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Thread: a cleaning problem or more light needed?

  1. #1

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    a cleaning problem or more light needed?

    Although i have done 2 years of research into this, i think i may have misunderstood the cleaning process after watching a bud carlson youtube video.
    This is my screen:
    Click image for larger version

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    After increasing the LEDs to 19 x 3w on each side of a 10" x 8" screen, the growth is very thick. Over a handful on each side with a proper, back to the grid scraping.

    My problem is that although i am getting a huge amount of growth, i still seem to be getting cyano bacteria, and after chemically removing this i have now got lots of brown diatom algae. From what i can make out, its one of the following as the problem.

    1) the light still needs to be stronger, or:

    2) i am misunderstanding the cleaning of this screen and it is not helping me to remove the nutrients.
    Up until last week i am using a sharpened plastic scraper to remove everything i can on the screen, once a week. Obviously not white clean, but as much as i can physically remove with a flat scraper just leaving the algae in the holes. This was done without fail every week.

    As of this week, i have just done one side back to plastic, and going to do each side on opposite weeks as i figured this may help. My fear is the roots will die off.
    Watching the bud carlson video, he was saying to keep the turf on there, removing all loose bits, and only scrape back to the plastic every month, so now i am confused.

    I would appreciate any advice on whether this is my cleaning technique or i need stronger lighting again, plus any tips or instructions if my cleaning is wrong.

    Many thanks in advance.
    Ben

  2. #2

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    P.s. i would not say that any of it comes off loose. I takes me just under ten minutes of bloody hard scraping per side as it is welded to the mesh. I am running an aquamedic multi sl skimmer also, and feed maybe 2 blocks of brine shrimp per week and two pinches of flake per day which is probably the least i can get away with for the livestock in the tank.

  3. #3

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    To give you some help please answer the following:

    How much are you feeding each day?

    How much water circulation do you have in the DT and or Fuge if you have one? Cyano tends to show up where there are dead spots.

    What are your Nitrates? Phosphates? Ph?

  4. #4

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    Feeding is as above, as little as I can keep the fish alive on. It is a 300 litre display with total volume of 350 litres. Flow is with two mp40s in anti sync. The cyano has gone now only some patches of diatom have replaced it. I don't test for phosphate or nitrate as I figured that was the key benefit of algae scrubbers. They eat surplus nutrients and as I am feeding as little as possible and getting heaps of growth, I figure there must be quite a bit in there. My question is why is it not decreasing. I would understand if there was a light film on the screen or not much growth, but it is probably an inch thick all over in just one weeks growth

  5. #5
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    Phosphate probably coming from rocks and sand. Will not last forever.

    Killing the cyano with medications will put the nutrients back in the water, readily available for diatoms before the water ever gets to the scrubber.

    It should eventually stabilize.

  6. #6

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    Does that look like the right type and amount of growth then? Am I right to scrape clean one side every other week?

  7. #7
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    Looks good. You can clean one or both sides.

  8. #8
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    Just for clarification, which one of my videos were you watching? I posted so many and tried many different things so I can't recall which one in which I said that!!! IIRC I posted that shortly after watching one of SM's vids of his SM100 cleaning and I realized that I may have been over-cleaning my screen. I used to scrub the entire screen with a brush weekly and remove all the algae from the holes. Then I saw his vid and noticed that he left the growth in the holes. That is what I meant by not 'fully cleaning' the screen. So I think you are doing it right, scrape to the screen but leave the growth in the holes. If you are cleaning only one side a week, it is very important to scrape down to the screen so that the light makes it to the roots on the non-scraped side. Garf has a great thread on doing this (growing algae through the screen). Be sure to rinse the non-scraped side with tap water and rub your fingers through it to wash away any loose strands and kill pods so you don't get detachment.

    I would say SM is right, cyano feeds on anything that settles, so you have to attack in on multiple planes - sometimes a scrubber alone isn't quite enough, or rather, not quite enough fast enough - it will eventually beat it to submission. But some basics factors about aquarium keeping will help that battle, and one of them being having enough flow in the display tank so that waste doesn't settle and stay in one place - keep it moving. Cyano likes dead spots. Conversely, GHA likes high flow. So if your scrubber is growing green like that (fantastic growth by the way!!) then high flow in the tank will help get rid of cyano.

    Also +1 on killing cyano. I don't think it releases much in the way of nutrients, but it certainly does do that. So if you're going to treat the tank to kill the cyano, do it when you have growth on the screen that can uptake it, and crank up the flow on the scrubber as much as you can. IMO the 35 GPH/in rule is for the curing period only. After that, if you are setup to safely allow it (i.e. spray protection, overflow protection) crank up the flow as high as you can get it.

    When you get a screen that is growing like yours is, there pretty much is no limit to the amount of flow you can put across it. If it is firmly attached as you say, that is likely because it is already under high flow, and has adapted to the needs (it needs to hang on to the screen). I find that my UAS is so loosely attached that is can remove the algae with my fingernails or a gently with a toothbrush down to the screen, but my waterfall scrubbers need to be scraped. Neither have detachment problems, just an observation.

  9. #9

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    Thank you for that reply. The video I watched was outdated and was using a bucket and dark screen with stiff dividers up the side. It wasn't long since I updated the LEDs from 10x 3w per side to 19x 3w per side. Since clearing the initial dino outbreak, if say growth is 4-5 times what it was before in the same time.
    I wasn't sure if I missed something and the video made me doubt it for a second. Whether the principle was you needed to have the algae there to filter it out, or the nutrients would make the screen grow at the same rate whatever?

    Would you say from the picture I don't need to uprate the lights then? It gets kind of expensive each time I do as I have to buy two new uprated dimmable drivers plus LEDs and shipping. I put too much money into the algae scrubber filter to give up now though

    Cheers Bud

    Ben

  10. #10
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    Upgrade your lights? Oh geez no - your growth is great! The cyano is just sometimes a tough buggar. Just give it time.

    What is the flow like in your DT? Post a pic so we can see where your flow comes from (return lines, power heads, etc)

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