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Thread: help-super slow starting new scrubber

  1. #1

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    Apr 2009
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    help-super slow starting new scrubber

    Hi,

    I'm sold on using ATS. I built the simple bucket desing with 2 lights and a tank divider screen slipped into a pipe. I have to use an external overflow box as I never had my tank drilled when I started it.

    So, I started 4 1/2 weeks ago. For two weeks I didn't see anything. At first I was using the blue, "Plant lights" from GE. Not very good. Also, I didn't scratch and seed the screen.

    After more careful reading I realized my mistakes. I scratched up and seeded the screen with algae from my display tank. Afterwards, I swapped out the plant lights for the 23 Watt, 5100K compact fluorescents "full-spectrum" and reseeded the screen more aggressively.

    Fast forward 2 1/2 weeks later. My screen is now getting algae. But its growth is very slow and only the lower half of the screen is showing any heavy growth. The top part of the screen is darkening with algae, but only in areas, and very slowly.

    Any advise?

    I'm trying to include some photos but haven't figured out how to attach them yet.

  2. #2

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    Re: help-super slow starting new scrubber

    here's a picture of the 1/2 covered screen. The dark half on the bottom is light-med algae growth. This is after 2 1/2 weeks with better lighting.[attachment=0:1clxlffh]IMG_0190.jpg[/attachment:1clxlffh]
    Attached Images Attached Images

  3. #3

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    Re: help-super slow starting new scrubber

    Here's my whole tank & setup. It's in the front until I get it operational, then it's going in the cabinet.
    [attachment=2:2rsxzzsu]IMG_0182.jpg[/attachment:2rsxzzsu]
    [attachment=0:2rsxzzsu]IMG_0184.jpg[/attachment:2rsxzzsu]

    Here's the 1/2 full screen after 2 1/2 weeks. Not much. I expected to be scraping and dropping NO3&Phosphates by now.
    [attachment=1:2rsxzzsu]IMG_0190.jpg[/attachment:2rsxzzsu]
    Attached Images Attached Images

  4. #4

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    Re: help-super slow starting new scrubber

    That's really weird seeing the line across there. Did you have it the other way up before and the white area of the screen was under the water line?
    It won't grow really at all under the water line, so if you can pull it more out of the water so only the bottom inch or so is in the water it will work better.
    Also, how is the flow? If you fill the bucket with tank water, and put the scrubber over an empty bucket, how long does it take to fill (and what size is the other bucket)?

  5. #5

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    Re: help-super slow starting new scrubber

    The screen hasn't been turned around. This is how it's been since the start. I agree that the neat line straight across the middle is strange looking. You can't see it in the photo but there is algae forming along the screen edge that's touching the pipe. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be creeping down quickly, at least as quickly as the bottom half formed, and in between there's thin to no algae.

    The lights are pointed to this top part of the screen (I can't point them down any lower cause of the clamps). One thougth was perhaps it was a heat thing from the lamps.?. Don't know. It doesn't feel hot when I have my hands by the lights.

    My overflow box is rated 300gph, but I'm sure it's not flowing this fast. I haven't timed the bucket filling, but I will tonight. The exhaust seems to be flowing quickly into the tank, though I realize that doesn't mean much to you, does it?
    Could Slow Flow cause the algae to fill the bottom half but not the top, like this?

    The only other thout I had was how I seeded the screen, not realizing I rubbed harder or better on the bottom compared to the top.


    Any ideas?

  6. #6

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    Re: help-super slow starting new scrubber

    Oh yes, I'm being stupid, of course.
    You have the lights on 24x7 right?
    Don't, 24 hour light stresses the algae, put it on a timer, have 6-8 hours off.
    You will kick yourself as there is an explosion of growth =)

  7. #7
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    Re: help-super slow starting new scrubber

    Yes, put a timer on the lights.

    And, you can indeed get the reflectors down lower if you tilt the clamps sideways. After doing that, buy some smaller reflectors.

    Lastly, make sure the screen is so rough that you cannot see through it.

  8. #8

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    Re: help-super slow starting new scrubber

    Thanks for all the advice.

    I have the reflectors off during the day. I turn them off around 9 am and put them back on around 6 pm. Off too long?

    I do need to put them on a timer though. I'll have that in place today.

    As far as the screen scratched up, It's not so scratched up you can't see through it. You can see the scratches, but absolute. If the screen's not scratched up so much, will that prevent growth?
    Either way I'll scratch up even more, reseed (though I'm guessing there's already a nice layer of seeding) and will start again.

    Hopefully third time's the charm.

  9. #9
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    Re: help-super slow starting new scrubber

    There is something else that's the problem. It's not the light or the seeding. How high does the water get in the bucket? Can you remove one light and get a close up shot of the flow where it hits the water?

  10. #10

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    Re: help-super slow starting new scrubber

    Yeah, there is something else that is wrong if the lights aren't on 24x7.
    You could easily keep them on another 2 hours a day, say off at 10am, on at 5pm.
    What wattage are the bulbs, and how far from the screen are they at their closest?
    Also, what colour temperature are they? (e.g. 3500k)
    If it's a daylight (e.g. 6500k) bulb, and it's fairly new, it could be emiting too much UV and killing/stopping the algae growing. There has been reports of daylight (they give a whiter colour light) CFL bulbs that emit high amounts of UV at short ranges.
    It looks similar to the problem I had when the lights were on 24x7 when I first started my scrubber, where the algae wouldn't grow near the lights.

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