View Full Version : Algae scrubbers as a filtration method?

02-28-2010, 10:50 AM
What I refer to is also called Algae Turf Scrubbers (ATS), Scrubbers, Algae

Filters, Turf Scrubbers, and Turf Algae Filters.

Essential you use a separate area, with optimal conditions i.e. water flow and

strong light, to provide a place where algae can grow. The algae use the

fish waste and decaying food as nutrients to grow. So when you remove the

algae you are essential removing the nitrate, phosphate and ammonia. I use

one for my tank and I brought back fish that where close to death at the LFS.

Does anyone have an opinion or first had experience?

03-01-2010, 11:18 AM
Does anyone have an opinion or first had experience?

Do a search here and on other forums (or Google/Bing), you'll find tons of information. Especially in the reef keeping world.


03-01-2010, 02:07 PM
yes I do have lots of 1st hand exp with them. I've used them on several large reef set ups. I don't think they would work very well on a FW or discus set up.

03-01-2010, 02:46 PM
I've been toying with the idea of tossing duck weed and a light in my sump as a nitrate scrubber. I was looking at the algae scrubber idea initially, but I think the floating plant idea may be better for me. Less to build.

03-22-2010, 03:00 PM
I have also been looking into these for a long time now. I have seen a few successes in FW but they are mainly used in SW. This would be a dream come true for a discus keeper if it does work well in FW since it will eliminate the need for water changes and will only require you to scrub off the algae once a week. Has anyone else tried this on a FW tank with any success? The biggest drawback I have noticed with these in FW is that the algae seems more prone to falling off the screen and ending up back in the tank so maybe some kind of foam under the scrubber to catch the falling algae might solve the issue and make this a real contender for FW tanks.

Chad Hughes
03-22-2010, 03:10 PM
IMHO, the biggest reason that these work best in SW tanks is there are no plants in them. If you plant a FW tank, you get the exact same effect without changes to the filtration system. It looks great too! :D

03-22-2010, 03:55 PM
There are quite a few people using algae scrubbers in the FW world as well, but the advantages aren't as great. In FW you can remove nitrates and other organics through a water change, at little or no cost. In the SW/Reef world, water changes come with a significant expense in salt and other minerals, plus the potential for changing the environment.

On the flip side, a screen with lights isn't required for most FW setups. Letting algae build in a lighted sump works fine. Toss in some hornwort or other fast growing plant material and the same principal is in effect.


03-29-2010, 02:45 PM
Thanks for the replies,

Chad your reply in a way makes me think of what I had long ago.

I had a heavily planted tank and used a scrubber such that the lights of one

would be off while the lights of the other would be on.

(balanced the ph/co2 levels) The way I look at it

as much as I liked to reproduce what is found in nature, the tendency is too

have many more fish in any given quantity of water than would be found in

nature. Hence the need to take a fish that usually is supplied fresh soft water

,with next to any nutrients, and do so many water changes. That is why I

feel an algae scrubber makes sense. I want to enjoy keeping fish not for it to

be like work and expense. Sure I could get more growth with daily water

changes but much more work than I want to do. I think of it in this way you

want fast growing fish you feed oftenand algae scrubbers thrive in this

environment because they have more of a capability to "consume" nutrients

i.e. decaying food and fish waste. By the way this is why some corals do so

well, with scrubbers, instead of constantly skimming food that has yet to

decompose, which is what the scrubber consumes, the food is there for

the coral to consume. Maybe not the best comparison because the waters

of fast moving rivers are different than oceans but unless there are sources of

food, plants and other fish,a "clean", without nutrients. ocean would almost

certainly would be devoid of life.

Thanks for any help.

08-18-2013, 06:32 AM
[QUOTE=Inkidu;629956]Thanks for the replies,

I had a heavily planted tank and used a scrubber such that the lights of one

would be off while the lights of the other would be on.

(balanced the ph/co2 levels)

Inkidu i am setting up a planted aquarium and am going to stock alot of fish. i currently use an algae scrubber for my cichlid tank and love it and would like to use it for the planted tank but also know that plants and algae scrubbers consume the same elements. how did you get on running the scrubber in this way? did the plants still do well? thanks. :-)