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FAQs on Algal Filtration 2

Related Articles: Algae Scrubber Input/Update by Bryan, How to make a simple Algae Turf Scrubber (ATS), By Simon Trippick, Nutrient Control and ExportMarine Set-Up, An Introduction to Reef Systems, Refugiums, Reef FiltrationMarine System PlumbingMarine Aquarium Set-Up Moving AquariumsMarine Biotope, Marine Landscaping, Related FAQs: Algal Filtration 1, FAQs on: Algal Filtration Rationale/Science, Algal Filter Design, Algal Filtration Lighting, Algal Filter Install, Algal Filter Operation/Maintenance, Algae Filters as Food Sources, Algal Turf Scrubbers (ATS) Filters, Algal Filter Troubles/Fixes, & Mud/Algal Filtration, Reef Set-Up, Reef Set-Up 2, Reef Set-Up 3, Reef Set-Up 4, Reef Set-Up 5, Reef Maintenance, Sumps/Filters, Sumps/Filters 2, Marine System PlumbingMarine Aquarium Set-UpLive RockLive Sand, Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, Fish-Only Marine Systems 2, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large SystemsBest Marine Set-Up FAQs 1, Best FAQs 2, Marine Set-Up 1

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Algae Turf Scrubber opinion/recommendation        4/8/15
Dear WWM,
First thank you for your service. I've read thru the subjects I'm interested in but have not found answers specific enough.
My tank specifics: 120 Gallon display tank (DT), 8" remote deep sand bed (RDSB) with 12 Gal. of water, and 20 Gal. Sump with 200 micron sock, protein skimmer, granulated activated carbon (GAC), granulated ferric oxide (GFO). My tank is approx. 4 months old, I use an LED lighting system over the DT. Stable parameters: Alk 8.848, Cal. 402, Mag. 1500, Nitrate 0.2, Phosphate undetectable (but obviously there), pH 8.2, Temp. 76.7, salinity 1.026.
I have attempted to grow Chaeto, twice, without success in the sump. I have a gentle flow with a 60W CFL grow bulb (300W equivalent) on a 8 hour timer.
The Chaeto simply breaks apart over time into nothing, and commonly ends up in the DT or filter sock, so I removed it. I will not attempt again (unless advised).
<I am a fan if there's summat to collect...>
However, I have noticed green hair algae growing quite well in areas throughout the system. I think an algae turf scrubber (ATS) may work to help remove these trace nutrients.
<Could>

A few WWM staff though have made negative comments about their use. A consensus from the group and
recommendations/opinions would be helpful in weighing the pros/cons.
1) Does an ATS increase GHA sporulation/available spores resulting in possible GHA outbreak/system crash in the event of sudden nutrient increase (like crash of RDSB?)
<Tends to decrease; sometimes hugely>
2) In your opinion is Chaeto a better nutrient export than GHA?
<Can be; yes... given "propitious circumstances">

3) If nutrients were too low to grow Chaeto, should growth of GHA indicate an easier way to export nutrients?
<Not necessarily, no. Could well be some other deficiency at work... often Potassium>
4) Could my parameters have hindered the Chaeto growth?
<Oh yes; quite common>
5) Iron dosing would increase growth of all algae in the system, correct?
<Not necessarily; again; depends on if this is limited, limiting>
6) Can green tint associated with an ATS be removed by using ozone vs. GAC?
<Yes; but not as readily>
7) Can an ATS cause steady destabilization of the system, eventually causing a crash/algae bloom?
<Rarely; but have seen this>

8) My experience with my previous system inclines me to believe that nutrients will continue to build regardless of my maintenance efforts, but that I can delay their accumulation. Are there other possible natural nitrate uptake sinks/removers that I could implement that are advised?
<All sorts; most importantly
incorporating denitrifying (anaerobic) bacteria>
Even if they are not stand-alone solutions, when taken as a whole?
<Best to rely on redundancy...>
Thank you for your time and response,
Ryan
<And you for your input and time. Bob Fenner>

Re: Algae Scrubber FAQ 7/30/2010
Glad you like it! Actually, I try to keep my hobby stuff a bit separate from my day job, so as not to confuse our day job customers who google us. So if possible, it would be great to just credit "Santa Monica", which is my
username for all online forums (and that's how everyone online knows me anyway). But a link to the www.AlgaeScrubber.net site would be welcome.
Thanks again,
Bryan
Algae Scrubber FAQ, Linked article-size input 7/30/10
Bob,
Thought that was great! I'm hoping Bryan can/will provide drawings for a DIY scrubber.
James
Mmm, happily he's written in again today so I/we have his email addy. I do agree and would like to encourage Bryan to write up a series (for pay) articles for our online 'zine, including such graphics. BobF
Great!  Looking forward to it.
James
Re: Algae Scrubber FAQ, Linked article-size input 7/30/10
Sure I could do that. And no charge if I can use it on the scrubber site too.
How long would you want it?
Ah great. Am cc'ing you w/ WWM Digital's editor here, Neale Monks. BobF
Hello Bryan,
Thanks for offering to write for us; the topic sounds interesting and I'm sure it'll be useful to the WWM readership.
I think the best thing to do is turn to the back of the online magazine and read our advice for new authors. Should cover everything you need to know.
A typical article is around 2000 words long and supplied with half a dozen images.
Cheers, Neale
Algae Scrubber FAQ, Linked article-size input 7/30/10

Wow! Will post as a separate file/article with links in all related areas with credit to you Bryan. Would you care to have your last name, co. affiliation, link appended? BobF 
Re: Algae Scrubber FAQ, Linked article-size input   8/2/10

Bob,
<Bry>
Neale says about 2000 words and 6 graphics. Would this then be divided into a "series"?
<Could well be if larger... or into different topics/subjects...>
Also, do you want the gist of it to be a brief intro with simple DIY instructions, or more theory?
Bryan
<Up to you... I would have a bit of both in a survey piece. Cheers, BobF>

Outdoor reef tank with large sump, algal scrubbers f'  5/27/10
Hello most appreciated and helpful crew.
<Howzit Wilhelm?>
It's been a bit since I last sent in a question (I've been researching and using the search features), but I'm at the point where I would like some specific assistance or at least a nudge in the appropriate direction.
I've been running our outdoor FOWLR tank, outdoor Amazon freshwater tank and indoor reef tank for the past year. The FOWLR tank is 180g with 70g sump, clams, Chaeto and filter feeders in sump, green-lined puffer, snowflake eel, Volitans and lunar wrasse in main tank. The freshwater tank doesn't have any algae problems at all with the Plecos, live plants and stock that do a great job - that tank is absolutely thriving. The sw tank does get a lot of algae growth, but pulling the algae off the rocks and scraping the glass/acrylic keeps it under control and the livestock seem to be doing very well feeding
off silversides, krill and occasional fresh seafood from the great Monterey fish markets. The EuroReef skimmer is pulling tons of skimmate regularly and doing a great job.
After reading Calfo's "The Book of Coral Propagation," I'm considering moving my 120g reef tank outside to take advantage of our temperate climate and natural sunlight. The model I'm considering is a 240g, well-plumbed (2
x 3" drains in an 18" x 6" internal overflow) to an adjacent 300g Rubbermaid stock trough with DSB, coral rubble, mangrove, to allow for natural reef growth. In the current 120g system, the btas have split twice and the soft
corals appear to be thriving. I've been researching whether to try a skimmer-less, algae scrubber system or go with multiple skimmers for water quality.
<Both worth trying, using>
I do not want to use ozone, uv, reactors or other devices if I can avoid it. I want to let the live rock, coral rubble, oolite sand, filter feeders and macroalgae/mangrove take care of the system naturally and allow for the natural sunlight to work over artificial light if I can. I reviewed a friend's tilapia setup using greenhouse material and he's getting great results.
So, I'm asking the experts, am I missing something here or does this setup look workable and does the crew lean towards algae scrubbers over skimmers?
<As stated... you might want to contact Morgan Lidster/Inland Aquatics
http://www.inlandaquatics.com/profile/contact.html
re his input, latest on algal scrubbers... They can/do work, given useful design, some upkeep.
Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Harvesting algae from algae filter    4/9/10
Hello crew! I've been regularly visiting your site for a few months now and wanted to thank you for making so much information available all in one place.
<Welcome!>
I've recently built an algae filter to help control nitrates and phosphates, and it seems to be doing its job. My test results have gone from nitrate levels being off the charts to around 15.
<Ah, good>
I've read on several websites that you should not harvest the algae on the filter and feed it to your fish. I was curious to know why.
<Mmm, two possibilities come to mind... the concern that you might end up "re-entering" whatever nutrient was taken up by the turf algae, and secondly, that the algae might prove distasteful, perhaps toxic. But... I'd try a bit of the turf algae and see if it's accepted, and likely use part of it this way on an ongoing basis>
If I'm not mistaken the algae on the filter shouldn't be any different from the algae in the aquarium right?
<There is a huge variety in algae, but the types/species usually cultured in these filters is not toxic and is palatable to many fish species>
Don't think this pertains to my question much but my setup is as follows:
75 gallon tank
Ehime pro II canister filter
Ehime classic canister (used to return water to the tank from algae scrub.)
Both are primarily filled with ceramic media, all but 1 small sponge have been removed and I can't for the life of me remember what the other media in there is.
about 80 lbs live rock
2 inches crushed coral substrate
Water temp 82
Salt reading on meter is 1.22
<1.022... I'd be raising this Spg. Read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/spg_salinity.htm
and the linked files above>
Livestock:
1 Emperor angel
1 Cream angel
<Mmm, what is this?>
1 Red Sea wrasse
1 Lawn mower blenny
2 Ocellaris clowns
1 long spine urchin
1 cleaner shrimp
3 large hermit crabs
1 turbo snail
Thanks again for all your help!
Terry
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner> 

Algae Filter Light 2/16/2010 2/17/10
Hello to the WWM crew. You do a fantastic job educating people and supporting the hobby. I have an algae filter with Chaeto (spaghetti algae) in a section of my sump. That filter crashed a few months ago and I was going to replace the algae with a clam for reverse photo period photosynthesis and nutrient absorption.
<Mmm, algae in quantity is much more useful here>
Luckily, a few strands of the algae ended up in the main tank and I noticed that algae is growing very well and rapidly in the display.
<Ah, good>
My main suspicion is the lighting condition. Main tank has eight T5, half 10K and half 460 nm actinic bulbs. For the sump I used a 70 W metal halide which came with a 14K bulb.
<I'd use one with a lower temp. value... 10K at the most... really, fluorescent would/will be better>
This lamp is over an area of 11.5" X 11.5" for the algae filter.
I think the light quality and possibly light quantity had played a role in the successful growth or crash of the algae. The reason I say that is I moved the clump of the Chaeto that had survived the crash from the display
to the sump. That algae was different in color and texture, the color was lighter green and it seemed to have thicker strands that spread in larger volume of water. After I moved the algae to the sump, it changed color to
very dark green, it has shrunk in size, with higher density (similar to green pads for scrubbing dishes, but not that dense), and seems to be more brittle and not as robust. This observation has made me suspicious that the metal halide light has played a detrimental role.
<I do agree>
For now, I have added a screen on top of the sump to reduce the light intensity and I am changing the 14K bulb with a 10K bulb to get closer to a useable light spectrum that is algae friendly.
<Good>
However, I am planning to replace the metal halide with a T5 florescent fixture.
<Oh, even better>
They normally come with a combination of 10K and actinic bulbs.
My question is will it be OK if I change the actinic with a much warmer bulb, something like a fresh water plant light?
<Yes>
They also call them pink bulbs or growth bulbs. Or a similar bulb such as a gardening light (full spectrum similar to Vita Lite)?
<More yes>
The fixture that I am looking at is a two strip T5 florescent, 18 W each (total of 36 W). Will that produce sufficient intensity for an area of 11.5" X 11.5" algal filter?
<Affirmative>
Do I get better algal growth, and subsequent nutrient export via harvesting if I add two fixtures instead of one with 1/2 10K and 1/2 fresh water plant lights?
<You could experiment... but I'd go with the fluoros>
What do you advise for a best situation to run this algal filter?
Tank specs:
120 g main tank, 30 g sump, one year in operation, no fish yet, lots of LPS (open brain, candy cane), Ricordea mushrooms, Zoanthus, one brittle star, one small Atlantic banded coral shrimp, five Mexican grazing snails,
five small blue-leg hermit crabs (snails and crabs added recently). Lots of little creatures from the live rock. Tunze 9005 skimmer in the sump, canister filter with carbon (changing 200 grams every 3-4 weeks), Kalk reactor and auto top off (most of the water is replaced with Kalkwasser).
Water flow from the sump at 4 ' head around 750 g/h, circulation using two Koralia 4 (according to the manufacturer 2400 g/h flow for both). Water change 10% of total volume weekly.
Best regards,
Frank
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Can you be kind enough to find me Simon Trippick's email address. ATS filter maint.   2/15/10
Dear Sir,
<Hello James>
I have read an article I think by Simon Trippick if I'm not wrong on the subject
<You are not wrong!>
How to make a simple Algae Turf Scrubber
<The only article I have ever written! I've a long way go before I reach the dizzying heights of Bob and some of the others for sure!>
on the website http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/algae.htm
. I have a question regarding the algae turf scrubber I would very much like to ask of him. Can you please forward my question to him, I'd very appreciate if you can give me his email address or forward my email to him for his suggestions.
<You are at the right place here James>
I'm setting up a 250 gallons tank and planning to use a horizontal ATS scrubber placed in the sump such as this one I found somewhere in the net. <Ok>
My question is, is it necessary to take out the grown algae and scrub it off with tap water?
<No, I hope my article was not confusing in any way - the screen should never be 'scrubbed' at all, yet alone with fresh water. This would set the whole thing back months.>
Or can I just cut off the water, stop the pump, weekly scrape the algae instead?
<Yes, just periodically remove some of the algae by hand>
I'm asking is because if I need to take it out once a week for fresh water scrubbing, I may have to come up with a design that makes it easier to take out the algae panels.
<No, you only have to remove it when you take apart the sump, or change something underneath it. I used the compartment underneath to keep live rock in, and I would cycle a couple of pieces in and out of my tank every
now and again>.
If I don't, I'll just copy the pictured ATS. Any reply will be of great help. Thanks.
<No problem James, write back if you have any more questions, and do have fun with this project - I did!>
James
<Simon>
Re: Can you be kind enough to find me Simon Trippick's email address, ATS op.   2/16/10

Thank you Simon.
<No problem James!>
I live in Taiwan and it's Chinese new year.
<Wahey! Enjoy!>
I can't wait till the stores open next week. My project begins next week.
I'll let you know how mine goes.
<Ok, will be interested to know>
Sincerely yours,
James
<Cheers, Simon>

Algae Filtration 9/5/09
Hey Crew!
<Morning Craig>
First, I've been reading WWM for several years and thanks so much for the valuable information. You guys have helped me avoid some major blunders and the website has helped me with several disasters.
<Ah good>
My question is about redundancy. I'm upgrading my sump from a Rubbermaid tub to a 55gal aquarium. My design/layout idea is this. The first section where the water comes in has a 14" tall baffle where water will flow over the top (like a spillway) to get an initial gas exchange. The next section is for the protein skimmer and a series of baffles to gas out any bubbles from the skimmer. Then into an 8" Oolitic DSB refugium with some Chaeto then moving into another section where the liverock for critter production will be before moving to the pump to go back to the aquarium.
<Could make the oolithic sand and LR/critter area the same/one...>
I read about the "Algae Turf Scrubber (ATS)" on your site and was thinking about adding this between the skimmer and DSB/refugium to add even more filtration. From the design pictures it would look to do more gas exchange as well. I know the skimmer already provides gas exchange also.
<Usually to beyond saturation...>
Would the ATS be redundant to the spillway and the algae in the DSB or would it do more or something
different with filtration?
<Is something different... these units can be "touchy" to maintain, but once fully active and going, can be useful in addition>
Would it be better to add this as the spillway and just use the skimmer in the very first chamber?
<Is a better approach>
Furthermore, the author said he took the turf algae from the main aquarium and seeded it with that to get it started. I've got a Sailfin Blenny that eats so much you'd think he'd pop so I fortunately don't have algae in the main aquarium so, where would I get it (LFS?)
<Will... "show up" of its own accord... the spores are about in all systems>
or would it eventually begin to grow on it's own?
<Yes>
And my last question, if some of the turf algae made it back into the main aquarium, would it grow to become a nuisance algae?
<Not likely, no>
Again, thanks to all you guys, past and present, that put your time and effort into this website to keep all our stuff alive.
Craig
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Algae Scrubber Question 4/30/09
Dear Crew,
Thanks again, it's been a year and a half now with my first tank, and it is flourishing! Zoanthids are creeping over everything (including the hated turf algae... yay!), the star polyps are encrusting, xenia is growing, and the fish are happy (or as happy as a fish can look....). I really owe you guys all the credit for the advice I have found here.
<Am glad we have aided your success>
I have been having a problem with red turf algae. It is covering EVERYTHING, and little I can do seems to slow it down. I added a new skimmer (AquaC Remora for the old Prizm skimmer), and the water cleared up a lot, it is crystal clear all the time now. I also increased the photoperiod from 10 to 12 hours (I found on your site that the red algaes don't like excessive light... is this helping or hurting?).
<Helping if this is truly a Red/Rhodophyte... I'd be looking at a bit of it under a microscope... might be a BGA>
I'm using a mix of 36W of T5 10,000K lighting, and 65W each of 10,000K CP and Royal Blue Actinics (really nice colour!). Added a few more turbo snails, and a lawnmower blenny that appears to nibble on the algae. It is still creeping forward though. I also use active carbon, nitrate sponge, and phosphate sponge in a converted wet dry filter. Tank is 29 Gallons.
<Ahh, hard to manage such small volumes>
I have a highish (I think) bioload (2 Percula Clowns, 1 Fire Shrimp, 1 Purple Firefish, The Lawnmower Blenny, and then a Small Coral Beauty Angelfish who is just in a holding pattern until I get a bigger tank, soon...working on the landlord)
<I see... have them over for dinner possibly...>
Water parameters are as follows. Nitrates, ammonia, nitrites and phosphates are all at 0 (due to the algae I imagine, if it were to suddenly be removed I imagine there would be a spike in chemicals, I'm sure they are still there).
<Very likely so>
pH is 8.0 - 8.2 and stays fairly stable. Temp is around 82C, though occasionally goes to 84 (rare, and I turn on a fan to cool it). I do a five gallon water change per week (miss the occasional one, rarely, usually during exams...), and add Seachem marine buffer when needed (diluted in large volumes of fresh water). Overall I'm thrilled with the tank, besides the algae.
<Mmmm>
It has been about 2 months since I incorporated all the changes, and still no change in algae growth, it's still going. The Zoanthids and GSP's seem to be growing over it in places, but I'm worried it might choke things out.
Should I just wait, and eventually the critters will reduce this?
<Best to keep "working on it">
I don't know what else to do to reduce my DOC levels.
<In a word... raise your RedOx... Please read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/SystemPIX/RedOx/RedoxPPTpres1.htm
and the linked files above... the efforts at increasing this will clear your system>
I could add a sump/refugium, but I'm afraid of hang on overflows and flooding.
<Keep studying, reading till your fears abate>
I have been reading about
algal turf scrubbers, and they seem promising...
<Am not much a fan of... for reasons archived on WWM>
though I'm skeptical of people who use them without skimming or any other filtration. I've copied a diagram of what I'm thinking of... let me know what you think. I found a design on www.algaescrubber.net, using a 5 gallon bucket, I'd put it above the tank in a cabinet, so it will gravity feed into the tank, regulated by a ball valve. I also added an overflow tube, just in case the main return from the scrubber failed/blocked, and the bucket started filling. I also added a mesh box containing filter floss, bags of active carbon and other media if necessary (will replace the hang on filter) as I have heard that water colour is an issue with this method of filtration.
<This is so>
Also would help to
prevent particulate matter from getting back to the tank. The overflow is
overkill maybe but I'm paranoid about flooding the landlord's hardwood.
<Best to be a little paranoid in this world>
I would put the lights on a timer, on a reverse photoperiod from the tank lights for maybe 16 hours or so. Could I put it under the tank with another pump putting the water back in to the display (I guess really that's just a sump) or would this get too complicated, require overflows from the display to the bucket?
<Could... but I'd go for a full time refugium here instead, w/ RDP>
I could theoretically drill holes for overflow and return in the back/top of the tank.... but I can only imagine drilling a fully set up tank is a nightmare.
<Mmm, nope... see WWM, Glassholes.com>
So what is your opinion of my ideas (I'm sorry, I know there's a lot of them, my fiancé thinks I am insane, we just covered a section in class on OCD... sigh). Also, your opinion of turf scrubbers in general...
<See here: http://wetwebmedia.com/algfiltf.htm
and the linked files above>
would this work for my system if I slowly manually remove algae from the display (difficult, it is tremendously resilient... my hat off to nature AGAIN) whilst the algae in the ATF grows?
<Maybe>
Thank you so much for your time! More diagrams to follow later, I've got plans for a new bigger (200 Gal) system, but I wouldn't want to transplant and possibly 'infect' a giant setup with this turf algae. It starts growing on new rock within days, and you can mark growth over a 48 hour period. You guys are awesome by the way... I'm a medical student, and see many parallels with what I will soon do (patient comes in with problem, you give them a solution, and they go out and try things until it hopefully goes away, or come back with new questions).
<You are observant>
Cheers for now!
Eric
<A pleasure to chat with you. Bob Fenner>

Algae Scrubber FAQ's   12/25/08 Hi Bob and Crew, <Hello, Benjamin here.> It's exciting that I'm writing my first letter to you, since WWM was my first place of learning for a whole year or so. I'm writing now because I have my first bit of information that might be of use to your readers. You have received several questions from readers about building Algae Scrubbers (or "Algae Turf Scrubbers", ATS). I spent the last 1.5 years studying just filtration, and was fortunate to be asked to mod an algae scrubber forum, where I set up the first Algae Scrubber FAQ. So, if I may, here is a link to the FAQ which is the result of thousands of reader inputs, hundreds of scrubber builds by these readers, and several scrubbers that I've built and am currently running: http://www.algaescrubber.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=68 Modern scrubbers (meaning, starting this year) fortunately have almost none of the shortcomings of scrubbers built previously. Just about every perceived drawback has been corrected, usually with just a small change in operation. Anyways, feel free to link to or post the FAQ. And I'd be happy to answer any questions there might be. <I'll let Bob handle the link at such...see what he and others have to weigh in here. I, for one, have followed both the old studies and some of your recent work with great interest....have a prototype of a bucket system running behind me at the moment...week 3. Thank you for your concise, scientific approach to this new material!> Regards and Happy Holidays, <The same!> Santa Monica <Benjamin>

Algae Scrubber FAQ's, Forum    12/25/08 Hi Bob and Crew, <Bryan> It's exciting that I'm writing my first letter to you, since WWM was my first place of learning for a whole year or so. I'm writing now because I have my first bit of information that might be of use to your readers. <I thank you> You have received several questions from readers about building Algae Scrubbers (or "Algae Turf Scrubbers", ATS). I spent the last 1.5 years studying just filtration, and was fortunate to be asked to mod an algae scrubber forum, where I set up the first Algae Scrubber FAQ. So, if I may, here is a link to the FAQ which is the result of thousands of reader inputs, hundreds of scrubber builds by these readers, and several scrubbers that I've built and am currently running: http://www.algaescrubber.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=68 <I see... a forum dedicated to their discussion: "Algae Scrubbers Everything you need to know about building your own Algal Turf Scrubber. Reduce/remove nitrate and phosphate and reduce water changes, for marine and fresh water fish tanks."> Modern scrubbers (meaning, starting this year) fortunately have almost none of the shortcomings of scrubbers built previously. Just about every perceived drawback has been corrected, usually with just a small change in operation. Anyways, feel free to link to or post the FAQ. And I'd be happy to answer any questions there might be. <Again, much appreciated> Regards and Happy Holidays, Santa Monica <Thank you for your efforts. Bob Fenner>

Thinking about changing my filter methods... Shark sys., ATS...   7/12/08 I have searched your web site and have done numerous goggle searches only to be more confused. I have a 180 gallon tank with a wet-dry filter and a euro-reef protein skimmer that has been running a little over two years. My skimmer goes through cycles where it produces lots of skimmate and times when it produces none. <Not atypical> My ammonia and nitrite levels are at zero almost constantly however my nitrates are constantly out of control. <Numbers please> I have a fish only tank with large predator fish, a bamboo shark, <...!> lion fish, two damsels, and a wrasse. I have about a 120 lbs. of live rock which recently has lost lots of its coralline algae. I am considering adding either a algae turf scrubber, or a refugium or both to possibly add to or total replace my wet-dry. <Good idea> I like the idea of not have to do water changes all the time. But I have also read some negative things about the algae turf scrubber system. <Some makes, models have inherent flaws, difficulties... Do give Morgan Lidster/Inland Aquatics a call, email...> I would just like your opinion of how to provide the best filtration for my tank. My shark is very important to me and I have dedicated a large amount of my time and wallet to ensure that he gets the best so far he seems unaffected by the high nitrates but I do not want to wait till be shows signs of stress. <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/sharksystems.htm and the series of FAQs above in this cat.> I do perform water changes but I think that a tank should be able to remain somewhat more stable then mine tends to be. Any help would be appreciated. I also have been reading about the Ecosystem refugium what is your opinion on these. <Very nice units, method...> Thank-you for your time. A-Garrett Arnold <Bob Fenner>
Re: Thinking about changing my filter methods.... Shark sys., ATS...    7/12/08
My nitrates tend to be around 100ppm in between water changes. <Mmm, too much> I am not against doing regular maintenance on any means, actually tends to be some of the fun for me, however I am worried about the fluctuations in the nitrates on my fish. <Not so much the fluctuations, but getting back, staying at a lower concentration> My finance and I are going to be getting married in about 6 months and we would like to put a bigger tank in our new house. We are looking at a 400-600 gallon. However, I'm just worried that If I can't keep a 180 in near pristine conditions how will I fair with more water volume. <Incongruous comparisons... In so much that you are apparently aware of sources, consequences, means to control> I already struggle to make enough water to do adequate water changes. <Not the water changes that are at fault or salvation here> I will give the Inland Aquatic guy a call. Do you think I would benefit from using both a ATS and a refugium? <Very likely so> Thanks for your response -Garrett <Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and the linked files above. BobF>

A source for Algal Turf Scrubber Equipment   9/27/06 Hello, <Hi there> I have spent a number of hours searching the web for a source of ATS equipment for a friend, and have been unable to find anything of value. I currently use an MMFI Algae Scrubber (along with GAC and vigorous protein skimming), but I don't consider MMFI a viable source anymore. I understand that feelings are mixed on ATS, but consider them useable as part of a comprehensive filtration system. Could one of you please let me know where my friend could by a commercially built ATS? <Mmm, yes. Contact Morgan Lidster at Inland Aquatics: http://www.inlandaquatics.com/> I enjoy your website, and appreciate the effort that you put into it. By the way Bob, that "Edge you mah cate yo'self."  to Lee was especially funny, if a bit cryptic for him. It took a few minutes to translate, as I was laughing pretty well when he spelled it out to me. I hope you can pardon his rudeness, he was pretty much at wit's end during that fiasco, and has his aquarium in good shape at present. <No worries> Best wishes, and thanks in advance for your time even if you can't help me! Russ Schultz <Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Question on Substrates Follow up 4/25/06 Which would be better, a algae turf scrubber or a photosynthetic refugium? <They both have pros and cons and I have used both with good success.  A refugium is cheaper and easier to set up, but in my experience a turf scrubber is more fool-proof.> What method would you recommend to dose Kalkwasser? <A slow drip at night time or full dose in the morning before the lights come on are preferred because they offset the normal drop in pH at night.  Kalkwasser should be mixed ahead of time and allowed to settle before use, and only the mostly clear liquid should be used.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Looking to install Sump Using Overflow Box Question... actually RMF's take on ATS "algal scrubbers"   2/1/06 Hello and Thanks in advance if you can help me. <What if we can't but try real hard? Partial credit?> I currently run a 90 gal reef tank and am looking for better results out of it. As of right now, my main source of filtration is an hang on tank ATS (algae turf scrubber) I also use a small Protein skimmer (Aqua C remora) and canister filter to help out with particulates. The best my tank looked was when it was about a year old. Very beautiful, everything was thriving. But it has been on a slow decline ever since (tank is now about three years old) <Typical... with these "scrubbers"> I have noted poor growth and colour in most SPS corals ( only four colonies have really done well)  I have lost several SPS corals regardless of how much flow they received. Water tests indicate perfect levels (ammonia, nitrate, phosphate, pH, Ca, Alk salinity etc.) <More to the world...> But I believe it is a result of the ATS either leaching into the water (water has developed yellow tinge) or not effectively pulling everything necessary out of the water. Or both. <Yes... common, inevitable...> The AquaC skimmer does pull out dark skimmate on a daily basis but I believe it is doing very little considering the volume of water compared to size of skimmer. Long story short... I feel I am relying on Scrubber too much and would like to include a larger skimmer into my scheme of things. I am confident that I would see better results.( don't get me wrong...lots of things in the tank are growing beautifully...but room for improvement <Not the skimmer that is lacking or can improve here> So I'm looking to keep the ATS for the benefits of the reverse daylight pH effect and for it's surge which I also like. But I would like to remove the AquaC skimmer and replace it with a CPR overflow box to siphon water from tank into sump so I could install larger skimmer and eventually calcium reactor ( I'm about done with the 2 part stuff,) <The reactor would help, and the addition of a sump/refugium> Could this be done considering that I have a fluctuating water level due to the twice a minute surge of water from the Scrubber? <Not easily, no... unless the scrubber was rigged to a constant volume area of the tank or sump> Would the water level drop below the Overflow and lose siphon? <Possibly... depending on how this was all arranged> I am planning to use the airlift attachment pump but did not know if this was possible or too risky. <Is> In case you are not familiar with a HOT scrubber....it works like this. A dedicated pump for the ATS sits inside a surface skimming box. The pump draws water from the aquarium to a tray which fills up ( about 1.5 gallons ) and then dumps into one side of the aquarium. <Am very familiar> So the water level drops about an little over an inch in between dumps. Would this compromise the overflow box? <Yes... can't be used here unless the above-mentioned modification is made> I was looking to get a overflow that did 600gph and a return pump Mag Drive 700gph ( 500 gph at three feet ) Also, the skimmers I was considering were: ASM GX2 approx $240 MRC MR1 approx $300 or AQUA C EV120 approx $350 any suggestions? Thanks again. -JOSH <I would categorically abandon the algal scrubber... these units are poorly devised, maintenance headaches... responsible for the poor health and outright death of many marines... and look to other filtration technology. Bob Fenner>

- Bubbles and Dump Buckets - I've been reading your site, and in great detail. There's so much useful stuff here, it will probably take me months to go through it all! Anyway, another question for the crew! I had been toying with a small turf scrubber for a reef tank (strictly supplemental to a skimmer/refugium setup), and had been contemplating having the surge fall into a far end of the tank through a confined open air sheet. Splash out wouldn't happen, but... I've now been reading through the part of your site where people go on and on about bubbles, and... Am I to take it that my idea for helping oxygenate the tank (open air fall) was maybe not such a good idea? <In the case of a dump bucket system, you don't have anything to fear from micro bubbles.> Anyway, I'm having second thoughts about the turf scrubber, but I still want some kind of surge device, ala Carlson. Should it return under the water, instead of splashing into it? <Splashing is just fine. In my opinion, the whole micro bubble issue is overblown - it is a genuine problem and does occur, just not as often as some folks make out, so that a large portion of the posts you may have read are really about the aesthetic issues of air in the water and the perceived problem of micro bubbles rather than an actual problem.> I'd seen net photos of some turf scrubbers that had some very heavy surges. They appeared bubbly. I was simply assuming that bubbly was okay. No, eh? <Bubbly in this case is fine.> Joe p.s. I'm okay with the noise. :) <Cheers, J -- >

Aggressive algal filtration   Hi, <Hello Dan> I have a 125 ( lit by 3 250w 10K plumbed into a 40g breeder frag tank and a 20 gallon algae fuge with a 250w 10k halide over it which then goes to a 20 gal sump w live rock rubble. Set up for over 6 months now. Currently my corals color up great sometimes unbelievably) and everything seems fine ( although growth could be better iMO.... but I wonder if I really need to skim? The tank has a modest fish load and one small round stingray. (who is actually proven to be reef safe ) I think my algae growth is so intense (about half gallon tightly packed jar every week) that I might actually be starving my corals of basic algae nutrients. Nitrates are undetectable with the low range Salifert kit (is this really the best kit for nitrate????? <There are better, either the LaMotte or Hach kits are very good.> It seems kind of crappy) Currently I have a SeaClone 100 and its usually too dirty to produce. ( I get lazy with it) The water clarity is somewhat greenish looking from the side. I use very little Mech filtration). So do I need to skim if nitrates are undetectable?  Is my system better off without it? <It's always better to employ an efficient protein skimmer.  I personally think the Sea Clone is not efficient enough for a 125 gallon tank.  I would lean toward an Aqua C model.>  I do use carbon for 2 days out of the week before adding supplements. Also I have a problem keeping ALK up.... Is this due to the massive algae growth I have? Are the acids released by the Caulerpa responsible for the rapid depletion of carbonates? <The fuge lighting should be on 24/7.  With the amount of algae you mention, CO2 production would be high with dark photoperiods.  CO2 will lower you alkalinity/ph.> I currently use about 1 tablespoon of reef builder per day and dose very heavily with Kalk... but still cant get calcium up over 400. The tank is moderately stocked with SPS (i.e. about 10 medium sized colonies of various SPS and of course many frags. <Try using SeaChem's Reef Advantage Calcium (dry formula).> Hey if this is Anthony Calfo responding... it was great to meet you at the WAMAS meeting! Dan <James (Salty Dog)>

Problem with MMFI algae scrubbers Hello! I thought I'd warn anyone buying a Algae Scrubber From MMFI Aquaricare. I bought a filtering system from Mark A. Reinke. Owner of the company. After I paid off my filtering system in December, I called, and asked Mark when he would send me my system. He said in March. I asked him why it would take so long to get my system. He said there were so many orders, that it would take that long to send it. Well, the very next month, the website is still on the web, but is under construction, and is updated often. But you can't reach him by the website, phone, or fax. I went to the Denver BBB, and he has five complaints against him this year, for not sending people their systems, or not replacing leaking and faulty algae scrubbers. I've contacted a legal aide service to help me get my money returned to me. Almost five hundred dollars. So buyers beware! < Thanks for the information, we'll pass this on. > Deborah Mitchell <  Blundell  >

EZ algae filter system? <Hello Acer> Hi - I have been reading you site a lot. Have you ever heard of a company called EZtank? they are saying that you only need an algae scrubber unit and no protein or wet/dry do you have an opinions on this type of filter and what is it.< It probably is very similar to the Ecosystem which has been around for a while.  I've seen the Ecosystem in action and it definitely keeps the nuisance algae from growing in the display tank.>Their web site is difficult to navigate and I cannot figure out the actual makings of the product. I am setting up a 75 reef with 2 Jebo 48" lights=460 watts of PC lighting. Have live rock and sand from existing 55 gallon salt -fish only setup. <The Ecosystem is basically a 10 gallon tank with baffles and the bottom media is "Miracle Mud" or something like that.  It comes with a PC mini hood.  Caulerpa or some type of higher algae is required for the system to work.  You might want to go to www.premiumaquatics.com.  They have it and also a link to the Ecosystem company.  I've never heard of EZtank yet.> ?? on the rest of setup. If the algae scrubber does what they say then I really only need a sump/refugium for an isolation area and to grow plant food- no actual filtration.<That is the filtration. James (Salty Dog)> I love your site, thanks for the help, Acer  

New tank w/ refugium Hello WWM,<Hello, MikeB here.> Love your website, very helpful...I just set up a new tank (55g) w/ a refugium (29g) underneath.  The tank is cycling at the moment.  Set-up...about 50-60lbs of base rock, 5lbs of live rock, and a 5-6" DSB of very fine sugar aragonite sand in both tanks seeded w/ a cup of live sand in each tank.  I was wondering when do I put in my macro algae?<You could put it in the tank now if you want.  There is no set time as to when you put it in.  I usually do it once fish or live rock have been in the tank for at least a week.>  I have Chaetomorpha (very little about 1/4 cup) and razor Caulerpa (about a cup) in my quarantine tank that I'm waiting to put in the refugium.  Do I have to wait until the tank is cycled? <No, the algae will help with the cycling actually.> If not, how long should I leave the lights (standard 18" fluorescent) on for the macro algae? <I leave them on 24 hours a day but if you want to save on your electric bill leave them on opposite of the display tank.  Good luck MikeB> Thanks in advance. Ronald

AT Scrubbers and Nutrient Import/Export 8/13/04 Please excuse if this is a duplicate message. outlook is being bad. <no worries... good to hear from you> Hello to all the crew at WWM and an enormous thanks for all the information that you provide!  The reading on the site has kept me busy late in the night and added fuel to a rekindling fire to be involved in this hobby that I have been gone from for several years.   <'tis most excellent to hear> Years ago I purchased an Algae Scrubber from MMFI for my then-current tank, though ended up having to get rid of the tank but kept my unused scrubber.  On the site it is stated that scrubbers "take out too much of some things and produce too much of others." I would like to know what these are and what can be done to aid.   <I frankly don't feel like commercial AT scrubbers help or hurt much at all... they are simply too small.> Having perused the pages and BBS, it seems that in addition to removing phosphates and nitrates scrubbers also remove calcium and affect alkalinity.   <true to a small extent... but so do our corals, and were not leaving them out of reef tanks ;) And even without a scrubber, you will still have to supplement minerals like Calcium. So, the point is moot IMO... do enjoy your scrubber if you like> I intend on supplementing my scrubber with a mechanical/chemical filter using activated carbon which will be cleaned regularly, a protein skimmer which will be used as necessary, <please do consider using a skimmer full-time! It is far more beneficial to water quality than you may know... and I can assure you it will export more nutrients than most algal scrubbers> plenty of live rock, and daily small water changes (for what it's worth.)   <excellent> I am not anxious to get rid of my scrubber as I have already spent the money on it and it seems to me a viable filtration method. <modest capability at best (just look at its surface area compared to the surface area of your display interior walls or live rock (which grow diatoms, algae, etc.) or even the sump interior. AT scrubbers are frankly overpriced and a poor value in my opinion. But $ aside, they still are a useful technology. Again... just not a good value for what you get in return> Any advice for controlling nutrient export and maintaining water quality and proper useful supplement levels will be greatly appreciated.   <be very systematic with your water changes to replenish trace elements... and be very systematic in your harvest of algae. These will go a long way towards success with AT scrubbers> Once again thanks a bunch, and I look forward to your response.   Justin <best regards, Anthony>

- Algal Turf Scrubber - Hi, I have a 75 gallon reef aquarium with a remora pro protein skimmer, and I hate it. The skimmer works fine, but is WAY to loud. And I don't like changing the cup every few days. <Ok.> So, while on a trip to inland aquatics, I viewed their filters, and their methods. I asked a worker how often they did water changes on a reef in the "little room" (I don't know what to call it), they said they had never done a water change, and the tank had been set up for many years. I understand all I have to do is clean or hose out the algae from the plastic mesh once a week. And I love the way the scrubber dumps the water in the tank like the real ocean like waves. I read an article at advanced aquarist I believe and it said the filters are inexpensive. I asked them, and they said they had one not assembled for $550. Is that inexpensive? <Depends on your budget.> I don't think so! <Then that's that.> Well I will probably be buying one within the next month or so if you think it is a good idea. What do you think? <I'm not a fan, quite honestly although your statements about the skimmer noise and cleaning lead me to believe you won't like the noise from the wave dumper and its associated maintenance very much either. Suggest you read up on these - there is more to read in Sprung/Delbeek Reef Aquarium vol. 1, and Dynamic Aquaria by Adey/Loveland - Adey being the person who spearheaded this technique. I tend to lean on the side presented by Sprung/Delbeek that while these filters do work and work well, they tend to turn the water green which is less than appealing. Likewise, the system you saw at Inland Aquatics is a culture system and not necessarily what is ideal for individual tanks. I can't force you to "get used to" the noise your skimmer makes, but I do think you're better off the way you are now.> Thanks, Adam <Cheers, J -- >

Algae Filtration... This may not be something you may have an opinion on or care to, but I stumbled upon an aquarium equipment manufacturer found at <A href="http://www.eztank.com">www.EZtank.com</A>.   They claim that it is algae, not bacteria, that is nature's main river, lake, pond, and ocean filter. One would say well duh, plants do absorb some excess nutrients from the water, but with this system of filters, apparently it absorbs virtually all.  Their system seems to really make sense but it could also be just another gimmick (Though they have been in business for 15-20 years).  The website has quite a bit of reading but if you are like me , you probably will read anything aquarium related you can get your hands on!!  If you download the information package for free it really goes a little more in depth into their processes, equipment, and theories.   Just thought it you guys may find it interesting and maybe would have an opinion.  Thank you for all the hard work on WetWebMedia, the single best source for information on the net!! (I know Bob would disagree saying we should utilize multiple sources). <Thanks for sharing your discovery. Yes algae filtration is a proven concept, and it has its advocates (Adey and Loveland in the saltwater arena, for example) and detractors. Algae "scrubbers" have been used in closed systems for some time, with good results. However, as you surmise, algae does not do it all. IMO, an algae "filter" is a good supplemental system, but you'd still want to employ some other chemical, biological, or mechanical filtration as well. One of the "knocks" against algal filtration in reef systems is that it can cause "discoloration" of the water. This can easily be removed with activated carbon (chemical filtration), and aggressive protein skimming can help remove excess organics from the water (mechanical filtration). I agree with the "natural" philosophy of reef keeping (and fish-keeping in general), but it's always nice to have multiple techniques to help out. Regards, Scott F>

In Need of Weed? >I currently own a 20 gallon tank with an ecosystem hanging on the back with 5 pounds of "miracle mud".... >>Ok. >Here are the contents of the tank: 30 pounds live rock clown fish banded coral shrimp 10 hermit crabs 4 snails I can't get Caulerpa to live in the ecosystem...it keeps dying..... is there not enough waste for it to survive on yet?   >>I couldn't tell you that, as I don't know how long this has been set up. >I want to start adding some reef contents such as mushrooms and maybe a xenia....but I wanted to wait for the Caulerpa to live? >>Honestly, I've never had a problem growing it.  You haven't mentioned lighting at all, and if you wish to keep other photosynthetic organisms, this is of utmost importance. >My measurements seem to be ok.....I have only measured ammonia nitrate nitrite salinity pH >>And...?? >All of those are ok.... >>That tells me nothing, my friend. >The tank is about 3 months old now and water looks great? >>Ah, very new setup, you're not sure of how the water "looks"?  Looks can be deceiving, as I know of no one who can see nutrients, ammonia, etc., in the water just by looking at it. >Why is the Caulerpa dying...isn't it basically a weed?   >>It can be when its needs are met (light and nutrients). >Does it feed strictly on the waste in the water?   >>No. >That is all I can think of.... >>I can't be of more help without knowing more about your setup, filtration, LIGHTING, test results, kit brand (more important than most folks think), LIGHTING.. did I mention lighting?  I grew MUCH C. taxifolia in my first reef using a homemade bank of mixed fluorescents.  It took a good deal of research to determine lumens and color temperature, though.  Sometimes, some folks just CAN'T get this stuff to grow for them, though, no matter how they try.  Marina     

Downstream refugium 10/7/03 I just completed adding a downstream refugium in my sump. I sectioned off a small area of my 24 inch sump. The refugium area is 12inch high by 6 inches long by 12 inches wide. It probably holds less a little under 5 gallons of water. <still helpful. Aspire to 20-40% display tank in volume for future> I added about 2 inched of crushed coral and will add 2 inches of crushed live rock as a substrate. <very good for zooplankton production> I am going to be using a 13watt PC light. My display tank is a 75 gal w 80lbs of LR. I would like to know what type of macroalgae I should add to this refugium that would do ok with this light. <even if this refugium were not so small... you would still be restricted to a single species of macro for optimal health/vigor and utility. Seek Chaetomorpha IMO here to assist with plankton production and nutrient export> I am a little scared about adding Caulerpas because of what I have reading on your web page. <many scientific papers on the subject... I can share a couple dozen references on the toxicity of Caulerpa or you can search the Net abroad for references to Caulerpene and Caulerpenyne for starters> What else could I add beside Turtle grass and Halimeda? <neither are recommended here... Halimeda does less for nutrient export or plankton production... and Turtle grass is too large for this vessel> Could you please give me a few ideas? <other than Chaetomorpha... Gracilaria is an excellent choice. Ochtodes is fine too. All of these and more are detailed extensively in our new book Reef Invertebrates> I should mention that I am really interested in keeping soft corals like Colts, Xenias and Cladiellas. <if looking for the upright and branching Cladiella "colt" corals, know that they are not called Klyxum (2000 Alderslade)> You guys have convinced me that a refugium is a better way to go than adding Kent's Phytoplex and ChromaPlex. What Macroalgae should I use to benefit these types of corals. Thanks Ron The Gracilaria may have some slight edge here for lending epiphytic matter to the Alcyoniids you intend to keep. Much to read/learn/explore... enjoy the journey! Anthony>

Macroalgae warfare 10/05/03 Hi Crew! I am discovering for myself the major downside of grape Caulerpa, <indeed... it has been documented to be perhaps the most noxious of an already very noxious genus of algae> which doesn't seem to be the threat of going sexual, especially since I pull out from my 'fuge a cup or so every few days.   <correct... the threat of "going vegetative" is easily skirted by interrupting the 3-6 month life cycle by regular thinning> It's a weed!  Some other algae species seem to survive (such as feather Caulerpa and sawgrass) but not thrive.  My Gracilaria (Ogo) didn't make it and my C. racemosa also couldn't compete.  The Chaetomorpha ball hasn't grown in over two months!  but I guess it's doing the job of removing nutrients, don't you think? <Ahhh... not growing but exporting nutrients? How do you figure? Sounds to me like you've made the mistake of mixing algae that too many folks do. They are very (chemically) competitive with each other. Energies used in warfare could instead be used for good vigor/growth. Please have the discipline to use only one algae species proper in your vegetable filter/refugium. Anthony>

Macroalgae and Grape Caulerpa II 10/6/03 By "doing the job" I meant the grape Caulerpa is doing the job.  It's growing like a weed, hence exporting nutrients.   <true... but imparting many noxious compounds in the process that accumulate and harm or kill some fishes and corals over time> If I had to pick one, I guess you would recommend Chaetomorpha, right?  but it's ugly.   <anything but Caulerpa for most aquarists IMO> The Caulerpas look nice. <agreed... but eye of the beholder. If you are willing to make the necessary and labor-intensive concessions needed to keep this macro, you will do fine. Else, you may suffer from it in time like many folks do. Caulerpene, Caulerpenyne, etc ;) > Also, what do I care if the algae are fighting, as long as they are growing? <because none can excel optimally for wasting energies on warfare... and such allelopathy has been shown to kill desirable reef creatures mixed unnaturally with a preponderance of this algae. You really are not very well read on this genus of macros... please do help yourself with a delve into more data on the subject to keep it safely long-term. Best regards, Anthony>

RDP refugium and CO2 Hi, it's me again. I hope that everything is going well, sunny skies and all of that, it's cold as heck here.   I went ahead and set up the refugium last night, and I was re-reading the reply that you sent me and I was wondering...When you were talking about the reverse light cycle, I thought about something.  It will help the pH remain stable, true.  I was also thinking, "If the two were on a reverse light cycle, since plants become primary producers of co2 at night, would the main tank produce enough co2 to discontinue supplementation, and vice versa?  Or would I still need to do that? <good question my friend, but it is one that cannot be answered here  by Yes or No. I/you have no idea what the net demand is on your tank from the bio mass. We cannot say that if met now that the growth in either vessel will not continue to support the process. This is simply something you must monitor in your specific aquarium. Is you display filled with two one inch corals... or fifty (follow, my friend). A good question, again... but not possible for me to answer from this end of the computer. Do enjoy experimenting with it though <G>! Best regards, Anthony>

Ecosystem Can you give me some info on the Leng Sy-Ecosystem, i.e. how to set it up and what equipment I would need? If you could send diagrams to help me understand it better I would be grateful. <Please see the following: http://www.ecosystemaquarium.com/index.html http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltfaq2.htm> Thank you, Janet <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Caulerpa vs. Seagrass for Refugium & MM filter Anthony, <cheers, mate> I was reading through "FAQs about Refugium IV" section and you stated: "Syringodium manatee seagrass would be awesome here... many benefits to it as a refugium. Whatever you choose, though, PLEASE do not use Caulerpa... an awful thing to do to a coral system on a larger scale" Can you explain this further? I want to understand why would Caulerpa be bad in a refugium?  <yes... my pleasure. Caulerpa itself is not so bad, but rather easily mismanaged. For decades aquarists have enjoyed its benefits of great nutrient export with little trouble because we rarely did/could keep it in large masses (tangs, angels and other fishes eating it in check) and the lack of refugium applications. Now that refugiums have become popular, aquarists are keeping it in larger quantities and discovering the many pitfalls with it. The problem is that it is very labor intensive to maintain safely in large quantities. It must be harvested systematically like clockwork (!!!) and you should not cut branches (saps noxious elements and risks a disastrous sexual event of pollution)... instead each frond must be carefully hand picked and extracted to thin the colony. Caulerpa also contains some of the most noxious elements known that inhibit coral growth. They secrete serious discolorants into the water that require ozonation or weekly changes of carbon to maintain water clarity, and the risk of a sexual event (expelling all of the nutrients from growth en masses) can cause catastrophe in some systems. Other plants share similar negative qualities... but none so commonly and to the extent of Caulerpa. It is simply too risky in large quantities... BUT... I do enjoy and recommend it in small amounts. I'll publish a paper soon on the topic. Many experienced aquarists are discovering this dilemma with Caulerpa... I got some scientific references from Eric Borneman who is very much in agreement on the topic: ANYTHING but Caulerpa is better :) > Also, I am setting up a 350g (96"x24"x36") reef tank in the spring with SPS as the primary inhabitants.  <the your definitely do not want Caulerpa... shown to markedly inhibit the growth of stonies> The plan was to use and EcoSystem mud filter that uses Caulerpa.  <I see no significant advantage using Caulerpa here... although I do like the idea of you using a fishless refugium to generate natural plankton for your zooplankton feeding SPS (little phyto here)> The EcoSystem site recommends Caulerpa but states Seagrass can be used also. Do you believe Caulerpa is bad in this setup and would you recommend Seagrass as an alternative?  <definitely> If so, what are the pros/cons? <slower, safer and more manageable growth of seagrasses. Less noxious compounds exuded, a true plant that does not execute a sexual vegetative state/event under duress, more useful epiphytic material shed from the blades of the seagrasses... perhaps better support of copepods populations for it. Thalassia is a shorter seagrass species for refugia under 24"> Thanks as always.
<best regards, Anthony>
- Rob

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