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FAQs on Algal Filtration: Maintenance/Operation

Related Articles: Algae Scrubber Input/Update by Bryan, How to make a simple Algae Turf Scrubber (ATS), By Simon Trippick, Nutrient Control and ExportMarine Set-Up, An Introduction to Reef Systems, Refugiums, Reef FiltrationMarine System PlumbingMarine Aquarium Set-UpMoving AquariumsMarine Biotope, Marine Landscaping

Related FAQs: Algal Filtration 1, Algal Filtration 2,

FAQs on: Algal Filtration Rationale/Science, Algal Filter Design, Algal Filtration Lighting, Algal Filter Install, Algae Filters as Food Sources, Algal Turf Scrubbers (ATS) Filters, Algal Filter Troubles/Fixes, & Mud/Algal Filtration, Refugium Substrates/DSBs, Reef Set-Up, Reef Set-Up 2, Reef Set-Up 3, Reef Set-Up 4, Reef Set-Up 5, Reef Maintenance, Sumps/Filters, Sumps/Filters 2, Marine System PlumbingMarine Aquarium Set-UpLive RockLive Sand, Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, Fish-Only Marine Systems 2, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large SystemsBest Marine Set-Up FAQs 1, Best FAQs 2, Marine Set-Up 1


algae turf scrubber; no alg.       6/19/15
Hey Bob,
I pretty much know the answer already, however was asked to ask anyhow.
A buddy of mine, after seeing my ATS pull my nitrates from 60 to 0 in a months, and my po4 from 1.20 to 0 in 6 weeks, wanted in on the action.
He didn't like the look of my diy, because of the bulbs proximity to the water.
He decided to buy one from Santa Monica, the one that floats in your sump, uses leds, and an air bubbler.
Its been ten days, and he's had no growth.
<Mmm; can/could be a few things at play here... Very likely at least an existing "balance" of other micro-organisms that are preventing settling, and/or eating the proposed algae>
His phosphates are at least 2.5, (all my checker can read to) and nitrates are near 100.
<Perhaps just these nutrients being too high... def. a factor. I'd do some serial (daily) large water changes to re-set the dynamic here, dilute the in-solution nutrients>

Were concerned because it was not an inexpensive scrubber.
Here's the catch, when he set it up, i told him to use a timer, on 18 hrs a day, off 6.
He neglected to adhere to that, and has been running the led lights on it 24/7.
<I would def. have a dark period>

There is no growth, and he's trying to tell me that something still should grown.
Would running the lights all the time stop algae from forming?
<Can; yes>
Again, I believe it would, however Im asking because he is the one who spent the money on it and is concerned.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Ats question      5/13/15
Hey Bob.
I have an 80/gallon frag tank which about ten days ago had a 1.06 phosphate reading on Hannah checker.
A few 25/ percent water changes brought me to .65 or so on Saturday.
<Dilution plus some interaction eh?>

About 4 weeks ago I built a scrubber , ten inches wide, 300/gph and two 40/watt CFLs.
This past week it has finally started to grow nice thick algae. Since Saturday, my po4 has dropped from .65, to .39.
<On its way>
I used the same meter, which is about two weeks old, and same testing procedure to limit human error (clean vial in ro water, remove fingerprints, oils etc.
Does this much of a drop in p04 (.65 to .39) in four days sound too good to be true with scrubber alone?
<Not too good>
Or could it be my meter is off?
<Poss.; but not likely>
I back to back
test and always get a reading of .01 difference.
<W. B>
re: Ats question      5/13/15

Dilution I understand, percentage wise that made sense. (.75 remaining old water times phosphate value) but the additional losses I couldn't account for.
<Ionic precipitation w/ the newly made SW>
Having a few Acros in there, do you feel I have the luxury and time to let ats pull phosphate out, or should I still be doing big 25 percent water changes?
If the ats is working that fast, that's great, after all these years of reading about them, wish I tried it earlier. To me its a refugium on steroids.
From the research I have done, dropping phosphate that fast shouldn't have an adverse effect on other parameters such as alk, cal or mag.

Re: Can you be kind enough to find me Simon Trippick's email address, ATS op.   2/16/10
Thank you Simon.
<No problem James!>
I live in Taiwan and it's Chinese new year.
<Wahey! Enjoy!>
I can't wait till the stores open next week. My project begins next week.
I'll let you know how mine goes.
<Ok, will be interested to know>
Sincerely yours,
<Cheers, Simon>

Aggressive algal filtration   Hi, <Hello Dan> I have a 125 ( lit by 3 250w 10K plumbed into a 40g breeder frag tank and a 20 gallon algae fuge with a 250w 10k halide over it which then goes to a 20 gal sump w live rock rubble. Set up for over 6 months now. Currently my corals color up great sometimes unbelievably) and everything seems fine ( although growth could be better iMO.... but I wonder if I really need to skim? The tank has a modest fish load and one small round stingray. (who is actually proven to be reef safe ) I think my algae growth is so intense (about half gallon tightly packed jar every week) that I might actually be starving my corals of basic algae nutrients. Nitrates are undetectable with the low range Salifert kit (is this really the best kit for nitrate????? <There are better, either the LaMotte or Hach kits are very good.> It seems kind of crappy) Currently I have a SeaClone 100 and its usually too dirty to produce. ( I get lazy with it) The water clarity is somewhat greenish looking from the side. I use very little Mech filtration). So do I need to skim if nitrates are undetectable?  Is my system better off without it? <It's always better to employ an efficient protein skimmer.  I personally think the Sea Clone is not efficient enough for a 125 gallon tank.  I would lean toward an Aqua C model.>  I do use carbon for 2 days out of the week before adding supplements. Also I have a problem keeping ALK up.... Is this due to the massive algae growth I have? Are the acids released by the Caulerpa responsible for the rapid depletion of carbonates? <The fuge lighting should be on 24/7.  With the amount of algae you mention, CO2 production would be high with dark photoperiods.  CO2 will lower you alkalinity/ph.> I currently use about 1 tablespoon of reef builder per day and dose very heavily with Kalk... but still cant get calcium up over 400. The tank is moderately stocked with SPS (i.e. about 10 medium sized colonies of various SPS and of course many frags. <Try using SeaChem's Reef Advantage Calcium (dry formula).> Hey if this is Anthony Calfo responding... it was great to meet you at the WAMAS meeting! Dan <James (Salty Dog)>

New tank w/ refugium Hello WWM,<Hello, MikeB here.> Love your website, very helpful...I just set up a new tank (55g) w/ a refugium (29g) underneath.  The tank is cycling at the moment.  Set-up...about 50-60lbs of base rock, 5lbs of live rock, and a 5-6" DSB of very fine sugar aragonite sand in both tanks seeded w/ a cup of live sand in each tank.  I was wondering when do I put in my macro algae?<You could put it in the tank now if you want.  There is no set time as to when you put it in.  I usually do it once fish or live rock have been in the tank for at least a week.>  I have Chaetomorpha (very little about 1/4 cup) and razor Caulerpa (about a cup) in my quarantine tank that I'm waiting to put in the refugium.  Do I have to wait until the tank is cycled? <No, the algae will help with the cycling actually.> If not, how long should I leave the lights (standard 18" fluorescent) on for the macro algae? <I leave them on 24 hours a day but if you want to save on your electric bill leave them on opposite of the display tank.  Good luck MikeB> Thanks in advance. Ronald

Reef questions Dear Dr Fenner, Thanks again for all your help/advice with my prior questions. I've got a sump set up with a lighted area for growing macroalgae and plan to keep it lit 24 hrs/day. You had indicated that several types of macroalgae can be used - I had also noticed that your FAQs indicated that Caulerpa can be lit 24 hrs/day. Are any other species tolerant of all day lighting? Specifically: Halimeda, Gracilaria, Halimeda, Dictyota? <Halimeda to a more limited extent than Caulerpas... the others much more limited still> You've recommended (and I really like the aesthetics of C. Taxifolia), but I've heard that its a nuisance algae and is causing some problems in the San Diego bay area by overgrowing the native flora.  <As would/do any non-native species that can outcompete native wildlife... Only idiots and fools would release exotics into the wild> Are there any concerns with landlocked - Minnesota - aquarists using it? <No... a totally marine species> Would it be best to keep only 1 species of macroalgae in the sump, or several species (in an attempt to minimize harmful leaching while maximizing beneficial absorptive qualities)?  <Hmm, actually two species are better IMO> I realize I'm probably thinking/obsessing too much on this 'algae/sump' topic, but I'm a newbie to the hobby. <Not at all... much to be investigated and popularized here> On an earlier note, you mentioned that I could use better quality live rock than I currently have (mix of Fiji and Belize). How would you rate the following live rock in terms of filtration quality <Let's label this "A"> and in terms of being free on nuisance critters (mantis shrimp, bristle worms, harmful snails, etc)<and "B">: 1) Fiji, 2) Marshall, 3) Pago, 4) Jakarta, 5) Manano? <A and B, rated 10 for best, 1 for worse for the numbered sites above... with a range for variance for suppliers, qualities.  1) A 2-10, B 3-6 2) A 5-9, B 5-8 3) A 6-9, B 5-9 4) A 1-5, B 4-7 5) A 7-10, B 4-8  Lastly, I currently have a red sea Berlin skimmer on my 70 gal tank. I'm thinking of adding an ozonizer. You had mentioned in your book that properly sized aquarium ozonizers don't pose a health threat to humans/tank inhabitants. What is a properly sized ozonizer?  <hundreds of milligrams per hour for most any hobby sized systems> I've had retailers say I should have anywhere from .4 to 2 mg of ozone per gal of water (this large range of 5x has left me baffled).  <A range of efficacy... and usefulness... a wider safety margin than most folks know> If I run a 100mg ozonizer on the Red Sea Berlin skimmer, should I use carbon in the built in air filter?  <Possibly... you can wait, see if you detect anything obnoxious (you won't, the O3 is beneficial in the amounts you can produce... People pay very good money to have this substance introduced into the air their about> If so, how do I know when to replace it?  <About once a month...> I'm using an ORP monitor, so I'm assuming I won't need carbon in the water path. <As I state, you won't detect any difference... this molecule is very transient... and of use in a home/work environment... improves the space. Bob Fenner> Thanks again for all of your help!

Re: Filtration?? Just tested the water, the nitrates, nitrites, ammonia are zero, but the phosphates are about 1 ppm, but other then that all is ok. I re-read your articles on filtration but they didn't seem to support wet/dry over canister filtration system, so I guess I should just keep reading and hopefully my set-up will keep everything happy. Thanks again. Peace. Jason <Hmm, one ppm of soluble phosphates is too much... do read over the "Algal Filtration" sections... you might be ready to grow some macro-algae... in your new sump (forecasting here), or main system. Bob Fenner>

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