Deploying an algae scrubber is a great way to combat excess nutrients within your reef system. Clear Water Scrubbers has produced a reliable and highly effective line of turf scrubbers that, when set up and tuned properly, will provide you with 100% natural filtration throughout the entire life of your tank without the need for any kind of replacement media or major modifications to your sump.

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1. Placement

Clear Water Scrubbers utilize gravity-fed drains which means that the return water must be able to flow freely downhill. The scrubber must be elevated on a shelf or DIY bracket above your sump or filter for proper function. When placing a scrubber, you will want it to be positioned for easy access as it will require that you regularly clean turf algae from the screen for maximum effectiveness.

2. Plumbing Steps

CW Scrubbers are sold stand-alone or in a ready-to-run kit as shown in the video. The kits are convenient and include an appropriately sized Sicce feed pump and necessary parts for connection to the scrubber. You will also need to purchase the plumbing parts, tubing, and PVC to accommodate your drain style of choice.

  1. Disconnect the screen by loosening the top union and set it aside.
  2. Remove the bulkheads and reposition them so that the gasket is on the inside of the scrubber. The bulkheads are reversed upon packaging for safe shipment and must be repositioned before use. 
  3. Place the screen back in and tighten the top union.
  4. Install your feed pump by attaching the silicone tubing to the barbed fitting on your scrubber. Screw the included PVC adapter and insert fitting together and then into your pump. Place the pump in the sump, measure and cut the appropriate length of silicone tubing, and attach it to the pump.  
  5. Install the control valve which goes between the scrubber and the pump. Simply cut the tube in the middle and install the valve making sure that both connections are clamped down. 
  6. Verify all of the unions are properly sealed with the included black gaskets. 
  7. Proceed to install the drain using one of the three methods outlined below. 

You have three main options for how you would like to run your drain. Remember to always use plastic clamps to secure your soft tubing. Hard PVC should be glued into the bulkheads to prevent leaks but can be pressure fit in situations where water pressure is minimal. 

Clear Water Algae Turf Scrubber

Extended Elbow To Soft Tube Drain

Clear Water Algae Turf Scubber Drain

Direct Soft Tube Drain

Clear Water Algae Turf Scrubber Drain

Ultra-Quiet Drain

  • 1 inch and ½ inch Schedule 80 Tee Slip x Slip x Slip fittings
  • ½ inch PVC (you will only need around 4-5”, but get a little extra)
  • 1 inch PVC for the drain fitting as well as to plumb the return down below the water level to operate like a Durso

3. Dialing In The Flow

You will want to start with the flow control ball valve fully open. Adjust the valve so that more water is flowing down at the end of the spray bar. As the algae start to grow and cover the screen, the flow will even out and cover the screen evenly over time. It's a common mistake to start with the flow too slow by trying to evenly cover the whole screen immediately; resist the urge to slow down the pump too much. 

4. Lighting

At first, run the light 24-7 until your first or second algae harvest. After the screen is evenly covered with turf algae, monitor nitrate levels and adjust the light accordingly. The more light you run, the more growth you get and the more nitrates you can remove. If nutrients levels drop too low, reduce the light on your scrubber. 

Clear Water Scrubber maintenance

5. Regular Maintenance

As your scrubber breaks in, you will see the algae begin to wrap itself around the screen. We recommend trimming algae from the scrubber screen every 7-14 days leaving only a fine layer of algae on the screen to regrow. During the initial grow-out, you can rub some of the harvested algae on the bare spots of the screen before discarding it. This will help speed up the process of getting even algae coverage. 

Additional Tips

  • The algae growth process will happen naturally and there is no need to seed your system with any kind of algae. 
  • Be certain to turn on the scrubber lights and run the unit 24-7 until your first cleaning. Make sure to monitor your nitrates and phosphates and adjust the system accordingly.
  • If your nutrients drop too low, we recommend running the scrubber on a timer opposite that of your display tank lighting.
  • While we suggest cleaning your scrubber every 7-14 days, the amount of algae growth will depend on the nutrient levels within your system.
  • You are looking for a deep green layer of turf algae without yellow turf algae or slime algae. The yellow indicates an iron deficiency that would need to be addressed.
  • We recommend dosing both iron and trace elements within your reef when using an algae scrubber.
  • The algae growth will go through stages and being patient with its progress is an important part of the recipe for success.