Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby masterbomb » Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:04 am

Joined Reef Philippines three days ago. And after bumping on this thread, i read thru every page and info. Looking forward to try the ATS next month.

Very informative for first timers like me.

Thanks
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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby masterbomb » Sat Jun 01, 2013 11:34 am

masterbomb wrote:Joined Reef Philippines three days ago. And after bumping on this thread, i read thru every page and info. Looking forward to try the ATS next month.

Very informative for first timers like me.

Thanks


On record I joined the forum May 31, finished this thread a few mins ago. Solid sa info.

By the way, up to now is the ATS still a viable solution.
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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby SantaMonica » Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:53 am

Yes a waterfall algae scrubber works good. It's just a matter of how to build it, and where to put it.

By the way if you know of any manufacturers that would like monopoly licenses in the Philippines for various algae scrubber technologies, I can help them.
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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby SantaMonica » Mon Nov 11, 2013 7:31 am

Phosphate flow out of rocks

Many people, when they get their scrubber running for the first time, get worried when more (not less) algae starts to grow on their rocks. It seems really strange, especially when nitrate and phosphate have gone lower than before. What is happening is that phosphate is coming out of the rocks. Remember, phosphate is invisible, so you can only see the effects of it, and it always "flows" from higher concentrations to lower concentrations (just like heat does).

Example: If your room is warm, and you put a cold object on the floor, heat from the air in the room will "flow" into the object until the object and the air are the same temperature. Example 2: If you put a hot object on the floor, heat will "flow" out of the object and go into the air in the room, again, until the air and the object are the same temperature. Now suppose you open your windows (in the winter). The warm air in your room will go out the windows, and it will get colder in the room. The object on the floor is now warmer than the air, so heat will flow out of the object and into the air, and then out the window.

Think of phosphate as the heat, and your rocks as the object, and your windows as the scrubber. As the scrubber pulls phosphate out of the water, the phosphate level in the water drops. Now, since the phosphate level in the water is lower than the phosphate level in the rocks, phosphate flows from the rocks into the water, and then from the water into the scrubber. This continues until the phosphate levels in the rocks and water are level again. And remember, you can't see this invisible flow.

This flow causes an interesting thing happens. As the phosphate comes out of the rocks, it then becomes available to feed algae as soon as the phosphate reaches the surface of the rocks where there is light. So, since the surface of the rocks is rough and has light, it starts growing MORE algae there (not less) as the phosphate comes out of the rocks. This is a pretty amazing thing to see for the first time, because if you did not know what was happening you would probably think that the algae in the scrubber was leaking out and attaching to your rocks. Here are the signs of phosphate coming out of the rocks:

1. The rocks are older, and have slowly developed algae problems in the past year.

2. The scrubber is new, maybe only a few months old, and has recently started to grow well.

3. Nitrate and phosphate measurements in the water are low, usually the lowest they have been in a long time.

4. Green hair algae (not brown) on the rocks has increased in certain spots, usually on corners and protrusions at the top.

5. The glass has not needed cleaning as much.


Since skimmers, filter socks, etc don't remove any nitrate and phosphate, and waterchanges and macro's in a fuge don't remove much, most people have never seen the effects of large amounts of phosphate coming out of the rocks quickly. But sure enough, it does. How long does it continue? For 2 months to a year, depending on how much phosphate is in the rocks, how strong your scrubber is, and how many other phosphate-removing filters you have (GFO, carbon dosing, etc). But one day you will see patches of white rock that were covered in green hair the day before; this is a sure sign that the algae are losing their phosphate supply from the rocks and can no longer hold on. Now it's just a matter of days before the rocks are clear.
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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby symphiii@gmail.com » Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:18 pm

How long does it takes to see algae growth? I set up mine for almost a week now but there's no any single growth :cry: Thanks!
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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby symphiii@gmail.com » Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:27 pm

Help for almost 1week now I don't have any growth..

This is my set up

10"x10" screen for my 75g tank 15g sump

light
-9w akari
-30w (forgot the brand)
Image

flow
Image

I don't use any pump I just used this white hose then suck it.

Image

Image
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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby mindfreak » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:09 pm

expect it to have a break-in period before you see improvement on it's growth (mine took 2 weeks before i saw any algae). you should use a much finer mesh screen if i were you.

Here's my DIY diagonal ATS. :)

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With Gratitude,
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- Everything is relative in this hobby.
What works for me may not work for you.
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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby yose_ » Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:12 pm

+1 on the finer mesh. :)
The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don't know.
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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby symphiii@gmail.com » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:53 pm

What material can you guys suggest to use as a screen?
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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby SantaMonica » Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:54 am

Plastic Canvas, 7 mesh.

Rough it up really good with a wood saw.

Replace the 9w with a 33 watt bulb.

Put reflectors on both bulbs.
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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby nemo_reefs » Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:00 pm

this is ATS
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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby SantaMonica » Sun May 11, 2014 2:37 am

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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby SantaMonica » Wed Sep 02, 2015 1:45 am

Scrubbers compared to refugiums

If you are starting a new tank, then the obvious difference is that a scrubber gives you the option of not having a fuge at all because an upflow scrubber can be placed on top of, in, or behind, the display. There are other uses for a sump/fuge of course, but we'll only cover the filtration concerns here.

A not-so-obvious difference is that a scrubber, if run together with a fuge with macros, will kill the macros even though the macros are much larger. This is because the scrubber thinks the macros are nuisance algae. Some people do run both together without killing the macros, but this is just because their scrubber is not strong enough, and actually the macros might even be slowing down the scrubber because the scrubber thinks it has to remove the macros, along with the nutrients in the water and the nuisance algae in the display. However if this works for them, good.

But assuming you have to decide on either a sump/fuge or a scrubber (not both)...

o Filtration with algae is proportional photosynthesis, which is proportional to Light X Air Water Turbulence Flow X Attachment. Meaning, stronger light grows more algae; stronger air/water interface turbulence grows more algae; and stronger attachment lets more algae grow without it detaching and floating away. A scrubber is thus designed to maximize Light, Flow, and Attachment.

o The main problem with macros in a refugium is the self-shading that the macros do. Any part of the macro which is not directly in front of the light at any moment is not filtering. And any macro inside of a "ball" of macro (like chaeto) is self-shaded all the time. Only the surface macro that is directly in front of the light is doing any real filtering. A scrubber is designed to have all the algae in front of the light at all times. Rotating the macro does not solve the problem, because the time that the macro is rotated away from the light is time that the macro is not filtering. This is why it takes a much larger size of chaeto to do the same filtering as a scrubber.

o Self-flow-blocking is another problem of macros in a refugium, for the same reason as light-blocking. And the thicker the "ball" of macro, the worse the flow-blocking.

o Particle trapping is another result of a ball of macro. These particles need to cycle back around to feed the corals, but instead they get trapped in the macro and they rot, and in doing so they block even more flow and light.

o With a scrubber, there is very little water standing in the way of the light. Also, the light is (or should be) very close to the scrubber... 4 inches (10cm) or less. The power of light varies with the inverse square of the distance, so going from 8" to 4" actually gives you 4X the power, not 2X. And the nutrient removal power of algae is proportional to the power of the light, because it's the photosynthesis that is doing the filtering.

o Rapid flow across the algae in a scrubber gives more delivery of nutrients, compared to the slow moving water in a fuge. Filtering is proportion to nutrient flow.

o The turbulence of water moving over the sections of algae in a scrubber help to remove the boundary layer of water around the algae. This boundary layer slows the transfer of metabolites in and out of the algae. There is no turbulence in a fuge (if there were, you'd have waves and bubbles). The interface between the air and water is what provides the most turbulence and boundary layer removal; there is no air/water interface in macros.

o Scrubbers do not let food particles settle like a refugium does; most particles flow right out of the scrubber.

o Scrubbers do not (if cleaned properly) release algal strands into display, like chaeto does.

o Scrubbers do not go sexual, like caulerpa can.

o Scrubbers do grow lots of pods; more than was previously thought, especially if not cleaned with freshwater.

o Scrubbers don't, obviously, provide a place for snails and crabs, etc.

However, if you already have a sump with an empty compartment, and you don't mind using all of it and putting a light over it, then maybe it's easier and cheaper to try macros first.
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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby SantaMonica » Fri Jan 22, 2016 7:33 am

Coming this summer 2016:
Waterfall algae scrubber
Version 2

After I invented the waterfall scrubber in 2008, it's great that so many people got to DIY it, and it's also great that lots of builders/sellers used it as their design up until the current day. It's had over 7 years to gather hobbyists.

2012 was a good year though, when I introduced the upflow scrubber. It's only had 3 years to gather hobbyists, but offers them what they did not have before: a compact place where they can put a scrubber that does not spill over when it fills up.

Now that the upflows are established, it's time to do some more work on the waterfalls. They've been unchanged since 2008, and almost every part of them can be improved. So over the next year or two I'll post up the improvements piece by piece. Hopefully the improvements will be useful to all.
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Re: Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover

Postby SantaMonica » Thu Aug 11, 2016 7:21 am

Here is a waterfall style scrubber in the shape of a pole, that is very very easy to DIY. This type of algae scrubber was created by SantaMonica in 2016 to make DIY versions very easy to build. (The very first waterfall design by SantaMonica was in 2008). It also has a great feature: It cannot clog like other filters can :)

Here is the drawing of the pole waterfall style algae scrubber made with a pvc pipe. If you already have the water pump, and you don't mind taking the time to rough up the outside of the pvc pole, and if the pole is big enough to put the pump inside it, then the pole is the only part that you'll need to buy (the bottom will need to be sealed shut). This means that this pole version can be made with just one part:

Image



The pole sits on the bottom of your sump, and water is pumped into the pole (or pulled into the pole if the pump is inside) so that the water overflows out the top of the pole. Or water can be fed into the pole using the overflow tubing from your display. The further down into the pole you put the overflow tubing, the more even and level the water will flow out of the pole to all parts of the pole. And since the pole has a large opening at the top, it can can never clog up with debris or algal growth.

After overflowing the top of the pole, water flows down the outside of the pole and in doing so makes a thin turbulent air/water interface layer which removes the boundary layers around the algae (meaning it lets you get nearer to the oven as explained in previous articles). The light shines on this turbulence, and grows algae which attaches to the rough surfaces. This growth of course is what removes nutrients from the water because nutrients are what algae consume. Then you just clean the algae off of the pole, and maybe feed some to your fish and snails.

Although any pipe can be used for the pole, white pvc solid NON-PERFORATED pipe of the sewer/drain "SDR-35" type is thin, super cheap, lightweight, and works great. 4" (10cm) diameter is probably the smallest you'd want to use because light from the light bulb will miss a lot of the pole if the pole is smaller. And if you can go bigger, then 5" or 6" (12.5 or 15cm) diameter pipe would catch even more of the light from the bulb, but of course would take a larger water pump. This pipe is readily available at any pipe, plumbing, or irrigation supply store, or online. You can ask them to cut it to length for you, but usually you have to buy a long length and cut it yourself. The pole must be NON-PERFORATED (meaning solid, no holes drilled in it). Google this: 4 inch pvc solid pipe sdr35 custom lengths

The pole should definitely be white, because white reflects the most light back to the algae, effectively doubling the amount of light the algae gets and this keeps the "roots" of the algae alive longer. If the roots die and let go, the algae falls off and you lose your filter. Therefore the pole needs to be very, very rough so that the algae can hang on without being washed away by water. There are 3 basic choices of how to do this, and this step is where you will spend most of your DIY time:

1. A hand drill or Dremel moto-tool with a steel cutter attachment can be used to make the outside of the pole extremely rough like a cactus. This only works with pvc pipe; it does NOT work on acrylic pipe because acrylic does not leave the cactus-like protrusions that you need. Give yourself several hours to do the grinding, and do it outside. You will have a pile of plastic dust on the ground and in your hair, when done.

2. A sheet of white plastic canvas (knitting screen) can be REALLY roughed up by hand with a wood saw blade, and then wrapped around the pole. The screen will need to fit tightly so that water does not go under the screen. You can glue a peg at the bottom of the pole or a hook at the top, for the screen to sit on, or the screen can just slide all the way to to the bottom of the pole and sit there.

3. White aquarium gravel, or course sand, can be epoxied to the outside of the pole. A size of 1 to 3 mm gravel works well, and Devcon 2-ton epoxy or similar will be permanent. It may take several applications to cover the entire distance around the pole, but it will be the roughest thing you've ever made. One way to do it is to put the epoxy on the entire pole and let it harden about half way, then roll it through the gravel.

The water pump needs to be able to supply at least 35 gph per inch (60 lph per cm) of circumference distance around the pole. A 4" pole has a circumference of 4 x 3.14 = 12.6" and thus needs at least 35 x 12.6 = 441 gph of flow out of the top of the pole. Simplified:

GPH Flow out of top of pole = 110 x pole diameter in inches
LPH Flow out of top of pole = 188 x pole diameter in cm

But because of the tallness of the pole, the "head" of the pump needs to be taken into account too. To keep it simple, you could start with a pump that is rated for twice what the calculation says; any extra flow just overflows more, which helps.

The height of the pole above the sump waterline needs to be enough to catch most of the light from the light bulbs or LEDs. Also, the lights might shine down into the sump water and cause unwated algae growth there, so making the pole taller with rough surfaces at just the upper part helps keep the lights farther away from the sump water. A general starting point is the height of the pole should be at least 8" (20cm) above the waterline if this entire 8" is roughed up. So if the water in the sump is 8" deep, then the pole would be 16" (40cm) tall. The pump will have an 8" head to pump up to. 12" above the waterline is probably easier to work with however, because there is more pole to point the lights at.

There is no maximum height that the pole could be, however. If you have a large sump and you want the lights way up high, you could make the pole 36" (90cm) above the sump waterline and rough up the top 24" (60cm) of the pole. Of course this greatly increases the head that the pump must handle, and you will need to watch for water that might "spray out" sideways from the pole when the waterfall hits a big piece of algae. (One solution to this is to lay a sheet of plastic sandwhich wrap over the pole so the water stays behind it).

The base of the pole needs to keep the pole from falling over, and also keep water inside the pole. Two easy ways to do this are either with a sheet of flat plastic glued to the bottom of the pole or with a string attached to the top of the pole that also attaches somewhere to the top of your sump area. If using a string, then a cap will need to be used to seal the bottom of the pole closed. This cap will need to be completely flat, not domed, so that the pole will sit flat. It's hard to tell from online pictures if a cap has a dome or not, so it might be best to buy it at a store. If you use the SDR-35 sewer/drain pole mentioned above in a 4" size, then one cap which works is a 4" number 406 drain cap made by NDS. When turning the water off, the water will drain backwards out of the pump, but if your pump for some reason does not do this then just drill a small hole at the bottom of the pole; it won't affect the pump flow too much. You could plug the hole if you want during normal use.

A neat space saving version is to use a big enough pole that you can put the water pump inside it, and cap off the bottom of the pole; the pump can pull water into the pole through a hole. The pump will act as a weight to keep the pole in-place, and the top of the pole can be tied with a string. The only space that this version takes up is the diameter of the pole. If you want to go real big, say 8" (20cm) diameter with a flat bottom cap and the pump inside, then you probably won't need a plate on the bottom or a string on the top because it will be stable from the weight of the water alone.

Cleaning is the fun part, because all that algae (and nutrients!) gets removed from your water. When new, all algae scrubbers in both salt and freshwater will grow a slime that will need the rough surface taken to a sink or outside to be scraped and sprayed off. In saltwater, after the growth gets thick, you might be able to just pull algae off without taking the rough surface to the sink, but freshwater will always need the rough surface to be scraped and sprayed in a sink or outside because freshwater always grows thin slime that you cannot pull off. So the way you want to clean it will determine what version you should build.

For cleaning, as shown in the picture with a base plate and a separate pump, and if there is no removable screen on the pole, then the pump will need to be disconnected and the pole and base plate lifted out so it can be cleaned in a sink or outside. If the base plate is removable from the pole, then the plate could stay in the sump but removable plates are harder to build. If the water pump is inside the pole, then the whole thing can be taken to your sink or outside. If a removable screen is slid over the pole, then the screen could just be lifted off by itself.

The lights are basically what fits the pole best. LED or CFL plant-grow lights in the red or pink color are good. A 30 watt light about 6" (15cm) from the pole, on one or several sides, should work well. Algae scrubbers and the lights are normally sized based on how much you feed, but for this pole waterfall version the size of the pole is going to determine a lot because it supports everything. A good starting point is two 30 watt lights, one on each side of the pole. The lights can simply be clipped on to any nearby part of your sump or cabinet.

Cleaning is every 7 to 14 days, or when growth is thick. The scraped off growth can be thrown away or put into your garden or lawn, or if it's thick green seaweed from saltwater then some of it can be fed to your dogs and cats. Some can even be fed back to your fish and snails; that's what a lot of them eat naturally.

So happy DIY'ing... and post pics of your build for others to see!
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