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Thread: Mega Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover - DIY!

  1. #81
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    Reminder Of The Day: Number Of Lights/Screens

    One-light between two-screens: Makes better use of the light, but leaves the other sides of the screens unused (in the dark), thus wasting half your flow. The big advantage is cleaning: You can clean one screen, and leave the other in operation, which give you more consistent filtering.

    Two-lights on one-screen: Makes better use of the screen (both sides are lit), but can waste light if not reflected properly. Advantages are (1) redundancy of the lights: If one goes out, you'll still have filtering until you can buy a replacement, and (2) higher performance for its size, since each side of the screen gets hit by light from both sides, especially right after cleaning when the algae is thin.

    Best of both worlds: Multiple lights between two screens. Uses the most flow and power, but is always filtering, and will never go totally "dark" unexpectedly.

  2. #82
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    Hi Santa Monica

    Been looking through your posts. Very interesting concept.

    I'm curious why is high light essential? As far as I know from algal biology, algae require much lower light conditions to grow than those that you (and those that others) use. For other SAV (submerged aquatic vegetation), high light actually "burns" them - photodamage past photoinhibition.

    Only reson I can figure is that the sump light must be higher than the main tank's light. Thus the preferred deposition and build-up on the screen?

    Probably need to read up back on my algae basics...

  3. #83
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    Not sure why. But the problems is always too little light; never too much. The one situation which does cause "burning" is when they forget to put a timer on the light (should be off 6 hours a day), and it creates a bald spot on the screen. But you are correct in that the stronger light on the scrubber causes algae to grow there instead of in the display.

  4. #84
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    Scrubber FAQ 1.0 is now complete, and will be updated periodically:

    http://www.algaescrubber.net/forums/...c.php?f=9&t=68

  5. #85
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    Here is an easy DIY for a nano. This one starts with a Marineland Eclipse 6 gallon, which was chosen because of the easy-to-access hatch on the top:









    First thing you need to do to the filter box is cut out this section, using a Dremel cut-off tool, or even a soldering iron:










    Doesn't need to be a smooth cut, since water will be draining down through the holes anyway.
    Now, test fit the filter box on the back wall:







    Looking from the backside, see how the filter box will set on the wall:






    use a little bit of scrap plastic to raise this side a bit:






    Now, epoxy some plastic sheet (I just cut them out from the hood material) onto the filter box so that it will hook onto the wall; the epoxy will also hold the little plastic scrap in place too:









    Mounting done:








    Now cut a piece of hard plastic (any color, any thickness) to fit in the filter box. Use sandpaper or a drill or a file to make the surface rough:






    Now cut a piece of "Rug Canvas" or "Plastic Canvas" (found at any sewing or craft store, or online) to fit on the backing:






    Rug canvas is preferred because it lets the algae to attach better, but since rug canvas is flimsy, you'll need to epoxy it to the backing. Plastic canvas (pictured) is rigid and can just be set down on the backing, but it does not hold algae as well.

    Here is the screen finished. Water should flow off the edges and drain out, but if it collects and gets too deep, cut a little section as shown and it will drain out rapidly:






    Attach your light; a halide was chosen so as to get good growth, easy attachment to the tank, and strong lighting for corals:






    Here is the screen with a fews days of growth (food was put into the water to rot):






    A few more days:






    Begin to do your weekly cleanings, 1/2 per week:






    Cleaning video:
    http://www.radio-media.com/fish/6galCleaning.mpg


    If the pump ever stops, turn it over and remove the round part, and check to make sure the little wheel can turn freely:






    Pump check video:
    http://www.radio-media.com/fish/6galPumpStop.mpg


    That's it! Post your nano scrubber pics!

  6. #86
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    Succeses of the Week:

    small_ranchu on the MFK site: "Here is the progress on my goldfish tank. 90 gallon tank with 3 goldfish + heavy feeding. Nitrate reading at the end of the week is usually around 40 PPM with a lot of brown algae on the wall. After 1 month of installing the Scrubber filter, Nitrate reading is 10 PPM and brown algae is disappearing slowly."

    argi on the MD site: "I set up my scrubber on my 54 gallon tank a few weeks after its initial set up (it has been running for around 3 months now). One thing I have noticed on this tank compared to all my past tanks is the lack of algae growing on the glass. In the past I always left a magnet cleaner in the tank because I would have to scrub the brown diatom algae off the glass at least once per week. Now with this current tank I haven't had to clean off the glass nearly as often. While I still clean it, usually weekly to every other week, I can still see in the tank after 2 weeks!!! So far I am very happy with the results."

    johnt on the UR site: "after 10 weeks of running a screen I can say it's the best method I've used, it also takes out metals and other nasties, and I've not even reached the turf algae stage yet. In the 10 weeks it's been running I've not run any reactors or the skimmer (I'm saving a small fortune not having to buy phosphate remover). I'm still running the refugium, Chaeto and deep sand bed, all corals are doing exceptionaly well, N&P are remaining low and rocks are looking better by the day."

    Elliott on RC: "I built one about 5 wks ago and so far it seems to be working well. My cyano has diminished and there is less cleaning to do on the glass."

    Mtroboer on the MASA site: "my algae is already visibly starting to disappear after only 1 1/2 weeks! Also added a PC Server fan in front of the screen and dropped my temps from 29.8 avg to 25.8 avg, saved me from buying a energy hungry chiller! First time in little more than a year I got to see results regarding getting rid of nuisance algae as well as dropping my high tempratures!"

    Keifer1122 on the RS site: "Aquapod 12 gallon update: Its been couple days short of a month, and still no water change, my N & P have been at zero for 3 weeks now. everything is still growing just daily dosing, daily 2-3 feeding times a day, and weekly scrubbing"

    bigtanner on RC: "I built this little one for about $65, pump, light, and all plumbing needed. Some people frown on these things and some people praise them. It's about like anything else really. I have had success with mine. Since building it and hooking it up, my tank is basically algae free. I also went from running my magnet daily to only running it every three to four days. [...] I never have any bad algae in my tank, my water is always crystal clear, and since adding it, I run my magnet a lot less than I used to.

    corinna on the AC site: "I started out as a sceptic, but after spending a fortune on phosphate absorbers, carbon, sponges, water changes etc, Im convinced. Two months in, ive not done a water change or cleaned the glass, just to see what happened. Zooanthids are reproducing, seahorses are fat and active, values are reading zeroes. Scallops are happy. Plus I feed a lot."

  7. #87
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    Well after three months of testing color temps, I've determined that 3000K out performs 6500K. It's not a huge difference, but enough to notice. At first they are about equal, but as the green hair gets over an inch thick, the 3000K continues getting thicker until it hits the acrylic wall (at 1.5"), whereas the 6500 stalls and rarely grows enough to reach the wall. So I'm ordering all T5HO 3000K replacement bulbs.

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    The Santa Monica Light-Screen

    After much thought about design (but no ability to build), here is my version of a G3 scrubber:






    A light-screen is a scrubber where the screen IS the light, and the light IS the screen. This changes the game when it come to scrubber performance in a small size. Unfortunately, you can't DIY these, unless you happen to be both a plastics engineer and an electronics engineer. However I thought that if I posted these, they may spark some ideas for regular scrubbers, or, someone may work for a manufacturer who can actually build them. I'll be the first to buy one.

    As a reminder, G1 scrubbers are DIY sumps/buckets, while G2 scrubbers are enclosed acrylic boxes. G3 scrubbers have luminescent screens, whether they be LEDs, fiber optics, or lasers. My design is LEDs; so compared to buckets or acrylics, these plastic-covered LED light screens:

    o Are ultra small/thin.
    o Have no algae die-off (see drawing below).
    o Are practically unbreakable.
    o Are electrically safe (12 volts or less).
    o Can be made as small as desired for nano's.
    o Can easily be built into the hood of a nano.
    o Are double-sided with almost no increase in size.


    Disadvantages:

    o They will be expensive (equivalent to good skimmers).
    o They are impossible to DIY







    Here is my version of a nano scrubber:





    Same concept, just smaller, and replaces the skimmer, mechanical filter, and other filtering "devices" in pre-fab nano's like Aquapods, Red Sea Max's, etc. Would actually make nano's less expensive, better filtered, more compact, and more reliable.
    .
    .

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    I think a etter question might be to feed more and see if you can induce the noxious algae in the tank itself with the higher N and P levels just to see.

    Like planted tanks, a strong growth of the desired species where you wanted it, can define the system and allow you to have higher nutrient levels without any risk.

    Basically the algae mat defines the systems, not the nutrient trophic status.

    Similarly, in lakes and streams, where there is a strong stable growth of plants, we see little noxious algae. Nutrients are over a wide range there without algae issues.

    The plants define it, not the nutrients.
    We also see this in macro algae systems and in seagrass beds etc.
    The small micro algae mats are wider ranging and easiler to keep for many, so they should be able to respond better at lower ranges. If you have enough mat area etc and flow etc, then they should be fine at higher loading rates and response well in a similar fashion.

    So you very well may be able to handle higher feeding rates and residual nutrient levels without issues as long as mat algae health is good.

    This would reduce feeding stress on fish and inverts, and reduce the need for close testing/monitoring.

    Thus less risk. The higher nutient levels and feedings may likely help the corals, at least in some species, to grow better/faster rates.

    I do not know, but I'd predict that to be the case in some species.
    I think the nutrients in and of themselves present no real harm(NO3/PO4).

    It's the secondary effects, the inducement of germination of algae spores that's the key trigger and issue.

    If you provide a better place for that to occur than in the tank, then there is less chance of an issue. You should consider testing this.
    You may be surprised to learn that nutrients are not nearly as dominate when you have a good mat going.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr

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    I do not know, but I'd predict that to be the case in some species. I think the nutrients in and of themselves present no real harm(NO3/PO4).
    I certainly agree as far as corals and fish go, at least up to about 20 N and .2 P. But like you said, it's the inducement of algae spores that causes trouble, and for me it's purely asthetic.

    If you provide a better place for that to occur than in the tank, then there is less chance of an issue. You should consider testing this.
    Not sure what testing you mean.

  11. #91
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    Update: CFL Bulb Lifetime

    One of the CFL bucket scrubbers that I was testing began growing less and less algae, starting when it was about three months old. After five months, most growth had stopped. I did not think it could be the CFL bulbs because they looked fine, and they are supposed to last for years. But apparently this does not apply to algae growth, because after replacing the bulbs with new ones, growth immediately started again. These bulbs are cheap, so maybe a three-month replacement schedule should be followed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SantaMonica View Post
    Not sure why. But the problems is always too little light; never too much. The one situation which does cause "burning" is when they forget to put a timer on the light (should be off 6 hours a day), and it creates a bald spot on the screen. But you are correct in that the stronger light on the scrubber causes algae to grow there instead of in the display.
    Well, there is too much, we can see it in Photosynthesis curves in the water column depth profiles.

    You generally in every system have a maxmial growth depth, it's not at the surface, it's a few meters down in the water. Still relative to the sunblight and the lights used here, I tend to doubt folks are hitting the same PAR and with the same species of algae.

    Epiphtyic algae are different tank planktonic also.
    They tend to be well adapted to higher light, high nutrients, not as good at plants, but still better than planktonic algae species.

    So you do not see this same profile in epiphytes.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr

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    Quote Originally Posted by SantaMonica View Post
    I certainly agree as far as corals and fish go, at least up to about 20 N and .2 P. But like you said, it's the inducement of algae spores that causes trouble, and for me it's purely asthetic.



    Not sure what testing you mean.
    "If you provide a better place for that to occur than in the tank, then there is less chance of an issue. You should consider testing this."

    Test whether or not you can induce particular species, both desirable and non desirable.

    This is the only way to confirm that 20ppm etc can induce without doubt, in an otherwise stable system every time, or at least 95% or more of the time.
    This can be of use for the mat algae and for the noxious species in the tank.

    You know what can cause them to grow and bloom.
    Since you are providing a better location for these algae to grow in a scrubber, then you are a lot safer than in the main tank which few folks want to be infested...... correct?

    See the utility here for testing algae inducement?
    You can still test but with less risk to the main display. But does a nice thick mat of algae buffer such systems from noxious species in the man tank when the nutrients change?

    Likely so.

    So is it the nutrients that define the system or the algae mat then?
    I'd say the algae, the macrophytes and the plants.

    As long as you maintain and good colony, say 2 sqft per 50-100 gal of tank, you likely have a much wider tolerance of nutrients.

    Also, NO3 can move around more than the PO4, About .4ppm for macrophytes is fine of inorganic SRP, the main species that will bloom is diatom brown golden films, not hard to get rid of, but annoying. This has been confirmed with KH2PO4 dosing in marine systems for inducement.

    Not many others.

    In FW, the PO4 can go up to any desired level, say 1ppm, 5ppm, even 10-20ppm where it starts acting on the carbonate buffer system.

    No algae.

    Still, there's a lot of area to test and see/learn more about here for the scrubbers, which are quite an old idea, dating back to the first wave of popularity in the mid 1980's and the second in the 1990's. But adding a lot more and pictures, discussion on the web, we are able to promote and see their use a lot better today than back then, mostly marteking driven, and company/vendors drove many product ideas.

    Big difference.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr

  14. #94
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    Several folks commented that they liked the hand-built nano-scrubber that Nitschke65 on the SWF site built for his Aquapod-type tank:












    It looks bought-off-the-shelf. And several folks have asked how to put a scrubber on their own nano's, without resorting to building an external one. Problem is, of course, that Aquapod-type nano's are the most difficult to fit things into. So until someone manufactures some type of nano-scrubber like Nitschke65 built (G3 or otherwise), Nitschke has said that's he'll make custom scrubbers for other folk's nano's:

    "I won't be able to get to work on any of them until mid January, but it's fine with me if you'd like to recommend me. My wife and I are gettting to leave on our 10th anniversary trip to London, so things around here have been pretty hectic. I'll be happy to make the trays and screens, and leave people to come up with their own lighting." He is in Wisconsin, USA.

    So you can contact him if you are on that site, or PM me and I'll get it to him. I guess this will be his present to everyone

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    Update Of The Day: Cleanings/Scrapings

    Cleanings are when you take the screen to the sink and run tap water over it as you use your fingers (not fingernails) to remove the loose stuff and wash it off. It is done everyweek, no matter what, even if you think your screen needs to "grow more first". On brand new screens, this stuff is usually a light brown slime, but it can be green slime, green hair, or even black tar-looking stuff. It's important, especially on the first cleaning, to leave some algae on the screen so it can grow back easily. It's also important to only clean ONE side per week (or one-half, if it's a one-sided screen). Cleaning it under running tap water kills the pods that will start to eat the algae (don't worry, there will be thousands more the next day).

    Scrapings are sometimes needed later on, after your screen has grown a few months. You'll know if scrapings are needed: You'll try using your fingers, or even fingernails, but nothing will come off. Scraping is only needed every month or so, and of course on ONE side only (or one-half, if it's a one-sided screen). I use a razor blade to scrape, but any straight sharp metal object will work. Go back and forth with the scraper until the algae is removed all the way down to the screen. You shouldn't have to worry about leaving algae on the screen; this type of algae is tough enough that there will surely be some left. You may never need to scrape, however, which is fine. But even if you do need to scrape monthly, you'll still need to clean weekly.

    Here is a video showing a cleaning and a scraping:

    YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypgNfJV6gBo#
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9vlUorbooo#
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Voo4mBWWuuQ#
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2msQ4Nw0pYc#


    Hi-res:

    Part 1: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Scraping1.mpg
    Part 2: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Scraping2.mpg
    Part 2: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Scraping3.mpg
    Part 3: http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Scraping4.mpg

  16. #96
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    Madeley on the scrubber site has come up with a great plan for an in-sump dual-screen scrubber, that could either be manufactured from plastic, or (if you simplify it) made out of acrylic. So for you technically adept folks, here's his drawing, with my arrows and words added:






    His drawing is similar to Dohn's on the MASA site:
    http://www.radio-media.com/fish/UserDohnOnMASA-2.jpg

    ...but simpler (Dohn's I believe was for HOB, so it's understandably more complex).

    Operation: Madeley has it so it can be placed in a sump front-to-back (sump being sideways), and it will set on the rim; lights in the middle, screens on both sides through the slots in the horizontal water tray, and water fed in from the hole on the end which would thus be positioned at the back or front of the sump. If it's for a sump 12" front-to-back, then the lower section is probably 11" across, which makes the screen about 10" across. So if the screen is 10" tall, then it's 100 square inches, and lit on one side, which is good for a 50 gal tank per screen, or 100 gal tank total. Each 10" wide screen needs 10 X 35 = 350 gph flow, for a total of 700 gph. Lighting could either be two CFL's hung down the middle, or some type of two-sided T5HO (just think how powerful a row of ten 12" T5's would be. This could be an optional feature.)

    To mold/manufacture out of plastic, here's what I'd change:

    1. Water input-hole: Many sumps I've seen won't have room to route a tube/pipe along the back side of their sumps (in order to connect to that hole), and they'd prefer to not route it in from the front. I'd suggest a side or top connection.

    2. The incoming 700 gph water, the way is is laid out, is going to be too strong when it hits that center piece. I'd use two separate holes, and let the user divide the water himself with a "Y" before the input. Also, if you make the two water pathways totally isolated, and if the user puts a valve on each water input, then he can keep the pump running on one screen while he turns off and cleans the other. This is a safety factor because some people forget to turn their pumps back on, and/or, they are feeding the scrubber from the overflow. Also, there would be a perceived advantage because "it never stops filtering, even when I'm cleaning it".

    3. Screen slots: If the screen inserts through the water tray from the top, then how do you get it out when it's full? You can't pull it up through the slot when it's full. And if the screen inserts from the bottom, how do you push it up and get it through the slot when the screen is flexible?. What you could do is make the water tray removeable, so it just sets down in there. This way, the tray would lift up and bring the screen with it (would also make cleaning, and manufacturing, easier.) And, you'd want the tray to be in two pieces so you can remove one without needing to remove the other. This would work great with isolated water pathways.

    4. Overflowing tray: If something real or imaginary blocks the water from going down the slot, the user needs to know that the water will simply overflow into the sump. This is easily done by lowering the outer walls a half inch or so, in the middle section, so water would spill over the edge.

    5. Top heavy: With water in the top tray, and two hoses connected, and lights attached, the cener of gravity is going to be very high, and the unit could tip over. While you could fix this by making the unit sit lower into the sump, this would reduce screen area since more of the screen would be under water. A solution might be to attach weights (rock?) to the bottom.

    6. Adjustable height: Due to the top-heavy problem, and the unknown height of water in the user's sump, and also due to manufacturing difficulties, it might be easier to eliminate the ledge (that sits on the sump's rim) entirely, and replace it with an adjustable "lip" or "tab". This adjustable piece would be on both ends, and could be moved up or down so that the screen's bottom could be positioned just at the water's surface. If top-heavy, the unit could be lowered (albeit putting the screen into the water.)

    An alternate solution to the height issue is to have no lip at all (permanent or adjustable), and instead use some type of legs that go down to the bottom of the sump. This would make the top part of the unit smaller (does not need to set on sump rim), but would not reduce the lighting or screen areas. For balance in top-heavy situations, the legs could be weighted (they could be weights themselves), or they could extend out at an angle like a tripod.


    To have it built from acrylic instead (by hand), here's what I'd change:

    The above points still apply (water input on top or side, dual inputs, separate water pathways, removeable water trays, lowered-wall to handle overflow). The issue with acrylic is to use as many long straight pieces as possible, and to avoid any internal cross sections. This pretty much eliminates the lip that would sit on the sump's rim, so something would have to hold the unit up; either an adjustable lip on the sides, or legs on the bottom. An easy solution might be to just extend the outer sheets of acrylic (the ones parallel to the screen) all the way to the bottom, and just have slots in them (like vertical window blinds) for water to get through. If made for anyone other than yourself (in which case you would not know the height needed), the user could just cut off the excess acrylic in order to set the height properly.

    The acrylic design is very simple; just four vertical acrylic sheets (same size), with two end pieces, a drop-in water tray on both sides, and a water hole on both sides.
    .

  17. #97
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    Last Results of 2008:

    dave3441 on the UR site: "an update for you, been running scrubber since day 1, 19th nov 08 [7 weeks] and tank cycled very quickly 10 days!, although i did have some seeded tonga rock which i kept live bout 15 kgs, the rest was out of water for 36 hours so would have died off. started adding fish at 5 days just 3 chromis to get things fired up then added more fish and corals at 3 weeks still no sign of any additional spikes. its been about 6 weeks now and i have had the very faintest of blooms, just a dusting on glass. cant believe how good this cycle has been compared with first tank set up in 2002. scrubber has been cleaned weekly, to be honest i am cleaning both sides every week as it gets so clogged up . starting to see some more stable green algee now, and this does not come off like the brown/red/black slime does. i just use a george forman plastic spatula and run it down both sides of screen. i would say i get about 1/2 normal size tea cup off screen each time. i gotta say i think this is a very good system, as the algee is definatly growing on the scrubber rather than all over the tank. i have never seen a new tank without the dreaded algee bloom occuring before. i must add i am skimming, although just with a small mc500 deltec which needs emptying approx every 3 days or so. just did battery of tests today approx 7 weeks running now: sal 1.024, temp 27.5, phosphate absolutly zero crystal clear reading not even hint of blue."

  18. #98
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    For the new year I finally got a camera, learned how to use it, and took some pics. They are linked below, and will be updated as new pics/vids are taken.

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    My water tests today, all Salifert:

    N03: 0 (clear)
    P04: 0 (clear)
    Si: 0 (clear)
    Ca: 490
    Alk: 9.3
    Mg: 1500
    pH: 8.4

  20. #100
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    Update:

    Someone came up with a great way to attach Rug Canvas. Rug Canvas is the highest performance screen material; it is preferred over Plastic Canvas because Rug has small fibers that algae can attach tightly too. This means you get growth faster, and you get more growth sticking to the screen after cleaning (thus, no overly-cleaned bare spots). The problem with Rug is that it's a flimsy material, and the edges tend to unravel. It also won't last forever. So consider it more work, in order to get the highest performance.

    Anyway, this idea is very simple, but I've not tried it. So you might have a plastic canvas version as a backup, in case you can't get the Rug working properly. You'll need to make the slot wider, to accomodate the plastic rod. The trick will be getting the right "fit" between the rod/screen, and the slot, so that the water flows smoothly. It will be trickier than a simple plasic canvas, no doubt. So plan on experimenting with it for a few days in the bathtub.

    You can get Rug Canvas at any crafts/sewing store. Also, you might need to sew/glue/hotmelt/etc the loose edges so that it does not unravel.


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