One way glass? less algae / stress - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-29-2020, 06:26 AM Thread Starter
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One way glass? less algae / stress

Has anyone tried to make a tank out of one way glass? If the fish can't see out they may be happier, especially if the mirror makes their tank look bigger. I figure one would also have much more control over lighting which would reduce algae forming on the glass. Thoughts?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-29-2020, 10:56 AM
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Has anyone tried to make a tank out of one way glass? If the fish can't see out they may be happier, especially if the mirror makes their tank look bigger. I figure one would also have much more control over lighting which would reduce algae forming on the glass. Thoughts?
I don't think it would do anything for algae. It would potentially get you more ppfd at substrate if the light in the tank is reflecting around more. Though I doubt it would be very much, the mirror effect is not very efficient. My fish are mostly skittish when any part of me is above their tank not looking at them headon, so it would only be helpful if your fish are spooked by looking at you through the glass.

You could give it a go very cheaply though by buying 1 way window film.

As an example:

https://www.amazon.com/Daytime-Priva...s%2C151&sr=8-1

Pretty cheap and enough to wrap a good sized tank. And if it doesn't work, you just peel it off.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-29-2020, 11:27 AM
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you could experiment with a ( ideally platstic/polycarb ) mirror added to the inside of one end, i imaging some confused shoals trying to merge with their reflections and angry territorial fish headbutting their reflections though...how to drive a betta insane in one easy step
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-29-2020, 01:00 PM
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One way window films are readily available at low cost from home centers and mail order. They are cheaper than aquarium background and I am surprised no aquascapers reported using it as a mirror background. It will capture light by reflection thereby increasing light intensity for plant growth.

If you tape it on the front and sides, it will provide a one way see through glass in, and a reflective mirror (for fish) to see out, but only during photo period when the light inside the tank is brighter than outside. Off photo period, the one way effect is nullified.

Even without the film, glass provides partial one way effect during photo period. The one way effect can affect some fish behavior, as I have observed behavior change during and off photo periods. I keep cichlid which naturally establish a pecking order. I have witnessed a few times that the pecking order is disrupted when the light is on and off, for instance, the top fish can become the under fish and vise versa with a flip of the light switch. Other times I observed fish engage in fight when the light is out, but restore peace in accordance with the established hierarchy when the light is on. No wonder sometime my fish emerged with torn fin from the dark despite behaving peacefully when the light is on.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-29-2020, 01:42 PM
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I'd think that seeing their reflection would be distressing to most fish and some males would see a competitor, be threatened, and "attack" the glass. And I don't think it would have much effect on algae.
You could try a limited test with reflective film or even aluminum foil on the outside back and perhaps sides. But watch for any negative fish behavior.

Footnote: I have to believe if there was any benefit, we would have seen this with the last 50 years of fishkeeping.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-29-2020, 02:25 PM
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I'd think that seeing their reflection would be distressing to most fish and some males would see a competitor, be threatened, and "attack" the glass. And I don't think it would have much effect on algae.
You could try a limited test with reflective film or even aluminum foil on the outside back and perhaps sides. But watch for any negative fish behavior.

Footnote: I have to believe if there was any benefit, we would have seen this with the last 50 years of fishkeeping.
There will be no benefit to reduce algae, but rather increase algae (and plant) growth because reflection increases light intensity if you already have existing algae problem.

Whether you install one way film or not, fish can still see partial reflection on the glass when the light inside the aquarium is brighter than ambient. Have you seen newly introduced fish pace back and forth on the glass as they are getting used to seeing and chasing their own image.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-29-2020, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Some interesting ideas for me to try out. I'm particularly interested in the algae aspect as I'm planning to build a new tank that will at times be exposed to direct sunlight. The tank is build into my wall (double sided), and sunlight light can only enter from the sides. The light from above is from my leds, which is under my control. I want to reduce the intensity of light coming in from the sides.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-30-2020, 04:38 AM
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Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
I'd think that seeing their reflection would be distressing to most fish and some males would see a competitor, be threatened, and "attack" the glass. And I don't think it would have much effect on algae.
You could try a limited test with reflective film or even aluminum foil on the outside back and perhaps sides. But watch for any negative fish behavior.

Footnote: I have to believe if there was any benefit, we would have seen this with the last 50 years of fishkeeping.
About 45 yrs ago I did this with aluminum foil on the back of the tank--mostly to create the illusion of a larger tank, and to reflect back the limited light from the fluorescent hood. My angels didn't react at all, but my water sprite seemed to do okay.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-30-2020, 01:09 PM
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Some interesting ideas for me to try out. I'm particularly interested in the algae aspect as I'm planning to build a new tank that will at times be exposed to direct sunlight. The tank is build into my wall (double sided), and sunlight light can only enter from the sides. The light from above is from my leds, which is under my control. I want to reduce the intensity of light coming in from the sides.
Direct sunlight should not be the concern for algae if your plants are healthy, which is the best way to fight algae. If sunlight induces GDA on the glass, it can easily be taken care of by bristlenose, ottos or snails. I actually open up the curtain to welcome moving sunlight onto my planted tank to turbo charge photosynthesis, and I have no algae issue.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-30-2020, 03:04 PM
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Direct sunlight should not be the concern for algae if your plants are healthy, which is the best way to fight algae.
I agree about healthy plants fighting algae, but this would depend on plant mass. I don't think you can make that assumption that the tank (or every tank) would have (or want) enough plants to counter the algae causing effect of direct sunlight.


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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-30-2020, 08:27 PM
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I agree about healthy plants fighting algae, but this would depend on plant mass. I don't think you can make that assumption that the tank (or every tank) would have (or want) enough plants to counter the algae causing effect of direct sunlight.
Your remedy of not enough plant mass is to get more plants, including plants you donít intend to keep in the long run. Sunlight does not cause algae, itís the lack of balance (plant mass, light, CO2 and nutrients) that does. Many people have success with Hornwort as a starter plants which is cheap, fast growing and disposable when desirable plants are established.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-30-2020, 09:08 PM
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Direct sunlight should not be the concern for algae if your plants are healthy, which is the best way to fight algae. If sunlight induces GDA on the glass, it can easily be taken care of by bristlenose, ottos or snails. I actually open up the curtain to welcome moving sunlight onto my planted tank to turbo charge photosynthesis, and I have no algae issue.
My remedy is not necessarily to get more plants, it's too point out that your assuming plant mass to counter the sun. What if a tank had one stem in it or it was a minimalist/iwagumi setup. Assuming the plants are healthy, how would that limited plant mass fight algae?

If i took a low-light setup that was perfectly healthy with low light and put it in front of a sunny window or on the porch in the sun, would it stay algae-free.

Anything could cause algae for a given setup. Organics, light, not enough co2, etc. Pick your poison, but sunlight can absolutely cause algae. You can only balance so far, by maxing out co2, doing daily water changes and other algae fighting maintenance.


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