DIY Algae Scrubber not growing

Discussion in 'Do It Yourself (DIY)' started by AngryOwl, Oct 30, 2017.

  1. AngryOwl

    AngryOwl Well-Known Member

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    Back in late August I built a algae scrubber. To this day all it has grown is diatoms...

    Info about the scrubber:
    Waterfall style, screen is about 9" x 4", uses an individual pump to supply flow 295gph pump and most importantly the lights... rapidled solderless leds, 4 reds and 2 blues on each side. (6 leds per side). Controlled by a dimmable driver. Leds were basically copied from kingofdiy supercharged algae scrubber video.

    Started the scrubber running 18hrs per day at maybe 15-20% power. Only diatoms grew. Did this for 3 weeks.
    Read some stuff online then switched to 9hrs per day at maybe 25-30% power. Did this for 2 weeks. Still nothing...
    Kept the lights running 9hrs per day but increased lights to nearly 100%, maybe 90%. Left it like that until 2 weeks ago when I changed it back up to 12 or 14 hours, can't remember... the point is still no growth.

    Any thoughts on what's going on here? There has been no hint of green growth, only diatoms. Side note about the screen before someone says it... Yea it's rough, very rough, I used sandpaper and then a drill bit used to drill holes (like for bulkheads or doorknobs).

    Tank info:
    Setup 4 months ago
    120g with emerald 39 trigger sump
    8 fish 2 shrimp
    Feed twice per day about 1 cube or more per day
    Used tap water until 2 weeks ago when I got an rodi system
    No algae in the display besides a few diatoms here and there... recently upgraded to a real reef light (photonv2) and getting a little bit more in the tank but nothing crazy.
    Nitrate between 10-20
    phosphates 0

    No idea what's going on here. Thinking of taking it down and trying a refugium. Let me know your thoughts!
     

  2. sundog101

    sundog101 Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Algae is going to have a tough time growing if phosphates are bottomed out. I might try bumping the phosphate up a little to see if the nitrate will come down.
    How much flow do you have?
    Any pictures?
     
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  3. TbyZ

    TbyZ Well-Known Member

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    I'd be running 8 red 660nm LEDs on each side of a a screen that size. Minimum would be 6 red at 700mA (when the screen does mature).
    I don't bother with blue or violet. You don't need anything but 660s IMO.
    I also find using only red that you can avoid going through the slime & other algaes period, prior to the maturation to green filamentous algae (as long as No3 & PO4 aren't really high.

    Increase your red on each side, start out at running them at 400 - 500 mA to avoid photo saturation.
    Feed more food with higher phosphate in it (watch your NO3 levels)
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
  4. TbyZ

    TbyZ Well-Known Member

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    upload_2017-10-30_16-50-12.png
     
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  5. Tcj

    Tcj Active Member

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    Maybe increase flow. If the pump is 295 max I'm sure it's a fraction of that after all the plumbing.

    I just installed one a week and half ago and made sure I had decent flow
     
  6. TbyZ

    TbyZ Well-Known Member

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    yes, the actual flow going into the unit needs to be measured.
    For a 9 inch screen, minimum of say 30gph per inch of screen width is 270 gph actual flow.
    This minimum flow to begin with is better for initial algae attachment.
     
  7. OREGONIC

    OREGONIC Well-Known Member

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    Wow wish my algae looked like that ;Woot. Mine grew nothing but slime for the longest time. I had to cut the slit in my pipe wider and lower the flow before it really started to take off. I think the slit i had in my pipe originally was causing it to spray to hard like putting your finger over a garden hose. Now my algae does not look as lush as @TbyZ but i have to clean the screen every 10-12 days. This photo is a few months old, as my nutrients have dropped to the point where i have to feed twice as much to keep them detectable the algae has turned more green.

    60AD2D42-4721-4A8A-BC5E-F6984BCB65A5.jpeg

    232748B0-8DF4-40F3-BB70-11B7BDB86B95.jpeg

    646C7D3C-A26B-4405-9EEE-70A17FEA0BC7.jpeg
     
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  8. TbyZ

    TbyZ Well-Known Member

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    Looks like you need a bit more watts.

    1 to 1.5W per 4 sq inches of screen.

    Thats actual watts.
     
  9. mcarroll

    mcarroll Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    @AngryOwl The basics for life: C N P

    C is taken care of
    N you see building up
    P is your missing piece of the puzzle

    Stop removing it, if you are.

    Start dosing it if you'd like to restore balance.

    Something like Seachem's Flourish or Brightwell's NeoPhos.

    You might not need the algae scrubber if your nutrients are like this – is this an older system, or newer?
     
  10. AngryOwl

    AngryOwl Well-Known Member

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    Here are the LED's I'm using:
    https://www.rapidled.com/solderless-cree-xp-e-he-photo-red-660nm-led/
    https://www.rapidled.com/solderless-cree-xp-g3-royal-blue-led/

    I already figured I'm feeding more than most people would considering my stock level. So I'm pretty shocked to see the test results. Before I switched to RODI nitrates were at 80ppm.

    On second look, it appears this pump is 300gph. Pumping maybe 12 inches at the most to the scrubber. Any suggestions on a better suited pump?

    I'm honestly confused about this post lol. I have no idea how my system could be maintaining nutrient levels this low without a DT full of algae (its a good problem to have for now I suppose). This system has been up for 4 months.
     
  11. AngryOwl

    AngryOwl Well-Known Member

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    These are the best I have right now. First picture is after 2 days first installed.
    Second picture is 5 days after first installed and is what it looks like week to week. :(

    20170902_182013.jpg 20170905_080349.jpg
     
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  12. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Photo of the Month Award

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    IMO , the simple test on light would be to use a clip lamp with a daylight bulb.

    I'm assuming when you say it's running 18hrs the pump stays on 24hs and that's just the light cycle you're referring to.

    And yea, you have low nutrients I don't know that I'd run a scrubber or fuge.
     
  13. AngryOwl

    AngryOwl Well-Known Member

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    Correct it was at 18hrs light and pump has always been 24/7. Now I'm attempting to run the lights at nearly 24hrs, like 21-22 or so. Can anyone explain how my nutrients can be so low? Like I said I feed twice per day, maybe a cube and 1/4 or 1/2. Frozen mysis, brine shrimp and a homemade blend of shrimp, calamari and scallops. Every so often I'll throw in some pellets.

    I'm also glad I started this thread before going out and spending more money on a fuge light and some cheato, only to have it potentially not grow as well.
     
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  14. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Photo of the Month Award

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    If it's a new tank with dry rock and sand it likely did not begin with high or any nutints. So they are building up now.
    I am guilt if not looking at the full specs of the tank.

    Is also quite possible your bio filter is processing the nutrients efficiently. I have a coral qt that I cannot feed enough to get any detectable levels.


    Also a fwiw. A dollar store cfl will grow algae. If it's a daylight one it'll do it better.
     
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  15. AngryOwl

    AngryOwl Well-Known Member

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    Started with live rock and live sand. I just have a hard time wrapping my head around the nutrient levels given that 1) its a new tank 2) compared to what I've read, I feed heavy 3) I don't really water change at all. I've done 3 changes on this system since it's been up. 2 in the last 2 weeks to help switch the water over to RODI.

    In the sump is simple, I swapped out the filter socks and just use some pinky filter floss. SKIMZ MONZTER SM161 INTERNAL PROTEIN SKIMMER. Just added pond matrix and a marine pure block within the last 4-6 weeks. The matrix is really just in there to seed for uses in QT. I'm not doing anything fancy here lol.
     
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  16. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Photo of the Month Award

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    Hmm. Weird.
    Aged live rock? Or wild ? Lfs cures?

    And you've had the tests confirmed?
     
  17. AngryOwl

    AngryOwl Well-Known Member

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    hmm... best I can tell you is I bought it from LFS and it came in a box that was dry.

    How would I go about confirming the tests? I used red sea test kit for phosphates, tried with nitrates and it read max on the low level test, so did API kit after that.
     
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  18. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Photo of the Month Award

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    Go to a good lfs or a buddy.

    I usually don't tell them what I'm looking for.

    For fun, I also like to see if they test my ph and and tell me if it's low after the water has been out of the tank for an hour. :)

    Just to see if they pass the easy science questions.
     
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  19. AngryOwl

    AngryOwl Well-Known Member

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    :D I'll have to look into doing that. Our problem of growth still remains though. I guess what I'm taking from this thread is I just don't have enough nutrients to grow somehow.... I did a lot of research on my design and I'm fairly confident it should be growing.
     
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  20. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Photo of the Month Award

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    Yup. That's where my bottom line assessment would be to try a $1 light with a really dirty spectrum that we know grows algae.

    I have one name brand reef led that won't grow anything. So it does happen.
     
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