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  L# Mega Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover - DIY!
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SubscribeMega Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover - DIY!
santamonica
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Reminder of the Day: Less Maintenance

If less maintenance is a requirement, then you want an oversize screen; try 2X normal size, with 2X the number of lights. This should be able to go 2X as long before a cleaning is needed. The limiting factor might be the pods; at some point they may make big holes in the algae (or not; you will have to test). This is a great thing for someone to try out. Just remember that the additional screen space will need the same lighting that the current screen has.


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santamonica
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Many folks have been asking about the solar setup. Well that fellow is the success story of the day. "Bob the (reef)builder" on the MASA site originally set up this screen that I posted a few weeks ago:



Here are his updates:

9/21: Thank you for the input Santa monica, I will definately be doing this on an expanded basis. I think I will put a three ft tank in the sun and do what you've got on a slightly larger scale. Great simple fix to an ongoing problem by most aquarists.

9/28: The film is plastic and gets wet totally. Its 1m x 1m in size. The water input is also the stand. The strands run diagnally which makes the water flow very nicely. I'm happy with it and will let it stand in the sun. Hopefully get rid of the hair algae problem I have. You should see my actual tank to know why I jumped at this idea. The construction is so easy though. And if it works a quarter as well as Santa says it does, it will be like Christmas.

10/19: I changed this one as the upright design did not get enought sun. I put it on a 45degree angle and that was better:



10/25: It worked like a bomb. Phosphates down to 0.02 - 0.01 ppm (this is on a hanna meter and is very low). Normal test would just read undetectable. [Previously] the best I ever got it to trying every trick in the book including Zeo and Vodka, Lanthinum and many other phosphate removers was 0.03.
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Post InfoPosted 27-Oct-2008 08:03Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Update Of The Day: Growth Progression

Blank screens usually start off with a light brown slime of diatoms, unless the water is really high in nitrate and phosphate, in which it might start with dark spots. After a few weeks, green slime or green hair will usually grow. And from that point on, it will be a mix of brown and green, all of which is easily cleaned off. After a few months, however, and if you have enough light (and maybe pulsed flow), you may start seeing real red/brown turf, or possibly bright green turf. You'll know that they are turf because they won't come off no matter what you do, except with a razor blade.

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santamonica
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Text Version:

There should not be any bubbles if a scrubber is set up correctly with smooth flow into the water below. But if you have too many bubbles, make sure the bottom of the screen goes all the way down below the waterline, so there is no waterfall off the bottom, and design the scrubber with an "under over under" divider section like some people use in sumps.
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Post InfoPosted 30-Oct-2008 06:29Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Results Of The Day:

Corinna on the AC site: "Think we should just call you Santa!! After 3 weeks my screen is forming wine red spots, the pods are having pod parties and making babies, the seahorses are noticeably gaining weight and the water is decidedly 'sparklier'.Thanks."

jfdelacruz on the RP site: "Overfeeding does wonders! i dont know how and why but, the ATS seems to be an extra 20 gallons for my tank because even if I overfeed, nothing in my tank seems to be going bad! water is always crystal clear too! (I do have seagel in there running for about 2 months already) this ATS is a blessing."
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Post InfoPosted 31-Oct-2008 21:02Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Text Version: Nutrients, part 4

Our Tanks: High Inorganic Nutrients, Low Organic Nutrients.
The Ocean: Low Inorganic Nutrients, High Organic Nutrients.



Previous Versions:

http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Nutrients1.jpg
http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Nutrients2.jpg
http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Nutrients3.jpg
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Post InfoPosted 02-Nov-2008 01:03Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Reminder Of The Day:

If you are home when a power outage occurs, then just like you would manually try to oxygenate your tank, you would also take the screen out and set it in some water (even tap water in the sink.) Problem solved, no damage. It can sit there for two days with no ill effects. You could even put it in a shallow pan of water outside in the sun, where it will probaby grow

If you are not home, however, it becomes a question of which you lose first, your screen or your whole display. Long term (days) you are going to lose both, so we'll look at short term (hours). Somewhere in-between is the question: If you are not home when the power goes out for 2, 3, 4, 5 hours, etc., then how much of your screen will you lose, and how much of the nutrients will be "released" back into the water?

Well, most screens are designed to be up and out-of-contact with the water, so there will be zero "release" of nutrients during the power-outage. And floating screens that stay in contact with the water will not die or release nutrients at all in a short-term outage, because they stay wet. So immediate release of nutirents is not a factor in any situation.

The real question is long term loss of filtering, i.e., how much of the screen will die off during the outage. When you get back home, the screen has been drying for a few hours, but is still moist. What you do is put it in your sink with water and give the dead parts a chance to fall off. Not sure of how much time is needed, but just do a regular cleaning of the screen every few hours until it seems that most of the dead stuff is removed. Doing this in the sink will prevent any nutrients from getting back into the tank. You then put the screen back into operation, and it's no different than if you just did a regular cleaning. And this is the worst case.

I myself unplugged the wrong plug once and left the screen 6 hours with no flow. The fan was still on, but the lights were off at the time. It was all still moist, yet a bit hardened. I did not think at the time to remove the outer layers of dead stuff, so I just put it back into operation right way. What happened was the next day or two there was a very slight increase in N from zero (clear Salifert) to a very slight pink; probably got up to about .5 or 1. P did not ever increase, however. And this was without properly removing the dead stuff. So overall, I don't think power outages are really that eventfull for scrubbers.

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Post InfoPosted 03-Nov-2008 20:01Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Results Of The Day:

"pong" on the RP site: "Still havent cleaned my screen... and no water change... no problems! im just killing the pods by dosing kalk and all my top-off on the screen (since early october, no cleaning of the screen, last water change... august? september?)

"jski711" on the RS site: "the last phosphate test I had done at the lfs it was undetectable on the hanna phosphate photometer, and I only have the one side of my screen lit for now!!!"

"col" on the UR site: "Todays tests are P = 0.03, N = 5. the algae looks the same, green slime. Skimmer is still running 24/7, feeding 2-3 times a day for fat fish. Algae on the rocks is subsiding, and water conditions have never been better."

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Post InfoPosted 05-Nov-2008 02:21Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Call For Builders/Sellers

Here's a note to anyone who would like to start building and selling scrubbers. I think there are plenty of people who would like to buy one, but they don't have the time or ability to build them (there are several of these on every thread I'm on, who have asked me to build one for them), or they don't even know scrubbers exist but could use one. And currently there's no place to buy scrubbers. So it's a good time for you to put some buckets, acrylics, or sump screens together and offer them for sale, starting out by advertising on this forum.

I recommend that you start out selling buckets or sump screens, instead of acrylic units. The price of an acrylic unit is going to be much higher, and most beginners are not going to jump in and pay the extra money for one. Keep in mind that most folks buy small less-costly tanks first, and move up from there. That makes them feel safer, since they have less to lose when starting. Once they become comfortable with their small tanks, they get bigger ones for more money. This is how you shoud approach scrubber sales; small and cheap first, and then go from there if they are happy.

Since the bucket version is not very beautiful, it will just be a product for people who have nuisance algae problems in their tanks and they just want to try anything to get the algae out. They might even view the buckets as temporary; they can use it until the algae is gone, then put it in the closet or lend it to a friend.

The bucket version is certainly a good version for you to start with, especially by mail order, since it's self-contained and does not need elaborate installation at the customer's house (they just drop the pump in the tank/sump, and go.) And very important: The bucket can be used as its own shipping container, with it's own lid. And you almost certainly would want to include a pump with it (with an adjustable flow), so there would be no guessing on the customer's part as to what pump they should get. Something like a Hydor L40 Pump (740 gph), with a built-in flow adjust.

Adjustable flow is important, because you don't know how high up (head) the pump will have to push when the customer starts using it. Or, they may have a long run from the bucket to the tank. Also, the pump may get weaker (or the pipe slot may get clogged) with time, so being able to turn it up is a plus.

If you decide to sell locally, and install the scrubbers yourself, then you can also consider selling in-sump or above-sump screens. Since these are very custom installations, you can't expect a customer to figure it out for themselves. The light placement and water flow need to be setup by someone who's done it before.

As for a wavetimer, I'd recommend not putting one in. It's not proven yet just how effective it might be. What is proven is that it adds power cords and complexity, and decisions about what time to set it to (customers don't like making decisions.) Plus, wavemaker timers are not cheap; the one I used cost $50. That's a large portion of the total cost of a scrubber.

Also, I'd hold off on offering or even mentioning a fan. There is not much room on a bucket to easily clip on a fan, and it's just extra noise; it might even be viewed as a danger for families with kids. Remember, a fan is also not proven how effective it might help the scrubbing process. Plus, a fan will really chill the water; some reefkeepers want this, but some beginners will not. Only mention a fan if they are having heat issues with their tank, or if they currently use a chiller. Since fans are so cheap and easy to get, they can always buy and use one later.

Although you may have built your first scrubber with parts you already had, if you are going to be building several of these to sell, you'll be needing to buy everything new. A basic bucket-build includes the bucket, waterfall pipe, vinyl tubing, pump, screen, clips to hold the pipe to the bucket, lights, light timer (set to 18 hours ON), and the drain for the bucket. I'd probably include about as much vinyl tubing as you can fit into the bucket for shipping. (Customers are much happier when they don't have to make an unplanned trip to the store for tubing.)

My first tally came up to about $60 for the parts; then you need to add the pump. The one linked above is $80, for a total of $140. So you could sell the whole thing for $199, which would be fair for the amount of work you put in to make it (mostly, cutting the slot). Just print up an instruction sheet for the customer to read, and you are done! Now I'm sure if you searched around, or bought in bulk, you could cut the cost in half. But as far as the customer's cost is concerned, I think something like $199 is a good deal to wipe out algae in their tanks. But you can set your own price.

So making the scrubbers is easy enough. Where do you market and sell them? The obvious place to start is by letting people on the forums know you have them, starting with forums that have current scrubber threads like this one. Most forums also have a buy/sell section, which is a good place. The next step might be a banner ad on these forums, and then maybe you could buy a whole sponsor-forum. Next I'd target the LFS: Let them use a bucket for one of their problem tanks (of proper size) to prove the bucket works, then work out a deal whereby he buys from you and resells, or he holds them in consignment and gives you the money after he sells them. You set the price, of course.

You could also do a "loan-to-buy" offer, where you let a customer use a demonstration bucket of yours for free for maybe 2 weeks, and when you go to pick it up (when their N and P are reduced), they'll want to buy a new one from you in order to keep their N and P from going back up.

Ebay might be an option later on, when people know what these things are. Also you could always do a litte site of your own. And don't forget Craigslist. But people have to be already looking for scrubbers for these online places to work, unless you advertise it as a "mega powerful algae remover" Then there are the traditional magazines that you could advertise in. They get expensive fast, but the reach a lot of people. You'll probably want to get some sales going with the above efforts first.

Basically, you are trying to reach beginners. The types with FO, FOWLR, or softie/LPS reefs, who are on their first or second tank, are your best customers. They spend money (sometimes lots of) on something if it makes their tank the way they want it, especially if it does so without them having to expend any effort. 9 out of 10 people who walk into a LFS are this type of person. So getting familiar with your LFS(s) will be very important.

Guarantees: Although most everyone on these forums that has set up a scrubber properly has seen great results (and possibly even eliminated all their nuisance algae) within 8 weeks, you can't make a guarantee of the same to a customer, because you have no control over how they will use it. So by saying something like the scrubber "usually" clears out algae within 8 weeks, you will be covered in case they mis-use it. Now, if you are hired to build and install it yourself, and maybe even to do weekly cleanings of it, you might be able to promise more.

Size: Most customers will be beginners, using FW or SW fish setups under 100 gallons. For these folks, a standard 5 gallon bucket with 144 square inches of screen should be fine. If you find that they have a very heavily stocked FO tank, or a tank of 150+ gallons, you may recommend to them that they get two buckets (hooked up in series or parallel). Or at least to start with one, and then add another later if they like the results. But building a "bigger" bucket is not a good idea for now. Keep everything to one size.

Support: Once a customer has purchased from you, you'll want to remain in contact with them afterwards in case they have questions. Most of them will have their questions immediately after purchasing, which is when they are trying to get it hooked up and working. After that, you probably will never hear from them again, except for a few that think that it's your fault that their tank is dying from some bad-husbandry issue of theirs. This is when you rely on your no-refunds policy.

Installation: Many customers are only interested in the final look of their tank; they don't want anything to do with understanding how it works or how to install anything. For these folks, you offer (local) installation of the scrubber for an additional cost. If all you have to do is put the pump in their sump, set the bucket up, and run the drain line back to the sump, you might charge $150 service charge to go to their location and do it. That would include driving, setting up the bucket, taking N and P measurements, answering their questions, watching the setup for problems/leaks, showing them how to clean weekly and scrape perodically, etc. If you are installing a custom in-sump or above-sump design, maybe an extra $250 would cover the extra time.

Refunds: This will be the toughest area for you to deal with. Basically, you should guarantee that everything will ship to the customer without breaking (especially the lights) and that it will be in working condition. Other than that, once they start using it, there are no refunds. Let them know this upfront, in your invoice. And there are certainly no refunds if they are "not happy" with the nitrate, phosphate, or nuisance algae issues. Basically you just want to guarantee that the pump and lights work, since they are the only mechanical parts.

Tie-ins With Maintenance: Many guys, maybe you, are currently servicing tanks. So of course new accounts are always being sought to service. One thing you can do is to offer a free scrubber to a customer that purchases maintenance from you. So if you are a maintenance guy, you can use the scrubber to get new business. If you are not a maintenance guy, you can offer an actual maintenance guy a deal if he includes your scrubber in with his new clients.

Business cards: These are a must. Go online an set up an account with a printer who lets you design business cards from their site. BusinessCards.com is one (though I have not used them). You'll be making changes to your cards, so it good to have an account that you can go and make changes and make new prints. Here is an example of what your card could look like:



Pre-grown screens: While the pre-grown screens from Inland Aquatics really helps speed up results by weeks, I would not recommend including one in your scrubbers for customers. It's too much reliance on a third party for delivery, plus it introduces delays. Besides, everyone has been able to get desired nutrient removal from their tanks within eight weeks by starting with a blank screen. So why introduce a possible delay/problem. I would only consider a pre-grown screen if you were hired as a full-service person to fix nutrient problems on a large system, and they needed big results in a hurry, and you had complete control over everything.

Name: Refer to a scrubber as an "algae filter", not a scrubber. To a beginner, a "scrubber" is a scrub pad they clean the glass with. By referring to scrubbers as "algae filters" you do two positive things. First, you make it very clear to the customer what it does: It filters algae, which is exactly why they are talking to you in the first place. Second, if they ever become more involved in reefs, then they will come to appreciate that "algae filter" really means that the algae on the screen is doing the filtering. So the name really has two meanings.

LFS Referrals: Maintenance guys do this all the time. First you convince the LFS that the scrubber works by loaning him a bucket for a problem tank of appropriate size. After he's conviced, give him your business card so he can refer you customers. Hey may ask you for a referral fee, so you'll have to negotiate with him how much. I'd say $10 per person that calls you is fair, whether or not they buy.

Details: When explaing a bucket to a potential customer, you have to keep it simple. All they care about is removing the ugly green stuff from their rocks and glass. Some of these folks don't even know which fish are SW and which are FW. So talk about the bucket in terms of doing what they want: Removing the algae from their tanks. Don't even mention nitrate or phosphate unless they ask. Make it easy to understand, i.e., "All the algae filter does is make the algae grow on the screen instead of in your tank; then you just clean it away!" That's all they really need or want to know. If they get into wanting detailed explanations and case histories, they they are not going to be buying your scrubber. But they will talk forever. In sales, these people are called "talkers", and will waste most of your time, and buy the least amounts of your product. The people who do buy most of your product will be the ones who ask the least questions and then buy the quickest. Again, all they care about is: Will it get the green off the rocks and glass? How often does it need to be cleaned?, What is the cost?, and Is there an algae guarantee?. All are easy answers (the last one being "no".

Anyways, hope to see some of you becoming mini scrubber manufacturers!
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Post InfoPosted 06-Nov-2008 08:48Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Today's build of the day is from "Bob the (reef)builder" on the MASA site, the same fellow who made the outdoor scrubber. He now is the first one to build the acrylic Santa Monica version for his own tank. Here is the original layout I posted a while back:





(It's currently the only filter of any kind on my tank.)

Here is Bob's version of the same thing; It's 4 feet long, using 2 T5's on each side:









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Post InfoPosted 07-Nov-2008 09:52Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Another reefer with a good camera offered to take pics and vids of my display, but until we can arrange for that, here are some sump shots with my old 2meg camera:











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Post InfoPosted 07-Nov-2008 22:12Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Result Of The Day:

"garypower" on the UR site: "i was on one of the first couple of pages on this thread and decided like others to give it a go! my screen is now 2 months on, and its there as predicted, full of algea turf deep red brown colour and having to start using a blade to make space! my tank parems have gone to non-detectable po4 and zero nitrates! the tank in appearance looks like polished water yet i dont run carbon! my skimmer is now only running one hour every four hours with my ozone unit on a timer, i have a much better growth rate with my corals, there is less build up of algea on the glass i only use a magfloat once a week to clear very faint dusting of algea."


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Post InfoPosted 09-Nov-2008 23:57Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Anyone know anyone who could build some acrylic scrubbers? People have been asking me to build them, but I don't want to.

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Post InfoPosted 11-Nov-2008 02:18Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Here's an idea: How about a directory of scrubber builders, with the following info on each builder:


Location:

City
State
Country

Material that the builder knows how to use:

PVC
Plastic
Acrylic
Glass

Components that the builder knows how to build:

Pipe
Screen
frame for floppy screens
Bucket for screen
Box for screen
Sumps/Fuges with Scrubbers
HOB Scrubbers
HOT Scrubbers
LED Scrubbers


Misc:

Turn-around-time
Price range
Experience (number of scrubbers built)
Guarantees (if any)
Customer help after the sale
References
Misc items available (pump, timer, fan, unions, clips, etc)
Example drawings available?
How large/small can builder handle?


One problem with posting a directory is that it will need constant updating and re-posting. Would there be a better way to do it than posting in a thread? I could host it on my site where I put all the pics, or I could put it on the algae scrubber site. But ideal would be being able to post it here, and be able to edit it here.

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Post InfoPosted 11-Nov-2008 07:10Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Ok here is a directory template; If you would like to be listed as a scrubber builder, copy and paste the below info into a PM to me (do not post it here on the thread). I'll compile it from there...



Location (fill in)

Country:
State:
City:

Material that the builder has worked with (delete the rest)

PVC
Plastic
Acrylic
Glass

Components that the builder has built (delete the rest)

Pipe
Screen
frame for floppy screens
Bucket for screen
Box for screen
Sumps/Fuges with Scrubbers
HOB Scrubbers
HOT Scrubbers
LED Scrubbers


Misc (fill in)

Turn-around-time:
Price range:
Experience (number of scrubbers built):
Guarantees (if any):
Customer help after the sale:
References:
Misc items available (pump, timer, fan, unions, clips, etc):
Example drawings available:
How large/small can builder handle:

Contact (fill in)

Phone:
Email:
Personal or Business Website:
Forum Username:
Forum Website:



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Post InfoPosted 12-Nov-2008 08:58Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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This is a big Success Of The Day: "zennzzo" on the MFK site has the first freshwater scrubber success story of any thread, and he did it with a solar powered scrubber! Has has an outdoor inflatable pond that went from this:






To this...






... and it's still improving. He's in Southern California, and here are the pertinent parts of his build:


10/10: Subscribed for sure. I'm going to try this oustside in the sunlight...I would think there is enough light?

10/12: I am building one right now with plexi sheet. Started with a 1/8th sheet of clear plexi. 32" x 15" = 480 sq. inches. (good for a 650gal huh?) I sanded the plexi sheet with 40 grit in a cross-hatch pattern. Did the frame with 3/4" PVC pipe and couplings. I cut the slots with a table saw for the water to flow and used zip ties to keep it in place. A 1/2" hose barb for the water inlet on a "T". I'm building the stand so it will set in a small rubbermaid tote. I'll run a submersible pump with prefilter via hose to the 1/2" hose barb, then I will plumb an overflow, 1" gravity fed, a few inches off the bottom of the tote, back to the pond. These are pics of what I have so far...










10/13: [Realized he needed screen and not plexi] Plastic Needlepoint canvas...piece of cake, WalMart carries that. Does the holes per inch matter?, because the thicker it is, the larger the holes are. [Answer: Not really]

10/15: [Will be in] direct sunlight aprox 7 hrs. AM sun on one side and PM sun on the other... southern exposure.

10/16: "sunshine on my scrub-ber, makes me hap-py" **














After rubbing what green Algae I could scrape up, into the mesh like a caveman, the water is now running full width, and it looks slimey(?) shiney. [Flow is] 400-450 I would have to estimate, possibly more. I used a table saw with a carbide tipped blade for the slot and cross-cuts...Make [the pipe] longer than you need so you have something to hang onto while you are sawing the slot. The cross cuts are 1" apart and the blade height was set at 1/4" for the 3/4" - sch 20 PVC pipe.

I am chalking the ground to see if there is better exposure time about 80-90 degrees counter clockwise.

10/22: Woooot! OK we have what looks like the start of something very interesting. Here's the thing... it's down at the bottom where it gets the least amount of direct sunlight...??






The canvas was seeded with what I could, and then rinsed thoroughly. That's something you said in the thread. There was no visable green on that canvas [when started].

10/26: 10 days out, no foil, no mirriors, just good ol sunlight. I did move the tub 45 degrees counter clockwise to pick up more direct sun...








There are 4 medium KOI in there, and it's cycled. Just recently, 2-3 days ago? Algae took off in the pond almost over night.

10/30: day 15, pure solar power. this is what she looks like now...








I didn't see anything for a week, and then it started as a little bloom on just one square. After seeing where the growth pattern is, I would have used some 10 grit carbide paper on the plastic...the rougher the surface the easier the initial the spores can attach. The top where the plastic canvas goes into the spraybar, got scratched the most from fitting and re-fitting the screen...it has thick green algae on it and it is shaded alot of the time. So in summary, go as rough as possible on the prep...I say. See the high spots of the grid? I wish I would have sanded the crap out of it with bigger grit. I'm still getting good flow across the canvas anyhow.

11/1: same position 17 days from virgin screen. Seems the last 48 hours has been a bit overcast and the screen looks fuller...anybody else think so?...










11/4: here ya go, 20 days out. funny thing is it's been overcast and it rained a couple of days...








11/6: 21 days out, and now it is filling in with dark slimey looking stuff. And here is side view of the frame...












11/9: 25 days out... The algae [in the pond] is receding. 3 days ago [the pond] was totally covered. Like Magic it is disappearing. And this pond is in direct sunlight too...








11/10: will see if the algae grows thick now...it is filling in real good. Here are some shots of some super clear water...It has always been decent, but since the algae has been disappearing from in the pond, it is getting noticeably crystal like...the fish, at the same temp seem to be more active as well...












11/11: the bottom [originally] looked like the dark green you see here, but all the way across, no clean areas at all. You can see the algae is receding in the pattern of the current...








11/12: 28 days from bare screen; indirect sun for all of the daylight hours, and 4 solid direct sun hours...








It's a relatively inexpensive project for the results you can produce. If you are anything like me, no matter what others are getting, I had to see for myself, first hand. I have less than 20.00 invested, but I use the Sun and a gravity return. The concept is basic, add your twist to it and see what you come up with...it just might be better than the others.
.
.


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Post InfoPosted 13-Nov-2008 08:08Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
mattyboombatty
 
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interesting to see it works with FW tanks too!



Critical Fertilator: The Micromanager of Macronutrients
Post InfoPosted 13-Nov-2008 17:35Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
worley
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Yeah, afterall they were first used in large scale on fresh water rivers, I'm seriously considering building another one for my nile puffer/oddball FW tank, always have high nitrates in the tank
Post InfoPosted 13-Nov-2008 18:27Profile Homepage ICQ AIM MSN Yahoo PM Edit Delete Report 
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Well I thought more folks would want to be a scrubber builder, but so far only one person signed up to be in the directory that Worley set up:

http://www.algaescrubber.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=25

But at least those who want scrubbers (but don't have the time or ability to build one) can now have it done for them.


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Post InfoPosted 15-Nov-2008 03:25Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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Here are some other builds to give you more ideas:


"Nickq" on the UR site:









"Duijver" on the MFT site:












"Big Tanner" on the RS site:


















"Cleous" on the FG site:








"Coopattack" on the FG site:












"Cvermeulen" on the MFK site:





















"Doenuttz" on the MFK site:






"Dohn" on the MASA site:






"Tapz" on the RP site:












"Freetareef" on the RF site:






"Glaring Toast" on the MFT site:









"Goodisor" on the MASA site:
























"Hefner413" on the SWF site:












"Isaac" on the UK RF site:






"Jfdelacruz" on the RP site:









"Johnt" on the UR site:






"Jski711" on the RS site:









"Keyaam" on the MASA site:






"Labman" on the MD site:









"Minzuk" on the UR site:






"Mrobo770131" on the UR site:












"Obet_carlos" on the RP site:









"Pneumaticbetta" on the RS site:









"Rayjneal" on the SWF site:







"Tenpaullon" on the RP site:












"Todj2002" on the SWF site:


















"Tom" on the RP site:












"Worley" on the AS site:







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Post InfoPosted 16-Nov-2008 07:58Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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Question:

The DIY bucket or sump scrubber is basically a level 1 project. Simple, free, easy DIY, and works great. Yes they are a bit large and ugly, but who cares. Level 2 are the acrylics. Self contained, small (only six inches or so thick), powerful, and nice looking. But they are so hard to make that only two people besides me have made them (and one of them I had to get made for him). I thought that since so many people made DIY sumps and tanks, many more would have made nice looking acrylics. Guess not. And only one person is on the builder list.

Well now I'm working on level 3. Ultra small (one inch thick), high light power, unbreakable, etc. Basically the same scrubbing power as a level 1 in a sump, but the size of a book. Problem is, they are impossible to DIY. So my question is, would anybody want to discuss the building of something that they can't build themselves?



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Post InfoPosted 17-Nov-2008 09:31Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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Results Of The Day:

Johnt on the UR site: "corals are doing extremely well, the water is clear, and the rocks are starting to look like new. the scrubber is improving things; I'm getting better growth and the rocks are clearing, N & P are up and down a bit, as I keep cleaning the screen too well, but are remaining low even though I've not had the skimmer, rowaphos reactor or carbon running for 2 months."

Sinful_Waters on the RS site: "Ok I couldnt resist! After reading and reading forum after forum, I had to know what all the excitement was about with the ats. End result, miracles happen! Ive spent the last year and a half battling the green stuff, with excessive waterchanges, phosphate reactor, etss skimmer, limited lighting period, pulling by hand, constant dusting with turkey baster, Lawnmower blen, blue leg hermit, lettice nudis, astrea snails, super clean sand, remote dsb, etc, etc, etc. The algae covered every inch of LR and was seriously suffocating my corals. What do we do when the tough gets going, we build an ats! I did as was advised and built the 5 gal [bucket] with a doulble sided screen, two 21 watt, 6500k compact flourecent bulbs, and the flow is supplied from my overflow and returned into sump. I do a light scrubb on the screen about every 4 days, and thats all. It actually took a few weeks to get the green going, but when it did the [nuisance] algae in the tank started to melt away. It went away so fast I was literally worried that my fish, crabs, snails would all be deprived of the green feast. Long story short, overfeeding is not in my vocab, and my sps, lps, corals have beautiful color and growth, with perfect tank conditions and stability. Being on a limited budget I couldnt be more pleased at the ease of the build and its amazinig effectiveness (excuse the spelling)."

Keifer1122 on the RS site: "update: the ats on 75 gallon, almost 2 months, been put on with only about 20lbs live rock, [...] also 8 fish, 1 1/2" of sand. N & P undetectable, all params good, havent done a water change in 2 months. had to do about 20 gallon wc every week before the install. $$$$$$$. 12 gallon aquapod with ats been about 17 days. N is about 10, was 15 before the install, with pair of percs feeding 3 times a day pellets in the morning and afternoon, with a pinky nail cube of rods, also piece of silverside every week for the Bta. the numbers arent falling fast, but its steady (with a 2gal water change i could boost the process or just cut feedings). coral growth: everythings growing like a weed including my yellow m.digitata that i got along with my screen from inland aquatics. all in all, tanks look sweet. life made easy."

Arab_NA on the MASA site: "My scrubber after 3 weeks, cleaning 1 side each 7 days: My PO4 went from 1.0 to below 0.1, and NO3 from 50ppm to 0ppm. I am feeding 3 times a day now and have no problems at all! Thanks SantaMonica for saving my tank and giving me back the love for this stunning hobby."

mudshark on the Masa site: "WOW things are starting to happen now. The algea is getting really thick on the screens after 20 days. I measured phosphate, which has always been low, as it was being used by algea in the display. It read a big fat 0. In fact it seems to be at a crossover point where the algea on the screens is growing faster, and regressing in the display. I've taken some pics of SPS colours now, altough they have already improved since the introduction of the screens. I'm hoping to post some further improved colours at a later stage."

Sly on the SWF site: I've had my scrubber running since September. When I started, my phosphates were 8-10 ppm or maybe higher. The test water turned a very dark blue, indicating high phosphates. Today I did a test and can verify that my phosphates are now between 2 and 4 ppm. I am still getting massive growth in the scrubber.. So far the nitrates have reduced some, but not much... maybe by 5 ppm. I am seeing the greatest reduction in phosphate so far. Maybe the nitrate will start going down some more as the phosphate gets consumed completely. Some background: Tank has been running for 7 years. Using RO/DI water, ozone, refugium with macros, UV sterilization, skimmer and [now] scrubber. I don't really do water changes. The last one I did was sometime in 2007. I have had high phosphates for quite a while, and nitrates have been higher than I wanted, but still manageable. My fish and corals are still growing and thriving. I have never seen anything that would reduce the phosphate in my tank. Even water changes only lowered them momentarily. They would go back up in just a few days. This is the first time I've ever seen a reduction in phosphates. I suspect that in another month they may well be at 0ppm. Nitrate reduction still remains to be seen. Overall though, I think the scrubber was a positive addition to my tank. I'm finally starting to get some more corraline growth like I used to have. The growth is slow but I do see a definite increase in the vibrance and quantity of corraline in my tank."

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Post InfoPosted 19-Nov-2008 01:28Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Update Of The Day: Overflow GPH and Screen Width


If you are doing an overflow feed like this:






...then the overflow gallon per hour (U.S. gph) will determine how much flow you have to work with. You have to start from there, and size your screen accordingly. The maximum flow you'll get to the screen will be what's going through your overflow now. This is easy to figure out by counting how many seconds it takes your overflow to fill a one-gallon jug:

60 seconds = 60 gph
30 seconds = 120 gph
15 seconds = 240 gph
10 seconds = 360 gph
8 seconds = 450 gph
5 seconds = 720 gph
4 seconds = 900 gph
3 seconds = 1200 gph

Take this gph number that you end up with, and divide by 35, to get the number of inches wide the screen should be. For example, if your overflow was 240 gph, then divide this by 35 to get 6.8 (or just say 7) inches. So your screen should be 7 inches wide. Or you can use this chart:

Screen Width-----Gallons Per Hour (GPH)

1" 35
2" 70
3" 105
4" 140
5" 175
6" 210
7" 245
8" 280
9" 315
10" 350
11" 385
12" 420
13" 455
14" 490
15" 525
16" 560
17" 595
18" 630
19" 665
20" 700
21" 735
22" 770
23" 805
24" 840
25" 875
26" 910
27" 945
28" 980
29" 1015
30" 1050

How tall should the screen it be? That is determined by how much screen area you need, which is determined by how many gallons you have. Try to get one square inch of screen (lit both sides) for every gallon. If lit on only one side, double the screen area.

When finished, this is how you want your flow to look:



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Post InfoPosted 21-Nov-2008 03:50Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Quotes Of The Day:

Eric Borneman: "What turfs are, essentially, are excellent nitrogen and phosphorus uptake species, with a number of benefits over many other species: faster growing, less invasive, more efficient and less toxic than macroalgae, much more efficient by fast growth than Xenia, and far more effective in most tanks than seagrasses (which require so much more light, sediments, symbiotic microbes, benthic nutrients, and space) or mangroves. The big benefit of turfs as nutrient uptake and export, if needed or desired (by removal of the turfs as they grow), is that they grow faster than macroalgae in biomass, are generally not producers of prolific secondary metabolites (their defense and competition is fast growth), and they are confined to a specific area and are thus not invasive. Even if some get released into the tank, they are very palatable and are a treat for herbivorous fishes and invertebrates. In fact, turfs are havens for copepods, amphipods, ostracods, and polychaetes, favoring their reproduction."

Tom Barr: "You might also suggest this to folks, you can prep this [scrubber] filter very easily by using a bucket and the pump and getting a good film of growth outside (if possible , near a window with direct sun light) on the screen prior to use in the aquarium; no waiting for it to get all furry. This is pre cycling for an algae scrubber. There is a little sloughing and adaptation once you place in the tank, but this will accelerate the process. Use a bucket to prep things instead of the aquarium, this way you can get on top of things and cycle the tank much faster, essentially bypassing the cycle altogether, a so called "silent cycle". Algae remove NH4 [ammonium] directly, so there's no NO2 or NO3 build up. No need for bacteria (they will form later anyway, but will have a less prominent role). For folks that do FC ["fish cycling" in FW tanks], they should prep their algae filters in a bucket, not bomb the whole tank with NH3 [ammonia]. That's foolish to do that."

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Post InfoPosted 23-Nov-2008 06:47Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Update Of The Day:

"Christophe" on the MD site has an idea which could greatly improve a screen's performance after cleaning. As you know, after cleaning there is very little algae remaining to do any filtering. One way around this has been to clean half the screen each week, and another is to use two screens, cleaning only one screen per week. Yet another way is to pancake two screens together which makes extra deep holes for the algae to grab on to. (By the way, "rug canvas" holds on to algae much better than "plastic canvas", it's just more flimsy and hard to work with.)

Christophe's idea was to use Lego base Plates (the ones you played with as a kid):





They are available all over the web, and at almost every toy store and discount store. The beauty of these plates is that no matter how hard you clean/scrape, algae will still remain in-between the pegs (except the first week or so, where it will all come off anyways). Of course, you'll still want to sand/scratch all the areas in-between the pegs, but overall this looks very promising, if someone else would like to try it.

One disadvantage is that the plates are not (at least that I could find) available in clear, so a light on one side does not benefit the other side like it does with a screen. But since these plates are only formed one-sided anyways, it might not be such a bad thing, and indeed would be perfect for a twin-screen one-bulb setup.

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Post InfoPosted 24-Nov-2008 08:50Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Well there are three folks now on the scrubber builder directory who can build your scrubber for you: 2 in the U.S., 1 in the U.K. So there is no excuse to not have your own scrubber

http://www.algaescrubber.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=25
.
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Post InfoPosted 25-Nov-2008 09:51Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Reminder Of The Day: Feeding

Here is a diagram by Eric Borneman that shows what feeds on what:



It was taken from Eric's two building block articles that cover what happens when you feed your tank. This information is what you need to know to really understand what scrubbers do:

http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-01/eb/index.php
http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-03/eb/index.php
.
.

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Post InfoPosted 26-Nov-2008 05:37Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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.





Text Version: Nutrients, part 5

When Food Decomposes

Food ==> Bacteria ==> Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate ==>

==> Algae growth on your rocks and glass eats most of the
Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate.

==> The remaining Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate
stays in your water, which is what you read when you test.




Previous Versions:

http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Nutrients1.jpg
http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Nutrients2.jpg
http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Nutrients3.jpg
http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Nutrients4.jpg
.
.
.

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Post InfoPosted 28-Nov-2008 07:42Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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.





Text Version: Nutrients, part 5

When Food Decomposes

Food ==> Bacteria ==> Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate ==>

==> Algae growth on your rocks and glass eats most of the
Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate.

==> The remaining Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate
stays in your water, which is what you read when you test.




Previous Versions:

http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Nutrients1.jpg
http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Nutrients2.jpg
http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Nutrients3.jpg
http://www.radio-media.com/fish/Nutrients4.jpg
.
.
.

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Post InfoPosted 28-Nov-2008 07:51Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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LEDs for Scrubbers

Many folks want to try an LED scrubber. We do to, which is why we are trying to figure them out on the scrubber site. However, they are a ways down the road; nothing to report yet. If anyone wants to try themselves, here is a starting point:

Low-Power LED panel, to experiement with:
http://shop.sunshine-systems.com/product.sc?productId=1

Higher-Power LED panel, not sure if enough for good growth:
http://shop.sunshine-systems.com/product.sc?productId=10

The deal with LEDs is that you need lots of light power to have good growth. How much is still unknown. But the above panels are cheap enough that some folks should be able to give them a try. It's just for experimenting, though. If you need results you can count on, get a 23W CFL full spectrum or bigger, or a T5HO, or halide

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Post InfoPosted 30-Nov-2008 04:45Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Successes of the Day:

brianhellno on the MFK site: "Just wanted to share my success with a turf scrubber with my freshwater tank. Currently I have a 125 with (5) 6-inch piranha, (6) 4-inch giant danios, about (20) 1-inch baby black cons, (2) 2-inch green terrors, (2) 2-inch jack dempseys, and (1) 2.5 inch blue malawi cichlid. The smaller fish were all supposed to be feeders, but the piranha ignore them. Anyways I've had the scrubber up and running for almost three weeks now and I finally tested the water parameters: Ammonia 0 ppm, Nitrite 0 ppm, Nitrate 5 ppm. Not too bad! Usually the Nitrate sits around 40 to 80 ppm right before a water change, so this is definitely an improvement. All I can say is thanks for the great idea!

worley on the scrubber site: "Well just got my phosphate test kit and did a test... *drumroll* .... 0ppm. It's the API phosphate test kit, and it was the very lightest green on the salt water card (0ppm). That's a great result, especially as I'm now feeding tonnes into the tank, 1 block of brine shrimp and 1 of mysis, plus some live brine (fed with live phyto a an hour before feeding to the fish) and some pellet foods. [...] I still can't get over the phosphate test, and how low the nitrates are considering there's not been a water change in 2 months and so much food has gone in.

jan on the RPhil site: "Today is my 24th day of cycling, I measured my water my parameters and here are the result: Nitrate 0ppm. Turf algae is almost all over my screen Razz !!!! thanks for this great Idea!

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Post InfoPosted 02-Dec-2008 03:44Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Builds/Designs Of The Week:



Aqualityplace on the UR site:






Nickq on the UR site:









Dave3441 on the UR site:












RentalDeceptionist on the UR site:









Workers99 on the UR site:




































Bluespotjawfish on the RS site:





Reefski on the MD site:






Christophe on the MD site:












Sharkey18 on the MD site:









Loveaneighbor on the MD site:





















Dohn on the MASA site; not DIY-able, but good idea for manufacturing:

































Riaanp on the MASA site; this is on the back of a nano. The light is actually inside of the compartment, and he says it does not get wet at all:


















Franske on the MASA site:












Enatiello on the RS site:


















GlaringToast on the MFT site:






Jan on the RP site:






IamFood on the SG site:






Johntanjm on the SG site:


















Juzzmarine on the SG site:












Nitschke on the SWF site:















Todj2002 on the SWF site:











Worley on the AS site; this is for a high-power, very thin unit for HOB:









NoOne on the AS site:





























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Post InfoPosted 04-Dec-2008 09:21Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Feeding update: I've begun increased feeding, because my clown tang is getting skinny, and also because I want to try to keep a variety of non-photo NPS corals. So in my 90g with scrubber-only filtration, I'm currently feeding 4 cubes mysis, 5 ml Reed's Shelfish Diet (phyto), 5 ml Reed's Rotifeast, and 5 ml Reed's Arctipods (copepods), and 2 krill (for white eel) daily. Also one whole silverside weekly (for blue eel). For reference, 1 ml is about 2 pumps from a typical phyto pump bottle.

Since I increased to this amount, I'm now getting my first detectable readings in several months (Salifert). Nitrate is a slight pink... varies between .1 and 1. Phosphate is a barely visible blue; sometimes I'm not sure if it's really blue or not, but it's definitely not the crystal clear it used to be.

Pink coralline is continuing to take over, and the last two square inches of nuisance film algae disappeared last week. Some spots of cyano are still trying to hold on, but the coralline is overtaking them.

So the goal now is to see how much I can actually feed while still keeping N an P low. I don't think they need to be undetectable; I think my goal is to keep nuisance algae from forming, while at the same time being able to sustain non-photo NPS corals. BTW I added a few SPS frags on my new frag tray, and they seem to be doing well.

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Post InfoPosted 07-Dec-2008 05:12Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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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.

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Post InfoPosted 10-Dec-2008 07:47Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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Scrubber FAQ 1.0 is now complete, and will be updated periodically:

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

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Post InfoPosted 13-Dec-2008 03:46Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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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!

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Post InfoPosted 15-Dec-2008 08:40Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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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."

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Post InfoPosted 16-Dec-2008 22:43Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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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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Post InfoPosted 18-Dec-2008 03:49Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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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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Post InfoPosted 19-Dec-2008 01:46Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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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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Post InfoPosted 22-Dec-2008 08:24Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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EditedEdited by santamonica
Several folks commented that they liked the hand-built nano-scrubber that Nitschke65 on the SWF site built for his Aquapod-type tank:


http://www.radio-media.com/fish/UserNitschke65onSWF-1.jpg
http://www.radio-media.com/fish/UserNitschke65onSWF-2.jpg
http://www.radio-media.com/fish/UserNitschke65onSWF-3.jpg
http://www.radio-media.com/fish/UserNitschke65onSWF-4.jpg

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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Post InfoPosted 24-Dec-2008 21:22Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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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

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Post InfoPosted 27-Dec-2008 01:19Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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EditedEdited by santamonica
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:

http://www.radio-media.com/fish/UserMadeleyOnAS-edit.jpg




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.
.




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Post InfoPosted 28-Dec-2008 02:26Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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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."

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Post InfoPosted 31-Dec-2008 02:33Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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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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santamonica
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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





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Post InfoPosted 04-Jan-2009 23:10Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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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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Post InfoPosted 06-Jan-2009 20:19Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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Update Of The Day:

Waste is Food: Reef tank owners sometime get into the frame of mind of "food is food, and waste is waste". Thus they put food into the tank, and they remove waste from the tank (skimming, siphoning, waterchanges.) But actually, both food and waste are Organic, and thus are both "food" (food for something, somewhere). Corals and inverts may not directly eat the big krill that you feed your fish, but they do eat the waste from those fish. Further info:
http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-07/eb/index.php

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Successes of the Day:

todj2002 on the SWF site: "since installing scrubber, N and P are still both at zero. i cleaned it again today. not any big deal, but huge progress for me. finally beat the algae after two years of trying. using scrubber with chaeto and RO water now. finally getting somewhere."

Marine_Nick on the RP site: "Thought I'd update on my screen. When setting it up I was concerned about light pollution from the sump into the room, and noise from the falling water. as my tank is on an outside wall, I wanted to put the screen outside if possible. I already had an old 18 x 12 x 12 tank, so had it drilled and put a small wier in it, the water is pumped from the sump up and out through the wall to the screen, runs down the screen, through the weir, back through the wall and back into the sump. All of this is in a small shed I made which contains all the lighting etc, my screen is 18 inches tall by 12 inches wide and has a light on either side. Screen has been running now for 4 weeks, and my nitrates have dropped from 30 to 7 and phosphate from 0.25 to 0. In the last 4 weeks, nothing else has changed in my tank other than more fish being introduced, and therefore more food being added, and still the parameters have dropped!! Overall I'm really happy with results so far and hope to see the nitrates drop to zero in the next week or two. Big thanks to Santa Monica for this thread and all the info!"

jtrembley on the MD site: "I got frustrated with the skimmer (EuroReef, rated for 80) on my 40 gallon a while back. It was pulling out *lots* of crud, but I was having trouble with detritus building up, and rising P values. Since yanking the skimmer and DIYing (poorly) a rev. 2 scrubber [acrylic box style], phosphates and nuisance algae are down, and the backlog of detritus is slowly being consumed. I'm seeing lots more worms (particularly the small ones that build white, spiraling tubes) and 'pods (amphi- and cope- that is, but not octo-). Here's the funny thing: at the 3 year stage of my 40, I started getting lots of nuisance algae, despite having one of the hands-down best skimmers for small tanks, an MCE600, on it. Thinking that I was doing something wrong, I put an MC-80 on it. After another year, I started getting more and more detritus building up in the display, despite having a *lot* (over 2k GPH) of flow. And then I noticed something else: I no longer had many fan and bristle worms, amphipods, or copepods left in the sytem, either. So...I started swapping out my old LR for new, to replenish the critters. And I tried Fauna Marin and vodka dosing. But the critters weren't really spreading, and the nuisance algae was getting worse, and my P was rising despite water changes. So, I thought about it, poked around, and looked at Eric Borneman's study of *fresh* skimmate (i.e., not stuff that was left in the cup to rot). And I realized something: having a high quality skimmer on the tank was probably stripping the tank of big chunks of its potential cleanup crew. So I took off the skimmer, and put in a turf screen to cover the water's surface in what used to be the skimmer's chamber in my sump. Low and behold: I'm feeding more; I'm once again seeing fresh worm tracks in my sand bed; the copepods are back; the nuisance algae is dying off; P is undetectable by hobby kits; and the detritus is slowly clearing up. And I'm not doing as many water changes. I checked pH this morning, it was 8.2, before the lights are on. I'm honestly not seeing the down side. So yeah, removing the skimmer and putting in a $5 turf scrubber fixed my tank of "old tank syndrome". Just for giggles, I just tested my N (0.2 or 0.5 Salifert) and P (0.05 Hanna photometer). No visible HA, turfs, or cyano in the display, and I can (easily) feed 2X cubes of Hikari mysis, some dulse, and 2 scoops' worth of Reef Chili daily (again, in a 40). And I haven't done a water change in a month. I'm honestly not seeing a downside to scrubbers at this point."


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Post InfoPosted 13-Jan-2009 08:35Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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Update: The Trick of Dark Brown Algae

This has now happened to many people who have new scrubbers. They get early growth, but it's not the green stuff that they see in most pics. Instead it's a dark brown super-thick "coating", or a black "tar", that looks like it was poured on:










What you have here is the type of algae that grows when nutrients are extremely high (!). After a few cleanings, when the nutirents come down, the color will lighten up to some balance point where it will stay. The big problem, however, is that people think the screen is not growing, so they leave it in to "grow more" (by not cleaning it). BIG MISTAKE! This type of algae does not grow thick, at all. It never gets more than 1/4" (6mm) or so. And worse, since it's SO DARK, it block all light from reaching the bottom layers, thus causing those layers to die and release nitrate and phosphate back into the water. So the solution is to clean ANY and ALL dark brown/black algae right away, and don't even wait until the end of the week. Basically, if you cannot see your screen, then light is not reaching it and it needs to be cleaned. You'll only have to do this a few times before the nutrients come down and the algae color lightens up. Don't fall for the Dark Brown Algae Trick.

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Success of the Day:

"Mxett" on the MD site: "I installed a simple [scrubber] over my refugium. It uses an old plastic fruit juice container and a syphon [which makes a surge device] to dump 2 litres onto a white plastic chopping board which lays horizontally over the top of the refugium. A reflective CFL [bulb] is situated just 10cm above this board. The surge occurs every 30 seconds, lasting for 15 seconds. Growth on the [scrubber] has been excellent. Harvesting the algae is performed every 1 to 2 weeks per SM's instructions. [should be weekly ] N & P have never been detectable in my system, BUT I have always struggled with a very persistant nuisance red algae! It threatened to overtake my entire tank in the months before installing this [scrubber], which is only a modest size for my 800 litre cube. Anyway, after 3 months of using the [scrubber] I can confidently say I have little to none of this red algae left! My purple tange eats it and always has, but with less nutrients available to it, it has just withered away, and he just finishes it off. Overall a great success over a difficult pest. Thanks SM for providing the inspiration and idea to create, install and use such a cheap, easy and effective natural filter."


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Post InfoPosted 18-Jan-2009 04:06Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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Scrubber FAQ 2.0 is now up:
http://www.algaescrubber.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=68

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.
Today's Success of the Day, from OceanParks on the MFT site, had a good story to it. So here it is with his posts and the dates:

12/17: SantiMonica: I've also built and installed your screen. I am on day 5. I have the brown/green film and was wondering how long before you start to see a noticable drop in Nitrates? I have a 110 gal reef tank with fish and my Nitrates are at 20ppm. Thanks.

12/18: and what wattage bulb would you suggest (pc flood) would you recommend for better results?

1/5: Ok. So I read your thread and built a scrubber (a true hobbyist). I'm in the middle of week three and I've done 2 cleanings and one freshwater rinse. Nitrates began at 30ppm and are now down to 5ppm (with the help of a 40% water change) in this 110 gallon reef tank. I removed the skimmer and UV sterilizer to allow room for the scrubber. I will compose a more formal, descriptive posting in the near future on my setup - one that I hope you will use in your RESULTS postings. I am still trying to get a grip of this thread thing....it is my first one. Did you say that you were getting better results with a different light bulb. If so can you please specify? Thanks! Enjoy the pictures! What do ya think?










1/5: [Remove the filter socks.] Really about the socks? I'm afraid of too may particles floating around. I'll give it a try. Also, can I get the plant-grow bulb at Home Depot and is it in Flood form? I have the timer set for 16hrs on and 8hrs off, however, I get excited and want to turn them on early for (in my mind) faster results. Probably no better results? Ok. Off with the socks. Good idea. Is the grow-light a flood light like those pc flood light? Thanks for the help! I will send a full report and pictures in a few weeks!

1/7: I replaced my flood lights with 2700K "soft white" PC Flood lights today. Same wattage...they just seem dimmer. It's that red light. Hope it works better.

1/12: I spent some time reviewing the begining of this thread and noticed that most of the pictures showed bright green thick mats of algea on the screen. I am not getting that after 5 weeks. I am getting dark brown/red stuff and it's only about 1/4" combined. [The stealthy high-nutrient black/brown algae that must be removed right away.] I did use some of the brown/red stuff to seed the new screen when I built it. Should I rebuild the screen and seed it with some hair algae from the tank? [not now.] Also, at the bottom of my sump, beneath the screen there is red/brown slime forming (see picture). Should I remove/treat for this or can it be concidered benefitial? [leave it.]

1/12: Here is 5.1 oz of the black oil (I read from your other site). Funny enough, under the layer of black stuff there was some bright green algae. Any thoughts on that? [that's why it needs to be removed right away.]

1/20: CLEAR!!!!!! My scrubber has been up since December 18th and tonight the Nitrate test (Nutrafin) read clear indicating 0 nitrates! Awesome. Thank you SantiMonica. Awesome. 0 Nitrates on the Salifert Test too.
.


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Post InfoPosted 22-Jan-2009 02:38Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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One of the big benefits of a scrubber is that it keeps food in the water. Here is an update pertaining to this:

Part 1 of 7:

Taken from "Reef Food" by Eric Borneman:
http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-07/eb/index.php

"Detritus, marine snow, particulate organic material, and suspended particulate matter are all names for the bits of "dirt" [food] that flow around the reef; material that is composed of fecal material, borings, algae, plant material, mucus, associated bacteria, cyanobacteria and other particles. Decomposers (mainly bacteria and associated flora and fauna) break down waste material in the water, on the reef, and primarily, in the soft sediments. The result of their presence and action is not only a food source in and of itself, but provides raw material for channeling back into the food chain, largely through the benthic algae and phytoplankton.

"Phytoplankton [food] are small unicellular algae, or protists, that drift in the water column. They may be very abundant in and around coral reefs, and they are capable of absorbing large amounts of organic and inorganic nutrients. [...] Some of the reef animals can feed directly on phytoplankton; many soft corals, some sponges, almost all clams, feather-duster worms, and other filter feeders utilize phytoplankton directly as a food source. Small animals in the water column, termed zooplankton [food], also utilize phytoplankton as a food source. For the smaller zooplankton, phytoplankton and bacteria are the primary food source.

"Both of the [photos not shown] are from reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The left photo shows the clear "nutrient poor" (oligotrophic) waters of the outer reefs. The right photo is of an inshore "nutrient rich" lagoon reef off Townsville. Notice how coral coverage in both systems is high, and even though the green phytoplankton-filled lagoonal reef is nutrient rich, it supports a high density of Acropora.

"Coral reef food sources, then, are largely produced by the ocean. Bacteria, detritus, phytoplankton, zooplankton, small benthic fauna, mucus, and dissolved organic and inorganic material of various types and sizes are what comprise the majority of food on a coral reef.

"In aquaria, we are faced with several realities. Our phytoplankton and zooplankton populations are generally negligible to non-existent in comparison with coral reef communities. Those which do exist are either rapidly consumed without having a chance to reproduce, or they are rapidly removed or killed by pumps and filtering devices or suspension-feeders. Coral mucus, bacteria, detritus, larval benthos and other "psuedo-plankton" might be present in a reasonable amount if the water column were not stripped. On the other hand, dissolved organic and inorganic material [nitrate, phosphate] levels are frequently much higher than they are in the ocean. [...] Even very well maintained aquaria are generally found with much higher levels of nitrogen and phosphorous than wild communities. Even though many desirable organisms are able to utilize these nutrients, levels in most aquaria are very unnatural, and coral reefs under such conditions often wane or die - a process known as eutrophication.

"It is the lack of water column-based food that results in limited success with the maintenance of some desirable animals, such as crinoids, flame scallops, clams, certain corals, sponges, bryozoans, and many other invertebrates. Even the symbiotic (zooxanthellate) corals [like SPS] suffer, despite many obvious long-term successes with these animals.

"In terms of previously mentioned export mechanisms, it really does little good to be cultivating or adding more food material in the water column if it is all being rapidly removed by filtration devices. Live rock and sand provide abundant filtration, and some of the articles in past issues describing the set-up and use of unskimmed tanks are, in my experience, something that should be seriously considered. Algae Turf Scrubbers are also viable systems that provide low ambient water nutrient levels [of nitrate and phosphate] while maintaining higher amounts of food and particulate matter in the water. I also feel that if protein skimmers are used, they should probably be used in an intermittent fashion.

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Thought Of The Day:

A few folks have seen (or thought that they had seen) their skimmers "working less" or "producing less" after their scrubber started working. While this may have happened for other reasons, there is really no direct reason that a scrubber should cause a skimmer to produce less. This is because a skimmer and a scrubber remove different things: Scrubbers remove Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate, which are invisible, and which are the things that your test kits test for. Skimmers remove food (Organics). So having a scrubber remove the Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate really shouldn't cause a skimmer to remove any less food (unless you are feeding less). What MIGHT be happening, is that less Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate in the water means there is less food for bacteria (bacteria eat Organics AND Inorganics), and if there is less bacteria, then there is less to skim out.


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Post InfoPosted 26-Jan-2009 05:17Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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Update of the Day: New Research on Skimmers and Organics:

The whole point of scrubbers is that they remove Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate, which are the things your test kits measure, and which are also the things that cause nuisance algae to grow. The other good point about scrubbers is that they leave Organics (food) in the water for the corals and fish and bacteria to eat (the bacteria also then become coral food.) People who prefer skimmers, however, say that skimmers removes Organics (food) before they break down into Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate.

I say, why not just feed less, instead of feeding more and then removing it with a skimmer? Let's look at it from their viewpoint. Their viewpoint is "Feed more, and remove the excess Organics (food) with the skimmer." Well, the current January 2009 issue of Advanced Aquarist just published extensive research into how well different skimmers remove Organics. They refer to Organics as "TOC", which is the Total Organic Carbon; TOC is the the combination of Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC), and Particulate Organic Carbon (POC). Here is the article, and this is what it said:

http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2009/1/aafeature2

"In addition to some dissolved organics, small particulates and microbes (bacterioplankton, phytoplankton) can be removed at the air/water interface of the [skimmer] bubble as well (Suzuki, 2008). The skimming process does not remove atoms/molecules that are strictly polar and readily dissolve in water, such as some organics, salts, inorganic phosphate, carbonate, etc.

"The skimmer pulls out all of the TOC that it is going to remove by the 50-minute mark. Beyond that time point, nothing much is happening, and the TOC level doesn't change much.

"Thus, all skimmers tested remove around 20 - 30% of the TOC in the aquarium water, and that's it; 70 - 80% of the measurable TOC is left behind unperturbed by the skimming process. It may be possible to develop a rationalization for this unexpected behavior by referring back to Fig. 1. Perhaps only 20 - 30% of the organic species in the aquarium water meet the hydrophobic requirements for bubble capture, whereas the remaining 70-80%, for whatever reason, don't."

So, the strength of skimmers (since they don't remove Inorganics) is supposed to be that they remove Organics before they break down. But this research shows (once again) that they don't even remove the Organics. Here is additional 2008 reasearch that shows the same:

http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2008/8/aafeature3
http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2008/9/aafeature2

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Results of the Week:

jtremblay on the MD site: "the last few strands of HA have disappeared from my 40's display, and the build-up of detritus is continuing to go down, despite there being no skimmer on this tank."

nitschke65 on the SWF site: "My biocube is currently being filtered by my custom [nano] turf scrubber in chamber two; there is also a ball of chaeto in the bottom af chamber two, and a bag of Chemi-pure Elite in chamber three. My protein skimmer stopped working two or three weeks ago. (My mushrooms and zoas have never looked better!) I also have some polyps, hammers, and galaxia. There's a few nassarius, and a few hermits, an emerald crab, and possibly a pepermint shrimp. There's a lawnmower blennie, two green chromis, a scarlet hawk, and a Potter's angel. I haven't cleaned my screen or done a water change in 2 weeks [bad!]. This mornings readings: Ammonia - 0 Nitrites - 0 Nitrates - 0

Skunkbudfour20 on RC: "Yes i built one, Yes i am running it, and YES my nitrates, nitrites, ammonia and phosphates all dropped to almost 0 within the first 3 weeks, and yes algae growth in my display has come to a stop, and slowly recedes... I am still running my skimmer, even though it doesnt seem to be doing AS much, its still doing something for now."

Worley on the AS site: "As for lights, I have seen an improvement in the type of algae growing and in the overall amount of growth since changing bulbs to the lower 3500K colour temp. I've been getting more hair [on the screen], macro algaes, some interesting dark green very very long hair-like algae (6"+ long). The cyanobacteria [in the display] is nearly completely gone, along with less brown slime algae, both in the tank and on the screen. And best of all, still no water changes, nearly 5 months on, with good calcium, dKH and PH. I've easily saved the price of the equipment used to make the scrubber from not having used an entire bucket of salt, and everything in the tank looks more healthy than I've ever seen in a marine tank I've kept before, I'm loving it, and so is my girlfriend!"


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Update of the Day: Freshwater Cleanings

You absolutely must use freshwater, in your sink, when cleaning your screen once a week. If your weekly cleaning gets delayed, at the very least turn the pump off and pour RODI over the screen to kill the pods. Otherwise the pods start growing underneath, eating the algae, then falling off into your water. You will not see the holes they make unless the algae is very thin. It becomes an issue of the scrubber not removing as much nitrate and phosphate, because the pods eat the algae you've grown, and then re-introduce the nutrients back into the water. FW of course, kills the pods. SW does not. So use FW weekly. And don't worry about getting rid of all the pods; you won't. The next day there will be millions more.

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Part 3 of 7:

Taken from "The Food of Reefs, Part 3: Phytoplankton" by Eric Borneman
http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-10/eb/index.php

"Phytoplankton are the major source of primary [food] production in the ocean, and one of the most important driving forces of global ecology. In fact, phytoplankton production influences all life, by being at the lowest rings of the food chain.

"The reason [phytoplankton] are so important on a regional or global scale is simply by virtue of the fact that the upper 200 [meters] of oceanic waters is filled with phytoplankton and covers over 70% of the earth's surface.

"What eats phytoplankton? In the water column, zooplankton [food] are without question the primary consumers of phytoplankton. Zooplankton grazers vary according the area and the time of year, but include primarily ciliates, copepods, amphipods, and tintinnids.

"Stony corals are generally not well adapted to the sieve or filter type feeding that characterizes the soft corals (Fabricius et al. 1995, 1998). They are, however, well suited to the capture of zooplankton prey.

"It is of paramount importance to recognize that the biomass of potential grazers [which need food] in an aquarium is many times what it would be in the same volume of water or surface area as the bottom of oceans or on reefs, and also, that the availability of water column borne food is many times greater in the ocean than in an aquarium.

"Perhaps most importantly, is the almost ubiquitous interaction between bacteria and phytoplankton. Phytoplankton release dissolved organic substances, and bacteria utilize them as nutrient sources. Most phytoplankton cells, especially large ones, are coupled nearly continuously with coatings of bacteria [which are consuming the dissolved organic substances].

"The amounts of phytoplankton present in reef aquariums are not known but are probably considerable. However, they are also probably rapidly removed by grazing and export devices [skimmers].

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Bob the (reef) Builder on the SARK site made this PDF for a club presentation three months ago, and I just found it; maybe it could be used by others:
http://www.radio-media.com/fish/AlgaeFilters.pdf

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EditedEdited by santamonica
Scrubber FAQ 3.0 is now up, with about 50 percent new info:
algaescrubber.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=68&p=386



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Results of the week:

Broder on the SARK site: "I have been running my tank with an algal filter for about 3 months now. I removed the skimmer on the 10th last month. My display has never looked better. The [nuisance] algae has almost totally dissapeared. My SPS colonies are thriving. Not only are they growing well, but the colouration has become vibrant due to 0 PO4 (Salifert test) and 0 nitrate. I've seen better colouration in systems that were using Zeovit, but I'm more than happy with the results the algal filter achieves."

Sly on the SWF site: "The back glass used to be absolutely covered in green algae, but now it's staying clean on its own. I have never cleaned it. The rocks weren't that bad, but there were some patches of cyano in places that are now gone. It now seems to be staying cleaner on its own. My ORP has started rising again and is a 270mv without ozone. I don't know if it's related but as my tank levels have improved lately, my Mandarin is coming out more in the day time. This is the first picture I have ever been able to get of him in the open... and I've had him for over 2 years. The live rock and the substrate both have zero algae on them"

TODJ2002 on the SWF site: "i added a scrubber several months ago after reading this thread. my nitrates and P slowly lowered and went to zero for the first time. they have both been at zero since. everytime i check levels i am expecting to see a rise, but always zero. i also added cheato to my system and i believe boths items are a must for any system."

Adee on the SARK site: "Ok so its been about 6 weeks since i fired this scrubber up. Did the 1st "harvest" on just the one side; i'll do the other side next weekend. My phosphate reading is a zero according the Elos color chart... and for the very first time the complete back glass pane has broken out with coraline algae. Its never done that before due to the back always being covered with the normal glass algae/diatoms. Since the latter no longer appears, the coraline is now growing. I'm sure in a few weeks I'll have a complete pink wallpaper at the back. The fact that the scrubber makes the ideal platform for all this gunk to grow OUTSIDE my display tank, was well worth the investment."

Bob the (reef) Builder on the SARK site: "Both my filters are going great guns. Probably the best is the sun [powered] one, it's big and now that its settled, grows algea like crazy. My phospates down to 0.00 - 0.01ppm on a Hanna meter. Never seen it this low before. My corals are starting to grow and colour up really well now."

RentalDeceptionist on the UR site: "Ooh the [nuisance] algae. Well, it has certainly receeded massively. It's not 100% gone but I feel I'm on top of it. The hair algae which virtually smothered every flat surface is now down to about 20% of its mass, and there is more rock than algae. I do believe decreasing the lighting has helped."

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"Kcress" on the algae scrubber site has just finished his version of a G2 LED scrubber, for testing. A G2 is a self-contained scrubber, but the LEDs themselves are not the screen, like they are with a G3. Anyways, for testing purposes, he only has LED's on one side of the screen, and he only used low-power LEDs to avoid heat issues:













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"Kcress" on the algae scrubber site has just finished his version of a G2 LED scrubber, for testing. A G2 is a self-contained scrubber, but the LEDs themselves are not the screen, like they are with a G3. Anyways, for testing purposes, he only has LED's on one side of the screen, and he only used low-power LEDs to avoid heat issues:













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Update: Pod Size

All the talk of how a scrubber "grows pods" has given some folks the idea of trying to catch the pods in a net. I think they might be expecting large pods like they see crawling around their sand and rocks at night. But actually what grows in scrubbers is the microscopic baby pod, which look like a spec of dust. This is because the weekly scrubber cleaning (in FW) kills most of the pods before they can eat too much of the algae. While this makes the scrubber work really good at removing nutrients (since the pods will not have a chance to eat the algae and put it back into the water), it also limits the growth period of the pods to 7 days. So what you get are millions of tiny white pod specs that fall off the scrubber and float through the water; if you have good circulation, the water might even look "dusty". This is exactly what you want: Large numbers of live zooplankton (baby pods) floating through the water, feeding your corals and small fish. Just like a real reef.

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Update: Ultra Low Phosphate

Many people, after having great success with their scrubbers, have brought their phosphate down so low that their test kits can't measure it. And the nuisance algae has been mostly cleared out of the display. However, these people start seeing a fuzzy detritus-looking accumulation on some parts of the rocks, and sometimes on the sand. They clean it off, but it comes right back. What is it?

What they are seeing is phosphate coming out of the rocks(!). This is a great thing to happen. It requires two situations: (1) You previously had high levels of phosphate in your water (higher than .1) for several weeks or more, and (2) You now have very low levels of phosphate in your water. It's very counter-intuitive, and it will make you think that things are going wrong, especially since this type of algae growth looks just like "detritus" (but it's not.) Things are actually going very right, and here is why:

Phosphate is like water: It flows from higher levels to lower levels. For example, if you have two aquariums connected with a pipe at the bottom, the water levels would be the same in each tank. But if you poured extra water into one tank, it's level would rise for a second, then the water would flow into the other aquarium until the levels were equal again (although both levels would now be higher). Now, if you removed some water from one of the aquariums, it's level would drop for a second, then the water from the other aquarium would flow into it until they both evened out again (although both levels would now be lower). If you kept removing water from just one of the aquariums, the levels of both aquariums would keep falling, until they both reached the bottom. This is exactly how phosphate works.

Situation (1): In the previous weeks or months, when your phosphate levels in your water were high, the phosphate was flowing from the water INTO the rocks and sand and anything else that is made up of calcium carbonate, such as coral skeletons and clam shells. The phosphate did this because it's level in the water was "higher" than the phosphate in the rocks and sand. This part of the process is invisible, since Inorganic Phosphate is invisible. You don't see it going into the rocks and sand, but your rocks and sand are indeed being "loaded up". And if your phosphate in your water goes up even higher (say, .5), then even more phosphate goes into your rocks and sand, until it evens out again. You probably also see nuisance algae on your glass and other non-rock surfaces, because there is enough phosphate in the WATER to feed the algae anyhwere it's at. And that's the important point to remember: There is enough phosphate in the WATER to feed the algae ANYWHERE.

Situation (2): Now, you've been running your scrubber (or any phosphate remover) for a while, and your phosphate in the WATER has been testing "zero" on your hobby test kit. Nuisance algae has been reduced or eliminated on your glass and everywhere else. This is because there is not enough phosphate in the WATER to feed the nuisance algae. However, since the phosphate in the water is now very low, guess where it's still high? IN THE ROCKS! So, phosphate starts flowing FROM the rocks and sand, back INTO the water. And as long as your scrubber keeps the phosphate low in the WATER, the phosphate will keep flowing out of the rocks until it is at the same level as the water. You can visualize the phosphate as heat coming off of a hot brick; you can't see it, but it's flowing out of the brick. Anyways, since you now have all this phosphate coming out of the rocks and sand, guess where algae starts to grow? ON THE ROCKS AND SAND!

There is a striking differece between the algae in Situation 1 and 2, however; in (1) the algae is on everything: Glass, rocks, sand, pipes, thermometers, pumps, etc., and the algae is a typical algae that you normally get in your display. But in (2), the algae is dark, short and fuzzy, just like detritus, and it's only growing on the rocks and sand. And if you look closely at the rocks, it only growing on certain PARTS of the rocks (usuallly narrow parts that stick out), and not growing on the rocks right next to it. This is because certain areas of the rock have absorbed more phosphate than others, and thus are releasing more phosphate into the water. Glass, plastic, etc, don't absorb phosphate, so thats' why there is no algae growing on them now, since they are not releasing phosphate back into the water. So the algae now grows only where it can find enough phosphate, and for now, this is only on certain parts of the rock and sand where enough phosphate is flowing back into the water.

But just like the aquarium example above, the levels of phosphate in the rocks and water will eventually even out, and the flowing will stop. When this happens, the nuisance algae will disappear from the rocks, never to return again (unless of course your phosphate levels rise again for some reason.) The time for this to happen is weeks to months, depending upon how much phosphate is stored in the rocks. So don't give up!

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Update: Grow Bulbs

The best bulbs to grow algae are "grow bulbs", which are pink in color. Sometimes these bulbs are called "plant grow" bulbs. But don't confuse these bulbs with "plant bulbs" which are blue or green. Blue bulbs have a different purpose, and green bulbs are just to make plants look nice. It's the pink bulbs that give the algae the type of light that it grows best with. The light won't seem as bright as a white bulb, however, but it works much better. You can find grow bulbs at any garden store, home improvement store, hydroponics store, or online. Each bulb should be at least 23 watts.

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Post InfoPosted 19-Feb-2009 08:36Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Update: Cross-cuts

Making cross-cuts in the slot is now recommended for all pipes. The biggest advantage of cross-cuts is that when algae grows up into the slot, a cross-cut will still allow water to flow out on top of the algae. Cross-cuts do require more flow, so if your pump/pipe combination is having trouble delivering the recommended 35 gph per inch of slot (53 lph/cm), then you might want to get more flow first. Start with one cross-cut every inch (2.5cm), and later try one every .5 inch (1.25cm):



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Post InfoPosted 22-Feb-2009 22:32Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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Here are some more designs to give you more ideas:



Freshwater: Delilah on the TA site:






Freshwater: Hop2jr on the FL site:














And the rest are saltwater:


Adee on the SARK site:
















Amalick on the MASA site:










Andreas on the MASA site:










Andy on the FF site:










Azules27 on the spanish AR site:






BalaShark on the MFT site:










Beazalbob69 on the SWF site:












Bigploch on the LR site:






BigTanner on the RS site:








Bluespotjawfish on the RS site:






Brettb2020 on the MASA site:










Cbrownfish on the RASOC site:


























Christophe on the MD site:












Chudly on the MD site:






Cvermeulen on the MFK site:








Cyberseer on the algae scrubber site:










DangerDave on the MB site:








Darkblue on the RP site:








Dave3441 on the UR site:














Dohn on the MASA site:










Drakken on the SWF site:






DrPepperSmith on the algae scrubber site; This is one of the non-nano horizontal designs that looks like it will work. Note that it is lifted above the water:










Emperador on the spanish AR site:
















Enatiello on the RS site:










Gatorzone19 on the SWF site:






Gechav on the spanish AR site:








Glock339 on the UR site; This one is on the top of the display, and uses the display's MH:
















Iceman on the SG site:






















Ikarbary on the SARK site:






Jared on the RS site:








Jason on the spanish AR site:






Joeyp on the RP site:






Johntanjm on the SG site:






Jtremblay on the MD site:






Juliovideo on the spanish AR site:




















K+n_vts on the UR site:








UserKeithtty on the algae scrubber site:












Khawyc on the MD site:






Lance126 on the RP site:








Leochngyh on the MD site:








LethargicCoder on the MB site:






Lxa783 on the RASOC site:








Madeley on the algae scrubber site:








Majorjoey on the FR site:








Manuelink on the spanish AR site:










MikeBushie on the MASA site:











MJM on the SARK site:


















Murfman on the SCMAS site:

























NM983 on the algae scrubber site:






OceanParks on the MFT site:










Oil_Fan on the FL site:












Reefski on the MD site:








RentalDeceptionist on the UR site:








Riaanp on the MASA site:








SaltCritters on the TR site:






Scruffels on the MASA site:








Sean48183 on the SWF site:








Sims on the SARK site:










Skunkbudfour20 on the RC site:








SoCalJim on the MD site:












Spanko on the SWF site:






Stevenkoh08 on the SRC site:












Weylin on the MFK site:






Wolfpak on the RP site:








End pics

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Post InfoPosted 25-Feb-2009 06:19Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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Part 5 of 7:

"The Food of Reefs, Part 5: Bacteria" by Eric Borneman
http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-01/eb/index.php

"Given the enormous bacterial biomass in all ecosystems, it should be of little surprise that [bacteria] are food for something, if not many things. Bacteria, being composed of living material, contain a relatively large amount of nitrogen, an element in very short supply in coral reef waters.

"The biomass and productivity of bacteria on [natural] coral reefs are as great as those in nutrient-enriched (or eutrophic) lakes, and up to a hundred times greater than in the open ocean. Planktonic bacteria in coral reefs [..] have filamentous processes to allow them to absorb and consume dissolved organic molecules [DOC].

"In virtually all studied marine environments, bacteria are water purifiers, decomposers of organic material, and a primary source of protein for both those animals that directly graze on them and those that acquire them indirectly through secondary consumption.

"Given the importance of bacteria as a food source in marine ecosystems, it might not be surprising to learn that they are also a primary food source for corals. It has been found that bacteria alone can supply up to 100% of both the daily carbon and nitrogen requirements of corals. All corals studied consume dissolved organic material [DOC], bacteria, and detrital material [waste].

"Bacteria not only provide carbon and nitrogen for the [coral] polyp, but also provide an important source of phosphorous for the zooxanthellae, in addition to other elements such as vitamins and iron.

"Bacteria exist in very high diversity and biomass in the marine environment, and especially on coral reefs and on coral surfaces. They play critical roles in virtually all ecological processes that control reefs, and are a major component of food webs. Corals feed on bacteria at levels and efficiencies that rival all other bacterial consumers.


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Post InfoPosted 27-Feb-2009 02:49Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Successes of the Day:

Johnt on the UR site: "I feed heavy and don't do water changes, so there's quite a bio load to balance; since adding the scrubber I've stopped using phosphate remover, and levels remain low and the water appears clearer, but I think the biggest difference has been how clean the tank looks despite being set up close to five years."

tarraza on the algae scrubber site: "the only thing that i can tell you guys is that this is my 5 months that I have NOT change any water in my 30 gal salt watwer tank full of hard corals, soft corals etc. For more than 8 YEARS i spend a LOT of money on additives to eliminate nitrates above 30ppm, phophate way over 20 not to mention water change every other week just to get partial results. Now I do not even test for nitrates, phopate, I only test one in a blue moon for calcium, ph, and alk. My filtration for this tank is a ACUACLEAR 110 FILTER ON THE BACK OF MY TANK WHITH MY VERSION OF ALGEA SCRUBBLE (of course whith ALL the ADVICES FROM ST. MONICA in). People KEEP IT SIMPLE. THIS SYSTEM REALY WORK.

cyberseer on the algae scrubber site: "YEAH!! Tested this morning coz i was bored, got a 0 NO3 reading, had to double and triple the test, to confirm that I wasn't dreaming/sleep walking/imagining things. Like that presentation says, this has got to be one of the happiest days of my life in this hobby/dark hole. Also, I can answer my question per title of this thread now. It took 50 days to see effect (could be sooner, but I didn't test for like a week and half before yesterday) and 51 days to result. What a beautiful day it is, no rain, and no NO3. No skimmer for almost 4 weeks. No water change for 2 weeks. Feed 2x a day for the fish, 1 cube a day for the fish and softies. BTW, changed a bigger CFL on 2/16/09, it's now a 65W with output of 300w. Big difference in growth."

brianhellno on the MFK site: "I've had a scrubber set up on my Piranha tank for a few months now and Nitrate has been zero every time I've tested it. At first the scrubber grew huge amounts of this brown grease-like algae, and now it just has a slow steady growth of solid green. I clean it about once a week or whenever the green algae starts to look like its getting a little too dense. I wanted to test the ability of the scrubber to see how well it handles a worst case scenario. I didn't change out the water for a week (the longest ever) and I left in uneaten food that made its way to the bottom of the tank. At the end of the week 0 ammonia 0 nitrite and only 5 PPM Nitrate. Simply amazing. I'm not quite sure why I change the water out anymore."

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Post InfoPosted 28-Feb-2009 20:24Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Update: Electrical Safety

Be sure to seal your bulbs and connections with aquarium-safe silicone or sealant, especially if the bulb is down inside the sump. You can't see it, but there will be tiny amounts of salt spray that will build up where you screw the bulb in, and also where you made electrical connections. When the buildup gets thick enough, it will short out and blow a fuse. So each time you replace a bulb, re-seal it. You should be able to pour water over it without it causing a problem.

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Post InfoPosted 01-Mar-2009 21:43Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Update: Builders

Scrubber builders are needed, because many folks on different forums are wanting to try a scrubber, but they don't want to (or can't) build them. So if you are available to build a scrubber of any kind (sump, bucket, acrylic, LED, etc), pm me and I'll put you in the builder database.

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Post InfoPosted 03-Mar-2009 09:18Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Update: Sideways Spray Protection

If you think there may be times when you cannot clean your screen on time (at least once a week), you may want to protect it from sideways spray. Sideways spray can sometimes happen if you let the algae continue to grow up into the slot. The easiest protection is when you clean it; clean the part at the top, about a half inch (13mm) away from the slot, very thoroughly. Don't leave any algae behind at all. This way the algae will take longer to get thick here. You will lose a bit of filtering, but it won't sideways-spray as soon. Also, clean every bit of algae out of the slot/pipe, for the same reason. The other solution is to attach solid or flexible plastic strips to the side of the pipe, which will stop any spraying. And ideally, the strips should block light too, so that nothing grows into the slot in the first place:






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Post InfoPosted 04-Mar-2009 08:07Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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Update: CFL Reflectors

When I see a regular CFL bulb (not a floodlight) being used, I always say that it needs a reflector. Although it would just be easier to use CFL floodlight (which does not need a reflector), below are some reflectors you can use with regular CFL bulbs. You can find many others by searching for "CFL reflector", or by going to any hydroponics or gardening store:
http://www.hydroleaf.com/categoryview.do?cat_id=107

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Post InfoPosted 06-Mar-2009 09:25Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
santamonica
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Part 6 of 7:

"The Food of Reefs, Part 6: Particulate Organic Matter" by Eric Borneman
http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-03/eb/index.php

"This article will address a very important food to corals and many other animals, particulate organic material (POM). This food source has many names, including detritus [waste], floculant organic matter, reef snow, marine snow, and suspended organic material.

"Not so long ago, marine aquarists made every attempt to be assured that their water column was "polished." I never fully understood the term, but the premise was that a clean water column was a good water column. Various means were employed to accomplish this, including the use of various power filters, mechanical flosses and screens, sterilizers, ozonizers, canister filters, diatom filters, foam fractionators [skimmers] and many other devices. [However] "polished" water might not be in the best interest of reef tanks or corals.

"Particulate organic material has its origins in life, being composed by and large of the remains, secretions and excretions of living organisms. On coral reefs, it is composed mostly of dead algae, bacteria, mucus, and feces.

"When food, waste, or other particulate organic matter (POM) is trapped, especially in an aerobic environment, it is acted upon by several types of bacteria that break down the substances into more basic dissolved organic and inorganic components. Some of these breakdown components are organic acids and refractory compounds that can impart a yellow tint to the water column. This yellowing has been called "gelbstoff." However, both the substances remaining after [various types of] filtration, as well as the substances removed by the filtration, can be utilized by the life in the aquaria, and are taken up by corals, sponges, some other invertebrates, phytoplankton, bacteria, and algae.

"On reef slopes and crests, the [waste] material is mostly coral mucus, while over the reef flats and lagoons, the material is mostly algae and fecal matter. This material, by itself, has a high carbon content. However, it acts as a substrate for bacteria, ciliates, cyanobacteria, and other microorganisms that coat the particles. Bacteria can even convert dissolved organic material (DOM) into particulate organic material (POM) by aggregating it in the presence of carbon. This provides a substantially enriched particle replete with amino acids and valuably higher nitrogen content. As such, detritus [waste] becomes a very nutritious food source for many organisms. It is such a complex "dirt", that detritus has been described as a completely self-contained microhabitat of its own, with plant, animal and microbial components, and its own "built-in" nutrient source.

"Another major consumer group of detritus is the zooplankton. These small animals, themselves a very important food sources to reef consumers, have been found to have 90% of their gut contents composed of detritus. Mucus-producing animals, like corals, tend to trap detritus, and the material is either removed or consumed by ciliary action across the tissue surface. Many fish also consume coral mucus, and any attached particulate organic material"

"Detritus [waste] forms the basis of several food webs that are part of a balanced autotrophic/heterotrophic community. It also plays a role in establishing various levels of nutrient production and decomposition. It is this material that is the principal food source for the many bacterial species that work in various nitrification and denitrification activities. Before reaching the microbial community, however, it acts as a food source for the smaller consumers such as amphipods, copepods, errant polychaetes, protozoans, flagellates, ciliates and other animals whose activities contribute to the stability and productivity of a coral reef and a coral reef aquarium.

"It is the microbial community, though, that is most important in the detrital processes. On the reef, the productivity of bacteria (both aerobic and anaerobic oxidation and reduction, including important sulfate reduction) depends heavily on detritus. Without this microbial community, coral reefs would cease to exist.

"Corals, in particular, are notable for their consumption of detritus. All corals studied feed to some degree on POM, and coral communities have been found to remove half of the POM present on some reefs. So prevalent is this material, that it is termed "reef snow" in the wild. [...] Given the ability of so many corals to consume and utilize this material, along with its relatively high abundance and ability to provide up to 100% of corals' carbon and nitrogen requirements, it may now (hopefully) seem rather foolish to attempt to remove this material from aquaria.

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Post InfoPosted 07-Mar-2009 21:59Profile Homepage PM Edit Delete Report 
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Here is a Nano hang-on-back or hang-on-top box scrubber that somebody could build to sell. That is the reason for the tighly fitting lid, and the built-in pump; no decisions or adjustments are needed by the customer. After building it, you could buy a banner ad on this site to sell them.

However if you were just building it for yourself, you can make the lighting simpler by just setting a T5HO light fixture on top of the box (although you would not get the benefit of the noise and light being sealed off by the lid), and you could make the pump simpler by just putting the pump in the tank (up near the waterline):






I'm not providing any links or part numbers, because it's up to the person building it to make sure that everything works together properly (it's not a beginner's project). Here are a few notes:


This scrubber MUST be placed above the tank, so it drains down into the tank.

The overflow drain must be lower than the bulbs.

The pump must be self-priming, capable of pulling water up 12" or so from the tank.

There should be no holes in the sides or bottom of the box, except for the drains; all other tubing and wires should come out of the top of the box. This will eliminate any possibility of leaky connections.

Two bulbs will provide more filtering than one will. And if you can fit three, all the better. 12" T5 bulbs are only 8 watts each.

The screen needs a solid backing, with some plastic canvas laid on over it.

The mounting brackets could hook onto the top of the nano, or they could be made into extended legs that go all the way down to the cabinet. Or, the whole box scrubber could be set on top of the nano, and be moved as needed.

The pump should be able to run "dry" without burning up.

The upflow-tubing should not go very far into the display; maybe a half inch or so. This limits how much water can be pulled out of the tank if there is a problem.

The size shown, 13.5" X 3" X 3", gives a one-sided screen of about 40 square inches. This will fit neatly behind (and on top of) a typical 6 or 8 gal nano without sticking out, but will also provide enough filtering for an 18 gal nano that gets weekly cleanings. For 24 gal and larger, use two separate scrubbers. This has the added benefit of redundancy, and, allows you to keep one running while the other one grows back after cleaning.

Overflow protection test: (1) plug up the drain at the bottom of the screen; the water should rise and start going out the overflow drain without spilling out of the lid, and it should not get high enough to touch the bulbs. (2) Now, also plug up the overflow tube. The pump should start running dry before the box spills, if you placed the upflow tubing high enough in the tank.

The T5 sockets should be the "waterproof" type, they keeps spray and salt out. They are not really "waterproof", but they are made for aquarium use.



Basic costs of building one (multiples would be cheaper)...

Box w/lid: $40
Pump: $35
2 Bulbs: $15
Sockets: $20
Ballast: $35
Misc: $40
---------------
Total: $185 USD




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