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Scrubber_steve 02/17/2020 05:27 AM


Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25454954)
Back in the dirt…

Starting up my new ecosystem requires a foundation for life. A suitable substrate for the sand bed creatures and the seagrasses is required. To support biodiversity, I will provide a variety of sand grain sizes, dirt, mud, shells and rubble - just as I've seen in Nature. It will not be a sterile, dead sand bed. It will be messy and wriggling with life.

How will this new substrate differ from the previous one? It will have more dirt and mud in it. In my experience, the grasses and the creatures enjoy it.

I managed to save a number of spaghetti worms from the old setup. I'll be adding live sand and live rock. I'm really hoping to get the bottom of the food chain established early. I believe this will help with stability, in an unstable phase of the tank's life.

Other members of the crew include two species of reproducing snails (Cerith & Mini Strombus), a fighting conch and a sea cucumber. Right now they're in my holding tank. I'll add some serpent stars and pods as well.

This an important step. Laying the foundation for life. Yay!

The environment your reproducing reminds me of the Minnamurra River, where I live. One end of the river is greatly influenced by the sea, & the other end by grazing land & natural bush. Gets plenty of plant & tree matter, & soil washing into it. Water movement from incoming & outgoing tides only.

There's lots of mangroves growing, starting about a couple of hundred yards from the mouth. Lots of sea grasses starting at the same area.

Talking about substrate, where the sea grasses & mangroves are the sand is a darker color, & digging down its black. When walking in these areas at low tide your feet sink down about 6" to 8". Very squishy. I guess it very aerated by the organisms mixed through it.

Scrubber_steve 02/17/2020 05:39 AM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25458618)
Welcome mndfreeze!

In my experience, ulva seems to need to be driven hard, with high light and high nutrients.

Ulva is what grows on my scrubber screen- naturally seeded.

Not sure but I'm guessing Enteromorpha (ulva) intestinalis. There's lots of varieties. I think I've had a few, & its changed somewhat, or evolved over time.

Super awesome for nutrient export, & easy to grow & non invasive. It's my only filtration besides some floss & occasional GAC.

I can even keep growing it with no3 & po4 levels reading zero, although thats only on hobby grade kit, & I do feed the tank a fair amount.


lapin 02/17/2020 07:48 PM


Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25651307)
You never know when you're going to stumble onto new, potentially game-changing information.

Here is the (basic) gist of what Scrubber steve is saying: Algae of all types have associated bacteria that 'help' the algae. If we let algae run amok in the formative stages of our aquariums, we're encouraging these algae-friendly bacteria to get established, to the detriment of nitrifying bacteria. This can lead to more virulent algae that's harder to get rid of, down the line. On the other hand, if we try to discourage algae during the cycling phase, by keeping nutrients low and the lights out, the 'good' nitrifying bacteria can get established first, making it difficult for algae-friendly bacteria to move in. If done well, an algae phase could be completely avoided. KABOOM!

Could this really be true? I don't know, but the science behind it sounds good to me, and I'd sure like to see it tested. This has applications to reef tanks obviously, and really any other tank where algae isn't welcome, but could it be applied to a planted tank like mine? My first inclination is to say no, since accepted methodology is to get plants in from the start, deemphasizing nitrifying bacteria, which competes with plants for nutrients. But maybe some variation of this method could work in a planted tank. After all, I'd like to avoid an algae phase too!

This is also along those lines You will need to insert reef 2 reef and...... threads/algae-release-useful-proteins-carbohydrates-and-metabolites.359116/


Michael Hoaster 02/18/2020 08:22 AM

I don't think I've seen that article before, Steve. I have read about bicarbonates and figured they'd pretty much help out where they can with no help from me. And I presumed the plants wouldn't have to work as hard to get CO2, if I just gave them CO2. But the article raised this point that I found interesting:

6. Keep the carbonate alkalinity up to at least 2.5 meq/l (7 dKH; 125 ppm calcium carbonate equivalents) to provide adequate bicarbonate for photosynthesis. Higher alkalinity may even be better, especially if the pH is also high, limiting carbon dioxide itself as a CO2 source for photosynthesizing organisms. This suggestion is likely already followed by most reef aquarists, but perhaps not by some with fish-only or related types of aquaria that also rely on macroalgae for nutrient export.

It sounds like my seagrasses might appreciate access to more bicarbonates.

Michael Hoaster 02/18/2020 08:37 AM

Steve, thanks for pointing out the similarities between my tank's substrate and your local river. That's really what I'm going for, providing a fertile substrate for the seagrass, as well as worms and other detrivores. I'm attempting to close the loop with detritus, allowing it to settle out, so it can be consumed and processed down the line to the grasses. It works pretty well, though I occasionally tidy up to keep things looking good enough for display. I have one fat and happy cucumber, which tend to gradually starve in cleaner tanks. I'm considering adding a detritus-eating fish as well, so I'll have to watch and see if it can support both.

Michael Hoaster 02/18/2020 08:45 AM

Ulva is a great utility plant. I've kept some in my tank from the beginning. I often suggest it to others over chaeto. Makes sense to use it in a scrubber. I'm considering using Enteromorpha intestinalis in my display. It looks like it would move well in the current.

Michael Hoaster 02/18/2020 09:05 AM

Interesting thread lapin, thanks. I followed the progress of a few folks attempting the Triton method. I've also read about plants' chemical warfare, know as allelopathy. I didn't read the whole thread, but I got the impression Mr Farley wasn't fully on-board with Triton. I wasn't either, but I can't remember all the reasons. Mostly I didn't like how it made users too dependent on the company for testing and maintaining the suggested levels. Too proprietary for my taste.

Michael Hoaster 02/19/2020 10:55 AM

I did my usual tidy-up/export over the weekend. No pics this time. Not enough change to show anything.

My turtle weed was getting overgrown with caulerpa again, so I picked up the rock it's growing on to remove it. This usually triggers the turtle weed to die back, then gradually grow back. While I had it in my hands, I got the idea to try something different with this plant that has confounded me so far. Since I haven't had any luck transplanting any of it to the back wall, where I want it to grow, I thought maybe I could attach the whole rock to the back wall. There is one rather large hole on the back wall that I thought the turtle weed rock just might fit into. It did! So now I have turtle weed high up on the back wall. I noted today that there is some expected die off, but also some new growth as well. If the plant stays happy there, maybe, just maybe it'll grow and spread out on the wall. That would be great!

Also, after reading the article that Scrubber steve posted, I am trying to increase alkalinity to boost bicarbonates. I want to see if this improves seagrass growth.

vlangel 02/19/2020 07:10 PM

Wow, I have missed a lot of good stuff here the past week that I have been MIA. I will go back and reread the article that Steve posted and try to understand as much as I can.

Michael Hoaster 02/19/2020 09:59 PM

Welcome back Dawn! There's some pretty interesting stuff. I LOVE the idea of no algae phase! Enjoy!

Scrubber_steve 02/20/2020 06:15 AM


Originally Posted by lifeoffaith (Post 25560703)
My tank also cleared up yesterday. Interesting because I haven't really added anything within the last couple of weeks, but there seems to be less micro algae. I have also noticed some Coralline algae starting to grow on the rocks. All good stuff! Hoping to add some fish soon and some more macro algae.

Hi Michael, this is where I'm up to in your thread.
I haven't seen a post with your no3 or po4 levels.
I would have been more than curious,,, do you measure them?
Also, had you considered ozone by this time to help clear the water?

Michael Hoaster 02/20/2020 10:22 AM

Hey Scrubber steve. No I haven't measured them. I observe the tank. Since hobbyist test kits aren't particularly accurate, and I've been doing this for quite awhile, I don't feel the need. I am open to testing if I'm mystified, or trying to hit some number. I'd rather just observe and deduce.

No, I didn't consider ozone. I used what I had at the time, which was charcoal and UV. I also used UV temporarily, when I had dinos. Most of the time, I keep the gadgets to a minimum.

Now that I have a large population of 'living filters', I can rely on them more. I have sponges and hundreds of tiny tunicates and assorted other filter feeders. I had a plant melt-down recently, that clouded up the tank. They took care of it. I like to keep things very low tech and use Nature instead. That is the 'mission' of this tank, to see if I can let Nature and natural processes take care of things reefers have replaced with gadgets.

It's not that I don't appreciate a nice hi-tech reef. I just feel like I can learn more about Nature by relying on Nature more than technology. These days, with tech everywhere, I wanted a more analog experience. So my system stuff is very basic.

This Naturalist approach helps me to learn more about how plants and animals interact in ecosystems. I also learn a lot from smart guys like you, here on RC!

Scrubber_steve 02/21/2020 12:25 AM


Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25652396)
Now that I have a large population of 'living filters', I can rely on them more. I have sponges and hundreds of tiny tunicates and assorted other filter feeders.

Cryptic zone ?


Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25652396)
I had a plant melt-down recently, that clouded up the tank. They took care of it. I like to keep things very low tech and use Nature instead.

Have you considered a clam?
Watch this from 26:00 to 27:37, you'll find it interesting & possibly informative.


Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25652396)
That is the 'mission' of this tank, to see if I can let Nature and natural processes take care of things reefers have replaced with gadgets.

I read an article in a reef magazine, back in the 90s, about a marine tank the author saw at a hotel in i think Asia? From memory he referred to it as 'the natural method'. It had a few fish & filter feeders, & coral, but relied on nothing more than an air pump for circulation (water movement for the live rock in the tank). Natural sun light too. About as minimalist as you can get, & considered somewhat amazing at the time.

I use to catch poddy mullet in the river for bait. Half a dozen in a bucket, drive to the fishing spot, cast out live bait. One day when we caught more poddy, couple of dozen, they died in the bucket barely after getting into the car. Not enough oxygen for that many, so needed a battery operated air pump. Technology just allows the boundaries to be stretched.

I'm not sure if any filtration equipment could be considered new or high tech?
Of course some may argue that my algae scrubber is high tech, because you can grow filtration algae in a more natural way - fuge - display.


Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25652396)
This Naturalist approach helps me to learn more about how plants and animals interact in ecosystems.

You should watch this, if you haven't already. I'd like to hear what you think
All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace - Episode 2 - The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts


Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25652396)
I also learn a lot from smart guys like you, here on RC!

Thanks for the compliment, I have you fooled.

I don't know about smart. Opinionated yes. But I try to base my opinions on the available evidence & history. This can make me disagreeable with some, apparently :rolleyes:


Scrubber_steve 02/21/2020 04:53 AM


Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25577212)

lookin better

Scrubber_steve 02/21/2020 05:04 AM

Nice work

Scrubber_steve 02/21/2020 05:09 AM


Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25594120)
Even in Nature, seagrass beds can collect huge amounts of detritus, with the occasional storm cleaning them out.

while snorkelling, swimming, surfing, I've seen sea grasses with micro algae growing on them plenty of times. Almost seems the norm.
Next time i'm down the river I'll take some photos of the sea grass there.
Can't promise the micro algae though.:fun2:

Scrubber_steve 02/21/2020 05:12 AM


Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25599455)
Three quick pics:

Where's the video already Michael ? :jester:

McPuff 02/21/2020 07:26 AM


Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster (Post 25652396)
No, I didn't consider ozone. I used what I had at the time, which was charcoal and UV. I also used UV temporarily, when I had dinos. Most of the time, I keep the gadgets to a minimum.

Michael, in lieu of ozone, do some reading on Oxydators. They essentially provide you with the same benefits of ozone, but without the potential dangers. They also require no electricity. So although it's another "gadget" it is very inconspicuous. People in Europe have been using these for decades yet they are quite rare among aquarists here in the US. Great for planted and reef aquariums. Anyway, I think you'll enjoy the discovery.

Michael Hoaster 02/21/2020 10:16 PM

Hey Scrubber steve! I guess you could say I have somewhat of a cryptic zone or light gradient at the right end of the tank. I definitely got the idea from Steve Tyree's book, "The Environmental Gradient", to create an area with dimmer lighting for things that appreciate it, like sponges. My red macros seem to like it too.

I haven't really considered a clam-not a giant clam at least. From what little I know of them, it seems like they would compete with the plants for nitrogen. The video seemed to suggest that clams and other filter feeders could be employed to rejuvenate dead/dying reefs. Pretty cool.

I am very interested in another clam for my tank - the Lucinid clam lives in seagrass substrates, and through a symbiotic relationship with host (guest?) bacteria, oxidizes sulfates, which would otherwise make the substrate uninhabitable. Google clams and seagrass and you’ll see several articles. Mutualism is pretty cool.

I remember that tank. He used live rock and plants, in a kind of naturalist approach, simple set up. I agree technology stretches the possibilities. A well-executed reef tank is a thing of beauty. But for this tank, I wanted to see how well a low tech setup could accommodate my nature-boy vision. I’m not really saying anything in particular is high tech, just that my setup is lower than most. I wouldn’t say your algae filter is high tech, but maybe some would, so it’s all relative.

I watched a little of the video. I need to finish it. I’ll get back to you.

So you prefer well-informed over smarty-pants? It can be challenging to not ruffle feathers sometimes on these forums. I’ve struggled at times. I love the intelligent discussion whether I agree or not.

Michael Hoaster 02/21/2020 10:29 PM

Thanks for reposting the pics, Steve. It's fun to see where you are in the thread.

Yes, epiphytic algae and other stuff is pretty common. My army of Strombus snails keeps my seagrass pretty clean. I get some occasionally. I even get coralline algae on them sometimes, turning them pink. The mangroves are getting some too.

Yep, I'm lame. Still no video.

Michael Hoaster 02/21/2020 10:48 PM

Hey McPuff! I just recently heard of Oxydators. I just googled it.

"Söchting Oxydators breakdown hydrogen peroxide into pure oxygen and water (2 H2O2---->2 H20 + O2) using a special catalyst. The Söchting Oxydator adds oxygen continuously and slowly to your aquarium. The additional oxygen helps provide oxygen for aquatic critters and the beneficial bacteria in your tank. The oxygen produced is almost immediately dissolved into the water so there are little to no bubbles produced. Söchting Oxydators produce no CO2, make no noise, and use no electricity making them a useful backup when the power goes out."

Seems like a pretty cool thingy. I especially like that very last point. Otherwise I'm not sure it would benefit my oddball tank. I have a lot of plant life generating oxygen already.

I do appreciate the tip McPuff! I enjoy hearing about new stuff.

vlangel 02/22/2020 06:59 AM

I am really enjoying the discussion lately in this thread. I need to make time to watch the videos posted and read up on some of the ideas presented.

Michael Hoaster 02/22/2020 08:39 AM

Me too Dawn. Invigorating discussion!

Michael Hoaster 02/22/2020 10:42 AM

OK Steve, so I watched the whole video, "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace - Episode 2 - The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts". What did I think of it? I probably should take more time to digest it but I'll go ahead and take a stab at it.

One thing I found interesting was that the idea of Nature balancing itself became a sort of doctrine of underlying order, that was accepted without proof. "It was like the air", one scientist said. They just believed it. I think they got a lot of things right, like how different elements interrelate. But science got short circuited by feel-good concepts advanced by a few egotistical, charismatic scientists. Overall, the ideas were more idealistic and simplified than reality. A self-correcting, self-balancing Nature is a warm, fuzzy idea. It was depressing to see politicians abuse it to oppress populations. Also, I found the idea of 'Spaceship Earth' not far from my own ideas that Earth is like a very large aquarium!

Overall, I think it illustrates the folly of man, and a slice of time in scientific history. It's easy and perhaps unfair to criticize ideas of the past. What will future man think of our accepted scientific norms?

How does it relate to aquariums? I'm not sure, but I'll throw out some thoughts. We all try to reach balance in our tanks. But balance is in the eye of the beholder. A tank full of hair algae could be said to be in balance. So what we're really after is an idyllic model that stays in our own version of an idyllic state. But balance and perfection is fleeting. I have noted a few times in my aquarium-keeping history when my tank has 'peaked', and thought, "well it's all down hill from here." And it was! So, are all aquariums doomed to fail? I don't think so, but they will always need upkeep to maintain the ideal.

Scrubber steve, I'd like to hear your thoughts. Why did you post the vid? What point would you make that it supports?

I'd also like to hear from anyone else who watched it, and would like to weigh in.

Michael Hoaster 02/24/2020 10:35 PM

I've got two plants on the way! Cymopolia barbata and Codium. C. barbata is also known as Tufted Joint Algae. They remind me of the trees on the Flintstones. Very unusual and a bright lime green. Codium is also fun, resembling a coral or sponge. It is a range of greens, mostly darker. These two plants are natural seagrass bed inhabitants, so that's where they'll go. I look forward to scaping them in. I've also been transplanting more of the Petticoat algae into the seagrass bed, so it should soon be a tapestry of greens. As a bonus, these ground cover plants provide good cover for pods and micro stars, etcetera. It would be great to get a large, sustainable population of pods for the fish to hunt, between feedings.

The back wall is getting more colonized with algae, finally. It looks pretty good.

I'm happy with how I've transplanted manatee grass plants around the bed. The bummer is, they're all small right now, so you can't really see them. They have to get their roots happy, before they grow out the blades. It takes a while. So I wait. Spring isn't far off.

Some of the reds look like they may miss the blue light, that went out. I miss it too, and the dawn/dusk transition it provided. Guess I'll replace it.

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