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My Observations after a year of scrubbing.

Discussion in 'General Aquarium Discussion' started by Ricky, Feb 2, 2013.

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  1. Ricky

    Ricky Member Trusted Member Multiple Units! Customer

    Ok well.. here are my observations over a year of scrubbing and trying many things.

    I ran scrubber only system over a year.. not one waterchange.. only Kalk additions for CA and ALK. And I enjoyed it. My nutrients where low and i was able to keep every coral imaginable. I was able to wow a ton of people on how simple my set up was yet how great it looked. Horray the scrubber...


    In the last couple of months I'm slowly moving into SPS ONLY tank (last lps will be picked up tomorrow) and I'm starting to add some of the high end acros I absolutely LOVE!!.. lol.. The kind of acro that you are excited to receive.. then you add them all up and have about 2 inches of coral.. haha.

    Well anyway. then I started noticing that my color was starting to fade, and even though growth was good, everything was browning up a bit.. Ran test and everything was perfect.. Then I started noticing a decrease in polyp extension... my lps and zoos looking great.. but my sps not so much.

    So I was talking to a fellow hobyst that I respect for his years in the hobby, and he mention something interesting.. I said hey bud.. I have poor PE in the last three months.. He said.. "Its because they are full".. hmm.. so I started thinking and it made sence..

    The increase nutrients where throwing off the Zooxanthellae relationship with the polyp.. (he explained but thats all i got.)

    SO I added a skimmer (hated them with a passion.. ask GARF!).. And within a week my PE was back.. then My colors started coming back... so I said.. hmm.. I like where this is going.. and I added a bag of carbon.. BANG.. the clearest water I have ever seen!.. I wanted to drink it... OH ... and the scrubber started growing the greenest algae I've ever had.

    SO after a year of scrubbing my verdict is the following:

    Scrubber is a great form of filtration. And in a zoo and lps tank I would have nothing but a scrubber running..

    In an SPS tank.. It is a super powerful filter.. but I would never run it alone again.

    My winning combo in an SPS tank: Good Scrubber, Good Skimmer and good Carbon.

    I do not get the super fast growth I got with scrubber only.. but the coloration and water clarity makes the wait worth it.

    Thanks for listening..

    Now here are a few pics of my SPS only 60g cube.. (more like a frag tank right now)










  2. Turbo

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

    There was a discussion about this on the "browning" thread on the AS site, it was pretty technical. But I think your friend nailed it - the polyps do not extend / turn brown because they are receiving more food than they can process, is that right?

    So the does the scrubber-only system does leave so much more food in the water column that the polyps don't need to extend? In that case, would increasing the DT light (an ultra-high light system?) fix the issue?

    I had a conversation with Derek of Beef's Reef once and he used to run a tank that was super packed with corals and way over lit, and he fed a ton and had stellar growth and no algae. Everyone thought he was crazy that he fed so much but he had so many fish and corals that everything was consumed.

    I have to wonder if SPS corals can take more light intensity when more food is available.

    But regardless...Ricky...excellent information!!
  3. Ricky

    Ricky Member Trusted Member Multiple Units! Customer

    OH and I forgot to mention cyano Issue.. been fighting it for months.. when added skimmer it disappeared overnight.

    Dont know the answer to those questions bud.. I just now that corals tell a story. after all arent we here to grow beautifull coral not beautiful hair algae?.. lol
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  4. Ace25

    Ace25 Member Trusted Member

    You nailed it... BUT, I believe you can do without the skimmer as long as you keep up on carbon replacement. Carbon will do a much better job and removing the same stuff a skimmer will (if you really hate the skimmer and don't want to run it).

    Algae created oils, lipids, bacteria plankton, all stuff that gets absorbed through the flesh of corals. Carbon is like a sponge to that stuff. So remove the food that the corals can absorb, and they will need to extend their polyps to catch food.
  5. Redfish

    Redfish Member Customer

    Thanks for posting Ricky, where you are at right now in your tank is where I want to be in a year or so, that's why I am getting a Scrubber for my tank. I tried SPS corals without a Scrubber, didn't work out to well, am hoping the Scrubber will get me over the edge and onto a SPS tank. Have a local reefer who post in this forum at times, have read several of his post. He has/had and will be getting another large tank, pretty much mostly SPS tank. He ran a L4 Scrubber, GFO Pellets, a larger skimmer and did weekly water changes. He had it all working together and had a beautiful, healthy SPS tank, one of, if not the nicest looking SPS tanks in our area.
  6. Garf

    Garf Member Trusted Member

    Ricky, excellent result. I can confirm that you were a skimmerphobe :)

    Edit - If anyone doubts that a skimmer (or in fact bubbles on screen scrubbers), has any influence on the environment in a glass box, I have copied a small excerpt from a thread I initiated on the scrubber site;

    "Just to keep this thread alive, a few quotes from Randy Holmes Farley;

    I'd also want a skimmer for aeration in my setup. While an ATS can add O2 when lit, it cannot bring in CO2, but rather depletes it, so it may not be optimal if you use limewater and have a need to bring in CO2. It also does not bring in O2 if the light is off, but rather depletes it.
    I think it is just that many proce4sses lead to organics in the water, including those released from algae, but certainly other sources too. SO if you do not have a way to export them, like skimming or GAC, the organics and yellowing build up over time. Certainly, any dead algae would contribute to it.
    just watch that the pH does not get too high if you do not have a skimmer providing aeration."
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  7. sabbath

    sabbath Member Trusted Member Customer

    How about trying air injection into the scrubber and then just carbon without a skimmer? Also Turbo's idea of upping the light a little.

    Sent from my mobile

  8. Garf

    Garf Member Trusted Member

    Crashmushroom runs his tank like this with no problems as far as I know.
  9. Ricky

    Ricky Member Trusted Member Multiple Units! Customer

    With all due respect to Garf and his research, I didn't like the bubbles on the screen .. it created foam in my sump that made everything dirty... And I don't think its as efective as the skimmer with aeration... I am however using his Idea of growing algae through the screen.. did my first cleaning on one side last night.

    I skim very dry, so I think there is still plenty food in the water for corals. But I don't think carbon does anything for aeration. Another thing to consider Is that I use Vinegar in my kalk.. I dose 15ml a day. I've read a good skimmer is necessary when dosing vinegar.
  10. Garf

    Garf Member Trusted Member

    I agree Ricky, the bubbles on a screen does aerate the screen but does nothing to remove "excess" DOC (unless you consider gunking up the side of the tank as removal).The addition of carbon may benefit some tanks, running bubbles on a screen. The fact that these DOCs build up over time,indicates to me,that they are not as readily consumed by the inhabitants as we are lead to believe.Personally, I like the part time skimmer approach, as you can run a really rubbish skimmer full or part time just to remove the worst offending substances (i found running it for a few days at the end of each growing cycle works ok).That brings me to conclude that a combined skimmer/scrubber unit (DIY) is probably best to investigate next. Like I say, the skimmer would be more like an aerater and wouldn't offend the "leave it in the water" set too much, but have all the benefits of running a skimmer. Btw, I do not believe UAS are an option, so won't be going down that route.
  11. sabbath

    sabbath Member Trusted Member Customer

    I just threw one of my shelved Hog.5 UAS at my frag tank that is plumbed with my DT. My thought is that it will provide the air exchange. Not figuring on seeing any growth but set the led for 8 hrs a day just in case.
  12. Turbo

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

    I am planning to re-build the sump at the dentist's office and allow incorporation of carbon and possibly bring a small skimmer back into the system. The sump was my first acrylic build, and it is showing signs of it's limitations, plus it was designed around the behemoth scrubber of back in the day.
  13. crashmushroom

    crashmushroom Member Customer

    The man speaks sense :) have to agree with all of the above as i have experienced it twice in two different tanks now.
  14. Ricky

    Ricky Member Trusted Member Multiple Units! Customer

    I do not like the UAS I would not try one in any of my tanks again garf.

    I must say this guys.. I cut down on feeding and have noticed slower growth. I wanna feed more but it seems dumb to remove it immediately with such a huge skimmer. I'm using a reef octopus nw150 on a 60 cube. was thinking maybe feed at night the blended oysters and skim during the day?... any ideas or thoughts?
  15. crashmushroom

    crashmushroom Member Customer

    I am also interested to know when is the best time to skim and best time to feed?
  16. Turbo

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

    I would think a schedule like this would work:

    Skimmer cycle: On at 2-4 hours before DT lights on. Off after 6-8 hours of running.

    Carbon cycle: 24/7 or not at all

    Scrubber cycle: Lights on 1 hour after DT lights out, on for necessary time depending on system (usually 9 hours for LED)

    Feed tank 1-2 hours before lights out.

    So the idea here is that you strip the water of food via skimmer & carbon, and when the lights come on the polyps come out looking for food and make for a good display. Then you feed the tank and let everyone consume, lights out and let the consumption continue when the corals invert and go to war, then strip the water again to make everyone hungry.

    I actually had a conversation yesterday with a guy in our club that is running an L2 on his frag tank (he was selling frags, now getting out) and this is basically what he does and he says it works awesome.
  17. Ricky

    Ricky Member Trusted Member Multiple Units! Customer

    interesting.. I would think corals eat mostly at night.. therefore skimming during the day and feeding at night world make more sense .... .... .... im drained.. lol
  18. Ricky

    Ricky Member Trusted Member Multiple Units! Customer

    wait thats what u just said right
  19. Ricky

    Ricky Member Trusted Member Multiple Units! Customer

    ok so hows this... lights out at 12 pm (yes I like to actually see the tank after work).. so I would feed some oysrer mix at 10 or 11.

    then scrubber on at 1 am. the scrubber wil produce food for the tank along with my feeding. scrubber on for 9 hrs till 10am.

    at that point skimmer on. from 10 am till about 8 pm.

    sounds perfect.. I run my skimmer lineoutside for ph. so there will always be somethin on.. either the lights, the scrubber, or the skimmer to stabilize ph... love it.

    my only question is whats the rationale of running carbon with scrubber.. why not with skimmer.
  20. Turbo

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

    Not sure what your question is?

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