Aquatic Plant Forum banner
1 - 20 of 29 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
Honestly, the more I think about having the water move in a laminar pattern the more I think we maybe on to something.

The idea is to involve as many waste particles in the water movement. A laminar flow does seem to literally pull particles off the bottom and from any surface. Shrimp and otocinclus can only help suspend them.

I really liked that you make a serious point of the difference in the short and long term. I do not know if our ideas about laminar flow having more "cleaning power" are really true. But definitely the results will be seen in the long term.

Also the fact that with laminar flow we may not need pump to move 8-10 times the tank volume per hour. ADA's filter for the 180 gallon tank is moving only 3 times the tank volume an hour! How can that be the standard filter suggested by ADA? You are telling me that in my 180 gallon tank I can put a 460 gph pump and filter it fine? No way! Except maybe if the flow was laminar... Or if the tank was a very open aquascape with only carpet plants.

http://www.adana.com.my/products/filter_system.htm

This is getting exciting (despite the formulas) :D.

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
This discussion may seem pretty hard to read or even useless to someone. But I assure you - this, and a few other topics published here in the last several days, are things that we should have known 10 years ago. It would have propelled this hobby to a new level back then. At least something is moving now. So please check these posts when they are updated. The information found here cannot be found anywhere else. And it will probably change a lot in the way we setup planted tanks. This is only the beginning of something new. It will take a long time to establish itself.

So, to give you a simple visual impression of why we started discussing water flow rates and flow types I will remind you that most of us intuitively believe that the more flow you have the better you are removing the dirt from your tank. We also believe that the more jets you have scattered around the tank the better - they all move the water from a gazillion angles and the dirt has no place to hide. We have all seen (and some of us designed and used) elaborate manifolds placed under the gravel, Koralias all over, spraybars in every position imagineable and so on.






On the other hand ADA uses a very simple and elegant solution. Sorry for the repetition, we have all seen a Lily pipe, but here it is - the same thing every single time:


So it is logical to wonder what is it that ADA knows and does that we, as a community, don't.

By closely looking at the operation the Lily pipe a few things jumped out. That is what is discussed in this and the other recent threads about filtration.

This post is meant to give you a visual impression of why we discuss these topics. Here's another visual - this time maybe hitting close to home. I believe many of us can literally look at their tank(s) right now and see what I'm talking about:

Yesterday I did a water change in my big tank and scrubbed a little alage from the Manzanita wood. Fine dust from the soft Manzanita blew everywhere, but I did not think much of it.

Today, a day later, I looked at the completely clear water in the tank. Yes the water is perfectly clear but there were still suspended particles of the Manzanita floating everywhere. In my effort to see if these are microbubbles of air or actual Manzanita dust I observed the particles for some time. I noticed that:

1. The particles were brown (so they were.. and are... wood)
2. The particles never settle! They dance around inside invisible boundaries! Endless suspension! I tracked one bigger particle and I saw that it moved around inside an area measuring about 10 sq. inches. It never settled, it never went to the filter, it just kept moving around. Along with thousands if it's finer siblings.

In that 180 ga. tank I have 3 Koralias, 2 filter outflows, and a HOB micron filter. Flow is about 1800 actual gph. But they are not enough to move all the particles into the filter. On the other hand they provide the tiny particles with opprtunities to be ground down to waste having an immense surface area. Wow!

Look at your tank. If you notice suspended particles that just dance around and never go anywhere you need to continue reading the posts about filtration and laminar flow. What you have is a nice factory for organics, waste and ever growing surface area of the trash you are recirculating and tumbling around.

Many people that have nice clean tanks will say that they are just fine with the water movement setup they have. But that doesn't mean that things cannot be streamlined and improved. ADA uses only about 450 gph of flow in their 180 gal. tanks. Try that with a nice big Eheim filter and you will fail. ADA has success with such a setup because they do things differently than what we know and believe.

Keep reading. Please.

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
Phil, I leave you on your own here. Niko has left the building.

Some New Jersey or something guy in another thread got to me. Hope he doesn't respond to what I posted or PM me.

Right now I could care less if anyone is interested in knowing more about this hobby.

From now on my post will be as exciting as this:



--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
Well, looking in the mirror, I have to say I do like my pouty face. But tonight I stumbled on something that everyone involved in the freshwater hobby must hear.

Especially if you are in the planted tank side of the freshwater hobby. And especially if you think Amano is a genius or just a clever marketer of cool looking glass filter pipes.

Here: A discussion on a reef forum about water flow and how it affects a saltwater aquarium. Started in 2006:

http://www.zeovit.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8740&page=2

On page 2 there are two things that hit close to home:

1. "...turbulence disrupts the boundary layer at the surface of a coral (facilitating higher nutrient uptake rates)..."

2. "...turbulence has the ability to transiently concentrate stuff in the water column..."

That tells us, planted aquarium folk, that we should know more about laminar/turbulent flow and how they affect our planted aquariums. It also tells us that we are way behind in our understanding of how the water should move in our planted tanks. Nice, eh?

From what I know abot the way ADA sets up their water flow they do try to avoid too much turbulence. I cannot say they are trying to achieve perfect laminar flow. But for sure the design of the Lily pipe now seems much more elaborate than I ever thought. I maybe way off in my thinking.

But we cannot deny that if the type of water flow has the ability to "facilitate nutrient intake" and "concentrate stuff in the water column" in a reef tank then we got to know how it all works in a planted tank.

It certainly feels like we are on to something new here.

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
And please look at Jake Adam's articles titled "Water flow is more important for corals than light." parts I and II.

Freshwater plants are not corals, but once again - what do we know about flow, light, nutrition, and particles in our tanks.

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
Did you see the description of Gyres (aquariums with very prominent unidirectional water flow) in one of Jake Adam's articles? Basically you put a piece sheet plastic in the middle of the tank. Either horizontally (like a shelf) or vertically (like a wall). Then you pump water only on one side of the shelf or wall. That creates a very pronounced flow going one way.

http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2007/1/aafeature

A horizontal gyre certainly makes me think of the way the water flows with a typical ADA Lily pipe setup.





All that information is about reef tanks and corals. As I understand from the article with a Gyre setup you can actually create a lot of water movement with very little power (with a weak pump). The water gains momentum as it seems, similar to rocking a swing I guess. Maybe that's why ADA suggests a filter that moves only 2.5x the 180 gallon tank volume per hour - the dimensions of the tank are somehow optimal for the water to gain momentum with even a smaller pump. ADA suggest faster turnover rate in their smaller tanks.

In any case - this laminar/turbulent flow discussion is in place for reef tanks. Plants have got to differ in some way and definitely there is something to learn here.

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
Someting else that has been "gyrating" in my head the last 2 days;

If you have to sweep the floor and there is a lot of very fine dust you are really better off moving the broom slower and using smoother sweeping motion. Fast movements make the dust airborne and are counterproductive.

Seems to me that the fine particles in an aquarium would be collected more efficiently if you don't swirl them around, making them fly all over the place. Also when the particles float around they grind or fall apart and turn into even smaller particles.

Since I too agree that complete laminar flow is impossible in an aquarum because of obstructions and maybe the square shape I start to think that the goal is to have both laminar and unidirectional flow. Laminar so the particles do not get banged around and grind themselves into smaller pieces. And unidirectional so the particles are constantly moved toward the filter intake - both pushed or pulled toward it. Like this:

Phil pointed out to me that the ADA intake is not only situated a little below the middle of the tank, but not close to the substrate but also it has a wide "intake" area. According to him that aids the water in maintaining it's flow as close to laminar as possible. Basically the Outtake shoots in an almost almost laminar fanning pattern close to the surface of the water, and the intake "pulls" in a wide pattern - the result is forming a "U" shaped flow that engages particles from the bottom and lifts them.

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
There are 2 things about the flow that are pretty apparent if you have seen how the Lily pipe works in real life:

1. The flow pattern of the water coming out of the Lily pipe is like a fan. A fan spead under the surface of the water. Flat side up.

2. The water flow along the bottom is actually going up as it gets close to the intake. Now the fan is turned sideways - with the flat part toward the front glass. Because the water flow is going under an angle toward the intake, particles are lifted from the bottom.



That explanation certainly sounds like overthinking. But it may explain why ADA places the pipes close to the front of the tank - because there is at least some degree of "water flow twisting" that could be involving water+ particles from the back of the tank.

If that is really how it all works I'd say it's pretty ingenious - and implemented in such an elegant way.

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
Tonight I have single handedly discovered one of Amano's secrets. Yes, no exageration. It's called "a gyre". Read on:

I just re-read Jake's article and here's what I think needs to be noted:

"..In order to maximize the output of water flow equipment, aquarists should design water movement systems so that all the components work together to minimize resistance and move the entire water mass of the aquarium. The best way to combine the energy of moving water to produce maximum water motion for an aquarium is to encourage the formation of a circular course of water movement called a gyre. Like the wheel, a gyre takes advantage of feedback mechanisms which preserve momentum by minimizing resistance. An aquarium gyre somewhat resembles a conveyor belt of water movement and it is characterized by mostly laminar, unidirectional flow..."

The placement of the ADA Lily pipe and intake certainly are following that advice!

--> The pipes are in the front of the tank, where the flow is not restricted (minimal resistance + preservation of momentum).

--> The pipes form a "circular course... called a gyre."

--> The pipes "work together to... move the entire water mass of the aquarium..."

And note this: "...An aquarium gyre ...is characterized by mostly laminar, unidirectional flow..."

Phil and I invented the wheel a week or so ago! We figured out these very things. Well known already.

I feel smarter than ever before! But I do believe that there is a benefit from all that comotion - eventually we will know more about how to make planted tanks more predictable. Hopefully.

Certainly makes me eager to make my own "gyre". I bet the explanation for all this is somewhere in numerous Japanese publications. It is beyond me why we here in the US, as a community, have never had access to these things. Or could it be that we never had interest?

Well, anyway, now we know a little more.

(A combination of EI and a gyre has got to be an explosive concoction worth mixing! I have a strong suspicion that Tom Barr knew that years ago!)

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
This link:

http://www.ukaps.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=11056

Contains a discussion that has a lot to do with what we are discussing here. Funny enough that thread was started on my birthday.

I don't see these guys talking about laminar/turbulent flow. Just flow rate and also relationships with other factors.

Because it's impossible to say that higher flow is always, every single time, better there are a lot of opinions. As I type this I have a 55 gallon tank that grows all sorts of plants. 54 watts of light, and cicrulation of about 30 gph. That tank never has any issues - CO2 or no-CO2, water changes or not. I have to remove handfulls of plants from it every 45 days or so. I never fertilize.

But once again - that's a case of "this works for me and I don't know why". What I'd like us to find is what works every time and we have more answers to issues.

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
Because the ideas kept coming Phil decided to make a separate thread with a more civilized title -this one. I still update the other thread. Both of them are in the DFWAPC sub-forum and that's an order good enough for me.

If one is interested in the topic of flow impoving their planted tank they will put the "effort" and find where the information is.

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
That was very intresting! I knew that once the flow is not turbulent there will be things that are not intuitive. I thought along the lines of the flow "pulling" particles from everywhere. But I never thought that the "U shape" of the flow would be the same vertically and horizontally. And on top of that - wherever you move the Lily pipe setup.

At this point I don't know if we are noticing things that Amano himself has not noticed. As I just described in the other thread after talking to Luis today it seemed to me that the original design and placement of the Lily Pipe and intake were as they are because of the CO2.

But we can't deny the venturi action, the aeration function, the surface scum sucking ability, and the flow that seems to really, really make sense in every dimension. On top of that the glassware looks way better than any plastic piping we know.

I'd say that now the question is not if we can create laminar flow, but "Can we create directional flow that does not allow particles to linger in the water column, distributes the CO2 well, and does not leave stagnant areas?"

It's pretty amazing how the Japanese have solved all of that (and more) with the Lily pipe.

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
One more observation about good flow and (pretty surprising) plant health:

In this tank:
http://www.aquatic-plants.org/gallery/javafern55

I had a lot of Java Fern. Apaprently. It was really dense - like hard cabbage leaves stuck together. You can see the exceptional health of the plant.

What is interesting for this discussion is that in that tank I had a spraybar running along the bottom of the tank. It was in the back shooting water forward. When I took the Java Fern out of the tank I was pretty shocked to find out that all the leaves on the back of the tank were fresh green. There was no difference between the leaves close to the light and the leaves living in complete 24/7 darkness in the back of the Java Fern bush and close to the bottom.

I attribute that to the fact that those leaves were the closest to the spray bar. Also the flow went under the Java Fern bush and up. Basically engulfing the entire plant as a sheet. On top of that the excess P really made the Fern happy. But it does appear that the perfect flow probably had to do a lot with the plant's exceptional health, especially where there was constant darkness.

The tank on the pictures is 4' long. The Java Fern taken out of the tank was placed on a 6' table. It stretched 6' long and it was about 8" thick laying sideways. That's A LOT of plant. And every single leaf was as green and beautiful as on the last picture:

http://www.aquatic-plants.org/gallery/javafern55/DSCN3516_1

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
JustLikeAPill,

Do you mean that placing the flow dead center on the side glass did NOT create the whirlpool effect? Or it DID create the effect?

"...Placing the outflow of the lily pipe in the dead center does create this "whirlpool effect" that I have noticed. It does not make a "double 'U'" pattern, only a single "U"...."

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
I expect layers of water moving with different speeds to color differently.

Could I ask you to add purple, orange, yellow, and neon green food coloring to the tank too. So we can track the movement really, really precisely?

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
wow nice that was a nice tank just use the java fern.. how much java fern did you start with, and how fast did it grow? did you have t12 t10 t8 or t5 lighting normal or high out put? I guess when it says 2wpg to 4wpg it was t12? also when you say "P" you mean potassium right ?
Started with about 10 leaves of JF. Grew to that monstrosity in about 3 months.

Bulbs were Power Compacts, the tank existed in 2002.

P is for Phosphorus (K is Potasium).

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
Doesn't sound right but I guess it really grew that fast. I remember that I ordered the plants online from aquariumplants.com. You don't get "a Tex_Gal sized portion" when you order plants online.

The Java Fern was part of an order of about 10 plant species. It all came in a box the size of 2 shoe boxes. So the Java Fern must have been no more than 10 leaves.

The first month I had the tank setup with "chat" - gravel used under roads, you can see mountains of it around every road construction site. The chat released tons of Ca and some plants grew 6-8" in about 8 hours. The water was milky from the Calcium and a thick dirty looking foam was on the surface at all times - flocculation basically. So I guess the Java Fern grew super fast too. I tore down the tank after a month - after someone told me how CO2 makes the Ca from the substrate disolve into the water.

Anyway, back to flow now. After 6 days without changing water in my big tank, feeding the fish very heavily, and seeing abot 5 gallons of evaporation (it's very dry now in Dallas) I finally start to see some Cladophora creeping up. The Bolbitis has been growing very well with all that flow + I guess a little dirtier water. BBA does not even try to come back.

I'm still to organize my flow to form the "U" along the front glass that we all agree is probably a special kind of pattern that works wonders. But so far just increased flow has made a big change to my big overstocked tank with only 1 kind of plant in it.

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
Tex Guy!

Wonderful information!

I see that you or someone else has been converting the metric units into Imperial. To figure out the ratio of flow suggested by ADA to the size of the tank. For everyone that has not followed this discussion closely - when using their proprietary filters ADA suggests pretty low ratio of tank volume to filter flow. That is because of 2 reasons:

1. They use special pumps that do not easily reduce the flow if the filter media clogs up.
2. They place the inflow and ouflow pipe in a special, very precise way, that makes the water in the tank move very well.


And if someone missed that - note that in the filter they DO NOT use any mechanical filtration. No coarse of fine filter pads. Never. Biofiltraton rules according to ADA. Of course - and reasonably at that (the biofilter is not established yet) - Activated Carbon is used in the first 1-2 months of the tank life.

This wonderful information that Tex Guy posted has no explanations why. I think that in the last few months we here have discussed and understood quite a bit and can now follow ADA's advice with great understanding. Someone asked me just yesterday if the last few years of hanging out on forums has lead me to any kind of better understanding of this hobby. I think we will all agree - with this thread and a few others we have indeed learned something.

I personally really feel that I'm now capable of starting a tank and keeping it clean every single time. My desire to learn to do that dates back to about 2003. At some point I had lost hope that I will ever know. I saw a few people that were as obseesed as I was about finding "Amano's secret" just disappear from the hobby because it seemed so frustrating. I hope that everybody reading this thread appreciates the infomation that we all finally pieced together. As Luis Navarro and Jeff Senske always said - "There is no secret." It's all common sense really. And it is not Amano's single handed research and experience. One just needs to be open to look and find the knowledge.

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
I found some old pictures of one of my first high tech planted tanks. I have talked about that tank - the one with the extremely healthy Java Fern in it. The picture of Java Fern that you have probably seen somewhere on thenet came from that same tank. The plant is not Photoshopped at all. The background is made blacker than it actually was, that's it:



On this picture you can make out the spraybar in the back:


So on the pictures I just found something pretty amuzing. The tank was basically a Gyre indeed! The very thing we discussed here few weeks ago. The water flowed out of the spraybar that was placed on the bottom, at the back glass. From there the water moved forward under the Java Fern roots. Then the water went up and to the side to the intake.

Besides the Java Fern the tank had only very short hairgrass that barely grew because the Fluorite substrate was new. There were also two Crypts which also barely grew. So nothing blocked the good flow pattern.

As I said - that was a 4' long 55 gal. standard tank. When I pulled the Java Fern out of it I laid it on a 6' long table and it stretched from one to the other side. A strip of Java Fern 6' long and 8"thick! Every leaf was completely healthy too.

Since I have very much posted all the above information already in this or other threads here's the new and strange part - the flow on that tank was very little. Smallest Hydor canister filter. Something like 160 gph. Add the hydrostatic head, the 90 degree elbows for the spraybar.. and I bet the flow was something like 50 gph if so.

So I believe that the open layout of the tank allowed for very good flow pattern and almost 10 years later I think I have it figured out.

--Nikolay
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,116 Posts
Best thing to try that anyone can suggest at this point is to emulate ADA's placement of the pipes. That's the best starting point.

In the past I have tried huge flows and was always surprised to see that they did not take care of all the trash in the tank. I always assumed that with a lot of flow you can clean anything. That is not so. Flow pattern is REALLY important. It's somewhat amusing that we are starting to understand that just now.

--Nikolay
 
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
Top