As many of us go down the path of natural filtration methods for our aquariums, live rock seems to be the biggest investment made for dentrification. Whilst good quality live rock is unarguably excellent at it's job, it doesn't hurt to have a little extra help, and if it too is natural? Well read on........
Whilst reading a post in the forum I often frequent, it was mentioned about using live tropical oysters to filter the aquarium. The eBay link provided showed the seller asking for £4.50 plus postage for these creatures. A reply was made concerning oysters that are sold in the supermarket. Apparently, although farmed and raised in Scotland, the oysters used for human consumption in the UK are Pacific oysters, with origins in much warmer climes. These oysters are available in Morrisons, Sainsburys and Tescos (I am sure there are others too) for about 50p each!! Below I will detail my acclimatising them to my aquarium.
I don't know about you, but when I buy food from the shop, I expect it to be dead, not so with oysters!! You need to choose an oyster with a closed shell, if it is in any way open, it will be bad and of no use to you. When the oysters are farmed, they are packed in ice for the journey to the shop, where they sit in a refrigerated cabinet, possibly on top of ice. The first job is to remove the oysters from the packaging and place them in a container suitable for holding water. DO NOT add any water at this stage, just merely place them somewhere they can reach room temperature.
It is very weird watching shells. As the oyster warms up, it begins moving around. This can cause the shell the "seesaw" around the container which is a little off putting. Gradually start adding water from the aquarium they will be living in until the shells are covered. This should ideally take about an hour, although you can take longer ifyou wish, but don't rush it. By the time the shell is covered, you should find that the two halves are opening a little, this shows that the creature is well and truly alive. At this time, you can remove them from the container and place them in your aquarium.
After a few hours, you will find that the shells will "gape" allowing you to see inside the oyster. They are not a very pretty sight, but I am lucky enough to be able to sump mine. They will still be able to filter feed and will also release gametes into the water column providing a plankton supply for thecorals and other filter feeding organisms.
I will be keeping an eye on the progress of the oysters and will follow up when there is some progress.
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24th December 2018
So, after 6 years and promising myself to get a scrubber again, I have finally done something about it. I have seen one other review of this unit from a couple of years ago, the seller has added extra lights each side now. For about £120 GBP, I don't think it is too bad and much better than I could make:
27th December 2018
So, I managed to get the unit into my sump yesterday. It wasn't quite long enough to sit on the brace bars, so had to make a basic support for it. Headroom for easy maintenance could be an issue, but I expect it to improve once nutrients lower and I can remove the skimmer. It is also difficult to remove the light covers as they fit in a groove and slide in from the top, so difficult to assess the flow across the screen.
There is only one drain on this unit, no emergency overflow, but the hole is quite large and fitted with a tank connector. Once running, as I thought, it was quite noisy draining out of the unit with the water splashing. A quick trip to the LFS and a purchase of some 38mm flexi tube and it now drains under the surface, now silent running
My thoughts of using the original screen went out of the window as it is about 2" short of the slot. I have had to fit it as a temporary measure as the supplied new screen hadn't been roughed up. I am hoping that the green which grows this week on the old screen, I can harvest and rub into the new screen to help seed that a bit quicker. Nutrient levels have been allowed to get out of hand, so am looking forward to seeing how this goes. Once new screen is fitted and running, I shall take some parameters and post, then follow the experience.
5th January 2019
So, it has been going for 7 days and the screen is filling with an oily algae on both sides which is good, shows some of the excessive nutrients are being reduced. I am also dosing vodka at 5ml per day whilst bringing the levels down. I am still vodka dosing alongside in an attempt to get levels lower, before removing the skimmer. When first tested No3 was a shocking 50ppm, today it has come down to 25ppm, still excessive, but better. Po4 is showing as 0.5, both tests are Salifert. 10g of algae came off the screens today, so I have used it to seed the new screen.
|Side 1||Side 2|
New screen, seeded with older algae and filling the complete slot.
10th January 2019
I have been somewhat disappointed with the performance of the scrubber this week, although it has only been 5 days growth. The screen is streaky, indicating there is either not enough flow, or the slot is clogging. Growth on this screen today didn't even register above 0g today! Vodka dosing is still continuing at 5ml per day, nitrates have remained at 25ppm and Phoshate at 0.5.
|Side 1||Side 2|
I am not 100% sure what the flow rate of the fitted pump was, but I know it was less than the Maxijet 1200 I am having to use to mix my salt now. I have taken the opportunity of swapping pumps over today, hopefully that will help to increase the amount of flow across all of the screen.
18th January 2019
The spraybar seemed to be splashing outwards and upon removal seemed a bit blocked. Cleaning off the screen, I am not sure if the slot is wide enough, something to check on. So I got a whole 6g of oily algae off today. No3 has dropped to 10ppm, Po4 is still 0.5.
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I wrote this article in 2004. At the time I couldn't afford to buy or run a reverse osmosis unit, so was looking for ways to soften water to keep discus. A simple, yet effective way to lower your pH and hardness.
Aquarium water chemistry can be one of the most frustrating aspects of fishkeeping. If you decide to adjust the water chemistry to suit the particular fish you keep, there is a cheap and highly successful method of producing large amounts of soft and acid water. Filter it over peat!!! Remember all water chemistry adjustment should be carried out away from the aquarium, hence the method detailed below. This is a simple and cheap method which should cost you less than a tenner and will produce thousands of gallons of peat filtered aquarium water. You will need:-
|Filter Floss||Clean, new bucket||Peat moss|
What a waste of a good bucket, still it is all for the good of your aquarium fish. The bucket must be new and thoroughly rinsed. A hole needs to be drilled in the bottom, about 8- 10mm should be sufficient.
Filter floss should now be placed on the bottom of your bucket. Make sure it is a good layer, about 2- 3" thick. Remember, this will compact under the weight of the peat and the water. Make sure you give it a good rinse, preferably in hot water prior to use, this should help to rinse off any nasties.
|You should now fill your bucket with peat until it is about 3/4 full. Try to compact it down a bit and then add a little more. At this time you should fill a watering can or similar with hot water. Pour this over the peat and allow it to drain (onto the garden, down the drain). Once this has been done you are able to start filtering water for your aquarium.|
Find yourself a suitable receptacle to suspend your peat filter over, I choose a water butt as it will hold 40 gallons. You are now ready to pour water over the peat and allow it to drain into your water butt. Depending on the size of the hole, you can reckon on about 12 gallons per hour. If you can adjust your hose to run slow enough, this is preferable to walking back and forth with a watering can. A bucket of peat this size should filter about 200 gallons of tap water, depending on your individual water supply.
Water comes out of the tap at a pH of 8.3 and with a carbonate hardness of 13, enough to stand a spoon in!! After filtering, the results are pH 5 and KH 3, quite a difference huh? As with reverse osmosis and other purification devices, it is necessary to rebuild your water to the required consistency using plain tap water. You will find that the filtered water is a "teas stained" colour. This is the tanins from the peat and is quite natural. Some people like me like the look (it is an acquired taste I grant you) as it makes the fish enhance their colouration. For those that don't like the look, a little bit of carbon run in the filter will soon clear it up.
There are a few people who have tried the peat filtering method, comments are shown below from some who have contacted me regarding their experiences:
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Aquarium filtration and nuisance algae removal using a scrubber has been discussed at length on the Marine Fish UK forum. I didn't take too much convincing to read more about the process on Algae Scrubbers.net which made me feel confident enough to try one out on my 3'x 2'x 2' reef aquarium.
I have used 25mm pipe, super glue, cable ties and some 7 count plastic canvas (used in cross stitch) for my project. A slot was cut in the horizontal pipework, long enough for me to place the canvas in. The canvas was then secured by plastic cable ties. A basic "L" type design, it was fitted to my aquarium on the 9th January 2011.
As you can see, water was fed from a Maxijet 1200 powerhead, via a flexi pipe to the scrubber head. Lighting was initially provided on one side of the screen by a 11w cfl (energy effieicent) bulb, equivalent to 60w standard incandescent bulb. This was clipped to the side of the sump by some cheap clamps bought off eBay.
So, after 1 week, the screen was looking like this:
Having read more on the algae scrubber forum, I decided to increase the lighting to both sides of the screen, and increase the bulb size. I also used some tin foil on the uprights of the cabinet to reflect lost light back towards the screen. The bulb size became a 20w cfl (80w equivalent) on both sides. Results from week 2 below:
Over the subsequent weeks, the algae on my scrubber began to grow quicker and greener as nutrients were being used up (see below). I upgraded the Maxijet 1200 to a 3000lph pump, the greater the flow of water the better the filtration properties apparently. I had already turned off my skimmer to prevent items that could be utilised as food for my corals being removed from the system, but I was now about to remove the JBL BioNitratex from the sump. Until now, nitrates had been held at a steady 5ppm by 2 sachets in the sump.
It was mentioned to me that my algae scrubber wasn't receiving the greatest amount of light due to my lack of light reflection. I was pointed to a great article on how to make some cheap reflectors out of beer cans, so I begrudgingly sacrificed 2 cans in my attempt:
With the increased light and flow, my algae scrubber was able to remove more "muck" from the tank. The problem is that the screen was now becoming slimey and dark green, almost black. This meant regular cleanings (every 2 to 3 days) to remove the slime algae. It was explained to me that nutrients are stored in the live rock. As the nutrients become less in the water column, they leach from the rocks causing this type of algae. I am removing about 60 grammes of this algae from my screen on a bi- weekly basis, so hopefully the nutrient levels will drop soon enough to allow the "real green" algae to show through and filter correctly.
Luckily (for me), a fellow reefer on one of the forums I frequent was breaking his tank down. I was able to have "first dibs" on his algae scrubber, which again was a DIY effort, but much better than mine. My parameters before swapping to the new algae scrubbing unit were: Nitrite 0ppm, Nitrate 5ppm and Phosphate at 0.