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RE: Barley Straw, UV and H2O2
The discussion surrounding the use of Barley Straw contained the suggestion
that however it works it requires light intense enough to break some
chemical bonds in various tannins (which are released from the decomposing
straw). As far as I know, the only type of light that is going to be intense
enough and of the correct wavelength to do this is sunlight (or prehaps a
high powered UV light).
Dwight suggested that he places his straw 1" below his regular aquarium
lights - I doubt that these would have sufficient intensity to break the
chemical bonds within the tannin compounds.
I don't know if sunlight is required to make this process work, but Dupla
has a new product on their web site which appears to be a Barley Straw
Reactor. They have not released any information about this device (at least
not in English), but it appears to be a slightly modified version of their
Dupla Reactor "S" (large CO2 reastor). The major difference seems to be
(from the photo) is that the reactor chamber is black. This would indicate
that, as far as Dupla research would indicate, that whatever reaction is
taking place between the Barley Straw and the algae, light is not a factor.
Some of you might disagree, but Dupla rarely introduces a product which
doesn't work, and they do have the facilities and the expertise to conduct
research on their products before bringing them to market.
It was also suggested that the real agent at work here is H2O2. If this is
the case, it would seem to me that you could dispense with the barley straw
all together, and just dose hydrogen peroxide. I believe that several
European companies have sold equipment designed to do this sort of thing -
again, I have no idea how effective they are. But given the "tinkering"
abilities of people on this list, it shouldn't be difficult to cobble
something together to test out the theory.
Alternatively, you could do what I did years ago - stop sweating the
presence of a little bit of algae in your tank. Life is too short....