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Thread: Scrubber working, but corals shrinking, brown algae on screens.

  1. #1
    cominatyalive's Avatar
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    Scrubber working, but corals shrinking, brown algae on screens.

    Hello,

    I've built a big scrubber as you can see in the pictures. The scrubber is doing it's job, N03 (Nitrates) undetectable with standard Salifert tester. Only 0.0 to 0.1 ammonia. Scrubber has been going for 4 months now. P04 (phosphate) is 0.0 undetectable with Salifert tester. I'm running 6 lights, four of them 2700K CFL's the two middle ones are 6500K cfl grow lamps. I am still running the lights 24/7

    Although the scrubber is working, I am concerned about two problems. My Toadstool and Pulsating Xenias which were huge before I built the scrubber are shrinking to nothing. My red mushrooms are small all the time now but before were also huge. Now my plate coral is not opening. My torch is dying and hammer is shrinking also. Although my regular Xenia and Candy Cane are doing ok still. My water params are ok but Mg and Ca is a bit high but everything checks out ok.

    PH 8.1 Mg 1500 dKH 8.0 Ca 485 N03 0.0 Amm 0.1 P04 0.0 Temp 79.0 F. S.G. 1.025

    All perfect numbers.

    I know that some corals do ok with little Phosphate, but others need more. Could it be from running the lights 24/7 be stripping too much Phosphate from my system? And in turn killing my corals? And also, I am getting too much Slime Stringy Brown algae in the scrubber. No hair algae in my 125 gallon System at all. I have two screens which I clean by alternating the cleaning of one screen every week. I do have some green in scrubber but the Brown is out of control.

    Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated. Should I get timers for the scrubber lights and alternate? and should I feed the system more to get better Green algae? Thanks. Pictures of scrubber attached.
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  2. #2
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    Welcome.

    Well first thing, is to figure out the ammonia. This is probably the cause of the brown scrubber growth (high nutrient = dark growth).

    If nothing in your tank is suspect of causing ammonia, then it might be the underlying layers of dark scrubber growth dying, being shaded by upper layers. And it might also be by no dark time (lack of time for the algae to repair).

    And in general, the scrubber size is way too big to allow green hair to grow. The flow might be weak too, because the water is not filling in across the screen, especially below the rings. Stronger flow will fill in all the way across.

    So an easy first fix is to add a timer for 18 hours. A second fix would be to use real grow lamps... LED red/blue for example. Or all red LED. 6500k is not a grow lamp.

    A final fix would be to reduce screen size to 1/3 of what it is now. Easy to do by wrapping plastic wrap around the pipe/slot to seal it off. Then the remaining screen can be cut vertically and cleaned half at a time. You can point 2 of the lights at each side, for a total of 4 lights. This will fix the flow too; it will be very strong.

    Get another ammonia test kit, and alternate the tests with the old kit, every day. You need to be getting zero from both, every time.

  3. #3
    cominatyalive's Avatar
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    Thank you SantaMonica for your reply and it is good to be here.

    I do agree with the under layer dying off as I was late in cleaning one of the screens. You cannot really notice from the pictures but I do have two screens so I can clean one while the other continues to grow.
    The scrubber is quite large, but it is the first one I have ever built. I am running a mag drive 9 on it, but the spray bar was just a bit too long. I could put a 1200 mag on it but I'm going to make another bar with a shorter slot. I am just using what I have right now but yes, tweaking can always be done.

    I noticed the die-off when I saw dead algae floating in the pan and I was cleaning my filter socks every day all of the sudden. So I cleaned the screen and it stopped. I will increase the flow by shortening the slot width. After I posted this thread, I did manage to install a timer before I left for work. I have it set for 13 hours but will try 18 as you suggested.

    I was reading here that many use the 2700K cfl bulbs, so that is what I obtained, but I have heard of the Red Led ones you speak of. If I'm correct they are pricey but will be looking to obtain them in the near future. By the way, they are rated in Nanometers if I'm not mistaken, would I be looking for around 800 NM ? Just wondering. I will ditch the 6500 K's soon.

    I did previously have just the 4 lamps but thought more would be better, but I am still trying to learn what I can. The reason why the scrubber was built big, is because I am running a total of 220 gallons. My 125 display, a 55 gallon display, a 36 ruby sump with about 23 gallons in it, and the scrubber pan is holding I would imagine at least 17 gallons, all tied together as one system. So If cutting down the size of the screens will not reduce the effectiveness I will do it. I will obtain another ammonia test kit as well.

    Thank you for your wisdom. It is highly appreciated. I will also browse the other threads on what you touched base on.

  4. #4

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    660 red and 440 blue is the NM that most use. If you want to keep the lamp type lights, I suggest using these lights.

    https://smile.amazon.com/Designed-Hy...led+grow+light

    Santa Monica also sells fully waterproof lights. I have been using them for the last few months. Before I was trying to make my own waterproof lights and mine would always corrode and quit working. I'm also using mine underwater, so you may not need them.

    http://www.santa-monica.cc/GEM5-high...-CFL_p_84.html

    The size of your system doesn't make any difference. The only thing that matters is the bio load and food. 1 fish will produce the same waste in a 2 gallon or a 200 gallon system. Of course that waste is what feeds your algae scrubber.

  5. #5
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    If cost is a concern, just use 4 of the 2700k bulbs on a small screen.

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    When I've had some brown algae, Corals can close up. I've noticed it most often with LPS and in particular Elegance coral. My guess is that there are some toxins or something released by the brown algaes that irritate corals. However, not as far as killing them though so you may have other issues going on. But for me, running some carbon through a reactor does wonders. For my 180g tank it doesn't take much just 1 cup or rox .8 carbon. My elegance tells me when its time to change if the flow hasn't started to slow by then. Usually make it about 7 - 10 days per change. So if your not running carbon I'd certainly give it a try. If you are running carbon you may not be changing it often enough.

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    Hello everyone. Been awhile since I been here. The monster scrubber ran for a year and a half. Did produce very green algae by using LED 660 nm red light bars. The 2700K CFL's are garbage compared to 660 NM Red. My copepod population exploded as well. N03 and P04 were always undetectable. I then made the mistake of taking it all down due to tuft algae beginning to come back in my display. I have been running Phosban lately and its all gone, but now my Nitrates are sky high. I refuse to run Bio Pellets because IMPO they do nothing for N03 after 4 months of running NPX pellets, they did nothing. Marine Pure Blocks do nothing. The only thing that handles N03 well is bio balls, an undergravel plate, a Scrubber or a Deep Live Sand Bed. Phosban does nothing for N03, only good for P04. So I've no choice but to put the scrubber in place again. Here are a few pics of the re-build. As far as I'm concerned, the larger the scrubber, the better off you will be. I was harvesting a cup and a half of very green brillo like algae every week. There are a few improvements this time around. Cheers.

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    Thank you SantaMonica. In these pics I am re-installing the monster scrubber. It previously ran for a year and a half successfully and proved itself within just a few months. The old design was ran with a 9.5 energy hogging mag drive which sat outside the scrubber in a 5 gallon bucket of water to keep it cool. The old spray bar slot was also cut too wide but it worked. In these pictures, I am showing the improvements I made after careful thought. A new 1056 gph 4.0 Skimz Variable Speed DC pump, in which eliminates the need for any valves, which I used before, to control the water level in my 36 Ruby sump under my display tank. The new DC pump only uses 15 watts at just number 6 speed. A far cry from over 110 watts that the mag drives use. Also, great consideration was taken to improve the width of the 24" long, 1/8" wide slot that I cut in the 45" long spray bar. They are not joking when they say to make the slot width only 1/8" of an inch. This gives me the power to send water all the way across the screens at a very minimal flow setting from the new DC 24 volt Skimz pump. Enough cannot be said about cutting the slot only 1/8" wide. As you can also see, the slot was carefully cut on my father's router table in a fixture with only a 1/8" inch bit. This gives us a chance to create a more straight slot without any jagged edges that one normally encounters when trying to cut it on a table saw or by using a primitive die grinder. I have more pics and more to tell and show you, but I will let this sink into your minds for now. The scrubber is now running as we speak. I will take great pride in showing you much more in the days to come.

  9. #9
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    Yes the slot width is important. I go a little wider on our green grabber screens but that is just because they are thicker.

    Just get some good even lighting.

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    Hello, actually, I have wet sanded the slot with 320 grit wet sandpaper to smooth out the groove and it has also probably widened the slot by a few hairs. Here are a few more pics. Here I am showing the return stub at the bottom left of the pan. It is 1" 45 degree fitting left unglued. Reason for that is to be able to swivel it a bit above the water line to allow a little amount of air into the gravity return line to help aid in the speed of the water back to the filter sock in the Ruby sump. If the 45 degree fitting is completely submerged, it will slow the water down and create unwanted surges inside the return line to the sump. Also pictured is the supply line through the wall that leads up to the spray bar. Again, I use no ball valves of any sort. In the third picture, you can see that I have mounted the 660 nm LED light bars on or about a 28 degree angle. This allows me to mount the lights out of the way from the sides of the screens to avoid salt splash on the fixtures. This also allows me to avoid shining the light into the spray bar slot by 1.5" but still be able to cover the rest of the screen lengths with light. The lights are held in place with 28 degree standoffs made out of 2X4 wood and the fixtures are secured by picture frame wire and wood screws. Many believe that in order to grow algae well, the lights must be horizontally mounted and close to the screens, But on the contrary, the algae will grow just as well with the fixtures above on an angle. I am almost into day 3 now of the unit running. I am very happy so far in it's progress. I will disclose more pics when the screens start to seed. I was curious about these green grabber screens you mentioned. Do you have a picture of one or have any pics posted of them here? Thanks S.M.

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