• Upflow algae scrubber v2.0

    An algae scrubber is a form of filtration which uses turf algae to filtrate your aquarium.

    The upflow scrubber is situated inside your sump and uses a airstone to provide the movement required across the screen.

    The benefits of this design is that is saves a lot of space compared to the old waterfall version.

    The size of the screens are also much smaller these days due to the fact that you base your screen size on the amount you feed your tank a day.

    A screen of 7.5cm x 10cm (75square cm) can handle 1/2 a cube of frozen food OR 5pinches of flakes a day if lit from one side only. Just for explanation purposes. The amount you feed can be doubled if you lit the screen from both sides.

    So now the big part, what do you need to build it...

    The following is just the basics needed to get you started:
    - a air pump
    - screen cut to size (I used 80% shade cloth and it works really well)
    - egg crate slightly bigger than your screen (I needed something to attach the shade cloth to, if you use a ridged material you won't need the egg crate)
    - 6 cable ties
    - air tubing
    - airstone (roughly the same size as your screen)


    attach the screen to the egg crate with a cable tie on each corner


    then add the airstone to the screen. (Leave enough space for removal as you will have to clean it weekly)


    You have now completed half of your scrubber.

    An additional suggestion is to build or buy a box in which you can put your scrubber. It will help to confine the bubbles and reduce salt creep against your glass and equipment.

    I built mine out of Perspex and tied it down with a few cable ties.


    The next critical part of your scrubber is lighting.
    In this build I will focus on using LEDs.

    You will need reds and blues in a ratio of 7:1. Although my ratio is 4.5:1 and still works really well.
    Regardless of your ratio you must aim for more red light.

    Do not use warm white LEDs, due to the composition of LEDs the spectrum does not promote growth.

    Some might ask why blue LEDs?
    The blue spectrum promotes healthier as well as stronger growth

    There is still great debate about the amount of LEDs required as well as whether to use 3watts or 1watts.

    From what I could gather the most important aspect is total coverage of your screen, therefore try and cover your whole screen with light.

    A word of caution.
    If you use 3watts be careful not to burn the algae with the amount of light, especially the blues. It is recommend to run the blues at 350mA which is the forward voltage of 1 watt LEDs.

    Another factor to consider is the fact that 2 1 watt LEDs provide more light/lumens than 1 3 watt.

    Based on the above "limitations" of 3watt LEDs and the fact that I was not keen to buy dimable drivers I opted for 1 watt LEDs .

    So what would you need

    - a driver
    - LEDs needed
    - heatsinks or mounting surface (I used u-channel aluminum)

    I have 9 red LEDs and two blue LEDs.



    a photo of everything in place




    as always if you have any question please feel free to ask
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. PeterFish's Avatar
      PeterFish -
      its also really convenient to use your overflow from the tank and the cascading water flows over the mesh works really well on my system. No air stone required
    1. WarrenElvis's Avatar
      WarrenElvis -
      Quote Originally Posted by PeterFish View Post
      its also really convenient to use your overflow from the tank and the cascading water flows over the mesh works really well on my system. No air stone required

      Hey @PeterFish
      Any pics for us. Come introduce yourself here http://www.mysaltyreef.com/forum/for.../2-New-members
      Don't forget to start a Tank thread. Keen to hear more about your system
    1. greatwyt's Avatar
      greatwyt -
      hey @Henkie, im considering changing my scrubber from waterfall to upflow and want to optimize the lights. can you advise on the lighting u got? my scrubber size will be big again and i was thinking of getting this unit http://www.aliexpress.com/item/New-A...052937569.html in 20W can you advise on your light build, if this is a good buy? or if u have another option? thanks
    1. Henkie's Avatar
      Henkie -
      Hi @greatwyt

      If you don't mind lets start from the top...

      What is your current screen dimensions and lighting?
      Current nutrient level?

      Can you perhaps give me a breakdown of how much you are currently feeding your tank?

      With regards to the light in the link you posted.

      I did a quick count but each row has 13 x 45 leds which means the total unit has 1755 leds on...

      So if you purchase the 20 watt unit it means each led is only 0.01 watt and if you buy the 120 watt unit each led is only 0.07 watt.
      This is unfortunately way under-powered for a scrubber. So my advice would be not to buy this unit (well I would not)

      As soon as you can give me the answers to the questions I asked we can talk about lighting
    1. greatwyt's Avatar
      greatwyt -
      Thanks for reply man

      currently im running a scrubber about 40cm by 40 cm with 2 X 10w LED floodlight and one 20w LED floodlight. chinatown specials
      the scrubber ran well and gets good green hair, although after cleaning i struggle with red hair algae for some time. the growth is still good however
      it started off as a temporary DIY but is still running that way

      my plan now is to create a 30cm X 30 cm upflow

      im feeding about 3 cubes worth a day

    1. Henkie's Avatar
      Henkie -
      So let's start from the start

      If you have a screen of 30 x 30 you have 900 Sq cm.

      You plan to feed 3 cubes of food a day.

      If your screen is lit from one side(which I assume it will be as it is an upflow scrubber) each 75sq cm can handle 1/2 a cube.

      So if we work out the screen size required it will be 450 Sq cm ( 3 cubes / 0.5 = 6 x 75 Sq cm)

      But if it is lit from both sides it halves the screen size (3 x 75 Sq cm = 225 Sq cm)

      So with your current planned sized screen you should be able to feed up to 6 cubes of food if lit from one side.

      So lighting wise I am going to talk from an led perspective (assume that's what you plan to use)

      These guidelines are based on 3 watt leds

      Two options are available
      - minimum coverage
      - Maximum coverage

      For minimum coverage

      1 RED led can cover 50 Sq cm

      So for a 450 Sq cm screen you would need 9 leds

      For maximum coverage

      1 RED led covers 25 Sq cm

      So for a 450 Sq cm screen you will need 18 red leds

      Now I had this discussion with Andrew the other day about the possibility that these guidelines may be a bit over the top.

      Let's take my screen for example

      I have 360 Sq cm I need to light.

      So for minimum coverage I need 8 leds and for maximum I need 15 leds

      Currently I am only using 9 red 1 watt leds and two blue leds so in theory I am short of light but yet my nitrates are not above 5ppm, it's usually closer to 3 ppm.

      Something I guess works in my favour is that 2 x 1 watt leds provides more light than 1 x 3 watt leds....

      So currently I am leaning towards to use about 1.5 times the amount of 1 watt leds than 3 watts if you want to use 1 watts...

      The benefits of one watt leds are that you get better coverage over your screen so algae will grow better and not in clumps if I can call it that.

      I know I deviated from your question but I thought I'll just give you a real life situation.

      Shout if you need anymore help
    1. MistaOrange's Avatar
      MistaOrange -
      That's awesome I want to try this
    1. Dian's Avatar
      Dian -
      I know this method is still treating @Henkie with great results.

      Sent from my D6603 using Tapatalk
    1. SantaMonicaHelp's Avatar
      SantaMonicaHelp -
      Yea he is getting some big growth.
    1. Naptalene's Avatar
      Naptalene -
      Important thing is he's got growth and the colors.
      It's freak g awesome
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