Algae Scrubber Basics

Discussion in 'Turbo's Aquatics' started by Turbo's Aquatics, Aug 4, 2011.

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  1. Kevin_E

    Kevin_E Giant Squid

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    You will never need to clean that sheet again.
     
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  3. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Fire Shrimp

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    Yep that's one of the benefits of a scrubber; you can feed you animals from it. And if you choose your animals correctly, you'll never have to manually feed.
     
  4. Todd_Sails

    Todd_Sails Giant Squid

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    Thanks TA and SM for the input.

    I had a little hiccup recently with my scrubber;

    I accidentally poured about a gallon of DT water that was mixed with the Bayers Insecticide- I was going to dip one of my large plating Montis- don't ask how or why-
    but that water was dumped into my sump- and I immediatley realized my mistake- as it went in.
    The only real casualties were my smaller and medium hermits-

    HOwever- the dumping of 1g of a DT water mixed with the Bayers- into my 320g system-
    actually caused most all my algae like on rocks, or the scrubber sheet to turn black- looks like it got burnt.

    So, After 2 x 20% WC's- (50g each)- and running GAC- I bought a few more hermits and Emerald crabs. I increased the photoperiod from 18h/day top 21h/day also-
    trying to get some green growth again.
    Luckily, all corals and fish are fine.

    Todd
     
  5. Turbo's Aquatics

    Turbo's Aquatics 3reef Sponsor

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    I wouldn't even venture to guess why the Bayer Insecticide would cause the algae to turn black, just that it's probably not a good thing, but that is a big "duh" statement there...:eek:
     
  6. Turbo's Aquatics

    Turbo's Aquatics 3reef Sponsor

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    Leave it to Paul B

    Here's a new method for making an algae scrubber screen that, IMO, could very well be a game changer.

    [​IMG]

    It's pretty simple. Smear the screen with a thin coating of a standard mortar mix (like you use for building a brick wall) and then sandwich it between 2 piece of plastic wrap wax paper, and place a wet towel over it. A couple times/day, take the towel and saran wax paper off and spray it with water. Keep doing this for a few days, 2 or 3. The point is to not let the mortar dry, because you want it to cure instead.

    Then, place the screen in water for a few days or a week or something, to soak out the lime and anything else. You're not using much mortar here so it's not a ton of stuff you have to worry about, it's just an extra step.

    Now you're good to go. According to Paul, algae loves mortar. Algae does not have this love affair with plastic, which is why the plastic canvas (in most cases) takes a while to get started growing algae thick and well attached: the material has to "slime up" and then build up a layer of calcification or another material so that the algae can attach well.

    So what happens is that algae will grow very quickly from the mortar. The mortar is not really permanent though, it will flake off as you clean the screen, but this is not relevant. The plastic canvas still has to go through the curing/maturing process for long-term growth, but while this is happening, you get good growth (and filtration!) from the mortar. Over time, growth will transition to the plastic canvas.

    Now, my recommendation for preparing the screen is simple - it's what I do now for my "first stage" of roughing up. I use a wire brush drill bit (the center-crimp kind) and a good drill, running at a low to medium-low speed. I run the bit back and forth with only light pressure (I'm not pushing down and smashing the bit into the screen). I go left-right, then up-down, then diagonal, then the other diagonal. Flip the screen and repeat. That should be good enough for mortar now.

    The 2nd stage of roughing that I do involves using a saw blade in small overlapping circles. I'm not sure this is necessary anymore, or maybe it's not just as critical.
     
  7. Turbo's Aquatics

    Turbo's Aquatics 3reef Sponsor

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    I installed my mortar screen today. Here's my last screen cleaning, using the original screen (in use for probably 2+ years, I would have to look back to see when I actually put it into use)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So it's not like that wasn't working well....

    Here's the new screen

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I shot a bunch of video while I was making this screen (made 4 actually) and I"ll be throwing that up on YouTube soon.

    Basically, I roughed up the screen initially with my stage 1 process as usual, which is a wire brush drill attachment. This preps the screen to better accept the mortar, otherwise, it slides off really easily.

    I taped off the top edge of the screen (that gets inserted into the slot) plus the next 2 rows prior to the stage 1 rough-up, then I took that off and cut the screen down to it's final size. Then, I added the tape back to protect the top edge from mortar.

    I slathered on the mortar really thick, like 1/4" all over the screen, then flipped it and "massaged" it so that it pushed up through the other side, making sure to coat the entire screen.

    Then I used a toothbrush and squeegeed off the bulk of the mortar, which left the holes filled in but the screen pattern showing.

    After that, I held it over a garbage can and used the toothbrush to swipe the loose mortar off the screen, flipped the screen and brushed more, and repeated that about a half dozen times. The result was what you see in the pics above: the mortar and the fine particles of the mix were stuck to the screen, with only a small percentage of the holes filled in. Most of the sandy/grainy particles got brushed away.

    Next, I sandwiched this between 2 pieces of wax paper, put it in a container (sterilite bin) and placed a wet hand towel on it. I let it cure for 2 days, spritzing it with water once or twice/day. I was surprised that the mortar was very flexible and not at all brittle by this point. I expected to hear crackling when I bent the screen, but it flexed right with the screen.

    I placed the screen in a 5g bucket with RODI and changed that water after 4-5 days. Soaked a total of 7 days, then swished it in the bucket (not much came off) and then ran it under tap water and scrubbed it a bit with a toothbrush. I thought a good amount of mortar would come loose when I did that, but it's really stuck on there like glue, hardly any came off at all.

    I put it in the scrubber, but I had to remove my false bottom because I forgot about a dimensional difference. All in all, I'm impressed with how easy this was. Way better than roughing up the screen with a saw blade!
     
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  9. Todd_Sails

    Todd_Sails Giant Squid

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    So that's the 'mortar screen'?
    I googled it and found that there is a 'mortar/grout' plastic screen used for- well, bonding things with mortar and grout.
    then I actually saw this post and see you actually made a screen with mortar coating?
    FWIW, this seems more labor intensive than when I 'roughed up' my screen.
    (I actually had my friend 'Tony' rough it up for a while)- get it?

    You're the pro at this- I'll stay with my current screen, and actually look into this
    mortar/grout screen- have you seen this stuff? Then you heard it here first from me!

    Scrub on!
     
  10. Turbo's Aquatics

    Turbo's Aquatics 3reef Sponsor

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    Read post 105 where it's mentioned that mortar grows algae quickly. Most rouged up plastic screens take 4-6 weeks to mature. This has the potential to reduce the start-up (maturing) time needed.

    As far as being more intensive...for one screen, maybe. For multiple screens, I'll take it. I take 15-20 minutes to rough up a 4x12 screen. I've made 300+ screens and I rough them up very thoroughly. Probably way past what most would consider good enough...and it wears out my arm and shoulder. But that's just me.

    The wise, it takes maybe 10 minutes between stage 1 and mortar, the rest is a few minutes/day for a few days, then a week in a bucket. The biggest benefit is more immediate results upon use.
     
  11. Turbo's Aquatics

    Turbo's Aquatics 3reef Sponsor

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  12. Todd_Sails

    Todd_Sails Giant Squid

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    I'm still struggling with getting mine to grow thick GHA like yours/most. I get some though.
    My next mods to mine will be to drill small holes and hang the neeldpoint screen under- not putting it a slot- I know you have spoke of this as well.
    Also, to get some of the LED grow lights off ebay

    I'm actually getting good GHA growth off of the saran wrap I put over the top to reduce/eliminate the side splash-it actually grows good on there! You or I might try and screen on saran wrap hanging vertically to see results?