questions and info.

>Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 20:37:40 -0600
>To: <owner-aquatic-plants at actwin_com>
>From: Onis Cogburn <k5vkq at ix_netcom.com>
>Subject: questions and info.
>Hello all.  I wish first to thank everyone for the informative dialog.  I
subscribed about 10 months ago after I discovered the group while searching
for information about aquatic plants on the web.  The information has been
the difference between failure and success for the 55g tank I set up in
December.  I am an engineer and not a botanist and I do NOT have a "green"
thumb.  In fact I have been known to wilt flowers just by smiling at them so
I DO have questions.  I also have some information that may be of benefit to
some readers.  First the questions.
>1) Potassium sulfate, muriate of potash and potassium carbonate: 
>In this part of the US it is very difficult to find the trace element mix
and potassium sulfate in practical quantities.  The manufacturers sells in
50lb bags.  I am hoping Plantex will agree to ship me 5lb.  I have not
called PCI Enterprises yet for the potassium sulfate.  I have been using
muriate of potash but as this is half KCl, I am worried about long term
accumulation of KCl.  I began to wonder about the possibility of
substituting potassium carbonate instead.  Agri info on the web says it is a
good source of K and it is readily available in a fairly pure form from
ceramics supply centers.  Can I use potassium carbonate instead of potassium
sulfate and if so how much?
>2) Tetra and SeaChem nitrate test kits:
>I have been using a Tetra nitrate test kit for monitoring my nitrate levels
until last week.  I ordered a SeaChem nitrate/nitrite test kit because of
the low resolution of the Tetra kit.  Herein lies the problem.  When I
measure the nitrate with the Tetra kit, it is 10 to 12.5 ppm.  The SeaChem
kit reads .2 ppm!  What is my problem?  I am following the PMDD formula
published in the "Control of Algae in Planted Aquaria" paper by Paul and
Kevin as closely as I can with available chemicals.  I am using "Ironite" as
the main source for the trace elements however I do not believe it is
chelated and most of the material is insoluble so concentration is really
unknown.  I am adding chelated iron in addition and monitoring the iron
content with a SeaChem kit.  I am also adding boric acid in the amount
recommended from previous publishing by members of this group since
"Ironite" does not contain Boron.  The tank is quite healthy and the fish
are as happy as pigs in an acorn field.  The gross difference between the
SeaChem kit and Tetra kit however, makes finding the correct dosing
difficult.  Can anyone help?
>Since I am an engineer, I build everything I can rather than buy.  I bought
a Rainbow Aquarium "Quiet One" pump for the tank.  It works well but
contributes heat to the tank.  The tank temperature will average about 10
degrees F above the ambient room temperature without cooling.  Since this
resulted in a tank temperature of 82 to 84 degrees F, I needed to cool it
some.  I built a reasonably inexpensive cooler which requires no expensive,
hard to obtain parts or refrigerant.  I thought I would share this with the
>The principle is that of the water cooler fan.  If air is used to evaporate
water, heat is carried away and the remaining water will be cooler.  By
constructing a system where water is made available for evaporation and a
pipe carrying the aquarium water is placed in the system, the temperature of
the aquarium water can be reduced 5 to 10 degrees F.
>5g plastic bucket
>fan(a couple of the square "Boxer" fans used to cool computer power
>supplies work great.)
>small submersible pump(the ones used to make small fountains work well.)
>4 or 5 feet of 1/2" CPVC pipe.
>two 1/2" CPVC caps
>one 1/2" CPVC "T" coupling
>25 to 30 feet of 3/8" or 1/2" thin walled, polyethylene tubing.  This is
the stiff
>milky white tubing available from building supply stores for about 20 cents
>a foot.
>air conditioner filter(hog hair type is best)
>CPVC cement(optional)
>Cut two round holes in the bucket on opposite sides of the bucket just
below the rim and just large enough for the CPVC pipe to go through.  Place
the pump into the bottom of the bucket and measure from the outlet of the
pump to a line connecting the two holes.  Using this measwurement, make a
"T" using the pipe and "T" coupling that is 1.5 inches longer across the arm
than the width of the bucket and long enough for the leg to seat properly
with the pump when the arms are mounted in the holes in the bucket. You can
glue this together(except for the end caps) however the assembly is
acceptable without gluing.  Using a small drill bit(1/16" or smaller) drill
holes on the underside of the arms 1/2" apart.  Now if you have done this
properly, when the "T" you have made is mounted in the holes you cut in the
bucket, the center of the "T" should be just long enough to mate with the
pump output.  Place each of the 1/2" CPVC caps over the ends of the "T"
sticking through the holes.  Test by filling the bucket half full of water
and turning on the pump.  You should get a curtain of water spraying down
into the bucket.  Now cut a rectangular piece of the air conditioner filter
as wide as the bucket and deep enough to reach about half way down into the
bucket.  Fasten this piece to the "T" so that the water sprays into the
filter and runs through the filter back down to the bottom of the bucket.
You can use electrical tie wraps(or string) to secure this.  Now cut one or
more circular holes(This depends on the number and size of fans you use.  I
used 2 computer fans in mine), above the half way point on the bucket and
mount the fans.  The holes should be cut so that the fans blow directly on
the filter and when mounted, the fans will be clear of the water.  Test the
mechanism to see if everything is working.  If it is, remove everything from
the bucket and install the polyethylene tubing.  This is done by coiling the
tubing into the bottom of the bucket. Place tie wraps, tape, string, or etc.
every foot or so that the coils won't be lying completely against each
other(to allow water to circulate between coils). now reassemble the pump
and "T".  Finally using a piece of scrap lumber, masonite, plastic or
whatever is handy, cover the half of the top above the fan(s).  This forces
the air through the filter and leaves an open side to exit.  You can connect
the polyethylene tubing to your filtration system or use a spare pump to
circulate the aquarium water.  Be aware though, the 30 feet of tubing poses
a significant back pressure on the pump and reduces the delivery of a Magnum
to a trickle.  Fill the bucket to a level below the fans and start cooling.
>The system is simple, requires nothing you can't get at a building supply
and is environmentally clean.  Mine uses about a gallon of water a day and
keeps the temperature of my 55g where I wanted it.  I even had to add a
heater to keep the temperature from going to low on really dry days.  You
can improve the cooling efficiency by wrapping the bottom of the bucket with
foam, Styrofoam or other insulating "blanket" to reduce heat penetration
into the bucket.
>The one disadvantage is that in times and climates of very high humidity,
the cooling power decreases.  However, mine is still able to drop the tank's
temperature 4 to 6 degrees F even with high humidity.  
>Onis Cogburn
>k5vkq at ix_netcom.com