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"
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    March 11th, 2017.

    Fourteen day cycle.
    I have algae again!

    [​IMG]

    After losing the algae a couple of weeks ago, I decided to let this new culture row for two weeks to establish itself again. It's very evident that the scrubber is back to working. But from the look of the algae screen, I'm thinking it is best to keep a harvest schedule of every seven days. The algae grows beyond the screen and seems to pull itself off of the screen. The algae also appears to have more "wet" algae; whether from being a new source or just being submerged at the bottom and keeping more water in the culture.

    The harvest yielded well over one cup of algae with a dry weight of 4.15 ounces.

    [​IMG]

    One thing that I noticed that was different about this harvest was that the algae scraped of quite easily. Normally the algae has a bit of a firmer grasp of the screen and is more resistant to being scraped off the screen. It could be that the algae needs some more time to get a firmer grip on the screen or the screen may need to be re-scuffed or replaced. Maybe after numerous scrapings, the screen itself is losing the texture it needs for holding the algae. I would prefer to not start over with a new screen, so I may just try to rough up this screen during the next harvest.

    I'm also working on making a new media tray for the sump. Currently, the outlet from the ATS empties into a media tray filled with filter floss to catch any loose pieces of algae. Based on the discussion of algae releasing compounds into the water and David's suggestion of running carbon, I want to have the ATS outlet empty into a tray filled with carbon and floss. I passively have a bag of carbon in my sump, but it's placed ahead of the ATS. Having the carbon located behind the ATS may help pull those compounds out before they enter the display.
    One thing that I've noticed since running the ATS is that my ORA Red Goniopora has not looked like it has in the past. The polyps are very pale (pink) and do not extend nearly as much as before; maybe ¾" at most as opposed to over 2" before. There may not be a correlation between this reaction and the ATS, but it's worth looking into.

    And I already checked to make sure the ATS feed pump was "ON".
     
    #61 jlanger, Mar 11, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
  2. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
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    The goniopora could be having negative reation to the toxins release of the more slimey/wet type aglae. A number of LPS get angry when you see the more slimey and especially the browner slime.

    Another possible theory is that the algae is uptaking micro elements that the goniopora like. In particular I'm thinking of manganese but there could be more.

    There is also another thing which you may not get to yet but at least have it in your mind when it does come, When my nutrients levels started to drop into the undetectable nitrate and less then .06ppm phosphate levels corals along with better water quality from regular carbon, corals did start to get lighter in color and I dropped the lighting levels about 20% and has been that way ever since ( about 3 years ago ). Corals never skipped a beat.
     
  3. cheezybuda

    cheezybuda I contributed!
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    My Goniopora and torch did the same thing when I started getting the slimey algae/cyano

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
     
  4. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Thanks for the input, guys.
    That was just the information I was looking for.

    David...
    In your blog you mention trying the various coral foods and dosed supplements. Did you see any benefit to your LPS from adding the coral food? Or do you think having the various trace elements in check had better results?

    I used to dose amino acids (BioTip or AcroPower), but I haven't done so for about a year; after I went back to dosing them manually.
    Any opinions on supplementing amino acids and vitamins?

    The goniopora is the most obvious coral that has been affected since the addition of the ATS. But in hindsight, my hammer and duncans haven't had the growth rates that they had previously. I chalked those instances down to the intrusion of vermetid snails irritating the corals. Maybe these leached compounds from the algae are the culprit.
     
  5. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
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    Aminos, I assume I'm getting everything I need from the algae production. The reason I say that ( while unscientific if makes sense ), Li is very high on using aminos, I bought a bottle of the KZ aminos. It did nothing for me. I take that as a I was never deficient to begin with. I have never dosed since that was about 3 years ago.

    Vitamins I do soak Mysis in Kent's Zoe Vitamins. How much vitamins etc. are added from it I don't really know.

    Coral foods I have goniopower, Ray's chili version. I very rarely use ( as in many months ). I probably should start back up. I have no opinion on micro elements vs. coral food.
     
  6. coralreefer

    coralreefer I contributed!
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    Glad to see the ATS is rocking for you Jason. Are your nitrates still stable? I'm still dealing with a similar situation in my 60 gallon and want to follow suit although my DIY skills are terrible in comparison.
     
  7. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    The nitrates are still stable.
    I have gone twice without performing a weekly water change and the nitrates didn't rise. Not that I think I could go a year or two without water changes, but it's a good sign that the levels aren't rising back up to the high levels that I was experiencing.
     
  8. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    March 19th, 2017.

    Eight day cycle.
    I'm back to having the "Swamp Thing" look to the algae. :ac15:
    The algae also was tougher to scrape off the screen this week, so I feel much better about the quality of algae that is growing again. The wasn't much of the slimy brown algae this time around; mostly the long hair algae and the thinner filament-like algae

    [​IMG]

    The algae harvest yielded a good cup of algae; dry weight of 3.75 ounces.

    [​IMG]

    I did make one change to my procedure this week.
    I have normally maintained a "light side" and a "dark side" to the algae screen. This week I installed the screen with the dark side now facing the LED lights. Since I do not scrape the dark side, there is still some algae growth on there that can possibly be a quicker start for this next week. I don't have any idea of this will have any affect on the algae growth, but it's worth a shot.

    And with the previous discussion about the algae possibly leaching compounds into the water, I placed my bag of carbon behind the ATS so that it has a chance to pull any compounds out.
    And while I was in Rhinelander this weekend talking with Kevin, he asked if I was using any Poly-Filter. I stated that I wasn't and he proceeding to give me a couple of samples to test it out. So I placed a small pad of the Poly-Filter in the media tray that the ATS dumps into to see if it has any benefit. My only concern about using the Poly-Filter at this time is that the pad should be removed prior to adding any vitamin supplements, and I just planned on re-supplementing my corals with AcroPower. I'm also supplementing the ESV B-Ionic Transition Elements, but the Poly-Filter pad should have no affect on those trace elements.
     
    #68 jlanger, Mar 19, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
  9. Hydroman

    Hydroman Senior Member
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    Thanks for the build thread. I'm thinking hard about building one myself in my copious free time :freak6: and one of my big concerns is finding a light that works so I was wondering if you would share what light you built this around.
     
  10. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
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    Search ebay for "300w led dimmable grow light". There are two versions depending on what size ats your building. The is one that is a little short ( two fans ) or the longer one ( 3 fans ). They both have same number of leds just spread out a little more. Make sure you get it has the dimmable knob on it. Some may pull up on the search that are NOT dimmable. You run them around 40%. So if you get one that isn't dimmable it will be way too bright. Price range is around $65-$100. When it comes time to pull the trigger on buying it PM me, Gary S, or Jason and we can confirm your getting the right type.

    Typical ATS configuration you run the light 2" away from the screen. So the channel where the algae is located will be around 4". Any thinner than that makes it hard to get you hands in there to occasionally clean the sides. I wouldn't go any closer than 2" per side.

    This same fixtures works great over refugiums as well. Carl Flounder uses ( or used don't know if still does ) growing chaeto.
     
    #70 David Grigor, Mar 24, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
  11. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    What David said.

    When I purchased my fixture I found it on eBay and clicked the "watching item" tag. After a couple of weeks of watching, the seller sent me a link stating that they lowered the price. So if it's worth saving a few bucks, contact the seller with a question or two but hold off for a while before purchasing.

    Here's a link to the one I purchased; http://www.ebay.com/itm/331829324882?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT
     
    #71 jlanger, Mar 24, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
  12. Hydroman

    Hydroman Senior Member
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    Thank you David and Jason.
     
  13. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    April 4th, 2017.

    My schedule has been busy the last couple of weeks, so maintaining the scrubber wasn't high on my priority list. I did peek into the box a couple of times just to make sure everything was running properly. So if my last post indicates my last harvest, that would've been a good two weeks ago.

    Sixteen day cycle.
    And does it ever look like it!!!

    Just from pulling the scrubber box out from the unit, I knew that there was going to be more algae than I have ever harvested previously; it was heavy. The algae almost completely filled the lighted side of the box.
    Upon removing the screen from the box, the algae pulled itself apart and about three inches of algae remained attached to the box. The screen was completely covered in a beautiful thick carpet of algae!

    [​IMG]

    This algae had a more compact growth form; less stringy than previous harvests. I don't know if the longer cycle time accounted for the different growth form but since the algae was so thick, the algae was drier than previous harvests. The water flow must stay relatively close to the screen so as the algae grows away from the screen, it doesn't collect as much water and grows as a denser mat of soft, fuzzy curls of algae.

    [​IMG]

    This harvest was a true definition of "turf" algae. When I went to remove the algae from the screen, I was able to easily "roll" it off the screen like it was a rug of artificial turf.
    The sixteen day cycle yielded over three-and-a-half cups of algae!!
    The dry weight came in at an amazing 14.55 ounces!!!
    You're right, David, about my harvests improving to be much larger.

    [​IMG]

    This has been by far the greatest harvest since I started running the scrubber. It's hard to pinpoint to just what contributed to this exponential growth as I've done a few minor adjustments to my system the past couple of weeks.
    The longer cycle time is the most obvious change, but the amount of algae growth was about four times the norm in just twice the time.
    Another key factor could be attributed to the supplementation of the ESV B-Ionic Transition Elements. Maybe there's something in the supplement that is beneficial to algae production.
    Another factor could be attributed to my feeding regimen. Since I introduced a new trio female anthias to the tank, I have increased the feedings a little and have added more mysis shrimp to my daily feedings.
    Whatever the contributing factor is... I'm very happy with what I'm seeing [production-wise] from the scrubber.

    I saved the algae from this harvest. So if anyone would like to have some of it to seed their own scrubber, let me know. It'll probably only keep for a few days before it starts to breakdown and I'll be leaving town on Friday for the rest of the weekend, so act quickly.

    [​IMG]

    My nitrate and phosphate test kits have both run out, so I have new reagents on order to test for the nutrient levels.
     
    #73 jlanger, Apr 4, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
  14. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
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    That certainly looks like the good stuff. The curly q like algae. As long as you can do 14 days without the clogging or uneven flow in areas, I'd keep doing what your doing.
     
    #74 David Grigor, Apr 4, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  15. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Just a reminder for myself...

    When you leave town for the weekend, make sure that any harvested algae you were saving for someone gets tossed out with the trash on Friday!
    My family (and myself) did not appreciated the smell that emanated from the bag of algae floating in my sump! :barf:
     
  16. dirtrider225

    dirtrider225 Junior Member
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    Does running the scrubber cause the constant waterfall sound? Ive always wondered that and how people mitigate it.
     
  17. zoolan70

    zoolan70 Senior Member
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    If you have the bottom of the screen underwater, they are pretty quiet as long as the water is running down the screen.
     
  18. zoolan70

    zoolan70 Senior Member
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    OMG, yes! The algae is almost smell-free when you clean the screen, but let that stuff sit around a day and it STINKS.
     
  19. dirtrider225

    dirtrider225 Junior Member
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    Good to know, thanks for your input!
     
  20. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    April 15th, 2017.

    Eleven day cycle.

    To get my ATS maintenance and harvest schedule back towards a weekend date, I performed the harvest this weekend.
    The algae growth seemed to be on pace with the past two week cycle. The appearance of the algae fell in between the look of the seven day and sixteen day cycles; so somewhere around the ten day mark is when the curly algae algae begins to appear.

    [​IMG]

    The eleven day cycle yielded over two cups of algae with a dry weight of 8.65 ounces.

    [​IMG]

    With the longer cycle time, the algae is growing to the point of making contact with the side of the drawer box. The algae is loosely attaching itself to the polycarbonate side and comes off easy enough, but it's causing the surface of the polycarbonate to become rough. At this time, there's no real impedance of light getting to the screen, but if it continues to grow higher up the side it may do so. I may have to replace the drawer box if it becomes a hinderance to growing the algae.
     
    #80 jlanger, Apr 15, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017

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