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Thread: need advice on building an algae scrubber for a shark tank

  1. #1

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    need advice on building an algae scrubber for a shark tank

    Helping a friend upgrade the filtration on a shark tank. Since $ is a limiting factor, we opted for an ATS as part of the filtration. Unfortunatley I don't have the dimensions on the amount of space I have to work with, but I was just wondering if anyone had any clever ideas on how to maximize efficiency or had any ideas on how to utilize an ATS on such a large tank. I'm assuming I won't have like five or six feet to create a huge ATS like I'd prefer but as soon as I get the dimesions of the space I have to work with I'll post it up. In the meantime I'd love to hear any advice or suggestions for the project.

    Thanks.

    Jeremy

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    Re: need advice on building an algae scrubber for a shark tank

    Depends what you mean by efficient:

    Most filtering for the electricity used

    Most filtering for the size

    Most filtering for the maintenace needed

    Most filtering for the amount of building required.

    Most filtering for the cost to build

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    Re: need advice on building an algae scrubber for a shark tank

    "Most filtering for the size" is the most important factor. Cost being second in line.

    Thanks.

    Jeremy

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    Re: need advice on building an algae scrubber for a shark tank

    Most powerful filtering for the size would be a low-profile T5HO unit like mine:


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    Re: need advice on building an algae scrubber for a shark tank

    Thanks! Too bad I'd need around a hundred for average filtration of a 15,000 gal shark tank.

    In general, it sounds like your using more powerful lighting and more flow to maximize filtration. In addition, the lighting sounds like it very evenly covers the entire screen.

    Any large scale ideas or would it be better to build several small units??

    Jeremy

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    Re: need advice on building an algae scrubber for a shark tank

    The standard rule of thumb would be one square inch of screen, lighted both sides, per gallon of water, or 15,000 square inches.

    The most economical lamps are probably 48" T5s or T8s so plan to make the unit some multiple of 48" front to back with multiple screens front to back.

    You will now need 15,000 / 48 = 312 inches of total screen height, so 30 x 10" tall screens or 15 x 20" tall screens. For ease of maintenance, and assuming the tank is attended, at least briefly, 7 days a week, lets aim for 14 screens, each 24 inches tall and 48 inches long (still possible to carry), which you will clean 2 per day - forever. . .

    So we might look at a setup like:

    { 0 | | 0 | | | | 0 | | 0 }
    { lamps 1 | screen 1 | lamps 2 | screen 2 | ... ... | screen 13 | lamps 13 | screen 14 | lamps 15 }
    { 0 | | 0 | | | | 0 | | 0 }

    (gerrr, I went to some effort to get the spacing right, but the editor strips multiple spaces, so please pretend it looks good!)

    where 0 = a lamp, | = a sheet of glass as a splash guard and {, } are reflectors. Note that only need reflectors on the end lamps, the middle lamps illuminate screens on both sides.

    We need between 1/4 and 1/2 watt per gallon lighting, or between 3250 W and 7500W total. So 3250 / 15 lamp arrays = 250 W per array minimum or 500 W per array maximum.

    We would like all parts of the screen to be within about 4" of a lamp, so the first lamp should run horizontally and be about 4' from the top of the screen and the last lamp about 4' from the bottom with additional lamps spaced about 8' apart for the 24' height of the screen. This might look like:

    4"
    0 lamp
    8"
    0 Lamp
    8"
    0 lamp
    4'

    We have a minimum of 3 lamps per lamp array, and each one would need to be 250 / 3 = 83 W minimum or 160 W maximum.

    So I would get myself a handful (3 x 15 = 45) of Philips F48/T8/TL830/VHO/A/ALTO 3000K 80W T8 lamps, which require expensive, hard to get ballasts or a mitt full (5 x 15 = 75) of Philips F54T5/830/ HO 3000K 55W t5 lamps that use cheaper more standard ballasts. which would look like:

    2"
    0 lamp
    5"
    0 Lamp
    5"
    0 lamp
    5"
    0 Lamp
    5"
    0 lamp
    2'

    Craftily designed, it should sit on a 4 x 8 foot bench and be quite easy to work with. Other than the size, it looks much like SantaMonica's drawing.

    Given the number of lamps, you may want some fans sucking air between the sheets of glass.

    Have fun and make happy sharks and lots of green goo.

    John T

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    Re: need advice on building an algae scrubber for a shark tank

    Oh yes:

    Your flow would be 35 GPH x 48" x 14 screen = 23,520 Gallons per Hour.

    John T

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    Re: need advice on building an algae scrubber for a shark tank

    The lamps and ballasts will set you back a grand, but I suspect that the rest of the build might be on the same order as some hobbyists spend on a skimmer for a large home tank.

    John T

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    Re: need advice on building an algae scrubber for a shark tank

    johnrt has done a great round up and (ugly) napkin sketch( :lol: ) for a filter for you.

    Some refinements are likely.

    Such as..
    A shark tank is generally not bio loaded to the max. The life content is based more on inhabitant attitude. Due to this I suspect you would not need as much filtering as the rules of thumb would normally dictate. Possibly only half.

    Also tanks that large may also have an outdoor component. If yours does, you can use solar. You could also build a green house like structure to house the TS if heating is an issue.

    The most efficient lights currently are sodium lights (think streetlights). The spectrum for sodium lights should be fine for turf gowning.

  10. #10

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    Re: need advice on building an algae scrubber for a shark tank

    Kcress:

    And I asked politely that people be kind to my drawing, my right-brain has now completely shut down. Sigh.

    You have a fine point on bio load and screen size, and as you point out, we have no idea about tank lighting. If it was lighted to the rule of thumb for coral, 3 W per gallon for a shark / SPS tank ;-) , we would be looking at 15,000 x 3 = 45,000W or 112 400 W MH bulbs, assuming that the tank is only 24' deep. So if it is an indoor tank, we can assume less lighting. IE fish and live rock mostly.jlinzmaier

    jlinzmaier:
    If I understand it, for an ATS to work, the screen must be a great deal more brightly lit than any wet part of the system. There is no specific requirement for a huge amount of light, we should be able to drop down to 15 - 20 W per square inch as long as there are no brighter areas. That is still bright! Additionally the ATS must have more flow and turbulence than any brightly lighted part of the system (algae often grows inside clear tubing). Flow is no problem, 35 GPH for each linear inch of screen makes the screens the highest flow lighted area in the system. The inside of pumps and tubing is higher flow, but it is dark.

    Low pressure sodium are efficient and the spectrum will grow goo, but they are bulky, hot and point source. Bog standard commercial / industrial fluorescent T8 and their ballasts are cheap. In Canada, I can get Philips F32/T8/830 3000K 32 W 48" T8 bulbs at Home Depot in boxes of 10 for about $35 CDN per box and 4 bulb Advance 4 ICN-4P32-CS ballasts at $29 CDN. BTW: I got 10 ICN-4P32-CSs on ebay for $7 each, in the door. . .

    So half length tank at 4 to 5 feet, 7 x 48" x 24" screens, 8 light arrays with 5 - 6 F32/T8/830s each is a total of 40 lamps and 10 ballasts = 140 for the lamps and 290 for the ballasts = $430 in Canada! The wood, glass, catch tray and plumbing could be done and bring the whole project in under a grand. I just looked on Bulk Reef Supply and an Reeflo Orca 250 for a 200 - 900 Gallon tank is on sale for $800 US. You would need about 20 of these (= 120 W per skimmer x 20 skimmers = 2400W) and skimmers may not be the best thing for your tank. This is 7 cents per gallon for water care assuming they are already pumping water. Additionally, the lighting will consume about 135 W per ballast plus 4 lamps or about 1350 W for the system. You cannot do better. No way!

    Please keep us advised on the tank.

    John T

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