Protein Skimmer or Algae Turf Scrubber?

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fishybizzness

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So I'm downsizing from a 55 gallon to a 24" cube tank. The 55 has a 30 gallon sump behind the stand, fully exposed for easy access to everything. The sump for the cube is a fijicube 20 and will be in the stand. I will be running a clarisea 4" filter roller instead of socks. Due to the sump area being much smaller, I can't fit both the skimmer and the Turbo's scrubber, only one can fit. The center compartment where the skimmer is in the photo is the space im working with. My question is, if you had to choose between a skimmer and a scrubber, which would you choose and why?

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Zoanthids

dedragon

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Maybe a bit to help take out specifically what the chaeto uptakes during growth. The protein skimmer would be the heavy hitter in the scenario.
 
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BostonReefer300

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So I'm getting ready to completely re-do my sump and have been researching algae scrubbers/reactors vs protein skimmers because I'll only have room for one. Skimmers remove a lot of organic waste products and, to some extent, even whole microscopic organisms (bacteria, algae, etc.). In basic terms, skimmers are removing nutrient precursors, not the nutrients directly (although, skimmers actually do remove nutrients that are sequestered within other things being skimmed).
[Here's a quick description from Vanderbilt University regarding what protein skimmers remove:
Algae methods mostly remove waste "end products" (for example NO3 and PO4 that are produced as part of biological processes in the tank). Algae methods will also remove some other inorganics, simple amino acids, etc. as well plus consume CO2. One apparent benefit of algae methods vs skimmers that's not often mentioned is smell. Evidently, the algae reactors/scrubbers don't smell badly (I don't have personal experience though) whereas we all know that sometimes skimmers smell like Hades' cesspool.
I've come down on the side of protein skimmers because I'd rather remove nutrients before they become nutrients, so to speak. Even though I've never used an algae scrubber/reactor, I also think that emptying a skimmer cup and occasionally cleaning out a skimmer looks a lot easier (and less gross) than scraping out one of the algae things regularly. I also like the water oxygenation that skimmers provide and I believe that outweighs the benefits of any CO2 reduction the algae methods may provide. Lastly, I already paid $900 for a skimmer and I don't want to have to explain yet another big cardboard box on the porch to my wife.
Hope this is helpful.
 

Dkmoo

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If you plan to have corals, id choose scrubber.

Coral absorb nutrition in all forms from the most complex - solid food, to DOC, to the end product no3/po4. Although everything eventually break down to no3/po4, different filtration target different stages in this chain. Roller target solid food, skimmer target DOC, and scrubber target no3/po4. Out of the 3 stages, I'd say corals like nutrition from no3/po4 the least. Since your roller will already pull out a lot of the solid good, it'd be better for corals to keep the DOC in the water column to help them filter-feed. Any concern about algae growth in the dt due to the DOC break down to no3/po4 will be mitigated by scrubber
 

Treefer32

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I tried going skimmerless and just run with a turbo scrubber. This failed for me, I'm running both now. My phosphates skyrocketed without the skimmer. But the scrubber was full every 3-4 days. I think my issue was bio load. My display is 350 gallon with 27 fish. Several of them large fish.

I would ask the question what's you're coral to fish ratio? If you have a lot of fish and have to feed a lot, nutrients in, they have to come out somewhere.

In the end, I would still choose the scrubber. Natural oxygenation, pod growth area, and it is a highly efficient export mechanism. I agree with others that the roller mat will help a lot with exporting nutrients as well.
 

R33fDaddy

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Go with the scrubber.

Reason One: A lot of people report removing the Skimmer because the Algae Scrubber is removing pretty all Nitrates and Phosphates from the water.

Reason two: Algae Scrubbers also removes other harmful things from the water like metals such as copper.

Reason three: Everything in the tank will end up as Nitrates if it isn't removed prior to it breaking down. You already have the rollar mate so the Algae Scrubber would be a perfect partner for that.

Reason four: You can always add a small skimmer if needed, but it's a good chance you want need one.

Reason five: you can cultivate your own fish food. My tangs love the Algae from the Scrubber. I soak it in some vitamins, reef energy plus and garlic. Just froze some yesterday.
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Fritz

slojim

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You have both, so you understand the different maintenance needs of both. Are you better at dumping the collection cup, cleaning the neck, and replacing lost saltwater, or are you better at pulling and scraping the screen? At least in my system, the skimmer needs more frequent but shorter attention, the scrubber needs less frequent attention, but takes a few minutes longer. Whichever one you are more likely to ignore is probably the one you should leave out.
 
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fishybizzness

fishybizzness

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Still haven't made up my mind as to what I'm going to do. The skimmer takes a few minutes to clean the collection cup every week or so and the scrubber takes a few minutes more, not by much thought, to scrape the screen and replace it. Maintenance time of either is not an issue. I really wish I had the space for both but I just don't have the space In the sump. I may try the scrubber for awhile and see how it works out and then make up my mind. If I decide to ultimately just use the skimmer I may be putting the Turbo's scrubber up for sale. We'll see.
 

Treefer32

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I had issues with phosphates rising despite running a scrubber and Skimmer on my 350g and water changes. I mentioned my lighting period on my scrubber to Bud at Turbo Aquatics and he mentioned increasing the light period. I was only using 50-60% capacity of the scrubber. So, I ramped up the lights to 22 hours a day instead of 14 hours a day. Just that 8 hour change per day, I went from a full screen of algae in 8 days to a full screen of algae in 3-4 days. And it's continued now for the last 3-4 months. I also am vodka dosing using my skimmer to pull out the bacteria that consumes the phosphates. Between the two mechanisms I'm getting my phosphates to consistently stay around .05-.08 with a Hanna checker.

I'm debating stopping water changes now, I was doing 100+ gallon water changes to try to keep phosphates under control. Now though, I think I'm there. This is on a 350 gallon system with almost 30 fish. Several of them very large.
 

R33fDaddy

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I had issues with phosphates rising despite running a scrubber and Skimmer on my 350g and water changes. I mentioned my lighting period on my scrubber to Bud at Turbo Aquatics and he mentioned increasing the light period. I was only using 50-60% capacity of the scrubber. So, I ramped up the lights to 22 hours a day instead of 14 hours a day. Just that 8 hour change per day, I went from a full screen of algae in 8 days to a full screen of algae in 3-4 days. And it's continued now for the last 3-4 months. I also am vodka dosing using my skimmer to pull out the bacteria that consumes the phosphates. Between the two mechanisms I'm getting my phosphates to consistently stay around .05-.08 with a Hanna checker.

I'm debating stopping water changes now, I was doing 100+ gallon water changes to try to keep phosphates under control. Now though, I think I'm there. This is on a 350 gallon system with almost 30 fish. Several of them very large.
I just started using Nopox in conjunction with my scrubber. Was wondering if I was the only one doing that :)
 
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Treefer32

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I just started using Nopox in conjunction with my scrubber. Was wondering if I was the only one doing that :)
Nope. :) Definitely not. I'm amazed at how effective it is to dealing with phosphates. I'm assuming if I have phosphates I have nitrates. Vodka dosing in conjunction with the scrubber is two different forms of filtration that have a lot of synergy in my opinion. This synergy leads to crystal clear water and healthy growth environment for corals in a moderate to heavily stocked tanks that are probably overfed...

Though. I question if I'm feeding enough. Usually they said to feed about 2 minutes when fish stop being interested in food. But my feeding frenzy will go on for close to 5 minutes and all the food will have been eaten. I have to get more and it'll go on for another 2-3 minutes until the frenzy stops and they're happy once again.. Probably feeding close to 2 ozes of food a day for 27 fish. . . That's a lot of phosphates....
 

Treefer32

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So I am curious now - what is the purpose of carbon dosing and algae-scrubbing concurrently?
Well, in my case, I generate more phosphates and nitrates than my scrubber can remove in a given period of time. My Phosphates rise by .01 ppm per day despite the algae scrubber and using filter socks. So, yes, doing both, leads to competition for the same resources. It's like why run a scrubber and a skimmer? They both remove materials at different stages of being broken down.

So, carbon dosing as I understand it make the skimmers more powerful by creating bacteria that are large enough to be skimmed out of the water. Algae on scrubbers consumes stuff that is broken down and not skimmed out by the skimmer, but later breaks down into phosphate and nitrate. Catching it at both stages, leads to more efficient filtration.

I would love to go without the skimmer. I tried that for 3 months and the results were catastrophic to a couple of my corals. So, I needed to skim while scrubbing unfortunately. Took me 3-4 months to recover from that trial.
 

Azedenkae

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Well, in my case, I generate more phosphates and nitrates than my scrubber can remove in a given period of time. My Phosphates rise by .01 ppm per day despite the algae scrubber and using filter socks. So, yes, doing both, leads to competition for the same resources. It's like why run a scrubber and a skimmer? They both remove materials at different stages of being broken down.

So, carbon dosing as I understand it make the skimmers more powerful by creating bacteria that are large enough to be skimmed out of the water. Algae on scrubbers consumes stuff that is broken down and not skimmed out by the skimmer, but later breaks down into phosphate and nitrate. Catching it at both stages, leads to more efficient filtration.

I would love to go without the skimmer. I tried that for 3 months and the results were catastrophic to a couple of my corals. So, I needed to skim while scrubbing unfortunately. Took me 3-4 months to recover from that trial.
Gotcha, that makes sense.
 
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