While I would love to say I have accomplished a lot in the few weeks since I posted last, it wouldn't be true. In fact, my major accomplishment was getting the gutter installation for our roof scheduled for next week and sealing the top edging of the roof with expanding waterproof foam with hubby's help. But I have not been completely lazy. Slowly but surely I have been grinding away (sometimes literally) at the algae mess that was our saltwater aquarium.
Work has been long and progress has been slow, and in fact, the beginning started several months ago after we finally got some better quality lights to replace the algae inducing ones we had over the tank after I burnt out my amazingly wonderful home-made LED light.
The results are really starting to make a difference though... as you can see from these before and after shots:
While I can't take credit for all the work since our new "hairy pincushion" urchins did a lot of the scrubbing down to bare rock, I did make quite a dent with several different styles of scrubby and bottle brushes on-a-stick powered with my drill. And with the addition of a little refugium and algae turf scrubber, the tank will soon be fully ready for us to start adding corals to the rocks again.
I think our results have really only been possible by a combination of four things.
New lights that are better spectrum and quality for a reef tank... and currently limiting most of the light time to the blue lights (actinic) and only having the daylight spectrum bulbs on for a small part of the day.
Manual removal of algae with drill powered scrubbers and then catching the loose algae and removing it from the filter with layers of filter floss. More about this here
3. A new little refugium and algae turf scrubber with high lighting that helps pull nutrients out of the water instead of letting algae in the main tank grow with it. While my "algae turf scrubber" is struggling in my tank to out-compete the algae in both the main tank and the refugium tank, I think it will be a primary source of nutrient export eventually. I think it would be a much easier idea in a system that wasn't already nearly overcome with algae as mine was to start with.
4. Larry, Moe, and Curly... the three hairy pincushion urchins that scour the remaining algae down past the first layer of rock and thus help prevent it from immediate grow-back... and make me laugh a lot as they try to steal each other's "hats".
While I will give more information on algae turf scrubbers in a later post, here is a quick set of pics for how I built mine:
Splash guard for the lights...
I have plans for a couple others and will make a post specifically to Algae Turf Scrubbers later.