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Old 11-10-2005, 06:57 PM   #1
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I'm getting a diatom filter

I've been having trouble with green water in my 58 gal for about three weeks. I believe that it was caused by an overly-aggressive cleaning on my part. I had done a serious gravel vac - moving the driftwood and rocks to get the insane amount of pleco poop underneath. This stirred up alot of crap and prompted me to rinse off the fiber pad in my cannister filter. Obviously, this put something seriously out of kilter.

I had a grayish haze - probably a bacterial bloom - for a few days followed by the green algae bloom. Water parameters are great (0ppm NH3, 0ppm NO2, 0 ppm NO3), although usually, my nitrates are 5 - 10 ppm. Since I've had the green algae bloom, the spot and black brush algae completely disappeared. The live plants and fish haven't looked better.

I've tried reducing feeding and the photoperiod. No luck. I stepped up the frequency and amount of my water changes to twice a week and 75%. No luck. Two days after a 75% water change, the green haze reappears.

I've read that a diatom filter clears up green water 100% of the time, and usually, once it's gone, it's gone for good. So, I'm gonna suck it in and lay out the cash for a diatom filter.

Here are my choices:
Vortex Diatom Filter D-1 $79.99 150 GPH
Vortex Freedom Diatom Filter $99.99 150 GPH; has recharge valve
Vortex Diatom Filter- XL $99.99 400 GPH

Does anybody have experience with any of these filters?
How long does it take to clean a 58 gal?
Is charging and cleaning them as much as a PITA as I have been led to believe?
Is the strong current a problem for most fish?
How do you protect small fish from the intake?
How do you store the filter between use?

thanks!
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Old 11-10-2005, 09:26 PM   #2
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Andy, I'm sorry but this thread just cracked me up. Especially the part about about your fish never looking better. Ain't it the truth?

As everyone who knows me knows............I'm a proponent of the diatom filter. I use mine almost weekly on all of my tanks. It doesn't make a difference which one you get for 1 or 2 tanks of your size. More than likely, 45 minutes will do the trick. The fish are unaffected by the water flow (even discus). I would never use it in a fry tank but most adults are fine with it.

I've also discovered that PO4 will allow this single cell algae to proliferate. I recently cured a 55g just by adding some phosguard. I couldn't use the diatom because the outbreak was in my pleco fry tank.

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Old 11-10-2005, 09:44 PM   #3
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I had this same thing happen to me in my 37g, but in my case there was absolutely nothing that I did differently to cause it. I was maintaining the tank like I always do and one day it just started getting that telltale haze, and you know the rest.

My solution was a UV filter, since I did not feel like fooling with the diatom powder, etc. Lori sold me hers, and I plumbed it inline with my canister filter. It worked in about 36 hours - crystal clear water, clearer than it ever was. Now I just run it occasionally, but it is always there when I need it - I just flip the switch.

Some LFS will rent diatom filters, if you want to look into that, since hopefully this will be a one-time use sort of situation. Good luck, and welcome to the esteemed Green Water Club!
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Old 11-10-2005, 09:55 PM   #4
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Thanks Brian!
Yeah, the fish look fantastic through the haze. Aside from the green murkiness, I'll bet that water is more pristine than it's ever been - it's being scrubbed clean by all that algae, and with all those water changes, only 6% is remaining after a week.

I remember your pleco fry tank. I'm going to try the phosgard first (way cheaper than a diatom filter) and see if that helps.

You say that you use the diatom filter once a week. What do you do to prevent nasty stuff from growing in it while it's not in use? Simple rinse and dry?
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Old 11-10-2005, 10:03 PM   #5
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Well as TG says it is a royal PITA until you get adept at using it. I reuse the powder until it gets so brown or green that impedes the flow. Then I empty, rinse, and start all over again. In other words I never simply empty it and rinse it out while the diatomaceous powder is still effective. I attach the outflow to the intake with the water and powder still in it until I'm ready to use it again.

Try the phosguard first. It worked very well for me.
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Old 11-10-2005, 10:42 PM   #6
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I did not have any luck with phosguard, but my tap water has very high phosphate. Interestingly, this tank is the only one in 20+ years of fishkeeping to ever have greenwater.

One sortof cool thing (if you appreciate such things) is to test for nitrate while you have greenwater - most likely dead, flat zero! Like you say, that algae is doing a great job of munching up nutrients.
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Old 11-11-2005, 03:03 AM   #7
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I use a Diatom filter. I run it occasionally after water changes, if I have stirred things up. Also after adding new fish or plants, just in case I use the Marineland H.O.T magnum and the micron filter. I then "seed" the filter with diatom powder.
This unit works great... reliable, easy to clean and maintain. Plus it is fairly versatile. I can hook my gravel vac to it an use it for thorough cleaning. Or on the occasion I need to run activated carbon (say to remove medications), the micron filter comes out and the unit also came with a basket to put the media of your choice into.
To seed the filter, I hang the unit on the tank and turn it on. I then get a giant cup (king sized cup from burger king in fact) which I put over the intake and outflow, so the filter is just recirulating the water in the cup. I then pour 1/4 cup of the Diatom powder in the cup and run it like that for 10 minutes, until the water is clear in the cup. I remove the cup and run the filter until water is barely dribling out of it. Let it run as long as you can, the slower teh flow, the smaller the particles that are being filtered.

I had looked at those ones you listed when i was shopping for mine. I talked about them with the owner of a trusted LFS. He was the one who pointed me to the HOT magnum. Best part is it is cheaper than the ones you listed.
for the full kit: which includes the gravel vac, and even a bio wheel. $62.99
http://www.bigalsonline.com/catalog/...d1=2885;pcid2=

or for just the basic unit: $44.99
http://www.bigalsonline.com/catalog/...d1=2885;pcid2=

The diatom powder you can buy at home depot at $8 for like 50lbs (that is more than you will ever need). It is also used for swimming pool filters.
I originally bought the Diatom filter to deal with green water (and have never had green water since). At 250 gph it took one full day to go from yuk to "omg I did not know an aquarium could be so clear"

To answer your questions directly:
How long does it take to clean a 58 gal? at 250 gph I cleared my 55gallon in 24 hours.

Is charging and cleaning them as much as a PITA as I have been led to believe? Not hard at all, I describe seeding the filter above, and the Magnum is very easy to clean. Everthing rinses off. If you use enough diatom powder the filter stays like new. If the filter gets dirty because you did not put enough in, then you have to soak it in bleach for a couple days.

Is the strong current a problem for most fish? The outflow is adjustable on mine, I usually point it toward teh side of the tank. The current quickly slows as the diatomite does its job.

How do you protect small fish from the intake? Mine has a basket, only fry would be in danger. Once I was running it without a basket and I did not notice I had sucked up an adult female swordtail (I was using it as a gravel vac). The unit seemd clogged, and I was real surprised when I opened it and found her in ther, none too much the worse for wear I might add.

How do you store the filter between use? In the box it came in, no special precautions. I do double bag the diatomite to avoid any messes.
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Old 11-11-2005, 07:02 AM   #8
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That's great information Zezmo. You've apparently got this down to a science. I believe it's also possible to run the H O T Magnum 24/7? Hmmm. I may have to rethink some things.

I use the largest vortex because I've 11 tanks. Two of them being 125g. The jar is so large that it can run for a few hours before it clogs. Typically I'll run it for 20 to 45 minutes per tank. I've found it to be extremely effective.

To save time which is always a consideration for me, I leave the Vortex primed for it's next use. While it is still running, I connect the outflow to the intake tube under water. This allows me to move it to the next tank without starting the priming process all over again. I leave the tubes connected and turn the filter on until all of the powder has adhered to the micron filter. Then I disconnect the tubes under the water and I'm polishing.

The drawback to leaving water in the tubing is that it tends to make the tubing buttery soft. To the point that I once turned the unit on and blew the tubing off the motor housing. What a mess! Two 79 cent metal clamps solved that problem.
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Old 11-12-2005, 03:43 AM   #9
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I have to second TG's mention of a UV sterelizer.
Why just filter the algae when you can kill it?
Rent or borrow... Heck buy one use it and return it with a lame excuse...
Then hook up the UV sterelizer and just about never worry about suspended algae ever again.
And you have the additional advantage of killing of any little nasties.
Transfer it to a qaurantine tank when needed to zap anything your new acquisition might be carrying that gets in the water column.
You'll get more use out of the UVS for your buck$$$

Just my $0.02
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Old 11-12-2005, 10:31 AM   #10
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UV is good for killing algae and all that stuff. But you still have to get the "stuff" out of the water. Personally I have the Diatom/Micron filter and an in-line UV.
I strive to balance water, fish, plants, and chemistry to give me an algae/disease free tank. But I would like to think that a little technological advantage gives me a wider margin for error. With the UV running every night, and the DE filter I run ever couple weeks for about 2-3 days. Or like right now, I recently moved a couple fish from Q-tank to main tank. So I have had the UV and the DE running for about a week just in case. In a week I have had to clean the magnum and then add new DE to it once, and it is ready for it again today. That took about 15 minutes. So it seems it takes about 3-4 days for it to slow to a trickle flow.
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