To Use the Spray Bar or to Not Use the Spray Bar?

csutter1
Member
So I've read/watched info pertaining to the usage of a spray bar on the output of a canister filter. It appears that some people love the idea of using a spray bar, and others prefer to only insert the output minus the spray bar. Are there pluses or minuses when it comes to either of these methods? Do any of you have personal recommendations?
Any input would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks!
 
Rivieraneo
Member
This depends on many factors, heres a few that come to mind. If you are looking to cause some disturbance on your tanks water surface to oxygenate the water or add current to your tank, the lilly type output works great, if you have a species of fish who does not do well with current, a spray bar works well.

Best of luck.
 
  • Thread Starter
csutter1
Member
Rivieraneo said:
This depends on many factors, heres a few that come to mind. If you are looking to cause some disturbance on your tanks water surface to oxygenate the water or add current to your tank, the lilly type output works great, if you have a species of fish who does not do well with current, a spray bar works well.

Best of luck.
I was thinking of setting up the spray bar so it sprays water directly up to the water's surface as to create surface disturbance and therefore oxygenation to the tank. Would using the lilly piece (as you described it) better oxygenate my tank than my original plan?
 
atc84
Member
I have a spraybar, so I'll share my experience.

I did a DIY method, since it's attached to a powerhead where there isn't really a spraybar you can buy for it. I just used PVC, cut holes in it, and vuola, you're done. I put most holes facing down, some up, to gain some water disturbance. The advantages of a spraybar are that you will have a more uniform flow that circulates around the entire tank, rather than a more centralized point of output. I've never used a canister, but i'm assuming it's a similar concept.

I'm assuming you'll buy a spraybar, since canister spraybars are more common. Not sure how big it would be, but if the goal is to oxygenate, the best way to do this is to just create ripples in the water. You don't need water shooting from the surface to gain more surface area(which is what influences the O2 exchange). Whatever is easier to accomplish this, would be your best option.
 
VWTDI02
Member
It is also important to take into account the fish and plants in your tank. Some fish need a higher current and some would rather have no current. I personally just bought some materials in order to make a spray bar for my tank. It pushes 250 gph with 5 feet of head pressure and in my 40 gallon it was just too much. You can see the fish swimming a lot against the current and the plants get pushed around a lot as well.
 
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csutter1
Member
atc84 said:
I have a spraybar, so I'll share my experience.

I did a DIY method, since it's attached to a powerhead where there isn't really a spraybar you can buy for it. I just used PVC, cut holes in it, and vuola, you're done. I put most holes facing down, some up, to gain some water disturbance. The advantages of a spraybar are that you will have a more uniform flow that circulates around the entire tank, rather than a more centralized point of output. I've never used a canister, but i'm assuming it's a similar concept.

I'm assuming you'll buy a spraybar, since canister spraybars are more common. Not sure how big it would be, but if the goal is to oxygenate, the best way to do this is to just create ripples in the water. You don't need water shooting from the surface to gain more surface area(which is what influences the O2 exchange). Whatever is easier to accomplish this, would be your best option.
My stock is pretty calm and docile so they prefer less of a current. I guess just pointing it toward the surface of the tank will suffice.

And THANK YOU everyone!!
 
Rivieraneo
Member
csutter1 said:
I was thinking of setting up the spray bar so it sprays water directly up to the water's surface as to create surface disturbance and therefore oxygenation to the tank. Would using the lilly piece (as you described it) better oxygenate my tank than my original plan?
That's a hard question to answer, the dissolved oxygen in your water has many factors to work with it, examples of these are lower water temp, water disturbance, examples of items that work against are higher temperature, redox, PH, etc... as long as you have some water disturbance, that should help with the dissolution of oxygen. The way you choose to cause the disturbance at the surface can assist you in accomplishing other tasks in your tank like adding current to eliminate spots that lack water movement. If your fish enjoy current, I would opt for the lilly style output, if your fish don't like current, then I would go for the spray bar option. Best of luck.
 
fishbone
Member
Does the increased surface turbulence reduce the CO2 in the water column?
Does O2 gains justify CO@ losses?
 
atc84
Member
fishbone said:
Does the increased surface turbulence reduce the CO2 in the water column?
Does O2 gains justify CO@ losses?
O2 and CO2 levels are independent of each other. For example, you could have both high O2 and CO2, or both low.

According to the walstad method, Surface movement does gas off CO2, which is why it is recommended in that kind of setup to use a powerhead just to circulate the water. However, Dr. Walstad later pointed out that by increasing O2 levels in the tank by increased surface movement, then more aerobic bacteria will be active in the aquarium. Since this bacteria releases CO2, you could say that surface turbulence actually increases CO2.

To be honest, I don't see a difference. It's different for every tank. There's no real conclusive answer.
 
fishbone
Member
. However, Dr. Walstad later pointed out that by increasing O2 levels in the tank by increased surface movement, then more aerobic bacteria will be active in the aquarium. Since this bacteria releases CO2, you could say that surface turbulence actually increases CO2.

I hadn't thought of that scenario. Something to ponder.
 
Linwood
Member
I have a 220G and worried that the depth would make it harder to oxygenate. I ended up putting three short spray bars across the top - one at the end, and one on each trI'm section. Here's a shot looking up at the surface of the tank right after it was filled to give an idea of how spray bars can offer nice disturbance for oxygenation. It also creates a strong current at the top of the tank, less so as it diffuses through the middle and bottom for return.



i-Gdgmfhb-XL.jpg
 
atc84
Member
Thanks for the picture, that's an awesome tank btw.
 
Dolfan
Member
fishbone atc84 csutter1 and others here is some info on the CO2 and off-gassing questions.

The only time you need to worry about off gassing CO2 is when you are injecting via a DIY reactor or CO2 tank/regulator setup. Otherwise any surface disturbance or aeration (via an air stone) just helps to maintain the CO2 levels provided from the ambient air. There is a hypothetical "saturation" point that the water will naturally achieve based on the CO2 in the air around the tank. These numbers are right, but here is an example...

Lets say that 10ppm of CO2 is what most water will naturally have based on the ambient air, so this is the natural equilibrium point for our example. Plants consume this and lower that number through the course of the day. Fish "exhale" CO2 therefore raising that number at all times of the day. So if you had a ton of plants you may see the number go down to 5 ppm or so throughout the day. People that use CO2 injection try to hit 15-30ppm. The water disturbance is always going to try to get that number back to the original equilibrium of 10 ppm. So if you have a heavily planted tank with no CO2 injection, than extra disturbance will help bring the number up from 5ppm back to 10ppm. On the other hand if you use CO2 injection then any water disturbance will try to bring that number back down from the 15-30ppm to 10ppm, therefore wasting your CO2 injection.

Many people that use CO2 injection will use an air stone set on a timer to cut on at lights off, than back off when the lights go on in the morning. This is due to the fact that when it's dark plants reverse their oxygen/CO2 cycle. At night they start to consume O2 and respire CO2 back into the water. If you are injecting CO2 then the combination of plants respiring CO2 at night, the CO2 injection, and fish adding CO2 can lead to too much CO2 in the water and fish end up suffocating and gasping for air near the surface where CO2 levels would be lower. The air stone helps to lower the CO2 at night. Other more high tech setups have a solenoid which turns off the CO2 injection at night then back on during the photo period. This saves the CO2 and helps to not off gas the fish with too much CO2 at night.

So basically here is the break down...

If you don't have CO2 injection then water disturbance via spray bar, air stone, filter output is GOOD.

If you do have CO2 injection then water disturbance is BAD during the day but GOOD at night.

Hope that helps.
 
atc84
Member
Ahh, that makes a lot of sense. I have just a couple questions Dolfan...

I think the reason why the walstad method highlights the use of a powerhead, rather than an air filter or HOB, is because CO2 levels will get above the hypothetical 10 ppm, due to the aerobic bacteria breaking down the stored up organics in the dirt, and later in the life of the tank, the fish and plant waste. Is it wrong to assume this?

Don't plant store ATP during the day, so that when there isn't light, they use this ATP to fuel the Calvin's cycle? The Calvin's cycle uses CO2, and produces glucose, while the light reactions use H2O, and produce O2. Under this formula, plants aren't necessarily "consuming" oxygen, they are just not producing O2 to combat the CO2 being produced in the Calvin's cycle. This also means that plants DO need CO2 injection at night, not just during the day, since they need it to grow, with or without light.

That being said, what do you think about my situation (not to take over the thread, I promise it's related)

I will be redoing my 29 soon, and I will be getting a AC powerhead 50, with a sponge filter, and spraybar. With this kind of filtration, and heavily planted, I hope to "overstock" my tank. Dirted, with Eco-Complete.

Should I drill holes in my spraybar pointing upwards to create ripples? With consideration towards the amount of fish, decomposition, and amounts of plants, it's probably hard to tell...
 
Dolfan
Member
I'm not a scientist, but as I understand it, during the day (light on) plants take in CO2 and respire O2. During the night (lights off) this is reversed and plants take in O2 and respire CO2. Plants do not need any CO2 at night as they are respiring it.

I have read Diana Walstad's book "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium" and don't remember them highlighting the use of a powerhead. It may just be to help keep adequate flow to all areas of the tank.

As for your situation if you are NOT using CO2 injection then by all means do whatever you want to create some extra surface movement. This will help keep CO2 at reasonable levels based on the ambient air. If you are using CO2 injection than you will only want the extra surface movement at night.

Rather then drilling holes, can't you just turn the spray bar and aI'm it upwards. Most spray bars are somewhat adjustable like this. If not, you could just put it right level with water surface and that should be sufficient.

If you are not using a filter I would not plan on overstocking your tank. Even with your powerhead being setup as a make shift sponge filter, this is a sure recipe for disaster. Aside from just water parameter concerns there are space issues and territorial issues. No tank should be overstocked in my opinion. Remember as well if you plan on being heavily planted, this means there are tons of plants to the point where they take up space and there is very little room to swim. Start with light stocking and slowly work your way up to average stocking and stop there. Your fish and tank will be better off, in my opinion.
 
atc84
Member
I took a biology class last year, and this picture might help describe what I'm saying.

I've participated in the El Natural forum on APC, which has Diana Walstad posts on it. She gives small updates, such as using a powerhead.

Yup, no CO2 injection. Thought about doing DIY yeast, but I didn't want to deal with keeping consistent CO2 levels.

This a DIY spraybar, so drilling holes is no problem. I wan't to have a 45 degree downward flow because that way it'll get O2 to the substrate better, and create a circular flow pattern throughout the tank.

I'm sorry, my quotations around the "overstock" meant in my mind what you're saying, as in be careful with your stocking. I've always been a supporter for the inch per gallon method, if you can into account different factors. At this point, it is useless, but it does create a benchmark. What I meant for overstocking, is I will be using this tank for mainly guppies, who don't have territory issues, and I plan on not having any excess nitrogen. From my experience, even with overfeeding my tank, I don't get any nitrate readings. And that's with a AC powerhead 20, with a regularly stocked tank. The only purpose to "overstocking" is increased CO2, and nitrogen for the plants in the form of fish waste.
 
Dolfan
Member
I would still not put too many fish in there. If you want more CO2 then try some Flourish Excel. If you want more nitrogen use fertilizers. I wouldn't worry about the O2 levels and CO2 levels too much if you are running a low tech tank with easy low light plants. That's the whole point of the a walstad tank or low tech tank, is that you don't have to do much or worry about things like low CO2 etc. Just feed the fish, make sure the lighting is good. Maybe some Excel if you needed a CO2 boost. Maybe some Flourish Comprehensive if you need some nutrient boost. With easy plants you almost can't go wrong. Plants like frogbit, hornwort, water wisteria, anubias, java fern, java moss, crypts, bacopa, amazon swords, etc.
 
atc84
Member
I'm totally with you, I have nothing against what you are saying. I'm just trying to maximize the chance of success, but i'm over thinking this.

Although I may seem like i'm arguing such basic points, it's only because I find data less objections not very credible. Things like "how crowded is too crowded", since it's just a perceivable fact, there's no way of knowing (not including ammonia-nitrates). I have considered adding ferts, but i'm too inconsistent with my habits that it wouldn't work. And it goes against my El Natural instinct. Yes, i've had all of those plants. My 900 posts are deceiving, I've done a lot of studying ;p

edit: I attached a recent thread of mine, it gives more detail on my situation
Planted 29 gallon rescape | Freshwater Aquarium Builds 181762
 
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