Algae Turf Scrubbers - myth or reality

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

  1. Thales

    Thales Past President

    Don't think there is a maybe there. Its not laying, any more than human gestation and egg production could be called laying. :D

    But the pods on the ATS are killed weekly - how long does it take 'pods' to reach maturity?
  2. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Can't resist pointing to this article I was looking at earlier:

    I am unclear on the controversy about corals eating copepods.
    I thought that was pretty much a given. Quite a few articles say that.
    Or is it that they do not eat the small larvae. Interesting.
    It does make some sense, since the normal cnidocytes (mini harpoons) might have trouble catching them.
    Although perhaps they get caught in the mucus?
    If corals do not eat them, then yes, the thought process does not make sense.
    Because certainly no mature pods will come out of an ATS. Takes much longer than a week.
  3. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Can algae in an ATS cause SPS coral death??

    I have been delaying this, trying to get more data, but ran into having to pay to get
    some key papers. Being too cheap, I decided to make up facts instead.
    Or at least, based this on the summaries.

    This is a very critical point though, because if true, it means that even simple
    experimenting with an ATS could be very dangerous for your tank.


    My interpretation of the problem:
    Something released from Algae causes a microbial problem in SPS coral, causing death.

    I think the best experiment I noticed was this:
    Fleshy Algae was placed right next to SPS coral, only separated by a fine mesh.
    • With no algae - SPS was fine.
    • With algae - SPS dies off
      With algae and antibiotics - SPS was fine.

    In my mind, this proves there is reason to be concerned!

    On the other hand, this does not really prove anything solid and specific about turf scrubbers.
    And since there is no clear understanding of what chemicals are involved,
    and exactly how it works, it is all speculation.
    Which of course, means I can speculate along with everyone else.


    My speculations on why it is NOT a problem.

    1) ATS systems with SPS are very rare, but do exist.
    If it was so bad, that number should be ZERO.

    2) I have seen plenty of standard SPS tanks with hair algae growing in and around the coral.
    If it was so bad, why are people not completely paranoid about that

    3) There is often LESS algae in an ATS system than a normal system.
    The amount of algae in the ATS itself is fairly low. It is only the
    amount that can grow in a week. Not coincidentally, about the same mass
    as the food you add.
    And it out-competes a lot of the algae in your main tank, reducing that.
    So a tank with a bit of an algae problem could easily have more algae than an ATS system.

    4) There is FAR LESS dead and dying algae in an ATS systems.
    It is unclear, but possible, that a lot of the problem could be chemicals released when algae dies
    and releases what is inside. Since the algae in an ATS has a 1 week lifespan, there is
    far less of that than from your normal tank algae.

    5) It seems unlikely that ONLY hair algae does this.
    We commonly grow many different algae species in a refugium, and nobody worries about that.
    And of course, it is common to get hair algae accidentally growing there as well.
    And many of the studies mentioned "fleshy" algae, not specifically hair.
    And importantly, this was an argument even back when an ATS was TURF algae, not HAIR algae.

    I am really curious as to what others think of this specific issue.
  4. Thales

    Thales Past President

    Planktonic is the key word there. :D

    Aha! Before it was pods, now its copepods which can mean different things which is why I asked earlier which species of pod you were talking about. I don't think I have seen any photos of copepods on ATS, but lots of amphipods - some kind of gammarus.
    Articles or studies. Do you have links?
  5. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    I've only seen amphipods on ATS's. In fact I can't think of any copepods that would do well is such an environment. It's just not a place most copepods live.
  6. Thales

    Thales Past President

    This is fun for me. I am not nit picking. If this feels abrasive, please let me know and I will stop. :D

    I disagree because people are always trying stuff that has been done in the past. This is a good thing. However, concluding that the number should be zero make little sense - there are tons of reefy things we know don't work but people still use them.

    Some are, however there is a difference between HA and TA.

    Maybe - not sure I agree with the initial thought there.

    I don't buy this one. In a healthy stable system, there is very little algae of any kind.

    5) It seems unlikely that ONLY hair algae does this.
    We commonly grow many different algae species in a refugium, and nobody worries about that.
    And of course, it is common to get hair algae accidentally growing there as well.
    And many of the studies mentioned "fleshy" algae, not specifically hair.
    And importantly, this was an argument even back when an ATS was TURF algae, not HAIR algae.

    I am really curious as to what others think of this specific issue.[/quote]
  7. Thales

    Thales Past President

    There is a great thread somewhere on RDO with a link to Forrests vid. I'll try to find it.
  8. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    I looked for the great one (poo black hole theory thread) but couldn't find it. Hmmm I wonder if I use Galleon in the search if it'll bring it up?
  9. Qwiv

    Qwiv Guest

    I like the new design of an ATA, but the argument that they create food for corals I have an issue with. I agree an ATS will support pods but they seam to support pods that live on some sort of surface area not free floating or planktonic species. If a coral is going to feed on a pod, it will be one that is planktonic, not one that lives on an ATS, the glass, live rock etc. An ATS might provide a surface for free floating pod larvae to settle, but so would a sponge or anything else. Now, an ATS used to grow pods to feed the fish... you might have something.
  10. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Absolutely not a problem. Fun for me also.
    I was teasing on the whole pod-egg thing, which sounds like amphi/cope abbreviation confusion on my part.
    I welcome the skeptical side, since I have a big decision to make on this as I go to SPS,
    and I am having trouble separating hype from truth. Likely as are many others.

    Yes, people will try anything, and often continue to use anything thinking it works even if it does not.
    But not working, versus actually killing, is different.
    Either people would stop using the ATS, or they would stop having SPS.
    So you really should not be able to find any if it was really bad.
    Now it is still quite possible that carbon and water changes reduce the effect, allowing
    for the few success stories out there.

    Yes, but modern ATS systems grow hair algae, same as the nuisance in the tank.
  11. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Cool. So wrong type of pods, wrong target, big argument, but still a plus in the end.
    Well, I do have two fat and happy looking scooter blennies.
  12. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Poking a hole in my own argument:
    The problem is, for fish, I doubt you want the baby ones, with only 1 week of growth.
    I imagine some partially grown ones will settle, fatten up, and drop off, but that seems minimal.
  13. Thales

    Thales Past President

    Right on!
    I don't think so. This seems to revolve around the idea of killing. Killing coral can be hard to suss given that RTN and STN can rear their heads almost any time often for unknown reasons. Corals that die in ATS systems seem to go down like that, in hard to figure out ways. In other words, some could easily have corals go down, but blame something besides the ATS.
    No way! People are too willing to blame anything besides the thing they don't want to believe is the cause. I think cognitive dissonance has quite an impact on how people view their ATS.
    I think this is the key.
    Do you have a link, and/or do you know what species people are claiming to have on their ATS? I don't believe that what people call HA would actually do well on an ATS - of course I could be wrong. :D
  14. phishphood

    phishphood Guest

    Just for fun I'll add this in, I made one a year or so ago, and with minimal current. This definitely had what some (not most, all, etc) people label as HA (common name, latin I have no clue). Long, sweepy, like wet hair. So maybe it has to do with improperly set up ATS that grow hair algae.

    rygh- have any titles, authors etc on those articles you were looking at? My last final is tomorrow and then I have a month to get some good reading in. Might as well utilize the institution's subscriptions while I'm still here.
  15. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Regarding algae type:
    There are tons of pics on, but I am not sure if anyone has done a scientific study.
    Not like hair algae is a very scientific term anyway.

    From the pics and posts, and some of my experiments:
    Vertical waterfall type scrubbers grow long light green filament algae that sure looks like hair algae.
    Horizontal intermittent flow (drop bucket) scrubbers, grow very lumpy redish solid algae, looks like short thick grass (turf).
    Semi-horizontal constant flow scrubbers grow a bit of a mixture. Mostly solid dark green iceplant like, but with some stringiness.

    My reasoning: The hair filaments grow better and out compete other algae if possible, but they cannot
    grow "up" like a more solid algae can, and get impacted on horizontal scrubbers.

    For the scientific papers, I did not keep my search history, but Crabby posted some good links:
  16. houser

    houser Past President

    I'm in a nice comfortable chair today to watch the debate continue.
  17. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Not sure there is that much more to debate. Kinda bummed.

    I could make up some more wild speculations I guess.

    I wish I knew how to really get to the bottom of the debate about ATS possibly killing SPS.
    I have mostly convinced myself that it is not a big issue, especially if you run carbon.

    I am going to post the SPS killing question on the ATS site. (Nicely)
    Might get some interesting responses.
  18. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

  19. houser

    houser Past President

    Seriously though - if there's not going to be a debate today then I think it's about time I left work ;)
  20. Qwiv

    Qwiv Guest

    I think you can use an ATS and be successful but how you define success it the question. I looked at all the tanks on the links you provided and any I could find and not one ATS tank blew my mind. All the corals were "easy" or "browned" out. I just think that ATS can only go so far to clean water until they either give up or induce a negative impact. Modern equipment can do a better job and it shows in the tanks people keep today compared to the tanks of old.

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