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Hello...Seeking Science Fair Help

Discussion in 'New Members' started by Mike and Mel, Nov 13, 2017.

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  1. Hello, everybody!
    My name is Mike and my youngest (of 4) daughter is Mel, together we have a 58 gal oceanic reef tank.
    We have been doing a ton of reading on reefkeeping, filtration, water parameters etc...Algae scrubbers have intrigued both of us for some time now.
    It is that time of year, The Science Fair!!
    We live near a lake that experiences algae blooms that actually close down some of the beaches in the summer. Mel and I were talking and she asked why we couldn't use an algea scrubber on the lake? Thus started our quest for information on scrubbers and how to go about testing this theory.
    We decided to fill 2 20gal. tanks with lake water and light the them with an LED fixture we have laying around.
    One tank will have just a powerhead circulating the water, the other we thought to use an ATS on and monitor parameters in both.
    The questions are: Would the water need to be heated to grow algea?
    We have watched dozens of videos on DIY builds and started thinking maybe just buying one would be easier and not very much more $ after buying all the materials needed. Any help? Thanks!
  2. Turbo

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

    For such an experiment, for it to be pertinent, I would think you would not want to heat the water unless you have it in a location where the water temp would be cooler than the lake water that experiences the issue at that time of the year. So, if you had it in your basement and it was 60F down there in the winter, you might heat it to 70F or something.

    Then, to simulate your operating enviroment, you would want to use what you would use outside - sunlight. Seeing as that might be difficult, a full-spectrum light might be a better choice.

    Now you have to take in the volume factor - for a lake, you are going to need to do a raceway scrubber, that's the only way to get the sheer surface area you would need. Obviously for the experiment, this explodes the size/cost so you might just consider this a subset and go with a waterfall and a few floodlights, a slot pipe, screen, and pump and that's it. It really should not be a big expenditure I wouldn't think

    There are many similar types of experiments that people (universities, etc) have done to try and clean up environments in this way. I was digging for an article but I can't seem to find it...
  3. Thanks for the info! We will heat the water to what the average temp is in the summer.
    BTW your scrubbers look incredible!! One day!
  4. I have one more question....we built the scrubber and collected the water from the lake.
    When we tested for nitrate and phosphate we recorded no nitrate and only .04 phosphate.
    We have the tanks being heated to 70degrees.
    Is the .04 phosphate level sufficient enough to grow algae on the screen and show reduced amt of phosphate?
  5. Turbo

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

    The thing that provides the best "food" for algae is live animals. The concentration of nutrients will change over time if you have none in the mix, so you might have skewed results because of that. Whereas in a closed system with animals that you are feeding, you have a "nutrient stream" that is replenished naturally.

    The algae is going to suck out the nutrients pretty fast, and when they're not replenished, it will starve. At least, that would seem to me what would happen, but it might take some time. Depends on what else is in the water I suppose, and what volume of water you are using, and how big the scrubber is.

    With the N at zero and the P that low, it would logically seem that you might have a hard time getting algae to grow. Or, it might start out growing well and then stall out quickly.
  6. Just wanted to post an update and a thank you!

    First, you were absolutely correct on the fact we should have added fish to the system, the nutrients were depleted rapidly.

    But, with that said Mel did win 2nd place in her grade school science fair and made it to Quinnipiac University for the state finals.

    She was in the top 5 and won a NASA earth sciences award as well as a Connecticut waterways award.

    They would like her to keep up her work on finding a solution to nutrient problems in the lake.

    I suppose this means we will be bouncing more ideas here in the near future!!

    Thanks again!

    Mike and Mel
  7. Turbo

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

    That's fantastic!!

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