View Full Version : Moes scrubber

02-20-2010, 02:36 AM
Hi my names is Moe, live in Australia and just found this site. I'm mostly on the MASA (Marine Aquarium Society of Australia) forums but occasionally look at others.

I'm really happy about finding this site. I don't have an algae problem, but my phosphate is high, 2.0 (API kit). I just want my tank to have that clean look to it and promote coraline growth. Also, I want to get rid of the skimmer and increase the amount of food available to inhabitants.

Ive got a 5x2x2 tank with a 3x18x18 sump with classic style skim/refu/return sections.

It's early days so far, but I want to make a 5x20x20 (or whatever maximum height/width I can fit) sump with two separate sections. First one with a 4ft long refugium with live rock. Flowing down into it would be a 4ft x 16 inch ATS sheet powered by 4, 54w 3000k T5 bulbs, 2 on each side. Flow would be provided by my return pump, a T'd off 5000lph laguna. The last foot of the sump would be the return section with some baffles to reduce micro bubbles.

I've only done a little bit of research so far, but from what i've seen, the pictures speak louder than words.

Any words of wisdom for/against my design specifications so far?

I'm new to all this ATS so any help would be appreciated.

02-20-2010, 10:17 AM
Welcome aboard.

The screen size you mention would be huge... 768 square inches. No need for such a big size for a (non-breeder) 150 gal tank, even with a big sump. You would not have enough lighting for it anyway... a 16 inch wide screen needs 4 bulbs per side instead of 2, because you don't want any part of the screen to be more than 4 inches from a bulb. The 2 bulbs per side (at 54 W each) is a total of about 200 W, which is very good for your gallons. So I would just make the screen 8 inches wide.

What side of the screen will the pipe be? If the long side, you don't have enough flow with that pump. If the short side, you will have plenty of flow.

02-20-2010, 11:15 AM
A big screen would( if you wanted to spend the money lighting, pumping, and had the room)

potential make it easier to maintain i.e. less cleanings. Right? Also wouldn't a large screen

take away one potential limitation of a small screen i.e. algae to spread? I have thought of it myself.

I don't live in texas. lol

Hope this helps.

02-20-2010, 12:27 PM
The limitation of a big screen is pods. At about 3 weeks, they will be eating the algae faster than it can grow. And they do it from the bottom, which causes the longer algae to let go and float away. I've just never seen a way to really extend the time between cleanings without some type of automated FW wash, so I'll just say the usefulness of a big screen is stronger filtering.

03-05-2010, 09:12 PM
Hi again, sorry for late response, was on holiday. If you ever want to go to Thailand (and dive SCUBA), go to Koh Dok Mai, it was incredible! 1/2 the (sheer cliff) island was surrounded by gorgonians, SPS, and various LPS/SPS, the other side was covered almost exclusively by dendronephea. Actually don't really want to stray far from the topic but would a ATS rather than skimming be more effective way of keeping dendronephea and other NPS corals?

Back to the topic...

by the "long side" you mean that there is not enough flow to go down horizontally right? so the column would have to be placed vertically? Sorry ill check the flow calculator again. Is there a "sweet spot", in terms of flow? Can too much flow be bad for the scrubber? I saw a photo of what not enough can do in terms of growth.

Also, you say that pods eat the algae from the bottom. Do they sort of mow it down from the base, thus causing it to break off?

I was aware of this pod population increase but I was thinking id use it to my advantage to feed my fish with it. Is it hard to harvest these pods?

Kind regards,


03-05-2010, 10:12 PM
by the "long side" you mean that there is not enough flow to go down horizontally right?


Is there a "sweet spot", in terms of flow? Can too much flow be bad for the scrubber?

35 gph per inch of width. 40 to 50 gph if two-layered screen. More flow is always better unless you have a smooth screen, which will let go of the algae.

Also, you say that pods eat the algae from the bottom. Do they sort of mow it down from the base, thus causing it to break off?

You could picture it that way.

I was aware of this pod population increase but I was thinking id use it to my advantage to feed my fish with it. Is it hard to harvest these pods?

No need to harvest. There will be millions in your water, unless you have a skimmer or filter sock.

03-05-2010, 11:45 PM
Ohhh, so the sweet spot is the flow rate you have listed in the FAQ. thanks.

I was thinking about harvesting the pods just to lessen the amount of eating done by them. Just netting a massive net full, taking out most of the population and then re harvesting every couple of weeks.

Also if I had a flow double or triple over the ATS would it deter pods? Obviously the ocean has massive amounts of kinetic energy that could push anything around, but do the pods feed in the lower flow areas or ...? I Don't know any natural feeding habits of pods.

and sorry by "two-layered screen" you mean both sides of the screen? ie one sheet illuminated on both sides?

Lastly, can you add a small fish or shrimp to keep the pod population down, but not eat all of it, or is it too hard to manage this?

03-06-2010, 10:07 AM
You can't net them... they are the size of a dust particle floating in the air. And once they are in the tank, the corals eat them.

Higher flow will only wash away algae from the screen.

Two-layers means two sheets together like a sandwich.

You can't control the pods. They come with scrubbers. Only if you put FW (RODI) over the screen once a day can you reduce them.

03-06-2010, 04:54 PM
OK thanks for your help. I always thought pods were the ones you could see... and the rest I referred to plankton (non/hardly visible). Damn marine hobby, one year on and I still feel like I know nothing haha. Obviously on this forum theres something on the benefits of dual layering... haven't got that far yet... ill do a search. Sorry if I re-asked up on questions!!!

Oh btw, Santamonica do you own this forum yourself?

03-06-2010, 07:06 PM
Start with a single layer, until you get used to cleaning every 7 days.

Worley owns the forum.

03-08-2010, 05:24 PM
Hi just updating you on the progress...

I'm going to go with a more modest sized scrubber. 20 inches by 8 inches, powered by 4x 24w, 3000k T5's, 2 from each end. Ive got two, 4 foot aluminium reflectors that i'm going to cut in half so thats my reflectors done :D

I'm going to convert an old 55 gal into a sump instead of buying a new sump. Same style compartments, 3.5 feet of refugium with live rock and my return pump seperated by baffles. Might even plumb the overflow into the ATS as well as a T'd off return. Just a thaught.

Also, im going to expariment with the material to grow the algae on.


I bought this. Its a "table runner" its made out of PVC so i know its reef safe and it already feels rough to touch. It feels fairly mailable, but feels fairly durable, ive roughed it up a little bit and it feels pretty good. Time will tell. Ill keep you updated.


03-13-2010, 12:57 AM
Here is the progress thus far. Bought a box, did some drillin'.


leak testing

This is going to hold the two sheets together

03-19-2010, 01:14 AM
well still going with the scrubber. Its been Murphy's law all the way, oh my god. Had to go back to the local hardware store about 6 times needing to buy new bits and pieces of pipe etc. My T5 ballasts and end caps haven't arrived yet... Plumbing is all over the place. The red screen I chose was a bad idea. The holes I drilled in the PVC are not aimed properly so that one stream is aiming downwards and another is going sideways. This happened when the pipe lost its position after gluing it and now its stuck like this, i'm going to have to chop it up and re fit a new one. The water is shooting through the screen in some places. I have to some how extend the length of the return pipe because it only reaches to the return section of the sump and causing heaps of micro bubbles.



03-19-2010, 08:23 AM
Holes in the pipe do not work well at all, and even when they do they dont' flow enough to filter much. Do consider a slot.

03-19-2010, 07:19 PM
The slot is the way to go, I agree. Holes just cause a problem because they have too much pressure or something. The water shoots through the screen rather than down it.

03-24-2010, 02:41 AM
Ey again just an update,

I cut some new pipe and did a slot instead of the holes. Bought the recommended screen as well lol.



Lighting 1x 18w T8 slyvana plant gro bulb

Yeah more excellent news. I ordered 2x 24w T5 ballasts. I received 2x 54w T5 ballasts. So now I have to send them back again due to the order stuff-up, thus, more waiting. Hopefully the lighting that I've got over the ATS will kick start some algae production until I get my T5's wired up. Oh yeah, and the guys that were selling the 3000k T5 globes still haven't gotten back to me... Very frustrating!

03-24-2010, 05:22 PM
The light won't work on top. Move it to the side and point it at the center of the screen.

03-25-2010, 01:03 AM
i can't fit it inside the box. its temporary anyway.

03-25-2010, 08:15 AM
Then use cheap clip-on CFL's, one on each side.

04-13-2010, 04:47 AM
LOL finally.......FINALLY finished the scrubber.

Murphy's law loves me lately...

I had to buy CFL's in the end because I couldn't source any cheap 3000K 24w T5's. The ones I could source were $25 ea + delivery, which is too much. That would work out $100+ for some bulbs, jeez.

I also was making a splash guard out of an old tank I had to stop the splashing on the bulbs. The bloody glass shattered so no splash guard...

anyway, what is important is ITS DONE. Here is my set up. Finished wiring it up tonight. Had an old bent reflector that wasn't so great and cut it into 4 pieces for individual reflectors on the bulbs. I also roughed the screen up some more to make it extra rough.




Time for some (proper) scrubin!!! I'll post my phosphate levels and see how the progress.

04-13-2010, 08:34 AM
Looks nice. Can you lower the level of the bottom water any?

04-13-2010, 10:03 PM
Not sure how to be honest. It sort of just pools and doesn't raise or lower. The flow through the pipe exiting is pretty good. Still need to do a splash shield & a comp fan for ventialtion.
I'm also going to point a couple of fans at the bulbs. Ive seen that you can get better bulb life, better PAR and better brightness using this technique (with T5's) so I assume that its the same for CFL's.

04-15-2010, 01:58 AM
Ok so i'll post my test results.

temp 26 C, 1.025, cal 420, mg unknown, alk 11, pH 8.8 (highest i've ever recorded), NO3 0 (attribute this to the clam, also explains Xenia dieing),

phosphate 2.0 and this is making my (very few) acro frags look worse for wear, I assume.

Good news, I tested last month and it was 3ppm which means the decreased feedings have done something, and the scrubber must've had some input - it didn't grow nearly enough though.

Starting to get better growth on the scrubber. I'll post a photo after this week to show everyone how its going.

By the way I have a pink clove coral. Is that a Xenia or something else?

04-15-2010, 08:49 AM
With phosphate that high, you are going to have brown/black growth, so you'll want to clean every 3 to 4 days.

04-15-2010, 09:37 PM
yeah it looks like really brown/black, squared inch clumps at the moment. Do I clean it when its covered the whole thing or do I clean every 3-4 days regardless?

04-16-2010, 07:53 AM
Regardless. Get it all off of the screen.

04-17-2010, 01:54 AM
ok so this was... yesterday me thinks


this is today before




is this a good enough clean?

by the way, thank you very much santa monica you've been a massive help so far.

Hmm. I wouldn't mind adding to the before and after collection... my tank isn't so dramatic though. Theres no massive outbreaks of hair algae like some people have. Ive got some small amounts Cyano growing on stuff though. I might take a photo of that. And maybe some coraline growth as it progresses.

04-18-2010, 04:42 PM
Looks like a decent first week of growth. You can get a lot more if you get some bigger reflectors; 50% of the light is being lost to the sides, so make that the next thing you work on if you are going to do any further improvements. Overall though it looks good.

04-23-2010, 11:27 PM
Well I just cleaned my 3rd screen. My phosphates are still at around 2.0 whats going on? they may have dropped to like 1.8 but I cant really tell. Def not much happening.

04-24-2010, 07:21 AM
I need to see some growth pic right before you clean. The growth pic you posted earlier is not going to filter anything. Do a basic review:

0.5 actual (not equivalent) fluorescent watts per gallon MINIMUM.
1.0 actual (not equivalent) fluorescent watts per gallon for HIGH filtering.
1.0 square inches of screen per gallon, with bulbs on BOTH sides. (10 x 10 = 100 square inches = 100 gal)
2.0 square inches of screen per gallon, if ONE sided.
18 hours of lights ON, and 6 hours of lights OFF, each day.
Flow is 24 hours, and is 35 gph per inch of width of screen, EVEN IF one sided.
Very rough screen made of roughed-up-like-a-cactus plastic canvas.

04-27-2010, 10:33 PM
Ok well heres the growth progress

this was on the 21st april 2010


this was on the 26th april 2010


Its strange because it went greener for one week and now its gone back to browner.

OK lets review

0.5 actual (not equivalent) fluorescent watts per gallon MINIMUM.
1.0 actual (not equivalent) fluorescent watts per gallon for HIGH filtering.

>> OK so I have a 5x2x2 150gallon tank so ideally 1:1 would be 150 watts.
>> 0.5 for minimum
>> I have 4x 24w 3000k CFL'S = 96 watts total so somewhere in between.

1.0 square inches of screen per gallon, with bulbs on BOTH sides. (10 x 10 = 100 square inches = 100 gal)
2.0 square inches of screen per gallon, if ONE sided.

>> bulbs on both sides, 4 inches from screen, check.
>> my screen size, factored in the submerged bits, fully usable surface area is > 18.5 X 8 = 148 sq inches
>> The screen is two screens that overlaps in the middle and becomes a dual layered for 8 inches and 10 inches (5 on each side) of just a single layer of screen.
> If you don't know what I mean think of putting two sheets of paper on top of each other, then sliding the top one to the left until you expose half of the bottom.

18 hours of lights ON, and 6 hours of lights OFF, each day.

>> Check.

Flow is 24 hours, and is 35 gph per inch of width of screen, EVEN IF one sided.

>> 18.5 long x 35 = 647 gallons p/h needed.
>> my pump is a 5000lph (1,320 gallon) laguna. Its been T'd off so that 1500 litres (396 gallons OR SO) are going to the main tank. The main tank only has a 20mm (0.8 inch) durso so it can't take much. So that would mean 1000 gallons should be going to the scrubber. Lets minus 300 gallons for pressure losses, thats still 700 gallons.

Very rough screen made of roughed-up-like-a-cactus plastic canvas.

>> It definitely wasn't rough enough the first time, but that was about a month ago now. It feels pretty rough, to me I dunno I guess I can try to rough it up more. Cactus rough, is that like so rough that if you ran it across your skin it would be cut up?

Yeah maths was never my forte so please bring up anything I may have calculated wrong.

04-28-2010, 11:19 AM
Ok is all making sense now. I forgot your screen was overlapped (2 layer) in the middle. This is the reason the middle has less growth, because 2 layers needs about 45 gph. And overall, you need more flow all the way across, according to the pics of the flow hitting the water below... it should be enough to cause splashing. So, widen the slot all the way across, and widen it even more at the two-layer part. You have plent of pump power it seems.

Other than that, 2.0 phosphates will cause dark clumps to grow; as soon they start to grow (super dark stuff), it stops, because it can't get any more light underneath. If you were super-over-feeding and putting new phosphate into the tank everyday, then I'd say you need a bigger scrubber to keep up with it, but in your case it's just stored phosphate, which will start coming down as you scrub.

One thing I forgot... you asked about dendronephthea... yes you have to have scrubbers to keep them because any type of skimmer/screen/foam will remove all their food. But they still require flow and feeding that you are not prepared for, so don't try them yet.

04-28-2010, 06:17 PM
ok here are my intentions...

> Widen the gap
> Do a vinegar clean for the pump
> Get some hose out and clean any settled detritus wherever I can find it. There isn't much in the main tank, even when I look behind in the low flow areas, I think my worm population takes care of it pretty well. I've seen 10 inch bristle worms so I guess they are pretty hungry.
> Reduce feeding some more

I don't think I over feed. Sometimes I on purpose, don't feed until every second day. I try to make sure every bit of food gets consumed. I have no nitrates, so is that related to my husbandry? I have one clam in there, i'm not sure how one clam could take all the nitrates out of a 150 gal, its not a big clam only 5-6 inches max. Still, I may be overfeeding... but Ive had fish tanks for 15 years though so i'm not so sure? I won't rule it out though, Ive only had marines for a little over a year.

I think that there is a good possibility of phosphate leeching/stored in the rock phosphate. I bought a big batch of live rock back when I first started and didn't know anything. The guy who I bought it from had his tank crash at some point so his tank looked like it was recovering. It was overgrown with bryopsis everywhere. Maybe cyano if I remember correctly. If the rock was from his tank, then maybe it had mega phosphates in it. I want to restate that my tank does not have an algae problem. Theres some in the weir, long hair stuff. Little bit of cyano here and there. I had a little patch of bryopsis at one point and my sailfin tang wouldn't touch it. Bryopsis may be nitrate rather than phosphate dependent, because I had some people come round the other day saying they had bryopsis problems and that they run bioballs, bioballs = nitrates as we all know.

My RO unit is still reading 0ppm on the TDS.

With the dendronephthea, does it need a surge type current? When I went diving in Thailand I saw a dendronephthea garden on this sheer-cliff island called Ko-Dok-Mai. What was strange was all the dendronephthya was really only on ONE half of the island. We went around the island and it was pretty calm on the opposing side, the corals were mostly staghorns, montipora, tabling acros, anemones, fluffy morphs etc. The other side of the island had really strong current, with mostly seafans/gorgs at the start and then just dendronephthea as far as the eye could see.


04-28-2010, 07:26 PM
You have nitrates, so the test must be bad. Yes the rocks are full of phosphate. So when your scrubber starts working, first the misc algae in the tank will fade, but then the algae will start growing on the rocks as the phosphate starts coming out of them. The lower your phosphate gets in the water, the more the phosphate will come out of the rocks, which will grow more algae there. This will occur for weeks to months. Eventually, the rocks will be depleated, and the algae on the rocks will get replaced by coralline, and the scrubber algae will start turning all green. At that point you can start to feed more.

For dendro's and other NPS corals, you need steady strong one-direction current which you can only provide if your tank is set up for it from the start. It needs to be like a race track for horses... circular... so the flow goes by the corals in one direction, and then uses a back or under passage to circle back around. Also, the amount of continuous liquid food you would have to feed would destroy your current tank. You would need triple the scrubbing power you have now. So I'd just build a separate NPS test tank with a strong scrubber and a circular flow pattern, and test some different continuosly-fed liquid foods, instead of starving the dendro's by putting them in your main tank. Here is an example feeder:

viewtopic.php?f=27&t=110 (http://www.algaescrubber.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=110)

05-01-2010, 01:35 AM
Ill try testing nitrate again. I have no idea why else my Xenia would fade the way it did if its not a lack of nitrates. So how can I speed up the phosphate removal? Should I add phosban/rowaphos or is it a bad idea in conjunction with the scrubber? Water changes as well I guess. Bigger scrubber obviously.

05-01-2010, 07:26 AM
No rowa; just scrub well

05-01-2010, 09:30 AM
yeah I guess it all comes back to the first rule of reef tanks; patience. In the mean time ill keep this post updated on the progress.

05-03-2010, 12:52 AM
Did a bit around the tank today.

Wow I did mess up those nitrate tests for sure. I just tested using my older and newer kits and I got 20! ppm as my nitrate. No idea how I was getting 0, I got 0 the last maybe 3 times. I noticed one took a little longer to develop, maybe I was reading that one... Who knows, they both look exactly the same now.

Still... Phosphate 2.0, Nitrate 20ppm, my tank is clean... I'll take a FTS! I cant understand how my parameters can be that bad and not have some awesome algae in the display tank. I run 20k globes now, but only for the past 1.5 weeks. There would have been some algae to complain about before. Ive got a pretty healthy snail population but nothing too fancy. Sailfin tang that doesn't eat off to rocks, yellow tang that I haven't seen do either, i've got a blenny that does a bit of pickin'.

I widened the gap on the outlet pipe, there seems to be less of a pressurized burst coming out of the pipe now.

Found a dead crab in one of the compartments of the sump. Prob adding the to crappy levels.

I think i'm going to do a massive water change soon.

Tank pics
most current pic - only half the tank is illuminated at the present time because i'm awaiting some replacement parts for my light unit

^ This pink acropora is TOUGH. Im going to frag it and give it out due to its toughness. May not be the nicest ever, but still pretty nice IMO. Tougher than Stylo AND motipora! which are supposed to be a beginner SPS. Its got some dead black tips on it but they were there when I got the thing in the first place (3 months ago to the day) . Next to it is a small green frag we call green dallas (or the "green weed"), its also showing its toughness, also 3 months old. Crap growth though, phosphate obviously inhibiting the uptake of calcium by the coral. :x

more random pics of whats in my tank


05-03-2010, 08:53 AM
What's probably happening is phosphate is going into your rocks, thus, no growth on them. When your scrubber gets going an the nutrients in the water come down, phosphate will start coming out of the rocks and they won't be clean again for weeks/months. But at least the acro will start growing again :)

05-15-2010, 12:30 AM
Why is my nitrate back to 0?????????????????? I can't friggin' believe it. 2 different kits. I tested twice.


And I think my phosphate is starting to finally show some improvement...

Is it just me or does this look greener ??


Heres one of my latest screens; been getting screens like this consistently every 3 days. Theres a couple of spots not getting enough flow in comparison to other parts so it may need some adjusting.


Wow looking back on my previous screens, the adjustments have really made a difference. The growth is thicker now. More going on.

Oh yeah by the way.

I removed my skimmer about a week ago. May have not been the wisest thing to do just yet but I've seen no change so far.

05-15-2010, 11:31 AM
Correct, the skimmer won't make any difference, since skimmers don't remove anything anyway.

Your growth is still pretty dark for 3 days, so I would not go past 4 or 5 days.

05-16-2010, 12:07 AM
yeah Ive been pretty consistent with the 3 day rule lately. Can anyone explain my nitrates? lol

05-23-2010, 12:13 PM
Good job Moe....Your setup seems to be going good...Sorry, I can't help you on your test results but I am thinking about setting up a AS like yours.
How much did it run you? Seems inexpensive enough.

05-27-2010, 05:59 PM
LOL it was actually pretty expensive because I made a lot of mistakes haha.

So I suggest, think, design, think some more, redesign, think, and then go buy. Just because of unforeseen stuff like - my cabinet couldn't fit a certain piece of pipe so i had to plumb around the stand n stuff - really frustrating. I'm going to redesign the scrubber again to have it underneath the cabinet.

I'm going to have a sump/refu that runs the whole length of the tank underneath the cabinet. Have the overflow from the main tank going into the ATS and T off the pump to put even more flow into the scrubber. Just because of my current plumbing there is too many head losses.

Ah yeah I lost a bit of money because I bought originally 2x 24w Ballasts so I could get T5 globes for some good scrubbing. But I had a really hard time getting 24w 3000K T5's and gave up.

Ok I live is Australia so I'll put up everything in AUS dollars.

Plumbing pipes - $3-5
Other plumbing fittings - $30
Algae screen - $3 ea
Box - $15-20
Bulkhead from box - $15 (!)
CFL 24w Globes - $13 ea around
Fittings for light globes - $3-4 ea
Wires/plugs - $15
Hose - $10
Reflector (cut up) - $15

around $175 wow that adds up (for me).

I probably could have saved a lot more if I didn't have so many issues with plumbing. Basic pipes are very cheap. What I had to buy wasn't (bends/etc).
Save money on light globes - they are cheaper on ebay and net stores - American shops have everything (damn you!) from what I can see.
Save money on wires and plugs by cutting cords off anything old and crappy like an old TV or what not, you could rip up old lamps found from a "thrift" store (op shop as we call them) instead of buying new.
Save money on pipes - when theres hard rubbish people are throwing 'em out left right 'n' centre. Or ebay.
Maybe save some money on fittings by buying online as well.

Also, large scrubbers are a bit more difficult to organise IMO. When designing a small scrubber you really are spoiled for choice when it comes to containers, theres like hundreds of small-medium sized containers, buckets, tubs etc that you can use to customize the hell out of your scrubber. When I was choosing my large box I only had like 4 choices and chose this tool box tub because it was the cheapest (student budget strikes again). With larger stuff maybe get an old tank or some acrylic cut perhaps.

Oh and thanks for being the first person who isn't Santa Monica to contribute to this thread hahaha was wondering if anyone was still alive on this forum. Good luck with your scrubber and keep us posted.


05-27-2010, 09:08 PM
It is sad that this forum does move slow. I've gotten a few people here on a local forum interested in building ATSs' for their setups. You don't have 99 cent only stores there? 23 watt CFLs for 99 cents. Ganhal lumber for 25 cents. Edison supplements the costs. Parts are available on Craigslist regularly. As you mention Moe, scraps or garage sale leftovers.
Crazy thing here(California) you can buy ten feet of ABS for under 2 bucks. That elbo or Tee? That's 2-3 bucks each.
Tank looks good Moe. Currently running a Horizontal and like it. But verticle seems to be more productive so my minds eye stares at my sump rethinking design. I'm positive I've got it figured out.
I wonder if it would be worth buying stuff here and shipping it to you guys. To Australia-USPS Supplied Large Box: 12" x 12" x 5 1/2".
Maximum weight 20 pounds. This would cost 56 dollars and take 6-10 days.

05-27-2010, 10:57 PM
Funny about the lighting problem:
Some of us have been ordering LEDs from Australia, because nobody locally sells the most recent Crees.
And I am smack dab in Silicon Valley.

I am really confused by the Nitrate question. How is 0 bad?

Looking at your early pics:
Lights seem very high up, with no reflectors behind them.
Remember that the angle the light hits matters. Even a thin film of water will reflect off a LOT of light if the angle is > 45 degrees.
Also, those bulbs seem a bit unsafe. Be careful of moisture and salt creep on all the connections.

I seem to remember from other posts that lack of light could cause the dark brown crud. But no direct experience myself on that.

Hmm, $175 does not seem like much. A lot less than a decent protein skimmer.

05-27-2010, 11:03 PM
Even a thin film of water will reflect off a LOT of light if the angle is > 45 degrees.
Oops, I guess I should have said -45 degrees, for you folks on the other side of the equator. ;)

05-27-2010, 11:57 PM
It is "slow" here because once people fix their filtering, they have no more need to read. They rather read about fish and corals. Once I finish the 25, it will go through a much larger promotion, which will bring a lot of beginners here.

05-28-2010, 10:32 AM
It is "slow" here because once people fix their filtering, they have no more need to read.
Agreed. I am still a newbie, and was losing interest with the site until I decided to go bigger.
I think we are all really glad one person shows a lot of interest and spends a lot of time on this.

Another reason is that almost everyone has done just one or two revisions.
Since that makes us all newbies, it is a bit hard to post expert advice.

Create a "Success Stories" section, at the top of the board.
With a README first, encouraging people to post tank size, scrubber type, size, and maybe even before/after pics or data.
The before/after pic section you have now just does not really do it.
Then, send an apologetic spam to all members, encouraging them that if they have a success, to please post there to
encourage others.

05-28-2010, 12:18 PM
Already have a results thread here viewtopic.php?f=9&t=8 (http://www.algaescrubber.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=8)

Before/after does not work, because nobody takes before shots, because they don't like the look.

I can't send email to members.

05-28-2010, 07:15 PM
Yeah i've got reflectors now but I didn't before. They still aren't ideal. One fell into the bloody water and all the reflectiveness got lost pretty much... This scrubber is less than ideal but its a good start IME. The connections are all sealed off so no water can get in.

I am moving house soon and am thinking of doing an mega outdoor sun lit scrubber enclosed in an acrylic box. If not i'll just redesign something that will work well in the cabinet.

I cant really do a dramatic before/after photo because as you can see from my tank photos, theres nothing crazy going on, despite my high phosphate. I can take a photo of whats going on in my scrubber refugium, theres a lot of hair algae and cyano growing in there.

05-28-2010, 11:53 PM
Just paint the inside of the box flat-white. Your basic outdoor white latex paint.
Interestingly, white paint reflects light better than aluminum foil. The difference is that it scatters light, instead of sending
it directly back. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Sun-lit is probably a bad idea.
You will get a TON of heat build up.
Plus it varies too much summer/winter / cloudy / sunny.
Maybe for a big pond, but not an aquarium.

05-29-2010, 02:44 AM
Hey, thats probably a good idea with the white paint. Something is probably out there that is reef safe.

Would the out door scrubber be that bad an idea? Didn't SantaMonica post a scrubber that is sun powered? (for a reef)?

05-29-2010, 02:26 PM
Best paint is epoxy based. Quite safe. People make plywood aquariums that way.
Latex is ok, especially if you stop just above normal water level.

Two big problems with solar.

1) In winter, could be only 6 or so hours of weak light, where summer could be a lot of hours of really bright light.
Although if you live near the equator, not a big issue.
Similar issue with overcast days/weeks.
You can supplement solar with your own lighting though.

2) The sun is very powerful, with tons of infra-red. It will heat that water up fast.
Remember, they heat big pools that way.
Although it might work if you put filters on the light. Let through blue/red, eliminate the rest.
Using reflected light off of a purple screen might work.

06-01-2010, 06:47 PM
Looking good, good to see another aussie. As far as i can tell there are only benefits to having solar powered scrubber would be in the winter.

in winter its colder and so using the heating power of the sun to warm the water reduces the load on ur heaters etc. It mite be a problem in the summer though when there is alot more infared emission hence over heating could definatly be a problem.

i think the previous poster hit it on the head once ppl get through 2 revisions usually they have had enough and just leave it coz they think its working good or they just dont care as it is working some. Not everyone is a natural tinker of things. im assuming you got the socket plugs for the CFL from like bunnings??

Im about to build a scrubber shortly after i built my tank stand. But the problem i have is with lighting well the cost of running lighting anyways. Was looking into LED lighting but it seams as if the inital outlay will be quite a bit in comparison to CFL and wont need reflectors.

06-02-2010, 10:53 AM
Yes, LEDs are expensive, and can be tricky to get right.
I am still tinkering there.
If it is your first ATS, strongly suggest simple CFL floods first. Cheap, easy, and debug other possible problems.
Then update one side with LED, then the other.

LEDs will easily pay for themselves long term though.

06-06-2010, 08:40 AM
Ey Eclip.

Got the sockets from bunnings yes. I wouldn't mind going LED either. Full LED, both the DT and the ATS. I might start with one side of the ATS, then the other, then the DT.

06-25-2010, 10:23 PM



Still dark screens. Still high phosphates. Im taking down my tank and downgrading to a 2 foot cube soon. The new system will have more flow going over the ATS, more light on a smaller area and double sided screens. Im expecting better results.

I'm getting some primordial soup floating in the scrubber reservoir. It looks like cyano of some sort. Very strange. I must be phosphates needing to go somewhere I suppose.


MASSIVE amounts of PODS


this is just a small few i saved and fed to the fish, the reservior is teeming with them.

06-26-2010, 08:24 PM
Big pods like that imply you are not cleaning often enough.
Looks like you need to clean the sump more often.
My guess : your scrubber is simply not big enough to handle the phosphates.
What/how much are you feeding anyway?

Sacrilege, but you might consider turning protein skimmer back on.
They are good at removing uneaten food, before it turns into phosphates/nitrates.
Might help the ATS catch up.

06-26-2010, 09:28 PM
I've sifted over your post here. Let me see if I can add any useful bits for you.

I can tell you that soup at the bottom of your scrubber is caused by not having the ends of those bulbs shielded. As you can see you actually get some green in the soup area. Those large amphipods pictures I don't feel are from not cleaning the screen enough. Rather they are loving the conditions in the "soup". The problem with this is the algae will build up at the bottom, I had a problem where it actually started to tint my water green due to die off and it micro pieces breaking free from the smooth tote walls. Otherwise it provides a fantastic habitat for amphipods like the ones you have pictured.

I think your problem with your growth is light making it to the screen mainly from what I see. Those reflectors are not doing you a great deal of good other than shielding the back of the tote from light. I think rygh may be able toll in on this and give you a hand. It looks like you at minimum need are better reflector. A couple Giant 710ml energy drink cans might be better. you can get them cut exactly in half so all the light..not just from the back is reflected forward and leave the bottom on to shield the bottom of the tote possibly.
I don't know for sure if you'll be able to defeat this problem well given the orientation of the bulbs.

How far away are the bulbs from the screen?

06-26-2010, 10:04 PM
Ive just moved out of the parental home recently so the last couple of weeks has been hectic, and admittedly haven't had time to clean the screen, maybe twice in two weeks (which is obviously bad for this kind of growth). Also haven't had time to do water changes.

The scrubber needs to be refurbished if i want to take more out more phosphates. In my next system, the next design will have more concentrated light, more flow, shielded bulbs, and a reflective box made out of white paint covering the bulbs, also fans blowing on the bulbs. I found that the T5's have better par and last longer with active cooling, so i guess there will be more efficiency this way as well.

If I was to do it again or refurbish this one id;

Paint the inside of the box white with the waterproof/reef safe paint
Somehow fix the plumbing so more flow gets the scrubber (the plumbing is ridiculous at the moment).
Put it in the sump
put a splash guard over the bulbs
computer fans pointing at the bulbs
Have the main tank siphon go to one end of the ATS and then my T'd off pump go to the other (basically i'd need a new sump to accommodate for the ATS)
NOT have the screens overlapped. Right now its single sided on both sides and double in the centre, its too hard to calibrate the flow. I get good flow on the sides and patchy flow through the centre.

oh yer the bulbs are 4 inches away

Feeding strained mysis one day, cyclopeeze the next, and half a sushi sheet every day.