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Algae Scrubber not Growing Algae

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Exclama_Remoza, Apr 11, 2016.

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  1. First off, I would like to inform you that I am a novice, whose previos experience was a beta bowl in high school and goldfish tank in middle school (neither lasting over a year).

    For about 5 weeks, I've ran a fish tank and algae scrubber and despite doing everything right (or so I thought), I only have a slightly brown discolored plastic canvas in my sump and up to 1.5ppm of ammonia (which I try to treat with SafeStart and other nitrifying bacteria starters but end up putting a little Prime in every day) in my fish tank. I read various websites and conducted a literature review with my university databases. I fertilized the sump tank with small amounts of additive-free concentrated ammonia solution after adding KH2PO4 and calcium carbonate buffers to the aquarium. My aquarium feeds the sump, with water leaving the sump as evaporation and entering the aquarium as tap water I treat with water conditioner and enough aquarium sea salt and calcium carbonate to make my water hard & brackish for my molly fish, which seem to enjoy themselves.

    A video is worth a million words so here is one I recorded a few days ago:

    Oh yeah, and my project is to build a prototype is to grow algae for use in a biogas reactor (to replace my classmate's lawn clippings) with my final report due in a week. At least it's a freshman-level chemical engineering course...

    I hope to make this set-up a successful and semi-permanent fixture of the maker space room.
  2. Turbo

    Turbo Does not really look like Johnny Carson Staff Member Site Owner Multiple Units! Customer

    A compile things:

    It's a new tank, don't expect fast growth. From what you describe, you're on the right path. Leave it be and give it time

    Don't top off with saltwater. The salt does not evaporate. You only need to add fresh water, otherwise your salinity will creep up over time.

    Don't bother with buffers, just use a good alt mix. Buffers only mess up your system, stay away from them unless you have a specific need or are using them for a specific purpose.

    Tap water is full of chemicals you don't want in a saltwater tank, especially if you will be keeping corals. Even without corals, they can cuss problems. You will want to use RODI water for top offs and water changes, and no water conditioner.

    Prime "locks up" ammonia nitrite and nitrate but (as I understand it) still leaves them bioavailable. They will still show up as present on most test kits but that's not guaranteed. Best route is fish less cycling and adding janitorial strength ammonia (I like the Ace Hardware brand) and dose to maybe 2ppm and no higher than 4ppm, and keep it above 1ppm. Once 1ppm is fully converted from Ammonia to Nitrate on 24 hours, your cycle is complete. But a reef tank takes 6 months or more to become truly cycled.

    Favorite link:

    Mything the Point, Part Three: Conclusion - Reefkeeping.com

    Go to #15
  3. Turbo

    Turbo Does not really look like Johnny Carson Staff Member Site Owner Multiple Units! Customer

    Just saw it was a Molly / brackish tank. Slightly different needs there

    What is your screen size, lighting type, photoperiod, feeding, etc?
  4. I have 567 square inches (4 sheets) of roughened plastic canvas, slightly rough towards top and very rough in middle and bottom areas; the sheets are hydrated with a single 12 HF Rio HyperFlow, with the waterfall louder than the pump. I fertilized that sump tank (2 weeks ago) directly with janitorial-grade ammonia (additive-free) and Flourish with initial algae growth appeared after fertilizing.

    I have red LED grow lights (32w per 225 LED square lamp) on a timer from 4:20 AM to 21:20 PM (corresponding to roughly 2 hours before sunrise to 2 hours after sunset), and as seen in the video, the tanks are in the windowsill of a basement/ground level room with the fish tank having a green background scene and black lid (to minimize light) and the sump tank having a sheet of clear acrylic to minimize evaporation.

    There are 6 molly fish and 1 platy fish with no coral, macroalgae, or plants. I use an automatic feeder to feed the fish three times a day and I overfed them (with 2 or 3 extra turns on most weekdays) though they tend to eat the majority of the food I feed them within a minute. I will stop overfeeding them this week.

    My API Master Test Kit shows that I have no nitrite, 0.75 PPM of ammonia, 7.5 pH (it took me a lot of time and effort today to buffer the tank with lemon juice(citric acid)/phosphate fertilizer (KH2PO4) buffer solution and pH 8.2 (calcium carbonate) buffer), and I have only tested nitrates with test strips (showing an intermediate between 0ppm and 20ppm) so far but I will test nitrates tomorrow. I use Prime 5 days a week (skipping Sunday and Wednesday) to counteract the ammonia.

    My hydrometer now reads at 15 ppt salinity after previously keeping a borderline brackish tank (slowly increasing to 6ppt salinity until today).

    It started growing fungi this weekend so I removed some of the fungi and poured aquarium seasalt directly on the decoration that seemed to be the source of the infection as well as performing partial water changes and extensive chemical manipulation, over the course of 24 hours. I also left the black lid off of my tank all day because I read a seemingly credible source purporting that sunlight is bad for fungi and helps the other organisms (and allows enough

    I added 50 mL of FLUVIAL cycle an hour ago after waiting an hour after messing with water chemistry and realizing that SafeStart+ doesn't work in saltwater tanks (but worked OK through salinity 5ppt).

    Green algae has started to appear on my canvas sheets and greenish brown algae recently started growing on the glass of the sump tank this past weekend.
  5. Turbo

    Turbo Does not really look like Johnny Carson Staff Member Site Owner Multiple Units! Customer

    Sorry, totally missed that you had a video, late night last night!!

    Is there a reason your scrubber is so large? That's literally at least 25 times bigger than I expected it to be for that size tank

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