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Thread: How effective is Algae Scrubber?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Bao's Avatar
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    Default How effective is Algae Scrubber?

    Hello everyone,

    Does anyone in our local club have an Algae Scrubber??
    How effective is it in bringing down Nitrate and Phosphate to 0.
    Beside having the Algae Scrubber, do you dose carbon or running Active Carbon, or gfo or bioPellet??

    Thanks,
    Bao
    http://www.bostonreefers.org/forums/showthread.php?111684

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    Old Sea Dog Turbosnail's Avatar
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    If you do a search someone else did this and discussed it.
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    Moderator s_kelley's Avatar
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    Supposed to work awesome if u have room for one
    60g deep blue shallow rimless, mixed reef, 150g basement sump, photon 48 led, acan addict

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    Senior Member inverted's Avatar
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    I've researched a lot over the last several years and played with small ones. They can work well, but can be finicky and can take a long time to start working. Also, as mentioned they are big and a lot of people think they are a cheap alternative to a skimmer. However, really they are more expensive. If properly sized, the operating costs, over a long term, for a decent sized tank can be pretty high. Also, they will not provide a net reduction of organic carbon, as will other methods of filtration and could result in a net increase organic carbon. Whether or not that is bad depends on the system. GAC will remove organic carbon well though, so, personally I would at least run GAC with the ATS.

    The ATS relies on balanced nutrients though. It is very much like growing chaeto. If your nitrate (N) or phosphate (P) is too low, algae will not grow and N or P, respectively may accumulate. It is probably a little less sensitive to N and P limitation than chaeto though IMO. Running GFO could be a problem though, if you limit P, with GFO, the algae won't grow and reduce N. However, bacteria may reduce N, so, that may or may not matter, but the ATS, may or may not do anything in that situation. As for carbon dosing, bacteria consume O2 and the ATS will not add O2 when the lights are off. Also, bacteria can potentially release a lot of toxic byproducts. Having a skimmer or GAC to remove these is always a good idea.

    The other issue, is an ATS will not respond quickly. If something dies, it can take a long time for algae to start growing and it can't do so until the dead material is first decomposed anyways.

    So, it just depends why you want an ATS, what you hope to accomplish with it etc... Certainly they can be a good method if they suit your goals.
    Last edited by inverted; 02-01-2012 at 04:05 PM.

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    I dose vodka and inadvertently created a bacteria scrubber once when I put a fine mesh sock over the output of the overflow from my tank. Due an unfortunate series of events, that led to a 60 gallon leak, but that's another story. It was very impressive how quickly the sock became covered in a thick bacterial slime. It was like 24 hours. That got me wondering if a bacterial scrubber would actually be a useful thing, but I never ran with that idea.

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    Senior Member reefkeeper2's Avatar
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    I made one last summer and love it. I use it in combination with a skimmer and biopellets. With this setup I am able to feed large amounts of food to the tank with no nutrient buildup. I presently feed 9 cubes of mysis, 1 cube cyclops, a sheet of nori and 4 automated pellet food feedings daily.
    Once a week I harvest a dinnerplate sized load of algae. It has solved my phosphate problems and I no longer use GFO or any other phosphate removing media. I would recommend it to anyone.
    Paul

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    More corals than gallons Skeeter7424's Avatar
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    Paul's scrubber looks like it works GREAT. Saw it in person last year. And if you wanna see a tank that is huge and in pristine condition, that is the man to talk to!
    75 Gallon Mixed reef, ALL LED's now!
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    Old Sea Dog Turbosnail's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reefkeeper2 View Post
    I made one last summer and love it. I use it in combination with a skimmer and biopellets. With this setup I am able to feed large amounts of food to the tank with no nutrient buildup. I presently feed 9 cubes of mysis, 1 cube cyclops, a sheet of nori and 4 automated pellet food feedings daily.
    Once a week I harvest a dinnerplate sized load of algae. It has solved my phosphate problems and I no longer use GFO or any other phosphate removing media. I would recommend it to anyone.
    Are there pics around of this? I have the room and would like to try it.
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    Impatient Reefer delta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reefkeeper2 View Post
    I made one last summer and love it. I use it in combination with a skimmer and biopellets. With this setup I am able to feed large amounts of food to the tank with no nutrient buildup. I presently feed 9 cubes of mysis, 1 cube cyclops, a sheet of nori and 4 automated pellet food feedings daily.
    Once a week I harvest a dinnerplate sized load of algae. It has solved my phosphate problems and I no longer use GFO or any other phosphate removing media. I would recommend it to anyone.
    Are you still running the remote sandbed and IIRC at one point you were running Lanthium Chloride? Also curious to what you now have you dialyseas set to change out for water each day?
    Greg
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    Senior Member reefkeeper2's Avatar
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    For some reason the deep sand bed lost it's effectiveness and the nitrates started creeping up. The biopellets replaced it about two years ago. They took care of the nitrates well, but did not do so well with the phosphates. GFO always gave my sps STN, and was expensive so I looked for alternatives. That was when I started experimenting with the lanthanum. It worked but was very labor intensive and I got tired of it. Adding the ATS was the majic bullet. It seems to suck up what the skimmer and pellets don't. If I really overfeed, it just grows faster and I harvest more. For the first time ever, I don't have a trace of cyano anywhere in the tank. It outcompetes the algae in the display. I don't know if it would be sufficient as a stand alone solution, but it rocks with the pellets.
    I have the dialyseas set to a minimum, 1+1/2 gallon exchange a day. I did this to save on $$ on salt. I may even reduce it further.
    Paul

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    Senior Member reefkeeper2's Avatar
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    Here is my original thread. It has a pic though it's not great. If your coming to the February meeting you can come over after and see it for yourself.http://www.bostonreefers.org/forums/...e+turf+scubber
    Paul

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    Old Sea Dog Turbosnail's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reefkeeper2 View Post
    Here is my original thread. It has a pic though it's not great. If your coming to the February meeting you can come over after and see it for yourself.http://www.bostonreefers.org/forums/...e+turf+scubber
    Thanks!
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    I run one on my system, and I dont think I will run a tank without one again. Its VERY good at removing nutrients from the system, and does it very cheap. I built my scrubber for about $15 bucks, and light it with 46w (23 on each side) for 10 hours per day. Don't know why inverted thinks I can be more expensive over time.. Gonna take many years to catch up the the cost of buying the skimmer alone. It needs to be set up right, and to follow the guidelines for the sizing. You have to build it depending on how much you feed or plan to feed, not how big your tank is. An oversized scrubber wont be as effective as a correctly sized scrubber. I run mine along with a skimmer

  14. #14
    Giggidy! mnavick's Avatar
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    There's a monster thread on Reef Central with great pics.

    http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/sh...+turf+scrubber

    I tried one a few years back and never took off, but then again I only had a few fish at the time.
    Last edited by mnavick; 02-03-2012 at 09:21 AM.
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    Now what the heck is that growing in my tank

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    Senior Member Bao's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for your replies,

    How do you guys compare the Algae Scrubber to dosing Vodka or Vinegar?
    Which one is easier to run and more effective?
    http://www.bostonreefers.org/forums/showthread.php?111684

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    Senior Member reefkeeper2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimrawr View Post
    I run one on my system, and I dont think I will run a tank without one again. Its VERY good at removing nutrients from the system, and does it very cheap. I built my scrubber for about $15 bucks, and light it with 46w (23 on each side) for 10 hours per day. Don't know why inverted thinks I can be more expensive over time.. Gonna take many years to catch up the the cost of buying the skimmer alone. It needs to be set up right, and to follow the guidelines for the sizing. You have to build it depending on how much you feed or plan to feed, not how big your tank is. An oversized scrubber wont be as effective as a correctly sized scrubber. I run mine along with a skimmer
    Why just 10 hours a day? According to the thread on RC it should be lit 18 hours and dark for 6. Thats the cycle I use.
    Paul

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    Senior Member reefkeeper2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bao View Post
    Thanks everyone for your replies,

    How do you guys compare the Algae Scrubber to dosing Vodka or Vinegar?
    Which one is easier to run and more effective?
    Since biopellets is also carbon dosing, I am doing both. The scrubber is safer, as there is no chance of a bacterial bloom but I can't make a judgement on which is better than the other.
    Paul

  18. #18
    Senior Member inverted's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimrawr View Post
    Don't know why inverted thinks I can be more expensive over time.. Gonna take many years to catch up the the cost of buying the skimmer alone.
    I guess it depends on the tank and how closely you follow the RC algae scrubber basics thread.

    According to "Floyd R Turbo" for example, there are certain requirements.

    1) 35gph of flow, per linear inch of screen.
    So, for my tank, assuming some head loss and that I want a reliable pump, there is some head loss and I'd need about a mag 7. So, that is 70W and would cost about $6.13 per month to run.

    2) 0.5 to 1W per gallon lighting, actual, not "equivalent wattage" run for 18hrs per day.
    So, for my tank, that would be $4.6 to $9.2 per month in electricity.

    Then the bulbs "need" to be replaced every 3 months. In bulk, CFL bulbs seem to be about $0.25 per watt. So,
    that would be $70-$140 per year.

    So, following "Floyd R Turbo's" recommendation, the operating cost would be something in $199-$324 per year range for my tank. I only paid $370 for my XP2000 skimmer, and using the same method for electrical calculation, the operating cost is about $26.28 per year. So, just the operating costs would likely catch up to my skimmer in under two years. That doesn't include up front cost. A mag 7 is about $70ish I would want something safe, so, the bulbs would need acrylic splash gaurds etc... so, the initial cost, would be somewhere around $100. I seem to keep skimmers for several years. I guess if you replace them more often, that is another story.

    I could buy used stuff, but I could also buy a used skimmer... I could skimp on changing lights and such maybe you think you don't need that much. Floyds method is trendy now though, so, that is what I am going by...
    Last edited by inverted; 02-03-2012 at 05:23 PM.

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    Senior Member inverted's Avatar
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    Also, the RC thread i was referring to was srusso's not Floyd's. I was thinking it was Floyd's, but double checked...

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    Senior Member reefkeeper2's Avatar
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    There are more energy efficient pumps out there than the mag series. I got an eheim which if I remember right was somewhere around 45 watts. I don't have the model number or the gpm on the top of my head but I will find out. I also used LEDs for the lighting. I found them at Costco for $19.00. The initial cost was a lot more than using CFLs but the long term savings will be worth it. The LED lamps use only 19 watts and will last years. So it's possible to bring those yearly costs down a bit by laying out a little more $$ when you do your build.
    Paul

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