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FAQs on Algal Filtration: Lighting

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Need not be intensive nor expensive

Algae Filter Light 2/16/2010 2/17/10
Hello to the WWM crew. You do a fantastic job educating people and supporting the hobby. I have an algae filter with Chaeto (spaghetti algae) in a section of my sump. That filter crashed a few months ago and I was going to replace the algae with a clam for reverse photo period photosynthesis and nutrient absorption.
<Mmm, algae in quantity is much more useful here>
Luckily, a few strands of the algae ended up in the main tank and I noticed that algae is growing very well and rapidly in the display.
<Ah, good>
My main suspicion is the lighting condition. Main tank has eight T5, half 10K and half 460 nm actinic bulbs. For the sump I used a 70 W metal halide which came with a 14K bulb.
<I'd use one with a lower temp. value... 10K at the most... really, fluorescent would/will be better>
This lamp is over an area of 11.5" X 11.5" for the algae filter.
I think the light quality and possibly light quantity had played a role in the successful growth or crash of the algae. The reason I say that is I moved the clump of the Chaeto that had survived the crash from the display
to the sump. That algae was different in color and texture, the color was lighter green and it seemed to have thicker strands that spread in larger volume of water. After I moved the algae to the sump, it changed color to
very dark green, it has shrunk in size, with higher density (similar to green pads for scrubbing dishes, but not that dense), and seems to be more brittle and not as robust. This observation has made me suspicious that the metal halide light has played a detrimental role.
<I do agree>
For now, I have added a screen on top of the sump to reduce the light intensity and I am changing the 14K bulb with a 10K bulb to get closer to a useable light spectrum that is algae friendly.
However, I am planning to replace the metal halide with a T5 florescent fixture.
<Oh, even better>
They normally come with a combination of 10K and actinic bulbs.
My question is will it be OK if I change the actinic with a much warmer bulb, something like a fresh water plant light?
They also call them pink bulbs or growth bulbs. Or a similar bulb such as a gardening light (full spectrum similar to Vita Lite)?
<More yes>
The fixture that I am looking at is a two strip T5 florescent, 18 W each (total of 36 W). Will that produce sufficient intensity for an area of 11.5" X 11.5" algal filter?
Do I get better algal growth, and subsequent nutrient export via harvesting if I add two fixtures instead of one with 1/2 10K and 1/2 fresh water plant lights?
<You could experiment... but I'd go with the fluoros>
What do you advise for a best situation to run this algal filter?
Tank specs:
120 g main tank, 30 g sump, one year in operation, no fish yet, lots of LPS (open brain, candy cane), Ricordea mushrooms, Zoanthus, one brittle star, one small Atlantic banded coral shrimp, five Mexican grazing snails,
five small blue-leg hermit crabs (snails and crabs added recently). Lots of little creatures from the live rock. Tunze 9005 skimmer in the sump, canister filter with carbon (changing 200 grams every 3-4 weeks), Kalk reactor and auto top off (most of the water is replaced with Kalkwasser).
Water flow from the sump at 4 ' head around 750 g/h, circulation using two Koralia 4 (according to the manufacturer 2400 g/h flow for both). Water change 10% of total volume weekly.
Best regards,
<And you, Bob Fenner>

New tank w/ refugium Hello WWM,<Hello, MikeB here.> Love your website, very helpful...I just set up a new tank (55g) w/ a refugium (29g) underneath.  The tank is cycling at the moment.  Set-up...about 50-60lbs of base rock, 5lbs of live rock, and a 5-6" DSB of very fine sugar aragonite sand in both tanks seeded w/ a cup of live sand in each tank.  I was wondering when do I put in my macro algae?<You could put it in the tank now if you want.  There is no set time as to when you put it in.  I usually do it once fish or live rock have been in the tank for at least a week.>  I have Chaetomorpha (very little about 1/4 cup) and razor Caulerpa (about a cup) in my quarantine tank that I'm waiting to put in the refugium.  Do I have to wait until the tank is cycled? <No, the algae will help with the cycling actually.> If not, how long should I leave the lights (standard 18" fluorescent) on for the macro algae? <I leave them on 24 hours a day but if you want to save on your electric bill leave them on opposite of the display tank.  Good luck MikeB> Thanks in advance. Ronald

RDP refugium and CO2 Hi, it's me again. I hope that everything is going well, sunny skies and all of that, it's cold as heck here.   I went ahead and set up the refugium last night, and I was re-reading the reply that you sent me and I was wondering...When you were talking about the reverse light cycle, I thought about something.  It will help the pH remain stable, true.  I was also thinking, "If the two were on a reverse light cycle, since plants become primary producers of co2 at night, would the main tank produce enough co2 to discontinue supplementation, and vice versa?  Or would I still need to do that? <good question my friend, but it is one that cannot be answered here  by Yes or No. I/you have no idea what the net demand is on your tank from the bio mass. We cannot say that if met now that the growth in either vessel will not continue to support the process. This is simply something you must monitor in your specific aquarium. Is you display filled with two one inch corals... or fifty (follow, my friend). A good question, again... but not possible for me to answer from this end of the computer. Do enjoy experimenting with it though <G>! Best regards, Anthony>

Sump Question Hi Bob, Long time no question. Haven't heard of you coming to the Dallas area for your beers yet... <Believe you me, I'm ready> Here's my setup and question. I have a 75 w/100 lbs LR, lots of mushrooms, a bubble coral etc, ocellaris, purple tang, flame angel etc. I am using an AMiracle SL150 as a sump with 5 lbs of LR. I am planning on putting some lettuce Caulerpa in the sump which is in my 32" high stand. <Good idea> I have two reasons for this. It would cut down on my nuisance algae, and would be a treat for my Angel and Tang. I have seen the new Custom Sealife power compact retrofit with SmartLamp intended for the Eclipse 3 and wonder what you think of this to light the inside of my stand for the Caulerpa. It's 55 watts of 1/2 8800K, 1/2 "ultra radiant actinic". I would bolt it to the underside of the top of the stand. How many hours a night do you think I should run this? Or do you have a better suggestion for lighting? <This should be mighty fine, and likely 24h/day or if not (second best) and alternate light/dark cyclicity with your main/display systems lighting> Thanks O' wise one. <Soitainly... You must mean wisenheimer!> Marty <Bob Fenner>

Sump I have a Sealife Systems Pro 75 trickle filter minus the bio balls for a sump, I use Caulerpa macro-algae in the bio balls place but I do not use a light above the filter and my Caulerpa is as green as when I bought it. What I was wondering is if this is okay or should I use the light for some specific reason? >> Only to boost photosynthesis... and all the consequent effects... If you're happy, satisfied with what you have... Bob Fenner

Lighting algal filters I have written to you before on my hair algae problem. you suggested getting some macro algae and placing it in the sump. could I get away with using just a florescent bulb on the sump or do I need something else? >> The fluorescent lamp lighting is perfect. A full spectrum type of lamp. And if the algae is Caulerpa, leave the light on continuously. Bob Fenner

Lighting for a sump Bob- I am installing a sump for my 58 gallon tank. Unfortunately I can not fit a 20 gallon tank underneath my stand because it is too wide. The only tanks I can fit underneath my stand are a 10 gallon and a 15 gallon. The 15 gallon tank is 18" high. I would like to keep live rock and culture Caulerpa in the sump but I am concerned about the height of the 15 gallon tank. Are there smaller power compacts that would suffice? Or should I use the 10 gallon tank that is only 12" high. On another note, what is the common name of Caulerpa racemosa and C. mexicana? Thank you, Rob >> If the fifteen will fit otherwise, do use it... twice as good as the ten, though only fifty percent larger... And yes, all sorts of small power compacts are now available ... we use some that come out of China all made up in hoods, with switches, cover plates... that are great... and come in all sizes...  C. racemosa's most common name is "Grape Caulerpa", and C. mexicana... Mexican Caulerpa. Bob Fenner

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