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Algae Scrubbers, an Interview with Santa Monica

Posted on Saturday, May 28th, 2011 at 3:59 pm by
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After the overwhelming response to our recently published article regarding algae scrubbers, we decided to do a followup. In a recent interview, Reef Tools posed Bryan, “Santa Monica” from with the following questions.

1. First off, how long have you been using algae scrubbers?

August of 2011 will be 3 years. No waterchanges in that time, even when I overdosed iron.

2. Obviously algae scrubbers have been around for a while, what makes your new way of scrubbing any different from the previous methods of scrubbing?

The “new” way is the waterfall. It’s mostly a simple way to grow algae, which does the filtering.

3. What were the problems that surged from the old style scrubbers, and how have you modified scrubbing to get the kinks out?

The complexity of the old style was almost impossible to build. And, learning that you have to remove the screen for cleaning; this will keep the water from tinting (although it will still have lots of food particles in it.)

4. Now I know you are into no water changes while running a scrubber, why do you suggest that this is acceptable while running a scrubber?

Because it’s how a real reef operates. There are no waterchanges on a reef; algae does all the filtering, and feeding. The beach does nothing for filtration. So as long as you add Cal, Alk and Mag, and maybe Str. Everything else you need is in the food you feed.

5. What about trace elements, such as amino acids, iron, strontium, etc. etc., is scrubbing something that needs to be supplemented with dosing?

All the traces you need are in the food you feed, too, especially if you feed Nori (lots of iron). All the food, and traces, and anything else edible in the ocean comes from algae. Ask your nearest marine biologist, and he / she will confirm this.

6. So in your opinion, what are the keys to optimal scrubber filtering for a tank?

Having bright light (even distributed) on both sides of a rough screen, with fast flowing water across the screen. Weekly cleaning too.

7. Finally, what would you say to someone who is on the fence about whether or not to try running an algae scrubber on their tank?

Build a simple, cheap one (of the proper size), and see if it reduces your nutrients.

A lot of people asked us to showcase some popular designs. Here are a few that Bryan considers to be “Very Good Examples: These pics are the way you want to make yours. No changes needed. These will provide the most filtering possible.”

Wavecookies on the scrubber site built the best DIY non-acrylic scrubber Bryan has seen yet. Wide screens, big reflectors, and multiple bulbs are always better, and this has all three:

A cool quad design from Vykhang on the scrubber site:

For more examples and info, please visit this thread.

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