I thought for sure that I had updated this thread sometime in the last 7 month, but I guess not! Been busy with other tanks, and the owner didn't want to spend a lot of $$ this summer on it.
Since the last update, I did a 20% PWC
on 5/23 and added a filter sock (rotated the bio-ball tower to cover just 1 side of the intake), then did another 30% on 6/7. Nitrates were at 50 and Phos at 3. I had fought a good battle, but it seemed there was no way to keep them down below 50.
The snails were actually doing a pretty good job of mowing down the algae, but it was just growing too fast. I couldn't add a grazer because of the damsels (and the Nitrates!).
About that time, I stumbled on the Algal Turf Scrubber (ATS) and started making plans for that. Around the same time my RODI
went on the fritz and I had to wait for a new water softener, and went to Wal-Mart for Culligan RO
top-off water, so lots of big PWCs were off the table.
I changed out the filter sock about every 2-3 weeks, longer than I expected it to take to get dirty enough to need changing. But like I said, the owner was looking to keep the cost down, and he was really looking forward to the ATS.
The Nitrates went up above 100, so I did another 30% (40 gallons) on 9/6 and took these pics 3 days later:
As you can see, the GHA was starting to take over. The Nitrates got up above 100 again, and the algae was really starting to look bad.
I should have taken a set of pics before I cleaned it yesterday. I spent 4 hours and took all the rock out and scrubbed the GHA off, then gravel vac'd the entire bed. It was pretty gunky, I had to siphon off the top layer of all exposed gravel. Ended up with about 1 gallon's worth of gravel. I managed to only use 40 gallons of water.
Next post will have pics from today