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Old 10-12-2010, 01:07 PM   #1
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Algae Turf Scrubber (ATS) DIY build

I built this after much thought and design for this tank:

Tank Journal 125 Reef

and decided it was worth putting into a separate thread. For those that aren't familiar with what an ATS is, this is the thread that sparked the idea:

Mega-Powerful Nitrate and Phosphate Remover Replaces Skimmer, Refugium, Everything - Reef Sanctuary

Beware, that thread is over 2 years old and 1300+ posts. Here's the site by the guy that started the thread:

Algae Scrubbers • Index page

And here is my design. First, the CAD plans:









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My tanks: 120 Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber, 60 Reef Pond w/floating Algae Scrubber, 40 Breeder Reef w/L2 UAS Tester Algae Scrubber
I maintain: 144 SW Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber | 200 SW Reef w/L4 Algae Scrubber
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Old 10-12-2010, 01:12 PM   #2
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Next, the finished product. Lots of pics here so this will be several posts:

This is the acrylic box that my Dad made for me:



Bulkhead drain (added a second)



Support for sitting on tank



Dry fitting the PVC with the 40 Breeder sump in place



Overflow pipe with screen



Lights and reflectors installed and wired (power & heat test)

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My tanks: 120 Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber, 60 Reef Pond w/floating Algae Scrubber, 40 Breeder Reef w/L2 UAS Tester Algae Scrubber
I maintain: 144 SW Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber | 200 SW Reef w/L4 Algae Scrubber
Special knowledge: Algae Scrubbers, Acrylic Fabrication
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Old 10-12-2010, 01:20 PM   #3
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Heat sink for ballast, made from angle aluminum



Heat sink installed



ATS installed and in action







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My tanks: 120 Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber, 60 Reef Pond w/floating Algae Scrubber, 40 Breeder Reef w/L2 UAS Tester Algae Scrubber
I maintain: 144 SW Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber | 200 SW Reef w/L4 Algae Scrubber
Special knowledge: Algae Scrubbers, Acrylic Fabrication
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Old 10-12-2010, 01:42 PM   #4
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Here's the outflow from the ATS



and then then overflow tube



The first issue I discovered was that in the process of taking out the old sump, cleaning the pump, and moving the pump from the far right like it was here:



the pump flow rate increased by about 10-15%, which caused there to be enough flow to push over the top of the emergency overflow pipe (which is there in case the screen slot clogs up). It was enough so that I added a pipe extension to prevent splashing. I came back after a couple hours and the air had blown out of the pipe and it was siphoning all the water down the pipe. I shortened the pipe and put my hand over it to reset the flow, and then turned the post-pump shutoff valve about 1/4 of the way, and the emergency overflow stopped.

The second issue was that the bubble coming out into the sump from the ATS were occasionally 'blowing' quite a bit. I removed the extensions under the sump water level and turned the second 90 straight up. There is no longer a blowing issue, but there are lots of microbubbles. I had to put the foam intake on the return pump.

I'm going to have to figure out a way to deal with the microbubbles. The idea behind the ATS is that the water from the DT flows down the illuminated screen, and algae grows (very fast) on that screen. The algae filters all toxins out of the water (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate, silicate, heavy metals, etc) and leaves everything in the water that you coral find beneficial. This is the way the ocean performs it's own natural filtration - with algae.

The only maintenance needed is cleaning of the screen, usually every 7 days (give or take, depending on growth) you scrape all the algae off one side of the screen (NOT while it's in the tank) and rinse the screen with fresh water. Freshwater kills off all the excess pods on the screen, which if left alone, would eat the algae until it detaches from the screen and enters the DT, and releases what it has absorbed back into the water (defeating the purpose).

Some of the big bonuses:

First, since the algae on the screen sucks up all the nutrients algae needs to grow, you get no algae growth in your DT - it will even knock out cyano bacteria over time.

Second, you get an endless supply of pods. Before cleaning the screen, you can swish it in the sump to release them, and after cleaning the screen with FW you will have thousands more in no time. This will be great for the Scooter Blenny in the tank.

The second one is where I'm concerned, because due to the amount of microbubbles in the sump, I currently have to use the foam filter on the pump intake. My thought is that the pods should have no problem making it through that foam, through the pump, and into the DT. But if that's not the case, and they can't make it through, I will have to add some up/downs, which will be a pain in the butt with the tank already in place. I have another 40 breeder that I could swap out while I silicone some glass in place, but still, a pain. I am thinking I can make some out of plexiglass and fit it in place with some rubber strips so that it's not permanent.

The other issue with the up/downs is that they would be right under the shutoff valve at the bottom of the overflow. That valve can be opened to shut off the screen so that it can be cleaned, having up/downs right beneath it just makes it a bit more complicated.

Overall, the build went pretty much just as planned. I ordered a seed screen from Inland Aquatics in Terre Haute, IN today and it will be here tomorrow. I will attach the seed screen to the top edge of the filter screen, and should have a full screen of algae within a week or so.
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My tanks: 120 Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber, 60 Reef Pond w/floating Algae Scrubber, 40 Breeder Reef w/L2 UAS Tester Algae Scrubber
I maintain: 144 SW Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber | 200 SW Reef w/L4 Algae Scrubber
Special knowledge: Algae Scrubbers, Acrylic Fabrication
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Old 10-12-2010, 01:53 PM   #5
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How is your heat sink held together? Glue might actually insulate the ballast. Machine screws and thermal compound or welding would be your best options.
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Old 10-12-2010, 03:35 PM   #6
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I bonded the fins together on the ends with JB weld. I checked the ballast this morning (it runs from 4pm to 7am) and the ballast was just warm to the touch and the fins were about as warm, maybe not quite as warm. The ballast currently is held onto the heat sink with 2 stainless steel screws. When I put it together at the tank, I noticed that it is not fully in direct contact with the heat sink, so I will have to get some thermal compound to ensure full contact with the heat sink. The max temp on the ballast (hotpoint) says max of 70 C and it's nowhere near that, even after running all night. However, if they neglected to leave the base doors open, it might get a little warmer.

The other thing I have yet to add is a fan connected to the same timer to circulate the air around the base cabinet, which will help keep the ballast temp down as well as cool the lights and prevent any possible warping of the acrylic - which is all 1/4", so I'm not too worried about that. But I'd hate to have to re-do the thing (or have my Dad re-do it!!)

I also stopped by a hobby store today and found the PERFECT thing for blocking the light at the top of the tube (I think I forgot to mention that piece - I started another thread about x-ray film for that purpose). It is a sheet of solid black plastic and will definitely do the trick. That is needed so the algae won't grow into the screen slot in the horizontal pipe.

Here it is:

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My tanks: 120 Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber, 60 Reef Pond w/floating Algae Scrubber, 40 Breeder Reef w/L2 UAS Tester Algae Scrubber
I maintain: 144 SW Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber | 200 SW Reef w/L4 Algae Scrubber
Special knowledge: Algae Scrubbers, Acrylic Fabrication
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Old 10-12-2010, 03:47 PM   #7
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Looks good! Ive built one myself after reading the entire 1300+ post. If it works out I am going to build a better version, something like yours!
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Old 10-12-2010, 03:50 PM   #8
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So, I've come up with a couple ideas for how to solve my microbubble problem without being too complicated, and allowing the pods to have free flow back to the DT.

The first would be to create a series of up/downs using glass (or probably plexiglass) sheets cut just under the interior width of the tank, and then cut pieces of bubble filter foam to fit at the edges to wedge them in and hold them in place, and then more at the bottom to 'seal off' that path (some might get by, but I don't really care).

The second idea would be to add back in the vertical pipes in the ATS outflow (the ones that were blowing), drill a bunch of hole in it or something like that to prevent the blowing issue, and set up a hollowed-out block of foam with slots in the bottom so that the water would flow into it and then down slow enough that the bubbles won't get pulled down.

Any other possible suggestions?
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My tanks: 120 Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber, 60 Reef Pond w/floating Algae Scrubber, 40 Breeder Reef w/L2 UAS Tester Algae Scrubber
I maintain: 144 SW Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber | 200 SW Reef w/L4 Algae Scrubber
Special knowledge: Algae Scrubbers, Acrylic Fabrication
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Old 10-12-2010, 04:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redneckgearhead View Post
Looks good! Ive built one myself after reading the entire 1300+ post. If it works out I am going to build a better version, something like yours!
I'm seriously considering making them myself. My dad (who has been with with acrylic for years making display cases and stands for antique dealers) made that piece in about 2 hours from start to finish. So if you want one custom-made let me know.

I may not worry that much about the microbubble issue after reading this

Mything the Point, Part Three: Conclusion - Reefkeeping.com
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My tanks: 120 Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber, 60 Reef Pond w/floating Algae Scrubber, 40 Breeder Reef w/L2 UAS Tester Algae Scrubber
I maintain: 144 SW Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber | 200 SW Reef w/L4 Algae Scrubber
Special knowledge: Algae Scrubbers, Acrylic Fabrication
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Old 10-12-2010, 04:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
I'm seriously considering making them myself. My dad (who has been with with acrylic for years making display cases and stands for antique dealers) made that piece in about 2 hours from start to finish. So if you want one custom-made let me know.
Thanks Floyd!

Scott.
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