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Mega Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover - DIY!

This is a discussion on Mega Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover - DIY! within the Beginner Saltwater Aquariums forums, part of the Saltwater Fish and Coral Reef Tanks category; --> Reminder Of The Day: Lighting Duration: Set up your scrubber lighting on a timer for 18 hours ON, and six hours OFF. The scrubber ...

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Mega Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover - DIY!
Old 10-05-2008, 08:51 PM   #21
 
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Reminder Of The Day:

Lighting Duration: Set up your scrubber lighting on a timer for 18 hours ON, and six hours OFF. The scrubber itself won't care when those hours are, but if you want, you can have them on when your display lights are off, so as to help balance pH in the system.
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Old 10-06-2008, 09:02 PM   #22
 
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Here is a note to skimmer manufacturers, as well as manufacturers of acrylics/plastics, lighting, and pumps. One way to benefit from scrubbers is to start building them, so as to make life easier for aquarists. There is no patent, and I have no interest in building them, although designing them is fun. Promoting them is fun too. But manufacturing is not my thing, so hopefully some folks will start making at least a simple version (like the Santa Monica 120) available. Look at it like this: Manufacturers of skimmers currently make an expensive product that has pumps and acrylic/plastic parts. Manufacturers of lighting currently make an expensive product that has bulbs, ballasts, and frames. Neither of these products has all these parts in one unit.

Scrubbers, however, do. Instead of viewing scrubbers as a make-at-home rig that stops people from buying skimmers, manufacturers should instead view scrubbers as a piece of aquarium equipment they can manufacture which includes acrylic, plastic, lights, pumps, timers, fans and complex parts, all woven together. Imagine the designs that could be achieved which would allow the most water flow, the most air, the most light, all in the least space possible, and for the best price. It's a designer's dream. Sure, many folks will continue making their own scrubbers, but at some point these folks will upgrade their tanks and will not want to hassle with building larger versions. So, here are some things I thought of that manufacturers could offer:


o A simple low-cost design; just an acrylic box, preferably with a mirror inside finish. The customer would add all other parts. This is what I built.

o Complex designs that would be needed to fit into the many different places that aquarists have: Above a crowded sump, behind the tank, vertically next to tank, next to a tank in a stand-alone furniture finish, or on the wall as a decorative item.

o Skimmers designed to work with scrubbers, by having one connect/feed the other.

o Scrubber lights with built-in timers, for nanos.

o Ultra small scrubber boxes for nanos, possibly with self-contained LED lights, the size of a cell phone.

o Nano hoods with scrubbers built into them.

o Sumps with built in scrubbers, instead of built-in wet/dry's.

o Display lighting-fixtures with scrubbers connected to the back of them, such that the scrubber uses the same light.

o Tank options, such as scrubber-on-backside.

o Auto-cleaners that clean/scrub/scrape the screen automatically.

o Hand/electric tools specialized to clean the screen.

o RODI sprayers that give the screen a FW spray periodically (to kill pods), possibly doubling as a top off.

o Non-destructive pumps to get pods from the sump to the display.

o Self-priming pumps built in to scrubber, for placement on top of displays with no sump.

o Quick-disconnect waterfall pipes.

o Double and triple thick screens, which allow algae to stick better during cleanings.

o Multiple screens, with large areas for large tanks.

o Ultra thin LED powered flexible screens, which could weave around obstacles.

o Fan on a temp controller, to keep water temp preset.

o Uniquely shaped T5 panels, such as 12 X 12, to perfectly fit a screen.

o Safety switches that cut off the lights and/or flow during certain conditions.



A great first model could be targeted to smaller tanks (SW and FW) that may not have sumps, and thus would include a self-priming pump inside the scrubber. It would sit on or near the display and would pull water up to it. It would drain right back to the display, and would give the customer the option of letting the algae grow out the drain (and into the tank to feed the fish), or removing the algae as it comes out of the drain, before it gets to the display.
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Old 10-08-2008, 02:26 PM   #23
 
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Results of the Day:


"darkblue" on the RP site says, "Been running a 4"x10" OHF [over head filter scrubber] version on my 15g for almost 2 months already. My Nitrate reading started dropping after around 3 weeks. I've had 0 Nitrates for a month now. I'm using Seachem for my tests. The screen is just partially covered with what I think are patches of brown turf."

And "jfdelacruz", also on the RP site, says "I recently implemented this on my tank. I [originally] had an overhead filter to try and filter out a lot of detritus, and changed out filter foams every week. nitrates and phosphates were high and I had brown algae (kinda like cyano) on my sandbed already too thick to fight. I did the 2 days lights out and it took out the brown film algae. I bought a 10watt fluorescent light from carti and then cut a right fit cross-stitch cloth as my screen and layed it flat on my OHF and took out the foam. lights are on 24/7 [temporarily]. I'm on my 5th day and algae is basically non existent in the tank, while the whole cloth is covered in the same brown film algae that covered my sandbed and is starting to grow the green algae. 10,000K ung fluorescent and after day 2 it already had algae on it. on day 3 the whole cloth was lightly covered. im still waiting for day 10. also Im going on a 2nd week no water change just to try it out and so far everything's doing good. coral's are happy and clam is happy. inverts and clownfish is also happy and eating lots of cyclopeeze everyday!


Also, I'm putting together a little series on how nutrients work in our aquariums. It will hopefully help folks better understand what affects what, and how we can make things work their best. Here's the first one below. I use Salifert for my testing, so I'll just refer to them:
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Old 10-10-2008, 04:09 PM   #24
 
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Well here is my 7-day cleaning from yesterday. First, here's the screen before cleaning, looking at the the edge:










Here's the screen after cleaning:







And here's what was removed:







So it was a half-pound of wet green hair, about the same as last week. Once thing about cleaning green hair compared to real turf (my other screen that's now at the LFS) is that it slides off so easy, it's hard to leave any on the screen. I tried to only clean one side, but some of the other side detached too. You can almost just run tap water over it, and the loose stuff comes off. Maybe a better design is two half-screens, so you can just pull one out and clean it completely, while not touching the other one.
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Old 10-12-2008, 12:02 AM   #25
 
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Reminder Of The Day:

Why Larger Is Not Better: A larger screen, by itself (without larger lights), is not better than a smaller screen. This means that if you want more nitrate and phosphate removal from your water, the best way to do it is by getting stronger lights, or by moving the lights closer to the screen. If all you do is get a larger screen, the new larger edges of the screen will be too far from the light to have any effect. Of course, the most effective way to increase nitrate and phosphate removal is to do all three: Increase screen size; add more lights to cover the new screen parts; and position all the lights closer to the screen.
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Old 10-12-2008, 08:08 AM   #26
 
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Great post. Thank you for sharing. Now, how about we learn more about this process by asking some questions.-)

1) Your designs show a screen hanging vertical. It would be much more convenient to set the screen flat. An additional screen could be used to "drip" the water evenly across the entire screen, similar to how trickle filters used a drip system over bioballs. Can you explain the disadvantage of this idea?

2) If the algae scrubber removes inorganic molecules, and the skimmer removes organic molecules, then why not use both?

3) I do not see coraline algae growth in your pics. Comments?

4) It occurs to me that Penguin brand filters have a black screen backing which would work perfectly if cut and sanded flat. Someone who is creative (not me) should kick this idea around. Cody - you are an advocate of converting the hang-on filter to a refugium. It seems that with a little modification, a hang on could be used for a an algae scrubber. Thinking out loud here: turn off the impeller and use a power head to pump water into the unit, to the top of the scubber. Perhaps a small acrylic box could be inserted into the hang on, tall enough to allow a screen to hang inside.... Ok, i'm done. Creative juices are over.

5) Can multiple smaller scrubbers be used, rather than one larger scrubber. If yes, have you seen any designs which build the scrubber into a canopy?

6) I love the idea of mounting the scrubber into the wall, disguised as decoration. Think about what people do with wall mounted Flat Screen TV's.

For the record, you have not converted me. But, i support your ideas based on results. I would like to hear stories of long term success. What happens to these systems in 4 or 5 years?

As to the manufacturers, it sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder. Have you pitched your designs? Keep in mind, protein skimmers are also extremely easy do-it-yourself. As are stands, canopies, sumps, refugiums, etc. But this has not stopped the manufacturer from being profitable. What is the REAL reason why this product is not being manufactured wide-scale here in the US?

I admire your desire to push this sytem. Advancements in the hobby are always met with high criticism. To this day, berlin style saltwater systems are still criticized for their lack of biological filtration media, despite the extreme success these systems have achieved, in comparision to previous systems using biomedia.

You are correct in stating that the biggest problem with the modern reef systems is algae growth, resulting from excess nutrient buildup. You are wrong to compare Nitrate readings, because reefs with a proper DSB and skimmer already achieve zero Nitrate. I would suggest that anyone who "switches" to an algae scrubber and suddenly achieves a drop in Nitrate did not have the aquarium set up proper to begin with. We would need exact specs both before and after the conversion to be impressed by this. I would personally suggest that many of these people would have reduced Nitrates simply by removing filter pads and biomedia, which are also not a part of your design.

However, THIS IS NOT AN ARGUEMENT AGAINST the scubber design. I am simply suggesting that problems are not always what they appear to be in a reef system. Which is why I am asking for long-term success examples with the algae scrubber design.
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Old 10-13-2008, 01:21 AM   #27
 
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Quote:
It would be much more convenient to set the screen flat.
It seems that way, until you have to build the rest of it, and then with with it. Plus, you can only light one side, and thus you lose half the capacity.

Quote:
An additional screen could be used to "drip" the water evenly across the entire screen, similar to how trickle filters used a drip system over bioballs.
If it's just "dripping", then you are not getting near enough flow. Also, the second screen on the top prevents you from putting a light there.

Quote:
If the algae scrubber removes inorganic molecules, and the skimmer removes organic molecules, then why not use both?
Because "organic" is food. And food is what feeds your tank.

Quote:
I do not see coraline algae growth in your pics.
There is plenty. My next round of pics/vids will use better lighting.

Quote:
Can multiple smaller scrubbers be used, rather than one larger scrubber.
Yes, and is recommended because you can clean just one per week, leaving the other to be fully functional.

Quote:
have you seen any designs which build the scrubber into a canopy?
If you mean a nano, my version did this (see page 1), and another fellow did here:



... and here is an idea I gave for other here:



If you mean a regular canopy, I've not seen any yet; just talk.

Quote:
What happens to these systems in 4 or 5 years?
If you mean what happens to the ones being built now, then I'll let you know in 5 years. If you mean in general, then there are many folks who've run scrubber for 10+ years. It's very basic: More food, less N and P. Doesn't change much over time. Also, think about it: You already have algae in you tank; you are not adding more, you're just moving it to a screen.

Quote:
As to the manufacturers, it sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder. Have you pitched your designs
No. Couldn't care less what manufacturers do. I already have mine. But other folks do want to buy them, and are asking me to make them, and I don't want to.

Quote:
Keep in mind, protein skimmers are also extremely easy do-it-yourself. As are stands, canopies, sumps, refugiums, etc
19 out of 20 people walking into a LFS would leave the hobby if they had to build a skimmer, canopy, sump or fuge. They just want the green off of their glass and rocks.

Quote:
What is the REAL reason why this product is not being manufactured wide-scale here in the US?
Scrubbers were catching on around year 2000 but it was patented, and the owner of the patent shut down anyone who tried to sell them, and even he did not try to sell them, so they were/are impossible to find. That means that he looked at all the different macros available, and chose the most effective one to patent his design on. After all, how many people would use skimmers if nobody sold them? But his design was a bulky moving-dumping device that's tough to build anyway. So, the waterfall design just eliminates the moving-dumping design and replaces it with a waterfall.

Algal Turf Scrubber, United States Patent 4333263:
Algal turf scrubber - Patent 4333263

Quote:
You are wrong to compare Nitrate readings, because reefs with a proper DSB and skimmer already achieve zero
If this were true there would be no nitrate removing devices. And you are also overlooking the fact of the food that skimmers remove. Not to mention cost. But mainly you are assuming someone already owns and knows how to use the equipment to "already have zero nitrates". My thread is not for these people. My thread is for beginners on their first or second tank who "just want the green off of the rocks and glass".

Quote:
I would suggest that anyone who "switches" to an algae scrubber and suddenly achieves a drop in Nitrate did not have the aquarium set up proper to begin with
Maybe. But depends on what you mean by "proper". A skimmer removes Organic Nitrate and Organic Phosphate (food), but does not remove Inorganic Nitrate or Inorganic Phosphate, thus requiring even more purchased devices to do so. Scrubbers leave the food in the water, and only remove the Inorganics, thus not requiring anything else to be purchased. And even the scrubber itself is free.
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Old 10-13-2008, 01:40 AM   #28
 
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Text Version:

Food --> fish,corals --> Organic Nitrate, Organic Phosphate.

Organic Nitrate, Organic Phosphate --> Bacteria --> Inorganic Nitrate, Inorganic Phosphate.

Inorganic Nitrate, Inorganic Phosphate --> Algae --> Oxygen
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Old 10-13-2008, 11:28 PM   #29
 
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Reminder Of The Day:

Feeding: Here are the two building block articles by Eric Borneman that cover what happens when you feed your tank. This information is what you need to know to understand what scrubbers do:

The Food of Reefs, Part 5: Bacteria by Eric Borneman - Reefkeeping.com
The Food of Reefs, Part 6: Particulate Organic Matter by Eric Borneman - Reefkeeping.com

Here is an excerpt from the second one:

"Detritus [waste] ... is the principal food source for the many bacterial species that work in various nitrification and denitrification activities. Before reaching the microbial community, however, [waste] acts as a food source for the smaller consumers such as amphipods, copepods, errant polychaetes, protozoans, flagellates, ciliates and other animals whose activities contribute to the stability and productivity of a coral reef and a coral reef aquarium."

and

"Of the many food sources available to corals and already discussed in this series of articles, particulate organic material [waste], dissolved organic material [DOC/DOM], and bacteria are the most universally accepted food sources"

and

"The use of detrital material, or particulate organic material, as food source is a cornerstone of coral reef ecology and forms what is well accepted to be the base of the entire food chain"
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Old 10-14-2008, 12:28 AM   #30
 
If I hadnt said it yet, I love the constant updates and varietys you show us. Keep it up! Great design (BTW, I might try it out on my next tank, but the one I have now is too small to experiment).
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