Algal Filtration In Reef Aquariums

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Scrubber_steve

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Thanks again. I am a little out of the loop with common terms. I think I mentioned earlier that my algae scrubber knowledge came from experimenting and the book “Dynamic Aquaria” and I was just looking at the cover of the book that has a photo of some hands pulling up on a big web of hair like algae and that has been my point of reference up to now. I know the exudate was a concern back in 95 when people were choosing between the “Berlin” method and algae scrubbers. I am glad to hear that it is not much of an issue.

Several of the references in the book refer to the Baltimore aquarium. When I was there earlier this year I went back stage and was talking to one of the biologists. I asked him what came of the scrubber. He pointed to where it had been located for their reef display and said “I was just sick of climbing up there to clean it out”. They had pulled out some time ago. I agree with him about cleaning. With my tank scraping Ulva out of the grow section is not convenient or easy. It is much nicer to just grab a handful of Cheato and pull it in half. A little different design of my algae grow chamber and I could see how a turf algae would be just as attractive to me.

The National aquarium’s (Baltimore aquarium) coral display still showed a need for nutrient removal that was not being addressed, but the massive shark tank is something I have only imagined.
The algae from that photo is fresh water. I've had it in my pond. Lay it out on something to dry & its just like a sheet of mat fiberglass.

The exudates from the fleshy slow growing algaes that leak a high percentage of their carbon uptake is utilised by virulent bacteria as a food source.
The bacteria don't seem to like the exudates from the fast metabolising/growing algaes that leak a small percentage of exudates typically used for filtration.
What ever, activated carbon deals with it in any case as it deals with toxins from corals & other organisms.

I don't think algae filtration is suitable for large public aquaria. Its not practicle in that application.
But maintenance on large scale aquarium filtration is never quite the same as the typical home aquarium.

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w2inc

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The algae from that photo is fresh water. I've had it in my pond. Lay it out on something to dry & its just like a sheet of mat fiberglass.

The exudates from the fleshy slow growing algaes that leak a high percentage of their carbon uptake is utilised by virulent bacteria as a food source.
The bacteria don't seem to like the exudates from the fast metabolising/growing algaes that leak a small percentage of exudates typically used for filtration.
What ever, activated carbon deals with it in any case as it deals with toxins from corals & other organisms.

I don't think algae filtration is suitable for large public aquaria. Its not practicle in that application.
But maintenance on large scale aquarium filtration is never quite the same as the typical home aquarium.

upload_2018-7-21_17-34-51.png
Are you running a skimmer or GFO on your home tank?
 

w2inc

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I haven’t had the confidence to pull my slimmer on the main display but did it on a grow out tank 2 months ago and it is doing well. What kind of livestock do you keep? Do you have some images posted here that I could check out?
 

sil40sx

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Haven’t read the whole thread yet, but I just have a quick question...

What would be the reason why I’m getting the thick slimy algae, instead of the fuzzy one? Is that lighting related?
 

Scrubber_steve

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I haven’t had the confidence to pull my slimmer on the main display but did it on a grow out tank 2 months ago and it is doing well. What kind of livestock do you keep? Do you have some images posted here that I could check out?
Activated carbon removes far more DOC than a skimmer. Skimmers can be aerators but there are other cheaper ways of doing this.

I have several tangs, flame angel, chromis. Some sps, lps & softies - zoas.
No photos really (terrible photographer:(). Thinking i might do a tank thread one day, but its only a 46gal & i dont have all the wizardry, so pretty boring i guess.
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/p...ur-favorite-colony.51153/page-23#post-4864373
 

w2inc

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Haven’t read the whole thread yet, but I just have a quick question...

What would be the reason why I’m getting the thick slimy algae, instead of the fuzzy one? Is that lighting related?
I cant be sure without more information, but there is a good chance it is a time thing more than others. I have grown the thick slime a few times and it tends to keep the ones I want out. It can take a while to get a screen seeded. Keeping the slime scraped away will give the others a better chance to get a foothold. If you have a friend with a tank, you could try an algae transplant. Give some info on the lights and I am sure someone will chime in.
 

SantaMonica

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a large pore sponge fixes all the problems related to pods being trapped and Cheato drifting into the main display

Yes if the pores are large enough. I envision 10 mm long amphipods.

GHA does however spread all over your aquarium. That is how it is able to show up on an algae scrubber

There are spores, yes, but not attachment and growth. The conditions need to be right for attachment and growth.

Are you referring to calcium phosphate layer that forms on rock and substrate

Yes, it precipitates into the crystalline structure of the rock, and it "lets go" in an opposite process, when the phosphate level of the surrounding water drops.

I don’t understand the phosphate limited water and why algae wouldn’t grow on plastic in the tank but would grow on the plastic of your scrubber. Can you point me to these plastic and algae related studies? Why would it ever leave the rock?

Plastic and glass don't have phosphate coming out of them, so they never are a "hot spot" or "source" of food for algae. Calcium carbonate does.

For studies, a great place to start is:
https://www.int-res.com/nc/site-service/search/

I really don’t believe that one specific algae is the golden ticket ... Can you offer me some resources, or studies

Not "one algae", but "one condition" instead. The idea is to create the best condition for growth, and then the proper type of algae will show up. You don't choose the algae. Adey himself describes how the conditions in his dump bucket creates the best condition for growth.

Ulva does cause my Cheato to die off when it gets a good foot hold in my Cheato tank

Yes that's a good example. The conditions are better for the ulva, and it would naturally take over the chaeto.

hands pulling up on a big web of hair like algae

Looks like Cladophora.

Ulva leak a small percentage of exudate

All algae do; exudates are the amino acids, vitamins, carbs, etc that are in the ocean. That's how they get into the ocean. They are the result of Photosystem II in the photosynthetic process.

It's important to understand that the amino acids, vitamins, carbs, etc are coming from the growing stage (the photosynthetic stage) of the algae; not the dying and decomposition stage. Some people think that if you let algae die, it will "put amino acids into the water". But actually it will put ammonia, nitrate, etc into the water when the bacteria consume that algae. Yes algae contain aminos, and if you eat then you will get those aminos. But photosynthetic corals don't eat algae; they eat food particles like pods, waste, etc.

I know the exudate was a concern back in 95 when people were choosing between the Berlin method and algae scrubbers. I am glad to hear that it is not much of an issue

It is an issue. But in a different way.

Back then, the hobbyists did not know the exudates were the amino acids, vitamins, carbs, etc that are in the ocean. After all, that's how these things got into the water, and that's how the corals learned to use them. Without those exudates in the oceans, all reefs would die. Scrubbers just replicate this production of amino acids, vitamins, carbs, etc that are in the ocean, so you don't have to buy and dose so many of them.

With my tank scraping Ulva out of the grow section is not convenient or easy

This is really the area that I think most effort should go to; the day-to-day ease of operation, and design of the algal filtration units.

This is why I posted my free-to-copy waterfall design from the year 2008 for all to use, and it's the only version that all waterfall makers use now, except us. It had drawbacks, but the design was free. The drawbacks were fixed in our RAIN design, such as one-hand screen removal in under 60 seconds; and of course with our upflow designs, which solve other day-to-day problems such as power failures.

I don't think algae filtration is suitable for large public aquaria

I think it could be, if the large scale machines are used which I've seen the patent drawings for. There should be no "going up on the roof to scrape algae".

What would be the reason why I’m getting the thick slimy algae, instead of the fuzzy one

If it's dark, it's because of too little light, compared to the high nutrients in the water. High nutrients in the water need very strong light.

Activated carbon removes far more DOC than a skimmer

Yes, it removes the amino acids, vitamins, carbs, etc that are in the ocean. More algal growth, however, will put them back in.
 

sil40sx

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I cant be sure without more information, but there is a good chance it is a time thing more than others. I have grown the thick slime a few times and it tends to keep the ones I want out. It can take a while to get a screen seeded. Keeping the slime scraped away will give the others a better chance to get a foothold. If you have a friend with a tank, you could try an algae transplant. Give some info on the lights and I am sure someone will chime in.

That makes sense. I'll get back to my notes and post it here. Thanks!



If it's dark, it's because of too little light, compared to the high nutrients in the water. High nutrients in the water need very strong light.

This is about two weeks worth. It gets thicker every week, but tnever get the fuzzy looking alage. I recently cleaned it off though.

I am using kessil H80 on the lowest setting, if I turn it up, the brown part (hotspot) in the middle gets bigger.

IMG_6252.jpg
 

Josh@ClearWaterScrubbers

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This is about two weeks worth. It gets thicker every week, but tnever get the fuzzy looking alage. I recently cleaned it off though.

I am using kessil H80 on the lowest setting, if I turn it up, the brown part (hotspot) in the middle gets bigger.

IMG_6252.jpg
[/QUOTE]


The hotspot is caused by 1 of 2 things or both. 1) the light is too close to the screen. 2) you are not putting enough flow over the screen.

Try increasing the flow and backing the light up about an inch or two and it should get better growth on the screen then. Flow should be just high enough not to shoot of the side of the screen.
 

sil40sx

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The hotspot is caused by 1 of 2 things or both. 1) the light is too close to the screen. 2) you are not putting enough flow over the screen.

Try increasing the flow and backing the light up about an inch or two and it should get better growth on the screen then. Flow should be just high enough not to shoot of the side of the screen.

Thanks for the info! The light is really close, I'll check how much more I can back it out. As for the flow, I'm maxed out, if I open the valve more, the water will create too much splash/jet in my sump.
 

Josh@ClearWaterScrubbers

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Thanks for the info! The light is really close, I'll check how much more I can back it out. As for the flow, I'm maxed out, if I open the valve more, the water will create too much splash/jet in my sump.

Lower the screen closer to the water line then. You will never get the correct growth if you can’t put the correct amount of flow over the screen.
 

sil40sx

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Lower the screen closer to the water line then. You will never get the correct growth if you can’t put the correct amount of flow over the screen.

Up to how many inches I can submerged the screen? The bottom is right on the water level right now. (Maybe 3mm-5mm in the water)
 

w2inc

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That makes sense. I'll get back to my notes and post it here. Thanks!





This is about two weeks worth. It gets thicker every week, but tnever get the fuzzy looking alage. I recently cleaned it off though.

I am using kessil H80 on the lowest setting, if I turn it up, the brown part (hotspot) in the middle gets bigger.

IMG_6252.jpg
I grow stuff that looks like that in my Cheato gro area. The grow area is a 5 gallon bucket hooked to a return line from my 120. I use a 150 watt red led light. It gets about 500gph through it. The Cheato ball spins. I am not saying that I have a good set up, I am just describing what I have. The brown thick matted stuff grows on the wall with some Ulva. When I scrape it, it takes a couple weeks to grow back. The people who pioneered this tech recommend cleaning 1/2 the screen or screens each week. Try it, I am sure you will see the fastest growing algae start to dominate. Some algae produce aleochemicals that prevent other algae’s from growing. Increased flow would help keep this concern mitigated.
 

Josh@ClearWaterScrubbers

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Up to how many inches I can submerged the screen? The bottom is right on the water level right now. (Maybe 3mm-5mm in the water)

At least an inch or two. On ours the screen sits about 1 1/2” below the waterline in the chamber when running.
 

w2inc

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Yes if the pores are large enough. I envision 10 mm long amphipods.



There are spores, yes, but not attachment and growth. The conditions need to be right for attachment and growth.

They do attach and grow. You discussed the look and feel of the algae in the display when you spoke of the rocks storing phosphate.

Yes, it precipitates into the crystalline structure of the rock, and it "lets go" in an opposite process, when the phosphate level of the surrounding water drops.

The bond is pH specific. It is not a supply and demand issue. Randy Holmes-Farley has a good article on phosphate in the aquarium.

Plastic and glass don't have phosphate coming out of them, so they never are a "hot spot" or "source" of food for algae. Calcium carbonate does.

It is still unclear as to why it would grow on your plastic screen and not on plastic in other places.

For studies, a great place to start is:
https://www.int-res.com/nc/site-service/search/

Not "one algae", but "one condition" instead. The idea is to create the best condition for growth, and then the proper type of algae will show up. You don't choose the algae. Adey himself describes how the conditions in his dump bucket creates the best condition for growth.

You have stated. Some pretty impressive growth rates and nutrient export abilities on Hair Algae. I am not sure that other algae like Cheato or Ulva could meet you rates you mentioned. What algae is it that you feel your system is designed best to cultivate.

Yes that's a good example. The conditions are better for the ulva, and it would naturally take over the chaeto.

Looks like Cladophora.
Yes, it was a freshwater algae.

All algae do; exudates are the amino acids, vitamins, carbs, etc that are in the ocean. That's how they get into the ocean. They are the result of Photosystem II in the photosynthetic process.

One of the main issues with the exudates was the tannins, gelbstuf, other organic discolorating chemicals throwing off the clarity and the spectrum of the lighting. Without the use of carbon, a skimmer, Ozone, the lighting spectrum is a concern. It was theorized that propeller pumps may have been crushing or destroying the plankton stream and causing the yellowing. I did not see follow up studies showing that piston pumps had fixed that issue. Ady mentioned that skimming would be a less optimal choice in that it would not discriminate between phyto, and DOC. This makes carbon one of the more acctractive options. This is a point in reefing when people were looking at the “Berlin Method” and excited about the cleaner results showing up from j. Sprung.

It's important to understand that the amino acids, vitamins, carbs, etc are coming from the growing stage (the photosynthetic stage) of the algae; not the dying and decomposition stage. Some people think that if you let algae die, it will "put amino acids into the water". But actually it will put ammonia, nitrate, etc into the water when the bacteria consume that algae. Yes algae contain aminos, and if you eat then you will get those aminos. But photosynthetic corals don't eat algae; they eat food particles like pods, waste, etc.

Similar to the fish. The ammonia, phosphates and nitrates become building blocks with other nutrients to make amino acids inside organisms. The bacterium also become food for corals. Microalgae take up nutrients becoming green water innutrient dense situations. They also become great coral food in aquariums. Phosphate and nitrate are algae food, vicariously coral food.

It is an issue. But in a different way.

Back then, the hobbyists did not know the exudates were the amino acids, vitamins, carbs, etc that are in the ocean. After all, that's how these things got into the water, and that's how the corals learned to use them. Without those exudates in the oceans, all reefs would die. Scrubbers just replicate this production of amino acids, vitamins, carbs, etc that are in the ocean, so you don't have to buy and dose so many of them.

The documentation of the exudates was well understood in 1991 in edition 1 of the “Dynamic Aquaria”. Hobbiests who read the literature had a very good idea of what it was. Berlin systems were growing coral without the yellow water. Algae scrubbers were losing. The rest of the statement about reef death is simply not true. Upwelling of nutrient, phytoplankton, Microalgae, and bacterium are nutrition. Exudates is a very large and general term. It would be helpful to be specific with some studies showing the relation between coral nutrition and this leakage. IMHO Scrubbers do not provide the aminos, carbs, vitamins, etc. They allow the plankton stream (which is rich in these) to stay in the aquarium and provide them an opportunity to grow. Thus providing a constant, as needed, non expiring food source in the tank for the corals at all times.

This is really the area that I think most effort should go to; the day-to-day ease of operation, and design of the algal filtration units.

This is why I posted my free-to-copy waterfall design from the year 2008 for all to use, and it's the only version that all waterfall makers use now, except us. It had drawbacks, but the design was free. The drawbacks were fixed in our RAIN design, such as one-hand screen removal in under 60 seconds; and of course with our upflow designs, which solve other day-to-day problems such as power failures.

It is awesome that you are sharing your designs! Awesome that you are building the hobby the way you are! I really appreciate the feedback you have been offering for several years to all of us!

I think it could be, if the large scale machines are used which I've seen the patent drawings for. There should be no "going up on the roof to scrape algae".

The patents are all expired aren’t they? “Dynamic Aquaria” edition 3 has some practical methods of maintaining large systems. They are able to make things happen. The Great barrier exhibit in Australia did a great job even with what was available in the 90’s. Wastewater clean up of lakes and saltwater systems is well documented. However they are quick to admit that the scrubber system on aquarium is not a stand alone microcosm. They system will always need some import and export (water changes, algae removal).

If it's dark, it's because of too little light, compared to the high nutrients in the water. High nutrients in the water need very strong light.

I am not sure that algae color correlates to light that simply. I agree high nutrients need strong light for algae to take them down. People grossly underestimate light with algae. It is also important to remember that optimum growth of coral or algae relies on constant stripping of unwanted and replacement of wanted. Water flow really helps that happen.

Yes, it removes the amino acids, vitamins, carbs, etc that are in the ocean. More algal growth, however, will put them back in.

In “Dynamic Aquaria” edition 3, the authors show examples of SPS growth matching and exceeding that of a natural reef. They nailed it, the system works. However, the natural reef is easily out preformed in a well functioning home aquarium these days. I have been extrememly happy with the nutrient control using algae growth in both my FOLR as well as my reef. I don’t hesitate to add additional methods to my system if things are not going as planned. I just make an effort to be aware of what the new system it taking as well as what it is giving. My goal is to never have to change my water. The initial promise of algae scrubbers was that that may be a reality. It is a game changer for FOLR systems. I have made some mods, but am seeing my goals. I haven’t changed water in this tank since it was a fish only tank back in 5/17. Started adding coral 9/17. Most started as under a 1” frag.
7EB3C6C9-5125-4417-8A1A-94FBC830817C.jpeg
 

w2inc

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Hopefully we could get a more clear explaination of the phosphate and calcium coating on rocks from @randyholmes-farley or #Randyholmes-farley. It would be nice to have a chemically based knowlege of what is going on when 18 months old rocks beging to leach out phosphate. Does anyone know if it is pH related, supply and demand related, or a combination of both?
 
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w2inc

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Hopefully we could get a more clear explaination of the phosphate and calcium coating on rocks from @randyholmes-farley or #Randyholmes-farley. It would be nice to have a chemically based knowlege of what is going on when 18 months old rocks beging to leach out phosphate. Does anyone know if it is pH related, supply and demand related, or a combination of both?
https://www.advancedaquarist.com/2002/9/chemistry
 

sil40sx

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I grow stuff that looks like that in my Cheato gro area. The grow area is a 5 gallon bucket hooked to a return line from my 120. I use a 150 watt red led light. It gets about 500gph through it. The Cheato ball spins. I am not saying that I have a good set up, I am just describing what I have. The brown thick matted stuff grows on the wall with some Ulva. When I scrape it, it takes a couple weeks to grow back. The people who pioneered this tech recommend cleaning 1/2 the screen or screens each week. Try it, I am sure you will see the fastest growing algae start to dominate. Some algae produce aleochemicals that prevent other algae’s from growing. Increased flow would help keep this concern mitigated.


Thanks! I'll try how much more I can add on my flow this weekend. Maybe drill the holes bigger or something.



At least an inch or two. On ours the screen sits about 1 1/2” below the waterline in the chamber when running.

Thanks, I'll try that.
 

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