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Re: DIY Surface Extractor

 Anthony Baker" <bakera506 at earthlink_net> wrote:
> So, the question -- has anyone tried to build one 
> besides Ivo?  If Ivo is reading this, are there any 

I don't think so, too complex...

> design adjustments / improvements you would advise?  
> Any advice is appreciated.

Yes. Well, first of all, I found that the surface extractor eventually 
wasn't required anymore, when the tank reached maturity. I kept mine
working for about one year or so, until I figured that the clean surface
wasn't the result of the extractor anymore. I removed it and it's been 
sitting in a storage box for maybe another year now. 

Now, in my newer tank, the surface gunk (not Flourite !) was back again.
I couldn't use my old contraption here because the filter intake is 1"
diam. Instead, I got from Home Depot a fluorescent bulb shield. It's a 
sort of clear plastic tube with end caps designed to protect 4' fluorescent 
bulbs in harsh environments. The end caps have small apertures to allow the
wires to reach into. Costs about $2.50 as far as I recall. I made a new 
surface skimmer out of it by cutting it to length and attaching it upright 
on the tank back wall, with the filter intake inside it. The upper end is 
open and above the water level, at the lower end one of the end caps is in 
place and attached to the glass with a rubber cup and screw. I cut 
a 1/2" wide vertical slot at the top to suck the surface film in. The 
aperture in the end cap creates enough drag to lower the water level inside 
the tube by 1-2", sufficient to start the skimming action. 

Later, to get a more "professional" look, I glued an intake strainer at the 
bottom of the endcap, and inserted in the endcap opening the weight valve 
I had made for my older skimmer. This created more drag and stronger suction 
at the top slot aperture. I also made a little screen for the slot out of a 
tiny piece of furnace filter material. More like a barrier than a screen, to 
keep away floating plants. It's been working well so far, the biggest 
problem is that the surface skimming action tends to stop as floating 
plants develop all over the surface. I would say this is a problem
that can happen with *any* skimmer though. Another potential problem would
be changes in water level due to evaporation. It's a no issue in my case
since the tank gets a daily water change automatically, but the simple slot 
design seems to be a bit sensitive to level changes.

Hope this description is meaningful. I suggest you to go to Home Depot
and look for that part in the fluorescent bulb shelf. As soon as you see
it, you'll get the idea.

- Ivo Busko
  Baltimore, MD

  "Buy a fish, Save a tree !"
  Project Piaba: http://www.angelfire.com/pq/piaba/