Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover Replaces Skimmer, Refugium, Everythin

Discussion in 'I made this!' started by SantaMonica, Aug 9, 2008.

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  1. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Fire Shrimp

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Ok here are the results of the 5 gal nano test. First, here is the tank, which has 3 pounds LR, a SSB, along with a purple lobster, a starfish, and a clown:

    [​IMG]


    The tank has been on an office worker's desk (his first tank), with no water changes for about four months. The last change was done only to get nitrate down (a result of overfeeding of course), in order to keep the animals happy. Phosphate was not a concern since there were no corals, and thus there was no phosphate removal system in place.

    As you can see, the light and most of the hood were removed, as was the little sponge filter. The remaining part of the hood has a compartment for the sponge filter, which is 2 X 3 inches, and it has a little built in pump to move water across this compartment. I started out by taking some tank-divider material and cutting it to a tight fit into the compartment:

    [​IMG]


    Then I sanded it very rough on the top, and I "seeded" it by taking some green hair algea and rubbing the algae HARD into the sanded side. Then I pushed the screen into the sponge filter compartment:

    [​IMG]


    The screen is only 6 square inches, single sided, and thus not enough for this tank according to the rule of thumb of one square inch per gallon (double sided), or two square inches per gallon (single sided). Thus for this 5 gal tank single-sided I should have 10 square inches instead of 6, but of course for simplicity I just used the compartment size.

    Since we had already removed the original tank light, we were going to just use the light for the screen as the new tank light too. So I just took one of the same bulbs that I used in the bucket, a 23 Watt, 5100K compact fluorescents "full-spectrum" (125W output equivalent):

    [​IMG]
    23 Watt R40 Compact Fluorescent Flood 5100K Full Spectrum CFL


    ...and set it directly on the plastic hood, which put it only a half inch from the flowing water:

    [​IMG]


    Thankfully these CFL's run very cool, and you can put your hand right on them without burning. Of course if you try this light placement yourself, you'd want to test it carefully so that you don't melt anything, and won't knock the bulb over. I thought that the light might heat up the water, but it does not seem to. The light is on an 18-hour-on timer, and provides the tank itself with much more light than the original hood light did.



    Results: Here are the measurements (Salifert) and pics taken over a period of days:


    ....................N...........P
    .
    day 0..........*............*...............not measured
    day 1........(50)........( .5 )
    day 2..........*............*...............not measured
    day 3..........*............*...............not measured
    day 4..........*............*...............not measured
    day 5........(50)........( .5 )
    day 6........(25)........( .25 )
    day 7........(15)........( .13 ).........screen full
    day 8........(15)........(1.0)...........screen full
    day 9........(10)........(1.0)...........whole screen cleaned (mistake)
    day 10......(10)........(1.0)...........growing back
    day 11......(8.0)..........(1.0)...........growing back more
    day 12......(8.0)..........(1.0)...........half cleaned
    day 13......(8.0..........( .5 )
    day 14......(5)..........( .25 ).........other half cleaned
    day 15......(8.0)..........( .13 )
    day 16......(3)..........( .13 ).........other half cleaned; housing cleaned
    day 17......( 2.5 ).....( .05 )
    day 18......( .5 ).......( .05 )
    day 19......( .2 ).......( .05 ).........other half cleaned (not much there)
    day 20......(0)..........( .015 ).......green growing back over brown



    Day 2:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/5galNanoDay02screen.jpg

    Day 3:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/5galNanoDay03screen.jpg

    Day 7:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/5galNanoDay07screen.jpg

    Day 9, before complete cleaning:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/5galNanoDay09screenBeforeScrapeDay.jpg

    Day 9, After complete cleaning (mistake)
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/5galNanoDay09screenAfterScrape.jpg

    Day 12, half cleaned:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/5galNanoDay12halfScrape.jpg

    Day 16:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/5galNanoDay16screen.jpg

    Day 17:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/5galNanoDay17screen.jpg

    Day 18:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/5galNanoDay18screen.jpg

    Day 19, in tank:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/5galNanoDay19screenIn.jpg

    Day 19, removed:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/5galNanoDay19screenOutBefore.jpg

    Day 19, after cleaning top half:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/5galNanoDay19screenOutAfter.jpg


    You'll see on day 7 that the screen filled up. However I had never seen it full before, so I did not know what "full" looked like. So I left it to see how full it would get. Day 8 the screen looked the same, but there was a big increase in P, and I surmised that the screen had filled up and some strands of algae were shadowing others, causing the others to detach and flow into the tank and die (not enough light in the tank to survive). So I waited one more day to be sure (day 9), and sure enough the P was still very high.

    So on Day 9 I cleaned (mistakenly) the whole screen, whereas I should have only cleaned half. Thus, I had no filtering, and it took a few day to fill in again. By day 14, nitrate and phosphate were at reasonable levels, and I was doing half-screen cleanings properly. By day 18 the nitrate and phosphate were bottoming out and staying constant, and nitrate eventually got to zero at day 20.


    So the things learned:

    1) A small screen size, even one sided, can do a tremendous job of filtering. (Phosphate from .5 to .015, and Nitrate from 50 to 0, in three weeks).

    2) It can do this filtering with a constant flow of water (no pulsing), although a timer on the little pump would be easy to add and try out.

    3) It can do this filtering with regular green algae; it has not had time to form true red/brown turf, although it was starting to feel like some was growing.

    4) It all can be done in the nano's hood, with a standard light, for free.


    Ok, now it's seriously time for you nano folks to try this!
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2008
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  3. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Fire Shrimp

    Joined:
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    Here's another cool screen just built by someone, designed to be over the sump and drain down into it. He says after he adjusted adjusted the flow, there was no spraying or splattering, just a quiet flow down the screen:

    [​IMG]
     
  4. reef_guru

    reef_guru Humpback Whale

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    pretty kewl algae scrubber, to multiply its function, having multiple layers on an angle is what i have on one my systems.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2008
  5. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Fire Shrimp

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
  6. billm90

    billm90 Plankton

    Joined:
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    I found this page way back. I would like to build the modded bio wheel and have it dump into my sump.

    also having that wheel rotate... I guess oxygenates the water and the algae would get dark and light, in a matter of seconds.

    Also note the air pump for water circulation in the diagram. no pumps.

    System Pictures

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  7. PharmrJohn

    PharmrJohn The Dude

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Shelton, Washington
    Very interesting thread. Thanks guys and gals. I appreciated the information.
     
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  9. bawest

    bawest Fire Worm

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    166
    Location:
    Texas
    Just curious. I had a hair algae problem when I started my tank. Why would I want to take a chance of it getting out of control by using a turf filter?
     
  10. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Fire Shrimp

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    billm: That's the Eco Wheel. You could build something similar, but the screen is much easier.

    pharmer: Glad you find it useful.

    bawest: You have it backwards: The turf does not get into your tank (there are turf spores there already); instead, the turf pulls the algae out of your tank. Look back at the beginning of this thread and it will explain how this is so.
     
  11. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Fire Shrimp

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Week 1 Screen Growth

    Here's some results for the turf bucket that was built for the main (not nano) build thread. Below are the pics of the screen, day by day, for the first seven days. I had sanded both sides of the screen, and then "seeded" the screen by rubbing green algae HARD into it. After water flowed over it, only a couple visible specs remained (the rest are invisible spores) that grew a little by the Day 2 pic. It should be noted that this new bucket is working side-by-side on the same tank that my original test bucket is on:

    [​IMG]


    This means that the new screen is sharing nutrients and competing directly against my established screen that I got pre-grown from IA over a month ago. Also, N and P were already zero, so nutrients were hard to come by. So this new screen had little to grow on, unlike the nano. Nevertheless, these pics show the growth progress you MIGHT expect if you decide to grow your own screen from scratch:


    Day 2; the specs from seeding are visible:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/ScreenBuildDay2.jpg

    Day 3:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/ScreenBuildDay3.jpg

    Day 4; Brown diatoms have coated the screen:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/ScreenBuildDay4.jpg

    Day 5: Green hair algae specs are starting to lengthen:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/ScreenBuildDay5.jpg

    Day 6:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/ScreenBuildDay6.jpg

    Day 7: Some green hair is over two inches long:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/ScreenBuildDay7.jpg

    Day 7 Closeup; Some brown spots are lengthening, and some green hair is flowing past the bottom; And although it's hard to see, most of the holes are still open:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/ScreenBuildDay7closeup.jpg

    Day 8:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/ScreenBuildDay8.jpg

    Day 9; Some brown spots are getting thick, and some green areas are starting to cover up other areas. Almost all holes are grown over; time to clean!
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/ScreenBuildDay9.jpg

    Day 9 Screen Removed; Note the light colored spots on the bottom half. These are probably copepods eating the algae, since I did not clean and freshwater-rinse in over a week:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/ScreenBuildDay9out.jpg

    Day 9 Closeup of Spots:
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/ScreenBuildDay9spots.jpg

    Day 9 Removing the green algae by hand first (used toothbruth second):
    [​IMG]

    Day 9 Harvest of first week; Remember that this screen is getting what nutrients are leftover from my other screen:
    [​IMG]

    Day 9 After Cleaning; Note I cleaned both sides, which you only do the first cleaning (thereafter you only clean one side at a time):
    [​IMG]
    Hi Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/ScreenBuildDay9after.jpg


    So that takes us through the first cleaning cycle of a new screen. Was surprised to see the light spots on the screen since I never saw any on my established screen, but then this new screen is so thin right now that any spots become easily visible. You should not go more than a week between cleaning and a freshwater rinse (freshwater will kill the pods) like I just did; I just wanted to get a decent amount of algae to harvest so you would be able to see it.

    Interesting that all the spots are on the lower half of the screen, which in my bucket is the part that stays underwater more often, since the bucket fills partially as the pump runs. (It shouldn't do this, but I have not connected a ball valve to the pump yet, so I can't slow it down). So apparently, the copepods can't survive well when the water flows away, leaving just air. This is a good reason to not submerge your screen, and also to consider having a timer on the pump to let the screen dry out for 30 or 60 seconds between "waves".

    On the cleaning, note that I took off all the green, but left the brown. You always want to do this, in order to prepare the screen for developing real red/brown turf later.

    Note on "Day 9 Screen Removed", that there is a bit more coverage on the right than on the left. That's because most of the flow has been going on the right side. But as you can see it does not change the coverage that much.
     
  12. bawest

    bawest Fire Worm

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Location:
    Texas
    how much of that hair algae goes back into the tank?

    Isn't it fluirting with disaster to have that in the tank for fear it will spread to the main tank?
     
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