Algae Turf Scrubbers - myth or reality

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by rygh, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Are there any tanks in any wholesaler that you would want in your house?

    The only time I see something nice is when the owner has a personal tank in a retail store.
  2. Thales

    Thales Past President

    Indeed there are, but thats not really the point.

    Comparing filtration methods at a wholesale facility to a home system often doesn't make much sense because the animals aren't there all that long. Plus, when Morgan says the do yearly water changes that doesn't include the tons of water they ship out with every animal - in other words, the are actually constantly doing water changes.
  3. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    Calling Inland a wholesaler is syretching it, even if Morgan calls himself one. And yes, i have seen tanks at wholesalers i would kill to have at my house, same with stores... and yes, tanks with stuff for sale.
  4. JAR

    JAR Supporting Member

    Don't do it man!
  5. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    I get the arguments, but I just cannot get away from the basic thought:
    Here is someone with 40,000 gallons plus, a huge investment in a business that relies on good filtration,
    he has been in business for years, and has ATS as the "main" source of filtration.
    If that ATS was not effective or if it killed SPS, I just cannot possibly see how he
    would be crazy enough to stick with it, or even how the company would still exist.
  6. Thales

    Thales Past President

    There are lots of wholesalers that have been in existence for years that do things regarding filtration that would disturb us all - heck there is a local wholesaler that has been around forever that would make you shake your head in dismaying amazement. Just because someone is doing shouldn't be enough to mean its good or a good idea to scale down for your home.

    And, maybe Gresh will chime in here with some examples, wholesale and retailers that are doing lots of business do a remarkable number of water changes just based on the water going out in bags.

    As has been mentioned before, Inland has never been known for 'good' sps and they don't sell a lot of them. That segment of the market isn't one they thrive on. Furthermore, they are really the only facility, out of 100's (maybe 1000's) that run ATS. If the system is so great, why aren't more people using it? Its not like its new, Inland has been doing it for over a decade.

    Again, no one is arguing that ATS isn't 'good' filtration in the right application, just that its not a panacea and that historically sps do not seem to thrive in ATS systems. I am thinking again of adding one to my ceph system. A fish only system, sure, a large scale fish only system sure. SPS? I would need more evidence, which we have been looking for for years, that counters the already existent negative evidence.

    Sode note - the Smithsonian tank that people bring up as ATS example was a failure, looked terrible and couldn't grow SPS.
  7. r0ck0

    r0ck0 Guest

  8. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    Rich is correct. The LFS I worked at we had 2K gallons in the marine section... we'd do about 1000g a week, sometimes 1,500g on busy weeks.

    At one of the wholesale facilities I worked at our acclimation alone would use 350g of system water and we'd get multiple shipments a week. It was 2,000g and it was normal for us to use over 1,000g a week for shipping alone. Some of the LA wholesalers go through thousands of gallons a day for just shipping water. They'll get NSW deliveries multiple times a day and in a MUCH larger truck then the one we see locally.

    Filtration at the vast majority of small to medium wholesalers usually consists of live rock in a trickle filter, ply pads, protein skimmer and a UV. The big guys use ozone, sand filters, etc.

    And again, Inland is NOT KNOWN for colorful SPS, especially Acropora. They are known for odd algae, captive bred/tank raised fish and corals (not sps). They were one of the first internet companies to really embrace captive bred/tank raised fish in a big way.

    IN all the facilities (LFS, wholesale, etc) I have been in (hundreds) only two had ATS set-ups, and both didn't have great SPS.
  9. tuberider

    tuberider Guest

    I can chime in as well @ WWA (retail) and Kerr tropicals (wholesale) we did no water changes at all, we only topped off with saltwater and adjusted the salinity occasionally.

    The tank at the Smithsonian looked like an Eng tank the multiple times I saw it, hair algae, yellow water, OK looking coral. Not nice enough that I would regard the tank to be a public display quality tank, even at that time (1990-1994).
  10. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    I prefer to stay on topic here.
    Feel free to start another thread on that filter. Might be interesting.
    But I took a quick peek, and found zero information on how it works or anything.
    Just marketing on how great it was.
  11. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Very interesting on wholesaler experience.
    So 50% weekly water changes is not uncommon. Wow. Makes sense though.
    Thus, like that south-african tank from earlier in the thread, does not prove much,
    even if they did produce nice SPS.
    Oh well. Bummer.


    I have been looking for both positive and negative details in this search.
    And I am having trouble finding truly solid negative evidence either.
    Sure, tons of "Tried an ATS, and it sucked" kind of thing.
    But that is less useful than the IA data.

    What I would love to see:
    A) Someone that had success measurably reducing nitrates with an ATS.
    B) They then had significant other problems.

    The majority of "it sucks" seems to be simply failing to reduce nitrates.
    That leads me to believe that it was simply not set up right, so the testimony is not worth much.
    The second most common was that it turns your water green, which is simply not cleaning often enough.

    Basically, the really good negative evidence is proving elusive to find as well.
  12. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    Did you arrive at 50% from my post? If so you musta messed up on the math ;)

    To put this in perspective...

    Our normal routine was 3 - 4 import shipments a week.
    350 x 3 = 1050g - that is acclimation water used.

    We'd normally burn about 1000g to replace what was used to ship out in a week - 1000g

    1050G + 1000g = 2050g on a 2000g system every week and that is with out any water changes.

    We did water changes as well. And when we medicated we'd go through even more water.
  13. Thales

    Thales Past President

    For starters check out TRA1 starting on page 151.
  14. Qwiv

    Qwiv Guest

    Why don't you document your ATS experience scientifically to produce the data you are looking for. If you can't find it, others can't find it and would love to have your data. I am sure Rich would help you with procedures and methods. I would lend any hand I could as well. I use to love my ATS dump bucket when I had one but I also didn't keep SPS in any successful way back then.

    There use to be more data available on ATS systems, but as times have passed, so has the information available online as well I guess or lost in archives. Try as that board was one of the few around when ATS' were still in use.

    My personal experience with ATS shows a benefit to a softy tank, fish only, fish grow out, maybe a Azoo tank, a marine planted tank, etc but not an SPS tank. An ATS certainly can remove nutrients from the water column, but the ATS requires a certain concentration of these nutrients in the water column to be productive. I don't want that high of a concentration in my tank to even keep the ATS working in an sps tank. If my tank is running where I want it to, the ATS would not only stop functioning, it would crash and become a nutrient import. Before my last last tank had a meltdown I had a hard time seeing growth in the refugium, to the point where I tried dosing to get macro to grow. An ATS would not have functioned on this tank and I am assuming that this is true of a lot of people keeping successful SPS tanks. My metaphor for an ATS would be a hoover vacuum. Sure, it can remove dirt and dust to a point, but bring that thing in a clean room and now it is introducing dust, not removing it.
  15. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    What is "TRA1" ?
  16. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    I can certainly document the history. Not a bad idea.
    A bit hard to do careful studies with one tank though.

    That is an interesting point that a really clean low nutrient reef setup might starve an ATS, to where it does not
    really function. (And of course render it pointless as well, since there is no nitrate problem to deal with)
    But since there is little left on the screens after cleaning, it would simply result
    in bare screens and a waste of power, not a nutrient exporter.
  17. Thales

    Thales Past President

    The Reef Aquarium vol 1
  18. tuberider

    tuberider Guest

    That's one of the best write ups I've seen on the subject.
  19. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Given the recent interest, I decided to add a fairly recent "success" picture from the main turf scrubber site.

    From the pic, obviously a very nice tank.
    Yes, it has quite a bit if very healthy SPS.

    This person has a very reasonably attitude. Not trying to over-prove anything. Just works for him.
    No skimmer, lots of feeding, and minimal water changes, maybe every 6 months.
    He is running chemipure however, changed every 90 days.
    (I notice using a bit of carbon/chemipure as an ATS supplement trend, and I think it
    helps me as well, so I now run 1/4 cup of carbon, changed bi-weekly)

    Re-posted with permission, and there are a lot more pics in the success area of the ats site.

    Attached files /attachments/sites/default/files/ATS_ReefTank0004.jpg
  20. Thales

    Thales Past President

    I see very little SPS in that pic. What am I missing?

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