Soylent Green? Algae Farming

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Martin Thoene
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Soylent Green? Algae Farming

Post by Martin Thoene » Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:59 pm

I finally decided last week to bite the bullet and set up one of my empty tanks as an experimental algae farm to grow algae on stones to feed Hillstream Loaches.
I know that others have been doing similar and decided my situation here makes it a somewhat easier task than for many others. I live in a penthouse apartment with a huge West-facing balcony. It gets masses of sun and there's a nice wall between the balconies which means I can put a tank in a relatively sheltered position in the North East corner which means it gets all the sun from the soth and west as it moves around.
When I first set up the 15"H x 16"L x 15"W tank we had sub-zero overnight temps, so I put in a heater to stop it freezing. I filled the tank with old tank water from my Clown tank. Added some algae wiped from the front of the 120 in the bedroom and various rocks with growths on from other tanks. Also put in some clean pieces of slate. I added a short air wand as someone said it would help gaseous exchange, plus I don't want the water stagnating.

Fertilizer would be good right? Added a few splashes of Hydroponic fertilizer that Momfish has used for years in planted tanks.....and a secret ingredient.

While back in England, I had a planted tank with no fish and with Momfish's encouragement via phone from Canada I tried an experiment based on a story she heard from the kid's Summer Camp. At the camp, all the girls used to swim in a small bay in the lake. It had luxuriant aquatic plant growth. One of the ladies in charge gets all "eco" on the girls and works out that if a certain percentage of them pee in the water while swimming, in a given time they are excreting a 50 gallon drum-full. So she places a blanket ban on peeing in the lake.
The plant growth died back drastically......go figure.

So my plant experiment worked quite well. I guess you could call it self-propelled :roll: Figured that it ought to work on algae, so using my self dispensing equipment I filled half a mug and threw that in. If you ever come round my place decline offers of tea or coffee :wink:

I added a second heater a few days later because the water still felt cold.
A few days later.......voila!

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Hubble-bubble toilet(?) trouble :)
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So today I lifted out a couple of stones and placed them into the main River-Tank....not bad growth eh?

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An inquisitive Aborichthys elongatus was the first to check them out.....

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Next came a hungry Pseudogastromyzon cheni......

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......who really got into it.......

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He was then joined by a Gastromyzon ocellatus (left) and one of my undescribed species Gastromyzon (top)
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The three of them were really going to town.......

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......inbetween minor altercations between themselves.

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......chomp, chomp, chomp.

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One of the UFO's checks out the other stone. As yet, none of them have really got serious with this one. The algae looks like another species.

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This species is really broad and blunt. If it keeps eating like this it will get broader!

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So, seems like the diners are satisfied with the recipe. Now I have to see how quickly I can get a rotation of stones going. Next diners to test this out will be the Sewellia. See what they think.

I'm going to pull that white stone out now and put it back in the farm. I'll take another pic in a few days to see how it regrows.

Martin.
Last edited by Martin Thoene on Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Image Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

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mikev
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Post by mikev » Thu Mar 30, 2006 9:10 pm

Very-very interesting, and great photos. 8)

I've been told that it is impossible to grow two types of algae at once, one will eventually displace the other (so I've seeded the new tank with the kind of algae known to be edible). If this theory is correct, you may be better off seeding the "farm" only with the type of algae known to be acceptable to the hillstreams...it should not matter too much if you put less algae in initially.

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Jim Powers
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Post by Jim Powers » Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:17 pm

They sure seem to like the results of your experiment. Must be the "secret ingredient" . :wink:

How long did it take to grow the algae and how long did it take for the fish to clean off the rocks?
I found an extra heater today and plan on trying this outside myself in a smaller tank. I did this inside before, but I like your results growing it outside, better. I plan on using an extra powerhead with its venturi for aeration and current. Hopefully, I'll get results like yours.
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Martin Thoene
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Post by Martin Thoene » Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:33 pm

Oh, pretty darned quick Jim....there's 10 minuites between those first two pics!

The rock was denuded by the time I took it out again. It took maybe a week to get that green, but the fertilizers only went in a few days ago. Now it's up and running, I can guage from this new clean rock going back in, plus I added some other fresh rocks today.

Go for it! You can always try it with the asparagus....it could be the wonder-drug :wink:

Martin.
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Mark in Vancouver
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Post by Mark in Vancouver » Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:54 pm

Oh, that's truly spectacular Martin. A classic LOL important post! This is magazine-worthy, but why bother wasting it on magazines, when it's free here on this forum.

I'm very impressed. I'd like to learn more from some source on the kinds of algae most useful to hillstream loaches - your loaches were clearly reaping the harvest, but I am ending up with reddish algaes and I don't know enough about them to "read" the signs. Clearly light intensity is the key, but how long do you leave the stones in the tank to gather that much algae? If we knew what the algae was, the project might benefit from simple adjustments.

Meanwhile, my hat is off once again, Mr. T.

Cheers for this! A delight!
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Jim Powers
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Post by Jim Powers » Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:54 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
I'm afraid that might run the fish off.
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Martin Thoene
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Post by Martin Thoene » Thu Mar 30, 2006 11:29 pm

Yes Mark, my tanks have mainly red algae. It seems to like the high O2, fast current environment. My very first River-Tank sprouted the stuff very quickly (look at the original design article pics).

http://www.loaches.com/river_tank.html

The funny thing is, although the fish actively graze over it, they do not rasp it off the rocks like this stuff.

I think that the right-hand stone in the pic was one of the red-covered ones I put in the test tank. Clearly it got greened over.

Martin.
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Gary Herring
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Post by Gary Herring » Fri Mar 31, 2006 7:33 am

Pee! Are you taking the p**s?!?! :shock:
Im sort of thinking about trying it out in my algae tank, but i dont know wether i've got the bottle to! I think i'll stick to my tried and tested formula just for now. Actually your algae seems very simular in colour and constitution to what i produce, and my fish go absolutly nuts for it too. I grow mine in a 15"x8" tank and it produces easily enough to feed my nine loaches with it every other day, so its pretty quick growth when it gets going.

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Martin Thoene
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Post by Martin Thoene » Fri Mar 31, 2006 12:17 pm

Gary, if you don't have the bottle, I can send you one......filled :wink:

When I get back home, I'll see what they did to the other rock and post a pic.

Continued updates to follow...............

Martin.
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Martin Thoene
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Post by Martin Thoene » Fri Mar 31, 2006 5:12 pm

Today's report......

Before.....

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After.......

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Pretty efficient job they did. I call this a successful try-out. Now I have to see the recovery time for these rocks. Today is cloudy with rain.

OK, (EDIT) @ 5:20pm.....just put this 8" x 6" piece of slate in the Sewellia tank. Let's see how they do with that. Right now, they all ran and hid.

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Martin.
Last edited by Martin Thoene on Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Martin Thoene
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Post by Martin Thoene » Fri Mar 31, 2006 7:13 pm

Update report from Algae Experiment News......photos from 6:10pm....

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles......Tracks Of My Dears.....

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So Sewellia like it too!

9:35pm......they really did a number on it!

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Martin.
Last edited by Martin Thoene on Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Graeme Robson
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Post by Graeme Robson » Sat Apr 01, 2006 8:49 am

Superb work, Martin. :D Induced breeding techniques may be on the cards. If not! Then a full stomach all round is certain one way or another.

Graeme.
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Martin Thoene
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Post by Martin Thoene » Sat Apr 01, 2006 11:44 am

Put another stone in the Sewellia tank from the algae farm. Momfish sent me a link to a very interesting article:

http://www.americanscientist.org/templa ... etid/47358

You have to figure there's a lot more going on here than just algae. So all sorts of factors might lead to a more complete natural diet for these fish. Read the article and then look at this new picture. See if you just perceive algae........

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The fish like it, whatever's in there.

Martin.
Last edited by Martin Thoene on Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Hendra
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Post by Hendra » Sat Apr 01, 2006 11:55 am

Really nice job, Martin !! 8)
Image so many fishes Imageso little time

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tglassburner
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Post by tglassburner » Tue Apr 03, 2007 1:53 pm

Thanks for another great idea Martin, I'm starting this when I get home.
Hi, my name is Tom, and I'm a loachaholic.

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