jlanger's Algae Turf Scrubber Build and Documention

Discussion in 'DIY Forums' started by jlanger, Dec 19, 2016.

  1. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    3,166
    Likes Received:
    363
    Location:
    New Richmond, WI
    Fishies collected:
    27,401
    January 13th, 2017.

    A better harvest this cycle.
    There was about 2/3 cup of algae with a dry weight of 1.60 ounces.

    Since this harvest landed on a Friday (which is my normal tank maintenance day), I'm going to let the scrubber go a week this next cycle. Even though it takes no more than 15 minutes to maintain the ATS, making it a part of the regular routine will be more efficient.
     
  2. coralreefer

    coralreefer I contributed!
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Messages:
    2,274
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Mankato, MN
    Fishies collected:
    11,489
    So Jason do you still have your skimmer online? Where is your N and P at? FWIW I know with the ARID Chaeto Reactor Iron dosing is a must. It really just seems to be the limiting factor on growth but I haven't read any protocols on dosing so I can't be much help.

    Would love to see yours in action some time!
     
  3. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    3,166
    Likes Received:
    363
    Location:
    New Richmond, WI
    Fishies collected:
    27,401
    Skimmer is still online. Until the time comes that I don't have excess nutrients (Oh, do I hope that day comes!), I'll keep running the skimmer. I have noticed that the skimmer does not produce as much skimmate as it used to. It's still very dark and nasty, but it doesn't fill up the cup as fast. My skimmer is also pulling in fresh outside air to help elevate my pH level, so the skimmer may stay running no matter the nutrient levels.

    Nitrates are still around the 32ppm and phosphates around 0.16ppm. I'm planning on doing another round of large water changes to lower the nutrient levels; that worked before. Then I should be able to see if my ATS is able to maintain levels or if it's just not efficient enough to lower nutrient levels.
    I'm also letting the cycle last seven days to see if there's a difference in the algae production. And after a couple weeks of monitoring that change, I'll start including a dark photoperiod. It sounds like the algae needs time to respire each day (which makes sense), but I want to see if the longer cycle time makes a difference first.

    I haven't checked onto the iron dosing yet, but I'm sure I will when I get a chance to focus on it.

    When the ATS is in operation, there's not much to see; just a black box. The real show begins when it's time to perform maintenance and harvest the algae.
     
  4. stingray

    stingray Senior Member
    TCMAS Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2008
    Messages:
    348
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Savage, MN
    Fishies collected:
    1,608
    I apologize in advance if I overlooked this but what size screen do you have and do you know what flow rate you are currently running?
     
  5. stingray

    stingray Senior Member
    TCMAS Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2008
    Messages:
    348
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Savage, MN
    Fishies collected:
    1,608
    Excellent thread by the way. Thanks for taking the time to share all of this info.
     
  6. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    3,166
    Likes Received:
    363
    Location:
    New Richmond, WI
    Fishies collected:
    27,401
    Thanks.
    The screen size is 8.5in by 12in.
    The flow rate is between 320-400gph. I'm using the Ehiem Compact+ 2000 water pump and it has an adjustable output of 264-528gph; which I'm running somewhat less than the midpoint on the dial.
     
  7. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    3,166
    Likes Received:
    363
    Location:
    New Richmond, WI
    Fishies collected:
    27,401
    January 20th, 2017.

    The first seven day cycle.
    I apologize for not taking pictures before I scraped the screen; I was too impatient to go get the camera.

    The harvest was much more dense and "stringy" than any of the previous four day harvests; of course. There wasn't as much of the wet algae that accumulates at the bottom of the screen in the drawer. There was much more stringy algae growing on the screen and from the lid of the drawer; algae really likes to attach to and grow from the machined surfaces of the polycarbonate. I would consider this harvest drier than previous harvests, but this may be because since the algae grew into a thicker mat. The water being squeezed out from the algae was back to being more clean and clear; and I still wouldn't drink it. I was impressed with this week's growth.

    This harvest yielded over 1 cup of algae with a dry weight of 3.95 ounces.
    Even though the volume didn't quite double in the longer cycle, the weight of the algae more than doubled.

    [​IMG]

    I also changed over to include a dark photoperiod this cycle.
    I have the photoperiod running from 6PM to noon the next day; 18 hours - On, 6 hours - OFF.

    The frustrating part of all of this is that my nutrient levels haven't fallen; NO3 at 32ppm, PO4 at 0.16ppm.
    I'm beginning to wish that I had built the ATS with two LED fixtures to double the available algae output.
    I'll start looking more into iron dosing today.
     
    #47 jlanger, Jan 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
  8. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    3,166
    Likes Received:
    363
    Location:
    New Richmond, WI
    Fishies collected:
    27,401
    In doing research (Google Search) on dosing iron while running an ATS, I found this little bit of information...

    Brought a smile to my face knowing where we are today... Thanks for the smile, David!
     
  9. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
    Lifetime Member Event Committee

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    16,788
    Likes Received:
    367
    Location:
    Brooklyn Center
    Fishies collected:
    67,181
    Ultimately I do still feel the same way. Triton has made it more possible to test. It has been mOre of an experiment as I don't find near 0 water change any better or cost effective just that it is possible and can work. I have though learned a lot in the last 20 months.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    #49 David Grigor, Jan 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2017
  10. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    3,166
    Likes Received:
    363
    Location:
    New Richmond, WI
    Fishies collected:
    27,401
    January 27th, 2017

    Seven Day Cycle.
    More of the same for algae growth.
    This was the first cycle that ran a 18 hour photoperiod. I programmed the APEX controller to turn the LED fixture off from 12noon to 6PM.
    The algae harvest yielded just under one cup of algae; dry weight of 2.90 ounces.

    Here's a photo of the algae screen after the seven day cycle.
    [​IMG]

    A profile photo of the algae being scraped from the screen.
    The algae mat grows to a thickness of about ½" for much of the screen.
    [​IMG]

    The algae screen after being scraped clean.
    [​IMG]

    This is the backside of the screen; untouched.
    This side of the screen doesn't receive any direct light so I leave it attached to start the next crop of algae.
    [​IMG]

    The obligatory algae-in-a-cup shot.
    [​IMG]

    I did do some researching into iron dosing last weekend. I'm taking the easy road for now and adding iron through more frequent feedings of nori. I normally only feed one sheet of nori per week; now I'm feeding some nori every other day, so about twice as much as before.
    I have planned a large water change for this weekend, so I'll see if I can get my nutrient levels down again and see if the ATS maintains the lower level.
     
    #50 jlanger, Jan 27, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
  11. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    3,166
    Likes Received:
    363
    Location:
    New Richmond, WI
    Fishies collected:
    27,401
    February 3rd, 2017.

    Seven Day Cycle.
    No changes to photoperiod or water flow. I don't see any adverse reactions from reducing the photoperiod to 18 hours.
    I started feeding more nori to the fish to increase iron in the water; two full sheets over seven days.

    I'm really getting excited about the type of algae growth I'm getting on the screen.
    This week's harvest looked like a piece of artwork; a la Swamp Thing.

    [​IMG]

    The harvest yielded just over a cup of algae with a dry weight of 3.35 ounces.

    [​IMG]

    Last week I performed a 50gal water change and dropped my nitrates down to 16ppm. The levels maintained the same over the week, even with more feedings of nori. I'll probably perform another large water change this weekend and see where I end up. If I can reduce my nutrient levels to acceptable levels and the ATS is able to maintain those levels, I'll be happy. But I'm still somewhat tempted to upgrade to a double-lit ATS to see how that would perform.
     
    #51 jlanger, Feb 3, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
  12. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    3,166
    Likes Received:
    363
    Location:
    New Richmond, WI
    Fishies collected:
    27,401
    February 10th, 2017.

    Another seven day cycle; similar results.
    About one cup of harvested algae; dry weight of 2.80 ounces.

    [​IMG]

    Getting really good at reducing the time it takes to remove the screen, scrape the screen, document the harvest and get it back up and running.
     
    #52 jlanger, Feb 10, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
  13. JELP

    JELP Senior Member
    TCMAS Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Messages:
    597
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Hudson
    Fishies collected:
    3,543
    Looking good. Even keeping nutrients at a stable level is a win! Maybe even ideal.

    Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk
     
  14. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    3,166
    Likes Received:
    363
    Location:
    New Richmond, WI
    Fishies collected:
    27,401
    February 17th, 2017.

    Seven day cycle.
    No changes to the routine, similar results.

    The algae growth has been very consistent for the past couple of months. It is even starting to grow on the lid to the drawer that the screen attaches to; evident at the top of the photo.

    [​IMG]

    The harvest yielded about a cup of algae; dry weight of 2.95 ounces.

    [​IMG]

    The real test of this scrubber is the affect it has on my nutrient levels. Over the past couple of months, the scrubber seems to be able to maintain my nutrient levels but not lower them. To test this theory, I did not perform my regular weekly 20% water change last weekend as we were not home. My water tests showed that my nitrates stayed under 16ppm and the phosphates stayed around 0.08ppm. That's only a one week sample, but it's promising to know that it's working on some level.
     
    #54 jlanger, Feb 18, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
  15. capman

    capman I contributed!
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,446
    Likes Received:
    121
    Fishies collected:
    16,602
    Back in the years when I had a really thriving ATS-filtered SPS-dominated system (mid-late 90's, early 2000's), I did about one 50% water change a year. I'm not advocating that (and I don't plan to run my new systems like that), but that's what I got around to doing. And for 7 or so years (prior to a big overheating disaster that changed the system dramatically), the system was thriving.

    (I WAS dosing with C-Balance though - along with calcium hydroxide - and I was dosing with a product called Biotrace, and I was using carbon (passively, in a bag in an overflow box), so I was accomplishing some of the goals of water changes via those methods. )


    Given my prior experience of having unmeasurable (with hobbyist kits) nitrate and phosphate in a tank that had an algae plague, I lost a strong desire to test these things.... and I tended to not do so since the system was stable and thriving. So I don't know what my nutrient levels were running at during that time period. (I'm ashamed to admit this...).


    I'm curious though David what your nitrate and phosphate levels tend to be in your ATS filtered skimmerless system?
     
  16. capman

    capman I contributed!
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,446
    Likes Received:
    121
    Fishies collected:
    16,602
    Incidentally, my ATS was a dump-bucket style ATS that grew red turf algae. I always had the impression (from talking to Inland Aquatics) that the red turf algae could pull nutrients lower (the bulky green Enteromorpha that is what grows in the downflow ATS units would be an early colonizer of the dump-bucket ATS units, and then would be replaced by the red turf algae - I always figured the red turf algae was starving out the green stuff).

    So, I'm wondering whether the green algae in these downflow ATS units pull nutrients as low as the red algae?

    Unfortunately (as noted above) I don't have good data on what my nutrient levels used to be like with my dump bucket ATS unit.

    Has anyone seen good data addressing this question?

    ---------------------

    The bottom line of course is that there seem to be multiple success stories with the downflow style ATS units (David Grigor's tank for example), so maybe this is a moot point.

    And the downflow ATS style certainly is easier to deal with, and easier to set up.
     
  17. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    3,166
    Likes Received:
    363
    Location:
    New Richmond, WI
    Fishies collected:
    27,401
    Thanks, Bill, for adding your experience to the thread.

    Would you think that the waterfall-designed ATS units would be capable of growing the red turf algae? Or any other macro algae species?
    Even though there seems to be a small variety of algae species growing in my scrubber, it would be interesting to see what other species could be added. I haven't looked into the various algae that would work in an ATS unit yet, but I know that some of those macro algae tanks have some amazing species. It would be an interesting experiment to document the nutrient export rates of various algae; and which method of utilization (ATS, refugium, cheato-reactor, etc.) works most efficiently.


    February 24, 2017.

    There will be no harvest this week.
    I screwed up! You know how they say "to not mess with anything immediately prior to leaving for some time"? I did just that. DumbA$$!
    Tuesday of this week, during my normal daily system check, I decided to peek into the scrubber which involved turning the feed pump off. Being in a bit of a rush to go to a hockey game, I forgot to turn the pump back on. I didn't realize my mistake until the next evening and by then, the algae was completely dried up. After removing the dried algae, the water flow basically washed the remaining attached algae off the screen. A few small remnants remained, but nothing substantial. :grr:
    I contacted Tim (zoolan70) about getting some replacement algae when he harvested, and he did so. So last night, I picked up the algae and added it to the screen. I'll give the ATS another week before doing any maintenance.
    I was actually surprised at the growth of the algae that did remain. The screen was turning green again but was missing the long strands of algae.

    Lesson learned.
    I may set up a Feed Mode on my Apex to control the feed pump when I do maintenance. It never takes longer than 30 minutes to perform and document the harvest, so a simple program would save me when I forget to turn the pump back on.
     
  18. BEAV9900

    BEAV9900 Senior Member
    TCMAS Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    Messages:
    1,930
    Likes Received:
    57
    Location:
    MINNEAPOLIS
    Fishies collected:
    11,176
    • Informative Informative x 2
  19. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    3,166
    Likes Received:
    363
    Location:
    New Richmond, WI
    Fishies collected:
    27,401
    I just watched this video for the third time; just to make sure I didn't miss anything.
    His opening statement did catch me off guard during the first viewing; whew!!! Either Julian has a dark sense of humor or he's starting to get tired of answering these questions; maybe both.

    Around the twelve minute mark he addresses my comments above about which species of algae are more efficient with filtration. If Julian doesn't have an answer, I think it's safe to assume that it doesn't really matter; in terms of filtration.
    His comments about the compounds being released by algae made me wonder if I should have the outlet of the scrubber be placed prior to the skimmer. But the question here is at what point does the algae start releasing the compounds? If I'm harvesting the algae weekly, is the algae releasing any compounds by this point? More to ponder.

    There's also some good information on mangroves. (;) William)
     
  20. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
    Lifetime Member Event Committee

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    16,788
    Likes Received:
    367
    Location:
    Brooklyn Center
    Fishies collected:
    67,181
    My assumption is that algae are always releasing compounds. Thats why I run carbon ( 3/4-1cup in 180g ) and change it weekly. My barometer is the elegance coral closes up. Fresh carbon and next day elegance is out again.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1

Share This Page