Reverse Daylight Photosynthesis

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Articles and How To's' started by Matt Rogers, Nov 9, 2008.

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  1. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

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    RDP Concept
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    The Setup
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    In the 1980's, aquarium enthusiasts witnessed a transition from a rather unsuccessful adoption of freshwater filtration for saltwater -- canister and undergravel filters -- to a 'mad scientist' high-tech approach. Suddenly, people were trying to avert high death rates and algae blooms by adding every conceivable filter to the aquarium. One's understanding was not measured by the health of the fish, but, paradoxically, by how thoroughly you can recite all your filters and their brand names. A typical setup at the time would have a UV filter, a few polishing filters, carbon bags, an enormous wet-dry filter with rotating spray bars and an undersized protein skimmer. Consequently, there was a direct correlation between the vastness of the equipment and opinions on how to maintain it. The focus had shifted from the science of nature, to the nature of science.
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    The process evolved in the early 1990's with a devotion to what worked. Skimmers grew larger and more efficient. The wet-dry actually became smaller and more efficient or was replaced altogether by live-rock. Other components assumed a reduced role as the 'Berlin-Method' took hold as a more 'natural' alternative. Yet, in spite of greater success in sustaining live corals and fish, this method still had its drawbacks. Inhabitants could not always keep the sand or substrate well-groomed causing gas build-ups and algae blooms. And micro and macro-algae would cause stressful PH drops at night as they stripped the water of the same oxygen they helped produce.
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    Again taking our cues from nature, the benefits of photosynthesis were starting to gain attention from many aquarists. It was discovered that if the process of photosynthesis were able to continue somewhere within the aquarium at all times, it would replicate the natural nocturnal influx of highly oxygenated low nutrient water from the open ocean. When the display lights over the aquarium go out, other lights should go on over a section of macroalgae which is outside of the display tank (usually behind or below the tank) residing in a "RDP filter box" in which the aquarium water is cycled through. This "box" need not be more than a 10 gallon tank with plastic screening or egg-crate within it for the algae to grow on and lights above it. Every 10-14 days the screening should be removed to scrape off the excess algae. After harvesting, the screen can be rinsed with freshwater to remove unattached algae and kill any herbivorous invertebrates that may have started to colonize within the garden.
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    The entire harvesting process will only take a few minutes and the benefits will be well worth it as the algae will continue to remove pollutants, replenish the oxygen, and greatly contribute to the stability of a closed system.
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    <a class="highlight" href="http://www.3reef.com/fish/sitepics/rdp.jpg"><img border="0" vspace="4" src="http://www.3reef.com/fish/sitepics/rdp1.jpg" width="200"></a>
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    The Ultimate System
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    An RDP filter coupled with moderate protein skimming, healthy live rock and live sand, quality lighting, and good water movement are ingredients to a thriving aquarium. ecoReeF aquariums (see diagram) are an excellent example of this concept which also include additional beneficial features such as three types of natural water movement: wave action, turbulence, and laminar flow, a refuge area for smaller life forms which can live and reproduce away from predators, and a light timer which simulates lunar phases.
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    The RDP concept is a well designed and integrated aquarium system that models nature's ecosystem and is a glimpse into the future of reef-keeping.
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    <b>Source: F.A.M.A.<b>
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  3. reef_guru

    reef_guru Humpback Whale

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    interesting system
     
  4. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

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    Rereading this.. I found it interesting (years ago) but it needs more explanation of RDP with regards to pH - ie overlapping times to prevent big drops, etc..

    I think you can find that info in my 'Refugiums' article on this board.
     
  5. missionsix

    missionsix Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I got to reading through the "refugium" thread the other day. When did you post that Matt?
     
  6. wastemanagement

    wastemanagement Eyelash Blennie

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  7. GuitarMan89

    GuitarMan89 Giant Squid

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    Actually I had not idea that one reason to have a refugium is to replace oxygen in the water and prevent a ph drop. Good thing to know
     
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  9. reef_guru

    reef_guru Humpback Whale

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    yep sure does, and more. refugiums are one of the best things to have on a reef tank.
     
  10. lunatik_69

    lunatik_69 Giant Squid

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    Great article Matt. Luna