Lowest cost and easiest way to eliminate green hair, bubble, turf and slime algae

Some success stories of people who built upflow algae scrubbers...

ReeferMat on the MASC site: "So I decided to build one of these [UAS scrubbers] today. It's huge because all I had was a 12 inch airstone, but I'm hoping that won't matter too much. It cost me less than $20 to build, so if it works that is the best bang for the buck I have ever seen in the war on algae! It has been up and running for 3 months now and I have to say my tank looks a lot better. Every time I clean it it grows a new type of algae, slime, turf, etc... and it grows fast. I would say I have seen a decline in nuisance algae in my tank, but to be honest that would be an understatement.... It has all but eradicated it. Every time I look at the scrubber I can't help but think that all that junk would be growing in my DT"

Owenreefin on the PNWMAS site: "The first two months of running this UAS scrubber thing I was convinced I was going to rip it out for the algae growth was dismal, and I figured that my system just couldn't make it work. (I also have algae in my fuge) WELL I WAS WRONG. The thing started to really kick in. So much so that I just conducted my only water change in 2 months and I hardly think it was even necessary. I usually do a change of 30% every 2 weeks. My sand bed has cleared up big time too. With the water change I pulled out a good baseball sized amount of algae off the scrubber, couldn't be happier! I will always be running one of these. I will post pics of its growth next time I change water. Many months from now. :) "

Bobba on the scrubber site: "Well, it's been almost 3 weeks with the HOG.5, and 2 with my lone Turbo snail. I am happy to report that I have no Hair Algae left in the tank. No signs of any regrowth of what the snail has eaten either."

Clavius on the scrubber site:

"I've been running a 500 liter tank now for 5 years. It is very well stocked with SPS, LPS, softies, filter feeders and a modest amount of fish. The nutrients were being kept very low by a combination of a giant skimmer and the ZEOvit method. Off course, this results in very lightly coloured corals, which was my goal. Generally I'm very pleased with the colouring and growth of my corals, and please with my tank in general. But one battle I've always lost: brown algae covering my sandbed. I could not, for the life of me, find what was causing those algae. Not to mention solve it. I've tried many many things to solve it, but up untill recently, without luck.

Almost three weeks ago though, I installed a HOG.5 unit. It was a little experiment that I wanted to do ever since I learned about algae scrubbers. I was never creative enough to build one myself, as the space in my 100 ltr sump is very limited. The HOG.5 was affordable and tiny enough to enable my experiment. I could even fit 6 of those units in there with ease. Off course, with the ZEO-method, my nutrients already were really very low. I couldn't measure any NO3 or PO4 with my Salifert test kits. And I never bothered with more expensive kits; unmeasurable should be good enough. I wanted to see if the vitamins and amino acids that the algae scrubber produces would add anything to my reef. And, more importantly, if the algae would consume "something" that the brown algae on my sandbed require.

The result in my sandbed is staggering. After only 3 weeks, not a trace of the pesky brown algae is left! An extra benefit, that I didn't expect, is that my lightly coloured corals now all have noticably much more colour. Without getting darker. They seem to glow! I don't know if it is from the vitamins that are released in the water [from the algae scrubber]. Or maybe the ugly brown algae [on the sand] were also covering my corals and that I now finally seeing my uncovered corals! Strangely enough, the algae in my HOG.5 aren't light green, as you would expect with nutrient-poor tanks. But they're a mix of dark brown with red tints here and there. So, I have no idea why that is or how that works. But at this stage I'm just so happy that I really don't care."
Some more UAS upflow algae scrubber (tm) examples...

"Joey2525" on the CMF site...




"Alexleblanc" on the scrubber site...




"Disney" on the PH841 site...


"Cdm2012" on the scrubber site...


"Bicyclebill" on the PNWMAS site



"Mbonus" on the scrubber site...

"UasIslakkie" on the UR site...


"Alman" on the AH site...

"JosephAcquario" on another site...


"Ericsson" on the scrubber site...



"FotisGt" on the AZ site...


Air Pump Recommendations for UAS® upflow algae scrubbers®. Having bought and tried all of these, here are the best ones:

Flow (highest to lowest):

Coralife Super Luft... TONS of flow for multiple outlets or multiple scrubbers
Tetra Whisper 300... High flow if both outlets are combined into one
JW Aquatic Fusion 700... High flow if both outlets are combined into one
Tetra Whisper 150... Good flow for one outlet
Coralife Luft (regular)... Good flow for one outlet

Noise (most to least):

Coralife Super Luft... (Loud; vibrates)
Coralife Luft (regular)... (Vibrates)
JW Aquatic Fusion 700... Slight vibration
Tetra Whisper 300... Silent
Tetra Whisper 150... Silent

Size: (big to small):

Tetra Whisper 300... Large
JW Aquatic Fusion 700... Medium
Coralife Super Luft... Medium
Tetra Whisper 150... Medium
Coralife Luft (regular)... Small

Cost (most to least):

Coralife Super Luft
Coralife Luft (regular)
Tetra Whisper 300
Tetra Whisper 150
JW Aquatic Fusion 700

Overall winner for a single UAS scrubber used at home: JW Aquatic Fusion 700 (also is the only one with adjustable flow)
Overall winner for multiple UAS scrubbers if noise if ok: Coralife Super Luft
1982: The original dump-bucket style algae scrubber (works, but very hard to build, install, operate, and harvest)

2008: Waterfall style algae scrubber (works good but hard to build and install; must be removed to harvest)

2011: Upflow style scrubber (work goods, easier to build and install on the glass; must be removed to harvest)

2013: ??? (work great, all 3D growth, easy to build, and instant in-place harvesting without needing to remove anything or turn anything off).
If anyone has been waiting to build a waterfall or upflow scrubber, we will soon be posting plans of the new floating surface scrubber. It floats at the top and does not need a waterfall, and it does not shine through the glass.
If anyone has been waiting to build a waterfall or upflow scrubber, we will soon be posting plans of the new floating surface scrubber. It floats at the top and does not need a waterfall, and it does not shine through the glass.

I'd like to see that. I'm currently building a 150g reef and I'd like to incorporate a scrubber in this tank, but I don't want to deal with salt creap, seems to be the biggest complaint from users.
Phosphate flow out of rocks

Many people, when they get their scrubber running for the first time, get worried when more (not less) algae starts to grow on their rocks. It seems really strange, especially when nitrate and phosphate have gone lower than before. What is happening is that phosphate is coming out of the rocks. Remember, phosphate is invisible, so you can only see the effects of it, and it always "flows" from higher concentrations to lower concentrations (just like heat does).

Example: If your room is warm, and you put a cold object on the floor, heat from the air in the room will "flow" into the object until the object and the air are the same temperature. Example 2: If you put a hot object on the floor, heat will "flow" out of the object and go into the air in the room, again, until the air and the object are the same temperature. Now suppose you open your windows (in the winter). The warm air in your room will go out the windows, and it will get colder in the room. The object on the floor is now warmer than the air, so heat will flow out of the object and into the air, and then out the window.

Think of phosphate as the heat, and your rocks as the object, and your windows as the scrubber. As the scrubber pulls phosphate out of the water, the phosphate level in the water drops. Now, since the phosphate level in the water is lower than the phosphate level in the rocks, phosphate flows from the rocks into the water, and then from the water into the scrubber. This continues until the phosphate levels in the rocks and water are level again. And remember, you can't see this invisible flow.

This flow causes an interesting thing to happen. As the phosphate comes out of the rocks, it then becomes available to feed algae as soon as the phosphate reaches the surface of the rocks where there is light. So, since the surface of the rocks is rough and has light, it starts growing MORE algae there (not less) as the phosphate comes out of the rocks. This is a pretty amazing thing to see for the first time, because if you did not know what was happening you would probably think that the algae in the scrubber was leaking out and attaching to your rocks. Here are the signs of phosphate coming out of the rocks:

1. The rocks are older, and have slowly developed algae problems in the past year.

2. The scrubber is new, maybe only a few months old, and has recently started to grow well.

3. Nitrate and phosphate measurements in the water are low, usually the lowest they have been in a long time.

4. Green hair algae (not brown) on the rocks has increased in certain spots, usually on corners and protrusions at the top.

5. The glass has not needed cleaning as much.

Since skimmers, filter socks, etc don't remove any nitrate and phosphate, and waterchanges and macro's in a fuge don't remove much, most people have never seen the effects of large amounts of phosphate coming out of the rocks quickly. But sure enough, it does. How long does it continue? For 2 months to a year, depending on how much phosphate is in the rocks, how strong your scrubber is, and how many other phosphate-removing filters you have (GFO, carbon dosing, etc). But one day you will see patches of white rock that were covered in green hair the day before; this is a sure sign that the algae are losing their phosphate supply from the rocks and can no longer hold on. Now it's just a matter of days before the rocks are clear.
Advanced Aquarist Feature Article for December 2013: Coral Feeding: An Overview

The picture in the article shows that in the 1000 litre test tank:

98% of the food particles go to the skimmer when there are 2 coral colonies
71% of the food particles go to the skimmer when there are 40 coral colonies
92% of the food particles go to the skimmer when there are 2 coral colonies, when skimming is cut in half
55% of the food particles go to the skimmer when there are 40 coral colonies, when skimming is cut in half

"This trade-off between food availability and water quality can be circumvented by using plankton-saving filtration systems, which include [...] algal turf scrubbers"

"Corals are able to feed on a wide range of particulate organic matter, which includes live organisms and their residues and excrements (detritus)."

"...bacteria [...] can be a major source of nitrogen."

"...when dry fish feeds or phytoplankton cultures are added to an aquarium, a part of this quickly ends up in the collection cup of the skimmer.

"...mechanical filters (which can include biofilters and sand filters) result in a significant waste of food."

"Detritus is a collective term for organic particles that arise from faeces, leftover food and decaying organisms. Detrital matter is common on coral reefs and in the aquarium, and slowly settles on the bottom as sediment. This sediment contains bacteria, protozoa, microscopic invertebrates, microalgae and organic material. These sedimentary sources can all serve as coral nutrients when suspended, especially for species growing in turbid waters. Experiments have revealed that many scleractinian corals can ingest and assimilate detritus which is trapped in coral mucus. Although stony corals may ingest detritus when it is available, several gorgonians have been found to primarily feed on suspended detritus."

"Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is an important food source for many corals. [...] scleractinian corals take up dissolved glucose from the water. More ecologically relevant, corals can also absorb amino acids and urea from the seawater"