View Full Version : Simple new Zip Tie Free Mesh Scrubber design

09-29-2009, 10:36 PM
Hi Guys,

I have a video to follow up with these pix which I will post shortly. (need to get firewire hooked up).

I used 3/4" PVC threaded pipe, 3/4" PVC threaded CAP. I got 2 sheets of very fine #10 Plastic canvass mesh which I roughed up using hole saw techinque and sandwitched them in a frame top, bottom and sides. I found some very easy to intall borders in the the plastic MOLDING Department of my local home depot store wich worked PERFECTLY for the borders. To glue them I used 5min epoxy injected into the borders and slipped them over the mesh. I preferred to have a frame around my mesh as I think it makes for a more solid design and more uniform for the water to flow over, without it, the mesh will bend, buckle slightly making high points in the flow as it drops. I found that the epoxy glue was about the only thing that would bond to this stuff. (superglue/silicone are worthless)

Basically this design is a simple slot design on each side of the plastic canvas mesh material (or whatever you want to use) which allows you to slide the mesh into the PVC slotted tube and hold it securely WITHOUT the need for zip ties. The material slots hang over uncut pipe on one side, and then the screw off cap holds the other side. I feed my scrubber with the split flow from one of my Standpipes http://www.nautilusreef.com/html/cjstandpipes.html I figured why add another pump, why not use flow that is ALREADY there? I plan on 86ing my skimmer shortly and using the other side of the flow to feed another larger permanent scrubber, once this one is up and running.

10x12" Mesh screen with dual slots for supporting



In a nutshell the slot allows for some of the mesh material to rest INSIDE of the pipe where there is no slot cut. It holds the mesh in place this way. ON one side I have installed a threaded cap onto the portion of the PVC threaded pipe I used. On this side the CAP actually holds the mesh in place since the slot is cut all the way to the end where the cap is, to allow the screen to be removed. The cap allows me to unscrew and remove the mesh very quickly and easily, and there is no need for ties of any kind.

09-29-2009, 10:42 PM
Here are some photos of the completed design after being installed a week..

Full install up and running, notice no zip ties of any kind, mesh is solid and firm

#10 very fine mesh unroughed just to show you what I used (finished scrubber uses roughed up mesh)

Full screen assembled

screen with slots on each side

slots up close, plus can see "cactus" roughing that SM talks about on mesh

threaded end close up, mesh frame easily slides out to the right once cap is removed!

09-30-2009, 05:10 AM
That's the roughness I'm talking about... you can see it even in a pic.

09-30-2009, 08:42 AM
ya In my vid I really show the difference.. it does feel like cactus! haha..

I demonstrate how to use the hole saw on video, though its pretty basic, gota grind
until you get those little hairs you talked about which can allow the algae fibers
to "grab" and hold. Try not to leave any smooth spots, thats what I figure is key
and that takes some concentration and time.

09-30-2009, 10:48 PM
Nice slot scheme. Worked well.

You need to come up with something equally nice to shade your slot, as once the turf gets going it's gonna fill in the slot pretty relentlessly.

10-01-2009, 01:46 AM
thanks kkress,

Yea the slot in the mesh is working perfectly so far... need to fix some flow issues on the screen by tweaking the slot in the pipe a bit more...

As for clogging, If you notice in picture 5 close up of the top of the screen, I left the top portion of the mesh UN-roughed in hopes that the algae will have a tougher time adhering here. Its smooth inside the pipe and down just below the level of the pipe outside. Time will tell as with everything what will work and what will not.

Main thing is just wanted to get going on it! Just want to get Algae growing, any potential clogging will be a GOOD problem to deal with!

10-01-2009, 09:39 AM
Also, when cleaning, you can get all the algae of of the top inch by using a toothbrush. I still don't use a light guard, and this works for me.

10-04-2009, 02:21 AM
I guess time will tell, thats encouraging that you dont get clogged mesh up by the slot in the spray bar.

Prolly be easy to clean using toothbrush like you say esp. since that area is glass smooth.

Im starting to get some growth about ready for my first cleaning this week. Some greens/browns.. not sure
how much is algae and how much is my PHOSBAN dust as my reactor spewed brown much into my system
when I first started it in my reactor.

Sounds like I wont need the phosban reactor once the scrubber gets going, so one less item to worry about.

10-06-2009, 10:35 PM
getting some good growth already about 10 days in, got some green turf like algae already showing up, replacing the dark brown original early stuff, and even some circular areas where PODs are eating it I can see, Havent washed it yet planning on it shortly, For some reason I feel like I want to run my scrubber a bit longer before the first cleaning to let it get established a bit more before i lightly scrape it an rinse with fresh water. I dont see any dark algae and apart from pods dont see a need to harass it quite yet I know this isnt following the recipe.. (maybe im wrong here) I figure another week before I scrub or clean it so that means a 2week between start and first cleaning for me.

I Have decided to dump skimmer completely at this point, to really allow the nutrient levels to grow in the system, which should increase the growth of the scrubber as well.

One thing I was thinking was pods like to come out at night, If I were a betting man, I would bet they feed when the scrubber is resting and lights are off. Either way to me PODS are a good thing, and help support the various life forms in the tank, so the more the merrier as far as fat pods go... let them FEED!

Will post some pix tomorrow, so far so good...

10-07-2009, 01:08 AM
I would not dump your skimmer yet!

As far as my pods go they patently don't give a flying &@%# about the lights being on or off. They don't change anything with bright verses dark. I'd almost bet they're completely blind.

You are following the standard developmental time line. Thinking that washing the precious first growth off is defeating the start up effort. That is not true. You should wash it off the instant you start getting pods on it. They can eat a tremendous amount if they are eating your turf.

The first wash can be very light and amount to only a rinse really but you should do it, NOW! BTW turf does NOT wash off at all. So anything that does wash off is not turf anyway.

10-08-2009, 12:07 AM
Ya noticed a few small circles, in just a few days have turned into MANY larger ones and growing, so I rinsed...didnt realize those lil critters eat so much?

They may not necessarily LIKE the light is my point.. Esp at night, I will illuminate my tank with an LED light to see them scurrying around on the LR... when the lite hits them the bolt like ROACHES!. They can see, they have lil eyes that illuminate just like other shrimps do and they reflect light from them. Actually thats how I spot them from the glowing/reflecting eyes. I know they can sense light when I hit them with the light in a dead dark tank, they will freeze and pretend they are not there.. when I dont move the light, they quickly scurry away.

Anyways, I guess I am reminded and have to remember that the fresh O2 rinses are not just for the removing of any dead Algae's but also to kill the growing POD population on the screens from cleaning you out of your tender turf Algae growth (im sure thats their fave hehe).

It is amazing how the areas they cleaned grew quickly from one or two erasure sized round spots, to bout 5" dime sized groups of them!

This probably isnt a problem when you have solid turf on there as much, but need get on them right out of the gate on newer screens I guess?

10-08-2009, 12:48 AM
On my 55g fuge tank if I don't clean the glass it will become completely obscured. The day full obscuration happens the pods come out. They form a twelve inch wide line, sometimes two. Shoulder to shoulder they march munching across the glass. In about 30 hours the glass is completely cleaned off. COMPLETELY. It looks like I took a razor blade to it. So yes, they are voracious eaters. And this continues unabated nite and day and even with direct sunlight falling on them. (hence my experience that they don't care about light)

10-08-2009, 01:05 PM
DAY 12 Some good growth, seems to have increased DRAMATICALLY since I removed skimmer a day ago.. Much more GREEN coming in, so maybe my theory of no skimmer to increase growth is correct?

PIc just after I rinsed with fresh RO, for the first time, u can see white areas appear to be where pods were feeding? They are circular spots that really expanded....


close up


10-08-2009, 01:13 PM
thats really amazing Kress, you have a pod explosion!!! Sounds like bordering on almost infestation, Maybe get yourself a lawnmower or other pod eating fish or crabs? lol Yours sound like ARMY PODS that like the CLONE, (marching?lol) maybe mine or a more mellow hippy type of POD if there is such a thing. I figger there are probably hundreds of diff species of pod as there are other sea animals, maybe similar in many ways but different.

Hey post some pics of the pods in formation? I would like to see that.. let them build up for a few days and take pictures if you can.. (i know they are small)

I hardly see any in my tank, infact I have to LOOK for them.. now if you want some LIMPUTS.. I got PLENTY of those! Lol.. If I let them THEY will obscure my display front as your pods do. U are also right that the limputs like like the tender algae's if I clean it regular, down to the acrylic, they dont seem to want to gather on the front as much when there is easy pickins on the sides.... Being like a barnacle, I dont know how the MOVE around so fast I knock them down, few hours later they are back at the top? Im thinking they somehow have ballast, and float around till they find a home or something, cant see them using a foot to move that fast? but maybe im wrong...

Maybe you should capture them "PODS" put in baggies and SELL them on ebay?

I think people Want them for fuges, and many have a hard time KEEPing them up in numbers since fish crabs prolly feed on them in displays, besides it.. sounds like you have TOO Many..lol.

Anyone want some Limputs? lol..

U are right about feeding though, man they do EAT. Seems like when you first see some spots you better start rinsing, esp early on. Didnt realize they were so voracious eaters.. Amazing how they can CLEAN the tank, prolly in reality BETTER than snails. U could market them as "CLEANING CREW PODS" in bags of 10,million/bag.. harvested "fresh daily" lol? ehhehe

Anyways starting to see some good growth on my screens, need to tweak my pipe still to get better even distribution. As you know Im using two different bulbs to see how they bear out.. seems like the one with more yellow spectrum is growing better vs the 5500 side.. But time will tell. I think the lighting times are pretty even too for each side..

10-08-2009, 01:21 PM
Hey SM

if you check this thread sometime, can you put a post up in here with photos/and or with links to a close up shot with good natural lighting of what we can expect a MATURE mesh screen to look like? A screen once the turf has really grown in? Maybe you have already done this, if so please just post a link.. If not maybe can post a few pics here?

I have seen various pictures of mature screens but, most are at a distance, or sides top... but none seems to really show a mature growth screen and what we can expect when its mature from head on frontal shot, what from what I can tell, from a distance looks like mature screen has long deep turf like 1 thinck looking GREEN HAIR...and lots of it? (tank of the month shots kinda show it but only from above)

Was just curious to see a fairly close clean frontal daylight shot of a fully grown mature healthy screen?


10-08-2009, 01:25 PM
Am ordering 1433 PCI firewire card today, when it comes I hope to upload my construction video link on here.. I show step by step how I fabricated this screen from gluing, cutting, roughing..stay tuned

10-08-2009, 05:13 PM
Basically, the more/thicker green hair you get, the better it is filtering. The goal is not real turf, since we are not pulsing the flow. My green hair gets to 1" thick in about 5 days. But thick green hair gets pulled a lot by the flow, so you need a really rough screen.

10-09-2009, 01:19 AM

Can you post some frontal shots of your mature green scrubbers? I would like to see what you are talking about.

If you have pictures already on here can you direct me to a thread where you can see a mature scrubber mesh clearly and close up?


Also wondering once you get the scrubber up and running with good green hair/turf algae going on over time, that you might have seeded the volume with spores from the specific type of algae (green long/turf what have you) which once screen is cleaned, can quickly recover and grow on your screens faster than they would in a non mature spore filled screen scrubbed tank. (just a theory)

10-09-2009, 09:00 AM
Here's a older pic of the edge of the screen, on the bottom. The algae is over an inch thick on the right.

I have not done other pics in a while... I'll see about getting more. The plate is from one week, one side.

you might have seeded the volume with spores from the specific type of algae (green long/turf what have you) which once screen is cleaned, can quickly recover and grow on your screens faster than they would in a non mature spore filled screen scrubbed tank.

No. It's just a function of how rough the screen it, how rapid the flow is, how bright the light it, and how much algae remains on your screen after the cleaning.

10-09-2009, 01:47 PM
wow that is a LOT of Algae!

Q: SM it appears you use 4 lights at 75W ea? How much GPH are you pushing through your scrubber? just curious I bet its quite a bit....

I would agree with what I read awhile back about FAQs about flow...it seems where there is more flow the growth seems faster.. Still working on getting mine nice and consistant flow wise, I found tapering the slot is working for me...so far... wider near the source and narrower as it reaches the end. As with my design the flow tends to jet past the start of the screen inside the slot (have worked an idea about that to deflect the water flow inside the pipe using tabs cut into the borders of the screens) Today, I increased the flow on my screen by throttling back the other overflow pipe using ball valve so more flow goes to the screen now.

That...Picture...mmm good, hehe looks tasty, like you serving it up to someone>?.. lol

Q: Do fish like it ever try and feed them with it?? Fresh green like that shouldnt be toxic or anything?

I would think the TANGS and other Vegi eaters might love it like NOORI? Then its a source of FOOD too not to be wasted thrown out unless its not healthy for them. I know tangs can be picky what they like.. Mine seem to really like Romain Lettuce big time.

Maybe mix it in with other meaty foods to make your own formula 2? lol...

they probably serve that somewhere in the world to humans i bet.. prolly has some ant-cancer properties to it too..

10-09-2009, 01:55 PM
mmmmm - like a big plate of vermicelli (just green :? ). Don't fancy being the one shelling the 'pods for the tail meat though... peeling king prawns is dull enough :lol:

10-09-2009, 04:39 PM
Lol new type of nano-sushi? ehehe..

Not sure they would fancy being eaten alive by a giant either.. Guess you could rinse it really good with fresh water?

Im thinking about recycling it back into the system as FOOD for my algae eaters? Either by direct feeding (if they like it) or by mixing it with other meaty foods that I create on my own.. (blending it into ice cubes etc)

10-09-2009, 08:29 PM
4 X 24W cfl 3000K

1000 gph through a 22" long, 1/4" wide slot.

10-09-2009, 09:09 PM
So my new math skills tell me you are using 100W total.. Goodly amount of flow rate to...

Interesting color temp in the 3000k range mmmm...

I am using 75W @ 5100K on RT side ( which was my MACRO spotlight I had it so im using it heheh)

And 90W 2700k on the other.

I did this on purpose to see how the light K temps effected the growth or not. The 5100K is whiter and weaker, so its not EXACT level playing field...

But so far it Seems the 2700k is working better, I may 86 the 5100K once the test is done.