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RE: DIY Surface Extractor

Ivo wrote:
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. 

Ivo et all-

I went to my local Sears Hardware and found the bulb shield -- it was $2.99 
and is ~1.6" ID polycarbonate with a very thin wall.  It reminds me of the 
same kind of stuff used for cheapo gravel vacs.  The end caps are just as you 
describe them.  All and all, this looks like a pretty useful item for a DIY-
inclined aquarist!  Plus, 4' for 3 bucks is a pretty good deal.

I couldn't find a little cheapy corner filter -- I used to have 5-6 of them 
back in high school.  Anyhow, I decided to combine the ideas of your DIY 
extractor article with the description of your new one.  I ended up enlarging 
the hole in the endcap to fit the 1" airlift tubing which ends in an 
undergravel filter outlet as per your design. I made a hole in the upper wall 
of the bulb protector and inserted a short length of the 1" airlift tubing and 
then placed the undergravel filter outlet onto it as the extractor.  Then, to 
make the "pressure valve" I used a conical washer and SS scew and 2 nuts.  The 
valve seat was made "sloppily" out of the screwcap from a bottle of ear drops 
(the only thing I had lying around at 11:30 at night that would fit).  Nothing 
is glued, but rather friction fit, so I can make modifications and 

I installed it and viola!  Seems to be working well.  The surface was crystal 
clear when I left for work this morning.  The real secret is the valve -- I 
tried using it without the valve at first and it didn't work at all.  I think 
I might try it for a few days, and possibly modify it to use a corner-filter 
box -- as it is now I have no room for a prefilter.  I can post a couple pics 
of it tonight if anyone is interested.  

Thanks again Ivo for that great article on the Krib, and for the follow up!