07-25-2009, 03:41 PM
I have had my scrubber up and running for a week and curious if i need to clean it after a week still even if screen isn't very full or do I wait for first cleaning after it fills up and then clean weekly. Also, is there a link to explain how to properly clean. I know to use tap water in sink and clean both sides but do I clean it all the way downas cloase to white screen as I can or leave enough to grow back? Thanks in advance.
07-25-2009, 06:59 PM
There are three reasons a screen needs weekly cleanings: 1) The FW in the sink kills the pods that will eat the algae, 2) The algae you clean off is nitrate and phosphate that you just removed from your tank, and 3) As the algae gets thicker on the screen, the outer layers start shading the inner layers, causing the inner layers to die and flow back into the tank, re-introducing nitrate and phosphate, and also clouding the water. So, removing the outer layers keeps the inner layers growing strong.
After 7 days, it's time for it's first gentle cleaning (not scraping). Take the screen out and put it in the sink, and while lightly running tap water on it, very very lightly give it a soft rub with your fingers (not fingernails) and see if the top layers of the green algae easily come off. Don't force it, or remove it all the way to the screen (and don't remove any at all on areas that have not grown over the screen holes). All the green algae you removed is nitrate and phosphate from your tank.
Now wait another 7 days. Again put the screen in your sink, run tap water, and use your finger (not fingernail) to remove all the long strands, including all the thick areas. Might need a little more finger pressure than the first time. But again don't remove it all the way to the screen, and don't ever un-cover the scree holes... they need to stay filled. The real trick with a NEW screen is leaving algae on the screen, because it wants to just slide right off. Months later this won't be a problem, as long as your screen is not smooth.
After a few months, the brown algae may get so it feels like clumps that won't come off when you rub it. That's good; real red/brown turf is growing. Just keep the green and brown slime/hair off of it each time you scrub. As the real turf gets thicker (it will get up to 1/4" (8mm) thick), it will start growing straight out of the screen like little weeds, exactly like astro turf on a football field. And it will be a dark brown with a bit if red. When it starts getting like this, the green will start growing in between the turf strands and will be harder to clean out. So this is when you start using your fingernails, hard.
Eventually one of the sides of the screen may be full of the real turf (or, maybe you bought a pre-grown screen; in that case you would start here.) Now it's time for your first "scraping". Scraping usually requires a razor blade, or at least a sharp steel edge, since real turf is so tight and strong. Scraping is done much less frequently that scrubbing. Maybe once a month, when the turf gets full grown. But the scrubbing of the green and slime, in order to keep it off the turf, should continue to be weekly using FW.
Here is a four-part video I made. This video is low-light (with a 5 year old 2-meg camera), so you can't see the algae on the screen, but the purpose is to see the technique of screen cleaning/scraping:
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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