Upflow Algae Scrubber®
Floating Surface, Two-Compartment,
Green Grabber® surfaces, and strings for saltwater.
"It Floats Like A Boat!" (TM)
Eliminate water changes. Remove nuisance algae, nitrate and phosphate. Cultivate angel hair seaweed.
Click the "image gallery" button above for more pics
SURF8 harvest test, using different lights:
Reef2Reef review of the SURF4, which is half of the SURF8:
First harvests of the SURF8:
Another harvest, with one stronger 8x light:
Reduced cleaning of the SURF8:
Unboxing and installation of the SURF8:
Basic overview of the SURF8:
Sound, and stability in the water, of the SURF8:
Ten cleanings (harvests) of the smaller SURF4 in four months:
Ten more cleanings of the smaller SURF4 in three more months, with more air:
SURF8 and SURF8x dimensions: 17" wide by 11.5" tall by 4.5" thick (42 cm wide, 29 cm tall, 11 cm thick).
Operates on both 120 and 240V. Can be shipped to any country; you can find shipping costs by putting the item into the shopping cart; be sure to click "display rates"
Welcome to algae scrubbers. We are the only source for patented upflow scrubbers: U.S. Patent 9,115,008 and 9,708,207. All the oceans, reefs, lakes and rivers are naturally filtered only by algae, and all the organic particles remain in the water to feed the creatures. Reduce your glass cleaning and water changes, and create an environment for living micro-animals to grow inside the scrubber. No more dosing or possible overdosing. No more refilling. No more pale corals from low nutrients, and no more sick animals from high nutrients. Far more powerful than chaeto or refugiums, and does not remove the food particles. And you can use the algae as food!
Get the no-overflow advantage of an upflow scrubber: since it is ALL underwater, it can't overflow onto your floor. And now the LED light is coated with an extremely tough black epoxy to maximize protection from water, salt, and physical damage.
Finally a seaweed cultivator and aquarium/pond filter that offers two-compartment alternating growth, cleaning, and redundancy, drop-in installation, reduction or elimination of water changes and nuisance algae, along with almost no-light and little sound, and possibly most important, one-handed harvesting with no disassembly required. It operates the way oceans and lakes do, using algae to do all the filtering and absorbing of nutrients, and truly can replace all other filters in your aquarium or pond.
The SURF8 / SURF8x (TM) is the largest version of the SURF Scrubbers®, which were the world's first floating surface Upflow Algae Scrubbers® (also called UAS®) and seaweed cultivators. The SURF8 / SURF8x is also a Ribbon Scrubber®, which is what allows the green hair algae (mostly cladophora "angel hair" seaweed) to be removed from the scrubber/cultivator with one hand without needing to disassemble anything or take anything to the sink. Simply lift up a lid and pull the growth out. And you can feed some of the growth to your fish and snails if you want to (fresh food is best!). The large size of the SURF8 / SURF8x also stabilizes the unit when one light is lifted up.
This SURF8 / SURF8x floating surface scrubber/cultivator has over 96 square inches (600 square cm) of extremely rough Green Grabber® algal growth surface which can grow up to a 1" (2.5 cm) thick block of green hair algae in saltwater (less in freshwater). This is about eight small handfuls, and is designed to absorb the nutrients from this much feeding per day:
8 Frozen cubes, or
80 Pinches of flake, or
80 Square inches (500 square cm) of nori, or
22 grams of pellets
The physical size or number of gallons or liters of water in your tank, sump or reservoir does not matter. If you feed more than the above amounts, you can get multiple SURF8 / SURF8x units. Note that if you have rocks which are soaked with phosphate from having been in a problem aquarium, each 50 pounds (23 kg) of problem rock will add 1 cube a day to your feeding amounts; so be sure to account for this when choosing a scrubber size. For example, if you feed 3 cubes a day, but have 200 pounds of rock that came from a tank with nuisance algae problems on the rock, this rock will add 4 cubes a day to your feeding, meaning that you would need a scrubber for 7 cubes a day. This applies even if the rock was dried out and bleached, because this does not remove any nutrients from the rock (it just kills anything that was living).
Click the "image gallery" button above for more pics, or click here:
The SURF8 / SURF8x combines the exact functionality of two SURF4 / SURF4x units into one larger unit, and does so in about the same total space but with less air tubing and more floating stability than two separate SURF4 / SURF4x units would provide. The LED lights on the SURF8 / SURF8x are exactly the same (and can be swapped at any time.with) the lights on a SURF4 / SURF4x, and since each light has a separate power supply, you can operate them on opposite photoperiods if you like. So, for those who have been seeking pH stability, the SURF8 / SURF8x is the first scrubber which will allow you to alternate the photoperiods without having to buy two separate scrubbers.
The SURF8 / SURF8x is designed for larger sumps, but will also fit well on top of dedicated scrubber-sumps, refugiums, frag tanks, displays (if it will not block the lighting), and fresh and saltwater ponds. One of the two growth compartments can also be operated solo, by turning off the light and the air flow (using the supplied air tubing caps) of one of the compartments. This allows you to reduce scrubbing capacity when not needed, such as when cycling a new tank.
The SURF8 / SURF8x starts with eight bubble openings at the bottom of the growth compartments, where upflowing air bubbles (from a high capacity air pump, not included) flow up into the two growth compartments and bring aquarium or pond water with it. As the bubbles and water enter the growth compartments they rub the algae-attachment ribbons and get blasted by the super-red 660nm LED light. The bubbles then circle around and around inside the growth compartments, rubbing against the ribbons and the Green Grabber super-rough rock-hard attachment textures as the bubbles rise up to the water surface. This repeated rubbing of bubbles causes algae to start growing on the ribbons and textures; freshwater grows thin stringy algae, and saltwater grows thicker, denser algae. The air then goes out of the top of the filter, quietly and with no salt spray, and the water goes down and out the eight drain holes in the bottom without any bubbles remaining.
A few features of the SURF8 / SURF8x provide real usefulness and are available on no other algae scrubbers except SURF scrubbers. First, the enclosed growth compartments increase the dwell time of the water and bubbles inside the unit so that they rub the algae many times before leaving the compartment. This actually reduces nutrients (nitrate, phosphate) to a level lower than the outside water, which allows greener growth to occur sooner (lower nutrients grow greener algae) inside the unit, especially in high-nutrient aquarium or pond water. In other words, the SURF8 / SURF8x creates a lower-nutrient ecosystem inside itself which is different from the rest of the outside water. Also, the position of the air bubble inlets (below the growth) causes the bubbles to flow up through the growth no matter how thick the growth gets. This is in contrast to waterfall scrubbers which mostly flow water on the outside of the growth, leaving the inner layers of growth without flow.
Another feature which was highly requested was quiet operation. Since the SURF8 / SURF8x does not touch the aquarium glass or sump glass, and since it's made of heavy material surrounded by foam, it is a fairly quiet algae scrubber. The two thick and heavy gauge plastic growth containers are connected together by plastic beams, and are coated internally by even thicker and heavier Green Grabber rock textures, and then are surrounded on the outside by 1.75" (4.38 cm) closed cell polyethylene foam. This stops virtually much of the sound from going sideways. And the two 3/4" (19 mm) thick LED lids are filled with super dense polyurethane (the lids are 1.5 pounds each), which absorbs more sound than a rigid structure would, and much more than a non-sealed structure would. Lastly, the path that air has to take to get out of the top requires the air to first go sideways towards the foam, and then upwards along the foam; this allows the foam to absorb any remaining sound exactly the way foam absorbs sound in a studio. So while you may hear bubbling while standing next to it, you will not hear much if there is other equipment or pumps working like return pumps. And as growth fills the compartment, even more sound is absorbed by the algae itself. And there is 10 feet (3 meters) of 3/8" OD (outside-diameter) pure silicone air tubing for you to be able to place your air pump wherever you like, such as in a separate fish room, or a closet, so that it will not add any sound if you don't want it to.
Another great feature is the elimination of salt spray (for saltwater). Since the air must come up through the narrow space between the LED lids and the foam, all the salt spray remains in the growth compartment where it is washed away by the water. And if the SURF8 / SURF8x does ever need to be "washed", just push it under the water surface for a few seconds and let water flow over the top (the LED lids are fully waterproof); no need to take it to the sink.
Bubble removal is probably the most-requested feature. Any and all algae scrubbers, whether they are upflow, waterfall or horizontal rivers, have bubbles which must be removed. The internal growth compartments of the SURF8 / SURF8x keep bubbles inside the 2" deep internal water level, only letting water out of the eight small holes at the bottom after the air has escaped out the top. Thus, no bubbles get into the aquarium, sump or pond water; only a little red light, which gets less as growth gets thicker.
The Green Grabber® algal growth attachment surface is so rough and prickly that is might be the roughest thing you've ever felt. A cactus might be sharper, but that's about it. Rough surfaces are critical for allowing algae to attach and grow and thus provide strong absorption of nutrients. The rock-hard protrusions stick straight out 1 to 3 mm. Previous algae scrubber screens were made from "slippery" plastic canvas that is used for sewing and knitting; algae does not attach to it very well. Green Grabber growth surfaces are not plastic at all; instead they are rock hard like rocks on the beach, and they have jagged rough edges and points (don't let children play with them). And the white color of the Green Grabber surfaces reflect as much light as possible, allowing lots of light to reflect back to the algae, which reaches deeper into the algal root sections to keep the roots alive and attached.
The main advantage of the SURF8 / SURF8x, or any algae scrubber, is that if you size and operate it properly it can be the only filter for your pond or tank, even replacing water changes. It can, however, also be used with other filters. Some other filters such as carbon dosing (Zeo, pellets, etc) may slow down the scrubber, but nothing will really "hurt" the scrubber except possibly large amounts of algaecide or copper medications. The SURF8 / SURF8x cannot even dry out, since it's always under water; so it's safe in power outages or tank-controller mishaps.
The SURF8 / SURF8x comes with dual power supplies on each LED lid (total of four power plugs), each plug powering four LEDs (total of 16 LEDs) on the SURF8, and each plug powering six LEDs (total of 24 LEDs) on the SURF8x. Not only does this provide backup, it allows you to start each scrubber compartment with less light in a low-power mode, which sometimes helps growth start faster in low-nutrient water or new tanks. It also allows you to alternate photoperiods, or to completely turn off one of the compartments if you want to focus the growth in the other compartment. The purpose of the very strong light of the SURF8x is to grow green hair algae when nutrients are high in the water, such as 0.2 ppm phosphate or higher.
The SURF8 / SURF8x will run on both 120V and 240V, and each power supply plug comes with a 10 ft (300 cm) power cord with a U.S. plug. If you require a different plug for your country, you can get four plug adapters at any local hardware or travel store, or online, or you can cut off the U.S. plugs and install your own four plugs from a hardware store. They are simple 2-wire plugs, and are ready to plug into any reef controller. Computer laptop "figure 8" power cords can also be used; they plug right in with no modifications needed.
The SURF8 / SURF8x comes with 10 ft (250 cm) of extremely flexible pure silicone white airline that is 1/4" (6mm) inside-diameter, and 3/8" (9mm) outside-diameter; this allows you to put your high-capacity air pump in another room or closet if desired. The SURF8 / SURF8x requires a high capacity air pump that can pump at least 20 total liters per minute (0.8 cfm), which regular air pumps that use regular airline cannot do. You will instead need an aquaculture or hydroponics type of air pump. You can pump as much air as you like, however; an 80 lpm pump is no problem, because the bubble-rings which circle the air inlets prevent large bubbles from escaping. It is the air bubbles which move water into the growth compartments and up the growth surfaces, and also supply carbon dioxide (CO2 in the air), which allow algae to grow in the filter. The more bubbles there are, the thicker the algae can grow. Large bubbles even create openings in the algae for light to reach further down into the growth; thus reducing dark areas. The bubble-rings also shield the bubbles from strong powerheads or flow that some sumps have, so that all the bubbles go up into the SURF8 / SURF8x growth compartments.
One powerful air pump which has been tested and works well is the Coralife Super Luft SL-38, which is sold by different names in different countries. And the larger SL-65 puts out even more air. However, although they are very small (the size of a baseball), they are noisy and get warm enough that you can feel the heat when you walk by (which is why you may want to place it an another room or a closet, using the 10 feet of included air hose). However there are many other air pumps which will work well; they tend to be sold for hydroponics, aquaponics, aquaculture, koi ponds, septic tanks, and other uses. They are usually much larger and heavier so that they will absorb the sound.
One such pump is the HAILEA air pump in the smaller model ACO-9720 which is 25 watts and 30 liters per minute, or the larger model ACO-9730 which is 50 watts and 60 liters per minute. These pumps are completely waterproof (can put them outside), solid metal, and very silent (almost as silent as the Fusion 700) so that you will only hear the scrubber working, not the pump. However they are large (the size of a soccer ball), and heavy (8 or 12 pounds; 4 or 6 kg), and they use lots of thick rubber inside which gives a "new tires" smell for a about a month. They are available in either 120 volt or 240 volt versions, and are easily found online; the 25 watt ACO-9720 is ok for one SURF8 / SURF8x, and will be a bit quieter because of less bubbling; the 50 watt ACO-9730 gives very strong bubbling on one SURF8 / SURF8x, and can easily power two, and maybe three SURF8 units. The 120 volt USA versions are available here:
And here is a comparison video:
Each of the two LED lids contains red (660 nm) 3-watt LEDs which are attached to an aluminum heat sink which is painted black to reduce heat; it does get warm but is completely waterproof. The LEDs will give the pond, aquarium or sump a slight red color at night when the aquarium lights are off, but this will occur less as the SURF8 / SURF8x fills with growth. You will need to get at least one timer so you can run the LEDs for 12 to 22 hours per day (not 24). The LEDs never needs replacing.
Each growth compartment of the SURF8 / SURF8x will need to be cleaned ("harvested") every 7 to 10 days or when thick with growth. Just lift up the LED lid, grab a handful of algae, and pull it out. You can even feed some of the algae to your fish. In saltwater, you usually do not need to take anything apart, or take anything to your sink, once the growth gets thick. With freshwater however, the growth is thin and stringy enough that you may need to take the SURF8 / SURF8x to a sink (or outside) in order to brush the growth out while holding the unit under running water.
The SURF8 / SURF8x comes with a 6 month warranty: Warranty is for replacement or repair only; not a refund. Costs for shipping back to us are not covered; you will need to ship the entire unit back to us before we can ship a replacement. Warranty is limited to repair or replacement, and does not cover fish loss, personal injury, property loss, or direct, incidental or consequential damage arising from the use of it. The warranty and remedies set forth above are exclusive and in lieu of all others, whether oral or written, express or implied. We specifically disclaim any and all implied warranties, including but not limited to lost profits, downtime, goodwill, damage to or replacement of other equipment and property, and any costs of recovering animals, plants, tanks or other aquarium related items and/or equipment. We are not responsible for special, incidental, or consequential damages resulting from any breach of warranty, or replacement of equipment or property, or any costs of recovering or reproducing any equipment, animals or plants used or grown with this product.
Can be shipped to any country; you can find shipping costs by using the shopping cart; be sure to click "display rates". If you don't have a zip code, enter "zip code" instead. Note that shipping outside of the USA will probably require you to also pay an import charge when it arrives. We cannot mark it as "gift". The lowest cost overseas shipping is generally USPS Priority Mail International. The size of the shipping box is 30 x 12 x 12 inches (75 x 30 x 30 cm). On special request, two SURF8 units can be shipped inside of one larger box that is 36 x 12 x 12 inches (90 x 30 x 30 cm), thus saving on shipping costs.
SURF8 and SURF8x size: 17" wide by 11.5" tall by 4.5" thick (42 cm wide, 29 cm tall, 11 cm thick). It requires at least 4" (10 cm) of water to operate in.
"The SURF8 is doing more filtering than anything I've had on my tank; I love it!" -- Richard Neal, Santa Clara, California, USA.
"Our SURF8 that we have on our customers tank is crankin' every week, 1/4 gallon of harvest each week. The tank is being fed 3 to 4 cubes a day, and has about 140 pounds new pukani rock." - Damon Buehrer, Aquatic Treasures Reef Store.