Plan, do, review part two
AsleepInYorkshire wrote:Today we have assembled for the first test run of the new system. A dry, wet run if you like. Complete success. We are now ready to complete our mission. On Saturday under the spotlights at the rear of our daughters room we will commence drilling . We will drill a 16mm diameter hole through the masonry between her room and the downstairs toilet. Through which will travel a small length of garden hose. The hose will connect to a dual tap connector (by Hozelock). Said controller will be inside the vanity unit under the sink. One part connected to the newly installed washing machine drainage hose waste (installed by yours truly) and the other to the new "inline" washing machine valve (installed courtesy of the plumber).
I'll keep this bit short. I hit a water pipe
. I asked my better half and daughter to pop to the local DIY store to collect a couple of compression joints, whilst I knocked out a space around the damaged pipe to repair it. I hit the hot water feed to the radiator next
But worse was to come. My back was in real agony
. It's becoming evident that my age and sedentary lifestyle are catching up with me.
I won't bore you with all the other detail ... but thought you would enjoy the confessions of a drill crazed idiot
Needless to say that I have now instigated a recovery programme and the plan, albeit delayed will succeed.
It occurred to me in a moment of clarity (One of which I have far less often than I need) that the nitrogen cycle is actually something I could interpret in a simple mathematical equation.
Fish produce ammonia. Ammonia builds up in the closed environment and ultimately kills the fish. Which is where the filter comes in. In simple terms the filter breaks the ammonia down. But ... it's a little more complicated. I hasten to add not as complicated as missing all the copper pipes in a wall when drilling with a 16mm masonry bit The Nitrogen Cycle (Simplified)
- Ammonia is broken down by aerobic bacteria into
- Nitrites which in turn are broken down by aerobic bacteria into
- Nitrates which are broken down by anaerobic bacteria into nitrogen gas
The "Holy Grail" of fish-keeping is to be able to remove nitrates. Which can be done by
- Planting the aquarium - plants use nitrates to grow
- Water changes
My daughters aquarium is very heavily planted. And to help with the plant growth are
- LED synthesised light suitable for photosynthesis
- Carbon dioxide infused into the water
- Trace mineral fertilisers
Plant growth is excellent. So much so that the plants need trimming about once a month. Which we do together when there's a 50% water change scheduled.
Here's where my maths mind began to speculate. I postulated (as I do too often) that if I have "one bacteria" then it will have to work twice as hard as "two bacteria". Essentially the more bacteria the more the elements of the nitrogen cycle would be removed. I called up my mate, Google and discussed this in some depth.
Turns out I'm not the only mathematician in town. The "Holy Grail" hunters in the fish-keeping world have gone ahead of me. They have identified the weakness of filtering water. Over time nitrates build up and reach toxic levels in the fish tank. Anaerobic bacteria breakdown nitrates. And these little guys are particularly difficult to keep in the sort of numbers needed to remove all the nitrates in a tropical fish tank. Which [in part] dictates the need to change water.Pimp the FilterPlan, do, review
My daughters filter is a Fluval FX4. It moves 2,600L per hour or about 8 times the amount of water in the fish tank. And we've decided we're going to "pimp" it. Today we've added a "booster" to the filter. A simple plastic cannister costing £20. It's full of "mechanical filters", coarse, medium and fine. There is no biological filtering occurring in this cannister. It simply removes the solid materials. What this does, in theory, is allow the mechanical filters in the FX4 to be removed and replaced with biological filtering mediums. This is where the maths kicks in - "more bacteria" allows a higher level of nitrate removal and subsequently reduces the need for water changes.
It gets better from here. The medium currently in the FX4 is a ceramic based medium. It's "adequate". But it's possible there's better out there. So tomorrow I will order some Biohome Ultimate medium. It's not cheap. It's sold as having certain advantages over the competition. It has trace minerals in to help plant growth. Which makes a huge amount of sense. If it does what it says on the tin then it will remove so much nitrate from the water that plant growth will be affected negatively. Biohome claims to have a much larger surface area per kg than it's rivals. It claims that 1kg (at a cost of approx. £15/kg) will clean 100L of water in a moderately populated tank. In a heavily populated tank that doubles. We think we will have a moderately populated tank but we can now fill our FX4 with 5kg's of Biohome which is sufficient for a heavily populated tank.
Biohome comes with no guarantees but it's anticipated lifespan is much greater than its rivals. Some you tube video's have claimed 10-15 years.
The plan is to improve the removal of nitrates from the water and reduce the need for water changes. It will also reduce maintenance inside the FX4 filter too and if we add a very fine mechanical filter to the "booster" cannister it may "polish" the water even further.
We don't anticipate or expect to stop changing the water. But we do think if the plan comes to fruition that water changes will reduce significantly to something in the order of 25% every two weeks. The amount of maintenance on the contents of the FX4 should fall to virtually nothing dependent upon the life expectancy of the[Biohome] medium. The mechanical filter will need frequent changes about once a month, but this should amount to no more than 20 minutes work.
To the best of my knowledge I will not need to drill any more holes in any walls or the like. My credibility whilst damaged may recover if the "Pimp the Filter" plan proves successful.