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Mega Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover - DIY!

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Part 1 of 2:

Mega Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover - DIY!

Are you tired of green on your rocks? Do you have to clean your glass more than once a week? Well then I'm sure you've been told (or you've figured out) that your Nitrate and/or Phosphate are too high. Sure enough, if these are too high, the green starts growing. Phosphate is the important one: If you can detect any phosphate at all with a hobby test kit (like Salifert), then it's high enough to cause algae to grow. So, what can you do?

Build an algae filter screen, that's what you can do. An algae filter screen, also known as a turf algae filter, a turf scrubber, or an algae scrubber, basically filters the water clean of nitrate and phosphate so that the green on your rocks and glass goes away. It does this by "moving" the growth of the algae from the tank to a "screen" outside of the tank. The idea is that you create a better growing environment on the screen than occurs in the tank, so that the algae grows on the screen instead. It works great!

Here's what you can expect: If you build your algae filter properly, your nitrate and phosphate will be incredibly low, sometimes unmeasureable by hobby test kits, within four weeks. I use Salifert test kits, and the readings I get are "clear" (zero) for both the Nitrate and the Phosphate tests. This is what you want. If you have been trying to get this yourself, then an algae filter is for you.

Here is my Algae Filter in a 5-gallon bucket; it's the only filter I have (other than the live rock) on my 100 gallon reef:

BucketOnSink.jpg

Here is the filter in operation with the lights on:

[pic limit]

Here is my tank:

WholeTankSmall.jpg

Hi-Res: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/WholeTank.jpg

Video: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/WholeTank08-11-08.mpg

And here are the only things you need to build a bucket version of this filter:

[pic limit]

My nitrate and phosphate are zero (clear on Salifert test kits), and the only thing in my sump is water. I removed the skimmer, carbon, phosban, polyfilter(s), and filtersock; I don't use ozone, vodka, zeo or anything else. I'm feeding massive amounts too; enough that if I had my previous filtering setup, I'd have to clean the glass twice a day, and everything in the tank would be covered in green or brown algae. Amazing.

The only thing you need to decide on is how big your algae filter screen needs to be, and if you want it to be in your tank's hood, or in a bucket, or in your sump. The basic rule is one square inch of screen for each gallon of tank water, if the screen it lit on both sides; the screen size should be twice this if the screen is lit up on just one side. A 12 X 12 inch screen, lit both sides, = 144 square inches = 144 gal tank; a 7 X 7 inch screen lit both sides = 49 gal tank; a 6 X 6 lit both sides = 36 gal tank. Algae filters get really small as you can see. A 12 gal nano tank needs just 3 X 4 inches! This small thing can replace the skimmer, refugium, phosphate removers, nitrate removers, carbon, filtersocks, and waterchanges, IF THE PURPOSE of these devices is to reduce nitrate and phosphate. If these devices have any other purpose, then they can't be replaced. If your tank is bigger than a 75, then just start with a 5 gallon bucket size and see how it goes. You can always add a second one, or build a bigger one later.

My example bucket version takes about 4 hours to build. Water goes in the pvc pipe at the top, flows down over the screen, then drains out the bottom. That's it! Oh, and it has clip-on lights. I can feed the tank a lot of food, and anything not eaten by the corals or fish eventually ends up as algae on the screen.

Here are some examples of DIY algae filter screens already built, from a simple nano one:

5galNanoDay00screen.jpg

5galNanoCompartment.jpg

5galNanoLight.jpg

to larger ones:

UserMinzukOnUR.jpg

[pic limit]

UserJohntOnUR-7.jpg

UserJski711onRS-2.jpg

UserThauro77onSWF-5.jpg

UserVargaOnRS.jpg

Here are some advantages of an algae filter:

o Allows you to feed very high amounts without causing nuisance algae growth in the tank.

o Can replace waterchanges, IF THE PURPOSE of the waterchange is to reduce nitrate or

phosphate or algae growth. Otherwise, it does not replace the water change.

o Grows swarms of copepods.

o Increases pH.

o Increases oxygen.

o Will NOT spread algae into the tank. It removes algae FROM the tank.

o There is no odor from the algae (only a slight ocean smell when cleaning it).

o Is very quiet when flowing, similar to a tabletop decorative waterfall.

o Introduces no microbubbles when adjusted.

o Removes ammonia too.

o You can even make a portable bucket! Just unplug the lights, lift up the pump

out of the tank water, and go put it in your next tank (or your friend's tank).

Don't let the screen dry out though.

o Works in saltwater or freshwater.

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Part 2 of 2:

How to build it:

First, get your screen. Any stiff material that has holes in it, like knitting backing, plastic canvas, rug canvas, gutter guard, or tank-divider will do. Try going to hardware stores, craft stores, garden stores, sewing stores, or just get one of these online (in order of preference):

http://www.craftsetc.com/store/item.aspx?ItemId=43844

http://www.herrschners.com/products/product.aspx?sku=137850

http://www.aquaticeco.com/subcategories/2/...ank%20divider/0

Don't use window screen though. The main problem with this kind of "soft" screen will be getting it to hold its shape; it will bend and fold too much. Stiff screen is easier to make stay put, and easier to clean.

If you have a nano with a filter hatch on top of the hood, then it's super easy: Just cut a piece of screen to replace the sponge filter, and put it where the sponge filter went. Leave the hatch open, an set a strong light on it, facing down directly on the screen. This is a good bulb to get; it will be bright enough to power the screen, and to light up your nano too:

http://www.buylighting.com/23-Watt-R40-Com...p1r4023-51k.htm

If your nano does not have a filter hatch on top of the hood, or if you have a regular tank, then here are the larger versions:

OverflowFeed.jpg

PunpFeed.jpg

SumplessFeed.jpg

The first and main thing to consider is the flow to the screen. You need about 35 gph (gallons per hour) for every inch of width of the screen. Thus, a 2" wide screen would need 70 gph, and so on. Here is a chart:

Screen Width-----Gallons Per Hour (GPH)

1" 35

2" 70

3" 105

4" 140

5" 175

6" 210

7" 245

8" 280

9" 315

10" 350

11" 385

12" 420

13" 455

14" 490

15" 525

16" 560

17" 595

18" 630

19" 665

20" 700

Note that it does not matter how tall your screen is, just how wide it is. Let's start with an overflow feed: In this case the amount of flow is pre-determined by how much is overflowing; the maximum flow you'll get to the screen will be what's going through your overflow now. This is easy to figure out by counting how many seconds it takes your overflow to fill a one-gallon jug:

60 seconds = 60 gph

30 seconds = 120 gph

15 seconds = 240 gph

10 seconds = 360 gph

8 seconds = 450 gph

5 seconds = 720 gph

Take this gph number that you end up with, and divide by 35, to get the number of inches wide the screen should be. For example, if your overflow was 240 gph, then divide this by 35 to get 6.8 (or just say 7) inches. So your screen should be 7 inches wide. How tall should it be? As tall as can fit into the area you have, and, as tall as your light bulbs will cover. But how tall it is not as important as how wide it is.

Pump feeds: Since with a pump you have control over the flow, start with the size screen you can fit into your space. If the screen will go into your sump, then measure how wide that screen will be. If the screen will go into a bucket, then measure how wide that screen will be. Take the width you get, and multiply by 35 to get the gph you need. For example if you can fit a 10 inch wide screen into your sump or bucket, then multiply 10 by 35 to get 350 gph. Thus your pumps needs to deliver 350 gph to the screen.

You can construct your setup using any method you like. The only difficult part is the "waterfall pipe", which must have a slot cut lengthwise into it where the screen goes into it. Don't cut the slot too wide; just start with 1/8", and you can increase it later if you need to, based on the flow you get. I used a Dremel moto-tool with a "cut off wheel":

PipeDremel.jpg

Now install the pipe onto the screen/bucket by tilting the pipe and starting at one side, then lowering the pipe over the rest. You may have to wiggle the screen in some places to get it to fit in:

PipeInstall.jpg

Lighting: This is the most important aspect of the whole thing. You must, must, have strong lighting. I'll list again the bulb I listed above:

http://www.buylighting.com/23-Watt-R40-Com...p1r4023-51k.htm

... This the minimum you should have on BOTH sides of your screen. You can get even higher power CFL bulbs, or use multiple bulbs per side, for screens larger than 12 X 12 inches, or for tanks with higher waste loads. The higher the power of the lighting on the screen, the more nitrate and phosphate will be pulled out of the tank, and faster too.

Operation:

Regardless of which version you build, the startup process is the same. First, clean the screen with running tap water (no soap) while scrubbing it with something abrasive. Then dry it off and sand it with sandpaper on both sides. Then get some algae (any type) from your system and rub it HARD into the screen on both sides, as deep and as hard as you can. Then run tap water over the screen to remove the loose algae pieces; you won't see the spores that stick... they are too small, but they are there. Don't forget this algae rubbing part... it will speed up the start of your screen by a few days. Install the screen and turn on the water.

You can leave the light on for 24 hours for the first week if you want to speed up the process; otherwise just put it on a timer for 18 hours ON, and 6 hours OFF. You will see absolutely nothing grow for the first two days. On day 3 you'll start seeing some growth, and by day 5 most of the screen should have a light brown coating. If this level of growth does not happen on your screen, your lighting is probably not strong enough, or it's not close enough to the screen. Increase the bulb power, or move it closer.

When the screen looks something like this:

ScreenBuildDay9outSmall.jpg

...then you want to give it it's first cleaning, on ONE SIDE only. Take the screen to the sink, run tap water on it, and just push the algae off with your fingers (not fingernails):

ScreenBuildDay9scrubbing.jpg

Wait a week, and clean the other side, gently. Wait another week and clean the first side again, etc. After a while you'll have to press harder to get the tougher algae off, and after a few months you'll probably need to scrape it with something, and it may eventually get so strong that you'll need a razor blade to scrape it off. But for now, be gentle; you always want some algae to remain on the screen when you are done. NEVER clean it off completely.

Don't forget to test your Nitrate and Phosphate before you start your filter, and each day after. I use Salifert:

http://www.marinedepot.com/ps_AquariumPage...s_salifert.html

Post your pics of how you build it, the growth day by day, and your nitrate and phosphate readings, so we can all see how you are doing!

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You know we've all talked about using refugiums, grow cheato, grow mangroves to remove nitrates and this is nothing new at all but I must say what makes a difference here is that the design of what you've posted is really brilliant!

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Just a question, if I had an algae screen twice the size of my tank, is it possible to do away with a protein skimmer?

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John you do not have to oversize the screen in order to replace the skimmer; it will do so using the recommended size screen (on U.S. square inch of screen, lit both sides, for every U.S. gallon of system water.).

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bro santa monica,just a few questions.how do u retrieve algae from your tank?cause normally algae grow on rocks and glass.normaly tank water will wash them away when scrub them.also,if we dint rub the algae at the panel,izit wil do also?or will take longer time to establish?TIA.

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If you cannot get algae from the tank, then do no worry about it. It will take a few more days to start, but thay is fine.

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From my past experience with marine and planted tanks, light temperature makes a lot of difference. lighting used for plant growth in freshwater planted aquariums is different from what is needed to sustain marine life.

I noticed that the bulb you recommended is a full spectrum 5100K bulb. is there a specific range of lighting color temperature that's optimal for algae growth?

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Bulb temp is still under experimentation. I only recommend 5100K because I know it works. However in my new acrylic unit I'm testing 3000K on one side and 6500K on the other. We'll see.

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This is so interesting and totally innovative!!! Will give it a try on my new sump :)

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Reminder Of The Day:

What Scrubbers Consume: Algae scrubbers consume INORGANIC nitrate and phosphate. These things are what your test kits read, and what the nuisance algae on your rocks and glass require to live. What scrubbers don't consume is ORGANIC nitrate and phosphate. Organic nitrate and phosphate have another name: Food. Any and every piece of food you put into your tank has nitrate and phosphate in them, but they are organic. Scrubbers leave them in the water for the corals to eat. Skimmers do the opposite: Skimmers remove the organic nitrate and phosphate (food), and leave in the inorganic nitrate and phosphate; these inorganics are then used by the nuisance algae on your rocks and glass to grow.

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Reminder Of The Day:

What Scrubbers Consume: Algae scrubbers consume INORGANIC nitrate and phosphate. These things are what your test kits read, and what the nuisance algae on your rocks and glass require to live. What scrubbers don't consume is ORGANIC nitrate and phosphate. Organic nitrate and phosphate have another name: Food. Any and every piece of food you put into your tank has nitrate and phosphate in them, but they are organic. Scrubbers leave them in the water for the corals to eat. Skimmers do the opposite: Skimmers remove the organic nitrate and phosphate (food), and leave in the inorganic nitrate and phosphate; these inorganics are then used by the nuisance algae on your rocks and glass to grow.

What is the different compair to using a UV tube also kill alga?

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Compared to a scrubber, a UV does not

Reduce nitrate, ammonia, or (directly) phosphate

Grow pods

Cool the water

Increase pH

Increase oxygen

Allow live plankton to feed corals

Remove metals

Stabilize pH on a reverse photoperiod

Work without a skimmer

Lend itself to being portable

Build itself for free

However, a scrubber does not kill ick :)

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Is there any significant difference if the scrubber is used in a reversed photo period or 24/7? Have you experimented on this?

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You have to give the algae a rest each day; 18 hours on, 6 hours off. And the off time can be whenever your pH tends to be the highest.

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Today's build-of-the-day is the very first solar powered screen that I've seen on any thread. Lighting will not be a problem with this one. Uses a simple pressurized pvc frame:

UserBobTheReefBuilderOnMASA.jpg

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Today's build-of-the-day is the very first solar powered screen that I've seen on any thread. Lighting will not be a problem with this one. Uses a simple pressurized pvc frame:

UserBobTheReefBuilderOnMASA.jpg

This is in-line with green initiatives... :bow:

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Today's N-and-P-lowering successes are both from the UR site, and both of them were a build-of-the-day that I previously posted:

"Col" says: "Test results from tonight are N=7.5 & P=0.1 I've not had test results as low as this before. The lighting on side 2 of the screen is really making a difference. Thanks SantaMonica for all your help!

"johnt" says: "Tested today and nitrate has come down from 50 to less than 25:

Date------8/21--------9/7---------9/14--------9/20

Nitrate----60-----------*-----------50-----------<25

pH---------8.24---------*-----------8.23---------8.27

Mag-------1394--------*-----------1335--------1440

Cal---------500----------*-----------465----------460

dKH-------7.2----------*------------8.6----------8.3

SG---------1.026-------*------------1.026-------1.026

Temp-----26.3---------*------------25.3---------24.8

Phos------0.25---------*------------0.1-----------<0.1

* = Started Scrubber

"First a big drop in Phosphate and now an equally impressive drop in Nitrate"

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Very good & creative ideal SantaMonica !! :idea:

Using nature(algae) to eliminate NO3 & PO4 :bow:

With that, reefers has another option(good one) to maintain good water conditions for our corals. :eyebrow:

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