Managing nutrients is one of the most important aspects to keeping a healthy, balanced reef aquarium free from unwanted algae. Curiously, one of the best ways to do this is to actually encourage algae to grow in a separate part of your aquarium system, and this is often achieved by way of a dedicated algae scrubber.
Often confused for a refugium, an algae scrubber should prioritize the growth of a particular kind of algae, and in our experience growing Chaetomorpha is the best candidate for this purpose. We’ve experimented with every method for growing Chaeto and the most successful, efficient and productive way to grow copious amounts is in a spinning, tumbling fashion.
This approach keeps lots of water moving through the entire mass of Chaeto, and the spinning motion both keeps detritus from accumulating inside it and also exposes all sides of the algae to bright, intense grow lights. The only ‘drawback’ to the tumbling algae method of growing Chaeto is that we frequently have to harvest copious amounts of the green stuff, harvesting roughly five gallons of partially compressed algae every seven to eight days.
If we don’t harvest this frequently the barrel of algae will stop spinning and accumulate detritus while over lighting some areas of the algae, and under lighting other parts, but we stay on top of it pretty well. But one benefit to the ‘tumbling chaeto’ method is that since it’s just in a chamber of the sump, we can easily access it without having to turn off pumps or disassemble a reactor and when something is simple and easy, you’re more likely to do it as needed.
For this second video on the tumbling chaeto reactor we answer some of the questions that were raised in our first video, hopefully clarifying how simple and effective this approach to phytoremediation can be in a reef aquarium system.