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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    There are three reasons a screen needs weekly cleanings: 1) The FW in the sink kills the pods that will eat the algae, 2) The algae you clean off is nitrate and phosphate that you just removed from your tank, and 3) As the algae gets thicker on the screen, the outer layers start shading the inner layers, causing the inner layers to die and flow back into the tank, re-introducing nitrate and phosphate, and also yellowing the water. Thus removing the outer layers keeps the inner layers growing strong.
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 20, 2009
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  2. SantaMonica

    bigploch Fan of Water

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    What about the phosphate filled tap water you are rinsing the scrubber out with? Is that a problem?
     
    bigploch, Feb 20, 2009
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  3. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    No, it does not soak into it much at all.
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 20, 2009
  4. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Update: Cross-cuts

    Making cross-cuts in the slot is now recommended for all pipes. The biggest advantage of cross-cuts is that when algae grows up into the slot, a cross-cut will still allow water to flow out on top of the algae. Cross-cuts do require more flow, so if your pump/pipe combination is having trouble delivering the recommended 35 gph per inch of slot (53 lph/cm), then you might want to get more flow first. Start with one cross-cut every inch (2.5cm), and later try one every .5 inch (1.25cm):

    [​IMG]
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 22, 2009
  5. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Part 5 of 7:

    "The Food of Reefs, Part 5: Bacteria" by Eric Borneman
    http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-01/eb/index.php

    "Given the enormous bacterial biomass in all ecosystems, it should be of little surprise that [bacteria] are food for something, if not many things. Bacteria, being composed of living material, contain a relatively large amount of nitrogen, an element in very short supply in coral reef waters.

    "The biomass and productivity of bacteria on [natural] coral reefs are as great as those in nutrient-enriched (or eutrophic) lakes, and up to a hundred times greater than in the open ocean. Planktonic bacteria in coral reefs [..] have filamentous processes to allow them to absorb and consume dissolved organic molecules [DOC].

    "In virtually all studied marine environments, bacteria are water purifiers, decomposers of organic material, and a primary source of protein for both those animals that directly graze on them and those that acquire them indirectly through secondary consumption.

    "Given the importance of bacteria as a food source in marine ecosystems, it might not be surprising to learn that they are also a primary food source for corals. It has been found that bacteria alone can supply up to 100% of both the daily carbon and nitrogen requirements of corals. All corals studied consume dissolved organic material [DOC], bacteria, and detrital material [waste].

    "Bacteria not only provide carbon and nitrogen for the [coral] polyp, but also provide an important source of phosphorous for the zooxanthellae, in addition to other elements such as vitamins and iron.

    "Bacteria exist in very high diversity and biomass in the marine environment, and especially on coral reefs and on coral surfaces. They play critical roles in virtually all ecological processes that control reefs, and are a major component of food webs. Corals feed on bacteria at levels and efficiencies that rival all other bacterial consumers.
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 27, 2009
  6. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Successes of the Day:

    Johnt on the UR site: "I feed heavy and don't do water changes, so there's quite a bio load to balance; since adding the scrubber I've stopped using phosphate remover, and levels remain low and the water appears clearer, but I think the biggest difference has been how clean the tank looks despite being set up close to five years."

    tarraza on the algae scrubber site: "the only thing that i can tell you guys is that this is my 5 months that I have NOT change any water in my 30 gal salt watwer tank full of hard corals, soft corals etc. For more than 8 YEARS i spend a LOT of money on additives to eliminate nitrates above 30ppm, phophate way over 20 not to mention water change every other week just to get partial results. Now I do not even test for nitrates, phopate, I only test one in a blue moon for calcium, ph, and alk. My filtration for this tank is a ACUACLEAR 110 FILTER ON THE BACK OF MY TANK WHITH MY VERSION OF ALGEA SCRUBBLE (of course whith ALL the ADVICES FROM ST. MONICA in). People KEEP IT SIMPLE. THIS SYSTEM REALY WORK.

    cyberseer on the algae scrubber site: "YEAH!! Tested this morning coz i was bored, got a 0 NO3 reading, had to double and triple the test, to confirm that I wasn't dreaming/sleep walking/imagining things. Like that presentation says, this has got to be one of the happiest days of my life in this hobby/dark hole. Also, I can answer my question per title of this thread now. It took 50 days to see effect (could be sooner, but I didn't test for like a week and half before yesterday) and 51 days to result. :) What a beautiful day it is, no rain, and no NO3. No skimmer for almost 4 weeks. No water change for 2 weeks. Feed 2x a day for the fish, 1 cube a day for the fish and softies. BTW, changed a bigger CFL on 2/16/09, it's now a 65W with output of 300w. Big difference in growth."

    brianhellno on the MFK site: "I've had a scrubber set up on my Piranha tank for a few months now and Nitrate has been zero every time I've tested it. At first the scrubber grew huge amounts of this brown grease-like algae, and now it just has a slow steady growth of solid green. I clean it about once a week or whenever the green algae starts to look like its getting a little too dense. I wanted to test the ability of the scrubber to see how well it handles a worst case scenario. I didn't change out the water for a week (the longest ever) and I left in uneaten food that made its way to the bottom of the tank. At the end of the week 0 ammonia 0 nitrite and only 5 PPM Nitrate. Simply amazing. I'm not quite sure why I change the water out anymore."
     
    SantaMonica, Feb 28, 2009
  7. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Update: Electrical Safety

    Be sure to seal your bulbs and connections with aquarium-safe silicone or sealant, especially if the bulb is down inside the sump. You can't see it, but there will be tiny amounts of salt spray that will build up where you screw the bulb in, and also where you made electrical connections. When the buildup gets thick enough, it will short out and blow a fuse. So each time you replace a bulb, re-seal it. You should be able to pour water over it without it causing a problem.
     
    SantaMonica, Mar 1, 2009
  8. SantaMonica

    hibye

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    I just got everything set up monica. When will I start seeing algea growth? I already took before pictures. now I just need to see the after :)
     
    hibye, Mar 2, 2009
  9. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Day 3
     
    SantaMonica, Mar 2, 2009
  10. SantaMonica

    hibye

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    I only have the light and stuff on from 7am-10;30 pm is that alright?
     
    hibye, Mar 3, 2009
  11. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    That's ok.
     
    SantaMonica, Mar 3, 2009
  12. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Update: Builders

    Scrubber builders are needed, because many folks on different forums are wanting to try a scrubber, but they don't want to (or can't) build them. So if you are available to build a scrubber of any kind (sump, bucket, acrylic, LED, etc), pm me and I'll put you in the builder database.
     
    SantaMonica, Mar 3, 2009
  13. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Update: Sideways Spray Protection

    If you think there may be times when you cannot clean your screen on time (at least once a week), you may want to protect it from sideways spray. Sideways spray can sometimes happen if you let the algae continue to grow up into the slot. The easiest protection is when you clean it; clean the part at the top, about a half inch (13mm) away from the slot, very thoroughly. Don't leave any algae behind at all. This way the algae will take longer to get thick here. You will lose a bit of filtering, but it won't sideways-spray as soon. Also, clean every bit of algae out of the slot/pipe, for the same reason. The other solution is to attach solid or flexible plastic strips to the side of the pipe, which will stop any spraying. And ideally, the strips should block light too, so that nothing grows into the slot in the first place:

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
    SantaMonica, Mar 4, 2009
  14. SantaMonica

    reefplayground

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    very nice. I will have to try building a couple different models.
     
    reefplayground, Mar 4, 2009
  15. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Don't forget the pics and measurements :)
     
    SantaMonica, Mar 6, 2009
  16. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Update: CFL Reflectors

    When I see a regular CFL bulb (not a floodlight) being used, I always say that it needs a reflector. Although it would just be easier to use CFL floodlight (which does not need a reflector), below are some reflectors you can use with regular CFL bulbs. You can find many others by searching for "CFL reflector", or by going to any hydroponics or gardening store:
    http://www.hydroleaf.com/categoryview.do?cat_id=107
     
    SantaMonica, Mar 6, 2009
  17. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Part 6 of 7:

    "The Food of Reefs, Part 6: Particulate Organic Matter" by Eric Borneman
    http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-03/eb/index.php

    "This article will address a very important food to corals and many other animals, particulate organic material (POM). This food source has many names, including detritus [waste], floculant organic matter, reef snow, marine snow, and suspended organic material.

    "Not so long ago, marine aquarists made every attempt to be assured that their water column was "polished." I never fully understood the term, but the premise was that a clean water column was a good water column. Various means were employed to accomplish this, including the use of various power filters, mechanical flosses and screens, sterilizers, ozonizers, canister filters, diatom filters, foam fractionators [skimmers] and many other devices. [However] "polished" water might not be in the best interest of reef tanks or corals.

    "Particulate organic material has its origins in life, being composed by and large of the remains, secretions and excretions of living organisms. On coral reefs, it is composed mostly of dead algae, bacteria, mucus, and feces.

    "When food, waste, or other particulate organic matter (POM) is trapped, especially in an aerobic environment, it is acted upon by several types of bacteria that break down the substances into more basic dissolved organic and inorganic components. Some of these breakdown components are organic acids and refractory compounds that can impart a yellow tint to the water column. This yellowing has been called "gelbstoff." However, both the substances remaining after [various types of] filtration, as well as the substances removed by the filtration, can be utilized by the life in the aquaria, and are taken up by corals, sponges, some other invertebrates, phytoplankton, bacteria, and algae.

    "On reef slopes and crests, the [waste] material is mostly coral mucus, while over the reef flats and lagoons, the material is mostly algae and fecal matter. This material, by itself, has a high carbon content. However, it acts as a substrate for bacteria, ciliates, cyanobacteria, and other microorganisms that coat the particles. Bacteria can even convert dissolved organic material (DOM) into particulate organic material (POM) by aggregating it in the presence of carbon. This provides a substantially enriched particle replete with amino acids and valuably higher nitrogen content. As such, detritus [waste] becomes a very nutritious food source for many organisms. It is such a complex "dirt", that detritus has been described as a completely self-contained microhabitat of its own, with plant, animal and microbial components, and its own "built-in" nutrient source.

    "Another major consumer group of detritus is the zooplankton. These small animals, themselves a very important food sources to reef consumers, have been found to have 90% of their gut contents composed of detritus. Mucus-producing animals, like corals, tend to trap detritus, and the material is either removed or consumed by ciliary action across the tissue surface. Many fish also consume coral mucus, and any attached particulate organic material"

    "Detritus [waste] forms the basis of several food webs that are part of a balanced autotrophic/heterotrophic community. It also plays a role in establishing various levels of nutrient production and decomposition. It is this material that is the principal food source for the many bacterial species that work in various nitrification and denitrification activities. Before reaching the microbial community, however, it 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.

    "It is the microbial community, though, that is most important in the detrital processes. On the reef, the productivity of bacteria (both aerobic and anaerobic oxidation and reduction, including important sulfate reduction) depends heavily on detritus. Without this microbial community, coral reefs would cease to exist.

    "Corals, in particular, are notable for their consumption of detritus. All corals studied feed to some degree on POM, and coral communities have been found to remove half of the POM present on some reefs. So prevalent is this material, that it is termed "reef snow" in the wild. [...] Given the ability of so many corals to consume and utilize this material, along with its relatively high abundance and ability to provide up to 100% of corals' carbon and nitrogen requirements, it may now (hopefully) seem rather foolish to attempt to remove this material from aquaria.
     
    SantaMonica, Mar 7, 2009
  18. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    Here is a Nano hang-on-back or hang-on-top box scrubber that somebody could build to sell. That is the reason for the tighly fitting lid, and the built-in pump; no decisions or adjustments are needed by the customer. After building it, you could buy a banner ad on this site to sell them.

    However if you were just building it for yourself, you can make the lighting simpler by just setting a T5HO light fixture on top of the box (although you would not get the benefit of the noise and light being sealed off by the lid), and you could make the pump simpler by just putting the pump in the tank (up near the waterline):

    [​IMG]




    I'm not providing any links or part numbers, because it's up to the person building it to make sure that everything works together properly (it's not a beginner's project). Here are a few notes:


    This scrubber MUST be placed above the tank, so it drains down into the tank.

    The overflow drain must be lower than the bulbs.

    The pump must be self-priming, capable of pulling water up 12" or so from the tank.

    There should be no holes in the sides or bottom of the box, except for the drains; all other tubing and wires should come out of the top of the box. This will eliminate any possibility of leaky connections.

    Two bulbs will provide more filtering than one will. And if you can fit three, all the better. 12" T5 bulbs are only 8 watts each.

    The screen needs a solid backing, with some plastic canvas laid on over it.

    The mounting brackets could hook onto the top of the nano, or they could be made into extended legs that go all the way down to the cabinet. Or, the whole box scrubber could be set on top of the nano, and be moved as needed.

    The pump should be able to run "dry" without burning up.

    The upflow-tubing should not go very far into the display; maybe a half inch or so. This limits how much water can be pulled out of the tank if there is a problem.

    The size shown, 13.5" X 3" X 3", gives a one-sided screen of about 40 square inches. This will fit neatly behind (and on top of) a typical 6 or 8 gal nano without sticking out, but will also provide enough filtering for an 18 gal nano that gets weekly cleanings. For 24 gal and larger, use two separate scrubbers. This has the added benefit of redundancy, and, allows you to keep one running while the other one grows back after cleaning.

    Overflow protection test: (1) plug up the drain at the bottom of the screen; the water should rise and start going out the overflow drain without spilling out of the lid, and it should not get high enough to touch the bulbs. (2) Now, also plug up the overflow tube. The pump should start running dry before the box spills, if you placed the upflow tubing high enough in the tank.

    The T5 sockets should be the "waterproof" type, they keeps spray and salt out. They are not really "waterproof", but they are made for aquarium use.



    Basic costs of building one (multiples would be cheaper)...

    Box w/lid: $40
    Pump: $35
    2 Bulbs: $15
    Sockets: $20
    Ballast: $35
    Misc: $40
    ---------------
    Total: $185 USD
     
    SantaMonica, Mar 9, 2009
  19. SantaMonica

    Melonbob

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    How long should I have before I notice a change in Nitrates? I'm looking at one month now, and I've gone from around 20ish to around 15ish?
     
    Melonbob, Mar 9, 2009
  20. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

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    It's starting now. Just keep weekly cleaning.
     
    SantaMonica, Mar 9, 2009
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