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Thread: Lowest cost and easiest way to eliminate green hair, bubble, turf and slime algae

  1. #51
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    11-04-2011
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    Glad it did not crack. That's the first I've heard of it with CFLs.

    LEDs don't seem to heat the acrylic up at all.

  2. #52
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    Nutrient Export

    What do all algae (and cyano too) need to survive? Nutrients. What are nutrients? Ammonia/ammonium, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate and urea are the major ones. Which ones cause most of the algae in your tank? These same ones. Why can't you just remove these nutrients and eliminate all the algae in your tank? Because these nutrients are the result of the animals you keep.

    So how do your animals "make" these nutrients? Well a large part the nutrients come from pee (urea). Pee is very high in urea and ammonia, and these are a favorite food of algae and some bacteria. This is why your glass will always need cleaning; because the pee hits the glass before anything else, and algae on the glass consume the ammonia and urea immediately (using photosynthesis) and grow more. In the ocean and lakes, phytoplankton consume the ammonia and urea in open water, and seaweed consume it in shallow areas, but in a tank you don't have enough space or water volume for this, and, your other filters or animals often remove or kill the phytoplankton or seaweed anyway. So, the nutrients stay in your tank.

    Then the ammonia/ammonium hits your rocks, and the periphyton on them consumes more ammonia and urea. Periphyton is both algae and animals, and is the reason your rocks change color after a few weeks. Then the ammonia goes inside the rock, or hits your sand, and bacteria there convert it into nitrite and nitrate. However, the nutrients are still in your tank.

    Also let's not forget phosphate, which comes from solid organic food particles. When these particles are eaten by microbes and clean up crew, the organic phosphorus in them is converted into phosphate. However, the nutrients are still in your tank.

    So whenever you have algae "problems", you simply have not exported enough nutrients compared to how much you have been feeding (note: live rock can absorb phosphate for up to a year, making it seem like there was never a problem. Then, there is a problem).

    So just increase your nutrient exports. You could also reduce feeding, and this has the same effect, but it's certainly not fun when you want to feed your animals

  3. #53
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    From new to green, in 3 cleanings and 2 LEDs...
    (anyone can build this simple 2-LED scrubber)


  4. #54
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    What is Periphyton?

    Periphyton is what turns your rocks different colors. You know... the white rocks you started with in SW, or the grey rocks (or brown wood) you started with in FW. After several months or years, the rocks become a variety of different colors and textures. Why? Because the periphyton that has grown on it is a mix of different living things, of different colors, and thicknesses. And the important part is: It is LIVING.

    That's right: The colored stuff that has coated your rocks is all living organisms. Sponges, microbes, algae, cyano, biofilms, and of course coralline. After all, "peri" means "around the outside", and "phyto" means "plant". Ever slipped in a slippery puddle? That's probably periphyton that made it slippery. It's a very thin coating on the rocks, sometimes paper thin.

    There is a lot of photosynthetic organisms in periphyton, and this of course means that they need light; but they need nutrients too (ammonia, nitrate, phosphate). And as you might figure, they will be on the lighted portions of the rocks. And they will grow to intercept food particles in the water, based on the water flow. Just think about how sponges orient their holes for water flow; the micro sponges in periphyton do it too but on a tiny scale.

    What about under the rocks, in the dark areas? Well these periphyton don't get light, so they are primarily filter feeders. So they REALLY grow and position themselves to be able to intercept food particles. And they don't really need to fight off algae, because algae does not grow in the dark, so they have no need for anti-algae tactics like plants in illuminated areas have.

    Reef studies have shown that at certain depths, more of the filtering of the water comes from periphyton and benthic algae than comes from the phytoplankton which filters the deeper water. And in streams, almost all the filtering is done by periphyton. So, what you have on rocks that are "mature" or "established" is a well-developed layer of periphyton; and all the things that comes from it.

    This is why mandarin fish can eat directly off the rocks of an "established" tank (tons of pods grow in the periphyton), but not on the rocks of a new tank. Or why some animals can lay their eggs on established rocks, but not new ones. Or why established tanks seem to "yo-yo" less than new ones. Even tangs can eat periphyton directly when it's thick enough. Yes periphyton can also develop on the sand, but since the sand is moved around so much, the periphyton does not get visible like it does on rocks. So thick periphyton on established rocks is your friend. And totally natural too. Keep in mind though I'm not referring to nuisance algae on rocks; I'm only referring to the very-thin layer of coloring that coats the rocks.

    But what happens when you "scrape the stuff off your rocks"? Well you remove some of the periphyton, which means you remove some of your natural filter and food producer. What if you take the rocks out and scrub them? Well now you not only remove more of your natural filter and food producer, but the air is going to kill even more of the microscopic sponges in it. And what if you bleach the rocks? Well, goodbye all filtering and food producing for another year. It's an instant reduction of the natural filtering that the periphyton was providing.

    However, what if you just re-arrange the rocks? Well, some of the periphyton that was in the light, now will be in the dark; so this part will die. And some of the periphyton that was in the dark will now be in the light, so it will not be able to out-compete photosynthetic growth and thus will be covered and die too. And even if the light stays the same, the direction and amount of water flow (and food particles) will change; sponges that were oriented to get food particles from one direction will now starve. So since the light and food supply is cut off, the filtering that the periphyton was providing stops almost immediately, due only to the re-arranging of the rocks.

    Starvation takes a little longer. The periphyton organisms won't die immediately, since they have some energy saved up; but instead, they will wither away over several weeks. So on top of the instant reduction in filtering that you get by just moving the rocks, you get a somewhat stretched-out period of nutrients going back into the water. And after all this, it takes another long period of time for the periphyton to build up to the levels it was at before: 1 to 2 years. Even changing the direction of a powerhead will affect the food particle supply in the area it used to be pointed at.

    So a good idea is to try to keep everything the same. Pick your lighting, flow, layout, and try to never move or change anything. It's a different way of thinking, but you should have a stronger natural filter and food producer because of it.

  5. #55
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  6. #56
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    Shade cloth:

    All new scrubbers which use white growth surfaces should have a black cloth placed over some of the LEDs for the first week or two. Because the all-white interior reflects so much light, when it is new the light levels are way above the highest amount that can grow anything. Once growth starts, the white surfaces get covered with growth and the total light levels drop, and the cloth can be removed. Any cloth, stocking, or t-shirt can work; just don't melt the cloth with hot LEDs

    This covering of the lights can be done by anyone, on any scrubber, even waterfalls. Waterfalls use plastic canvas which has more holes than material, and they are not in white compartments, so the light levels when new are not too high. But it still might help if a new screen stays completely empty.

    The reason for a white colors of the screen, of course, is too allow more light to reach the base of the growth that does the attaching. As the growth gets thicker, the bottom layers will almost be in darkness, so the white surface doubles the light there by reflecting instead of absorbing the light.

    Put the shade cloth about 2/3 or 3/4 over the lights; this way you can see which part grows better: the covered, or uncovered.

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