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Algae scrubber on 150 gallon cichlid tank

Discussion in 'Customer Support' started by Southpaw007, Jul 31, 2017.

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  1. Southpaw007

    Southpaw007 New Member

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    I am installing a 150g aquarium into a wall. I am from saltwater and set that algae scrubbers are kings IMO/IME. I am wanting to put a algae scrubber in the sump to keep nutrients down. Any thoughts on this for keeping nutrients down and next to 0 like in saltwater?

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  2. Turbo

    Turbo Does not really look like Johnny Carson Staff Member Site Owner Multiple Units! Customer

    I have a few customers who run my scrubbers on FW. As with everything else FW vs SW, they work completely different!

    I recently had an inquiry about this, and this is what I wrote (the question was for a planted tank, so you can ignore those comments):

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    So - related to FW in general, I've found that Algae Scrubbers operate/grow quite a bit differently in FW vs SW. Specifically, the algae is very fine (like human hair), does grow rather fast, but due to the fine-ness it is dense and either tends to block like to the base and detach, or it just doesn't easily attach in the first place and breaks loose easily

    Also, FW algae tends to stain the water green, like if you run the effluent through a filter sock, it turns green really fast

    My users have found that in order to get the algae to grow fast enough to be effective at reducing the need for other maintenance, you have to run the lights at full power, 24/7, and some have reported that this tends to add some heat to the system unless you draw it away with a fan (off the heat sinks, in the case of my units). This also depends on the size unit you get.

    The next part is the Planted Tank aspect. Since an algae scrubber is a plant, it can tend to compete with the plants. So this is a bit of a balancing act. The algae on the scrubber can be beneficial in the way that it might compete primarily with other algae in the tank and/or on the plants, but the plants themselves might not experience quite as much competition.

    The major benefit of my units in particular is that the LEDs have built-in dimming on multiple levels, which allows you to tweak the spectrum and intensity to match exactly what you need. Every other scrubber out there that relies on off-the-shelf fixtures is generally 100% or 0%, and DIY type fixtures are similar unless you get a dimmable driver.

    My lights have a built-in on-board 3-channel driver for each pair of boards, so for each pair of LED boards, you have 2 red channels (of 6 LEDs each) and one Violet channel (4 LEDs), and each of those has a dedicated surface-mounted potentiometer that you can adjust. Then, all of these are controlled by a single external potentiometer. It's not as complicated as it sounds, I pre-set the reds to 100% and the violets to 50%, then the external knob dims them all at that ratio through the entire range...it's just that you can further tweak the violet/red ratio relative to each other if you want, that's all.

    The main point is that you can dim and run long hours to get more consistent water conditions, and this might be the biggest advantage for a planted tank.

    The ideal location is on top of a sump, in the stand, because the simplest installation is using a dedicated pump. But there are many options for installation

    Sorry for the rambling, lots of thoughts here! Overall, scrubbers seem to work best on SW tanks but that doesn't exclude them from being used on FW, I just like to be totally up front about the +'s and -'s of scrubbers on freshwater tanks.

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    The dimming aspect may or may not matter for a non-planted tank, it will help during startup but I don't think it's quite as critical, FW algae seems to seed rather quickly.

    I have one customer who runs 3 of my scrubbers on cichlid tanks, and the comments about running them 24/7 on full blast and adding heat come from feedback from him. But, they did do the trick regarding cutting the nutrient load down, I think he was still doing PWCs but they weren't as aggressive. It all comes back to how heavily you stock and feed.
     
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  3. Southpaw007

    Southpaw007 New Member

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    how bad is the coloring of the water? If I ran carbon would it be removed? I am really wanting one to put on the tank. The heat shouldn't be a problem, I don't think. I am mainly worried about the water coloration because I am weird about keeping my water crystal clear. As long as they help with the nutrients a decent amount I am sold.

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  4. Turbo

    Turbo Does not really look like Johnny Carson Staff Member Site Owner Multiple Units! Customer

    A filter sock and carbon should do the trick, I would think. You might want to rig up a cheapo DIY one just to try it out for sure.
     
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  5. Southpaw007

    Southpaw007 New Member

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    On a differnt note I was talking to Santa Monica filtration about this... and he said they do not discolor the water at all. I didn't respond but I figured I would check with you also because I like the truth.

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  6. Turbo

    Turbo Does not really look like Johnny Carson Staff Member Site Owner Multiple Units! Customer

    I'm just going based on what I've heard from people using waterfall scrubbers, it's entirely possible that the waterfall action causes some kind of effect that is not caused by a submerged system like a UAS. Or, it could just not be as noticeable.

    Discoloration of the water is sometimes difficult to notice until you do a side-by-side comparison with tap water or RODI. I've seen a slight discoloration of SW over time when doing no water changes, but it's nothing compared to the discoloration issues that have historically been associated with the dump-bucket version from back in the day. But that's saltwater...

    What I can tell you is that placing a filter sock on the outlet of a SW scrubber does not result in a green coloration of the filter sock, not at all (at least, I've never personally seen it, and don't recall seeing anyone else posting that). I have seen several examples of a filter sock on a FW scrubber causing significant discoloration, very quickly. There are probably many cases where this is true, but it's just not noticed because FW tanks tend to get frequent and large water changes - I used to do 40-60% a week on my FW planted tank using a Python hooked up to the faucet, just pour in the Prime and fill 'er up.
     

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