I have spoken about my turf scrubber for a while now and thought it was time to expose those that don't understand this remarkable way to maintain a reef.
Dr Walter Addy in the book "Dynamic Aquaria-- Building Living Ecosystems" started it for me about 25 years ago. From high school thru college I had several freshwater fish stores that I supplied from a 200 tank breeding facility I setup. This gave me a pretty good background when I decided to personally get into saltwater in the early 80's. During that time it was kind of a killing field as few had the talent to keep coral, much less grow it.
I went thru the various stages, bio balls, canister filters, siphon overflows...the works. Then the Berlin method came along and I found I could ditch the bio balls for more live rock and the canister filter was replaced with a protein skimmer. All was well...except that when I fed my fish and coral, algae grew everywhere.
No amount of snails, algae eaters or other solutions seemed to work and I didn't want to keep my tank lights off or stop feeding just to try to stop the algae...besides even that didn't work. Then I read Dr. Addy's book and understood the idea of a dynamic aquarium.
Algae is the oceans friend...and it should be mine as well. It was a matter of harnessing it for good works rather than evil. In the Dynamic Aquarium, there are several things happening. For example, not using a fine filter so particulates circulate constantly. Tank water isn't Gin clear, but it helps keep some food stuff circulating for polyps.
The biggest concept was algae turf scrubbing (ATS) to me. In its simplest form it is a small sump with a dump bucket that spills water over a easy to clean grating material. That grating is being blasted by very close lights so the PAR is many times what is in the display tank. This is generally run while the display tank lights are out and is very effective with PH stabilization. It starves the nutrients from the water and concentrates them in the algae, which you can dispose of or re-feed to your herbivores. Very simple and very effective. No chemicals, no wild swings...very stable and that is what reef keeping is all about...stable.
In the following posts I will show my algae turf scrubbing system that has been running for almost 20 years now. It dumps 1.5 gallons every 10 seconds...that's 62 million dumps so far. If you can work with acrylic it is a straight forward DIY task to build one. But there are many different designs and many can be done at home.