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Thread: My 2nd Attempt at An Algae Scrubber With Pics

  1. #1

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    My 2nd Attempt at An Algae Scrubber With Pics

    This information was taken from another forum but, I think it belongs best here.

    A while ago I made an attempt at SantaMonica's early design. I followed his instructions to the "T", and had no luck growing anything in it.
    During my research on scrubbers I came across a design that looked a little better than a bucket with a couple of floods in it. The design that I am going to use also uses two floods but, I have an old 150 watt mh I am going to use with a 10k bulb. I have 3 400 watt mh's over my 210g am hoping the 150 mh will give the algae a more favorable environment than the display. I am also going to use a different water delivery to the screen. The design uses a container on a pivot, I am going to use a piece of glass tilted to the screen and attached to three sides of the aquarium. The rest will be a close copy to the design below, except I will be using 20g aquarium.

    The aquarium is a simple 20g long. It is about the same dimension as the original design. I bought this thing to be used as a refiugium for my 55g in our office, but that is no longer a need since I built the fish room in the basement. Eventually it be on the same sump as the 210g, This is what I started with.

    This morning I ripped 4-1.5 inch pieces of 1/4 inch acrylic. Two are 24 inches long and the other two are 8 and 7/8 inches long. I used Weldon 3 to bond them together. This will be the frame for the screen.

    I cut 2 pieces of 1/4 inch glass 24X1.5. I had the glass in the basement. These will be used to hold the screen assembly off of the bottom of the tank.

    I used 2X4's on their sides to hold the glass strips in place during siliconing.

    I cut 4 legs 1.5X3.5 inches from 1/4 glass to support the 24 inch long strips. I cut the bottom corners off of the legs to clear the silicone on the bottom of the 20g. This is my first setback. I attached the strips and did not put the legs in first. I cannot get my calking gun under the strips to silicone in the legs. I will go to Home Depot and pick up a tube of silicone, I should be able to reach them with the tube. You will have to look closely the legs are barely visible.

    This is what it looks like so far. I will be using nylon screws to hold the frame up when done.

    I found stuff that looks like the mesh inside the tank divider that SantaMonica recommended in his early design. It is used to pull yarn through and make rugs. Those dividers cost over $15.00 at the lfs and they are too short for my needs. Again my frame is 12 X 24 inches, the panel that I bought is 13 x 21.5. I bought a short one also. They both are 13 inches wide. My wife said she could sow them together with fishing line, how can you not love a woman like that? We spent about 15 minutes in the store and she knew exactly where to look of what I described. The total cost for the mesh pieces, $2.00. The stuff came from Hobby Lobby, it is a stone's through from my home. I have four sheets and made a double layer screen.

    My wife finished sowing the panels, I sanded them, staying clear of the fishing line. They are cut to fit the screen frame. The long bolts will also be used to set the angle of the screen assembly, the short ones to hold the screen to the frame.

    I pulled the glass strips, the strips that will hold up the screen assembly, and installed the legs. I tried to do it with a smaller tube of silicone and it looked pretty bad, I just can not get my fat hands to fit. After I siliconed all back in, I worked on the screen frame. Drilling and tapping 14 holes is not my favorite thing to do but, it came out pretty good. 6 holes have short 1/4 X 20 screws with washers, these hold the screen to the frame. 8 holes have longer screws, they will be used to adjust the height and angle of the screen. I also cut and installed a piece of glass that the water will hit before making contact with the screen.
    The unit is on its side until the silicone dries.



    I have finished with the main body of the scrubber. The last thing I had to do was to drill and install the 1 inch bulkhead. The rest is to install the light and plumb in the thing.
    I am sorry for the last pic. After I drilled the tank I took it outside and rinsed out the tank.


    I drilled another hole in the upper corner of the tank. In the pic you will see the tool I used to cut the opening in the spray bar.

    This pic has the finished cut and the parts that complete the spray bar.

    The two final pics are of the spray bar assembly. The collar on the inside of the tank was cut from a coupler. I slid it over the pipe, then installed the pipe in the tank. I then put pvc glue in the area the collar was to rest and slid the collar over the glue. I installed a union on the outside so the union and collar are pressed lightly against the glass, I hope this will reduce spray outside of the tank. The union will also allow me to adjust the spray bar to optimize the stream across the glass plate.


    Now it is ready to be installed.
    It is plumbed in and water is running through it. I think the spray bar will need to be done. I have found that most of the water is pushed through the far end of the opening. With that said, the screen is fully covered with water.
    The valve that I installed is not needed as I can control the water with the valve I used to divert water to the scrubber from the line coming from the display.
    I did not address the light it will wait until I fix the spray bar.

    I attempted another spray bar with a much narrower cut, still the water is pushed to the end of the spray bar.
    I have decided a different approach, a small pool of water then aiming the water in it. All it took for the mod was to cut out the slanted glass and reposition it. As for the spray bar, I will try a straight pipe into the pool of water first. If the water velocity is to strong, I will install a modified tee if needed.
    Now I wait for the silicone to dry.

    I think I have it. No spray bar needed, just a pipe pointing down. An added boost, I said I was not interested in a surging setup, well, I have one anyway. The air in the return line reduces the flow enough to give a surge.

    During the take down of a 35g octagon the Coralife 150 watt HQI was damaged. The mounting neck at the light housing was broken. My wife made the mistake of picking up the light and not supporting the ballast. She and I are pretty good to each other so all that came out from me was, I think I can fix it. So I brought home some gel super glue, I love the stuff, it is very useful. I glued the area that broke and held it in place for 10 minutes. Try that sometime, it seems like eternity. Now it dries.

    Here are the pics.

    The location in my fish room. If you look in the lower corner you will see the subtle hint from my wife, I need to clean the turkey fryer.


    A closer look but, not very clear. The water is a bit high I need to adjust.


    The upside down Coralife...My drill is supporting it to keep the neck from weight stress.


    Blurry closeups of the glued fracture.


    And here she is finished with a light.


    I found the link the idea came from.
    http://www.thereeftank.com/forums/f2...er-108853.html
    After Reviewing it again I may work on the dump bucket.
    I built this box. It is not one of my best acrylic jobs but, it is for a scrubber and not for the display. This is my next attempt with the scrubber, now I need to find the tipping point.


    The tipping bucket is finished. I found the tipping point on the first try. I drilled two divots in the side of the bucket and used two nails to hold it. I then took it to the sink and started to fill it. It sits on an angle and as it fills it levels out. Then the thing dumps very quickly.
    I used 1/2 inch dowels to make the hinge and glass to make the pivot "V". And the divots are no longer visible. One down side is the hole I put in the side of the tank is no longer usable, because the top of the bucket is too high to fill from that level. I covered the hole with a square piece of glass. In the future I may replace the tank but, it will work for now.
    Pics to follow when the silicone dries and after work.
    It is back up and running. I like the pivoting bucket much better. It dumps every 8 seconds. I had to cut a piece of glass to cover the bucket, when the bucket is dumping the stream of water splashes over the edge of the tank.
    I cut the hole to accept a 1 inch bulkhead fitting, this I will get tomorrow. I will also install a union too.






    I found a 4200K bulb at 1000bulbs.com that will work. It cost 11.99, for that price I will try it.
    I have made my last modification to the scrubber. This mod would not have had to been made if I would pay closer attention to what I am doing half of the time. The front of the bucket is 5.5 inches tall, the back is 5 inches tall and the bottom is 2.5 inches from front to back. All of the pieces are 11 inches wide. I measured the inside of the tank and came up the 11 7/8 inches. I thought if I cut the long pieces 11 inches that would give me enough space for the 1/4 inch "V" material and have room to spare. This room is needed to keep the end of the bucket from contacting the "V" that holds the rod that is glued to the end of the bucket. That rod is what allows the bucket to pivot. Where I went wrong is the end caps that attach to the 11 inch pieces are 1/4 inch thick. If you add two of those guys and two of the 1/4 inch thick "V"s, you now have 12 inches of material you need to stick into a 11 7/8 space. Thank God the acrylic and glass are not a true 1/4 inch thick. That allows the bucket to fit but the clearance is very tight. It is so tight that the bucket will shift from one side to the other and rub on the "V". When that happens it will stick in the up position and stop dumping. Usually this happened in the time frame of 30 minutes. I tried to install a space the hinges so the bucket would not shift but, could not get the spacing right, this thing fits pretty tight.

    The fix came up to installing glass stops in the tank. I installed them so the bucket sits a little forward. In the upper left corner you can see the black mark I used to position them. The scrubber has been running since 6:00 AM today and has not got stuck. Needless to say if I just would have cut the material to 10.5 inches, I would not have had to do this.



    Here is a close up of the bucket in dump.


  2. #2
    kcress's Avatar
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    Re: My 2nd Attempt at An Algae Scrubber With Pics

    Thanks DS for putting up your build!

  3. #3
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    Re: My 2nd Attempt at An Algae Scrubber With Pics

    Wow quite the contruction project! As for your previous scrubber, did you post anywhere that I may have seen it? If you made a standard one like the threads show, it has to work (i.e., it can't grow "nothing"), so I'm sure I would have made some suggestions somewhere along the way.

    Anyways, on to your current project. It's nice you have such good DIY skills. I think you are the first person to attempt to build this version. The guy who made the original one that you posted at the top was trying to sell them in 2007 and had to stop for some reason. I think his name was Carnivour. Back then, when I was researching every scrubber that had ever been built, I was amazed at his simple acrylic design. I even tried to buy one, but he was already gone. Oh well. So do give it a try, and see what you learn!

    I do have to say, primarily to others who are reading this and trying to decide what to build, that "surge" type scrubbers like this are in the same category as LED scrubbers: Build them ONLY if you want to experiment, and NOT if you must have results. Standard vertical scrubbers work everytime when built correctly (thus I wonder if I got a chance to analyze your previous one), and they are cheap and easy to build. But surge and LED scrubbers do not work every time, plus they are very difficult to build, and, you must know how to adjust and adjust and adjust them.

    So we'll certainly welcome anything learned from your build. Anything learned from other areas, that helps the typical SW user, is a good thing (I've already learned a lot from pond/pool/spa usage that will help here.)

  4. #4

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    Re: My 2nd Attempt at An Algae Scrubber With Pics

    Have you ever wanted to know how much turf algae you could get for $93.86? I guess I can now validate your guess if you had...a 12X6 inch screen. Dang sometimes I really do miss California, the place I lived in before Kansas, I could swear I could go out on the rocks and scrape off as much as I wanted. Oh well I guess this is the price one must place to be in the middle of the USA. If you should need any, I received mine from http://inlandaquatics.com/.

    Here is the stuff in the pic. It is a brown/red color.




  5. #5
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    Re: My 2nd Attempt at An Algae Scrubber With Pics

    It's good that you have a surge, since real red/brown turf will only survive with a surge.

    I think IA has double the price of turf in the past year.

  6. #6

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    Re: My 2nd Attempt at An Algae Scrubber With Pics

    I am very interested in this build, since I probably need a horizontal version for my second attempt as well.
    A couple of questions if you are still active in this forum:

    1) It has been been a month now since last pic. How is algae spreading?

    2) What is the flow rate on your pump?
    Dump every 8 seconds seems great.

    3) How noisy is it when it dumps.
    Unfortunately a very subjective question.
    If you were quietly watching TV in the same room, is it noticeable, annoying, terrible?

  7. #7
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    Re: My 2nd Attempt at An Algae Scrubber With Pics

    Dngspot has not posted in any of his 6 scrubber threads (including this one) in over a month. I'm sure it's because that low-flow design grew almost nothing. If you search the web for "dngspot scrubber" you will find them.

  8. #8

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    Re: My 2nd Attempt at An Algae Scrubber With Pics

    I now have some results. For a couple of months I did not see any progress for the scrubber except the $100.00 pad of turf algae die. I will even say for two months this thing stayed as clean as the day I installed it, nothing was growing on it.
    There was a two fix solution. The first was to put a fan on the thing to move the heated air from the inside of the scrubber. It did not seem hot but must have been. We had this little 4 inch fan we bought from Wal-Mart that did the trick. I also decreased the time the dump bucket rotated. I had it set for 30 seconds and decreased it to 8 seconds. The fan gave me slow brown growth, with the faster water duration green and red algae growth took off.
    I would also like to add, the die off of the turf screen is not completely a waste, the turf algae is now growing in my sump and if you look closely at the cleaned off screens there is a dark reddish tint to the under screen, that was not there before. So I guess it must be in the system, I have never seen this red algae before I added the red turf screen.

    In the first pic you will see the dirty unit and the fan sitting on top of the splash guard.


    In these pics of the somewhat cleaned screen, I just finished scraping it with a piece of acrylic.



    Here is a hand full of the green algae that was removed from the screen. I guess it is about 6 inches in diameter and about 3 inches high.


    I will post a pic of the screen with algae on it the next time I clean it.

    I apologize for the late reply. I have not seen any activity on my other threads when I visited and would have replied if I did.

  9. #9

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    Re: My 2nd Attempt at An Algae Scrubber With Pics

    glad to see your getting some good results with a bit of perseverance , must admit starting to see a bit of green myself , oc

  10. #10
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    Re: My 2nd Attempt at An Algae Scrubber With Pics

    I now have some results. For a couple of months I did not see any progress for the scrubber except the $100.00 pad of turf algae die. I will even say for two months this thing stayed as clean as the day I installed it, nothing was growing on it.
    No surprise. That design that you found and used to make yours has all kinds of errors/problems that can be spotted from just a single pic.

    There was a two fix solution. The first was to put a fan on the thing to move the heated air from the inside of the scrubber.
    Air has nothing to do with how much algae grows. It only affects the evaporation, and therefore, the cooling on your tank.

    I also increased the time the dump bucket rotated. I had it set for 30 seconds and increased it to 8 seconds. The fan gave me slow brown growth, with the faster water duration green and red algae growth took off.
    This is what helped... increased flow (2.5 times, in this case).

    I would also like to add, the die off of the turf screen is not completely a waste
    Any die off, while the screen is in the system, is not good. This puts Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate right back into the water.

    the turf algae is now growing in my sump
    You don't want anything growing in the sump, because you can't remove it for cleaning. And if you try to clean it where it is, the broken pieces of algae will color your water. If you don't clean it, the bottom layers will start dying and clouding the water.

    and if you look closely at the cleaned off screens there is a dark reddish tint to the under screen, that was not there before. So I guess it must be in the system, I have never seen this red algae before I added the red turf screen.
    The thing that is "in the system" is Inorganic Nitrate and Inorganic Phosphate. That's what feeds algae. And the red you are finding is the algae that grows when lighting is weak, i.e., under your screen. If lighting is strong, you get green.

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