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Thread: Helical Algae Scrubber

  1. #11

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    Weekly update Jan09/16

    1. pH: 7.2
    2. Ammonia (NH3): 0.0
    3. Nitrite (NO2): 0.0
    4. Nitrate (NO3): 40+
    5. Phosphate (PO4): 5.0++

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  2. #12

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    Weekly update Jan15/16

    1. pH: 7.4
    2. Ammonia (NH3): 0.0
    3. Nitrite (NO2): 0.0
    4. Nitrate (NO3): 40+
    5. Phosphate (PO4): 5.0

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    Note that phosphate is down! I cleaned the filter sock after making the above photo. So future weekly reports will show only the amount of algae sloughed off during 7 days. Algae is colonizing the tube quite nicely. I discovered that I can control the water flow by adjusting the airflow. So I put a flow control valve in the airline. My hope is that waterflow will keep the tube open enough to prevent clogging. If/when required, I can 'blow out' algae to clear the tube a little by cutting off the air completely and letting the full water flow remove loose algae strands. It remains to be seen if that will actually work or not.

  3. #13
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    With FW it should not clog; it will just let go and fill your net.

  4. #14

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    I didn't mention the following yet, but I'll do so now. On Jan03 I turned off the Marineland C360 attached to this tank. My intention was to leave it connected until I was satisfied the MBBR was maintaining ammonia and nitrite at zero, then pull it out. However, as soon as I turned it off it started to leak at the head seal. So I had to disconnect the hoses and pull the canister out of the cabinet. The next day (Jan04) there was detectable ammonia and nitrite.

    The C360 had leaked at the head seal previously when pulled for cleaning and I had 'fixed' it by adding a single layer of electrical tape to the hard plastic edge that seats onto the rubber ring. One of my peeves is the tendency of canister filters to leak due to the inside pressure. I did not want to tinker with the C360 again, so I just moved it out, pulled the hoses and set it aside. So ready or not the tank was 100% on the MBBR.

    Jan04: I dosed the tank with a couple capsful of Seachem Prime. Instructions say 1 capful per 50 gallons and this is an 80 gallon tank with about 70 gallons in the tank and 10 gallons in the MBBR. So I figured 2 capsful were sufficient. I continued to dose the same amount every second day (48 hours).

    Jan05: I added 5 capsful of Seachem Stability in the hopes of increasing the overall bacterial count. I also added about half a liter of Hel-x media from the turtle tank MBBR. I continued adding Stability for the next several days (5 capsful daily) until I used up a new 250ml bottle of it. I ordered 5 liters of Hel-x from http://filterpro.co.uk/ .

    Jan07: Both ammonia and nitrite were back down to zero. And phosphate started to drop!

    Jan13: Used the last of the Stability. Note, I had added some of it to both the turtle and frog tanks, so not the entire 250ml went into the fish tank.

    Jan14: Reduced the Prime dose to 1 capful every 48 hours. I didn't want to risk stressing the fish by just stopping the Prime, so decided to taper off for several days.

    Jan16: The Hel-x arrived a few days ago and I added a liter of it to the MBBR along with a tablespoon of the included bacterial gel balls. Today I am going to add another liter to this tank and the remaining 3 liters to the turtle MBBR and divvy up the bacterial gel balls between the two.

  5. #15

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    Jan17/16

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    The sock is 12" long. The solid mass of algae at the bottom of the sock is about 1.5" high by about 1/2" thick, full width. This has come out of the scrubber in 2 days! I have also noticed that a lot of very fine algae particulate is coming out of the scrubber and passing right through the sock. It exits the MBBR and ends up in the prefilter. I now have to clean my prefilter every day to keep it from clogging.

    So... I have an idea for a more efficient filter on the scrubber output which I think will reduce the algae particulate from getting back to the aquarium. In the meantime, I have a Seachem 'The Bag' which has a 180 micron pore size. The filter socks I'm using now have a 400 micron pore size, so the Seachem bag should stop at least some of the fine particulate.

    The tube is colonizing heavily. There is a layer of algae growing pretty much over the entire interior surface. There are a few small bare spots, but overall the algae seems to be holding on well. Here are views through my viewing port, with and without the LEDs on:

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    So first part of the experiment is a success. The algae colonized the tube and is growing. Now to watch how it affects tank nutrients over the next few weeks and determine whether or not it is relatively self-cleaning, aside from the output filter.

    So far so good!

  6. #16

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    Jan20/16

    Today I incorporated a Seachem 'The Bag', 180 micron pore size, as the return filter from the scrubber. Here are photos of the components prior to and after assembly:

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    The black parts are 2" ABS, a section of standard pipe with a slot cut out and a standard coupling. The white tube is a piece of 2" PVC schedule 40 pipe (thin walled) that fits perfectly into the 2" ABS pipe section. I cut a slot in the ABS pipe section so I could compress it enough to get the nylon bag into the coupling. The PVC pipe then applies pressure to tighten the ABS pipe against the bag and the outer ABS coupling. The bag is thus held snugly and won't slip out under the force of water flowing into it. The C-clamp holds the filter assembly in place against the Brute side. At the moment, the clamp is not needed since the J-tube in use has a built-in plastic spring tang to hold it solidly against the Brute side. When I replace this particular J-tube, the C-clamp will be needed to hold it in place.

    When I pulled the sock to replace it with the new filter assembly, it had about the same amount of algae in it as I removed on Jan17.

  7. #17

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    Weekly update Jan22/16

    1. pH: 7.0
    2. Ammonia (NH3): 0.0
    3. Nitrite (NO2): 0.50
    4. Nitrate (NO3): 40+
    5. Phosphate (PO4): > 2.0

    After making the above tests, I immediately added 3 capsful of Prime, waited about half an hour and remeasured Nitrite (NO2) at: 0.25. I don't know if Prime is masking the rest of it or if my original test was falsely high. I'll keep track of it daily.

    On Jan16, I added 2 liters of new Hel-x to the MBBR, plus 3 tablespoons of bacterial gel balls. I am hoping the nitrite spike is the result of the new Hel-x media colonizing with the bacteria that converts ammonia to nitrite, but not yet the bacteria that converts nitrite to nitrate. If so, then I expect nitrite to go down again during the next couple of weeks. I will continue using Prime to detoxify it until it gets back to zero again. If it does not start going back down within a couple of weeks, I guess I'll have to figure out what else might be causing it.

    I did not post a photo of the algae in the filter today because the new filter has only been online for a couple of days and the trapped algae wasn't very spectacular. It seems to be working OK, but I'll find out tomorrow when I clean the prefilter if the 180 micron screen is doing a better job of trapping the fines.

  8. #18

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    Jan23/16

    Not sure what to make of it, but nitrite is back to 0.0 today. I really doubt that the new Hel-x media got colonized completely overnight, so possibly yesterday's tests were false for some reason. Or maybe the algae in the scrubber got a sudden craving for nitrite! I'll keep testing for a few days to see what happens.

  9. #19

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    Weekly update Jan29/16

    1. pH: 7.2
    2. Ammonia (NH3): 0.0
    3. Nitrite (NO2): 0.0
    4. Nitrate (NO3): 40+
    5. Phosphate (PO4): > 2.0

    Not much happened this week probably due to the airline feeding into the water pump getting disconnected. So there were 3, maybe 4 days of no air. I wasn't paying much attention to it but finally noticed that there wasn't much/any air flowing through the scrubber and discovered the problem. What I noticed first was the algae seemed to be thinning in the tubing, which I thought rather odd. Anyway, I got it reconnected yesterday, air is flowing through and algae seems to be growing back again. So this coming week should be better.

    A lot of fine algae particles are still getting through the 180 micron 'The Bag' sock. It does not seem to be causing any problems really other than collecting in the prefilter. It's not causing any water cloudiness so I may just let it go for awhile, although I am thinking about a more elaborate filter. I wonder if the fine algae particles in the water do anything beneficial? Anyone know about that? Thanks.

  10. #20
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    I've also forgotten to connect up the air.

    The algae particles probably won't help. You are not trying to grow anything that would eat them.

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