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Friday, 29 March 2013

JBL ProFlora Bio 160

My woes with my planting situation on my Lido 120 freshwater tank have continued on for several weeks now and i have not managed to pin down “why” it is happening.

Speaking to the owner of my LFS, he asked if i dose CO2 to the aquarium. I did in the past with a TMC system, but that proved to be slightly poor and unreliable, so i removed it from the aquarium with the intention to one day install a pressurised CO2 system once the Reef tank has its supply rigged up for the calcium reactor… two birds with one stone…

In the mean time i have used Seachem Flourish Excel to provide a carbon substitute and it seemed to work wonders on the tank. Despite me not keeping the most exotic of plant life. What i do keep in the tank, has grown like lightning.

I have recently stopped using Excel and changed to EasyLife EasyCarbo as it worked out a great deal cheaper and looked to serve the same purpose. I'm wondering if this change has been one of the major issues and the EasyCarbo is not as good or effective as Excel? This is something i will certainly look at going back to if the problems persist and does not get any better.

Dave at my LFS suggested that a deficiency in CO2 saturation and carbon, due to using a different product may be a key factor to the plants receding so badly. Also with them disappearing, the algae blankets i am now getting on the substrate may be the product of elevated phosphate and nitrate levels due to there being no, or at least heavily reduced, nutrient competition.

We decided another go at CO2 dosing would be a worthy test. But seeing as i don't have he pressurised system in place, it was suggested to try the biological method of using a yeast and sugar based reaction to produce CO2 gas.

I have watched several videos and read How-To guides on constructing such a system, however JBL produce a nice bio-CO2 generator for around £35, which gives you all you need including a decent in-tank diffuser.

For the cost, it was easily worth a shot…

12-JBL ProFlora Bio 160-011

The kit is very simple, comprising of the following…

  • The Taifun S diffuser
  • 2x Refill kits for the two part bio system
  • A large clear container that serves as the reactor
  • A “Thermal Sleeve” (the black thing on the right)
  • A couple of meters of tubing (not shown)
  • A one way valve (not shown)
  • Instructions and various fittings.

02-JBL ProFlora Bio 160-001

The Thermal Sleeve serves the purposes of holding the reaction chamber…

03-JBL ProFlora Bio 160-002

It can be mounted inside a cabinet or attached the glass of the aquarium where it uses residual heat from the aquarium to keep the chamber warm, which aids the CO2 creation.

JBL advise the latter.

I have a slight advantage as a radiator is right alongside the aquarium, which will help provide adequate heating. I used the supplied sticky strips and secured to the glass along side the Juwel internal filter. Also in an ideal situation, the heater is of course stored in the same rear corner.

05-JBL ProFlora Bio 160-004

The bio mixture refill kits come in two parts. A large bag marked A which contains some form of sugar solution, and a small packet marked B which contains a few grams of yeast.

These refills are good for up to 40 days, and separate ones can be bought once you have run out. As said previously. The kit comes with two refills. Enough for around two and a half months.

07-JBL ProFlora Bio 160-007

These two pouches are added to the chamber…

08-JBL ProFlora Bio 160-008

Followed by topping it up to a marker with warm water…

09-JBL ProFlora Bio 160-009

The chamber is then returned to the sleeve and the pipework attached from the union on the top, through the one way valve and to the diffuser that needs placing inside the aquarium with a reasonable amount of flow passing around it…

13-JBL ProFlora Bio 160-012

14-JBL ProFlora Bio 160-013

10-JBL ProFlora Bio 160.02

I positioned the diffuser under the Nano 900 power head i have in the tank, which allows a bit of regulation of how vigorous the flow is around the diffuser itself.

11-Daily FTS Lido 120.25

As you can see. The plant life looks dire compared to how it did a while back, it was like a jungle playground for the fish!

The biological reaction takes a couple of days to really get going, and the first bubbles you see are mainly plain old air being pushed through in lieu of the CO2 arriving. I have found its ideal warm spot has been ideal too.

Eventually the bubbles started coming quickly, around 2 per second. And you can tell they are CO2 as they spiral around the diffuser they get increasingly smaller, compared to the air bubbles that didnt.

The bubble production also definitely slow down when the room cools, probably by half. A bonus as this mainly happens at night when its better to limit the CO2 input as they plants are not photosynthesising.

I wouldn't say the plant life has exploded back into a rich dense forest again over night, but i have definitely noticed, new and strong growth from the remaining stumps and the rhizome of the Java Fern. So it does genuinely feel like an improvement has been made.

I have since added a pH probe to the installed Apex controller (which i will elaborate on soon) which has shown my pH to seem quite high for the KH value currently maintained. Around 7.6 on average. Not too detrimental to life, but would indicate a low CO2 count.

I have also added a new CO2 constant checker, to try and keep a better visual check on, again i will post soon again about this device. Worryingly (sort of) it shows i am seriously deficient on CO2, but also expected!

I'm not sure the bio-CO2 will have the power to get to an ideal level and maintain it, but at least there is “some” in there, rather than the previous none.

I have also recently noticed that the blanket algae appears to be less belligerent despite me siphoning it out every weekend. Could this point to the plant life metabolising the CO2 and taking up the nutrients before the algae.

Time will tell for now.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Neptune Systems Apex - Lunar Sim Module (LSM)

At one point i had an Interpet blue LED strip working in my freshwater tank to provide a little moonlight cover for extended viewing after the main lighting period. I have also always found that having the moonlights come on just before the main lights power down, seems to help stop the fish jumping as they suddenly go out.

Sadly, despite the price i paid, the Interpet unit began to fail on me. Mainly the plastic casing seemed to tarnish over and went brown on the insides. The LEDs still worked but gave out hardly any light at all in the end, so it has been removed and the tank has been without night time light supplement for a while.

Wanting a bit of moonlight back into the tank, i acquired the Lunar Sim Module (LSM) for the now installed Apex controller.

1-Neptune Systems Apex Lunar Sim Module LSM.18

I went with a 3 LED setup in the hope that it will be sufficient for the Lido 120.

The LSM, as with all other Apex gear, is blissfully simple to add into an existing setup.

Attach the USB (AquaBus) cable… plug the LED loop in… done…

In test, dumped on the floor next to the tank…

2-Neptune Systems Apex Lunar Sim Module LSM.36

After a second or two, the indictor light flashes yellow a few times, then goes green after registering itself with the base unit and dropping onto a default outlet setup that works alongside the Season Table.

Again, brilliant, nothing has to be done by the user to configure the unit… it “just works”.

Of course the LEDs then powered up…

3-Neptune Systems Apex Lunar Sim Module LSM.14

For an easy solution, some electrical grade double sided tape was applied to each of the LED modules…

4-Neptune Systems Apex Lunar Sim Module LSM.32

And attached to the underside of the Juwel covers, one at the front, two at the back…

5-Neptune Systems Apex Lunar Sim Module LSM.50

Followed by a bit of wire routing and tidying up, that was pretty much it. Around 10 minutes to install. Took me longer to find the tie-wraps and sticky tape!

6-Neptune Systems Apex Lunar Sim Module LSM.21

And i now have a nice deep blue glow for the evenings and early mornings.

Picture looks terrible i admit. Its a bit of a struggle as the sofa is in the way for getting in front of it.

I opted to not use the Season Table as i want the moonlights to coincide with the main lights going on and off. Using the Table doesn't really pose any advantage to me as its a purely aesthetic thing.

This is my program…

1-LSM Programming

The LEDs ramp up from 0 - 100% over 1 hour, then stay on for 35minutes. The main lights come on at 12:00 o’clock so there is a 5 minute over lap.

They then shut down for the day before coming back on 5 minutes before the main lights go off, stay at full intensity of 30 minutes then ramp back down to zero, before going off completely for the night.

There are of course provisions in there to power them off if the Feed Pause’s are launched. This is mainly to stop me or somebody else getting an eyeful of the front mounted LED when the covers are opened for feeding.

Following is the MoonUp profile, the MoonDown is just the opposite in the Start and End intensity's.

1-Apex LSM Profile

The LSM is quite an expensive add-on for just a moonlight, but it really does give a very nice effect and doesn't loose you a socket on the Energy Bar or extension lead as its solely powered from the AquaBus USB system.

Of course all the usual Apex ease of use and controllability are built into it for the most hard-core of control freaks!

The LEDs are not the most powerful and with there only being three of them, they don't give any shimmer effect and are generally lost in the midst of the light coming from the T5 tubes. If you want shimmer, then you will need something with a little more grunt.