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OK a little back ground first...For years I had been battling high Nitrates and Phosphates in my reef tank(Do mostly to over feeding). I tried just about everything you can think of to bring them down and maintain them from the quick fixes to the more natural. I ended up Vodka Dosing and that worked. took my No3(Nitrates) from about 35ppm to 0 and Po4(phosphates) from 1ppm to 0 it did go up a little after I cut my dose in half but it's back on track now. So I wanted to keep the level but step away from the dosing. A few year ago I kick around the idea of adding a turf scrubber to my system, but after talking to a few other hobbyist I was told that was old technology so I abandoned the idea. A few weeks ago I came across the plans I had using a 5gal. bucket. Looked around and I had just about everything I needed to get it up and running. So here it is


The first pic is a run through just to see if I had it right. And this is it after I added all the pluming and laid out all the cpvc



Here's what I did...I took a old salt bucket and I'm sure if you have been in this hobby for more then a Month you might have 1 or 2 just laying around, drilled a 3/4" hole about 3" from the bottom of the bucket and added a 3/4" threaded male straight connect and used silicone on both sides to make it leak proof added about a 6" piece of 3/4" pipe and a elbow in side the elbow I used a 1/2" reducer to run 1/2" pipe about another 4" and added a ball valve(note: I started to use a gate valve but I found I had better control with the flow with the ball valve) then another 6" of 1/2" pipe. So that's the return end. I used 2 other buckets with lids to get it up high enough for gravity to push in down into the sump. On the feed end I used a Maxi-Jet 1200 with 3 holes drilled in the base(to pull more water) outside the impeller. Using the stock nozzle I used 1/2" ID (inside diameter) hose. ran that to a plug in elbow that was 1/2" on one side and 3/4" on the other. Using that as a end cap for a 12" piece of 3/4" cpve pipe. Now the fun part I had to come up with away to cut a slit down the middle of the pipe(note: a dremel with a cutting wheel works perfect) I used a small drill bit to make a few holes then took a hack saw blade and cut the slit leaving about 1" on each end. I found a AQ2 aquarium divider(most local fish stores have them) 10" x 12" It come with a piece of screen that is the perfect size for the slit I just cut. It also comes with side rails and a shorter stripe for the bottom and top, but you won't need the top. Sled the screen in the slit and added the side rails. Then I added a 3/4" end cap to seal off the far end. So now when you plug in the Maxi-Jet the water will flow right down the screen. I just laid the pvc pipe across the bucket and let the screen just hang down in the bucket.



For the lighting and this is important...I used a clip on light base you can find them a Walmart or any number of places. The bulb: You want to use a bulb that is atleast 5100k I found a flood light bulb that was 6500k for around $6.00 it's a 65watt bulb but only uses the same energy of a 15watt bulb.

O.K. Why a turf scrubber? Good question every closed system that you add light to is going to have algae, that's a given. But with a turf scrubber you can control where that algae grows. By running the water pass the light down the screen this is the most likely place for it to grow. To kick start the growth, you have to seed the screen. The way to do that is find some algae in your tank and with the Maxi-Jet off rub the algae on the screen you may or may not see the algae after you rub it in but the spores are there.

So just to recap...You may find another place where you draw your water from, but for me the Maxi-Jet pulls from the main compartment in the sump through the scrubber(that sits in front of the sump) and back into the return section of the sump over my return pump and then back into the tank. Here is another diagram for another way to set one up.

http://www.radio-media.com/fish/PunpFeed.jpg

And for those who are not running a sump yet here's one for you.

http://www.radio-media.com/fish/SumplessFeed.jpg

This is what I have so far:
Day 1


day 2


day 3


day 4


day5


day 6


day 7


day 8


day 9


I will keep you posted...It's funny I thought with a system with no detectable No3 (Nitrate) or Po4 (phosphates) I wouldn't have algae growth this fast but there I go thinking again. LOL If there is anybody that is currently running a turf scrubber I would love to hear from you. If you have any likes or dislikes about it. Let me know what you think about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
After 11 days of having the scrubber up and the light on 24/7 each day the screen gets a little darked. From what I understand it will take about 3 weeks to pull all of the algae out of the tank so that the only algae growth you'll have will be on the screen and not in the tank. I talk to a guy at my local hardware store this pass week and told him what I was doing and he reminded me I gave him the plans for this same scrubber for his pond. And he said he used it for most of the summer and had no algae problems what so ever. He went on to say he converted a old bath tub and a pitchers back stop and a 1000watt halogen lamp to make his. He said he had pictures of it so I asked him to send them to me and when he does I'll post them as well. The next thing I'll do is add another 10gal tank that will add about another 7gal to the water volume. In that I will house macro algae and live sand and maybe a clown goby or two. This way I can take some stuff out of the sump. It's getting a little to much in such a small space. So not only will it have the macro but my phos band reactor to. And that will leave just the skimmer and the pump for the scrubber. Will here are pics from the last 2 days.
day 10


and day 11

I won't do any testing until this Friday but I'm sure there will be 0's across the board.
 

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trouble

Is this the idea you got while vodka dosing?

Looks good and let us know how it works.

my .02
 

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this is epic... maybe ill head down to HD and get me some more PVC and make one of these babies! by any chance trouble have you had to clean the screen yet? do you have to clean the screen? and if so, how often?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
trouble

Is this the idea you got while vodka dosing?

Looks good and let us know how it works.

my .02
Yes but after the vodka did it's job I wanted to do something more natural to maintain it. This is after 12 days



I missed taking a pic for day 13 camera was dead. You really can tell in these last 2 pics but it has gotten thicker in the last few days. The algae on the screen is more brown but in the bottom of the bucket it's more purple and green algae.

Here is day 14



And this is day 15



as you can see...In the bottom of the bucket more algae is growing there as well. I did notice a few days ago a spot of algae inside one of my power heads. Last night I looked for it and I couldn't find it. And it wasn't in a place where something could have gotten to it because it was behind the impeller. So something is happening on the inside of the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
this is epic... maybe ill head down to HD and get me some more PVC and make one of these babies! by any chance trouble have you had to clean the screen yet? do you have to clean the screen? and if so, how often?
I haven't had to clean it yet, but yes you do clean. From what I understand about every two weeks or so. You however don't clean both side at once just one side at a time. One thing I didn't do was add a light to both sides. In one set of plans I have there's a bulb on both sides one side a lower color temperature. I have a 6500k bulb on the side I do have lite, but if I was to add another I would add a 5100k this will make the algae grow slower from one side to the other.
 

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trouble

Is this the idea you got while vodka dosing?

Looks good and let us know how it works.

my .02
Bob I have a question for you. Do you think this will interfere with my macro algae growth? I plan to add another tank to house the macro but it will be behind the scrubber. In other words instead of the scrubber being the last stop before going back into the tank, the macro will be the last stop.
 

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Bob I have a question for you. Do you think this will interfere with my macro algae growth? I plan to add another tank to house the macro but it will be behind the scrubber. In other words instead of the scrubber being the last stop before going back into the tank, the macro will be the last stop.
I don't know if you meant the ats or the vodka. But the vodka is to consume the nitrates and phosphates by bacterial action not plant action. Which works in the display as will a refugium/ats. So therefore it should slow the macros just as vodka slows the algae in the display.

The ATS with it's high lights allows such things as cyano thrive on the screen. So if the tank becomes nitrates starved the cyano will thrive on the screen instead of the display. Hoperully, the corals and corraline algae will get first crack at the nutrients and then the ats picks up whatever is left over.

but all that is just my specualtion and what I have heard. Guys like you actually doing this is where I get my information. I just use a refugium and kill the display lights when cyano comes along.

my .02
 

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I don't know if you meant the ats or the vodka. But the vodka is to consume the nitrates and phosphates by bacterial action not plant action. Which works in the display as will a refugium/ats. So therefore it should slow the macros just as vodka slows the algae in the display.

The ATS with it's high lights allows such things as cyano thrive on the screen. So if the tank becomes nitrates starved the cyano will thrive on the screen instead of the display. Hoperully, the corals and corraline algae will get first crack at the nutrients and then the ats picks up whatever is left over.

but all that is just my specualtion and what I have heard. Guys like you actually doing this is where I get my information. I just use a refugium and kill the display lights when cyano comes along.

my .02
Thanks Bob I just did some more looking into cyano give this a look over. This is not a new article but it's a lot of useful information in it.
Cyano, Cyanos, Cyanobacteria, Blue-Green Algae, Algae, Red slime Algae, Slime Algae, Slime, Undesirable algae
I do think I may have a pocket growing on the screen. I believe that cyano is just like ich every tank has it to a degree and if the right conditions come a long bam you have a outbreak. Another reason this is a good idea I feed heavy and this is where all my problems begins and end. So to be able to feed the way I do and even if cyano shows up it will not make it into the display tank. And as far as the macro goes it might slow the growth because there are not a lot of nutrients left so what it can't get out of the water it has to get from the light(photosynthesis).
 

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Thanks Bob I just did some more looking into cyano give this a look over. This is not a new article but it's a lot of useful information in it.
Cyano, Cyanos, Cyanobacteria, Blue-Green Algae, Algae, Red slime Algae, Slime Algae, Slime, Undesirable algae
I do think I may have a pocket growing on the screen. I believe that cyano is just like ich every tank has it to a degree and if the right conditions come a long bam you have a outbreak. Another reason this is a good idea I feed heavy and this is where all my problems begins and end. So to be able to feed the way I do and even if cyano shows up it will not make it into the display tank. And as far as the macro goes it might slow the growth because there are not a lot of nutrients left so what it can't get out of the water it has to get from the light(photosynthesis).
I've read several articles like that excellent article you linked.

Even with all that, the best and most effect method in a tank balanced out with macro algaes is to simply kill the display lights.
 
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I've read several articles like that excellent article you linked.

Even with all that, the best and most effect method in a tank balanced out with macro algaes is to simply kill the display lights.
I agree to a point...Cutting the lights will slow the growth, but not taking care of the underlining problem (excessive nutrients). I have seen tank loaded with macro's and still have outbreaks of cyano. Then there are other factors as well flow is one of them. Like dead spots behind rock work and so on. Taking light away doesn't take away the fuel needed for it to thrive it just dissipate it over that time of no light. But soon after the lights come back on if the conditions are the same it will start to build again. This is why you have to find the source in order to combat not only cyano but other bad algae's as well. Or simply give it a place for it to grow i.e. turf scrubber. We will have algae in one form or another as long as we put light in our tanks. I had 0 No3's and 0 Po4's for about a Month before I added the scrubber. I honestly didn't think I was going to grow anything just goes to show it's not just Phosphates and Nitrates at work here.
 

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Trouble if you plan on setting up a fuge I may wait for you to see what happens as I am just now starting to see awesome growth from my mangrove in my fuge I took the 55g tank down but i have kept the fuge running with a small powerhead and i have been topping it off with the old water from the 55 to keep it fed. Its awaiting the completion of the 75g. I dont want to addd the scrubber if it will starve out my Chaeto and Mangrove after all the work it took to get that thing to seed out. I am not sure I have the nutrients to feed the scrubber and my macros.
 

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...

I do think I may have a pocket growing on the screen. I believe that cyano is just like ich every tank has it to a degree and if the right conditions come a long bam you have a outbreak.

...

.
absolutely!!!!!

Do we fight either with antibiotics/chemicals or by setting up an environment where the fish's immune system makes ich irrelevant and cyano can never gain a foot hold? I choose the latter.


What happens with cyano is at first you get a soup of various uglies. Diatoms for instance require silicates. But silicates are not added with food, water changes and so on. They are add with sands and other initial setup procedures/materials. Then as the tank matures the diatoms run out of silicates and therefore the bloom dies off.

Plant life needs a certain ratio of nitrogen/phosphates/carbon dioxide and so on. Something like 16 nitrogens for each phosphate.

But notice that is nitrogens not nitrates. Nitrogen can also come from nitrogen gas and some forms of cyano can fix nitrigen gas for its nitrogen. Just like farmers rotate corn which uses soil nitrogen with soy beans which fix nitrogen gas and actually return nitrogen to the soil.

So a tank gets up and running and for months things look really really good. Nitrates are going down. Fish, corals are thriving. The tank looks awsome. Then months later there is a little light red film on the sand. And in a few days that red is spreading rapidily covering the sand and all the rocks.

One possible reason is the nitrates have reached low levels with that aid of the anaerobic bacteria in the sand. Or you just have "left over" phosphates. So the cyano steps up and startes consuming phosphates formerly consumed by the corraline, corals, and macros. So those suffer further feeding the cyano.

So very very rapidily the tank can switch from being algae/coral dominated to cyano dominated.

One way of stopping all that is to kill the lights and therefore kill off the cyano. Which returns nitrates as well as phosphates to the system, feeding the corraline, corals, macros and so on.

So even if you do nothing else then kill the lights, the tank will be reset. Then by adjusting the lighting you can insure a long term where cyano is kept at bay.

One local here did have the cyano return after lights out on his sps dominated system. So he killed the lights again. Both times for 3 days and the light killings were about 3 weeks apart. But then something unusual happened. After the second time the tank has remained cyano free for over a year.

But you should have heard his surprise. "It just couldn't be as simple as killing the lights. Then "I may have to do a monthly black out". Then "my God I haven't had to kill my lights for a year now."

my .02
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Trouble if you plan on setting up a fuge I may wait for you to see what happens as I am just now starting to see awesome growth from my mangrove in my fuge I took the 55g tank down but i have kept the fuge running with a small powerhead and i have been topping it off with the old water from the 55 to keep it fed. Its awaiting the completion of the 75g. I dont want to addd the scrubber if it will starve out my Chaeto and Mangrove after all the work it took to get that thing to seed out. I am not sure I have the nutrients to feed the scrubber and my macros.
I have mangroves and macro algae already set up on this system...They will still find the nutrients they need the growth maybe a bit slower. I'm just added another tank for more water volume and to take the macro out of the sump because there is just to much stuff in there.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
absolutely!!!!!

Do we fight either with antibiotics/chemicals or by setting up an environment where the fish's immune system makes ich irrelevant and cyano can never gain a foot hold? I choose the latter.


What happens with cyano is at first you get a soup of various uglies. Diatoms for instance require silicates. But silicates are not added with food, water changes and so on. They are add with sands and other initial setup procedures/materials. Then as the tank matures the diatoms run out of silicates and therefore the bloom dies off.

Plant life needs a certain ratio of nitrogen/phosphates/carbon dioxide and so on. Something like 16 nitrogens for each phosphate.

But notice that is nitrogens not nitrates. Nitrogen can also come from nitrogen gas and some forms of cyano can fix nitrigen gas for its nitrogen. Just like farmers rotate corn which uses soil nitrogen with soy beans which fix nitrogen gas and actually return nitrogen to the soil.

So a tank gets up and running and for months things look really really good. Nitrates are going down. Fish, corals are thriving. The tank looks awsome. Then months later there is a little light red film on the sand. And in a few days that red is spreading rapidily covering the sand and all the rocks.

One possible reason is the nitrates have reached low levels with that aid of the anaerobic bacteria in the sand. Or you just have "left over" phosphates. So the cyano steps up and startes consuming phosphates formerly consumed by the corraline, corals, and macros. So those suffer further feeding the cyano.

So very very rapidily the tank can switch from being algae/coral dominated to cyano dominated.

One way of stopping all that is to kill the lights and therefore kill off the cyano. Which returns nitrates as well as phosphates to the system, feeding the corraline, corals, macros and so on.

So even if you do nothing else then kill the lights, the tank will be reset. Then by adjusting the lighting you can insure a long term where cyano is kept at bay.

One local here did have the cyano return after lights out on his sps dominated system. So he killed the lights again. Both times for 3 days and the light killings were about 3 weeks apart. But then something unusual happened. After the second time the tank has remained cyano free for over a year.

But you should have heard his surprise. "It just couldn't be as simple as killing the lhights. Then "I may have to do a monthly black out". Then "my God I haven't had to kill my lights for a year now."

my .02
The light out I agree with. I started a few month ago cutting my lights out for about 48 hours because I was getting brown sand a few days after a large feeding. And you make a good point about the Nitrogen cycle as well. A lot of hobbyist don't understand but this is what these systems run by. If you test your water and see no ammonia see no nitrites and say I don't have them. They are there but the Nitrogen cycle has made them undetectable algae works from the same guide lines. Cut one part off and you break the chine doesn't mean it's not there.
 

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There are some things you can do to get your scrubber going (and there is more info in the FAQ below).

You want to use a bulb that is atleast 5100k I found a flood light bulb that was 6500k for around $6.00 it's a 65watt bulb but only uses the same energy of a 15watt bulb.
Actually you want less that 6500K. 2700 or 3000 is best. And you'll want at least a 23 watt instead of a 15 watt on that size screen. And preferably one on each side.

You'll want to replace the screen with roughed-up plastic canvas (this recommendation was changed after the write-up that you saw). Rough up the screen with a hole saw.

The reason the top of your screen has less algae is because the screen is too smooth (is not plastic canvas), and the rough water coming out of the slot is washing the algae away.

After 11 days of having the scrubber up and the light on 24/7 each day the screen gets a little darked. From what I understand it will take about 3 weeks to pull all of the algae out of the tank
You'll need to get a full screen of thick (hopefully green) algae before you can start counting the weeks. You are not getting any growth yet, because of the screen material and bulbs, as mentioned above.

I talk to a guy at my local hardware store this pass week and told him what I was doing and he reminded me I gave him the plans for this same scrubber for his pond.
I have a new write-up for ponds and pools that might help; it's at the scrubber site, in the Design section.

I haven't had to clean it yet, but yes you do clean. From what I understand about every two weeks or so.
Every 7 days, no matter what.

One thing I didn't do was add a light to both sides.
Would be a huge help.

Do you think this will interfere with my macro algae growth?
Yes. If built properly, your macros will die.
 
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