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Re: Algae scrubbers

>Subject: Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #1256
>Date: Sat, Sep 4, 1999, 11:48 AM

>Last night I was looking over a saltwater pico reef setup (2.5g tank) and
>they was using a DIY algae filter.  I was curious if something like this
>would work for a freshwater tank.  Say take a powerfilter, remove all the
>crap from it, paint the outside so light won't shine thru, put some egg
>cartons (paper) inside for the algae to grow on and put a brigh
>flourescent bulb over it 24/7.  (also some method to stop the algae from
>leaving the box)
>Has anyone ever tried something like this in freshwater and am curious as
>to how this would affect the nutrient levels in the tank plus the dosing

I did extensive projects with algae scrubbers about 10 years ago on FW tanks
with lower pH ranges(7 or less). They work very well. What I found was the
scrubbers work better with plants instead of algae. Perhaps if you had very
cold/hot water algae could be better. Maybe if you are raising Tropheus and
need the algae(and bacteria attached to the algae) it would work better and
if you had the higher pH ranges etc..............
But the point I'm making is this: Plants work better. A Spath(peace lily)
will work super and needs very little light to grow well. If you can read a
book in the room, there's enough light to grow. More light would be better
though. Lighting on 24/7 won't give the best results either. Plants/algae
have to respire too! Reverse lighting cycle is often what reef folks do.
There are many plants to choose from both terrestrial and aquatic. I had a
Clematis vine growing over 4-5 inches a day with pretty flowers running all
These plants won't take any CO2 away from the water column but the algae
will. Using plants makes it even that much more difficult for the algae to
grow. By using a small pot with the plant inside with lava or sand etc as
soil you can use the pot as a wet/dry filter. Plants grow extremely well in
wet/dry filters. You need lots of light for the algae scrubbers BTW. Why add
more complicated set ups to the tank when a great solution is there? Added
benefits include: Easier to harvest/trim, no extra CO2 being used( the plant
is above the water line!), less space is required( plants grow out of the
water were algae doesn't), less electricty /less lighting, simpler, more
types of plants can be used that accent the tank much better than some old
algae covered mat.
Check out Tunze's Hydroponic Reactors if your after what they look like or a
concept. I'll get something up and running soon so everyone can see these.
They are very simple(to build also) and require far less maintenance than
algae scrubbers will........ period. You'll find them easier to make too.
They operate for years without any maintenance.
Put a peace lily in there with some small lava/gravel pieces for a soil and
you'll have a better time and better results. As long as the leaves are
above the water line, things will go well. 
I usually use a power head to flow water into the top of a 4 inch dia ABS
tube 12 or so inches long filled with lava and a peace lily. A small flow
works well such as that from a 3/16th airline tubing or rigid tubing. Cap
the bottom of the tube and make a hook so the tube will hang on the back of
the tank and make a slightly larger return tube that flows back into the
Power heads are more flexible flow wise than most filters and cheaper. 
There is often ambient light coming out of the back edge of many hoods, the
plants can make use of this light.
Hope this helps, 

Tom Barr      Who is happy to finally meet Neil in person! Thanks for a
great talk BTW!