Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover Replaces Skimmer, Refugium, Everythin

Discussion in 'I made this!' started by SantaMonica, Aug 9, 2008.

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  1. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Fire Shrimp

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    cuttingras: Correct, there is no metal; the edges are plastic (they come with the tank divider). Yes the first-stage green hair algae will find it and grow on it, but if you have some you can rub it in to speed up the process. However the second-stage brown/red turf algae (which is the real powerhouse filter) will take a few months. You can order pre-grown screens with the brown/red turf from IA, that I posted above, which sostoudt also linked.

    sostoudt: Yes I put it on several forums since many people only use one. I'm not with IA, I just ordered a seeded screen from them a month ago, and it started working immediately (brought N and P to zero in a week).

    Reeron: Yes it could go by other names; the concept is not new, just the bucket is.

    Otty: Correct, I'm not the first to use turf; it was a well-established filter for aquariums in the 70's (I state this in my previous posts). I just thought of putting it in a bucket. As for no-skimmer, I believe the story is that Morgan at IA has very nice SPS, and only uses turf. Me personally?... I only like LPS and softies.
     
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  3. amcarrig

    amcarrig Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Moved to the DIY forum as it is more appropriate there.
     
  4. Tangster

    Tangster 3reef Sponsor

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    LOL the old algae scrubber you say :) Its just like the DSB of the 90's it was and has been done infarct about 5 yrs ago I was digging out a skimmer and U/V to fight the Byropsis the boss had in her 90 for 4 yrs , But I took the bucket from my old scrubber brought the bucket it up here to Ct 5 yrs ago since it had the bulkhead already in there and I put a float in the top and set it on the sink counter and used it as a reservoir for the R/O now its long gone trash as a old bucket with a hole in it :)
    You must have dug way back into the way back machine for this one . The only difference this time unlike the first time you are touting it as a total filtration system ? So I'll put to you the same questions I asked of the DSB god once unless you have found some magical key to the natural Kingdom you will need a filter of some sore to run carbon for the removal of the chlorophylls and a skimmer to remove the DOC's . Like the DSB it will need help. I like my refugiums better. There I have deep sand to feed and house the sand fauna and I have the plants to export and the natural Nitrate reduction is limited but noticeable not to mention the little extra natural buffering offed as the aragonite goes into dissolution with the water..

    First ones I saw and made where about 1980 or so , Maybe you have found the keys ? It worked well then as it would not but not as a total stand alone need nothing to supplement filtration system . Ever seen a storm and sea foam ? Skimmers will always be needed to some extent or another.. Don't get caught up in that idea.. Its all about moderation and some of all never put all your eggs in one basket was what I learned as a kid you may stumble leaving the chicken house :) Good luck and keep us informed , But I'll keep my simple old fuge and skimmer the algae scrubber was O.K but lacked the benefits of a refugium .
     
  5. cuttingras

    cuttingras Starving Artist :)

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    well there ya go lol
     
  6. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Fire Shrimp

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    Yes, as I mentioned in my post, a lot of the mechanisms of turf have indeed been on the forums for a while. I read most of them going back to 2000, and a few alt.rec.aquaria ones back to '93. And I also gathered info from those who used turf in the past, or read Dynamic Aquaria, which thereby brings us back to the '70s for using turf in aquariums. The "new" part, however, is just putting the turf into a bucket, and doing it for (basically) free. The only commercial turf unit you can buy today cost $3,000 USD, and is bigger than most tanks itself. Since basically nobody is going to spend that, and because it's so big, there has been no talk of turf in the last few years, and therefore folks new to reefs don't know about turf at all. Kinda like if there were a new type of skimmer that only cost $30 but outperformed every other type including becketts, but nobody was talking about it. The purpose of me posting is to get new folks involved, without making it too technical, so that we can all benefit from what can be learned about the turf. I left the technical stuff on the original RC post.

    As for sole-filtration, like I am currently running, using carbon once a month or so to remove allelopathics will fix any (theoretical) yellowing that occurs. I say theoretical because for some reason, most folks who have been using turf in the last five years, including me now, have not seen yellowing. It seems to be mostly the folks previous to the last five years that say they experienced/saw it. Nevertheless, you need monthly carbon anyways for the allelopathics, so it's not something extra that is needed. In my original post I say that turf can eliminate carbon, and of course by this I mean ongoing daily carbon use where the purpose of the carbon is to remove organics.

    DOC's: Maybe you can explain why they need to be removed. My understanding is that anything carbon based, at least for our purposes, is food for someone or something. I do compare turf to DSB's above; I got rid of my DSB, for the current reason being that it only processes N, while turf does N and P. True, turf does not help with alk. Fauna: copepods and amphipods do grow in the turf (so much that they have to be removed), and since a turf bucket is so light, you have the option of hanging it above your tank so the pods drain to your display. Of course I'm not including the fuge vs. turf comparisons of size, weight, and cost. Storm sea-foam: My reading about this as an analogy to skimmers is that the tiny amount of foam on the shore makes no difference to size of the ocean, plus, the foam doesn't go anywhere... just goes on shore and washes back. My readings have all uncovered that the vast amount of filtering in the ocean is by algae, and turf in particular. Details and numbers are in the RC technical post.

    There is one thing you mentioned that is indeed bad about turf sole filtration... redundancy. If it goes down, and it's your only filter, then what? Well, since buckets are so cheap, I'd say one option is to just get two. The only real gamble is the pump (if you choose a version that uses a pump) which could go out, but then your return pump could go out too. Having two 2-gal buckets instead of one 5-gal might be an option. But of course there are the turf versions in the sump, which require no pump. And I guess somebody could also say, "what if your skimmer goes out?".
     
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  7. Tangster

    Tangster 3reef Sponsor

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    Well like I said unless you have some magical algae ? Maybe you do I don't now But I ran this exact same deal for about a yr did not take care of all my needs , Then I went to a flat flume like deal with wall's to funnel water pretty much like I ad for clam breeding water went in the feed or starting point of then ran back and forth along the 4 in wall corridor like a maze until it ran out into the sump this allowed for more matting and surface area and only 3 in deep water made for more and brighter light unlike the vertical screen My filter was 1 ft wide and 4 ft long and had 3 walled dividers and I had pvc shower pan lining 3inches wide and 16 ft long along the entire system it worked well but I had to run a PO4 reactor and a nitrate coil I also lifted the mats out replaced with a clean one and bleached soaked then until the rotated back in to the trough/flume .

    I even went so far to make a acrylic box about the size of a 20L I made it to fit the perforated tank dividers plates you use I was thinking maybe it the vertical deal that made the difference a it was exposed to far more oxygenating of the algae ? I did not know really I was just thinking out side the box But the box I made held a hanging plate every 2 inches and I had a drip bar over each one still never did the complete job . I never got away with out using a skimmer or PO4 reactor and carbon and nitrate coil plus I had to maintain algae mats :) I like to lighten my load where I can not add to it plus the slits on the bars will need soaking and cleaning also . I wish you all the best and I hope you did fine the magic bullet ? But I'll not toss my skimmer and carbon and PO4 and NO3 reactors away just yet .

    Don't get me wrong the algae scrubbers did help But they did not do the entire job with keeping the level in total check. Plus I had mats to soak and clean then dry and then put back in . Like I said I threw the bucket away when I was finished with it as a water resevouir and the Flume I made I gave it away to a guy I knew and I think he tried to get it to work 100% for a while but never did his systems either. Plus as I mentioned a refugium offers more to the system then just lowering waste from the water.. Oh the bucket or box is new either :) Like bell bottoms its been here gone and bck again. Just like a DSB's of the late 60's early 70's they guys in the mid 90's really thought they had found the keys to the magic kingdom But hey maybe for you as i said it will work ? let us know in a yr or so .
     
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  9. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Fire Shrimp

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    I don't think turf is magical, except for the fact that it processes the highest amount of N and P per unit space than any other algae, and anything else in the ocean for that matter. After reading that fact several times, I wondered why turf has basically had zero use/discussion/testing in the last few years.

    I think you are referring to a dumping-mechanism ATS that you had in the past. If this is correct and you had a dumping ATS, and you also had Bryopsis, do you remember your N and P readings?

    Then you tried a "flat flume" version, which I think is like a trough or a rain gutter. You said

    I'm not sure that you had the right algae growing. This may have been the problem. The current understanding of turf filtering is that the key is to grow real turf, which is reddish/brown in color, and stiff like astro turf in texture, and to remove the green hair/slime algae that grows first and/or on top of the turf. In otherwords, green hair/slime is not turf; it's a nuisance algae in this application, and it prevents the real turf from getting light and flow. And it's this green stuff that "matts" on top of the turf.

    What happens sometimes (or what happened to folks who tried turf in the past), is that they thought that the green algae was just a different type of "turf". So they left it, and it matts down. But it's not turf. It's a nuisance algae covering the real turf. However it grows much faster and longer than the turf. This explains why it's the first algae to grow on a new un-seeded screen, and why even if you buy a pre-grown screen, the screen seems to morph from brownish/red into green.

    But it's not morphing; it being smothered by the green. So for a screen that is less than a few months old, instead of scraping weekly all the algae off the screen, instead you should be "scrubbing" the green algae off of the turf algae (thereby leaving the turf). While the green is good in and of itself (it does do some filtering, and it will be the first to grow on a new screen), it does not compare to real red/green turf.

    The trick is to keep the green hair/slime off of the turf so the turf does not get shaded. It's really easy to scrub the green off, like washing your hair. Just run tap water over it, and scrub with your fingernail. The green comes right off, and turf stays on (you'll need more than your fingernails to remove real turf.) You should hold off doing an actual scraping of the turf until the screen is completely full of it, and even then consider just scraping part of the turf at a time.

    So if you indeed were letting green algae grow and matt down, and not removing it so real turf could grow, then yes I'd agree with you that you probably were not getting enough filtering since green algae has no more processing power than chaeto or caulerpa.

    This is interesting; maybe you could clarify. I know you never would want to dry out your turf screen because that would kill it. What was it that you called "matts"? Also, you never mentioned if/when you did scrapings. Weekly would have been the standard back then, although now it's known that you just need to "scrub" the screen often to remove the green. Actual scraping of real red/brown turf are not needed as often.

    Yes this does seen similar to the bucket, and actually is almost exactly like my original proposed design that I posted on the technical thread on RC. However the unknown here is how you handled the algae on those screens; Did you (1) clean the green off every few days so real turf could grow? Or did you (2) completely scrape them down every week? Or, did you (3) not scrub or scrape them at all? If (2) then you would have only have partial N and P removal; no more than a fuge. If (3), then you would have no N and P removal at all. Only (1) will allow real turf to perform as desired.

    Part of the beauty of turf-in-a-bucket is that there is no risk, and it doesn't cost anything. If you try it and it doesn't reduce N and P, then throw it away. It won't harm coral or kill fish, and it won't change the design of your plumbing. Thus, it's not really necessary to wait a year to see if it "works". Unlike DSB's, which the entire reef has to be designed around, a turf bucket is just a plug-in accessory. A DSB is a slowly changing building block of the entire system, and if it breaks you have a huge and expensive task (like I did) of removing it and re-designing your filtering to make up for it. Not so with turf-in-a-bucket. You build it in an hour (if you are a handyman) or a day (if you are not), and you spend a few dollars on some plastic. Then it either fixes your N and P, or it doesn't, presuming of course that you properly scrub off the green algae weekly, and let the real red/brown turf grow properly.

    Anyways, it's nice that you have experience with some of this stuff; I'm sure it will only help others as they try to figure out the big picture: How to remove N and P, without removing all the "food" in the process.
     
  10. chrisg

    chrisg Spanish Shawl Nudibranch

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    Very interesting!

    You mention the bucket should hang above? Does it work as well if it is below in the cabinet?
     
  11. gazog

    gazog Kole Tang

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    What he said is it is light and could be put above the tank and flow back into the tank instead of pumping water back into the tank.
     
  12. Jason McKenzie

    Jason McKenzie Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I've seen Turf scrubbers used on very large scale. In 90G buckets. They do a fantastic job when combined with a good quality skimmer and carbon.

    J
     
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