than in an aquarium.

    "Perhaps most importantly, is the almost ubiquitous interaction between bacteria and phytoplankton. Phytoplankton release dissolved organic substances, and bacteria utilize them as nutrient sources. Most phytoplankton cells, especially large ones, are coupled nearly continuously with coatings of bacteria [which are consuming the dissolved organic substances].

    "The amounts of phytoplankton present in reef aquariums are not known but are probably considerable. However, they are also probably rapidly removed by grazing and export devices [skimmers].
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 4, 2009
    #82
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  3. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    SantaMonica, Feb 6, 2009
    #83
  4. SantaMonica

    hibye

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    santamonica you are the god of DIY reef tank stuff, lol. All I need now is tubing, and 2 pumps because I lost my second one. :(
     
    hibye, Feb 8, 2009
    #84
  5. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Uh oh, time to get on ebay :)
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 8, 2009
    #85
  6. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    SantaMonica, Feb 8, 2009
    #86
  7. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Results of the week:

    Broder on the SARK site: "I have been running my tank with an algal filter for about 3 months now. I removed the skimmer on the 10th last month. My display has never looked better. The [nuisance] algae has almost totally dissapeared. My SPS colonies are thriving. Not only are they growing well, but the colouration has become vibrant due to 0 PO4 (Salifert test) and 0 nitrate. I've seen better colouration in systems that were using Zeovit, but I'm more than happy with the results the algal filter achieves."

    Sly on the SWF site: "The back glass used to be absolutely covered in green algae, but now it's staying clean on its own. I have never cleaned it. The rocks weren't that bad, but there were some patches of cyano in places that are now gone. It now seems to be staying cleaner on its own. My ORP has started rising again and is a 270mv without ozone. I don't know if it's related but as my tank levels have improved lately, my Mandarin is coming out more in the day time. This is the first picture I have ever been able to get of him in the open... and I've had him for over 2 years. The live rock and the substrate both have zero algae on them"

    TODJ2002 on the SWF site: "i added a scrubber several months ago after reading this thread. my nitrates and P slowly lowered and went to zero for the first time. they have both been at zero since. everytime i check levels i am expecting to see a rise, but always zero. i also added cheato to my system and i believe boths items are a must for any system."

    Adee on the SARK site: "Ok so its been about 6 weeks since i fired this scrubber up. Did the 1st "harvest" on just the one side; i'll do the other side next weekend. My phosphate reading is a zero according the Elos color chart... and for the very first time the complete back glass pane has broken out with coraline algae. Its never done that before due to the back always being covered with the normal glass algae/diatoms. Since the latter no longer appears, the coraline is now growing. I'm sure in a few weeks I'll have a complete pink wallpaper at the back. The fact that the scrubber makes the ideal platform for all this gunk to grow OUTSIDE my display tank, was well worth the investment."

    Bob the (reef) Builder on the SARK site: "Both my filters are going great guns. Probably the best is the sun [powered] one, it's big and now that its settled, grows algea like crazy. My phospates down to 0.00 - 0.01ppm on a Hanna meter. Never seen it this low before. My corals are starting to grow and colour up really well now."

    RentalDeceptionist on the UR site: "Ooh the [nuisance] algae. Well, it has certainly receeded massively. It's not 100% gone but I feel I'm on top of it. The hair algae which virtually smothered every flat surface is now down to about 20% of its mass, and there is more rock than algae. I do believe decreasing the lighting has helped."
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 10, 2009
    #87
  8. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    "Kcress" on the algae scrubber site has just finished his version of a G2 LED scrubber, for testing. A G2 is a self-contained scrubber, but the LEDs themselves are not the screen, like they are with a G3. Anyways, for testing purposes, he only has LED's on one side of the screen, and he only used low-power LEDs to avoid heat issues:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 11, 2009
    #88
  9. SantaMonica

    hibye

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    That scrubber is psychedelic! I just came up with a idea for catching pods and put them in when you want to, plus they can breed quicker. Alright you have a "hang-on scrubber", at the bottom you have a plexiglass box wher in front of the box the water flows through but any pods do not! The only thing you have in the box is the water flowing off the scrubber and mud or a rock for them to hide in. then maybe put in a piece of mysis for the pods to feed on. This may work if you make it the right way.
    here are some pics.
    http://i224.photobucket.com/albums/dd165/hibye4real/podcatcher.jpg
    http://i224.photobucket.com/albums/dd165/hibye4real/podcatcher2.jpg
     
    hibye, Feb 11, 2009
    #89
  10. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Two things about it: I don't think you want two pumps to operate it (one down, one up), and you probably are better off letting the pods circulate. They are baby pods, smaller than a spec of dust. Better to let them get to the corals and small fish.
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 12, 2009
    #90
  11. SantaMonica

    hibye

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    Oh okay. I didn't think of the baby pods! I don't know any other way to circulate it though........ I may be able to buy a overflow but that means a stronger pump and more time I have to wait. My one brain coral is getting surround by hair algae and I paid 50$ for that thing.
     
    hibye, Feb 13, 2009
    #91
  12. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Just use GFO for now.
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 13, 2009
    #92
  13. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Part 4 of 7:

    Taken from "The Food of Reefs, Part 4: Zooplankton" by Eric Borneman
    http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-12/eb/index.php

    [Note: "Zooplankton" are tiny animals (food) floating in the water]



    "Copepods comprise by far the largest fraction of total zooplankton - more than all the other groups combined.

    "Zooxanthellate corals (many diverse species) could survive "indefinitely" if provided with adequate zooplankton, even if totally deprived of light. In contrast, corals provided light and deprived of zooplankton did not survive.

    "One of the greatest myths among reefkeepers is that "SPS" corals depend mostly on light, and require less food than "LPS" corals. This is entirely untrue. As an example, consider the data from [pic not shown]. This graph shows the capture rate of an equivalent biomass of two corals, the large-polyped Montastraea cavernosa and the very small-polyped Madracis mirabilis. For those unfamiliar with Madracis, it is related to and somewhat resembles Pocillopora and Stylophora. The capture rate of the small polyped coral was 36 times greater than the large-polyped coral! Furthermore, M. cavernosa has been shown in other studies to be a voracious zooplanktivore.

    "Many other studies confirm the predatory [feeding] abilities and requirements of "SPS" corals. It should not be surprising, given the fast growth rate and fecundity of many small polyped species. In other words, more growth and reproduction requires more energy, especially nitrogen for tissue growth. The difference, if one exists between "SPS" and "LPS" corals, lies primarily in the size of the food captured. Most of the prey of small polyped corals may just be too small to see. Aquarists have a tendency to be strongly visual, and so if gross observations don't indicate that a coral is consuming food offered to it, they wrongfully assume the coral must not need to be fed.

    "Some species rely more on zooplankton than others, and if anything, the "SPS" corals feed on zooplankton a lot. In fact, most corals show linear feeding saturation dynamics under all but extremely high particle concentrations. What this means is that corals have a hard time "getting full." They continue to capture prey, and do not get satiated until prey densities become so great that such levels are almost never possible. To put it another way, even if you were to pour a pound of food per day into an average sized reef aquarium, the corals would still "be hungry."

    "In a September 2002 coral reef conference in Cambridge, several papers were presented that should give an idea of not only the very latest information, but also emphasize what is written above.

    "Many years ago, one of the only [food studies] for a coral was done for what might be considered the ultimate shallow-water "SPS" coral, Acropora palmata (Bythell 1988, 1990). The study showed, basically, that 70% of this coral's nitrogen needs were met by feeding, and that 91% of its carbon needs were met by light. [In 2002] three more corals, the larger polyped Montastraea cavernosa, M. annularis and Menadrina meandrites [were studied, and the researchers found] zooplankton to provide 20-80 times the carbon and 112-460 times the nitrogen previously shown for Acropora palmata. Finally [in 2002, researchers studied] the role of zooplankton consumption on the metabolism of the small-polyped coral, Stylophora pistillata under 3 different conditions of light (80, 200, 300 ┬Ámoles m-2 s-1) and 2 feeding regimes (Artemia and natural plankton). They found that regardless of light, fed corals had higher chlorophyll-A concentrations, higher protein levels, and had photosynthesis rates 2-10 times higher than those deprived of food. This group also measured calcification rates, both in the dark and in light, and found that calcification, as is well known to be the case, is enhanced by light. However, for the first time it was shown that feeding results in calcification rates 50-75% higher than in control corals (not fed). It was also found that feeding does not affect the light-enhancement process of photosynthesis on calcification. To make these results completely understandable, if corals can feed on zooplankton, they will calcify 50-75% faster irrespective of light levels provided.

    "Of all the many things that can potentially increase respiration, photosynthesis, and calcification -- and have been shown again and again to do so absolutely -- feeding and water flow are the major players. Light, of course, is critically important as well, but aquarists by and large can and do provide enough quantity and quality of light for corals. Period. Phytoplankton, while a very beneficial addition to aquaria, does not feed most corals (Borneman 2002). Something as significant as zooplankton to both coral and coral reefs would seem worthy of the highest efforts in trying to produce, add, grow, substitute or in some way provide to tanks. I cannot think of a single greater accomplishment and advance for aquarists than to provide by whatever means (higher export and higher input, larger refugia, purchase, plankton tow, culture, etc.) significantly greater levels of zooplankton or zooplankton substitutes to their corals. I hope I am being dramatic enough by writing this, for this is among the most important steps that must be made to realize the majority of those lofty goals and ideals that are so often stated and desired by those keeping corals in aquariums.

    [Skimmers remove zooplankton; Scrubbers add zooplankton]
    .
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 13, 2009
    #93
  14. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Update: Pod Size

    All the talk of how a scrubber "grows pods" has given some folks the idea of trying to catch the pods in a net. I think they might be expecting large pods like they see crawling around their sand and rocks at night. But actually what grows in scrubbers is the microscopic baby pod, which look like a spec of dust. This is because the weekly scrubber cleaning (in FW) kills most of the pods before they can eat too much of the algae. While this makes the scrubber work really good at removing nutrients (since the pods will not have a chance to eat the algae and put it back into the water), it also limits the growth period of the pods to 7 days. So what you get are millions of tiny white pod specs that fall off the scrubber and float through the water; if you have good circulation, the water might even look "dusty". This is exactly what you want: Large numbers of live zooplankton (baby pods) floating through the water, feeding your corals and small fish. Just like a real reef.
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 14, 2009
    #94
  15. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Update: Ultra Low Phosphate

    Many people, after having great success with their scrubbers, have brought their phosphate down so low that their test kits can't measure it. And the nuisance algae has been mostly cleared out of the display. However, these people start seeing a fuzzy detritus-looking accumulation on some parts of the rocks, and sometimes on the sand. They clean it off, but it comes right back. What is it?

    What they are seeing is phosphate coming out of the rocks(!). This is a great thing to happen. It requires two situations: (1) You previously had high levels of phosphate in your water (higher than .1) for several weeks or more, and (2) You now have very low levels of phosphate in your water. It's very counter-intuitive, and it will make you think that things are going wrong, especially since this type of algae growth looks just like "detritus" (but it's not.) Things are actually going very right, and here is why:

    Phosphate is like water: It flows from higher levels to lower levels. For example, if you have two aquariums connected with a pipe at the bottom, the water levels would be the same in each tank. But if you poured extra water into one tank, it's level would rise for a second, then the water would flow into the other aquarium until the levels were equal again (although both levels would now be higher). Now, if you removed some water from one of the aquariums, it's level would drop for a second, then the water from the other aquarium would flow into it until they both evened out again (although both levels would now be lower). If you kept removing water from just one of the aquariums, the levels of both aquariums would keep falling, until they both reached the bottom. This is exactly how phosphate works.

    Situation (1): In the previous weeks or months, when your phosphate levels in your water were high, the phosphate was flowing from the water INTO the rocks and sand and anything else that is made up of calcium carbonate, such as coral skeletons and clam shells. The phosphate did this because it's level in the water was "higher" than the phosphate in the rocks and sand. This part of the process is invisible, since Inorganic Phosphate is invisible. You don't see it going into the rocks and sand, but your rocks and sand are indeed being "loaded up". And if your phosphate in your water goes up even higher (say, .5), then even more phosphate goes into your rocks and sand, until it evens out again. You probably also see nuisance algae on your glass and other non-rock surfaces, because there is enough phosphate in the WATER to feed the algae anyhwere it's at. And that's the important point to remember: There is enough phosphate in the WATER to feed the algae ANYWHERE.

    Situation (2): Now, you've been running your scrubber (or any phosphate remover) for a while, and your phosphate in the WATER has been testing "zero" on your hobby test kit. Nuisance algae has been reduced or eliminated on your glass and everywhere else. This is because there is not enough phosphate in the WATER to feed the nuisance algae. However, since the phosphate in the water is now very low, guess where it's still high? IN THE ROCKS! So, phosphate starts flowing FROM the rocks and sand, back INTO the water. And as long as your scrubber keeps the phosphate low in the WATER, the phosphate will keep flowing out of the rocks until it is at the same level as the water. You can visualize the phosphate as heat coming off of a hot brick; you can't see it, but it's flowing out of the brick. Anyways, since you now have all this phosphate coming out of the rocks and sand, guess where algae starts to grow? ON THE ROCKS AND SAND!

    There is a striking differece between the algae in Situation 1 and 2, however; in (1) the algae is on everything: Glass, rocks, sand, pipes, thermometers, pumps, etc., and the algae is a typical algae that you normally get in your display. But in (2), the algae is dark, short and fuzzy, just like detritus, and it's only growing on the rocks and sand. And if you look closely at the rocks, it only growing on certain PARTS of the rocks (usuallly narrow parts that stick out), and not growing on the rocks right next to it. This is because certain areas of the rock have absorbed more phosphate than others, and thus are releasing more phosphate into the water. Glass, plastic, etc, don't absorb phosphate, so thats' why there is no algae growing on them now, since they are not releasing phosphate back into the water. So the algae now grows only where it can find enough phosphate, and for now, this is only on certain parts of the rock and sand where enough phosphate is flowing back into the water.

    But just like the aquarium example above, the levels of phosphate in the rocks and water will eventually even out, and the flowing will stop. When this happens, the nuisance algae will disappear from the rocks, never to return again (unless of course your phosphate levels rise again for some reason.) The time for this to happen is weeks to months, depending upon how much phosphate is stored in the rocks. So don't give up!
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 16, 2009
    #95
  16. SantaMonica

    hibye

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    I just got mine set up. Except for the light. I have a problem though. I have two of the same pumps but they seem to be haveing different GPH. If I turn the pump on to ( lets say that it is 1-5) 1 the bucket loses water but when it is on 2 it has too much water coming in. ? Do I have to make the tubes exactly the same size? It doesn't fill up fast but I dont want anythign to go wrong over night. here are some pics
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    also don't mind my seriously low water. I will add 2 gallons each day.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2009
    hibye, Feb 19, 2009
    #96
  17. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Here's what you need to do: Raise the bucket so the bottom of the bucket is above the water line in the tank. Next, remove the pump you have in the bucket. Next, just let the bucket drain down into the tank. This way, you only have one pump, and it will drain the exact amount that is pumped into it.

    You should never try a two-pump system. One one pump, and one drain. Here again is the diagram:

    [​IMG]
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 19, 2009
    #97
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  18. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Update: Grow Bulbs

    The best bulbs to grow algae are "grow bulbs", which are pink in color. Sometimes these bulbs are called "plant grow" bulbs. But don't confuse these bulbs with "plant bulbs" which are blue or green. Blue bulbs have a different purpose, and green bulbs are just to make plants look nice. It's the pink bulbs that give the algae the type of light that it grows best with. The light won't seem as bright as a white bulb, however, but it works much better. You can find grow bulbs at any garden store, home improvement store, hydroponics store, or online. Each bulb should be at least 23 watts.
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 19, 2009
    #98
  19. SantaMonica

    hibye

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    Thanks I may try that. I got the scrubber to work fine at school (mom was home in case). I just need to turn it off during night because it will overflow. I also don't want a huge bucket on top of my tank. I will have the one pump going to the scrubber on constantly but will only turn off the in and out let switch so it doesn't overflow. This is just temporary because my dad and I are building a 125 gallon reef tank that the 30 will go into.
     
    hibye, Feb 19, 2009
    #99
  20. SantaMonica

    bigploch Fan of Water

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    What is the importance of weekly cleaning? I have a nice mat of rich green hair algae growing all over both sides of my screen. I was hoping to let it get some more coverage before cleaning again.
     
    bigploch, Feb 20, 2009
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