The Algae Scrubber

The Algae Scrubber


The Algae Scrubber Thing-A-Ma-Jiggy
By Davis Gailitis

Getting rid of excess nutrients in an aquarium.

A Brief Description:
A container that is setup above the aquarium that  houses plants in it with aquarium water circulating through it from two 1/2" (13mm) hoses, one the feed, the other return. This unit is lit by a florescent or plant light.

What You Will Need:
1. Plastic holding tray size depends on needs. Must be water proof (Has to hold water)

2. Plastic tubing 1/2" or equivalent metric size (length depending on your needs).

3. Some kind of connector to attach 1/2" (13mm) hose to tray after drilling a hole in one side of the tray.

4. Air line hose (amount depending on your needs).

5. Air stone

6. Potting soil (non fertilized).

7. Perlite or Vermiculite

8. Gravel

9. Lights

10. Plant seed (Wheat or Philodendron)

11. Air pump

12. Wire

The Basic Setup:
First, you must consider where the tray will be placed and at what height above the tank. I would not consider setting this up on the canopy as it will have a bit of weight. The obvious placement would be on a shelf a couple of inches above your canopy. Do not forget to leave room for the lighting that will be required, be it florescent or an incandescent plant light. The shelf width and length will be determined by your needs. This will be said often. Hopefully by the end of these instructions you will be armed with enough information to decide these dimensions.

On to the making of the unit. We will need a tray that is 3" ( 7.6 cm) deep at least and water tight. The other dimensions will have to be determined by your needs and size of tank. The first step will be to drill a hole in one side of the tray that is 2" (5 cm) from the bottom. You will then attach a coupling to this that can accommodate 1/2" inch ( 13mm ) plastic tubing.
You will have to cut two lengths of 1/2" plastic tubing. One length will be the measure of distance from 1" (2.54 cm) above the inside bottom of your tank running up to the top lip of the tray plus a couple of extra inches. This length is the infeed line. The other length of tubing will be cut using a measure of the distance from the hole in the tray to the top of the tank plus a couple of extra inches. This is the return feed line. 

We must consider one more thing before attaching the tubing to the tray. How do we get the water from the tank to the tray and back to the tank with minimal effort and expense. We will use air. Most of us use an air pump already in our tanks and it is easy enough to gang another line from the air pump.

The next step will be cut a hole into one end of the infeed line and then attach both lines to the tray. The infeed length of tubing first needs a hole put in it 1" (2.5 cm) from one end. The size hole should accommodate a length of air line hose snugly without pinching. On the other end we will attach the clip that will hold it in place to the tray. Fashion this clip by using some wire (10" should be enough). Take the wire and snugly wrap it around one end of the infeed line twice. Do not pinch the line or constrict it in anyway. Take the wire that is left sticking out and bend into a paper clip shape, cut off any excess. Attach this end to the other side of the tray with the opening exiting into the tray.The return feed line needs to be attached to the coupling which is sticking out of the side of the tray.

After ganging another run of air line tubing off your air pump, cut the length so that it will run from the pump into the tank's bottom and back up at least 4" (10 cm). Place the loose end of air line into the hole you have put into the 1/2" (13 mm) infeed line and push it up the tube 4" (10 cm) towards the tray. Place the tray on the shelf and put the 1/2" (13 mm) tubes into the water of the aquarium. 

Now we need to start on what we are going to put in the tray. Take planting containers and add 1" (2.5 cm) of Perlite or Vermiculite. On top of this add potting soil mixed with some Perlite or Vermiculite to 1" (2.54 cm) from top. If you intend to use a fast growing plant such as philodendron instead of wheat seed, plant accordingly in pots.For wheat seed read on. Fill the tray 1" (2.54 cm) deep with aquarium gravel or appropriate substitute. Place the pots on the gravel. Add some aquarium water to the tray until the water starts to be released out of the overflow hole into the return line back to the aquarium. Open the valve on the air line running to the infeed line. In a bit of time you should have the water entering the tray from the aquarium. Almost done!

When the soil is moist from the water in the tray add wheat seed on top, you do not have to bury in soil. You will have to replant the wheat periodically.
When you see the wheat get to a height that it can not support itself this is when you should replant. I would suggest staggering the planting so that you are not creating major nutrient fluctuations in the tank.


Davis :)

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