Credit: Blane Perun

DIY Reef Maintenance

Siphoning Algae Brush

Acropora is coral that is in the Cnidaria phylum. The acropora does not always look the exact same simply because it grows in different locations and the species as well as location can affect the look of the acropora.

Simply brushing algae off from the rock work causes the absorbed nutrients to be reintriduced to the water column, which may start a new algae cycle. By removing the algae from the system, the likely hood of refueling its return is reduced.

This modification to a standard toothbrush allows a siphon to be drawn through the bristles which removes the targeted undesireables stuck to the rockwork from the water column. I use it during water changes to drain tank water into a waste bucket.

Hair algae is usually the primary target, and though it may grow back do to root establishment, my clean up crew has a better time at removing stubble rather than long strands.

The only parts needed besides your favorite tooth brush are an 1/4′ (7mm) angle barb fitting, and 5′ (1.5m) or so of matching vinyl tubing. This diameter is choosen because it is the lagest hole that can be cut in the head of the toothbrush. Smaller diameters did not allow enough water flow to suck out all the algae. The barb must have one side chopped so as to leave a short straight section that will press fit into the toothbrush. Measure the diameter of this section to choose the correct drill. Drill the center of the head of the toothbrush from the smooth, not the bristle side. (the latter would result in bristle destruction) Clean out the loose bristles, fit the elbow into the newly formed hole, and glue in place. I found watery super glue worked well. After drying, attach hose, and provide a strain relief by fastening (rubber band) to the handle.

To use, submerge the brush in the tank and start the siphon. It may help to turn off circulation in the tank, in order to prevent stronger currents from blowing away the loosened algae. Then just brush away; I find that ‘small circles’ work best to keep the ‘containment cloud’ from floating away!

Blane Perun

Diver - Photographer - Traveler

Whale in Ocean