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Thread: Struggling

  1. #1

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    Struggling

    I built my first scrubber on my old tank and it helped greatly in removing my algae - see my post at ReefAddicts for a detailed write up.

    Then I had a scrubber built by Santa Monica nearly 2 years back. Had to change tanks, etc. - took a while to get everything set up. I've been running the scrubber now for about 6-7 months. My setup:

    120 gal RR Oceanic Tech Tank
    30 gal glass tank converted to a sump (adds about 15 gals of water)
    26 gal secondary tank (frag outgrowth) plumbed into the same system

    2 x 250 watt MH (each on for 6 hours)
    2 vortech MP-40 pumps running on left/right sides of the tank
    Feeding: 2 cubes of frozen food 3 times per week, 2x3" piece of seaweed 3 times per week

    Fish:
    1 Foxface rabbit fish
    3 firefish
    1 green chromis
    2 true percs
    1 goby
    1 cleaner shrimp
    1 coral-banded shrimp
    Assortment of crabs and snails

    I believe the design is the SM100.
    Scrubber lights are opposite of the main tank. 18 hours on, 6 hours off.
    There are two fixtures, each 54W of light with bulbs provided by SM.
    Dedicated Quiet One 4000 water pump (about 1,000 gph)
    Water level in the scrubber is at about 1 1/2 inches

    Mostly I am getting yellowish/brownish growth, very little of it.
    Scrubber is cleaned every 8-10 days.
    I definitely have more algae in the main tank each week - I've removed giant chunks of it and about once a month I have to scrub the rocks so that at least some of the corals survive.

    Images - click to enlarge

    1) 9 days of growth - this is about the most I've ever seen on this scrubber


    2) Second section - interestingly, notice that where the water flow is slightly less (below the zip tie), greener algae grows


    3) After cleaning



    Hoping that the collective experience can provide some insights soon. I'm happy to provide any additional information needed. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    It's actually doing great. You were just used to too-dark growth. This screen is growing perfect.

    However it's vastly under-used. You are averaging 1.5 cubes a day; this scrubber can do 10. So the growth you are getting now is very thin, and it's not even in 3D yet. Let it go 14 days and you'll see some 3D start at the bottom. Also slow down the flow, so you can get more usable screen; 1 inch at the bottom is plenty.

    As for the display algae, I'll bet you are pulling phosphate out of the rock, and it's growing only on rocks and not on plastic. Also I bet the rock growth is mostly on the pointed edges of rock; this is where the most phosphate soaked in because it can get to all sides.

    Pics of the display would help, but because of the green scrubber growth, I'm sure your nitrate and phosphate are unmeasureable. What you think you are seeing as "more display algae" is probably just "longer algae strands", which is what happens as phosphate comes out of the rocks faster. But the base area where the algae attaches actually gets smaller.

    Double your feeding; reduce cleanings to 14 days; and reduce scrubber flow. Also, stopping waterchanges will help too, since you can only be adding phosphate by doing them. Waterchanges do nothing to get nutrients out.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by SantaMonica View Post
    It's actually doing great. You were just used to too-dark growth. This screen is growing perfect.
    Well, it's not all that perfect in my eyes, when after 2-3 weeks I can't see most of the rocks. The algae is definitely growing in the system, just not as much in the scrubber. There's definitely longer strands AND more surface coverage on the rocks of all sizes and shapes. It's also growing on plastic, such as the overflow grill. On top of plating montipora, etc.

    Here's shots of the tank growth. Click to enlarge.









    Will go get a valve in the next day or two and slow down the flow.

  4. #4
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    One other thing to try is to reduce display hours from 6 to 5; just enough to weaken the display a bit, and get more scrubber growth. Not too much though, because killing off too much display will increase nutrients too high, which will darken scrubber growth. Darker filters less.

    But just looking at the scrubber color, I still say phosphate is coming out of the rocks. And a lot of it. It must have been soaking up phosphate for years. Or you did a major re-working or moving of the rocks (which kills off the sponges inside). Might take a full year to clean out. But there is no way that only feeding 1.5 cubes is going to be able to support that much display algae. It's going away.

  5. #5

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    The growth in my main tank looks just like yours.

    Kent

  6. #6
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    The extra days of growth will help get it into 3d, which is where it filtering power will triple.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by SantaMonica View Post
    One other thing to try is to reduce display hours from 6 to 5; just enough to weaken the display a bit, and get more scrubber growth. Not too much though, because killing off too much display will increase nutrients too high, which will darken scrubber growth. Darker filters less.

    But just looking at the scrubber color, I still say phosphate is coming out of the rocks. And a lot of it. It must have been soaking up phosphate for years. Or you did a major re-working or moving of the rocks (which kills off the sponges inside). Might take a full year to clean out. But there is no way that only feeding 1.5 cubes is going to be able to support that much display algae. It's going away.
    Will tune down the display hours.

    As for the history of the rock - I had it in my old tank for about 4-5 years. Had algae problems, then went with home-made scrubber, and it all cleared up. When I had to witch tanks, about 1/2 the rock went dry in the process. I set up the current tank in April 2010. It cycled, and then ran without a skimmer or scrubber for about 12 months (April 2011). At that time this current episode of algae began, and it's been a battle since. I've had the scrubber in place since about May 2011 - so hoped that it would be all clear of algae by now.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by SantaMonica View Post
    The extra days of growth will help get it into 3d, which is where it filtering power will triple.
    Thanks again for your pointers and persistence in helping me set this up correctly.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SantaMonica View Post
    Double your feeding; reduce cleanings to 14 days; and reduce scrubber flow.
    SM, did you really mean to as reduce scrubber flow? This confuses me...please elaborate

    Also, just a pointer that I have recently come up with (never seen it mentioned before): avoid cinching the zip-ties down tight around the pipe. With a slot in the pipe, it's rather easy to cause the slot to flex closed and pinch off flow. With a center-hung screen like is on the SM100, you just want to make sure that the hole in the screen that you put the zip-tie through is far enough down so that when you tighten the zip tie, it holds the top edge of the screen against the top inside edge of the pipe, but doesn't pull the slot closed. Maybe this isn't the case because I have never seen an SM100 in person, but it seems to make sense to me. This is why I prefer to hang each screen section from the ends, but I also don't like to insert the screen any more than 1/4" into the slot.

  10. #10
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    Yes reduce flow. There is too much wasted screen space at the bottom.

    I insert the screen all the way in the pipe, but attach it loosely.

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