Algal Turf Scrubbers

Discussion in 'Chemical Filtration / Low Nutrient Systems - LNS' started by Broder, 28 Jul 2009.

  1. Broder

    Broder Mudshark

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    The whole ATS debate seems to have settled now, and most people agree that they will always benefit your reef aquarium. This thread is for advice on building your own algae turf scrubber and for showing off your scrubber if you already have one. There are heaps of good designs out there, and we aren't getting to see any of them. Post your pictures, questions, results and anything ATS related here, and lets take this fantastic form of filtration as far as it'll go.

    I'll post some pictures of my ATS to get the ball rolling, but this thread is not about my experiences, but everyones questions, input, total beginner questions and new ideas.

    What is it?

    Basically it’s a screen, which has algae growing on it and water passing over it. As the water passes over it, the algae absorbs nutrients such as inorganic nitrate, inorganic phosphate and CO2, which it uses to photosynthesize and grow. The ingredient that we need to add to aid photosynthesis is of course light, ideally peaking in the red section of the spectrum, the stronger and closer to the screen, the better.

    The idea is to create ideal growing conditions for the algae outside of the aquarium display. This will, over the period of about 6 weeks, under ideal conditions, out-compete the aquarium display for dissolved inorganic compounds, which make the algae flourish. This will allow more light to the corals and enhance their growth and colour, not to mention the fact that the eyesore of nuisance algae will be gone.

    Algal turf is the hard macro algae which grows on well established ATS screens. This is hardly ever achieved on home grown screens. This is of no concern as any algae which grows on the screen is using the dissolved inorganic compounds which need to be removed from the aquarium.



    [​IMG]
    Although the above scrubber is well positioned to have water gravity fed, positioned between the tank and sump as it is, I chose not to as there is not enough water pressure, and blocked spraybars can cause disaster. I prefer having a separate pump feeding water to the screens and then draining back into the sump.

    [​IMG]
    Large 100 liter bin for my scrubber on my 500 liter system. The ventilation holes have been cut too close to the screens. I'll raise the holes higher and more central with my next version.


    [​IMG]
    The scrubber with the lid open for screen removal. When it closes, the lights will be between the 2 screens.

    [​IMG]
    View showing the clear feed pipe pumping water from the sump to the 2 spraybars. The blue pipes are the durso stand pipes draining the bin, back into the sump.

    [​IMG]
    The blue pipe nearest the lamp just holds the screen, which is draped over the spraybar, slightly higher and to the left of it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Time to give the holes in the spraybar a bit of a wipe with a piece of shadecloth to clear the algae away.

    [​IMG]
    2 weeks growth which I scrape off with a hard plastic knife/spatula kinda thingy.

    [​IMG]
    Screen ready for washing.

    [​IMG]
    Scrubber supermodel spraying it untill the water runs off clean.
     
    AndrévN, Warr7207 and viper357 like this.
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  3. chikaboo

    chikaboo

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    OK questions for the super model;) I heared that in the event of a prolonged power failure this very effecient filteration actually has some die off and can cause a mini cycle once the pumps running again - any ideas if this holds true - logic says so but has anyone experienced this and another quick one when cleaning the screen its important not to completely scrape ALL the algea off so its easier to attract the algea spores back to the screen - true or false? Thanx Mudshark (and the super model!)
     
  4. Broder

    Broder Thread Starter Mudshark

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    I wouldn't ask a super model such a hard question Chikaboo. The outside layer of algae will dry up if the power goes off for say 3-4 hrs. This may add some algal matter into the system, but it's not likely as the matt is usually very fibrous. If the power goes off for a longer period of time, the screen will competely dry out and will need to regrow, if it has not been timeously submerged in water. If you are away and the power comes back on and runs over the dead algae, you will have a nutrient spike in your tank if you don't intervene. Water testing and changes are the order of the day here. You'll need to increase you water changes untill the screen starts to grow again in 3-4 weeks. I've had this happen in my eye level tank, which is moderatly stocked. I only measured nitrate levels, and they did'nt go up from 0. I didn't have an algal bloom either.

    You should leave some algae on the screen when cleaning. When the screen is established, it'll be impossible to scrape too much off.
     
  5. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

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    Great thread, thank you Mudshark.
     
  6. lanzo

    lanzo Sponsor

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    ditto very cool thread!!:peroni:
     
  7. leslie hempel

    leslie hempel Moderator MASA Contributor

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    awsome thread Broder..
     
  8. chikaboo

    chikaboo

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    Ok bearing in mind the question I asked what do guys say to this idea : I want to do this ATS on my system but was considering positioning it such a way that the screen should be completely submerged should the power be cut - that in turn I'm thinking will help not have so much die off! While the pumps are running it will look like every other design but need it to be completely covered when Eskom do what they do best! Am I wasting my time or is this way new ATS systems should be done in future:thumbup:
     
  9. Broder

    Broder Thread Starter Mudshark

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    Chikaboo, I havn't seen a submerged, horisontal screen that works yet. The original Inland Aqutics design is more or less horisontal, but not submerged. The whole ATS concept relies on the inter-tidal effect of oxygen(air) being in close proximity to the growing algae. So it looks like you've just found an avenue to explore! Maybe a horizontal screen that becomes submerged when the power cuts out and the level of the sump rises?
     
  10. Broder

    Broder Thread Starter Mudshark

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    Chikaboo, just remember that you'll have far more serious issues to cover than a drying algal screen if your power is off for the length of time that you're suggesting. Personally I'd rather focus on a backup power system.
     
  11. chikaboo

    chikaboo

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    Not wanting to make it horizontal - more like at an angle that will be just enough to look vertical but not so steep that the top of the ATS stays under once the sump has reached its full overflow from the tank - after a power failure - Wait -thought about this - I can even have it fully vertical and still have it fully submerged after a power failure - will even compensate for loss of screen height by adding in additional screens like your "twin screens" - Then in the return chamber a pump just bringing water to the top of the screens and falling over them back in the same chamber - Your'lls thoughts???
     
  12. Warr7207

    Warr7207

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    I agree, Uneaten Nori, doesn't cause huge problems in tanks, so i don't see why a dry ATS would.

    I have had my ATS off for 3 days, with no problem. The dried algae, basically got "absorbed/displaced" by the new algae underneath.

    Another thing I have realised in the last couple of weeks, is that Tangs and Rabbits love Turf Algae fresh or dried :)

    Something else I would love to try with my ATS, just as an experiment, is getting a couple of locals snails (the one that lay loads of eggs in our tanks) on the ATS and seeif they will lay eggs, and hopefully get some off-spring.

    I have been told that these eggs only hatch/mature in inter-tidal conditions.

    Will post my ATS later. Although, not as fancy as Mud's, it has quite an unusual colour turf
     
  13. Broder

    Broder Thread Starter Mudshark

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    I can't see you getting your lights close enough to the screens if you plan on doing that. You can't compromise on getting your lights as close to the screen as possible. Rather focus your obviously creative mind on getting the biggest most efficient scrubber possibly, that's gonna give you measurable benefits rather than a gimmicky one that doesn't do what it's supposed to.
     
  14. Warr7207

    Warr7207

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    I heard today, that Bob (IM) is building a monster out-door ATS, we need to harass him to post some details
     
  15. riyadhessa

    riyadhessa

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    Awesome thread...thanks Mudshark
     
  16. Jaak

    Jaak

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    One of the best threads Mudshark!!;)
     
  17. Jaak

    Jaak

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    I like the way you think!!:yeahdude::yeahdude:
     
  18. chikaboo

    chikaboo

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    Ok now you tell me whats gonna happen to those eggs within 3 days of not having water flowing over them? Are you not gonna have some degree of die off and the chain reaction that follows something that has died - My concern was never the algae dying - its all the other life on the screen that worries me! Or are there no other life forms on the screen besides algae? No pods, goggas?
     
  19. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    Algae Scrubbers can be really simple.
    Here is my scrubber. Complete everything, excluding the light.
    If you got a bit of DIY in you, you can complete this in 30minutes, and have a beer in that same time.
    [​IMG]
    Simple DIY Scrubber - Anything DIY Related

    Pods and bristle worms do climb up onto the sceen, especially if bottom is in the water. But not hundreds of them.

    Also think about it. The scrubber works on what happens in the inter tidal zone. And there things do dry out. And wait for next high water to get wet again. So the time from high to next high water is ok to have power off on your scrubber. But the rest of the tank. Now there is a problem
    Anyway you will have more die-off from your DSB. But everybody is concerned about the scrubber.

    What will the use of it be if scrubber is submerged when power goes out for 10 hours, but no food, oxygen or waterflow around it is happening?
     
  20. AndrévN

    AndrévN

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    Excellent scrubber Mudshark. Do you use 220v lights on the unit ? If so why not the 12v ones they have the same output, they cannot burn the house down when there is salt kreep. 220 and open fittings. :(
     
  21. Broder

    Broder Thread Starter Mudshark

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    Warr wasn't saying you should switch your scrubber off for 3 days. Just that it has happened, and he didn't have a meltdown.
    Definitely not! Water must be running over it all of the time. If not the algae will die. A surge action is known to be beneficial but not essential.
    Excellent idea Max. Do you have any examples of what we could use there? Pictures of fittings etc would be great.

    All open elecrtrical work should be insulated with silicone. You can use the same one that you use for building your tanks. You must still ensure that there is no moisture or salt creep anywhere near your electrical fittings. If there is change your design. Your insurance will not cover you if you have an accident and burn down your house.
     
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