Jump to content
SantaMonica

Chaeto Reactors compared to Algae Scrubbers

Recommended Posts

With more people wanting to use natural filtration for their tanks, we are going to look at the two main types of units that you can put on your system: Chaeto reactors (or "algae reactors") and algae turf scrubbers (ATS). We won’t be looking at refugiums however, since those have mostly a different purpose. This will be a multi-part post; the next post will start with the basics, so if you’d like anything in particular to be covered, let us know.
 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know you don't offer algae scrubbers and hope this doesn't turn into advertisement for your products. 

I probably speak for others when I say I'd like to see controlled testing of nitrate and phosphate reduction in exact systems. 

Looking forward to a non biased comparison!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you meant we "do" offer scrubbers :)   But many people ask about reactors and are unsure of the differences, so a few details about them would seem to help all. As for controlled testing, if someone in the West Los Angeles area would like to donate space for it, I'll certainly go there and do it.  But for now the posts will be about concepts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes sorry! I don't believe you offer algae reactors. Good luck with your comparison.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am interested in the difference they each make. I recently put a cheato reactor on both my tanks. To early to see a real difference but the cheato grows like crazy. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Jorge hit the nail on the head with this one... I see this turning into a "our turf scrubbers are the best, buy ours now"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think Jorge hit the nail on the head with this one... I see this turning into a "our turf scrubbers are the best, buy ours now"
Seems doubtful, based on the current rate of progress here...

Sent from my LG-H871 using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was genuinely interested in a comparison between the two. You gotta be ready to give the consumer real statistics if you're gonna say one piece of equipment is better than the other. By all means sell your product but up to this point the title is misleading.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This comparison will take time, not easy, but would be cool if there are some data to look at.  I've tried both (DIY) and scrubber kicks butt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chaeto Reactors compared to Algae Scrubbers, part 1 

All macroalgae operate basically the same, chemically. They all use light, photosynthetically, to absorb nutrients from the water (i.e., filtering) and to grow biomass. Just like trees. The differences between types of macroalgae are in the physical structure of the macroalgae growth and the way the structure affects nutrient absorption speed, which means filtering. Here are the main differences as far as aquarists are concerned:

Chaeto: Pronounced KAY-toe. Chaeto is the nickname for Chaetomorpha, and it looks like a green dishwasher cleaning pad. It has no "roots" and thus does not attach to solid surfaces. It grows in saltwater only, and is not eaten by many fish.

Green Hair Algae: Includes Cladophora "angel hair" and Ulva "Easter basket" types. It has "roots" which attach to solid surfaces. It grows in freshwater and saltwater, and is eaten by almost all herbivores.

Slime: A solid algal growth, bright green to brown to black in color, that attaches to solid surfaces but not very securely.

Chaeto Reactor: A device that has water running through it, with chaeto growing in it. Also known as an "algae reactor". A chaeto reactor does not allow air to enter; only water, and these reactors usually have a lid attached with screws to keep water in and air out.

Algae Scrubber: Also called a Turf Scrubber, or Algal Turf Scrubber (ATS). A device that allows air and water to interact to create a turbulent air/water interface like waves on a beach; it grows green hair algae or slime that attaches to solid surfaces. 

Reactors and scrubbers are different from refugiums; a refugium (“fuge”) is a space in a sump where macroalgae is placed, and a light is put over it. Refugiums have very slow flow, and very low light penetration, compared to reactors or scrubbers. You could modify a refugium to be a reactor, and with more mods you could make it a scrubber. But then it would no longer be a refugium.

All oceans, reefs, lakes and rivers are naturally filtered by photosynthesis. This means that algae does all the filtering of these waters. This is why algae is at the base of the entire aquatic food chain, and why algae biomass dwarfs the biomass of all aquatic animals combined. But for algae to absorb nutrients out of the water, the algae must grow. And to absorb nutrients faster, the algae must grow faster. 

Next we will look at what makes different types of macroalgae absorb nutrients differently.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well, as someone that makes a living from growing plants in water I can say that while a broad overview of different alage types and nutrient uptake pathways is informative, in terms of determining which is a more effective nutrient export pathway it provides little value.

As with most things, there is not a linear relationships between variables. An example would be flow. Increased water flow in the root zone of vascular plants is a good thing but you can have too much flow which results in pressure differentials across the root surface (think air over airplane wing) and a media that is overly oxygen saturated which results in ionization parameters that ultimately affect the absorbtion of nutrients through the active transport mechanism.

I would love to see a comparison of methods that involved measurements of exported nutrients as it would be simple to do so but that is not what the author is proposing.

I'm not saying that an overview isnt helpful but there is certainly no shortage of anecdotal evidence or causation inferred from correlation in this hobby.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, pdxmonkeyboy said:

well, as someone that makes a living from growing plants in water I can say that while a broad overview of different alage types and nutrient uptake pathways is informative, in terms of determining which is a more effective nutrient export pathway it provides little value.

As with most things, there is not a linear relationships between variables. An example would be flow. Increased water flow in the root zone of vascular plants is a good thing but you can have too much flow which results in pressure differentials across the root surface (think air over airplane wing) and a media that is overly oxygen saturated which results in ionization parameters that ultimately affect the absorbtion of nutrients through the active transport mechanism.

I would love to see a comparison of methods that involved measurements of exported nutrients as it would be simple to do so but that is not what the author is proposing.

I'm not saying that an overview isnt helpful but there is certainly no shortage of anecdotal evidence or causation inferred from correlation in this hobby.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

Good synopsis of the challenges and limitations of any comparison that does not involve measurement of actual nutrient export.  I will be curious to see if someone (not the point of this thread I realize) actually invests the time to set this experiment up in a well controlled manner.  The BRS series on the effects of chaeto on nutrient load were at least an interesting start down this road but didn't delve into these differing technologies and were (originally) focused on the impact of different lighting sources.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yeah. i think bottom line for me anyways is chaeto works, is easy, and cheap.

i laughed my head off the first time i saw a "chaeto reactor"

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×